Allotment Anniversary

Tomorrow will be a year on from me receiving the keys to my allotment! It feels like I have had it forever and I couldn’t be more pleased with the way it is going. Today, I celebrate with a colourful post!

The picture on the left is my plot when I took it on this time last year. With absolutely zero gardening experience but so much will, I accepted, signed and took my keys. The plot was hard, stoney and overgrown. I inherited a couple of dying corn plants, a couple of sad runner beans and tonnes of grass. A year on today, I am getting harvests which I could never have imagined I would gain in my first year.

I was over ambitious with my plans and after a year now I have learnt so many things I should do differently next year. My main desires were to grow my own tomatoes, potatoes and courgettes. After killing my first courgette seedlings in the frost earlier this year (cheap polygreenhouses are NOT frost protected), I sowed them again and have been very successful. I’ve lifted my crop of first early potatoes (Wilja) and that was as exciting as digging up ‘buried treasure’ when you’re a kid. However, nothing will beat the joy of watching your first tomatoes ripening. Nothing. I grew all my tomato plants wrong – I haven’t removed enough arms and they are growing on multiple stems instead of one, so I have made my life extremely difficult, but they are working.  I have hundreds! They are all ripening too. I have a small 9×4 metre plot but I am still growing 5 types of tomato. Above you see Tigerella, Sungold and Yellow pear with Harbinger and Moneymaker close behind.

In Autumn I cut back my raspberry plants, to the ground and I was told by a couple of people that it was probably not the best thing to do. I am now swimming in the most delicious raspberries I could ever imagine and the bees are still pollenating the flowers which are still growing!

My sweet peas started flowering yesterday and they smell wonderful. They are slow starters because their sunlight was occupied by courgette plants which I planted too close, but they were worth the wait. This Calabrese is almost ready which is something I never thought I would have a chance at growing well.

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It has by no means been total plain sailing. Today my family came to help. It is SO windy, even the raspberry plants were verging on horizontal when we arrived. We had to strengthen the tomato plants, tie down the climbing arch with guy ropes and prop up a few other leaning plants. I’ve cut myself numerous times, we’ve twisted our ankles, been pricked by thorny hedges, borage and courgettes and today I fell over in the tomato and courgette plants whilst trying to strengthen them against the wind! My first round of pumpkin, cucumber, courgette and tomato seedlings died in the frost, my purple sprouting broccoli was eaten in Autumn until there were no leaves left, my perpetual spinach bolted and I didn’t know to thin my first set of beetroots so they didn’t grow at all! Not forgetting the amount of fox and cat damage! Through all this I have enjoyed every second. I am eating more fruit and vegetables than ever and our cherry tomatoes are the sweetest I have ever tasted. Here’s to many more gardening memories!

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Gratuitous ladybird sex.

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