Sunday, 27 September 2009

Missing Pumpkin

One of our big pumpkins have gone missing from our allotment... Sadly it was the biggest one and the one Myles had his eyes on to carve a great scary halloween face on. Still there are two huge pumpkins but with a whole month to go we are now worried that more pumpkins will be stolen and there will be none left for Myles when Halloween comes around. This one in the picture is still there...
Autumn is really starting to set in on the allotment. Still we are harvesting the last tomatoes and cucumbers. The leeks and brusselsprouts are growing well and we look forward to harvesting those later in the year.

Here are some pictures from our allotment yesterday.

Sunday, 9 August 2009


I have been away on holiday for the major part of July and left Mattias to get on with the allotment on his own. Every now and then a text message would appear on my mobile saying everything was growing really big. I did not really understand how big things could grow in just a few weeks... we now have an abundance of vegetables including some really big courgettes (which are probably to big to be called courgettes and should be referred to as squash or something else).

Then there were the cucumbers which must be the biggest I have ever seen. The long green variation and also a smaller round variation (crystal apple I believe). Funniest thing is that one of the cucumbers had decided to grow straight into the piece of string that is holding the plant up with the result of a very weird looking cucumber. See the picture here...

We are in for a bumber crop of tomatoes, the first ones I harvested today are very sweet and juicy. The 100s & 1000s tomato plant has literally produces 100s & 1000s of tiny little tomatoes that are the size of big blueberries. We have planted so many variations of tomatoes that it is difficult to remember what is what... but one thing is for sure, they are all doing really well.

Other things doing really well included the just under metre high swiss chard... yes, it is growing out of proportion. The purple sprouting broccoli with it first couple of broccoli spears appearing already, the berlotti beans which I harvested some of today and the artichokes are all impressive. I was told that we could not expect any artichokes in the first season having grown them from seed in only 6 months, two of the plants is now producing lovely little artichokes.

One of the sunflowers we planted seems to have taken on monster proportions. Its stem is the size of a human arm in diametre (perhaps we should call it tree trunk) and it is reaching more than 2m above the ground. If it was not for it being so heavy and leaning worse than the leaning tower of Pisa, I would guess that it is even 2.5 m tall... I wonder how big the actual flower will be when it is in blossom...?!

Sad news on the raspberries as the autumn variety have failed to establish themselves on our allotment, however the summer variety is growing really well and are producing some very large sweet and juicy berries.

The Halloween pumpkins we planted to turn into lanterns at the end of October are also growing to enourmous proportions. If they are already larger than a football, then how big will they be by October?
Having now brought home what looks like a bumper crop, it hardly shows on the allotment as there is so much more to harvest over the coming weeks. We will probably enjoy a mostly vegetarian diet over the weeks to come.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009


This weekend we went to our first annual general meeting for the allotment society. Assuming it would be quite quick and eventless we got quite the opposite when some proper drama kicked off... A French lady basically accused the committee of not being straight with the finances and that money had disappeared back in 2001. It was something about the council not getting the rents for all the allotments that year that the committee had collected... She had actually gone to the council but as they only keep records 6 years back they had no documentation for 2001 to prove if it had been paid or not. The committee aware of the situation could actually provide a receipt they had received from the council in 2001 acknowledging that it had been paid! Still that was not good enough for the French lady. She was mostly just shouting out loud and not waiting for her turn to speak causing several people to shout out 'Shut Up!'. It was quite comical to be honest.

Next thing the French lady started to go off about was how the committee exploits the people that volunteer to work in the shop on the site. It is open 2 hours/week during the warm season and no one seems to do more than 2 hours every 2-3 months so not really sure it can be called exploiting. Also, if someone does not want to volunteer, then they can stop doing so.

In conclusion, we survived the first AGM and are pleased that there is a whole year before the next one...

Will now enjoy some of our produce... sweet peas, chard, onions and strawberries.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Long time no blog post... back to the story of the allotment

It has been a while since we last wrote something about our allotment. It does not mean that we have not been keeping busy with the allotment. On the contrary we have been working hard to get it to what it now has become. We are really proud. No major disasters yet, just some blackfly on the beans...

So what has happened since we last posted something?

First of all... Weeds, weeds, weeds... Then more weeds and even more weeds. We have spent whole weekends just dealing with weeds! The thistles are just the worst. Anyone knows what to do about those buggers other than digging them up and getting rid of the roots? We have been lucky with friends helping out dealing with all the weeds. Last weekend there were 5 of us spending 4 hours working through all the weeds and planting out our seedlings. We got it somewhat under control but again today, there are new thistles attacking our little plants! Big thanks goes out to Bethan, Paul and Andy for helping out last weekend!

Last weekend also saw the formation of the Butt Crack Club... It was Andy's idea (who else would think of such a thing) and the funniest thing is that he was the one with a sunburnt butt crack at the end of the day!

So what do we have growing there now?

The potatoes were planted in March after chitting them for 4-5 weeks. We planted three different kinds and to be honest we cannot remember exactly which ones they were... there are definitely some Desirees and some Swifts. The third potato, will have to be a surprise! All the potatoes are thriving. The Swifts and the unknowns are in bloom so we are looking forward to some own grown spuds in a few weeks time. It will be perfect timing for the Swedish Midsummer celebrations!

Tomatoes, Peppers and Aubergines
We have propagated about 8 kinds of tomatoes (green, striped, yellow, black and lots of reds), 4 different kinds of peppers (including a 'Chocolate' variety - guess why we choose that one...) and some mixed aubergine seeds (could be any shape or colour). All of them went into the allotment last weekend and looked like they were doing very well!

Beans and peas
The broad beans and peas are doing really well now and have recovered from a recent attack of black fly. Thankfully we had lots of lady birds feasting away on them and also a mixture of washing up liquid and water helped clearing them. First signs of pea pods are now showing and the berlotto beans are starting to climb up their supports.

Cucumber, Pumpkins, Zucchinis and Sweetcorn
We did have a set back with the Zucchinis. After propagating them and then setting them out in the cold frame to harden them off, the zucchini seedlings sadly died. The Cucumber seedlings which were hardened off at the same time are all fine - we thought those would be more at risk! Anyway, we have new zucchini seedlings on their way in the cold frame now and they seem to be doing much better. Just a case of trial and error.

Little Myles helped us plant the pumpkin seeds and the seedlings are now growing on the allotment sharing a space with the sweetcorn. Myles is looking forward to harvesting some pumpkins for Halloween.

All of our strawberries were seedlings taken from the four strawberry plants on Petra's roof terrace. We planted 12 of them and 10 are still alive... They did look somewhat sad until recently when we covered each plant with more compost and now they have taken on a new life again! We even have our first strawberries coming along.

Raspberries, Blackberries and Tayberries
We finally got all the raspberry canes, and the blackberry and tayberry plants delivered and planted. Mattias and Andy built some interesting 'crucifix-like' supports for the raspberries. It looks a bit like a grave yard to be honest but the raspberry canes will hopefully soon cover the supports with their green leaves and juicy berries.

Asparagus and Artichokes
We nearly gave up on the asparagus. We planted the crowns and then nothing happened... until a week ago! We discovered some small asparagus spears coming up. We have been told to leave them be this year, but looking forward to a hopefully getting a handful of asparagus next year! The artichoke plants were propagated from seed and now planted out. They do not look much at the moment and will not do so for at least another year!

Our first harvest!
Two weeks ago our first radishes were ready for harvest! We planted a bunch of mixed seeds so it was an interesting combination of colours that we got in the end. Today we sowed more radishes as we are now almost out of them.

In addition to the above we have also onions, beetroot, chard, purple sprouting broccoli, red cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, carrots, parsnips, sallad, herbs, and much much more...

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Strawberries and Asparagus

Ok so here we are now a bit later... we planted the asparagus crowns some three weeks ago and also put the strawberry plants on the allotment. The strawberries all came from the two strawberry plants I have on the roof terrace. In between them, they produced 12 new little plants for this year.

Then the day after we got the very sad news that M's good friend and house mate had sadly passed away. This in combination with very heavy workloads for both of us resulted in having been slightly unfocused on the allotment for the past 3 weeks but we are going back there today to plant some potatoes (3 varieties and I am not sure we can remember which is which...) and also some peas. We have also ordered more seeds and some raspberry canes that will be planted next weekend.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Onions and Broad Beans

It has been the day of planting onion sets and broad beens on the allotment. We took 6 year old Myles down there for the first time and he really got right in to it and did most of the planting. We planted Red Onions, Yellow Onions, Shallots and some Broad Beans. With the team effort, all onion sets were rapidly planted and Myles got a bit annoyed that there was nothing else to plant right now. We have promised to take him down there again in March when the potatoes will be ready to go in and some of the other seeds we have purchased.

We have also bought some asparagus crowns that are to be planted later in the week. If anyone has any advise on planting asparagus crowns, do let us know!

Sunday, 15 February 2009


Started propagating a few things today... Leeks, cabbages, the first few early tomatoes and some herbs. Created propagating trays out of old fruit and vegetable containers from the supermarket, and used old toilet rolls as individual pots for the soon to be seedlings. Bought more seeds today but most of the rest are either to be started propagating in March or April or planted outside in April or May. Also bought some red onion sets and shallot sets that are to go into the ground next weekend. It will be the first things to be planted in our newly prepared allotment. It is very exciting! The picture below was taken yesterday! It is unbelievable that this is the same as the completely overgrown plot that we only took over 2 months ago.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Monster Carrot

Look what we found on the visit down to the allotment this morning. It is supposed to be a carrot if anyone is wondering. It is a bit of a monster but in good shape so will be a great addition to the salad bowl this weekend.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Crash Course in Allotment Gardening

This weekend we met up with one of the more experienced allotment gardeners in our allotment society: Mr O. He has been cultivating his plot for the past 9-10 years and was recommended to us to help clear and prepare our plot. It was fantastic to get advise from someone with experience as opposed to us beginners. It turned out to be a very valuable crash course to allotment gardening.

Mr O was telling us about the state our plot has been in the past 5 years. Long Rye Grass reaching 1.5 m in height that has been spreading thousands of seeds to the neighbouring plots. It must have been a nightmare for the neighbours. On the positive side, Mr O said that our plot is one of the best amongst all the plots in this allotment society and that the soil is top quality.

On the down side Mr O told us that what we had dug so far would not kill off the remaining seeds and that we needed to get down to the yellow clay layer deep beneath. He showed us exactly how it is done and it is looking like quite a job to get on with. We have decided to hire his services to help dig it over thoroughly in order to get it ready in time for planting. It may seem like a short cut to get to where we need but better to get some help and get it right rather than having to start all over a few months down the line.

Unless we get too much snow this coming week, then the plot should be completely dug over by next weeken. Then we will cover it with a layer of compost. Mr O reckons that by mid March, the plot should be in a good enough state for us to start planting on.

And the best thing of yesterday's meeting with Mr O, was the potatoes and turnips he sent us home with. It was from his own harvest back in October. The turnips were the biggest we have ever seen and the potatoes really large and firm and perfect for baking in the oven. A much appreciated treat!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

The Big Dig

Today we have started clearing our new allotment. It was totally overgrown as you can see on the 'before' picture here. Long couch grass and lots of thistles everywhere. We also found a shoe, a sandal, a bag of dog poo, lots of plastic bottles, toys and bits of concrete. As the plot has not been in use for at least 5 years it seems that people have been using it to dump their garbage on it. Well they better not do that now that we have taken it on!

We got stuck right in with the help of our good friend Bethan. We have promised her a regular supply of fresh vegetables and fruit in return and hopefully the allotment will help us deliver on our promise. But she seemed to be happy to help and enjoy the day as much as we did.

Mattias set off with the strimmer and started having a go at cutting the grass down. He looked like a pro from the beginning! Petra and Bethan followed him gathering all the cut grass to pile it up so that we can burn it once it is dry. We got as far as cutting everything once and then almost half the plot a second time before the strimmer decided it had enough. We still need to cut the remaining grass a second time as some bits were still very long. But the strimmer would just not have any of it. So all we could do was to start digging. We came a lot of roots as we were digging away. The size of some of the roots were insane and we found two potatoes and a carrot growing in there. And a lot of worms too which we think is a good sign!

In the end we managed to dig over almost half the plot - that is all that had been cut down twice was then dug up and turned over. If the strimmer could have finished the work and cut down the rest, then we would easily have been able to complete the whole dig today. Once we got going, we really got into it and we could have finished the rest in a couple of more hours. Now we will leave it for a week before we can finish the rest of the plot. In any case, we are now well on the way and feel that we really accomplished something today. Just look at the 'after' picture. We think it is a really good start to our allotment adventure. .

Thank you to Bethan for all your help today! We definitely needed it!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Cold frame

The cold frame I ordered on the weekend arrived and is now put together and in place on the roof terrace. Really looking forward to starting using it soon. In the meantime I have put the garlic I planted before christmas inside it and left it open. As it has been raining so much recently I worry that the budding garlic bulbs will start rotting if I can not protect them against all the rain.
We will need to start thinking about what to start growing in the cold frame and when to place it there and when to transfer it to the allotment. We will learn as we go along, that is for sure.

Saturday, 17 January 2009


At the end of 2008 we went to see the overgrown allotment plot that had become available that we were about to adopt. There was only one word that could describe it... overgrown! Turns out the previous allotment holders to plot 58S had not used it for at least 5 years. As a result we have long couch grass and lots of thistles to deal with.

Keen to start, the recent cold weather have somewhat stalled our attemp to clear the plot of the grass and thistles. But now we are set for the next weekend together with some friends to clear it and start preparing it for the coming year. A year that hopefully will bring us lots of fresh organic vegetables and also some fruits.