Plot Notes

A personal journal, open for the world to read, recording the progress of a novice allotmenteer on his allotment.

Weed it and reap.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Enormous beetroot spotted on allotment

Today has been a glorious sunny day with temperatures well above 25 degrees centigrade. I have spent the afternoon lugging barrow loads of topsoil, manure and compost to go into some raised beds which I have made as part of my plan to avoid a repeat of the flooding which I suffered earlier this year. The theory is that the growing area will be raised a few inches above the likely water level and the paths between the beds will channel excess rain water away. It has been hot and strenuous work under the scorching sun. I even took my shirt off. I now look like an enormous bright red beetroot.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


You may have seen here and also here that for the last two or three weeks I have had my vines wrapped in fleece in an attempt to protect them from the risk of damage from the cruel frost which has visited the plot a few times in early May.

To the casual observer the vines may have appeared lifeless as they have hung there draped in white fleece death shrouds and I must admit that in the dark, when I have gone to light the greenhouse heater, they have looked like nine frozen contorted ghosts. However, I think they have had an appearance which is more like huge white pupae hanging from the vine wires. Inside each chrysalis metamorphosis has been taking place as buds have burst, leaves have formed and new growth has started to reach up towards the sun.

Last weekend I felt it safe to declare that there will be no more frost this season and so on Sunday afternoon I carefully opened and removed the fleece chrysalis from each vine and, to continue the metaphor, the new green leaves unfurled and started to soak up the bright and warming sunshine like newly emerged butterflies. And so, the vines have entered the next stage of their life cycle.

Make a Wish

Make a wish and blow...

...I wish there weren't so many dandelions on my allotment plot. Doh!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Precautions Pay Off

This time last year my early vine growth was stopped in its tracks by a cruel May frost. This year I have taken precautions and wrapped the vines in fleece. I had a peep behind the fleece this morning and I'm pleased to report that the vines are thriving. I'll leave the fleece in place until next weekend when, hopefully, all risk of frost will have passed and I will then look forward to a long hot Summer and a bumper harvest of grapes ready for pressing and fermenting.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Home Grown Allotment Pest

I seem to be personally responsible for breeding the most destructive allotment pest that I have yet encountered. When I was out working yesterday my daughter went to the allotment with her friend. Before coming home she forgot to close the greenhouse door (What she was doing in the greenhouse in the first place  is yet to be satisfactorily explained). I was not aware that she had been in the greenhouse until I popped round there on my way out this morning. I found the greenhouse door wide open and I was devastated to see my seedlings hanging limp and tinged with grey and all suffering obvious damage from the overnight frost.

The leeks and peas will probably survive but the courgettes have certainly had it. At least half of the tomatoes are gone, the runners are goners, the corn is hanging limp and the beetroot, sprouts and broccoli all look very poorly. I have got a few back-up seedlings on the window sills at home but I will still now need to start sowing again. It feels like I'm back to square one. I feel very deflated.

I was so angry at her carelessness that I've told my daughter that our bank-holiday kayaking trip planned for tomorrow is cancelled and the time will be spent on the allotment making up for wasted time. The trouble is that I was looking forward to our day out with the kayaks more than anything and so I may relent and still have the day out. Whether I take my daughter with me or just leave her in the greenhouse, with the door wide open, is yet to be decided.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Avant Garden

If the artist Christo had an allotment I think it might look something like this...
...but he's probably not so cutting edge as to attempt to do anything so radical (or daft) as to cultivate grapevines in a North Lincolnshire swamp where, even in May, the so-called Queen of Months, there is a serious threat of damage from vicious sub-zero temperatures.