Sunday, 30 June 2013


Another scorching day so we went to the allotment in the morning and went back in the afternoon - just too hot to stay out in the sun over midday too.

We were working on the HAHA Plot all day. It was meant to be 'unusual vegetables - the kinds the supermarkets don't sell' but it's getting less unusual as the weeks have moved on!
Having said that, we've planted/sown the following on there now:
  • Uchiki Kuri - onion squash
  • Golden Hubbard - Winter squash (donated by Liz & Ken)
  • Jack-be-Little - small pumpkins
  • Floridor Yellow - round yellow courgette
  • Purple Haze - purple carrots
  • Globe Artichoke (donated by Jonathan)
With two sides planted up with french marigolds it should look pretty and once the squashes start spreading it'll fill out.
We've still got a few more things to sow and still have 3 months till the Hungerford Food Festival so hopefully we'll have something to show on our stall or at least to share with other plotholders.

I decided we should pull one of our potato plants (one of the International Kidneys)- it's been 10 weeks since they were planted so we thought there may be something to show....
Unfortunately I jumped the gun and in fact there were only 4 tiny spuds :-( So, Jamie pulled a plant on one of the vacant plots - these had been in the ground for over a year but look pretty good, so we will have dinner tonight after all :-)
And I'll have salad for lunch tomorrow!

Saturday, 29 June 2013

First Timelapse on a hot day in June 2013!

It was a really hot and lovely day on the allotment. Jamie and I spent about 6 hours there and we were actually on our plots so feel like we've achieved quite a lot.
I used this new app for the first time - this was just a freebie version so the quality isn't that great. However, I've now bought the Pro version so expect to see a few more timelapses on this blog in the future :-)
The hardest part was finding where to stand my phone hence the low-level view! This was filmed over about an hour and a half.

In the video I'm transplanting quite a few lettuces - lambs lettuce and lollo rosso. I also put some where my remaining three (yes, THREE!) florence fennel are. You'll see I've loaded the ground with slug pellets. I'm wondering whether the proximity to the sage is the problem - it's a bit of a slug/snail haven in there. Well, they've got plenty of lettuces to scoff now so maybe that'll keep them off the remaining fennel...
Jamie planted up the two Rocky cucumber plants. One in the ground and the other in a pot and that will hopefully trail across a framework. I planted up another sprout plant and some summer cabbage (Minicole) - protected under an enviromesh tunnel. I also planted up eleven Speedy french beans - the only ones that we've managed to germinate this year.
We did lots of weeding and Jamie cut the grass and did the edging. We fed the strawberries and tomatoes with Tomorite liquid feed. There are lots of flowers on the tomatoes and the strawberries are providing us with plenty of fruit for desserts.
The raspberry bushes have got bashed about by the wind (and Jamie's mowing) so I need to stake them up tomorrow. There are lots of flowers and fruits appearing and it's the most popular plant on the plot for bees at the moment.
I chopped all the chives back to ground level as the flowers had just about gone over and I didn't want them to seed everywhere - the chives will grow back quickly enough. We'll need them for our new potatoes soon :-)

Thursday, 27 June 2013

HAHA Guides Plot

The HAHA constitution includes a clause to:
"Work with other groups in the Hungerford area to widen public support for allotments and seek opportunities to provide education to the community of Hungerford on gardening and allotment matters."
I think we achieved that yesterday evening when the Marsh Lane site had never been so busy! The 1st Hungerford Guides worked their plot for the first time.
The plot had been weed killed and rotavated a few weeks ago so digging wasn't too painful and the 30-ish Guides, plus helpers, managed to dig enough of the plot to plant some well-grown sweetcorn and pumpkin plants  (Thanks to Tony).
There will be a few weeding sessions and then in a few weeks we'll have a bbq and sweetcorn-eating session followed by a pumpkin carving event - that's the plan...

There was also plenty of wildlife spotting going on which is good to see - I had to step in when they were about to test the assumption that both ends of a worm survive if you chop one in half; Just got there before the spade did the evil deed!

While I was helping the girls Jamie planted up our sprouts and tidied up our plots. The runner beans are growing well and finally we have some french beans in the root trainers but they're not quite ready to go in the ground yet.


Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Broads and Strawbs

We've had a few visits to the plot since last week. Jamie transplanted the beets into the raised bed and we've got all the squashes in their places now. Still haven't got the brassicas planted up so we really need to get them done in the next week.
This evening we've got broad beans - our first harvest from the over-Wintered plants. We've also got a few strawberries for dessert and plenty more to come.

My florence fennel is down to seven plants now. I specifically grew them to go with my celeriac. My celeriac has bolted; I cut the flowering core out but don't know whether they'll bulb up now. Looks like I may be buying fennel and celeriac soup or relying on someone else's produce!

Something (probably a bird) got behind my protective netting on the mangetout and has made a real mess; a broken and tangled mess. I've protected it again and hopefully they'll still produce some pods...

We had the HAHA AGM last night. It was good. Lots of people turned up and (after the official stuff was out of the way) we had a good night of chat. Throughout the evening we had a slideshow of photos from Marsh Lane since the site was first chosen in 2008 to date. So fabulous seeing the changes over the years.

I've posted the slideshows to Youtube, so here's a link to them:

Friday, 21 June 2013

Am I dreaming?!

Well, I thought I must be but at the moment it seems that I'm not!
Unbelievably, about 10 minutes after publishing my last post I was notified that the developer had a change of heart (I know! I know!)Our Marsh Lane lease is to be extended for two years subject to contracts being signed!!

We went to the plot later and had a little celebration with our fellow plotholders - some of whom hadn't received the first email so were blissfully unaware of the pains most of us were going through!
The HAHA AGM should be a more light-hearted affair now :-)

Ugh - Leased land is rubbish!

Oh no, here we go again....
De-ja-vu of 2009
We've been told by the developer/landowner won't extend the lease on Marsh Lane because it could put a block on future development of the site :-( Basically we can't use the site as an allotment even though there's no planning application in sight yet. So frustrating!! So much time and effort put in to make the Marsh Lane site such a brilliant commodity for Hungerford.

There's the likelihood of an alternative site but at present that would also be on a short lease - not a great position - can just imagine re-posting this in another 4 years....
We'll have to see what happens at the HAHA AGM on Monday evening.

On a plus note, in the last week we've eaten our first handful of strawberries - bad luck Jamie for getting the one that the red ants had got into <bleah>
Jamie also planted out six more Scarlet Empire runner beans and two jack-be-little squashes.
My fennel is still being eaten. I tried spraying with various things - the detergent seems to have got rid of the greenfly but I think slugs were joining in the fun. 7 plants left now....

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Weather, Bacteria and Bugs

We've had over 5mm of rain since my last entry a week ago. Most of that fell yesterday while I was at the West Woodhay Garden Show with my mum - what a shame, though on the whole I did enjoy the day. The trouble was, it wasn't just rainy; it was a bit chilly and extremely windy - actually, that sums up the weather last week. We haven't taken the wraps off our runner beans yet as we're concerned the bean stems will snap.
We planted up our sweetcorn on Plot 8B last Monday evening - we protected with bottle cloches on them as they were rather small but Monday was likely to be the best day for planting. Unfortunately the wind did cause our protective cloche to chop one of the little seedlings off! But we popped another corn in the hole so maybe we'll get 16 plants after all...
Plot 8B
I planted up the Cornells Bush Delicata over the hole filled with manure and Jamie's Jack-be-little pumpkins will be planted near the sweetcorn as we want them to trail through the sweetcorn stems.
Orla potato is showing our first flower

Flowers are appearing on our potatoes - the Orla was the first to actually bloom. They're so pretty. On a less positive note Jamie had to pull one Kestrel potato which had rotted in the ground due to blackleg. Someone else on site had also mentioned that one of their plants had it. If spotted (and it's not hard to spot) you need to get rid of all trace of the rotten plant to avoid it spreading.
Carrots looking happy under enviromesh

I sowed some more mangetout and have protected the growing stems with mesh - it looks like the pigeons have been having a bit of a nibble. Talking of nibbling, over the last couple of weeks I've noticed that my florence fennel appears to be disappearing. I thought it may be slugs but today I took a leaf off one of the little plants which had gone all curly. On closer inspection it has greenfly on it - of course, I've now read that greenfly love fennel! We need more ladybirds! I've hardly seen any this year :-(
Lastly, we dug some more of the HAHA plot and filled two holes with manure so I can plant a couple of squashes (a Floridor yellow and Uchiki Kuri).

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Unusual Veg Plot

This trendy photo was taken by Ethan - he found a setting I'd forgotten existed on my camera :-)
That's me, still clearing the HAHA plot. Nearly done... Nigel gave us some mooli radish seeds and some salsola Liscari Sativa. I'd never heard of that before but looks like it could be interesting - if it germinates. It needs to be reasonably cold for successful germination so I'll sow in a tray at home on the doorstep, which is always in the shade.

I sowed some more mangetout on our plot and also a test sowing of Asparagus pea, to see how long they'll take to produce once they're on the HAHA plot.

I also sowed some more radish on top of the row of wild rocket, which was a no-show. Oh yes, and our sweetcorn has germinated at home - 15 out of 20 so far. We'll take them up the plot soon...

Friday, 7 June 2013

Come on Strawbs!

Well, we got some rain! Quite a lot of it this morning (2.5mm) so we didn't get to Marsh Lane until after lunch; by then you'd hardly notice that it had rained.
We fed Robbie who is very busy feeding his chicks but still not ready for them to be photographed and Mrs Blackbird is squeezing as much as possible into her beak to take off to a nest somewhere.
I'm keeping a close eye on the strawberries - it can't be too much longer to wait now, surely...!
I transplanted some chard seedlings. I tried to be a bit selective so the multi-coloured stems show at their best. I like chard in salads but Jamie's not keen, so I don't grow much and I grow a new crop each year rather than leaving it in the ground.

We spent most of the time, yesterday and today, working on the new HAHA plot. We've nearly cleared all the weeds. We're going to grow unusual veg - the types of things you won't find in the supermarket. We hope to have enough for the HAHA stand at the Hungerford Food Festival at the end of September - that's the plan.
Look at these pretty weeds - not on our plot or the HAHA one I hasten to add!


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

More sunshine and sitting

Here's a photo of the plots from the other angle. I love these overheads shots - taken by putting the camera on timer and attaching it to the end of an 8-ft bamboo cane! It's a bit hit&miss, sometimes the photos line up, but there are also a lot at very jaunty angles :-) I'm taking a few around the site and adding to our Facebook page to show off all the hard work of the plotholders.
It was another scorcher today. Jamie mowed the grass around our plots while I mixed up the remainder of the manure which we collected and it's now bagged up for when we need it.
We spent most of our time on the site today working on the new HAHA plot. We've moved it to a1-pole plot near the communal area. We cleared a lot of the weeds but have a long way to go yet....

We also spent a lot of time chatting - lucky our actual plots aren't by a communal seat otherwise we'd never get anything done!


Wow! What a great week to be on leave! Such a lovely sunny day that even the wind was warm.
Jamie potted up the three peppers, using a sand and potting compost mix. They're in pots on weed suppressant near the tomatoes.
I planted a row of French marigolds between the carrots and parsnips. And put a staggered row of pot marigolds (calendula) alongside the tomatoes.
The salsify is barely visible but they all seem to have germinated. Here's a macro-shot of it - very easy to miss or mistake for grass!
The French beans haven't appeared (well one did) so I sowed some into individual pots and have left them in the greenhouse to germinate. I also sowed a tray of Winter cabbage Tundra in modules which should be fine germinating outside, under netting.
At last we've also sown a root trainer tray of Sweetcorn supersweet which are under the grow light at home.
A little bit of Robbie news - his chicks have fledged. We saw two sitting on the fence and Robbie was feeding them both. One of them did a circuit round our plot, but didn't land. Hopefully I'll get a photo of the family soon.
At one point Robbie was sitting on our bench and was letting out a really high-pitched sound but frozen in position. When we looked about we saw that the kestrel was on the telegraph wires watching. Once the kestrel flew away Robbie started feeding again.
That reminded me to fill in the Kestrel Survey online!

Monday, 3 June 2013

A Bit of Planting

Another lovely sunny day started with us collecting two bags and a bucketful of horse manure from beside the road at Liddington. We've driven past the 'free manure' sign so many times!
So, when we got to the plot I dug nice deep holes and filled them with the manure. I planted the Uchiki Kuri plants by the trellis and put the Floridor yellow (round courgette) in the legume quarter.
I want to put the green courgette where the lettuce are, but that can wait a bit.
The watering system is a plastic bottle with a length of pipe attached; the aim being to let the water seep down to the roots rather than running off the surface. I've used flower pots for the same purpose by the trellis.
The hole on plot 8b is waiting for the Cornell's Bush Delicata, which eventually germinated but is nowhere ready to be planted yet.
While I was doing that Jamie planted up the tomato plants. He's put a cane through into the ground to stop them toppling over and we loosely attached the plant to it. They're looking rather unhappy with their browning leaves but hopefully they'll cheer up in the big pots full of Tomorite grow bags... we'll see...

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Two Visits to the Plot

We got to the plot for sunrise. We intended to get there before the birds started their chorus but we were too late. They were singing beautifully all the while we were there and we could hear the cuckoo across the marsh. It was a beautiful morning; just a few clouds and when the sun rose they were a fabulous colour (the photo doesn't do them justice).

The sun reaches the the western hedge well before it lights up our plot.
The hedges round the site are looking beautiful at the moment with their shiny new foliage. The hawthorn with its may blossom is particularly stunning up close. This photo isn't photo-shopped, it's the morning sunlight giving it the pinky hue.
We went back home for a couple of hours and then returned to site about lunchtime. A lovely warm day and although windy at the top of site we found it to be quite still at our plots.
Plants in waiting

I planted up the celeriac - 2 rows about 30cm apart.
Yes, I cheated. My seed-sown celeriac is too pathetic so I bought a tray at the Garden Centre. I'm sure more germinated than are in the tray but something is nibbling them and it's just too slow growing.
Jamie took the netting off the onions and weeded all round them and dug up the persistent potatoes!
The strawberry plants, which we're growing next to our seat for the birds to eat, are looking healthy and, along with the chives, are bringing bees and hoverflies in.
Robbie came to join us as usual and watches our every move. No sign of his youngsters yet; he's still taking them plenty of worms.