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Slow and steady wins the race (I hope)

We did an hour or two at the allotment today – more digging, and I covered the lines I’d planted with potatoes last week with more earth to try and build them up a bit. HD wasn’t convinced that was the best use of time, but I won’t do any more till I see shoots appearing above ground, and in the meantime it’s a bit more obvious where they are. I also had to sieve through some earth where there had been a bonfire previously as it is full of old rusty nails. That was quite satisfying to do though, and means that next time I can get cracking on helping HD with more substantial digging. I’m also hoping to get some garlic down next week – I know it’s a bit late, but with the weather we’re having and the leaves only just starting to appear on the trees I think that still counts as ‘spring’ (I’m sure when I was a little girl spring started in March and by mid-May at the latest it was summer). Hopefully next weekend will also be the weekend when the fencing finally gets done.

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In other news, last week I thought I’d lost several months of photos from my good camera when the memory card corrupted and neither camera nor card reader would display photos. The good news is this weekend I have managed to retrieve all but about 40 of them, which means that my photos from 2 weddings and 3 islands amongst others are almost all back with me, and copied to within an inch of their lives! The ironic thing was that I had only thought a few days previously “I haven’t backed up my photos for ages, I must get round to doing that”. So there’s the moral of the story – back up, back up, back up!

Planting (of sorts)

Last Sunday we went back to the allotment, and despite the lack of fencing I felt that we really needed to plant the potatoes, which have been merrily chitting for several weeks now. So whilst HD carried on digging over the bits that haven’t yet been dug, I planted potatoes (4 varieties: an early, a salad, a main crop and a speciality type, 6 of each) in four rows. The plotholders either side have also planted potatoes and have immaculately straight rows, I have to say that mine were a bit more amateurish and more than once when I got to the end of digging a trench and looked back there were some interesting angles going on! Oh well, I know roughly where they are and hopefully once they start growing it won’t matter that they’re not perfectly aligned! I also planted out the blackcurrant bush that we had been given as a big cutting by one of the other plotholders, it’s been quite happy in its pot by the kitchen door and was showing lots of new leaves and even lots of baby blackcurrants, so I put that in a spot where we’d dug up some old potatoes left over from last year.

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544 This third photo probably shows where we dug the best – the darker bits in the foreground are the trenches where the potatoes are, and you can hopefully see the blackcurrant bush too. The dark bits in the background are the bits HD dug over.

The seeds I planted a couple of weeks ago are showing mixed results. The brussels are doing great, and I have 2 or 3 quinoa seedlings. I planted somewhere between 12 and 15 beans, of three different varieties, and this afternoon I saw the first shoot almost ready to burst through the compost, but not a thing from any of the others which is a bit disappointing. The aubergine, squash, courgettes and marrow are also noticeable by the complete lack of anything growing! Oh well – there’s plenty of other things to try so if they don’t work there’s bound to be something else we can grow a bit later.

Hopefully if we can all get organised the work on the fencing will happen next weekend.

Allotment today

Today we did another hour and a bit digging – I’d say we’ve now done about half the plot. Still no fencing round the ends, but hopefully we’ll organise that in the next few weeks. The people either side of us have started planting anyway, I’m going to leave our spuds one more week and hope for the best.

These first two are of another big old post HD dug up today (similar size to the one he dug up last time). He was also trying to find the end of this big bit of plastic sheeting, but it seems to be like trying to find the source of the Nile, so we never did get to the end of it – hopefully next time!

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These two show our hard work – the first one up close, and then the view from the top to show just how much we still have to go! (I’m trying not to think about that end – it’s so compacted it will be a nightmare to dig!):

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Here’s views from the bottom and top of the plot:

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And finally, I like this picture because it makes the bit we still need to do look not so bad!


Yesterday I planted up some more seeds to start off at home. So now on the go we have courgette, marrow, aubergine, squash, 3 types of dwarf beans, and another lot of brussels and quinoa. Last month’s brussels are still going strong, and I planted them on into individual pots in a propagator thingy, but the quinoa struggled – only two of the seeds had germinated, and then this week I forgot to water them 😮 So I thought I’d better try again. Most of the brussels I’m expecting not to get much beyond this stage, and if they do then I’ll give lots of them away, as there’s only so many we will be able to eat! But I wanted to plant some more, as I think the early planted ones will have gone over by Christmas, so this lot I planted yesterday will hopefully contain part of Christmas dinner. As well as these seeds, HD planted out some salad seeds last week, quite a few of which are already sprouting (tomato, coriander, and a turnip leaf thing with a funny name). I also got given a trio of tomato plants and a courgette from my work colleague so they are all hopefully on the way too.

I can see vegetables in my future 🙂

Allotment: Better late than never

Photos from the allotment a couple of weeks ago. We dug over the two paths we’d created, as one of the allotment regulars had said that it was better for it all to get dug over then paths walked fresh, rather than leaving them as they tended to harbour couch grass which would spread everywhere. So most of the time was spent doing that rather than digging any new bits. The final photo shows a pretty big old plank we dug up – it’s the reason why I’m a bit nervous about the thought of hiring a rotavator, even though it would make it so much quicker! If we dig the old-fashioned way this year, at least we’ll know what is and isn’t in the ground and can take the risk next year!

I did find the digging quite hard this time – you could tell we’ve not had much in the way of rain, as the (clay) soil was rock hard! At least with a bit of moisture it’s easier to dig.

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We didn’t go to the plot last week – I was down south for work/conference/staying with a friend, and HD couldn’t go as the car was in the garage (fixed now thankfully). I’m not sure if we’ll get there this weekend – the weather is supposed to be better, and I really want to go as apparently there are porpoises in the river at the moment (this far inland! But I’ve seen photos and apparently they were still there earlier today), plus we really do need to get on with the digging. But I have a bad cold which I am really struggling to shift, which has reached the snotty sinus-y stage now, so if I’m like this tomorrow I’d be blowing my nose every 5 seconds. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow – there are plenty of indoor seeds needing to be sown, so even if I don’t go to the plot I can still be horticultural! 🙂

Good day’s work

Today I spent another couple of hours at the allotment and managed to dig another bed. I found some more spuds, on the same side of the plot as yesterday’s find, so we know for sure not to plant them out there this year. It’s slightly narrower than the one in the background (which is the one we finished yesterday) as I wanted to make sure that when we come to dig over what was a raised bed we don’t use any of that for a path, as it’s nice soil. The bottom of the bed (closest to the bottom of the picture) and going down the middle of it was quite hard to dig – I think the previous person had paths here (it’s where the old plastic was) and I was only going down an inch and hitting subsoil. So all I could do with it was slice off the top inch and disturb it a bit – we’re going to have to raise that up a bit and add a fair bit of compost there. Here’s the new bed (foreground) when I’d finished.



I also took pictures from the other angle so you can see how much further we have to go! The last photo also shows how much further our neighbours on either side have dug! You can see the old raised bed clearly here, that should be reasonably quick and easy to dig over.

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I am still aching all over, but I think it’s actually from the putting the few plants into the front garden yesterday rather than from the digging at the allotment. I am creaking like an oldie!

In other news, Lidl are currently selling gardening stuff pretty cheaply, and we managed to buy a small greenhouse (with plastic not glass) for the back garden for loads less than the garden centre. We also got some netting (I am optimistic the brussels seeds I sowed this morning will grow fantastically and need netting 🙂 ).

Allotment updates

I hadn’t realised I hadn’t updated this for 3 weeks, I wanted to include a week-by-week account of what’s happening at the allotment, so will have to go back a bit further in my photos than I thought. So, the week after the last post, I went back to the plot and did an hour or so of weeding. I’m not getting every last weed out, but there are some that are currently small but I know from them taking over the garden last year that they’re really rampant, so I definitely want them away from the plot! It was a really lovely sunny day, I had thought when I got there I wouldn’t be able to park as the sun definitely brought out a lot of people who’d not been there for a while! Here are my pics from then (17th Feb):

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The following weekend (24th Feb) I did the bulk of the weeding from the other half of the plot, it wasn’t such a sunny day this time! I also got a closer look at the far end, where it was clear that there was a fair bit of plastic which had been put down to suppress weeds, which is all very well but the worms get suppressed too! So that was the next challenge, for another time … Here’s the photos from this week:

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This weekend just gone we started to think properly about planting stuff! We went to the Potato Day held by the Dunblane Allotment Society, and bought half a dozen each of 4 different varieties of spuds (one early, one main crop, one salad crop and one speciality crop), so they are now on the windowsill chitting (I just put them in a tray on the windowsill with the round side up, I keep thinking it should be more complicated than that but that’s what the internet says and we all know if it’s on the internet then it must be true …). We also bought some other seeds and bits and bobs, and on Sunday I dug out (pun unintended) all our seeds (we were sent quite a lot from a lovely friend who sadly had to give up her allotment, and had some leftovers from last year too) and worked out what needs planting when and where and typed up a month-by-month table so I can hopefully make sure that we don’t miss anything. So that’s exciting!

Later on Sunday we both went to the plot and started digging. Before that though we got up the plastic (which wasn’t actually as extensive as I’d feared), but the bulk of the time was digging, which was very satisfying, until HD paced the plot out and said he reckoned we’d done around 1/12 of it! So I suspect that it won’t all be dug over by the time we need to start planting, but if we just do it bit by bit we can plant the early stuff in the bit we dig to start with, and then keep digging the next bit till we reach the other end.

The guy in the neighbouring plot is going great guns with his digging, he looks like he’s doing a real professional job! Ours is nowhere near as well dug as his – it’ll be interesting to see who gets the best yields.

Here’s the pictures from Sunday of our handiwork:

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We’re not at the plot this weekend as we’re having an adventure, but according to my month-by-month table we’re going to need to start sowing some seeds indoors soon. And there’s always digging to be thinking about 🙂 I am SO loving having this allotment, it’s so exciting!

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Our allotment plots were finally allocated this past weekend – here’s ours! They’ve divided it into 6 rather than 10 so we’ve got almost twice what we originally thought we would have! All the more lovely veg to grow 🙂 Actually I think a lot of this year will be about improving the soil (which is pretty claggy clay), if anything grows that will be a bonus! The first picture is probably the most accurate view of what is ours; the others include other people’s plots because I wanted to get the Wallace Monument in the shot as well!

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To the allotment today – next weekend we are going to be putting up the fencing around the plots, and then they’re going to be divvied up between us all, so I thought that it would be good to get a bit more work done to try and even out the amount of work still needed on any of the plots. Once they’re divided up we will obviously concentrate more on our plot, but at least I know that all of the half plots have now had a bit of recent work done so it will hopefully be a reasonably fair division of work.

Today I did some more weeding and cleared a decent amount I thought, a good couple of wheelbarrows-full. Here’s the before pictures:

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And here’s the after:

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And this is what’s left, for this bit of the plot:


January allotmenting

I managed to go to the allotment both days this weekend – and now have tennis elbow to show for it! Had better get going on those exercises again 🙂

Yesterday we carried on weeding/digging up the area we had started before Christmas. HD hasn’t just dug up some severed hands here, that’s my gardening gloves in front of him!

Today I went back for another hour and managed to fill another wheelbarrow with weeds. I was digging up what we had already identified as a bed for potatoes, it turned out that the spuds were still there and I dug up several (mostly very waterlogged and they fell to bits at the slightest touch).

I’m not sure we’ll make it next weekend. The forecast is for a big old cold snap, so it’s entirely possible the ground will be rock solid (which will make a change from today, when it was really squelchy!).

Christmas on Coll

What a lovely end to the year – we spent Christmas week on the lovely island of Coll, in the Inner Hebrides. It was a bit of an adventure getting there – we were meant to go on the Saturday before Christmas, and the ferry did indeed set off from Oban at too-early o’clock, only to find that the swell of the sea at the piers at both Coll and Tiree (the neighbouring island) was too much for it to be able to dock and let people off! To give the captain his due, he did try several times, motoring between the two islands, before deciding that it really wasn’t going to happen, so 8 hours after leaving Oban we arrived back there and had to spend an extra night there (luckily the youth hostel was a. very nice and b. not full). The following day they put on another boat for us, and this time we were able to land. This is the cottage we stayed in (which can be found here, and which I’d definitely recommend, for the snug accommodation and the warmth of the welcome, which included home-made cake 🙂 ).


The Visit Coll website does say there is basically nothing to do there, which is basically right, but is all part of the charm! We were able to fully chill out and relax and not feel like we had to be anywhere or be missing out, which meant that we were able to read, play guitar (HD’s Christmas present), eat, walk around a bit, sleep and just chill – it was wonderful, and just what the doctor ordered. We managed to skype both sets of parents on Christmas Day, although the internet was a bit flaky then (HD reckoned there must have been a sheep in front of the dish on the hill that is something important to do with the island’s internet) – but it was nice to have contact with family, isn’t technology marvellous?!

Towards the end of the week the weather got worse, and the last couple of days it was pretty cold and wet, and the locals were murmuring about the ferry not being able to land on Saturday (when we were due to go back home). They had already said we could stay in the cottage longer if we had to, and we had the promise of the use of a washing machine and an invitation to a dinner-dance in the village hall on Saturday night if the ferry didn’t go, so we weren’t too worried, but I must admit much of Friday was spent indoors looking at the live weather stats on the Visit Coll site wondering if we’d get away! Both Thursday and Friday nights I hardly slept as the wind howling in from the Atlantic was so loud, so we weren’t sure what would happen, but in the end although it took the ferry a couple of attempts (the first time a rope broke, of all things) they did manage to dock and take us off the island as planned and we eventually got home early evening on Saturday.

Here are a few photos, mainly of beach walks (Coll, like many of the Hebridean islands, has some beautiful beaches with pristine sand). There’s a larger set on flickr here.

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