My Plot

Plot 46, Burnside Allotments, Cambridge

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Raspberry relocation

I was going to carry on with digging bed 3 today, but once I got to the plot I completely lost all digging willpower - Had a bit of a tidy up at the side of the shed & found what I think are some raspberries growing there & rather than cut them back I dug them up, especially as they were all sprouting.
As I had dug them up I then needed to plant them, so got on with digging a couple of trenches in the fruit cage. Once I had dug the trenches I refilled them with soil, first taking out all the weed roots and mixed in some compost and feed.
I then planted all the raspberries in to the trench, although once I had planted them it became apparent that there are too many to fit into one trench. In the other trench I planted all the raspberries I previously dug up from the next door plot.
There will be two more rows, one of the canes that Rachel gave me which are an autumn variety and another of the 'under shed' variety. The only problem is that I do not know whether the 'under shed' or 'next door' are summer or autumn varieties...only time will tell I suppose!
Last but not least, I took a peek under the cloches and found that the perpetual spinach has just started to sprout....Hoorah!
I love growing things, but I am never too sure about what I am doing - it is all a bit trial & error, so it is always cause for a celebration when it actually works!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Done digging bed 5!

At last I have finished digging bed 5 - Hoorah!!
I am hoping to see Mike (3 plots along from mine) who has a tiller, as he said I could borrow it. I want to put a load of council compost on & till it to create a finer tilth ready for sowing. The trouble with our soil is that the clay, once you dig it turns into small, rock hard boulders, which are rubbish for sowing into. The frosts do break down the soil but unfortunately I can't wait that long. However it does have it's good points though in that it very fertile.
I again did some digging then some painting to rest my back, so also got the fruit cage completely painted. It now looks much better, rather than a load of old wood cobbled together.

Buddy, master of all he surveys....only thing is, he is surveying Wayne's plot not ours!
The carrot (Paris Market) seedlings that I sowed into the crate int he greenhouse are finally showing their first true leaves.
My lovely daughter Chloe visited me at the allotment after school and 'helped' with the watering - she got more water on the dog & herself than on the plants!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Multi tasking

Now I know why I am an advocate for the no-dig system.... I hate digging & any one who says that they like digging can come & do mine any time! I have tried to get the dog interested in digging but he just went to sleep instead.
As my back has been through alot over the past few days I decided to do 3 things in turn, so I dug a strip of bed, painted a section of fruit cage & set out & planted the potatoes. The theory was that I would be able to give my back a regular break from digging and be able to stretch it by reaching up in order to paint. this worked quite well and I have now managed to dig about 3/4 of the bed.
The potato bed with all the potatoes set out ready for planting.
Potato bed on the right, bed 5 on the left and behind, the fruit cage half painted. As you can see, I only have blue paint!
All the seedlings that I have been hardening off ready for planting outside.
Andy & Dominic's plot with weed membrane down for paths

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Today I have been mostly....

Still carrying on with bed 5 & it seems to be taking an eternity. It was cold & dull today which was a bit of a let down after the past few days of gorgeous sunshine & I soon got cold & had to take refuge in the greenhouse. Sowed some more cosmos, stocks, marigolds and nasturtium. I also sowed some gladioli & triteleia into the front flower bed. Once I had done this I had to go home to defrost.

Yesterday I was mostly.......
Getting on with the fruit cage
I have put in the corner braces and finished off the top rails. It feels much more sturdy and not about to fall over!
I also did a little more digging of bed 5
This is my neighbour Wayne's plot

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A few days of plotting

I have had a few days off work this week and have been keeping myself busy up at the plot. The weather has been beautiful and it has been wonderful to be able to wear a T shirt and feel the sun on my arms. The sunshine has also brought out plenty of bare chested men, unfortunately some of these really ought to remain covered up! There area few specimens however that really are a sight to behold and can carry on wearing no shirts as far as I am concerned - Vegetables are lovely to look at but it is nice to have a bit of variety!

I have been to collect a couple of trailer loads of free council compost, which is great for lightening up the clay soil and for mulching. I put a load into the front flower bed, & will mix some topsoil in with it before planting anything in there. I put a thick mulch onto the long Rhubarb bed and I am hoping to grow sweet peas over the arch.
I also mulched the strawberry beds. If you put this stuff on thickly it helps suppress the weeds, conditions the soil, helps retain moisture and provides some nutrients.
I covered the potato bed with clear plastic in order to warm it up in readiness for planting the potatoes this coming weekend.
I met my new plot neighbours this week - Juliet & Stephen. They have been hard at work clearing their plot, and managed this much in one day.
Today I have been working on the fruit cage, and have nearly finished it. I just need to fix the braces to make it sturdier, and get a few more lengths of wood to complete the top rails. All that will then be required is the netting, which I will order via the internet.
I also thickly mulched all the fruit bushes & trees.
The view down the plot

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Seedlings galore!

Nearly all the seedlings that I sowed recently have come up...
The broad beans (Aquadulce Claudia) have all germinated and are ready to go out.
These are the beetroot seedlings that I sowed as Monty Don suggested, in clusters in modules.
Cosmos seedlings.
Tomato seedlings
And finally - poundland shallots - going great guns - so far well worth the pound that I paid for them.
I am hardening off the shallots & broad beans at the moment so that they will be OK when I plant them out.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

That's shallot!

It was a dull day today, but not too cold. Managed to get to the plot in the afternoon, ventured into the greenhouse and noticed that loads more of the poundland shallots have sprouted - hoorah!
I filled up 2 of the grey crates with compost and planted out the lettuce (little Gem). The tubs are very deep & so next time will put some council compost into them first, then top them off with ordinary compost.
A art from pottering in the greenhouse, I got on with more digging on bed 3. The couch grass is very thick & it is hard work getting it all out - I think it is worse than the bind weed!
Rather than completely dig the beds in turn, I think I am going to get a bit of each of the ones I still have left to prepare so that I can get the seedlings out. My broad bean seedlings need to be put out ASAP, and as yet I have no where to put them.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Started digging bed 3 - Very hard work & my back aches!
I hate couch grass even more than bind weed!

A little poem to cheer things up!

Spring is sprung
The grass is riz
I wonder where the birdies is?
Some people say the bird is on the wing
But that's absurd -
The wing is on the bird!

Don't know who this was written by.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Taking it easy

was off work today and it was a beautifully sunny day and at the plot it was nice & quiet, it seemed so peaceful after the business of yesterday. There was only me & one other person there - bliss! I was still recovering from rotorvating the plot so decided to take it easy today & give the greenhouse a spring clean. Took all the staging out and painted it with wood stain to try to preserve it a bit. Whilst the paint was drying I cleaned the glass inside & out and did any small repairs that were needed. I put up all the spare green house shelves that I had and then replaced the staging. I had a bit of a reshuffle in order to be able to make the most of the direction of the sun, and also to make space to use some big crates that I inherited.
The greenhouse looking much better
I bought some shallots from poundland and potted them up ages ago and thought that they would never grow, but they have decided to prove me wrong as the first one is now sprouting.
The view down the plot - looking much tidier. I also started constructing what will be the fruit cage & put in the four corner posts using wood that I salvaged from some old fence panels. I will need to buy some timber for the rest of the posts as I have now run out of suitable timber.
Another view down the plot
And the view from the other side.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Around the site

The site was positively buzzing today, with lots of people around - still no sight of my new plot neighbours though.
Once I had finished for the day I took Buddy for his evening constitutional walk around the site
This is Mary's Plot
After I had finished rotorvating my plot I let Dominic & Andy use the rotorvator for their plot & this is the end result
This is Chris' plot looking immaculate as usual.
As I was walking round the site I spotted this air balloon.
Once I got home, I sowed a load of tomato seeds (costuluto fiorentino, roma, gardener's delight, garden pearl, sungella & money maker), aubergine seeds (black beauty)and pepper seeds (romano, californian wonder & rokita).


I have had such a busy few days at the plot but am feeling very proud of what I have achieved.
It was pretty overcast this morning and threatening to rain, but I went to the plot anyway and typically, not long after I arrived it started to rain - and it was not the drizzle that had been forecast - it threw it down. Managed to sow some perpetual spinach in between the broad beans in small bed 3, cover them with cloches before the rain & once it had started I decided to retreat to the greenhouse where I could remain dry.
I sowed shallots (red sun) and onions (stutgarter giant) into modules. I also sowed beetroot (boltardy) into modules in clusters as per Monty Don on Gardener's World....If it is good enough for him then it's good enough for me!
I then sowed some Kale (nero di toscana), Broccoli (early purple sprouting), cabbage, and some flowers - stock, cosmos & more sweet peas. The greenhouse is starting to look like a veritable seedling factory!
The rest of my seedlings are doing well. All of them are making steady progress.
Once I had finished all the sowing, the sun had come out again and I got on & planted all the strawberry plants (Elsanta) that I bought from B&Q. I did not quite have enough plants to fill the bed, butI will fill in the gaps using runners over the next year.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fruit planting

It was such a lovely day when I ventured up to the plot today - warm & sunny - enough to make me feel positively chirpy, even though I was still extremely achy from the previous day's exertions!

I installed the edging boards round the other half of the long rhubarb bed and transplanted the rhubarb so it is nicely spread out - The entrance to the plot is looking better bit by bit.
I also planted the fruit bushes into the area I rotorvated & levelled yesterday - I still need to get another Red Gooseberry and some blueberry bushes, but I am nearly there.
Further down I planted the apple (Cox's orange pippin) & plum (victoria) trees. I will be adding to these over the next year as the season for bare root trees is nearly over. They are planted quite closely together, but this is because fruit trees do not grow particularly well on our soil (clay top soil 1-2 spades depth above clay/chalk subsoil) so you end up with smaller trees even with fairly vigorous root stocks. I will prune them to keep them within a sensible size.

Friday, March 11, 2011


After the aborted attempt to share a rotorvator with Dominic, My husband came up trumps - his landscape gardening friend let me use his for the bargain price of 30 pounds - Result!
Anyway today was the the day for rotorvating the bottom of the plot & once I had been shown how to use the machine, they left me to it.... I eventually made it home completely exhausted & aching so much I could not even sleep. The machine was a very heavy beast with absolutely no sense of direction & it would only go round a right hand corner. I also ended up with numerous bruises all up & down my legs. The soil was not broken down enough to sow into but was ok to level out.
This was the beast, and I can honestly say that I felt just like Barbara from the good life as I motored it back home at the end of the day.
This is the bottom of the plot once I had rotorvated it and evened it out. It has gone from huge great craters to slight undulations!
I can now get on with putting out the fruit bushes and the apple tree that I have got ready & waiting.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Rhubarb 'n' Raspberries

Once I had had enough of studying I went to the plot and dug the ground where the other half of the rhubarb bed is going to be. It was not too bad to dig, although full of bindweed. All I need to do is to get two more gravel boards from B&Q and put the edging round, even up the soil, add some manure and relocate some of the rhubarb plants, as they are too close together at the moment.
The only thing is that currently the bed looks like a recently dug grave......Now where did I put my Husband?
Whilst I was there I went scouting for raspberry canes on the overgrown plot next to mine, found about 5 canes which I think are autumn ones as they appear to be sprouting from the bottom, and 8 which I think are summer canes as they seemed to be sprouting from the along the cane. I might be totally wrong of course, but will be able to see once they actually produce something. Transplanting them might not work, but I thought it was worth a go as it will save me some money. These, if they grow on OK, along with the ones Rachel gave me will give me enough cases to get going with, I can then add some more if needs be.
I heeled these into the strawberry bed temporarily until I can put them into their correct place.

By the time I had finished all that it was almost dark, so called it a day & went home & made a crumble with some of the Rhubarb a fellow plot holder gave me.
It was delicious!
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