The Shed obession continues

I have no idea why I want a shed so badly.  I’ve tried to rationalise it but I can’t.  I don’t even want one for the right reasons, instead of storing tools I want a relaxing area with bunting and cake tins, where I can sit, plan and have a cuppa.  I have a little plastic table and chairs donated by another plot holder which are perfectly good enough to sit out on, but they aren’t a shed. I also have a zip up plastic Greenhouse that I can sit in, but again it isn’t a shed.

I’ve even been scouring the Cuprinol Garden Shades Collection trying to decide what colour I’d paint it!  Its ridiculous (I’m quite taken by the colour ‘Silver Birch’ ;o) ).  It keeps me awake at night thinking where I can get a thin plate holder or narrow shelving unit to put in it, or would white emulsion inside be ok?  I’m even excited at the prospect of guttering and moving my 99p water-butt eBay bargain to the site so it can gather water from the roof.  I imagine a little cottage garden area next to it and the buzz of bees in Summer.

So in this shed fuelled frenzy, I’ve just bid on a tiny 4ft x 4ft shed.  Its ridiculous but its a shed and if I’m honest it’s very cute.  I even has a little window!  I’m not counting on it though as I’ve lost so many auctions but its the kind of luck I get.  Some people get huge 6ft x 8ft beauties for peanuts, but this feels like the kind of thing I’d win.  It’s of no interest to the people who want to store bikes, or keep rabbits as it’s too small.  I reckon my main competition will be from small garden owners or other allotment holders.  The fact that its close to Christmas is on my side too.  There can’t be many people prepared to throw over £40 on a tiny, slightly tatty, second-hand shed this time of year, can there?  That’s a couple of decent presents worth of money.

So my plan is to win the auction (fingers crossed), paint it up pretty like and use it as a tool store.  I reckon (from my crazy evening last night spent marking a 4ft x 4ft square in the living room to see how much room I’d have!) that I would get in a small side board for my camping stove and kettle, and a fold up chair.  Then stick a proper 6ft x 8ft shed on the Wedding Gift List and keep my fingers crossed for October.  Sounds like a plan eh….

 

 

Seasons Greetings

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas round here.  This year I’ve really felt the season change and I’ve embraced it wholly.  I know its cheesy but I have focused on happiness and goodwill and less on presents and the commercial side of it.

Having the allotment I feel an extra closeness to nature and this year the celebration of the Winter Solstice means more than ever.  I can’t wait for the days to lengthen again and for my allotment plans to become reality.  I can really relate to our ancestors bringing in the evergreens to show life going on.  So a little earlier than normal we put the tree’s up and decorated the house.  We have our old faithful artificial tree but this year I added a gorgeous real one too.  The plan is to plant it in the New Year and put lights on it in the garden next Christmas.

Our ornaments are a mix of different kinds, we don’t have a themed tree.  All the decorations have meaning to us, some are new but still meaningful, and some are like dear old friends. My beautiful ballerinas remind me of the year I was lucky enough to see the Nutcracker Ballet live in London.  Truly one the most magical experiences I’ve had and one that always springs to mind at this year of year.

I other news I’ve been working on creating the shape of the allotment.  I’ve started on a slightly off-centre central path and have been creating smaller beds for the new year.  I also listed and sold the water tank from the plot.  I couldn’t see the point of it to be honest.  It was right near the tap, in full sun taking up valuable space.  A lot of people told me to keep it but I really didn’t see its benefit.  If I could have moved it to the shady area that would have been good, however I’d never be able to fill it up there as the hose isn’t long enough.  I also got through summer by using the water butts.  They did need to be replenished once, but I’ve since brought another which will see me through a dry patch.  So I sold it on eBay and will put the money towards next years rent.

I can’t wait to have more allotment talk to share but for now all I can do is enjoy the season and plan for Spring.  Its a little bit like the time between Christmas and New Year.  Its all very pleasant but has that strange feeling of being stuck in time.

I hope all your plans are coming together and that your Christmas shopping is stress free.  I have done most of mine online.  Its modern bliss isn’t it to tap a few buttons and know that your items will magically appear at the door in the few days time 🙂

x

Busy, busy, busy…

I’m still here honest!  I’ve realised that this blogging lark takes a lot of dedication and if you don’t post as and when things happen it can get behind really quickly.

So this is a little catch up for the month.  We had a brilliant bonfire night this year.  It was the first year in ages that it didn’t rain and was a cloudless night.  We’d planned to spend the evening on the allotment and have a little BBQ and bonfire.  I brought this super cute BBQ online and we took flasks of tea, Sausages, bread rolls, onion, ketchup and the Parkin.  I also had Halloween plates and napkins – very well prepared:

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It was bitterly cold but we soon had the BBQ going and a nicely contained bonfire in the incinerator I got for my birthday.  It felt wonderfully eccentric standing round warming ourselves up by the fire and I loved every minute of it.  Himself took charge of the BBQ whilst I built up the bonfire and watched the fireworks.  I think the smell of sausages had drifted down the road as we were soon joined by our friend, which was a lovely surprise.  We all sat and ate together, happily chatting and drinking lovely hot tea.  Our friend hadn’t been at a bonfire in years and couldn’t help himself but prod at the fire and put more wood in until it was properly roaring.  It was one of those fabulous chilled out evenings that you remember for years to come.  Once we’d run out of wood we made the site safe and packed up for home.  We absolutely stank but had a great night.  I now have a nice layer of ash for those ash loving plants.

Naturally the day after Bonfire night it was the typical Christmas advert onslaught.  I don’t know if it’s the make-do-and-mend attitude you get from an Allotment but this year I’m done with all the commercialism.  I don’t need to redecorate my home, my sofa is just fine, and those things that are worn at the edges are homely.  Of course we now have Black Friday looming and the depressing sights of people degrading themselves for 25% of a Telly they don’t need.  Black Friday is no longer content with being held on a Friday and now extends over the weekend.  Being a tightwad, I mean Frugal, I shall shun the whole weekend and make sure I don’t spend a thing.  I’m sure its great if you actually need any of it, of course if there was a Black Friday Shed event I might be more tempted haha.

Thinking about Christmas and my dislike of all this commercialism I’ve decided to make presents for my friends.  I was watching Nigella Lawson’s Christmas program at the weekend and have been inspired to make her Christmas Rocky Road for my friends.  I shall buy himself some presents but as we are saving for the wedding we are both holding on to the pennies.

Talking of Weddings, I finally said Yes to the dress and brought my wedding dress!  I’m so excited and I keep dreaming about it.  My Frugal Fairy was looking after me too as the dress I absolutely fell in love with was a sample dress and in the 70% off end of season sale!  I’m keeping what it looks like a secret till the big day, but I’m in love with it.  I went in for something simple but came out with this jewel incrusted, full-skirted with train beauty.  The dress is purposely too small as I’m on a weight loss mission.  I’ve rejoined Slimming World having lost almost 4 stone with them before.  I’ve put 1.5 stone back on but now want to lose a further 2 possibly 3.  Who doesn’t want to lose weight before a wedding?! I’ll be 43 when I walk down the aisle and I want to be the best version of myself so with Slimming World, work on the allotment and my weekly Clubbercise class I should be well on my way.  I have 11 months as of yesterday.  THIS GIRL CAN! 🙂

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x

The best of the Season

Autumn is well and truly upon us now.  The leaves have been gorgeous this year and really put on a spectacular display of colour.  I’ve noticed that the local council are no longer clearing leaves off the paths which does make for a slippery walk sometimes.  I have taken advantage of this though and bagged up a few leaves myself.  They are rotting away nicely (if slowly) in my compost bin.  If you’ve ever had a good look at the ground in the Woodlands you’ll know how rich it is.  I’d love soil like that on the plot, full of organic matter and rich with life giving nutrients.

Now the nights have drawn in I’m sadly unable to get to the allotment after work. I work an hour away from home so by the time I’ve got home its dark, and when I leave in the mornings its dark.  This means that my visits to Lottie are now going to have to be weekends only.  We are going up tomorrow night for a mini bonfire and a BBQ and I can’t wait.  I need to see how my Kale is doing, and if the whitefly are winning or if the Brussel Sprouts and cabbages are fighting back.

We’ll sit and watch the local fireworks from the comfort and warmth of a little fire and we’ll eat the Parkin I made.  My lovely husband-to-be is a Yorkshire man and loves nothing more than Parkin on bonfire night.  Its one of those traditions he has grown up with and its those traditions that spark a thousand happy memories for him.  Parkin is a firm textured Gingerbread made with flour, oats and oatmeal.  It smells absolutely amazing with the bitter sweet of Black treacle, and ginger.  The only downside is that it has to sit for a few days to allow all the flavours to blend and for the treacle and honey to soften the oats.

Here’s the finished product:

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I’ve also indulged my love of Halloween with a DVD monster session of Ghost Adventures.  I love this program and received Series 3 for my birthday.  Its these things I love about the season.  Lit candles, blankets, scary programmes, and the smell of spiced baked goods.  I also put extra food down now for the local hedgehogs.  They are in major decline and its so sad as they are such adorable creatures.  They need to be over 4kg to survive winter so I put some meaty cat food down for them (not fish flavoured), they also like GoCat biscuits (other brands are available).  Unfortunately so do the neighbourhood cats which winds my dog up!

Can you handle the Lockdown?

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And now we move into Firework season, which seems to last from now to January round here.  We are very lucky that our dog enjoys hearing them and will sit at the back door wagging his tail.  I know many more who aren’t so happy about them. Sadly for them and their owners, this is a miserable season.  I thank my lucky stars for my bonkers Jack Russell.
Till next time x

 

Planning for 2017

Although I still have Cabbages, Kale, Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts, Carrots and Parsnips growing you can really see the year winding down now.  Even the weeds are taking a respite after a frankly manic year of growth. The Rhubarb I so excitedly discovered is dying back and the bare ground beneath is revealed to me for the first time.  My strawberry leaves have turned a beautiful shade of red and Autumn has well and truly arrived.

My little wildlife pond needed urgent attention if anything was to survive for much longer so researched what to do and I read that Autumn is the least damaging time to do some work on it.  I used my trusty white plastic trug and started to empty it out.  I had wanted to empty it all out till I noticed a grumpy looking frog staring at me.  It did make me laugh as it had a proper scowl on its face.  I apologised (as you do when you’re alone on your plot) and promptly filled it back up using water from the butt.  Thankfully it was enough of a water change to clear it.  I also removed a dead lizard which was both fascinating and icky all at once.

There is very little I can do now on the plot so I’ve turned my attention to my seed packet collection (I love the seed sales in September!).  I’ve painstakingly marked out my plot on graph paper and I’ve listed all my seed packets by month of sowing.  It means I can work on the plot monthly rather than panic sowing it all at the same time.

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Apparently a lot of people do this on the computer but I love having it in my pocket and checking it when I’m there.   It is a large plot to fill and could be daunting if I wasn’t staging when things are to be seeded.  The very front section is where cars pass and though they are very few I still don’t fancy eating anything there that may catch passing fumes.  Instead that will be my flower section to support our much loved bees.  Apparently Crocus are the best and earliest flower for bees so I’ve planted the old wheelbarrow full of them.  Fingers crossed they like it in there.

I’m sure my plans will change a little but just having a plan makes everything seem so much more achievable.

Do you do anything similar with your plot?

x

 

A Gardeners World inspired re-arrange.

I’m not one for watching much on the telly.  I don’t watch soaps and my evenings are spent doing things around the house, or on the allotment. However I have been catching Gardeners World every week and was so happy when they started the hour long episodes.  Anyway, this weekend Monty Don was talking about Strawberries and how its a good idea to move them every three years as they get viruses.  Apparently you shouldn’t reuse a patch Strawberries patch for 3 years to let the viruses die off.  It got me thinking about my inherited Strawberries and how they didn’t have much of a crop this year.  I have no idea how long they have been in the ground but judging by the state of the weed membrane its been a while.

With that in mind I’ve decided that this is the perfect time of year to start getting the hang of crop rotation.  Crop rotation is a little hit and miss when you have no idea what was grown before and where.  However, I’ve noted down where everything I have is now and I’m starting on a plan for next year.  I never thought I’d be hunting through the shops for graph paper, but I have, and I’ve painstakingly marked out the plot and all the current sections. I’ve ordered some bare root strawberry plants (Cambridge Favourite) and have chosen a sunny site but its protected by a wooden border put in by the previous plot holder.  It should provide some protection from the wind but will still get a good deal of light.  Its going to take a bit of digging over as I’ve just pruned back a whole section of Raspberry bushes and need to pull the roots out but I have all weekend to do that.

I’ve also been attacking old fruit bushes at the back of the plot that I affectionately call ‘The Admin Area’.  Its where the compost bins are, the plastic greenhouse and eventually where the shed will go.  They really don’t seem to enjoy growing there.  Its shady, and they’ve grown leggy and twisted in the search for light.  Instead it will make the perfect place for a shed (when I get one).  It was hard work digging them and their roots out, in fact I nearly broke the fork bending back and forth trying to loosen the roots.  The fork is on its last legs now.  Eventually my hard work paid of.  This end of the plot is shabby but is working progress.  I’m loathed to throw anything away that may be of use so its all gathered here.  Sorry for the size of the photos (I’m still learning) but these are the before and after pics:

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Much neater.  The plastic cover is from an old plastic greenhouse.  I thought about making a poly tunnel so I’m keeping it hanging around until I decide for sure.

Its the perfect place for my shed WHEN I get one 🙂  I’ve had no luck on that front, this weekend and had to allow myself to be outbid when a shed on eBay went for silly money.

Unfortunately this is all I’ve done on the allotment this weekend.  Its been a busy weekend meeting up with friends.  Friends like allotments need nurturing to ensure they grow strong  🙂

I hope you all had a great weekend.

x

 

 

Childhood memories and a shed of my own.

The past few months on the allotment have really taken me back to my childhood.  I turned 42 a couple of weeks ago and my childhood is a distant memory that I rarely think about in the fast pace of life.  But just brushing past a blackcurrant bush and smelling the strong scent of the berries whooshed me back to long school holidays spent camping in amongst the Blackcurrants in the back garden.  I also made my own jam this year and that too took me back to watching my Mum make Raspberry jam in our old kitchen.

I think my love of sheds came from growing up with the best shed ever!  I was born in a really creepy old house, and we lived there till I was 19, but it had an amazing garden and shed.  It was built in the days when houses were built for comfort and not for profit and it was full of quirky features you don’t get now.  We had a twisty staircase, the bathroom was up a little step and the house had character (and a ghost but that’s another story).

The shed was built at the same time as the house and it was incredible.  It had a real tiled roof, large wooden planks and was on a thick concrete base.  It made the perfect little house and at the side of the shed was a hardstand which provided hours of fun for me pretending my bike was a pony and was in its stable.  The shed had had a proper lock too and a big chunky key.  I used to sit in side and read the Famous Five and the Secret Seven by the light of the ajar door.  I also put snails in open topped flowerpots and tried selling them to the postman.

Anyway where this trip down memory lane is going is that I’m finally close to getting my own shed on the allotment.  Ideally I wanted a large 5ft x 7ft shed but I’m finding it impossible to get transport so I’ve found a second hand 6ftx4ft and it can be delivered.  Now all I need to do is win the auction its in.

I love it when you come across a really well looked after allotment shed.  I love the colours people paint them and the creativity people have.  I can’t wait for my own little space to make a brew in and to keep out of the rain.  Fingers crossed I’ll have an exciting update soon.

x