Friday, 29 June 2012

A little a-lotting Part 1

Reckon this is a fab look for me

Bit clunky I know, but it's the best I can do today... I've been doing a little on the allotment which means I usually have just about enough time to get covered in mud before being summoned back home to feed baby lula. Hence the quick-change overalls. Sexy, I know.

Last year Jude and I dug over this whole patch, cleared it of weeds and then covered it up for 6 months or so. This year I uncovered, dug it over again (and abandoned it again so that more weeds have snuck back in - doh!) and then broadcast wildflower seed in the section behind me, just beyond the little clump of forget-me-nots. Now the idea is to transplant as many seedlings as possible from there into the remaining ground so that the smaller ones have a chance to grow before becoming swamped by the more vigorous.

More wildflowers waiting 
Pretty little things, but I don't know what they are!

How I wish the allotment looked (complete with help)*
How it actually looks. Wild, basically.
Bronze fennel, sweet william and crazy brassicas gone to seed

More wasteland wild meadow
As you can see the chicken wire isn't deterring the chickens much!
All I am managing to do in the rest of the allotment is get some long-suffering seedlings into the ground and yank out the odd weed here and there. The three main villains in our ground are docks, creeping buttercup and an as-yet unidentified thistle which gows from the titchiest scraps and then spreads underground in lines. There are also plenty of nettles which I'm not quite so irritated by, being fairly easy to pull up as they're so shallow-rooting. As well as providing a highly nutritious liquid feed when rotted in water, they're also very important to a large number of insects and butterflies so I'm happy to leave a few big clumps of it as long as I have the space. The young leaves can also be steamed and eaten like spinach, and the roots can be used to make a yellow dye.

The others are devils though! Creeping buttercup looks completely wonderful for about a month in early spring when it becomes a carpet of yellow blooms, so it's just a case of preventing it from taking over the whole space as it can very quickly smother huge areas of ground. Once it's got a hold it's a nightmare to pull up.

Meanwhile, in the greenhouse,

My dream greenhouse (complete with help - or hubs, as he prefers to be known as)*
No, dammit, that's not mine!

Here's what's on my bench, quietly waiting for me to do more than just chuck some water on here and then:

I had intended to not do anything this year, what with baby an' all, but sowing seeds is so damn addictive it's really hard to stop... it's always such a thrill to see those first little tender shoots poking up, knowing they have the potential to become a plant that could be taller than me! Sometimes it's not such a thrill as quite often the odd weed comes up instead (one of the downsides of using home-made compost and not sterilising it!)

Time to go make some omelettes!

Have a cracking weekend!

(*pictures of allotmenting on a grand scale were taken at Buckfast Abbey a couple of months ago)


  1. I am the same with seeds, I am a prolific scatterer of seeds! I have a real job with nettles in my beds, their roots can get deep if you don't pull them up regularly, did you know you can make cloth from nettles? I am desperate to give this a try, we certainly have enough of them!
    Btw, your "wild meadow" could be cleared in minutes with a heavy duty mower, you can often hire these, it is well worth it. We had acres of land that looked far worse than yours, brambles at shoulder height etc and a heavy duty mower tore through the lot and left us with a completely open space to work from. Like you we then covered vast areas with tarp instead of digging up turf, and as soon as everything died back we turned the earth and started planting. So, a heavy duty mower is the way forward, you will have it all done in half a day!

    1. Thanks for the advice! There's so much I'd like to do here if I had the time... apparently Germany resorted to using nettles instead of cotton during the first world war. I haven't found out how to make cloth yet; all I know is that old plants are more fibrous and that the end result is more coarse than cotton, but that makes it more interesting. For such a versatile plant I'm surprised it's not used more often as a cotton substitute especially considering how well it thrives here.

  2. What a cute child! You have a nice blog here.


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