Squirrel's Garden

Blogging the highs and lows of my attempts at allotment gardening

Location: Sherwood Forest, United Kingdom

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Life is not always a bowl of cherries. Sometimes its all stones.

Tuesday 28th March

The roof of the shed is leaking badly and today Gary came to see if we could re-felt the roof.
We arrived in time to see the strong South Westerly winds lifting the roof from the shed with each gust.
It had been moved off its seating so the first job was to re-seat it and screw it securely into place.
Unfortunately the wind made it too dangerous to stay up on the roof, and the drizzle prevented the use of the sealant adhesive.

Wednesday 29th March

The shed floor was pooled with water. Paul and I managed between us to re-cover the roof with roof-felt.
The weather was vastly better than yesterday and felt quite spring like at times.
We also noticed that the whole shed was prone to movement when there were strong gusts of wind, and discussed possible plans to strengthen and stabilise it before the even stronger North Easterly winds arrive.

Thursday, 30 March 2006

The winds were again very strong.
We arrived at the allotment to find the shed floor looking like a mini lake. The water is still getting in somewhere but there is no sign of it coming through the roof.
A close inspection suggests that it is coming through the front wall of the shed somehow. Under the window ledge was still wet and the bottom support beam was soaking wet. I sealed all round the window frames with silicon sealant. Also filled in any knot holes and any joints around the windows. I also gave the front two coats of shed paint. I hope this does the trick.
Fruit trees and asparagus arrived today but the weather was not really fit for planting trees. The asparagus however went straight into the bed that was ready and waiting. I was a bit surprised at the size of the asparagus plants. These were little more than seedlings and bore little or no resemblance to the ones that Monty Don showed when he demonstrated the planting of asparagus on the DVD I have from Gardener’s World.
Oh well such is life. ... Either they will grow or they won’t.
We are still thinking about ways to solve the problem of the unstable shed. Two or three ideas are being considered.

Monday, March 27, 2006

I want one of these.

Today it was a case of dodging the raindrops, so we spent a fair bit of time in the shed drinking coffee. At least this gave us the chance to see where the leaks were occuring in the shed. The roof will need refelting and this will be done on Tueday all being well.

I feel as if I am making progress, despite the weather, as I now have my early potatoes. onions and shallots and garlic planted.

I am also begining to think that I ought to have taken on a full plot as I think I will not have enough space to plant all I have bought.

After several cups of coffee I would have appreciated owning one of these things. I could even put a coin slot on it and make a penny or two towards next years seeds by letting other allotment holders use it ... Hehehehe

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The pictures for previous post.

This is how it was left when I last went to the allotment

But I was still very worried about what lay behind that corrugated sheeting. The bank behind was too steep for me to safely reach from this side so I spoke to a couple of the committee members about it. They promised to sort it.

This was what I returned to after the men on the committee had been into the field to clear the allotment rubbish out of the hedgerow banks.

I know it looks bad but in fact some bits came in handy, some were hidden to bulk up the dead hedge I am making, some will burn and hopefully the rest will disappear bit by bit into my home refuse bin. Any frustration is soothed by the knowledge that I no longer have to worry about what is hiding behind the corrugated sheets.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Highs and Lows of Allotmenteering

This has been a week of highs and lows.

We arrived at the site early Saturday morning in time to see the tractor pulling off our plot. He had ploughed from left to right in order to pull out the sideways slope and level the ground for me. The slight downhill slope is a feature of the land but my sideways slope had been a result of repeated ploughing in one direction.
Having ploughed 2 other plots he left only to return 30 mins later. He had gone home to remove the plough blades and returned with a Dutch harroing thingy on the back which he promptly ran up and down my plot breaking down the clods and levelling it even more. I was thrilled with the result. My only disappointment was that I had left my camera at home.
Freezing cold but I had to replant the fruit shrubs that had been pulled out of their heeled in position to make room for the plough.

Sunday was spent marking out the rest of the fruit beds and permanently planting most of the fruit shrubs. I still have to position the stakes for fruit training but for now I have staked the apples. I also marked the asparagus bed and double dug it. There is so much couch grass that I will have to redo it before the crowns are delivered in two weeks time.

Monday was like having a day off. The weather was little above zero degrees. We did find a metal cabinet for the shed which will double as a table and storage. Engineered some help to lift it into the shed but when we arrived on site I was told that there had been an inspection of the field hedgerow following my concern about the rubbish thrown over the allotment boudaries by some members (especially the former tennant of my own plot)
Profuse apologies forwarned me that I was now left to deal with the rest of the former tennants rubbish.
can't seem to upload photos today so I will try again later

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Assault on the Problems Behind the Shed

Today we went to the allotment to see what we could do about the problems with rubble that
hide behind the shed.
It was bitterly cold and it took a lot of effort to drag myself away from the central heating and out into the cold, damp air.

This is the problem I am confronted with. Some of the slabs of, rubble impacted, concrete are too heavy for me to lift, and even the weilding of a sledgehammer is having little impact on it. My partner came to help me out but it was clear it would be an extrememly arduous task that would take more than our combined strength to break it up into manageable pieces.

Time to make use of the shed for that cup of coffee to kick start the brain into forming a plan B.

The digital camera let us have an outside view whilst sitting out of the drizzle.

This is behind the shed looking towards
the east. The green shed is my neighbours

It is approx 18 feet long and 6ft wide to the edge of the decked patio.

As the shed is 10ft long there is only 7 or 8 feet at the front of this picture that would have sunshine for most of the day.

This is the western end of the strip which borders onto my other neighbours plot.
At the moment it is a root/weed infested area that has been a compost bin at some point in its life. The top layers though hide a hidden stack of broken glass, metal fittings from various pieces of household items, plastic bags, unwanted or forgotten garden chemical containers that are no longer identifieable apart from the smell when opened. I am working my way down the pile to remove these items.

Plan B in action

The problem is not really dead but it is buried. The heavy slabs were rolled into the corner and the rest of the rubble piled on top. My intention is to wait and see what wild plants grow on this and perhaps help out with ground hugging sedums etc to hold the soil together. Hawthorn and Blackthorn will be planted along the front of the metal sheets in the hope of establishing a hedgerow. I also have a field maple, a rowan, and a hazle which will be incorporated into the hedge to give it more wildlife appeal.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The shed has arrived

The shed is up and the patio area behind has been clad with decking. There are a few problems, as we discovered in the heavy rain of the last few days. However nothing that cant be sorted once the weather improves and the timber dries out. The windows face south so I guess it will be just a little warm inside in the height of summer. However at the moment it really maximises on what little warmth there is and provided a place to have a break or just sit and contemplate.

Stepping out of the door was far too high so we have added a step utilising a portion of pallet and some more of the bricks.

All the other pallets have been cut up into the size and shape I think I will need to make the compost bins and a low fence at the back boundary where there is a large gap in the hedge. The Plants in front of the pallets are fruit trees that are heeled in waiting for their final home.
The timber lengths behind the shed have been cut up ready to make the surrounds to mark the beds.

Everything is now ready to go once the ploughing and harrowing is finished.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Work Progresses

By great good furtune Joe, one of my allotment neighbours, was ploughing his own plot today and was gently persuaded to rough plough mine for me.

I felt as if I had won the lottery. I really feel as if the task is much more manageable now.

The sun sets over my newly plough plot and we drive home with a sense of achievment.

The next day I begin to put down the base for the shed which will arrive in the middle of the week. Some of the bricks are being utilised to strengthen the pallets. This way I greatly reduced the pile of rubble. The base is 10ft by 9ft, the shed is 10ft by 5 ft. The 4ft overhang is to go to the back of the shed where we will build a little hide in the hopes of getting some close up photos of whatever creatures come to visit the hedgerow and nature reserve once it is established. The metal sheets will be removed and disposed of.

This little guy turned up and watched with interest. Perhaps he wants to put his name down on the housing list for when the nesting boxes go up.

This was how it was when I first took the plot on in Feb 2006

I think the bricks are from the base of an old greenhouse

Then the work began. All the rotting wood was removed and burned in a temporary incinerator which I made out of some of the bricks.

The Story so far

07 February 2006

Today I made a commitment to become responsible for ½ an allotment. I am really excited at the prospect but do have doubts about my choice of which one to rent. I like the idea of being at the far end of the allotments but I am not sure that Alan will cope readily with the walk from the car.

However should I choose the other one offered I will not get the shed for tool storage and the hedge which I can over plant with native trees.

There is also a dispute over the boundaries which means that the plot narrows as I walk down it until it is over 1 foot narrower than it is supposed to be.

Do I want to take a plot that has potatoes in the ground full of blight?

But I do really like the thought of having that open outlook from the end of the plot.

I am looking forward to seeing if I can cope with it.

13 February 2006

I put the first tool in the ground today and dug up 2 x ¾ rows of potatoes
They were interspersed with raspberry canes which seemed to be planted somewhere deep in the bowels of the earth. This is not going to be an easy task at all as the potatoes do not seem to have any sort of regular planting plan, some on in the earth below the ridges, some in the hollows and some on level ground.

I learned that the plot is 150 feet long by 18 feet wide AND couch grass is growing so strongly that turning to soil is like trying to turn thatch. Hmmm some challenge.

There is so much rubbish at the bottom of the allotment that I think it would take a skip to clear it out. ... Broken glass from the dismantled greenhouse lies all over the ground, house brick and gravel, corrugated galvanised sheets, rusting metal cages and a shed that looks ready to fall down litter the place. I sure hope I can keep up the enthusiasm and not get too disheartened by it all.

18 February 2006

What luck! Today we followed a small tractor fitted with plough blades into the allotment area. We learned that it was a young couple called Sarah and Joe, who took on their allotment last April. After second thoughts they agreed to plough my plot. I now have over ¾ of the earth turned into deep ridges which means that I can at last get marked out into beds ready for planting. Whoopee
Alan took lots of photos for me which is really good.
Tuesday, 21 February 2006

Yesterday I finished heeling in the fruit trees. I have made a scale plan of the allotment and made several plans to see how best to lay it out, so far I am leaning towards a no dig plot. This would entail lots of beds of approx 4ft wide but I can’t decide whether to have them running north to south or east to west, or how wide to make my paths.

Today I have ordered lots of weed control membrane to lay on the paths and any beds I don’t get planted before the weeds start in, also some agricultural black polythene under which to plant my potatoes.

22 February 2006

I really seem to have hit the ground running but it seems that it is all or nothing.
I have a plan for the allotment and suddenly there are loads of opportunities to make it happen. It is happening so fast I can’t keep up.
Today membrane and polythene arrived; I have the bench and a shed ordered for next week.
Tomorrow we go to see a potential shed for the relaxation area and I have a chance of cheap pallets for the bases, fences and compost bins. If it all comes together I can get rid of any unwanted bricks within the pallet slats, which will tidy the plot and any good bricks can be used for a stove bench and an incinerator.
The weather is bitterly cold but if it goes to plan I will have to work at it whatever the weather. The bonus is that I will be up and running ready for the start of the planting season.

27 February 2006

Things are coming together well. The pallets have been delivered and I have started clearing the ground on which to lay them.
The building rubble will be buried between the slats which I hope will act as extra support and reduce any effect when they wood eventually rots away.
Hedge plants are ordered, or already here.
My plan is now completed and printed out.
The shed should be here on March 1st which will let me take all the tools down there, and then I will be ready to go for it.
I can’t recall when I last felt so excited about a new venture.

Sunday, 05 March 2006

The shed went up on Wednesday as expected and work seems to be progressing well. I am building a dead hedge to attract as much wildlife as possible. The Blackthorn and Hawthorn are heeled in with the fruit bushes waiting for me to clear the area they are to go.

Two young lads, Ashley and Sean arrived at the site looking for work. They made some progress raking back some of the ploughed soil to fill the trenches.

I sure do ache but I look at my plot and I can understand why.