And we’re back….

Well its been an exhausting few weeks with everything going on (house move, wedding planning, changes at work) and my little corner of the web has gone very quiet whilst life goes crazy.

I have been reading other blogs in the meantime searching for inspiration and realised I really must get round to updating my own.

So we are now in the 6th week of living in the new house.  We’re still unpacking boxes and realising just how much ‘junk’ we both have.   I think the neighbours are getting use to the new crazy lady who had potatoes chitting in her frankly gorgeous bay window (it was perfect for them), and who grows Beetroot in tubs by the front door, has Sweetcorn, cucumber, peas (second batch), and a whole host of vegetable seedlings growing on the kitchen windowsills (we have two windows in the kitchen, which again is perfect for my seedlings).

I’ve planted all my strawberries, potatoes, fruit bushes, peas, courgette, and Purple Sprouting Broccoli now.  I still have the Sweetcorn, Kale, more peas, Parsnips (only two germinated so I might have to buy some seedlings), and a load of flowering plants to put in soon.  Its coming together nicely.

Things causing concern are 1) the lack of rain (where on earth has all the rain gone this year? I can feel a hosepipe ban looming), and 2) I have created 2 epic haystacks mounds from all the grass and weeds I’ve had to cut down.  I’ve had to burn one heap as it had bindweed in it.

Being ever resourceful I feel the haystacks could be used as mulch to help retain the water in the ground and stop further evaporation.  I’ve seen a lot of people using cheap nappies for the water gel crystals they contain on their allotments.  Its not exactly natural though is it?  I’m pretty sure they must leech chemicals that you’d rather not consume.  Instead I’m aiming to sort the grass/hay clippings and use them as mulch around plants.  I’ve heard you can even bank up potatoes with it.

Aside from the Allotment I’ve been wedding planning and unpacking.  Even though we’ve only moved 3 miles away to the next town I’ve felt homesick now and then, and its taken a while to get used to living in a different town.

I love it though and I’m so happy things are starting to settle ready for the wedding 🙂

x

When life gets in the way…

Crumbs its been a heck of a year already!  There have been job moves for both of us, our wedding plans are really kicking up a gear and then the biggest change of all….we’re moving house.

We’ve found a fab Victorian house that backs onto allotments (haha) and is just in the next town.  There are lots of reasons for the move and although its been a very stressful time, its going to be fabulous.  With the allotments backing directly onto the garden its made sense to put my name down on the waiting list.  But the wait is apparently 1 to 3 years so in the meantime I’m keeping my current plot.

So please forgive the radio silence.  We’re currently in packing hell, but hope things settle soon.  We move in on the first Spring.  I can’t think of a better day to start our new life together 🙂

Moving day…

Yesterday was moving day as I moved from allotment 10 to allotment 14.  It was a typical January soggy Sunday and we were lightly drizzled on as we walked to and fro from old site to new.  The new allotment will be fondly referred to as ‘Hobbiton’ from the Lord of the Rings.  Well I live in a Shire and we refer to our grumpy neighbours as ‘The Trolls’ so it seems fitting.  Plus Hobbits seem naturally green fingered so I’m hoping some of that rubs off on me.

My lovely H2B brought over all my roofing tiles, whilst I tackled the plastic greenhouse and various bits and bobs I’ve collected since last June.  Its frightening just how quickly I can collect ‘stuff’.  Soon we had brought everything over that we were taking with us.  I have left an old plastic greenhouse as it was wind damaged, but its in useable order if it isn’t moved.  It could do someone a good turn and least keep their tools dry.

The new site is looking a bit ropey with all my stuff dumped all over it.  I’ve put away as much as I can, but there are still bags of manure and bark chippings, a hosepipe, various bits of strong wood, bricks and netting left about until I can have a proper sort out.  It wasn’t the best light to show H2B around for the first time.  He thinks I am bonkers for starting again, but I know he can appreciate why I’ve done it.

So far most of my work on Hobbiton has been around saving the shed.  The roof was exposed to the elements so I went up armed with felt tacks and have pinned a plastic cover over it for the time being.  It is more rotten than I care to admit, but it will last another year.  I’ve put the door back on and made sure the plastic overhangs so the rain doesn’t drip down the wood. I’ve budgeted £35 for shed repairs.  So far I have brought 9litres of Ronseal Dark Oak shed paint (£5.99 in Home Bargains!! Bargain indeed), a tub of Wet rot wood hardener (£10.99 from eBay), some fence paint brushes (40p each Homebase), and brought some black roofing felt (£15.00 also from Homebase).  I’m just under budget and have everything I need to sort it out.  It already has guttering, but it needs to be put back on.  I also ordered a cordless drill/screwdriver but as that wasn’t exclusively for the shed it doesn’t count in the budget ;o)

All I need now is a sunny and warm spring so I can do it up 🙂

x

Big changes…

I’m so excited to share this news but had to wait till it was confirmed. On Saturday I finally listened to my heart and I emailed my local Council asking to transfer from plot 10 to plot 14.  I’ve been buzzing with ideas for it and had a few sleepless nights wondering what the verdict would be.  I found out today that I have been successful with my request, and can move immediately.  Happy dance.

When I took on the wilderness of plot 10 I knew nothing about the site. I knew I was on the best side for soil, and near a tap point which is all vital but I didn’t know the inner workings.  Like that the very end of the Allotments (starting from plot 14) are where the friendliest people are and that they have the best scenery and sunsets that end.  Having nice neighbours is so important. As is a nice sunset after a hard days work.  On plot 10 I had one lovely neighbour on one side, but one neighbour the other side is being investigated for burning toxic waste there!  I’m growing organically, which is a complete joke when the entire plot is being covered in toxic fumes.  He’d also made comments when he turned up like ‘uh you’re here again’, like I was a nuisance for working on my plot.  It started to feel uncomfortable but realise it is probably that me being there stopped him burning more ‘stuff’.

I have loved the lessons plot 10 has given me but I never felt settled there. When I started on plot 10 I’d often glance over at plot 14 and wish I’d chosen that one.  The friendly end people have all told me about the old boy who used to have it.  He was proper old school and it’s clear to see the hard work that he has put in, as the soil is beautiful and full of worms and organic matter.  He was someone who knew his soil and worked with nature.  Late on a Summers evening when I was alone on the site I’d have a little walk around his plot watching the brambles and weeds take over and claim it back.  It has a real charm and was clearly loved.  I’d have loved to have met him, but sadly he died a couple of years ago before I even had the idea of getting an allotment.  His love for nature is evident in the two ponds full of frogs, and the wildlife area at the front with nectar rich orange lilies and Teasel that the birds adore, all planted around a small Plum tree.  There is a frame for a fruit cage which currently has an epic bramble growing over it but will be easy to cut back.  As the trees are bare I’ve just noticed that he had put up a bird box in the little wooded area behind the plot.  At Christmas I brought a bird box thinking of doing the same and that little coincidence hit me.  I had a moment of ‘this is meant to be’.    An undeniable attraction is it that it also has the absolute massive benefit of having an 8’ x 7’ shed and a 5’10” x 6’4” shelter!!  My own shed! You’ll have seen from my other posts https://bramblesandtwine.wordpress.com/2016/12/09/another-one-bites-the-dust/; https://bramblesandtwine.wordpress.com/2016/12/07/the-shed-obbession-continues/; and https://bramblesandtwine.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/childhood-memories-and-a-shed-of-my-own/; that having a shed is a big deal for me.  It is in dire need of repair but it’s big and solid and it didn’t move when I tried to give it a shake! My friends have joked about it being only good for firewood but they haven’t seen it in the flesh.  Allotments are all about making do and mending and there is plenty of scaffolding boards which will make a fab and sturdy floor.  I can’t wait for warmer weather when I can start repairing it and painting it from the awful washed out yellow and white is it now.

So that’s my big news. The next stage it to transfer all my things over to the new plot and get settled in. I figure the first thing I’ll be planting are some early potatoes so I’ll get working on clearing a patch for them and working out the rest as I go.  It’s terribly exciting.

Photos to follow, when the daylight allows me to take some decent ones.

x

Happy New Year!

I always feel the urge to write a post when I’m at the wrong computer and don’t have access to my photos.   This will have to be terribly grown up and photo free – so please stay with me…..

Happy New Year! Here we are freshly rubbing our eyes to the awakening of the New Year.  I’ve had 10 amazing days off work and thoroughly enjoyed that middle section of the week post-Christmas pre-New Year where you have no idea what the day is.  I’ve clearly been a very good girl as an abundance of gifts came my way including a Whistling Kettle, a camping stove, a mug that says ‘I love my allotment’, some fab DVD’s (a couple of Monty Don ones, plus The Lost Gardens of Heligan, and Swallows and Amazons), and much more.  I feel incredibly grateful. I also brought myself ‘All aboard the Sleigh Ride’ on DVD after seeing it on Christmas Eve.  It’s the most stunning 2 hour-long journey filmed as if you are with Sami (Reindeer Herders) in Norway.  There is no commentary, music or presenter instead you are treated to a hypnotic journey along an ancient track to the sound of Reindeer bells and crunching snow. It’s absolutely magical and I can imagine watching it all year.

In my pre-allotment years I always found this a miserable time of year.  My garden is North facing and soggy so I can’t do anything out there.  However, this year I have my allotment to visit and things to plan and do.  Finally the rolling of the year makes sense.  When I got my allotment it was flaming June and a hive of activity.  I rushed everything to keep up after the epic weeds and grasses clearing.  I planted tomatoes, potatoes, cabbages, Kale, and Salad vegetables etc but I had no idea what I was doing.  In that limited amount of time I learnt loads.  I now know that if tomatoes are to have any chance at all they need to be at the front of the plot as it receives the most sun, and that my spacing is way off.

This Winter instead of being bored I’ve been busy creating a sowing calendar and working out what will go where.  I’ve learnt I also need to consider plant neighbours and that some plants just don’t get on well.  I’ve had a little chat with myself and decided I need to concentrate on the basics this first year and leave the fancy stuff till I have more of an idea what I’m doing.  For example I had planned on sowing everything in pots at home.  But having struggled to keep up with the needs of a few Sweetpeas, I realise direct sowing is going to be my friend.  I don’t have the space, or the sunlight in the house and I’m constantly moving them from windowsill to windowsill.  Instead I’m going to go old school and creating a seed bed.  I know a lot of people don’t bother anymore, but I’m going to give it a go.  Of course things like carrots will be sown where they are to grow so that will help.  I know I have many years of learning to come, and this will be no exception.

In the meantime I’m still visiting every weekend and I’m amazed by how much there is to do.  I couldn’t believe that I was weeding in December, but the ground was perfect for it.  The weeds are in that lovely dormant phase and I can actually dig them out without them growing back before my very eyes.  I have weeded my Artichokes and finally managed to weed three-quarters of my Raspberry bed.  I would have cleared it all but I have a hibernating frog that I didn’t want to disturb.  I’ve been breaking the ice on the pond so that birds can have a drink and was amazed to find two frogs still in there.  I wonder if I’ll find some frog spawn soon?

Nature continues to amaze me.  I think its sleeping and at rest but most of it isn’t.  Its taking every opportunity to seize life and get a head start.  I always thought I was nature savvy, but I’ve learnt so much more about it since having the allotment.

x

 

 

 

Resolutions….

Despite the many funny yet sarcastic posts this time of year about how boring New Year Resolutions are, I personally love them.  I always set goals to complete and I love the sense of achievement I feel when I do.  The dictionary definition is ‘a firm decision to do or not do something’.  It’s the ‘Firm’ part that makes it more than a fleeting idea.  It has to be something you really want, otherwise you won’t feel passionately enough about it to achieve it.

Like a lot of people mine will also include Weight loss.  Today’s solstice marks 10 months to the day that I get married.  I have already brought my dress and it’s too small on purpose as I really want to lose weight.  It’s not for vanity, as the dress looks nice now, but I truly want to be healthier and to be the best version of myself that I can be.   I’m allowing myself a few treats at Christmas (I have brought some gorgeous chutney for a cheese board) but after Boxing Day I’m on it!  I read a totally inspiring post on Facebook yesterday of a lady who achieved her 16 stone lost award with Slimming World and all in 24 months! It made my 3 stone target seem small and completely achievable.  I know I’ll have a wobble (pun not intended) now and then but as long as I keep going I can do it.  I lost almost 4 stone with Slimming World before but fell off the wagon when I celebrated my 40th birthday with style (aka a months’ worth of celebrations that helped a stone creep back on!  It was amazing though 🙂 ).

Now I have the Wedding deadline looming this as a goal I can start thinking about and how I’m going to achieve it.  Here is where the beauty of the allotment comes into play.  Anything I can grow is completely diet friendly and the exercise it gives is free.  The trick is going to be having something each month to munch through and to stagger my planting.  I love home-grown carrots, and think I’m going to try growing chard.  I’ve never eaten it before but I love Kale and Spinach and apparently its similar.  Its all new to me though and I just hope I’m successful with some crops.  I’ve learnt from this years carrots to really prepare the soil well.  They all struggled in the heavy soil and turned into really weird shapes.

I have sorted all my seeds out into the months that you can start to seed them.  For January I have a few wild flowers seeds packets and a Strawberry called Regina.  My next challenge is finding the room at home to start them all off 🙂  I currently have the windowsill full of Sweetpea seedlings.

Other resolutions will be to pay off my debts.  I’m lucky that I don’t have many, but I have enough to make life a little squeezed at times.  We are saving for the wedding so that will all be made for upfront (such a nice feeling).

How about you?  Will you make any Resolutions?

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another one bites the dust…

So unfortunately I lost another shed.  I was outbid in the last few seconds and my internet wasn’t fast enough to rebid quickly.  But looking on the bright side, it was too small and by the time it had been delivered and I’d brought paint for it, well that would be a nice chunk of money towards a bigger shed.  I’m good at talking myself into things, but luckily I’m as good at talking myself out of them.

It was one of those evenings when you feel like Gremlins are in the system.  I thought I’d try drying some oranges.  Whenever I’ve seen them for sale they smell absolutely amazing but are really expensive, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.  Oven set at 150, slices arranged on the grill mesh put directly on the shelf with out the grill pan and left for 2 hours to dry slowly.  The grill pan is clean just old and battered.

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2 hours later I took them out of the oven and they look perfect but instead of smelling of amazing orange they have a slight whiff of bacon!  I left them to cool, and the bacon smell went but they don’t smell as I imagined at all.  Upon a quick Google search I found that you then have to soak them in orange essential oil!! I’m starting to see why they are so expensive to buy.  Really all that’s happened is that I’ve wasted three of the nicest tasting oranges I’ve had and 2 hours worth of electricity.  Still they look pretty and I’ll hang them up somewhere.

So at that point I did sulk….just a little 🙂  But I was determined that something would go well so I started to sow my Sweet Peas seeds.  Our house doesn’t have central heating so it gets really cold.  Sweet Peas struggle to germinate in the cold, so I sat them at a nice distance from the fire and watched as the clear plastic lid slowly started to condensate. Obviously I didn’t let them get too hot, just a gentle warming.  I then wrapped the pot in a layer of bubble wrap and put it in the warmest corner.  I know you can soak them overnight in warm water, but that warm water is likely to get really cold overnight so I thought this way was better.  We’ll see 🙂  I have some fabulous old-fashioned ones to sow soon.  I love Sweet Peas but have never grown them successfully at home as its so shady.  I’ve heard that they grow well in amongst Sweetcorn so I’ll be trying that too 🙂

Sweet Peas roasting by an electric fire……

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I’ve also ordered some Sweetcorn seeds called Earlybird F1.  I’ve never grown Sweetcorn before and I can’t wait.  I know its cheap to buy but I can imagine the taste of home-grown will be well worth the effort of growing.

Today is a whole new day and after letting the dog out for his morning wee I put the lights on of Christmas tree number 2.  The lights are brilliant, they are battery operated so no need for plugs and cables.  It smells amazing too and more than made up for the bacon scented orange slices!

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