Tuesday, 16 December 2008


Crikey - My wife gave me a green card to go up to the plot the whole day on Saturday.
So I wrapped up, got Max ready and we made our way up to the plot.
It was freezing, soggy, windy and grim beyond words.
So we turned around and went home.
I ended up doing more chores around the house, my wifes an evil genius.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Sneaky Wednesday up the yard

I had a rare day off from work yesterday.

Max was playing Shepherd number one in his schools Christmas nativity and I promised to be there for the big event. The play didn't begin until half past two in the afternoon so I was looking forward to several hours of allotment rearranging.

That plan was scuppered when I was handed a list of man-chores to complete by the Mrs.

So it was up at 6:30, drop her off at the station. Get home and feed, cloth, clean and taxi the kids to school and nursery. Shot up to the supermarket for dinner and to buy some energy saving light bulbs. Back home to sort out the mess I’ve made in the garage, fit the new light bulbs, rewire some plugs and finally at 10:30 I finished with a cup of tea and a slice of toast with a good inch of peanut butter.

Changed into my digging gear and made off with a flask of coffee.

It was a fantastic morning. Not a cloud in the sky and no wind. Its was cold - maybe three degrees and the air was so crisp but dry. Pockets of frost were clearly visible on the streets where the sun had not reached. The sun provided hazy lazy daylight and a pale moon was locked in the sky.

Upon arriving at the site I was happy to see somebody had left the gate unlocked. The old padlock may as well be made from dry ice it’s that cold. Our plot is long and I’m right up at the top which bugged me when I first started but now I know it was a blessing. The lower (entrance end) gets a lot of shade during the winter months and suffers from a long hard ground frost sometimes lasting all day. The plot is not flat either so all the rain water runs down and collects into the plots at the bottom, sometimes when you get unabated rainfall for days on end you end up with some of the worse positioned plots becoming submerged under water.

My plot is probably a good fifteen metres higher and probably four hundred metres from the entrance, there are no trees or buildings of any kind that can cast shadows but their is a wind breaker in the form of the sites mini Orchard and wildlife space which does a little good in stopping the winds from smashing up the hill.

I had a couple of jobs I really wanted to do. The first was to move the Compost bin onto the new plot and away from the shed. I haven’t seen any rats on my plot but I’ve heard they just love nesting under your shed and putting a compost pile which we recycle non cooked kitchen scraps is just asking for trouble. I was heavy. I managed to pull it onto its side and was about half way to its new position when a screw fell out, then another and finally the whole structure gave ant it just fell to pieces. On telling this to Trevor by mail today he came up with a "no Shit Sherlock comment that as a rough rule anything made of old pallets won't stand up to being moved - You heard it here first. Anyhow, lugging the pieces was a lot easier and now I have another job of rebuilding the compost bin.

It’s amazing how much junk you collect up the site. I know allotments are not a place where you take your shoes off to keep it clean but it was time to de-clutter and put things away and bunch stuff together to make the place well - more tidy.

I got to work collecting all the cane poles scattered about the place. Like any normal boy, Max loves doing kungfu/little John impressions with them and they end up everywhere.

There were maybe fifty or so empty bags from all the manure and compost that I have added. These all got tightly bunged into one bag; I'll give them back to the horse crap man so he can fill them up again. I also unloaded my last half a dozen full bags of muck onto an area I’ve been preparing for my potatoes next year

I have a lot of varying lengths of timber which I use for all kinds of allotment crafting from building raised beds to making frames to stop the pigeons becoming obese. All the wood was quickly piled up from the several smaller piles scattered around my plot.

Lastly I just went around for ten or so minutes bagging up empty cans of pop, Water bottles and odds n Sods which had piled up in my make shift bin to take home for the rubbish collector. There isn't a communal rubbish bin on site and you have to take it all home with you which is a bit of a pain in the neck.

Hardly what I would call spick and span, but as tidy as an allotment will ever be everything’s so wet and muddy at the moment so even when clean it kind of looks a mess.

The last time that I was over the plot I had begun to plot out the paths I will be making by using the timber to outline the growing spaces. I decided to make these more permanent so began digging trenches where the outlines were and sinking the timbers in at ground level. This took about an hour for each of the two large growing beds. By which time the sun had lifted the temperature a couple of degrees and what with all my digging and walking over the bare earth paths in the middle of my plot the paths began turning into slippy sloppy wallow which is exactly the reason I want to get them covered over next time with some membrane and a covering of chippings.

But there was no time for that. I had to shoot home and get showered up for the school nativity………