Cucurbits and other tender veg …

Although the nights are still a bit chilly here in North Lincolnshire (6th May), I find this is just the right time to start off the pumpkins, courgettes, summer squashes and beans. They all need fairly consistent warmth to thrive so I germinate them in the house and then transfer to the greenhouse to grow on … covering with fleece at night 😁.

All of the veg I grow this year is going to the allotment …. I say allotment … at the moment it’s 250 sqm of wet clay!

I’m aiming for nodig methods as much as possible (my knees tell me that that is the most sensible approach 😁) so will be stripping the plastic back a bit at a time, scraping away the dead weeds and topping off with some well rotted compost to plant into. That’s the theory for the beans and courgettes anyway …

The pumpkin patch is planned for the part of the allotment that is still just long grass and weeds.

What on earth was I thinking when I took this on?!??

My plan is to adapt the nodig principles to make the job as easy as possible. It will be experimental but worth a go 😁

Well! That was more of a break than I was expecting …

I thought I might be missing from blog land for a couple of weeks but nearly a year … where did that go?!?!

Minor, irritating but disruptive health issues (age related) started the break but just “stuff” kept me away. You know how it is.

May 2018It’s a touch wet ….

As we are on good solid Lincolnshire clay, the allotment does get a bit boggy most years over winter but this year has definitely been exceptional! My plans for progress have been severely hampered and I feel that I am at much the same point as I was at this time last year.


There has been progress, without a doubt. I now have two plots (of course I have … I can’t get to grips with one very overgrown plot so why not go for two!!), three sheds and a lot of ground cleared by last year’s application of plastic. All I need now is for the flooding to recede and I’m away πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

My return to blog land will, hopefully, help me to focus on the positive progress and allow me to document the changes as a record of the reality of tackling a couple of neglected plots.

Watch this space x

Week 4: Plastic!

“Due to circumstances beyond our control, allontmenting transmissions have been temporarily suspended. Full service will be resumed as soon as possible.”

Pity I can’t add music to that ……

Anyway, seems there are just some weeks when even I can’t do everything … who knew!!! Which I guess is a lesson in itself, things don’t always go to plan and some of the less important stuff has to take a back seat.

I have, however, managed to blag a second (larger) shed and him who can is thrilled – or at least I think that’s what he said. Killed rhymes though …

The (also free) polytunnel frame has found its way to the plot this week, too. There will soon be so many bits lying around that I won’t need to cover it in plastic! Always a silver lining!! 😁

Looking forward to lots of plot fettling next week so watch this space ❀️

Week 3 and a half: Tea!

The excitement of having an allotment for the first time is clearly getting to us all … I spent a lovely sunny afternoon down there with my son-in-law James (@flawlessphoto_uk) and gorgeous baby granddaughter, making tea and taking photographs. Absolutely no progress with weeds/digging/planting but great fun and our way of taking “ownership” of the space.

 Tea for two 😁
] ]
Β Tea, biscuits and the local magazine … doesn’t get any better on a sunny afternoon 😍
Β Sleeping baby …. or maybe just refusing to be part of our silliness πŸ˜‚

Week 3: It’s June!

June is probably my favourite gardening month of the year. The days are long and often warm (there is very little chance of frost here) but we haven’t yet got the dusty itchiness of August. 

The mad rush of May seed sowing and planting has passed, the greenhouse is full of tomato plants quietly doing their own thing and the seed trays and rootrainers are empty … and breathe πŸ˜‚

Tomatoes gearing themselves up for giving their all!

Well that was before I made the “interesting” decision to to take on a very overgrown allotment … who’s stupid idea was that!!!

Despite constantly telling myself that I won’t get the chance to grow much this year, I still found myself raking through the seed tin this morning to see what I could possibly sow. No problem to sow the darn things is it … think of all those empty seed trays … it will be getting the space ready to plant things out that will be the challenge! Hum.

Having given myself a good talking to about “realistic goals” and “SMART targets”, this happened 😬

May as well get a few things ready to go in …

Right. Seeds πŸ‘‰ plants πŸ‘‰ space to plant πŸ‘‰ digging!! 

Time to bring out the plastic then 😁

How can plastic be so darned heavy! I struggle to move this lot so will draft in some muscle later in the week. I intend to cover as much of the plot as possible this week to start the weed killing process – and will then just deal with one area at a time. That way, the job doesn’t run away with me. 

Two weeks ago I moved the plastic that was already on the plot to a fresh (i.e. full of weed) area to do its work. When I moved it today the difference was remarkable and the area was relatively easy to dig.

Not bad for digging at all, and it means I can patiently pick out as much of the roots as possible as I go along. The soil chops down easily and, although no good for seed sowing at the moment, larger plants can cope with it.

I put a row of small (rescued) rhubarb crowns in and, hopefully, they will give me a first crop next year.
Other progress this week: 

  • A donated black currant bush
  • Two rain barrels 
  • More pumpkins planted (I did grow a lot of pumpkins 😬)
  • Guttering on the shed!

    Total cost so far Β£0.

    Right! Better get some seeds sown πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

    Week 2: A week of sheds and weeds.

    Although progress looked slow last week, there was a lot going on behind the scenes. We managed to scrounge two large water containers (for getting some much needed water to the few plants we have so far) and a couple of plastic pallets to stand the shed on. I think I have found an old workhorse mower to keep the ‘paths’ in check but that’s not a definite yet …. depends on how much nagging I do πŸ˜‚

    Total spend to date (aside from the yearly rent) =Β£0. So far, so good!!

    The aims this week are to turn the jigsaw into a shed and to weed kill!

    Lots of people have suggested spraying everything and then rotavating. I am quite happy that it’s each to their own but it’s not my way … call me stubborn (call me what you like – I can’t hear you!) but weed killer is still weed killer and, although using a rotavator would make the plot look good quickly, I just don’t like the idea of churning everything up in such a brutal manner.

    So, with all that said, I will cover as much as I can with plastic until I can get the beds dug over. I have a feeling that plastic will be our friend for some months to come!! It won’t be a pretty sight – but I have to keep reminding myself that it’s an allotment not an ornamental veg patch!!

    A fellow istagrammer (@thecraftygardener) suggested using a no-dig method for part of it so that was my next task …

    Weeds versus cardboard!

    First a layer of thick cardboard to kill off the weeds by excluding light then a covering of grass clippings to start the organic layering. I am edging with clods of earth because they are there! Anything would do the job and eventually I might edge the bed with wood if I can scrounge enough 😁.

    Next comes the barrow loads of well rotted manure but that will be next weeks task … I know my limitations!!

    I managed to get a bit more digging done and planted my three remaining “Mammoth” pumpkins and some runner bean seeds … seeing something actually growing reassures me that I am going in the right direction!

    Battling the thistles and clay!

    And finally – the shed! The assorted pieces of old wood have miraculously transformed themselves into a functional structure. Well, I say miraculously … it was thanks to the hard work of my ever patient better half . Thanks Dave!

    It’s actually starting to look like an allotment 😍

    Week 1: May 2017

    Sunday morning bright and early. Up with the lark and full of enthusiasm for the big adventure!

    We load the trailer with bits of donated shed, a spade, string and canes and set off … round the corner and we’re there!

    Mmmmm …

    I don’t recall the weeds being this bad when we signed up!

    So this is it. Weeds, furrows and assorted rubbish. Ho hum. Better make a start then….

    I had an outline plan in my head so my first job was to mark out the paths and boundaries with canes and string (I had to do the first line twice as it hadn’t even occured to me that green string wouldn’t show up too well against the long grass!). Despite lots of careful measuring the final layout seemed to be less than square – the whole plot sits at a jaunty angle! I can cope for now but I know I will be constantly shifting edges until it looks right 😎

    Step 2: I set my ever patient OH on to strimming whilst I pulled out all the rubbish that was lying around. Some was just bagged up for landfill but other bits were more useful:

    Funny what people leave behind …
    A welcome find!

    Step 3: A piece of the land had been covered with black plastic for a year or so and, fortunately, it happened to be just in the right place for my first spot of cultivation.

    Time to dig! We dragged the plastic to the next section to start and work its magic and revealed a relatively clear (all be it compacted) would be planting area and a couple of hours later ….

    My first plants in plot303 So the first of the crops are in! Cauliflowers under cover, a few sweet corn and a couple of pumpkins. It’s not exactly going to feed us for the year but I’m still very proud of it.

    There hasn’t been any other chance to do anything this week but I’ve wandered down to look every evening and listened to the cuckoo and just generally felt at peace …. and felt the ache in my knees πŸ˜‚

    I found the plot!

    Dear reader, at the tender age of 61 years, four months and a bit I have taken the next step in my gardening life.

    An Allotment.

    Some say foolish (less kind say senile) but I am thrilled. I have gardened as long as I can remember … as a very small child I spent hours with my Grandfather in his allotment style garden and my love for all things growing was born.

    Yes, I’m the one wearing the dress and yes, life really was in black and white then!!img_2447-1

    I have had lots of gardens between then and now but never an allotment … until this week!!

    I have been sharing my garden and vegetable growing progress on Instagram and rapidly built up a following of like-minded folk of all types – younger, older, novice and experienced. To my surprise and delight, I find myself offering ideas and advice as well as picking up masses of information and becoming more and more envious of those with allotments. So what else can a girl do? I got one!

    We are very lucky in the village to have a small number of allotments tucked away down a lane (called the Green Ramper ) and, even better, the site is five minutes stroll away from my house. It was meant to be.
    For the princely sum of Β£25 per year, I am now the very proud holder of this weedy piece of land. Let the fun begin!!