My Forgotten Mistress

As it’s all systems go on the veg-growing front at the moment, it’s easy to get so caught up in the allotment, the garden gets forgotten. In the background she continues, without fuss, without complaint. While runner beans and sweetcorn rear their heads above their pots, the garden has her own delights to share.

The fig tree I bought a short while ago, shows promise… and fruit. Fig Collage

Right now, our garden is awash with Spainish Bluebells. For many, there seems to be a love/hate relationship with these perennials. They certainly don’t compare to our very own native variety, yet I have a fondness for them. This year, we not only have the regular blue variety, but its white sister, also. Bluebell Collage

Being a north-facing garden, woodland plants thrive and things can be a little slow to take off at times. Nevertheless, it means we get to enjoy the spring flowers, such as these Hellebores for an extra few weeks. Hellabore Collage

A few years ago at the Chelsea Flower show, Agent Soph took a particular liking to an unnamed Aquilegia. As it was the last day of the show, they rang the bell at four o’clock and everything was up for grabs at a discounted price. It was a bloody battle to keep the other keen gardeners off the prize that Sophie had set her sights on; I still carry the scars to this day.

Sophie was unaware of how promiscuous Aquilegia can be, and every year, right on cue, this plant is the first to appear, in her ever-burgeoning numbers. .. Aquilegia Collage

In our compact front garden, I wanted the season to start with a bang, and to my delight, it’s full of shape and colour. Not only are there tulips and wallflowers, but the alliums, clematis and Fritillaria imperials are starting to rear their heads. 1wallflower

My garden and allotment are very different ladies, however, both have very many merits, both are equally loved.

All I need now is an orchard…. 🙂AdeSignature



The Ultimate Parsnip

It seems there’s never enough time to get all those allotment jobs done. You spend all week planning how to get the most out of those precious weekends on the plot, that when it comes round and tasks are completed, several more are only too keen to rear their eager heads. But that’s what gardening is, a continuous cycle. We do, we learn, we move on.

For me, it was a weekend of turning soil, sowing seeds in the polytunnel, warming beds and chopping and digging over the green manure.2 Collage

However, something I am doing a little differently this year is germinating my parsnip seeds at home in a propagator. I always find parsnip seeds are a bugger to get going. Once they’re off, it’s a different matter. Although the finished result can come in a multitude of unusual shapes and sizes, they still taste great. So now I’ve challenged myself to grow the ultimate parsnip. 4

It took a week for the seeds to germinate, but with their first shoots emerging, I took them up to the allotment.

On the plot I decided to create holes with the dibber then backfill with sifted soil, place the germinated seed on top and lightly cover. I could be way off the mark here but my thinking is, a clean route down will mean less encounters with stones thus preventing forking. Who knows? I’m committed now and the quest for the ultimate parsnip has begun. Wish me well as I set sail on the voyage of parsnip discovery. 1meHowever, if you can keep a secret, there’s another project I’ve been working on, locked away in my garden shed.  But before I return, under the cover of darkness to proceed with my covert operation, I wanted to share some pictures of my wallflowers and our sole Fritillaria meleagris ‘Snakes Head’.

1 Collage

More of Operation Build soon.. Over and Out! AdeSignature

A Paler Palette

As we say goodbye to the rich colours of October and hello to November with its paler palette, it’s clear autumn is here. I’m a person who loves all our seasons, the colours, the constant change and different gardening challenges they present. Living in a singular climate all year round, well, it’s just not me. But as we take one step closer to winter,  it now becomes a race against time to get on with November’s tasks before the ground hardens and I’m giving myself a hernia trying to wrestle carrots out of the ground. So today on the plot, I laid some foundations for next year.

Firstly, it was time to clear away the old tomato, chilli and pepper plants in the polytunnel. They were looking exhausted and had nothing else to give. So having harvested the last of them, I then set about clearing out and cleaning down. I know I’ve gone on about it, but the polytunnel has been a great investment this year, it’s already paid for itself. Not only has it helped me grow a bumper crop of vegetables, it’s a great place to propagate and sow seeds. 1 Collage

Last year, I bought bare root wallflowers from an online company, and on arrival, I was bitterly disappointed with the state they were in. Although I cared for them, got them up to speed to produce some wonderful spring colour, this year I wanted to grow my own. So back at the height of summer, bathed in sunshine, wearing shorts and exposing my white knees to terrified onlookers, I sowed a batch of wallflowers ‘Fire King’ in trays and grew them in the polytunnel.

Once they had produced a good root system, I planted them out temporarily into an unused part of the allotment and left them to grow tall and strong until needed. Well today was that day, and having cleared my flower borders around the allotment, I moved them to their final positions. And as I grow waves of daffodils in the same beds, I’m hoping that early next spring, my plot will be awash with colour. Allotments in the depths of winter can look desolate, so I’m hoping  this splash of colour will lure the bugs and insects early in the year and offer them food, rest and recuperation on the darkest of days. And in return, these tenants will pollinate my growing crops. 2 Collage

This weekend, I also dug over more beds and got on with some more prepping and green manuring.  I know I’m in the minority up on the allotment when I do this, as the annual patchwork of tarpaulin and plastic sheeting has started to appear across the plots, but I’ve never been one to follow the trend. And anyway, I tried the plastic sheeting method the first year I had my plot, but I wasn’t happy with the results. It encouraged red ants to setup home there along with weeds with deep tap roots.

But again that’s what gardening is all about: learning, trying, failing and (hopefully) succeeding. But always keep learning. 6

Finally, in my last blog I mentioned our pumpkin dilemma. Well, in the end we decided not to sacrifice one of our home-grown pumpkins for Halloween carving, as the varieties we’d grown were quite small. We ended up buying one. And here’s what I did with it…

It turned out to be a pretty good night! I got to dress up, terrorise my passing neighbours and best of all, Agent Soph and I had a Halloween buffet to celebrate the night with heaps of homemade beetroot marmalade.. Hmmm….AdeSignature