Blistered Hands (Gary) Plots 41 and 42

My Allotment.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Vandals

Three days after planting my garlic, we went to the allotment to water the plants in the greenhouse.

I noticed the door to the greenhouse was open. I looked inside and saw that a couple of my plants had been knocked over.

On my travels, I had collected seeds and had grown them on. Several Ficus plants and Carob from Cyprus. They are about two years old and are growing nicely. I had decided to put them in the greenhouse to make room in my growing room at home.

Now, I don't know why, but just two pots had been overturned. Luckily, the Carob had just been knocked over and the soil was disturbed and the roots were showing. I thought this was the end of it. It was already showing signs of benefitting being in the greenhouse, new shoots growing. The other one was overturned completely. This was an Avocado which I had been propagating for several months and was just showing signs of sprouting. Luckily, also, the slats on the surface of my worktop kept the avocado in the pot.

I went a few days later and the plants don't seem to be distressed from their ordeal and seem to be growing nicely again.

Now, I have several Pomegranates that are well established and are now beginning to look like the bonsai trees that I want them to be, but I am in two minds as to whether to take them to the greenhouse now. I want to plant them in the ground in the greenhouse to thicken the trunks up more, as I am doing with my Date Palms. I shall have to think of some other way to do this.

It is a shame, but vandalism, jealousy or whatever, is bound to happen from time to time and I am not prepared to see several years of lovingly tending my trees, be destroyed overnight. I shall keep them at home.

Friday, October 13, 2006


My garlic bed and I...........

Freecycle to the rescue


I am a member of the Freecycle organisation for my area http://www.freecycle.org. One of my emails from the group was from somebody who had a load of hessian backed carpet that would be suitable for weed control.

After contacting the Freecycler in question I managed to get loads of carpet which I laid down on my allotment.

It looked so nice, I was in two minds as to whether to take a hoe or a hoover to the allotment with me when I visited.........

I had been reading the Allotment UK Forum and saw that I could plant garlic this time of year. I love garlic. Very beneficial health wise (and it keeps the bloodsuckers away).

A quick visit to the garlic shop seemed in order. I decided on some Elephant Garlic and some Mediterranean Wight. Later, I discovered the Elephant Garlic was not a true garlic but a member of the leek family. Never mind. Apparently they are great roasted.

One of the other plot holders gave me an old fork which she didn't use any more. I gratefully accepted. Saved me a few quid. Like I said, a great bunch of people down there.

On my second plot (plot 42), there was a raised bed that had an old piece of carpet on it. I decided to see what the ground was like underneath. I had an idea that this was going to be my garlic area.

As I removed the canes and stuff which were holding the carpet down, I noticed a crested newt just sitting there. I hadn't seen one for years. I believe they are quite rare now.

One of my beach hut friends has a plot close by mine. She has a pond, so I took the newt and put it in there. Saved it from getting trod on.

Underneath the carpet there were a few roots showing. They were yellow and weak and easy to pull out. I forked over the area, taking out as many roots as I possibly could and put them into the black plastic compost bin that had been left on the plot for the new owners convenience.

I found some lime in my shed (a sack full) and sprinkled it on the bed. Forked it over again (picking out more roots). The earth was marvellous and it smelled lovely.

My partner was busy digging her little bit (I had to let her have a bit for her flowers) and she planted daffodil and narcissi. Should look nice in the Spring.

I planted my garlic in the prepared bed and cannot wait until I start to see results.

Just Starting

A view from the bottom of my plot.


It all started one Saturday morning in late June. A group of us were sitting around a beach hut discussing the mackerel fishing that was due to start.

Ben, one of my colleagues from Mauritius, said he had to go to his allotment. I asked where his allotment was and he told me it was the other side of town - miles away. I said I would like an allotment again (I had one years ago when I lived in Northampton), but I didn't want to drive for ages to get to it. He told me that there was one close by, but there was a waiting list.

Ben took me to show me where they were. I saw that the office was open and asked about putting my name down.

After putting my name down, I was showed which plots were available. Some were very exposed and really run down, there were a couple that were workable with not much wrong with them, but I was told these would go very fast once the people on the list were called.

Derek, the guy who was showing me around, said there was one that would be coming up at invoice time. The young couple who had had it for a couple of years didn't seem bothered with it any more. After the initial burst of enthusiasm of digging it and putting in fruit bushes, posts around for a fruit cage, they hadn't been seen since.

It had a greenhouse and a shed, compost bins and 3ft high couch grass all over, but it was only 5 rods and manageable. Another plus, the toilet was just 20 yards away and the mains water was at the end of my plot. I said that I wanted this one if possible. I would have to wait and see.

A terrific bunch of people down there. I went several times on a Saturday morning while the shop was open for a chat and a cup of tea.

One Friday evening in the middle of September, the Association Secretary phoned me and told me that I could have that plot. Could I come down Saturday morning to sign the papers? COULD I? I couldn't wait.

It was a shame that I didn't get the phone call on Thursday evening, because on Friday, I cleared a load of ramrod straight hazel that would have made great posts. I didn't need them, so I cut them into short pieces and burned them. If only.....

Saturday morning, I signed my papers and handed over the money.

There were several things that needed doing immediately to make "my" plot better. One was to cut down several sycamore coppices which were blocking the afternoon sun at the bottom end of the plot. I asked the committee and they said I could. I told them that I didn't intend to take them out completely, but to leave them coppiced for a windbreak and to manage them that way.

There was also an old elder tree next to my shed which had branches which were in the way of my path. This needed a pruning.

On Sunday morning, I went to the allotment, armed with my chainsaw and tools and set about attacking the sycamores and elder.

Whilst I was doing this I was approached by other plot holders and got a couple of tree work jobs outside of the allotment. That work paid for the allotment. Wonderful.

The following Thursday, I hired the strimmer from the allotment shop and strimmed completely to ground level. Raked up all the couch grass and piled it up ready to black bag it.

A huge transformation already.

Now, I want to be as organic as I possibly can with this plot but I needed some chemical assistance to start. I glycosphated all around (except my fruit cage because it had raspberry canes and currant bushes in there. I will do this by hand).

After leaving it for just over a week (which I was told was ample time), I hired the huge rotovator and rotovated entirely. An even bigger transformation. It looked good.

Margaret, the Club Secretary stopped by for a chat and told me the plot next door was also available. This was only 3 rods and had been cultivated recently, but it was still covered in couch grass, but there were several raised beds on there. I told her if it was still available I would have this one too. She looked at the paperwork and it was. I signed up for this one as well. I MUST BE MAD.