Sunday, December 24, 2006

In the bleak midwinter (not so bleak, not so midwinter these days), the allotment sits dull and grey. No action, cold wet and miserable.

Or perhaps that's just me? No matter; I can take comfort in a festive cabbage!!

Happy Xmas, allotment bloggers everywhere

Monday, December 11, 2006

Seeds ordered (at 33% discount from Suttons through work). Cut down on some of the daft ones this year but still seem to have a lot of chillies (How'm I feeling? Hot, Hot, Hot). Still using home-made chilli oil from 2 years ago and it still blows your socks off, despite looking distinctly unsavoury by now. My son refuses to touch it. Gnome - try some in your chutney!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

At last!! Back online again after a 5 week absence - broadband nightmare, new provider, line faults, exchange faults, call centres in India etc. Very tedious but now alive again. And how is the allotment, you may ask? Neglected but not as bad as it would have been if neglected for 5 weeks in the summer. Digging now 70% done.

And next year's Garlic is in, on 2nd December. Not quite as early as last year when it went in in October but it'll still get some cold weather for vernalsiation. And there's lots of it. Ye Gods - 64 cloves. Good job we like it!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Only a quick visit to the allotment, to confirm the sad state of the Carlingford “ready for Xmas”, don’t you believe it, taters. Had to dig them up as virtually all the foliage had gone from blight.

Entire crop is pictured below next to my [small] mobile phone for indication of huge size, not. Also tastefully garlanded with what will probably be the last of this year’s cucumber and courgette crop. Yes, I know the courgettes look odd – they’re Italian. Trompetti, from Seeds of Italy.

Also made great progress on this year’s bindweed harvest. If it were edible, or half as nice as they Sukebind, I’d larfing. Laugh? We lay on the ground. As it isn’t, I’m not.

Finally, great news on the domestic front. Our daughter Sally has signed the tenancy agreement on a flat. Sally is 30 and has a learning disability so the prospect of living independently in her own flat is major good news. She’ll still need some support but she moves in next weekend. Celebrations all round, and massive trips to IKEA to furnish it! Dad’s wallet is already groaning.

Interesting week. Went to see Dervla Murphy, Irish travel writer extraordinaire, speaking at Sheffield’s [now 10 yr old] literary festival, Off the Shelf. Dervla cycled from Ireland to India, via Afghanistan, through the bitter winter of 1963, wrote a book about it, Full Tilt, and has carried on writing and cycling ever since.

I have an original copy, now 40 yrs, old of that book because Dervla’s exploits, mostly on a bicycle, have been an unattainable yardstick for my own cycling travels. She has just returned from a 2nd solo trip to Siberia (age 75), having carelessly left her bicycle (Pushkin) there. And has now signed my book!! Like’s a drink too; she had a pint of Boddingtons at her elbow throughout the book signing.

My own cycling efforts have been more prosaic. For Lake Baikal, read Rother Valley Country Park & the Chesterfield Canal.

For the BAM railway through Siberia, read Trans Pennine Trail through North East Derbyshire. 13 miles; legs still attached.

Monday, October 09, 2006

G continues to keep up the “exercise & get fit” programme – 10½ miles cycling down the Eastern Edges above Matlock & the Derwent valley this morning (dead badger in the road at one point; may have been a hit and run but looked rather as though it had been dumped. Possible victim of badger baiting?). 1000 steps in 20mins on the step machine last night. No reduction in waistline yet!

More digging (spellchecker suggested ‘dogging’; I should be so lucky!) at the allotment this afternoon. Two more sub-plots (is this really a novel?) done, altho lots of bindweed in the2nd one. The Inconstant Gardener in residence when I got there and actually working. Must stop calling him that. ICG hereafter. Have now done about 40% of my autumn digging. Now need a load of manure to spread on it for the winter and re-dig in spring.

Monday, October 02, 2006

G is out on his bike again. Normal service almost fully resumed. 11.5 miles this morning around the old circuit by Derwent & Howden reservoirs up to Kings Tree. Lots of very miserable cyclists who clearly haven't been brought up proper and told by their Mums to say Good Morning to the nice gentleman. If any of you are reading this (unlikely?) Lighten up you Miserable Buggers and say Good Morning when someone says it to you!

Then to the allotment this afternoon for a good bout of "Digging in the Rain; what a wonderful feeling, I'm digging again". And it didn't rain too much and I did get two sub-plots dug. Needless to say the inconstant gardener hasn't done much. Too busy making goulash.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Later - turned out nice again! Earlier wet weather has quite disappeared and it's glorious sunshine. Made it to the allotment after all and managed some 'shirt off' action. Bean poles down and gone-to-seed lettuce trees uprooted. Cleared tatty cornflowers off top plot and earthed up the 2nd crop potatoes. They're looking good - planted at the top of the plot to, hopefully, keep both frost and blight off them. We'll see.

My 'other half' arrived, en famille, with a Hungarian Goulash pot hanging from a tripod, under which a fire was lit. Looked impressive, but not sure there was enough dry wood to sustain the fire to make goulash. But a good attempt.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

G is out on his bike again! No allotment work this morning – too wet – but may get there this afternoon. Instead G managed to get the bicycle out and do 6 miles – pathetic really but it marks a watershed.

Biking was suspended earlier this year, to concentrate all available time (apart from allotment of course) on moving house. Bike has only been out three times this year! Just need to remind G’s legs of their proper function now and start building up to a ‘normal’ 20 miles per Sunday morning session.

Thick mist along the ridge above Darley Dale and Matlock, with intermittent heavy rain, but the philosophy still holds of “ignore the weather and go out regardless”.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Old No. 81 had a day off today, from incessant house-moving tasks and general work-related “stuff”. Instead, went walking on the Peak District moors in glorious sunshine. Temperatures up to 260C (on 21st September) and got a sunburnt slap-head. Farmers were out with hounds but otherwise saw hardly anyone. Had lunch at the shooting cabin in Lower Small Clough, off Ronksley Moor, which is a fabulous place.

There’s a visitor’s book, benches and chairs and it is clearly a much-loved ‘bothy’ for many people. I’m tempted to suggest a Ronksley brunch for the group of us who are going to Crete next year, by way of a training exercise.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Well, what a long gap since my last post in May. Excuses? Partly pressure of work over the summer (including at the allotment) but mostly because we’ve been moving house. But that’s done now – moved 10 days ago. Just about unpacked and been to the allotment for the first time for 3 weeks or so. Lordy, how it grows when you take you eye off the ball.

Massive attack with the petrol strimmer (good for strimming petrol!) has got it into some semblance of order but it needs some concentrated attention – end of this week; promise.

Successes this summer – courgettes and cucumbers, especially cucumbers; given loads away every week (perhaps should grow less!); beans, tomatoes, lettuce (until they bolted and I hadn’t got any succession ready).

Failures this summer – sweet peas (v poor), onions, blackberries (birds had the crop – must net them next year), plum tree (a lacklustre thing from B&Q which has struggled to do anything about growing at all.

But, generally, things are looking up. The abandoned plot to the left (82) has been taken and had scorched earth policy applied. The abandoned plot at the end is similarly being reclaimed and, deep joy, he has discovered a fully functioning grape vine which is actually rooted on my side. Yikes!!! Chateau Brincliffe looms. Even the inconstant gardener with whom I share a gate and path has returned to do some more. So I am suddenly surrounded by burgeoning cultivation and have a reborn blog to keep going through the autumn. Avast there, he said on “Talk like a Pirate Day”

Monday, May 01, 2006

Sunday 30 April

Another bout of heavy digging. Just about all of it done now, including some bits that haven't been done in (it feels like) living memory. I'm having to 'steal' time at the allotment because we're also trying to move house and there are loads of jobs to do. Spent the afternoon cutting the [miles-long] hedge at home and mastered the tidying up by the two-tarpaulin trick, only to discover that the resulting heap of clippings was too heavy to move! Somehow got to get it up a flight of stairs, into the car and off to the tip while not having a hernia. There's a lot to be said for fences!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

St George's Day (& also the 2nd anniversary of my mother's funeral). Lovely gardening weather though. Lots of digging and planted shedloads of onion sets (Turbo). My oppo (Chris) has had a vast load of manure delivered - took hours to get it off the road into the plot and at one point a car tried to drive over it and got stuck. Hey Ho.

I've also had a massive bonfire at home as we tidy the house up before putting it on the market. It was a bit of a good/bad/good news story. Good becasue I got rid of so much rubbish in a heap so old it had at least 2 Xmas trees in it. Bad because I lost my glasses in the fire, but good because I found the glasses I thought I'd thrown away in a bag of hedge trimmings two years ago. What goes around comes around!

Monday, April 17, 2006

And here is how it looks now, after lots of effort to get the hedge down to a reasonable size, most if it dug over, and a shed built (on Walter Segal, minimum impact principles). Latest action has been to get some raspberries and blackberries in and, today, to put in (rather late) some salad potatoes (Nicola) and some red onion sets - Red Baron, very scabby becasue I'd left it too late). But the onion sets and garlic I put in last October are doing very well.

This is my first post to Allotment 81, from my allotment known, surprisingly, as Allotment 81!. It faces due south on a steeply sloping site in south west Sheffield, so gets loads of sun, not much frost and is free draining - ideal for a vineyard some would say, indeed I've often said just that. It was pretty derelict when i took it - grass waist high and hedges twice my height. I've had it since summer 2004 but it's taken 18 months to get the infrastructure under control.

There are two plots side by side with a central path and a shared gate. For most of last year the 'other' plot was empty. It's now been taken since autumn last year but the tenant is only just beginning to work it. Anyway, here's some photos of how it was.