Very Inspiring Blog Award

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A couple of weeks ago the lovely Squooze at ‘Happiness is Playing in the Garden’ (http://squooze.wordpress.com/) nominated us for a ‘Very Inspiring Blogger Award’ – thank you Squooze (judging by her tasty looking weekday recipes a very inspirational wife-to-be !) 🙂

The rules of the award are that as a nominee you should –

Thank and link the person who nominated you.
List the rules and display the award.
Share seven facts about yourself.
Nominate other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

Seven (or more) facts about the Rookie Allotmenteers can be found at our ‘Liebster Award’ post.  And we’d like to nominate the following inspirational blogs, to pass on the honour –

Joanna Dobson – https://joannadobson.wordpress.com/

Housewife 45 – https://housewife45.wordpress.com/

Nine Apple Trees – https://nineappletrees.wordpress.com/

Maddis Allotment – https://maddisallotment.wordpress.com/

Garden Sunshine – https://gardensunshine.wordpress.com/

This Blessed Plot – https://thisblessedplot.wordpress.com/

Veggie Novice – http://veggienovice.wordpress.com/

🙂

Guilty Allotmenteers

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The last few weeks have been so busy that our rookie allotment has been left to its own devices, leaving us with two emotions – frustration and guilt.  The sound of the weeds growing and the courgettes swelling has almost been audible from our house, where we have been, preoccupied with other things.

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Aside from snatching the occasional half hour to water the plants in the greenhouse (Peppers, Aubergines & Cucumbers) and pick bunches of Sweetpeas to ensure their succession later in the year, we have been notably absent.

During the swift snatches of time watering and picking, it has become evident that we have missed the allotment more than it has missed us.  Yes, the grass is long and covered in clover, there’s an obscene amount of weeding to be done and recently emptied beds to tidy and re-use, but the veggies and the flowers are flourishing all by themselves.

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The Raspberries and Blackberries are beginning to fruit and the Gooseberries – which were picked young and green last year – have enjoyed being left alone and have swollen into giant purple beauties.  The Sweetcorn, Jerusalem Artichokes and Runner Beans have grown high and the Lettuce, Radishes (at last !) and Onions are ready to be picked.  The Parsnip and Beetroot tops are green and healthy and Pumpkin Corner has merged with the Gherkin bed to produce a mass of huge alien looking stems which are sprawling all over the plot.

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Best of all, are the amount of flowers which are starting to bloom.  Sweetpeas, Dahlias, Zinnia, Cosmos, Marigolds, Calendula, Love in a Mist, Poppies, Nasturtiums and Geraniums are adding colour and attracting lots of beneficial insects to the plot.  The four tractor tyres that we used in the Spring to create four new raised flower beds are now full of plants and the first flowers are starting to come out.  I love it when a plan comes together !

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After our work and other commitments came to an end this week and we were finally free to venture back onto the plot, we as the rest of the country have seen some crazy weather – a heatwave, and then storms – rain, thunder, lightening, hail  – and now the heat again.  The crazy weather will soon abate, and then we’ll go back down to the plot and give it some TLC.  Whether it needs us or not.  I promise.

🙂

 

Plot Gratitude

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Now that we are well into our second year as allotmenteers, I can’t help but notice a smidgen of complacency has crept onto our plot.  Last year – our first growing year – was filled with an almost childlike and perhaps slightly over enthusiastic sense of awe and wonder at our aptitude as growing, well, anything.  Everything was new, and almost like new parents celebrating their offspring’s unparalleled accomplishments, the first of everything was a triumph – the first Strawberry delicious, the first Carrots so ‘carroty’, the first Apple blossom more beautiful than any, ever before, anywhere.

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This year we are greedily wanting more.  Comparisons are being made to before – ruminating over things that grew better then, that weren’t eaten by mice or pigeons, or that didn’t fail to thrive – expectations and disappointments are higher.  Looking at the plot – and in the garden too – I’m ashamed to say I’ve been seeing a list of things to do, and overlooking the things that have been done, that have grown, that have become spectacularly lovely right under our noses.  The heaps of Strawberries ripening in the newly extended bed, the Courgettes miraculously growing plump and ready to eat, the towers of purple Sweetpeas – even more than last year – starting to open, begging to be picked and fill the house with a heady scent.

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As with everything in life, once the first ‘flush of love’ has gone, we can become complacent and stop truly seeing what is before our eyes.  We can never regain the feeling of our ‘first’ times, but we can purposely try and be mindful on the plot and continue to experience it’s gifts with a sense of wonder and gratitude.  We can stop, just for a moment, and use all of our senses to really look at things, rather than through things, and recapture the feeling of awe again.

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In this spirit, we took home our first harvest of the year this week.  It felt so good to return from the allotment with something other than the aforementioned dirty fingernails !  The Strawberries tasted deliciously sweet, and the solitary Courgette will be ceremoniously eaten over the next few days.  As for the Sweetpeas, they are arranged in a jam jar on the windowsill.  Mr O and I smell them every time we pass by.  And you know, when I look at them – really stop and look at them – I do think they may be the most beautiful ones, ever before, anywhere.

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Sown direct in June – Dwarf French Beans, Peas, Globe Artichokes, Carrots, Broccoli, Kale, Cauliflower, Swede, Beetroot, Radish, Mange Tout, Lettuce

Planted out in June – Dahlias, Geraniums, Marigolds, Cosmos, Dianthus, Zinnia, Tomatoes, Aubergine, Gherkins, Peppers, Courgettes, New Zealand Yams, Cucumber, Runner Beans

Harvested in June – Strawberries, Broad Beans, Courgette, Sweetpeas, Radish tops (for rabbits !)

🙂

Sowing, Potting, Planting, Weeding !

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The first week of June brings with it a rhythmic list of never ending jobs to do on the allotment – sowing, potting, planting, weeding (and repeat).  On our windowsills and in our greenhouses, the sowing continues (Padron Chilli Peppers, Sweet Peppers, Geranium Psilostemon, Cucamelon, Gherkin) and we are still checking (what seems like) hourly for signs of germination.

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In the garden, survivors are ‘potted on’ into roomier accommodation, and those who grow – and are not eaten by mice – are planted out into new terrain on the allotment (this week Courgettes, New Zealand Yams, Corn and Salvia into the big bed, Pumpkin into a new Pumpkin patch, Dahilas, Geraniums and Sunflowers elsewhere).  And as for the weeding, the weeding, the weeding – sore backs and unrespectable finger nails are the order of the day.

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But the sweetener on the plot this week is the sight of these beautiful bright red and orange Poppies, planted last year and now coming into bloom.  The never ending jobs continue – the sowing, the potting, the planting, the weeding – but the first flowers are a reminder of the beauty that is to come.

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🙂

Into the Unknown

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Sometimes on the allotment – for us rookies especially – it’s difficult to tell who is friend and what is foe.  This was true this week, when giving the plot a thorough weeding, mowing and trimming, we came across several visitors we weren’t sure if to admire or to send packing !

The first two were flowers – or should that be weeds ?  Tiny delicate blue flowers have appeared all around the plot, and have become a lovely companion to our Poached Egg Plant in the flower border.

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Secondly, these gorgeously fragile looking purple flowers have sown themselves along the edges of our space, and seem far too beautiful to be weeds – what are they ?

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And lastly, whilst digging in one of the ‘raised baths’ this fellow reared it’s alien looking head.  A shiny, hard coated brown pellet with a disconcerting rotating head, it’s apparently a brown moth pupa, which is commonly found in soil.  Whether it’s a friend to allotmenteers we don’t know !

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On safer ground, we were also able to admire more familiar favourites coming into their own this week.  The lush dark green foliage and deep purple flowers of Comfrey, Strawberry flowers in the bed we extended last year, and our first Rose of the year in bloom.

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Out of our unexpected visitors, only the moth pupa got the heave-ho – out of fear that he may be a crop destroying baddie – and he was only moved to the edge of the plot !  The blue and purple flowers remain.  They may be ‘weeds’ but they’re so pretty, who are we to judge ?

What unexpected visitors have you had on your plot this year ?

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We’ve Grown a Greenhouse !

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Over the last few weeks we’ve been experiencing a growth spurt on the allotment – aside from tray upon tray of burgeoning seedlings, we’ve also been growing some less edible, more practical, features on the plot.

First to appear was our kindly donated and much awaited greenhouse, which was slow to take root, but which is now standing proudly next to our shed.

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After starting to clear the so-far-neglected half of our plot, four tractor tyres have sprung up ready for growing flowers, and Mr O has cleverly planted a new fence and gate, recycled from old wood.

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On the other side of the plot, a new long bed has been sown and a cane structure has been cultivated in readiness for Sweetpeas.

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And the dividing fence in the centre of our plot has been removed, making way for a new bed to sprout up.

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In the realm of actual fruit and veg, we harvested the first of our Leeks last week. Better late than never, there’s a fine line between them being big enough to eat, and bolting.

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During the hungry gap of May it feels odd to go home from the allotment empty handed, but during this ‘meantime’ we can get stuck into expanding and developing our growing space.

Have you grown any new structures on your plot this year ?

🙂

Borage Bother

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The Borage on our plot has been a Rookie success so far, but this week we noticed a spot of Borage bother.  While the characteristically brilliant blue flowers are in bloom, the leaves of the plant have gone a decidedly unhealthy looking dusty white.  A bit of research has shown that this is likely to be ‘powdery mildew’ which often strikes Borage grown in shady and damp conditions (as ours is).

The question is – what’s the best way to treat this unwelcome visitor ?  Google suggests a drink of milk, a compost tea or even a sprinkle of fresh urine might do the job !  With Mr O poised at the flower border ready to do his duty, do you know of a better treatment for powdery mildew ?  Answers (gratefully received) on a postcard please !

🙂

All Change

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The last couple of weeks have been all about change on the allotment, as we start the planned expansion of our plot onto new ground.  Around a third of our plot has previously been covered in black plastic, and filled with Mr O’s ‘finds’ to put put to good future use.  Now however, a greenhouse is on it’s way up, a new gate and fence installed (upcycled from pallets and an old door of course !) and tractor tyres have been rolled in, ready for some aggressive flower planting.  On the ‘old’ side of the plot, two new wooden beds have replaced the old tractors tyres, and we’ve dusted off the lawnmower for the first time this season to give the plot a Spring haircut.

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Aside from the structural work, the business of planting goes on.  Our first wave of seedlings are out into the mini greenhouse in the garden (having been potted on), and the second wave – Runner Beans, Aubergine, Sweetcorn, Gherkin, Cucumbers, Courgette and Pumpkins, Zinnia and Dianthus – are planted indoors and are happily germinating as we speak.

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As well as the old favourites, we’re making sure we’re growing plenty of fruit, veg and flowers which we haven’t grown before, to keep things fresh.  It was exciting to see beautiful flowers on our Cherry tree and Blackcurrant bushes for the first time this week – although Mr O assures me we won’t be making our own Ribena just yet !  Our Asparagus is at last shooting up through the soil, the Broad Beans are on their way and the newly expanded Strawberry bed seems to have been a success (fingers and toes crossed).

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The busiest month of the year for allotmenteers, there’s no time to get bored in April !

🙂

Simple April Blessings

A short post this week, but just enough time to count our blessings.

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The sight of purple Crocuses, opening in the sunshine.

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The touch of the first butterflies, dancing through the air.

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The smell of freshly picked Rhubarb, destined for a crumble.

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The taste of Purple Sprouting Broccoli, a surprise and a treat !

What have you been blessed with this week ?

🙂