Raised beds and melting plastic!

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Rob, my friend Gilly’s son, promised he would come today to help me on the Allotment and true to his word arrived at about 11ish.  We all made our way over to the Lot loaded down with my collection of ‘women’s tools’ , including rusty saws, a collection of rusty bent nails, a super size crowbar, chisels, screwdrivers and whatever else I thought might do the trick of dismantling these pallets, and enough food and drink and chocolate to get us through the afternoon. An afternoon which was quite cold and before I even put my wellies on, my toes were like blocks of ice.  I had made up my mind about putting in raised beds earlier in the week and had gone about town on the beg for wooden pallets to make my plan to not spend money on wood a reality.  Rob set to sawing the pallets into two boards deep until we had enough to make the first raised bed.  The first photo is of the end of the garden where the former allotmenteer had his chicken shed.  At first I thought I was going to use the pallets to make a composter but changed course and will do that later.  So we had to move all the pallets back down to the other end.

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Fairly impressive isn’t it?  That’s me in the background laying pieces of broken board down in the mud!  It was sticking to all our wellies until we could hardly move!  The pallets were perfect for the job but untreated so they may not last too long but as with a lot of things, I’ll worry about that later!

Gilly in the meantime got busy digging up the raspberry canes.  Then, the first raised bed happened!  We had Dido and Daisy, my border terriers, with us up to this point but they didn’t like the hammering so I took them off home out of the cold and the mud!

Soon, the second one was finished, and we stopped for a coffee and a sandwich, except Gilly forgot the coffee, and I caused a major catastrophe!  I forgot to take the camping stove out of it’s plastic case before lighting it!  I kept smelling plastic burning and then saw to my horror the stove itself was melting with the heat!  If I had a brain I would be dangerous!  But no harm done this time and no coffee to warm us up on such a cold November day.  Eventually we finished all three raised beds in spite of the melting plastic.  Guess I have to get another one as I can’t be without a way to make a coffee this winter!

Many thanks to Rob for a grand job making the beds, and to Gilly for her digging and to me for melting my camp stove!  It was a fun day and still lots more to do!  I’ve decided to make a bug hotel with some of the leftover wood!  More on this later!

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Flirting for wooden pallets!

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It’s been a good few days since I’ve blogged about Lindy’s Lot.  It’s been down to having a dreadful cold that is still with me unfortunately, but I’m hoping the dang thing is on it’s way out now.  Somewhere in the days since my last post I’ve been thinking about the ways I can NOT spend money on this allotment.  It’s really a tough call but I persisted and now I have accumulated  a huge pile of wooden pallets that I got for free.  I only have a little CZ1 Colt so had to do some sawing to get them into the car.  Passers-by looked at this ol white haired gramma and surely wondered what on earth she was doing!  Today I managed to flirt with two young men and they kindly offered to saw them for me 🙂  and lifted them into the car!  Isn’t that lovely!??  Well, that was the end of the freebies to date.

I had no choice but to spend some out for polycarbonate greenhouse glass replacement –10 sheets for £40.  Why does glass cost more than plastic??  They arrived today so the jobs I have to do are surely mounting up.  My friend’s son is coming on Sunday to help make some raised beds out of all the pallets in the huge pile.  I know they aren’t treated and will soon rot but hey ho, I’ll just replace them when they do!  So at least I have made a decision to put in raised beds hoping it will make life easier.  I need a special raised bed for blueberries and cranberries as it has to be acid soil.  I shall be having to go to St. Bridget’s here in Exeter and get some bags of ericacious soil.  I am so excited about actually getting something  into the ground!  I hope it doesn’t matter that it’s December.  If any of you gardeners know something I don’t about planting blueberries and when please inform me quickly!

A new allotmenteer has taken over the plot next to mine, but she’s not a rookie like me, she knows her stuff!  I’m looking forward to picking her brains about all sorts of gardening questions!   Whoopee!  Her husband already has an allotment, so this one is hers, she says.  They have chickens, too, on the other allotment.  Earlier in the week I had a quick chat with one of the women who took on the allotment at the top of the hill, the terraced one.  She and her partner were busy digging deeply rooted grass and getting nowhere fast.  Phew, better them than me!   I asked them to pop down and have a cup of tea on my camping stove when they next see me!  I’ve been meeting lots of really lovely people on the allotment.  It’s great!

My next door neighbour knows loads about fruit trees so she’s having a think about how to prune the orchard!

In the meantime, I make lots of stuff for craft fairs.  I have a fair tomorrow at Uffculme School in Mid Devon and another at Seaton, Devon on 15 December.  I make handmade books and art journals, little ‘monstees’, semi-scary little critters made out of polymer clay, and mosaic boxes, with tiles made with polymer clay.  I plan to do a post about the crafts soon.

11 November 2013 — Some decisions made on Lindy’s Lot

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Saturday was a rather nice day in spite of earlier forecasts of rain, so made plans to visit the allotment in the afternoon, mostly to try and make some plans about this rather large plot I find myself with.  Stopped by B&Q on the way as I needed gloves and wellies.  I was tempted by some red trendy ones with pink flowers, but the blue Town & Country ones won the day, because they were so comfy and soft and fit like a dream.  Nobody’s gonna see those flowers under all the mud anyhow!  I also invested in a dibber, just saw it there and got it because it was yellow and less chance of me losing it!  Possibly a symbol of my optimism that there will be something to dib in the Spring!

When my friend and co-gardener, Gilly, and I arrived at my plot, we were surprised to find a big pile of red potatoes, and underneath an old cloche held down by two wooden pallets, was a huge lone garlic bulb!  I think it was our new allotment friend, Mike, who left them and I was rather touched by this act of kindness! I wasn’t sure about the potatoes.  Was I meant to eat them or were they seed potatoes??  I’m not sure yet what to do with the garlic either!  Gosh have I got a lot to learn!

Friend and I had a look over the plot, and made some decisions about which part to ready for planting in the Spring, and which part to cover over until I could get myself organised, and on top of one part before I tackle another.  So we divided the plot into four sections.

The furthest section 4 is where the greenhouse and the compost heaps sit.  It looks rather untended and I don’t fancy tackling it just now, so it will be left and covered with something to stop the weeds growing. Section 3 is the mini orchard which can be left to itself really except for a dollop or two of horse poo. Section 2 will be dug over as it’s needing just a light dig over and then covered with a tarpaulin til I’m ready for it. Section 1 will be the goal for this year and it’s plenty big enough!  My plan, if I ever get over this dreadful cold, and the rain stops, is to go to Wickes and get some gravel boards, to make raised beds to make life that much easier.  I have yet to source some horse poo.  I would like someone to deliver.  It sounds cool going to a farm with a shovel but it ain’t.

We set to digging the weeds and removing dying insect ridden gobi.  I like the Indian word better than cauliflower, it seems to fit it better, but in future years there will be no gobi because it isn’t a fav of mine after a visit to India some years ago and getting sick after eating it in one of the thousand dishes they put it in.  Unless I plant only one plant just to prove I can grow one!

After a lot of huffing and puffing and four bags of weeds later, we decided to stop for a sandwich and cup of tea.  However, I had some difficulty trying to remember how to attach the gas cannister to the camping stove for the heating of water.  I turned it off and on several times before I felt confident enough to let it boil as there was smoke coming from inside somewhere and I had visions of it and me going up!

I had transported all my strawberry plants from home and hung them up on the tin fencing as they were in plastic coke bottles with the tops cut off, and a hook on a piece of string.  It was an experiment of mine since I love strawberries, and never could get a good crop because of dry summers.  It was some sort of hydroponic endeavour that needed my full attention, but didn’t get it, so it’s all of them into a strawberry bed this year to look after themselves!

As we were packing up to come home, we met another fellow allotmenteer called Anne, who has had ‘Shangri-La’,  her name for Plot 20a, for a year now.  She loves it and was full of information and encouragement.  I can see we will sharing some cuppas in the future.  We dropped in on her plot and it was amazing.  She had accomplished so much in one year!

Over the last few days when weather kept me indoors and away from The Lot,  I read books (How To Grow Organic) and checked out internet sites for information and guidance.

Grow Your Own was fab and you can join a forum to ask questions if you want.  One website I especially liked was Send A Cow:  African Gardens Save Lives in Africa and they work brilliantly in the UK too!  An awesome site!  They give wonderful inspiring ideas about bag gardens, plant tea and natural pecticides, fuel saving stoves, gardening tips and loads of other stuff.  Hope you will check it out!

http://www.sendacow.org.uk/africangardensuk/?gclid=CO_Hgd3C2roCFUqWtAodFVUAtw

7th November 2013

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Ann Perrin (The Weald – for love of my allotment) posted this on her blog http://annperrin.wordpress.com/for-love-of-my-allotment-2/ and I was thrilled to bits with her advice so copied it and posted it here. Thanks so much allotment pal!

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Congratulations Lindy Joy who sent in a reply to this page and my three, or it it four best tips!

Congratulations Lindy on getting a  lovely allotment plot! This was the last spoonful of veg on mine a couple of weeks ago!

1-DSCF1063 I don’t think we can get whole plots anymore they are all divided into smaller units and ponds are not allowed unless inherited. As reader’s may have gathereI got my first allotment for my mother and she was 72 at the time. She wanted a ‘non dig one’ and and she knew about land as she  had had a cottage in a third of an acre in a ‘frost pocket’, so –

1. We covered several beds with black plastic, pegged down with tent pegs to prevent weeds while we thought about what to plant (on my new one down here more recently we have invested in the black weed prevention sheets).  Right from the start we also made paths and covered them with bark. Brilliant!

2. The rule was only to grow what we actually liked to eat and still do. We avoid potatoes however much we like them as too much digging  We quickly established a strawberry bed, grew tall gracful globe artichokes because they spread and we love eating them  (boil for 10 mins if big,  cool, peel off leaves and dip in oil and vinegar) they also look truly dramatic nearly all year round

Rhubarb (I lie because we don’t actually like it much), but always grew it from a plant an ancient aunt had passed on.  We call it Aunt Con’s rhubarb and those leaves are amazing and you can always give the newly grown stems away,

My mother and I  ordered summer and autumn raspberries, then there was always a mouthful of lovely ruby red fruits to cheer us along. My partner and I did it again when we moved down here on our new one, now of course they remind me of her!

3. A shed is essential in my view. The family bought and put up a tiny a shed on my mother’s allotment. The  saga of buying a second hand one on mine is here somewhere.   Best to get yours sorted as soon as possible. Saves lugging tools, somewhere to sit and sort out seeds and things.

On reflection the time I spent helping my mother with hers was some of the happiest times of my life.  We had always been friends and had often worked together with our marionettes. But our lives also inevitably went their separate ways.

When she moved up to live near me and only had a small garden, her allotment became her salvation. She absolutely loved it.  Soon after she died, I moved down here and one of the first things I did was to put my name on the waiting list.  Three years later eureka! we got ours.

Oh and by the way one of my grandson’s gave me a subscription to ‘Grow Your Own’ magazine last year.  This comes with loads of free seeds, sometimes a few too many, but the mag is down to earth and one can always share the seeds with others.

By the way I had three discs collapse in my back many moons ago and even had to have a ‘disability disc’ for several years It’s a long story but I really do have to ‘pace myself’ or I am in bed for a day or two!  So go for as easy maintenance if you have any joint problems and be wary of actually relying on friends however dear!

Whatever you do, and however you do have fun,  just keep it under control every which way and you won’t be crying into soggy onions,  it will be a total joy!  Ann

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4th November 2013 at Lindy’s Lot

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On Saturday soon after having made the decision to take over this dishevelled plot of land the rain started pouring down so sadly we had to seek some shelter.  The weather turned rather pleasant in the afternoon so my friend, Gilly, myself, and the dogs, Dido and Daisy, my two border terriers, all went to have a better look at my Challenge.  And we did some weeding!  I’m not too sure what the dogs are thinking about all of this!

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We soon met up with Mike, definitely a local character who speaks broad Devonshire., who told us about a competition between himself and some others to grow the biggest and best garlic.  If it had been pumpkins I might have entered the ring as this is one thing I’ve set my heart on for next summer.  In addition to big fat pumpkins, I want to grow beautiful big huge sunflowers just because I love them!.  And raspberries and blueberries too!  Here is a photie of the little orchard of apple, and pear and other trees I’m not sure about yet.

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I’m planning this venture to be organic so whatever I can do to invite the natural predators of pests into Lindy’s Lot I plan to try, for instance, a little pond to attract frogs that will hopefully eat all the snails and slugs.   Maybe some bird feeders to attract birds who will hopefully eat insects and slugs and not my produce!  I’m a bit worried about the plot next door as it doesn’t look too well cared for and things from there will be making their way over to Lindy’s Lot I’m suspecting!

Now we are up to today which is Monday, the 4th of November and a beautiful sunny day after a very stormy and windy night. Decision made to go along  to Lindy’s Lot with the dogs and take some tools over like a spade, a hoe, a rake, some secateurs and whatever else I could find that would be useful on an allotment.  Oh yes, I took over a little camping stove and some gas cannisters too as I couldn’t go without a coffee on cold winter days!  Gilly’s son is going to come and help with some of the heavier stuff in a week or two so not much more for me to do for awhile now.  The forecast is rain all week and I don’t much like being out in the rain so no visits for me til the sun pops back out again!

I did some tidying up and weeding and stopped by the Recycling Centre on the way home to drop about five bags of weeds off and a load of broken glass from the greenhouse that would appear to be at present mostly frame!

Now I have to think about veggies to grow and get some seeds in. Gardening can be quite practical, I’m thinking!  Oopsie!  Parts of me are practical but I am also a dreamer and I just hope my dreamy side isn’t underestimating the practicalities with this allotment!

Day One at Lindy’s Lot

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Well, I’ve gone and done it!  I’ve said YES to an allotment!  I’ve waited over four years for it and haven’t gotten any younger in the meantime!  On top of that it’s 10 rods which is new terminology to me but it means it’s big, no it’s huge!  From the shed looking down, the greenhouse at the other end of the 10 rods, looks like a pinprick! However, the shock reality being what it is with so much to do,  I am one happy bunny to have a place where I can try my hand at growing anything my heart takes a fancy to.  One big bonus of my new plot is that it has a small orchard!

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Three of us, all women, were to meet with Jeb at the site this morning to see the plots on offer.  The first was half size which I thought might be the one I would take but I noticed it hadn’t been dug over for some good time and brambles had all but taken over but it did have some luscious looking grapes growing along a tumbling down fence.  The next plot was a little ways along and up a hill, phew, I knew straightaway this was not the one for me!  It had a series of ascending terraces disappearing into the trees at the top of the hill. The younger woman made her way off up to the top and came back down smiling saying she loved it!  I breathed a sigh of relief and we all walked back to the other plot to have another look when the third woman turned up.  Jeb then said he had another full size one to show and when I saw it my heart did a leap and I knew Lindy had found her Lot!  The other woman has taken over the brambles!

Whenever I get this feeling inside I know it is a Gift from God.  Oh I know it will be hard work and I will have to do battle with bugs n slugs n rain n mud n cold n hot but it’s His Earth and I love digging in it!  And besides I have some lovely friends to help me!!

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