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In the Hands of the Gods

The raised beds are all nearly fully planted. 
 

The first early potatoes, Aran Pilot were actually planted before the raised beds went down as they chitted a bit quick, so they ended up growing in the pathway as well! I dug those up first. This was the first produce I reaped and it felt great. The satisfaction you feel as you gently fork over the soil to reveal creamy yellow pebbles is fab!

The second bed, or first fully planted one was onions & root vegetables. At the beginning of May, we had a sudden burst of very hot dry weather that reduced my previously easy to manage soil to that resembling concrete. I had to dig each bed in, to sink the posts, dig the bed floor over and then fill with soil dug from a funny raised corner of the allotment, finishing with digging in a bag of ready to use manure & a heavy sprinkling of bonemeal. It was hard work, but I couldn’t plant up until each one was dug – thank heavens I don’t have to do all of that next year!

This bed ready, I planted red onions, garlic, beet root, carrots & spring onions. The onions went crazy and after a fashion, so did the beet root and carrots, but they had a bald spot between them, so I’m guessing a birdy had fun one morning pulling those out. Not to worry, as when I thinned them, I immediately planted the thinnings in the bald spots and touch wood – they’ve taken….

Bed 3 is sporting a lovely selection of young Cauliflower, green & purple Broccoli, sprouts, perpetual spinach and some huge late summer cabbages. Other allotment owners have complimented me on the size of my cabbages. I’m not entirely convinced size matters – the proof will be in the eating!

Bed 4 has a lovely display of runner beans! In between sweet corn and surrounded by courgettes in two varieties, with the corners rounded with rocket.

Bed 5 is shooting with peas, sweet peas and French beans. There are also beds each containing strawberries, raspberries, King Edward potatoes and a salad bed with lettuces, radishes, celery and fennel.

Meanwhile, in the greenhouse, there are 4 varieties of tomato, cucumbers, peppers, chillies & aubergines.

My only plant failures, were my 5th variety of tomatoes – tiny toms for hanging baskets, that were doing so well until a humid couple of weeks and they keeled over with blight.

If the rest of the planting is at all successful though, It’ll be a good first year! But I guess it’s all in the hands of the Gods…

 

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Sowing the seeds…

The greenhouse now erected, a shopping haul of potting compost and seed trays accomplished and the acquisition of a lovely selection of seeds in crisp paper packets emblazoned with colourful pictures of fully matured produce. It was time to try and make those pictures a reality!
As a newbie allotmenteer, first time planting is both exciting and daunting. The small selection of allotment and produce growing books with which I have equipped myself are a great help and as an accountant by profession, it is in my nature to be fairly organised and I realised I needed a plan of action. I listed all of the seeds by sowing month and planting group on a drawn plan of the allotment beds. Next I sowed in trays, those that needed bringing on in the greenhouse first.

I don’t have means to grow seeds at home and it’s been so long since I’ve last grown any, I was actually quite nervous! Some of the seeds were so small, that I had to hold my breath for fear of setting them into the greenhouse floor!

After a few days, when tiny little shoots appeared, I thought ‘hey, this is easy!’ – a few months further down the line, I must confess to having been a little naive. Slugs, snails, ants, woodlouse, cold early summer weather and sneaky birdy visitors to my greenhouse all kept me on my toes to make sure that I didn’t lose all of my seedlings. The only variety I completely lost, was the runner beans, which I overwatered & they rotted. I had already been offered some by another allotmenteer and turned them down. luckily, he still had them, when I had to ask with tail between my legs, if they were kindly still available. 

Then, when second or third set of leaves appear and you’ve hardened off your precious baby plants, or the ground and general temperature are warm enough for them to be transplanted outside, you’ve still to run the gauntlet with the birds (a neighbour told me that when he visits his allotment at 7.30am, my shed roof is covered in a flock of crows..), rats and weather. In my case it was the weather. Being atop a hill on the coast, the plot is subject to strong winds rendering my young plants to yellow and brown specimens. I erected some wind break netting where needed and spread poultry manure at the base of the plants. And prayed. You can do so well and then the whole lot wiped out overnight. My mother found this out when a rabbit visited her allotment and almost totally cleared the whole patch – heartbreaking!

 

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A busy Easter break!

March and April remained cold and unfortunately, too wet to dig on my days off. Easter arrived and a few days holiday allowed us to erect the gorgeous little ‘summer house’ shed that Hubbies parents kindly bought us for Christmas.

The allotment is situated on top of a hill and I felt it important that my greenhouse was strong enough to withstand the strong coastal winds. I spoke to other allotment owners for their views and decided on a ‘wind-proof’ plastic framed version with polycarbonate panels. It wasn’t the cheapest, but hopefully, if it lasts as well as it should, then I will save money in the long run….

By the end of the Easter holiday, we had the shed and greenhouse in place and the raised beds made!

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A sudden rush!

Winter wasn’t too cold, as winters go. Snow was thin on the ground but it was cold enough if you’re planning on gardening. I wanted to put fruit trees on the allotment, but as it wasn’t readily dug in the area that I wanted to put them in, I was resigned to leaving it for next year. However, I had a few days off from work and Hubbie agreed to help me.

This bit should probably not be read if you’re a horticulturalist – I purchased a load of bare root trees from a well know supermarket! Two each of Bramleys and Coxes apples, two Williams pears and two Victoria plums, along with gooseberry bushes and raspberries. It was a bitterly cold day and I admit to layering the thermals! We dug as quickly as we possibly could and in an afternoon, managed to plant all of the ‘sticks’. Time would tell if they will grow.

As I write this mid May, the final tree, a pear, has just come into bud – odd as the other pear was the first of all eight to grow leaves! I have one raspberry that remains defiant – I will leave it go and see what happens over the next year! I’ve also purchased additional raspberries, gooseberries and a blackcurrant bush from various shops that sell goods all at the same price – being all or a penny less than that gold coloured coin – you get the gist! They have all grown, but the proof is in the eating, so I guess we won’t know if they’re any good until the fruit has matured.

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It was worth the wait!

During the summer of 2014 a letter arrived. It was a long awaited letter – 6 years to be precise, and we had almost given up hope. It was a letter from the Town Council informing us that there was an allotment available, should we want it?

We went to look at it…

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Yes, it is entirely covered in Couch grass. However, it has a view over Mounts Bay and nestles on a little site that has it’s own little micro climate. In other words Hell meets Heaven!

We borrowed a petrol strimmer from my Dad and my Husband spent a couple of days cutting the grass. I then set to work and started to dig. The ground was a carpet of Couch quorns, under which a mat of thick roots lay almost a foot deep. I would go for a day once week and clear about a four foot square patch. It could have been incredibly daunting had I let it, but rather than focus on the enormity of the task of clearing this 13 by 7 metre patch, I told myself to be proud of what I had achieved that day and that after each visit the dug patch was bigger.

It is important to mention here that I have a degenerative hip condition, which could possibly have put paid to clearing the site at all. Indeed at the start, I was in a lot of pain. However, I was in a lot of pain everywhere! and I found over time that as my body got used to it and I strengthened my muscles, my hips became less of a problem at that time.

It is very daunting being a newbie on an allotment surrounded by others, who probably have years of experience. I needn’t have been though. The other allotment owners have been absolutely amazing in their encouragement and I am very grateful to them for making me feel so welcome :).

I finally had to give in to bad weather at the start of November. I had cleared about two thirds, which was far more than I had anticipated.

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next….I next went back up there at the end of February when it was time to start planting fruit trees and bushes….