April and May: allotment update

Well as expected, two very busy months out there.  But it is all looking very good, and despite a few fails (peas, mangetout, rows of lovely salad seedlings trashed by ??something…) I’m pleased with how its going so far.

I spent a lot of time one day carefully dismantling what was left of my original hen run (now aka the ‘pile of crap’ on my orchard.  Not to be confused with the pile of actual crap from the farm).  This freed up quite a bit of usable chicken wire, which I was able to give away via Freegle.  It also tidied up an eyesore of my own making, and enabled me finally to cut all the grass on the orchard and start to get it looking more like it should.  This is a space that one day will be a new salad bed (next year….).  The old raspberry bed is going to become a cutting flower bed.  This will require An Awful Lot Of Work.  Maybe over the autumn and winter?

2016-05-02 12.55.14

At the very end of April I planted a new asparagus bed.  So far it’s not looking like much, but I remain optimistic that next year it will start to look like its meant to.  I hope I’m not being completely deluded – I so want it to work out this time around.

By contrast, the raspberry canes and fruit bushes I moved this spring are looking brilliant, and the extended strawberry bed is smothered with flowers and the start of fruit.    I’ve covered them with netting to try to reduce the amount of bird damage, and will need to be vigilant about slugs and snails.  I’ve even planted a rose bush next to them to grow up a post that was a no-longer-needed of an early attempt at a fruit cage.

There are gooseberries on the bushes, and the beginnings of flowers on the currant bushes.  The rhubarb is producing more than I can use, and I’ve started cooking up the surplus for the freezer.  Later this week there will be a batch of rhubarb and ginger jam I hope.

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The mini orchard looked a picture a couple of weeks ago when the blossom was out.  On the nearby community orchard we celebrated the fabulous blossom with a community picnic, complete with a local community choir.  A lovely event, and one I hope may become a tradition.

Back on my vegetable plot, I have three beds of potatoes all doing well, and I’m hopeful that as usual we’ll have the first of the first earlier at the start of July for Malcolm’s birthday.

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The broad beans I sowed in the autumn are doing well, and we should have our first picking shortly.  By contrast all my peas have been devastated – birds? snails? slugs? a sustained onslaught by a combination of all three?  All I know is that we don’t have any.  Maybe I can remedy that later in the season.

2016-05-27 08.28.13

By contrast all the onions, garlic and shallots are doing fabulously well, and I hope we may have our best crop ever.  In particular the garlic look like they’re going to be full sized and not mini like the ones I’ve grown for the past few years.  Planting early into good rich soil (enriched with plenty of muck from a nearby farm) is probably the key to this, plus no shortage of rain along the way.

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I planted out cucumbers, tomatoes and courgettes a couple of weeks ago, and so far they’re all still there (thanks in large part I suspect to the slug pellets, my only deviation from organic growing).

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2016-05-26 11.52.06

I have one more project on the go: up-cycling stuff I’ve scavenged .  Hence the three ex Bongo wheels donated by youngest son, in which I’m growing a cucumber plant, a courgette plant, and a chard plant.  I’m hoping to demonstrate to oldest son (who doesn’t have a garden but could possibly use some outside space for growing) and youngest son (who does have a garden but a very small one with very limited growing space) just how much you can grow in free containers.  Or maybe all I’ll show them is just how little you can grow.  Time will tell.

Next up: the bean poles and some climbing french bean plants.  Some new sowings of salad stuffs.  Planting out the rest of the flower seedlings I managed to raise (marigolds, zinnias).  Giving away any left over plants (tomatoes, cucumbers, chard, all have good homes to go to).

Anyway, all in all, this year is looking better than last year, which was better than the one before.  And that’s good enough for me.


About deborah @ the magic jug

Now I've passed 60 I'm still doing all sorts of things I haven't done before, as well as carrying on with the things I already love. I live a happy life with my long term love Malcolm. In my blog I explore local and low tech ideas, food, growing, making, reading, thinking, walking, and lots of other words ending in 'ing'.
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5 Responses to April and May: allotment update

  1. Marian says:

    Your gardens look amazing, Deborah! I am continually awed by how much work you put into your allotment. I have not yet even planted my garden … I could have done so (safely, worries about late frosts having past) two weekends ago, but couldn’t find the time. I will finally get it in tomorrow morning, and I’m fairly sure it will still be fine — the seeds I plant all seem to be ones that you can harvest fairly quickly (cucumbers, zucchini, peas and beans) and the tomatoes and kale are plants, so should produce before fall as well.

    I liked your phrase, “….how much you can grow in free containers. Or maybe all I’ll show them is just how little you can grow”. I have tried and tried and tried to grow veggies in containers and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but it’s never worked well for me. In fact, last year I gave up on the endeavour – I washed all the pots I had been using (they all came from trees we had bought and planted) and recycled them 😦 . I do hope you and your sons have better luck than I did … if it works well, please share your how-tos!


    • Thanks Marian! I feel a bit of a fraud though = don’t compare yourself with me, I’m at a different stage of my life and time is one thing I now have in abundance.
      I hope you managed to get your garden in as planned. I know i would struggle with such a short growing season – feels to me that whatever you can produce is a massive achievement against the odds!
      For me the usual fail point with growing stuff in pots is being around enough to water them. This time I’ve planted into reasonably well-rotted farmyard muck, which holds water very well, so I’m hoping that a good drench before I go away will see them through the weeks when I’m away. I’ll keep you updated!


  2. What an astonishing amount of work! Your garden must be your life, in season!


    • No really, it honestly isn’t that much work. The hardest bit is getting it set up in the first place, and that’s the bit that continues to eat my time. But those bits that are already up and running, well I reckon when it’s all set up, the whole thing will take about a day a week to maintain and keep going. Which when you have the time, is a relatively small ‘price’ to pay for having some exercise outdoors and producing quite a lot of food!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. simoneharch says:

    Deborah, nice to see how things are progressing on your allotment. It looks like you have lots on the go, regardless of a few failures / attacks! Let’s hope the glorious weather continues and the slow start to the growing season changes. Only issue up here is that the water butts are all empty – definitely a first in Buxton! Enjoy your produce. Simone


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