Bring on the hoverflies.

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With an onslaught of aphids on the allotment, my poached egg plants (Limnanthes douglasii), couldn’t have started flowering sooner. A cheery plant, often advised by the RHS to encourage children to participate in the garden, at the ripe old age of 23 – I’m still a massive fan. Bring on the hoverflies.
IMGP2051The cucumbers, courgettes and squashes are now really sprinting into summer, with a growth spurt over the last few days, and flowers forming, I’m no longer worried that they won’t make it to fruiting in time.
However the same can’t be said about my aubergine plants which are currently still 7cm high. Hopefully they will get cracking soon.
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As we got the allotment in April, and the raspberries (autumn canes) hadn’t been cut, we decided to try an experiment. When looking to see if I could cut them so late I came across a few instances where if the canes are left, they fruit alongside summer fruiting canes. It was worth a try, so we chopped down 4/5 of the canes, leaving around 10 or so plants at their full height from last year, and they have started to fruit!
Next year I do need to mulch and make sure they have a nice comfrey feed, but it’s a good way to stop the 14-day glut often found, with drawers of the freezer quickly filling up with raspberries.
Also note I couldn’t even make it past taking a photo without popping one off, it seems most won’t make it past the allotment threshold.

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Attack of the aphids!

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I have never seen so many aphids as are underneath the large saucer-shaped leaves of my nasturtiums. It’s like a whole world under there! I am priding myself on single-handedly thinning the population for the other allotmenteers!

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My allotment is looking neat and tidy, which is slightly worrying ….. when will the onslaught of weeds come?!
Another note of interest, I haven’t seen a single slug on the allotment, nor any slug/snail damage.

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The kale is really starting to come along nicely – both curly kale and redbor kale, happily growing next to each other. I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on these!
20150629_191125This week I was also donated some more sweetcorn plants from a neighbour. So in the space of a week I have gone from 6 plants to 12. Lots of popcorn this year!

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My other very proud moment comes from the sunflowers. They are really coming along nicely, sturdy plants which will soon need to be staked as they will one day become ‘giants’ (over 7 foot).

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And a final note from this week, poor Dusty was having to be syringe-fed this week due to a bout of GI stasis. Don’t forget to keep your buns cool this summer.

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It may be wet out there,

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but it appears that the bunnies are happy to sit in it, and after the sun was out for 5 minutes the bees were out in force too.

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IMGP1998As mentioned before, the garden has been somewhat … ignored since I finally got my allotment, and the patch I used last year for veg was going to be a cut flower patch. Well, timing has gotten the better of me this year, and with a glut of seedlings leftover from the allotment it has become a sort of …. everything that is left patch! I have a lovely section of peas which were in very early, so are already in flower and with the promise of peas not too far off (if I can stop the rabbits escaping and eating them).
IMGP2014I also definitely overdid the sowings of celery this year, after giving away half of my pots to work colleagues, popping some on freecycle and putting two rows into my allotment, the rest are now happily situated in my little veg patch, along with the two left over leeks!
IMGP2011IMGP2012After being cruelly left in pots for the last 2 months, the celery are looking a bit pale and deathly, but a bit of sunshine and a feed will do them a world of good.
I also had thinnings from the sunflowers at the allotment, and again, couldn’t bear the thought of them ending up in the veg patch, so again (you guessed it), they have found a little home in my patch, fortunately they aren’t a giant variety, or this plan would have been scuppered.
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There were also two left-over courgettes, which I have bedded in with a nice splash of comfrey-juice. I am hoping that the extra space will allow them to become prize winning marrows (just thinking of all the chutney I could make with a beastly marrow is making my mouth water). I also have a row of gladioli and blue cornflowers to lighten the patch up, as well as an early sowing of beetroot.

IMGP2008After a little dead heading in the side garden, I found a suspiciously Molly- sized hole in my violas … I wonder how that got there?IMGP1997My sweet peas are also starting to look bloomin’ lovely, with a mixture of light and dark shades, and a real kick to the smell. 
IMGP2002And the prize for my favourite plant this year still goes to the Geum ‘Mrs J. Bradshaw’, not only are they gorgeous, the bees absolutely love them.
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And the Slug Hunter used a giant stake of wood to keep my borage up as it had decided to grow somewhat like a roller coaster this year, still lovely, and will be used to brighten up the salads soon enough.

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Upcycling, and a new hobby.

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This year, when I found out I had an allotment to call my own, my first thoughts were ‘well that means my patch from last year in the garden can be a cut flower patch’.
Long have I dreamed of popping into the back garden to cut a few stems and have them in a vase on my table.

So when I found a well recommended (and well priced) floristry introduction evening nearby, I politely asked (read begged), two of my work colleagues to come along with me.

It was without a doubt the most fun that can possibly be had on a Monday evening with a lovely early start looming the next day.
The teacher showed a nice simple design, and then let us loose!
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The finished product was acceptable, and I’m now thoroughly hooked. Deffinitely more lessons to come, and I can’t wait to be able to use my own plants.
And whilst on the subject of flowers, my first sweet pea bloomed this week. What a beauty, and it’s definitely a pungent smell!

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This week I also decided that I needed a nice project for the garden, it appears to be somewhat overlooked at the moment whilst I am spending so much time at the allotment, so I decided to upcycle some old guttering into lettuce holders.
They are tied onto the top of the rabbit cage so the little rascals can’t escape and nibble their way through them.
I just need to find a way to bung the ends so that the soil doesn’t run out.

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Hopefully this week I can spend some more time weeding the allotment to ensure that it’s ready to go go go as soon as the sun starts shining.

June in the allotment

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The first plan of action was to build a hoop-house for my kale to ensure it didn’t take the onslaught from cabbage whites as I managed to get last year. After finding many online guides for the water pipes found in DIY stores I decided to go along this route, with a combination of netting pegs an digging the net into the ground to ensure it’s not torn up by the wind.

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I was worried that I would have the same problem with cabbages, and so tried a different method to protect these. With just willow canes popped into the ground, and plant pots on top to hold the net up.
However during high winds the plant pots do pop off, so I need to find an alternative method here.

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My little peas ‘Oskar’ are growing nicely, along with a row of borage infront, and trailing nasturtiums will (hopefully) start to grow up the canes soon.

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I have also created trellis’s for my runner beans and french beans, which have since been twined to help the plants trail their way upwards.

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So far, the plot is coming on really nicely, with a mixture of vegetables, fruit bushes and wildlife friendly plants, it’s really coming into it’s own.
The only part I am finding difficult is to thin out plants, at the moment I am planting all of my thinnings back home in my old veg patch, but soon there will be too many! I shall have to turn to freecycle as the idea of putting a perfect little seedling into the compost bin is heart breaking!

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Allotment Dreams

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This weekend I signed for my new allotment (5th April), and now all of my time will be spent there! IMGP0860

I managed to rope the slug hunter in to help me de-weed the plot, and after cutting back the autumn raspberries (very late, I know) and assessing the inherited plants (Gooseberries, rhubarbs and a few comfrey plants), I’m terribly pleased, and definitely happy to have a nice easy plot!

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A little bit of weeding and the plot is ready to go, and the perfect time of year for it too.

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After a full day in the sunshine, not only do I have amazing sunburn (must remember the suncream next time), but I’m full of hope for the year to come.

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 And because the plot is rather bare at the moment, a lone catmint plant is in the middle. There may not be veg yet, but I may get some cats!

A Slow Winter …

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It’s been a slow winter, with my gardening priorities of 2014 being focused as a one-year cycle due to renting the house, the garden is not only bare, but also any surviving plants have been destroyed by the two rabbits (how could I possibly be mad at them though).
So with the heavy frosts leaving, and the seasons turning, it’s time to start the process again for the veg patch, and also to think about planting a few more perennials instead of the half-hardy annuals the garden was filled with last year.
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With every possible windowsill space taken up with trays and propagators – and a few mishaps when carting the filled tubes upstairs, it’s safe to say that the Slug Hunter isn’t best pleased!
But soon it will be time for him to venture into the garden to protect the Hostas for me.

This year I am going completely organic, no using slug pellets or buying plant feed. It’s going to be all about my patch of comfrey and spreading the message of not using peat.

I have also been issued the challenge of trying to grow my nan’s sweet peas – which so far have not been able to grow outside of her garden – at only 180 miles away, it’s worth a go!

So with a fresh start – the largest pile of veg and flower seeds possible, hopefully it will be a fun learning curve this year.