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 !)

🙂

Pests and Defences

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This week has been all about building structures. We were kindly given a shed from the lady on the plot next door to ours, and decided to move and rebuild it on the hottest day of the year so far ! After much fun and games, we are now the proud owners of a new-old-shed and a fair bit of sunburn. This being England however, it was built just in time to shelter us from the rain that we’ve had ever since those few rays of sunshine.

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We’ve also planted out our Dahlia Yams and Asparagus seedlings, and constructed two little wigwams this week – one for our Runner Beans which have finally gone into the ground (with sweet little Geraniums planted at each end of the bed), and one for Sweetpeas. The Sweetpeas are the first flowers to go into a corner of our new flower border, which we are creating along one side of the plot (also dug and rotivated in the sunshine – blisters and sunburn ahoy !) The Pea seedlings have also gone in to the ground in what can only be described as a ‘fortress’ of peasticks and wire mesh – no little critters are going to be munching on those (we hope).

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Talking of little critters, our sunburnt skin and blistered hands were unfortunately not the only casualties of our work this week. After making our way to the bottom of the wood pile when reconstructing the shed, Mr O found what I can only describe as Flat Stanley’s smaller hairer mousier brother under the heavy pile of wood. Never have I seen a mouse so flat, poor thing. At least it died quickly !

What are not expiring so quickly, are the ants and green-fly spotted on the plot and around the garden this week. We haven’t had to deal with too may pests so far, so we’ve been weighing up the options. One option that appeals to me is the ‘Garlic spray’ idea – a simple concoction of water and garlic which deters aphids, slugs and snails. The benefit is that this is organic (and cheap !) On the down side, I have read that using Garlic spray can be unhelpful as it doesn’t discriminate about what it deters (and may also deter useful bugs).  We may well give it a try on one or two crops though, and I’ve even splashed out on a new spray bottle from Wilkinson’s for the job (70p !) Here is the simplest recipe I’ve found –

Blitz one bulb of garlic in the blender
Mix with a litre of water
Leave to stand for an hour or two
Strain out the garlic with a sieve
Spray on plants
Sit back and enjoy a bug free plot !