A couple of evenings ago we went on a hot air balloon ride across Bath. I’m not usually great with heights and so I wasn’t really looking forward to it. I was the person holding on very tight before launch and not saying very much. But once we were in the air, I was fascinated. One of the things that caught my eye was an aerial view of Bath’s Victoria Park allotments. Wow! I was actually stunned to see how big the site is. I’ve driven past it many times but never had a close look.
Everyone’s plot looked so neat from the air. And there were communal areas with poly-tunnels and funky-looking garden sheds. You can even see a little party going on if you look closely next to the tunnels. And I’m sure I saw some evidence of BBQ smoke. What an amazing community!
It made me really miss my allotment. And it got me thinking about what a garden can give you that an allotment can’t, and vice versa. This is my take on it:
- You can go there at any time, even if you only have 5 mins to spare
- All of your tools, seeds, and stuff are to hand
- You can plant trees and put up sheds (most allotments don’t allow you to)
- No-one will steal your veg (at least, it’s unlikely anyway)
- You can weed with your dressing gown and slippers on (very important for early morning gardening)
- You can water your garden with a hose pipe or irrigation system
- You can child-proof your garden with gates and fences
- You can look out of your window and see all your hard work every day
- You can harvest veg whenever you like
- You’ll be part of a great community
- You will get tons of advice from seasoned growers
- You will have lots of room to grow plants that need a lot of room (Pumpkins, Potatoes and Courgettes)
- You don’t have to worry about your plot looking pretty
- You can enter your biggest Marrow in the allotment Veg Show and win a prize!
- You can have a nosy around other people’s plots and get some great ideas
- You will be able to grow waaay more produce than you can ever eat so you can give some away!
- Lastly, (but not to be underrated) the soil will already be very deep after years and years of digging
If you can think of any other pros and cons then add them in the comments.
I’ll stick with my garden for now, but some time in the future (who know’s when) I think I might have to have another allotment if only for the BBQs.
We’re continuing with the opening up of the former fruit patch and we’re about half way there (when I say we, of course I mean Ryan). The plan is to leave most of the bushes intact but to remove some strategic specimens to create lovely wide beds that will house the big stuff next year, such as sweetcorn, pumpkins, and main crop potatoes – leaving mtp free for the more delicate crops such as salad leaves. We already have a line of very successful summer raspberries but I plan to add an ‘even more successful’ line of autumn raspberries – I’m thinking Autumn Bliss (or the variety that Monty was talking about last week Joan something). We’ll also be extending our fruiting bush portfolio into the blackberry market, either Oregon Thornless or Bedford Giant if I’m feeling adventurous. Maybe even dabbling in a few blueberries – we’ll see how the funds go.
Headed up to mtp to start the big winter dig. I had sown some green manure a couple of weeks ago (mustard seeds) and cut it down to lay flat on the bed to die down. I dug that in some more. Also I lifted the last of the potatoes and trundled off to the manure heap that has been quietly festering all year. It’s all good stuff, well-rotted and full of worms. I loaded up the wheelbarrow and trundled back – nearly came a-cropper while navigating the corner – and dumped it square in the middle of the bed. Yummy… For now though we are mostly eatiing….French beans. I tried a recipe that I think I saw once on TV which involves boiling the beans, draining them then mixing them with some tomato puree, a bit of olive oil, seasoning and a chopped chili. It works!
Is it just me or has everything slowed down to a humid drone? I go to mtp every couple of days, do a bit of weeding, a splash of watering, cut a few things for the basket-of-plenty and head off home to spend the day in the kitchen, pickling, chopping, washing, eating… It’s like the summer will never end. Even my artichoke plant has poked it wee-tiny head up (even if I did have to chop it off). Ominously though, Clive my next door (plot) neighbour rocked up the other day, leaned on his spade and said the following: “Ah…it’s all coming to an end now…!” My stomach turned “Nooooo!” I felt like yelling, “that simply can’t happen. Clearly, my tomato plants will carry on producing tiny gems for ever, the lettuce bed will always be full to brimming with more crispy leaves than a normal human being can consume and mtp’s beds will never be empty again.”
Deluded, I know.
Week 21 is all about onions. Now that I have the plaiting down to a fine art I plan to harvest the majority of my onions this weekend. I’m not sure how many I have. Too many is the answer but as you can store them that doesn’t really matter. I’ll estimate I have around 25 red onions and 10-15 normal onions (as in the picture). I pushed the tops over a few weeks ago (after watching Clive do his!) and so now I reckon they’re ready for pulling. Some of them are huge in onion terms, at least 10cm across. What I will use such massive onions for I dont’ know….Village hotpot? New Year’s curry?…or maybe I could buy a second hand hotdog stand and start selling them (with fried onions) down the market on Saturdays? In reality I’ll probably give them away to our neighbour who works on the toll bridge. Every time he lets us across free he gets another bag of something nice from the plot. Vegetables should become the official international bartering commodity. Who needs oil and arms when you have onions?
Can you believe this weather? Metcheck has put out a Severe weather warning until the 28th July. Humph! Ah well I managed to get some weeding done last night. I picked some lettuce for the people I work with and noticed that the new batch of radish and spring onions are on their way too! This is me pulling up some of the red onions. We’ve got so many of them. Some are 10cm across I swear! Does anyone know the correct way to dry them or know how to plait them in the traditional (French) way? At the moment I have just tied them with string and hung them from the rafters in our out-building, but it doesn’t have the same ‘rustic’ charm I was hoping for – do you know what I mean? – After rummaging on the Internet I found this site that has some direction on the old-fashioned art of plaiting onions. I’ll be trying it at the weekend!
With all the sunshine we’ve been having lately mtp has put on a growing spurt. Compare this picture to Week 15 – crazy huh? At the moment we are mostly harvesting lettuce (all types) potatoes (and boy are they good), raspberries, gooseberries (of course), spinach, courgettes and radish. The peas have been got at by the crows so we might be lucky if we have a handful left of those. We’re waiting on the cherry tomatoes and we’re hopeful for the cucumbers and aubergine. Strawberries came to nothing (next year maybe?) and the red and black currants are doing their thing but we haven’t harvested them yet. The battle of the bindweed is ongoing. There have been sustained casualties (on both sides) but good will win over evil and the final confrontation is just around the corner. And that’s the latest week-by-week update.
Look, it’s our very first harvest (well, if you don’t count the Spinach thinnings a couple of weeks ago). We came back from our trip to find that mtp had gone crazy in our abscence. What with all that lovely rain (and sun) that you’ve been having our tiny plot had possitively flourished. The little gem lettuce had spread out nicely and the potatoes were ready for digging. A couple of them had a bit of blight so we cut the tops off and dug those up first. As you can see we were able to harvest a basket full of potatoes, a few radish, a little gem lettuce, some parsley and a punnet of raspberries – yum. They were delicious, free (apart from the labour) and all my own work!
Finally I made it to mtp for the first time in over a week. I’ve been away with work you see and so I haven’t had the chance to do anything on the plot. But boy was it worth going tonight. Clive was there and he gave me 10 sweetcorn plants – which I promptly planted (18 inches apart, in blocks, being careful not to disturb the roots). So now we have a full-on sweetcorn field running along the side of mtp. Bargain! The other jobs I did tonight were: thinning and spacing the lettuce (we have 31 plants – anyone for salad?). Planting up some of the Dahlia’s that I had growing at home, stealing the odd raspberry from the canes and WEEDING… I spend at least 50% of my time at mtp weeding. The dreaded couch grass is making a comeback (yikes) which is not good. Also, I promised Ryan I would only be there for half and hour and it turned in to two and half. He was pleased when I told him about the sweetcorn though…
The inspectors arrived, aka my dad and his wife Sue. (gulp) I was nervous that mtp would measure up to their strict standards and that it would pass the series of rigorous tests they had in store – such as: Did I have the correct space between plants (failed). Had I checked for cabbage white caterpillar eggs (passed). Did I know which variety of potatoes I had planted (passed). Could I sucessfully identifying small holes in turnip seedlings as Flea Beetle (failed)
Oh well.. you can’t win them all. Now armed with Dad’s ‘Vegetable Expert’ books (passed on from father to daughter) mtp is sure to pass with flying colours next year!