Monday, 14 April 2014


Finally managed to get to the lotty and do some planting.  To be fair I am not in the best of health right now so everything is a struggle and physical hard work is low on the list.

Any way Ken and I tootled round and checked the site as usual, including the two sheds.  We had been told there was a leak in one over the winter but couldn't see which one so need to get to the bottom of that.  It will give us a reason to 'chase up' the powers that be.  We did try to get some answers about what will be done when but, as often with these things, there isn't anyone 'responsible' for it since Donna left.  Her boss got it dumped on her until it could be passed on - so you can see how that's working out.  We'll do our very best to crank it up again but I am not hugely hopeful.  These sort of things are great when you have a motivated and hard working person shoving it along.  We can't do much if anything ourselves as we aren't 'official' so we can't order and pay for the stuff to get done; all we can do is keep asking......

I had a similar experience with the Junior Lotty Club.  I prepared six months sets of projects/work sheets/kit and suggested prizes etc; I did three of them here before I went to Naples and set up a system for the others to happen and within a month it had died a death.

So, as far as I am concerned,  I am sad to say I am pretty much at the point of shoulder shrugging and just getting on with my own stuff.

If you remember at the close of the season we covered our plots with cardboard to keep the weeds down.  It worked just brilliantly.  This is what they looked like.

We just removed the concrete and bricks that held the cardboard down and the beds were immediately ready to plant up - not a weed in sight and no digging necessary.

I take that back we are still removing huge chunks of concrete.  We dug three pieces this size out of half of one bed.

I have no idea if it was just incredibly lazy on the constructors part or an attempt to save on volume of soil but it is beyond annoying.  Even if you have the most rudimentary understanding of growing things you must realise they don't grow through concrete!!

Incidentally all the concrete and bricks we used on the cardboard is stuff we dug out of the beds last year.

The rhubarb/strawberry bed just needed a bit of a tidy up.  They had spawned three extra plants which I have left in and two others had succumbed to the winter.  I replaced these with the runners I'd potted up in the autumn.

So, after doing that and removing the debris, this is ready to do its thing.

I am surprised to see flowers on some of the plants already.

I will be removing several thousand baby sycamores over the next few months - the beds were smothered in their seeds.

Last year I boned on about not knowing why folk make such a palaver about strawberry runners - pinning them down and cutting them off and potting them up etc.  I just take them off the mother plant and pot them up .  I take more than I need  - so instead of the six I thought I might want, I did ten.

Here they are stuffed round the side of the dustbin and utterly neglected for six months. Only one didn't make it, leaving me nine new plants.  Two of these replaced the lost ones at the lotty and I added in three more and the other four have gone into troughs in the greenhouse in the hope of getting some early strawberries (under glass).

There is little or nothing to see in beds A and B but they are planted!

B has three raspberry canes at the edge of the bed.  I know they are a tad pathetic but as they were under a pound from somewhere like Lidl - worth a shot.

The rest of B has the usual salad stuff - mixed leaves, radishes, spring onions.  I hope I will be putting in dwarf beans in a couple of weeks and maybe some spinach.

A has got my International Kidney spuds in it.  I have done a naughty and put potatoes in the same place as last year but it wasn't blight ridden and any way I've found this variety doesn't seem to get it even when growing cheek by jowl with those that do.  So I stuck to the one variety this year and will be munching on Jersey Royals in a few weeks time I hope.  They go on to make good mid size and then large potatoes too so they last the two of us all season.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Free plants from Gardeners World

Honestly, no catch, Gardeners World do these offers every so often - I have had them and a friend has too and they are just what they say they are.  

48 perennials for Free just pay cost of postage which is £5.65

Ideally you'll need to put them in pots to get to a decent size before planting out - but a real bargain if you do...............

(Thanks H for directing me to it)

Here's the link just click:   Free offer

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Lotty

I did manage to finish clearing the front garden beds so we look a bit tidier out there and have tackled some of the scrotty pots on the patio, but part of today's 'garden chores' was to visit the lotty and see what progress has been made there over the winter.

view down the site

It is looking tidy enough but nothing has advanced since we saw it in December.  The vegetation/weeds/small shrubs have been cleared but there is no sign of the wild area which we were told would be worked on during the winter.

The 'jobs' we understood would be sorted were - digging out the wild area across the bottom of the plot, replacing soil if needed, putting up a rough log edging across the front of it and the beginning of some planting.  Even higher priority than that was to get some more raised beds in place ready for now (!) as we have a waiting list for them.  I am sad to see that didn't get done.  

We are home now and will try and find out what's happening or rather what will happen and when.  It would be a real shame to see this grind to a halt after all Donna's hard work to get it up and running.

It is pretty wet underfoot and there are some badly waterlogged areas. We already knew about those and drew up the plans accordingly - so, again, if the infrastructure is put in place it will be easier to access and work on the site most of the year.  Right now you need your wellies!

Lovely to see the playgroup are using their area and it is a neat as a pin.

Basically this is a case of watch this space......

view up the site
That's my rhubarb and strawberries, just poised to go....

Saturday, 22 March 2014

One step forward two steps back

Thought I might share with you what three months of neglect on your garden looks like even in the 'quiet' season.

 First year in a long time there were no pots sorted before we went, not even the one in the chimney by the summerhouse.  This is not a great view through the kitchen window right now.  I need to go shopping!

B&Q Wednesday methinks (oldies discount day!)

There are daffs, tulips, fritillaries, violas and all sorts in this mess - can't seethe woods for the trees.

Being me, I am most ashamed of my front borders - just look at this mess.  I was grimly determined this morning to get out there today, come what may, and clear it up.  

Bright day but very cold - so, muffled up, off I trotted, armed with secateurs and big brown bin.

Ten minutes later the heavens opened.  I now have one quarter of the half circle tidied which just serves to make the other three quarters look even worse!!

Incidentally it also managed a snow flurry for a few minutes. 

Ah well, there's always tomorrow.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Excellent service

I got back last Thursday, arriving in thick fog, followed by cool and wet weather ever since - So nice to be home.  Seriously it is lovely to be back in good old Bury.  In a way I am 'enjoying' the bad weather as it lets me off cracking on with the garden and the allotment - two jungles that are offering a huge challenge to knock back into shape.  I might not be in my decrepitude yet but I think I am past fettling yards and yards of garden especially when I am not here half a year to keep on top of it.  I have a cunning plan.....

Every year for the next four years I am going to dig up an entire border and replace perennials with shrubs and deep mulch to help keep the weeds down.  Ultimately then, our jobbing gardener can keep that under control.  That will still leave me the front garden and about twenty pots to play with.

Meanwhile in the spirit of onwards and upwards I ordered my seed potatoes.  This is a 'luxury' purchase and one I would avoid in everything except potatoes - ironically the lowliest of veg.  The problem being I really only want to grow International Kidney and they aren't that easy to get, so every year I treat myself to an order from Marshalls Seeds and I have to commend them to you.  Incredibly I ordered them on 17th and they arrived on the 18th.  Well done Marshalls.  Take a run through their on-line catalogue but sit on your credit card.

I hope they don't mind my borrowing a photo of my future spuds - if you want to read about them as well click here:  International Kidney

They are the only spud I have grown that don't get blight and can be eaten from tiny taters - Jersey Royals - to the huge tubers they form as they go on - so basically it is my three season potato.  I am sure there will be spud experts who will quibble with this but I have boiled, baked, sautéed from June onwards and they are great.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Almost home

I am nearly back in Bury - Monday today and we leave on Wednesday so just counting the hours.  I get very homesick for England.  I know leaving Florida weather (and life here) seems a poor swap to most people, but I can't wait to get back to a place with dramatically different seasons!!  Some kind friends took these photos for me in my garden today.....  how could anyone not miss these.....  

We are coming home a little earlier than usual.  This will (probably) be the first time I have seen my snowdrops in about ten years.

So watch this space........