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{Tuesday, July 08, 2003}

We decided to dig up a few more potato plants this evening to see what was happening under the soil...

We think the very small spud may have been delivered prematurely...

As was this broad bean...

We discovered that dusk at One tree Hill is a fly's pardise and Rob and lost at least 0.05cc of blood this evening. There are red ants everywhere, but another allotment holder, Mick, assures me that we're not being victimised as everyone has them.

Black Fly
Red Ants
posted by Justine 8:29 PM

{Monday, July 07, 2003}

After a week on the Norfolk Broads we visited the plot today to see how things are going.

The grass is fighting back (will exterminate with strimmer tomorrow evening) and we have some bindweed, identified by Mum. I thought it was just leaves from the poplar trees overhead, but on trying to pull it away I realised it was wound round the soil structure itself...so Mum was probabably right. Must read up on bindweed and how to tackle it.

The spud and broad bean plants are making a gallant effort against stiff odds of poor soil (probably) and black sticky stuff on the broad beans. We have three - yes, three! - broad bean pods. Not sure when to pick these - may do it soon to stop black stuff killing them. The potato plants are looking a little weather beaten and holey now and so we wondered if they were ready to be picked. We decided to sacrifice one plant to see what was happening below ground...and this is the result:

I know it may look like a normal new potato - but it's our new potato, with flaky new potato skin and everything, hand grown from a wrinkly chitted spud. We are very very proud and will boil it for breakfast tomorrow morning to test it.

Proud father of first baby

posted by Justine 9:34 PM

{Thursday, June 26, 2003}

Blogging is a burden if you don't do it reguarly...it weighs on your conscience...

I have been remotivated as apparently Plot 42 has a reader - Hello Sara!

Since February 16th all sorts of stuff has happened but I think this is a good summary: kept digging plot; got distracted by rest of life; left plot to own devices; returned one weekend to find the grass making a bid for plot domination; friendly allotment holders gave us chitted spuds and broad beans to plant; got a letter from OTHAS committee saying that if I didn't get my act together they would ask for the plot back - fair enough really; started working on the plot with renewed vigour; brought a rechargeable grass strimmer to launch counter offensive against the grass; strimmed like mad; drank lots of flask tea; watched with delight the appearance of a freelancing strawberry plant and the birth of three fruits; watering crops reguarly; worried about the black things eating the broad beans alive; wondering why our potato plants are so much smaller than everyone elses; ate warm strawberry yesterday evening with Mum. And that just about brings us up to date.
posted by Justine 11:34 AM

{Sunday, February 16, 2003}

Second Dig

So, I could have stayed at home and watched Sunday afternoon telly but, No!, I am a new allotment plot holder and I'm still sticking at it! I make this four weeks or so since getting the plot, so I have succesfully broken the 'bored after a fortnight' barrier.

Second dig went well. I think we dug the same amount of plot as last week, but with some conviction this time, and the plot is looking 'worked' after todays efforts. Rob is still not convinced about the digging as we simply appear to be making mud clods, but I think I've convinced him that the digging over enables the soil to become exposed to the emelents and so becomes drier and will be in a better condition each time we return. Helps improve the drainage of the soil too when you de-comapct it (?!). My latest thinking (it changes reguarly) is that each weekend we should clear a strip of top grass with the Azada, dig it over and then continue to break up the mud clods of the previous digs.

After next weeks dig, I think we should have cleared enough land to begin constructing raised beds...which is a new way of thinking for me as I had intially thought about clearing the whole plot, then building beds, then planting. But at the pace we're going I think it makes more sense to clear a third of the plot, improve the first third with some of the 100 litres of cow poo I have, create raised beds (or at least a bed) and begin planting as soon as possible. This is the advice I've been given by everyone on the allotment so far - get planting ASAP. Which I think is partly about not becoming disheartned but also, according to what I've read, about improving the soil by using it....Alan T says something about this...must look that up again.

Assuming I stick to the above plan, near-future allotment trips will be a combination of planting, maintenance and clearance. Which will be a bit more enjoyable than the absolutely backbreaking work we're doing now. Oh, and special mention again to Rob (last time) for putting so much effort into what is, after all, my pet project.

No pictures this time - will update with images next week.
posted by Justine 7:39 PM

{Tuesday, February 11, 2003}

Allotment Cost Assesment (first of a regualr series)

Cost of allotment to date: £18 for Plot 42, £36 wellies, £25 tool, £2.89 soil test kit, £4.50 second soil test kit, £9.99 cow poo = £96.38
posted by Justine 2:18 PM
First Dig

Sunday 9th February was the first real day of work at the allotment, complete with tools, wellies and a plan.

Myself, Bloke Rob and friends Jan and Graham met at the allotment on a rainy afternoon. We viewed the plot, carried the tools from the car, then got to work straight away on the McVities Boasters and the flask of tea. There was probably too much chat and not enough work, but it was new to all of us so I think that was acceptable this time round. Rob was a star, single-mindedly digging deep holes in the ground, refusing the first round of tea and biscuits.

There was some dispute between Jan and I about the best course of action - to dig, not to dig, to de-grass, to trench - but as it was raining and the plot was turning into a mud slide, we knew most of the discussion was academic as we were going to head the pub as soon as possible. But in the end we dug over two trenches, met some very pink worms (gardeners friends apparently) and had a jolly good time.

Original All-Stars on Plot 42

Bloke Rob


Baby G (Graham...long story)

Me, resting on tool and directing from side lines

Scream! Baby G causes a stampede on the allotments when his knees are revealed!

posted by Justine 1:59 PM

{Monday, February 10, 2003}

The past two weeks (haven't got the hang of this regular updating thing...)

Took Mum for a viewing on 25th January. She seemed very impressed. Ta Mum.

Also took a soil test - which was a complete waste ot time. You're meant to mix some soil in a plastic tube with some magic powder from a capsule and blend with water, then wait for a colour to develop (dark green or bright red and shades in between) which indicates wether your soil is acid or alkaline (important in regards to what you can successfuly grow and what you need to add to the soil to change the pH balance). I just ended up with a tube of mud coloured mud. I think I may have added too much soil to powder first time round so I've brought another kit to try again.

My wellies arrived (hurrah!). They are good quality Hunter Argyll wellies, although I am now being mocked for spending £36 on them. They are black, as I definately didn't want green ones, and have a nice red band at the top. I think they are industrial farming boots, so I admit they may be a bit over the top. But they worked a treat!

My Azada arrived (hurrah!) - which is like a spade but with the metal part at a right angle to the wood. I'd read good things about these tools - makes easy work of digging, better for the back etc. Was a bit suspicious of the 'peasant farmers of the world use them so they must be good' advertising, what's wrong with huge tractors I say, but got one anyway. I noticed other people on the allotment used them too. It was £25 for an 8" medium duty tool.

I brought 100 litres of farmyard manure from Homebase, costing only £9.99. There is free manure at the allotments but apparently this dissapears very quickly so wanted to ensure a supply. Manure is added to the soil to improve the quality and add nutrients. If I knew what my pH thingy was I could have probabaly brought some chemicals to alter that too if neccesary.

Azada from Get Digging
Wellies from Hunter Boots

posted by Justine 5:24 PM

{Friday, January 24, 2003}

Just to bring things up to date very quickly

Moved to Peckham in August 2002. Decided to apply for an allotment as the garden of the new rented house was neat and tidy and had no room for development. Found 'One Tree Hill Allotment Society' on the web.Emailed and said I'd be interested in a plot, got an email back saying 'thanks, possibly a three year waiting list, will be in touch'. Forgot all about it until phone call January 2003 inviting me to take a newly vacant plot. Hurrah! Visited it on Sunday 19th January 2003.

First impressions: allotments running up the side of a steep hill in Honor Oak, next to a cemetary and a park. My proposed half plot looked much bigger than I'd imagined it would be, but not as overgrown as I'd expected. Plot 42 is roughly half way up the hill. Didn't have the best vistas like the plots at the very top, but was closer to the manure, leaf pile, water taps hamster bedding and bramble bushes (explanations to follow). Decided I wanted it there and then - no hesitation. Excuse to buy lots of new gadgets. Started to think about wellies.

Bloke Rob was sceptical about the project I think, but did his duty and smiled pleasantly and offered his support. Ta.

Have spent the past week reading about allotments on the web, brought Alan Titchmarsh's 'How to be a Gardener, Book One', have made a sort of plan of action for the next few weekends based on what I've read, and am planning to visit this coming Saturday with Mum. I plan to: photograph it for posterity, do a soil test (that's what Alan said I should do) and measure it so I can draw a planting plan (Alan said to do that too). Brain awash with the thought of raised beds, rhubarb, willow poles, manure, soil improvement, worms, sweet peas, garlic, raspberries, compost heaps and a shed. Somehow that all has to come together in the next couple of months to mean a well maintained, working allotment.

First pictures!

North facing

South facing

posted by Justine 5:11 PM

I hope this will be the record of my hugely successful allotment plot - Plot 42 - from the beginning. It could also be recorded proof of my inability to stick at anything for more than two weeks, but we'll see.

Map of One Tree Hill Allotment (see area marked 'ALLOT')

posted by Justine 11:58 AM