Sunday, 2 August 2015

I weep to no avail....

I am cloaked in hysteria, saddled with despair.   My apple is gone.

Look do you see it in this photo?

bare red goosberry bushes - ''

No.  All because some greedy little bugger of a bird ate the most of it and left the rest on the ground. He (I am sure it was a he) didn't even do my prized Ecklinville the decency of being savoured at all; he didn't take it home and make a miniature French style 'tarte tatin', so carefully, without wasting a juicy morsel. That was my dream.

Ecklinville apple - ''
memories of my apple
I eye each bird now with suspicion, any one of them could be my nemesis. Damn them all - I shake my fist at the sky. Why?? You heartless winged demon!

We did have 2 gloriously bountiful red gooseberry bushes but the birds took those too. every. last. one.

And last, but not least, my ornithology related tears continue to fall as I gaze upon the mangetouts. Is nothing sacred? The tops are all nibbled away despite Andrew stringing up some mildly annoying pots and bottles to deter such villainy.

bird pecked mangetout plants - ''

I must rest now. Happier news shall come soon...

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The Head Gardener

Today* I have lived inside a big dizzily rain cloud, metaphorically and meteorologically. It's not been fun. At these low light levels I'm like a little Livingstone daisy and stay all shut up, my colours hidden away just as those outside are so dulled and touched with grey.

So to shake me out of this terrible funk I thought I'd talk about one of my favourite subjects - my hubby.

First off I'd like to once again shout from the shed rooftop that he has done everything on the plots this year. As I said in the last post, I have only started to join in recently.

Well, let's just take a look at what he did on Sunday at the Lottie. If you look again at his cosy hideaway area in the last post, you'll notice how happy I am sitting there. But really, its a shame you can't see how happy he is, at this point, at my happiness. I should have taken a photo of that moment from my point of view.

Then as I headed over to 14b, he got stuck into the work by leaving again to take lots of rubbish to the dump. On his return he planted my zinnas out, harvested the extra broccoli sprouts and weeded the runner beans...
weeding the runner beans - ~ an allotment blog

Onto to the apple trees which he espaliered like a pro. Lots of pruning, shaping and tying branches to wires and bamboo poles. Check out this RHS advice page if you are interested in doing the same to your apple or pear trees, it's a superb way to grow them in restricted spaces.

The bottom photo is one I pilfered off his Instagram account - it's of the other apple tree (the one behind him in my photo) but they were pretty much in the same condition so it gives you an idea of the shape he was able to get them into. Each tree has one apple - one each for us, shhh don't tell Maggie!
apple pruning - ~ an allotment blog
espaliered apple tree- ~ an allotment blog

But on top of everything, he encouraged me to go, made me dinner afterwards and praised my efforts. In the evening he went back (whilst I showered and yoga-ed), to plant out some more baby leeks and to use his petrol strimmer and make the place all tidier. He had his mum round to gather a harvest for her too :)

He's just all kinds of fabulous, sometimes it makes me really sick, haha.

Hugs and Love

P.S. This is what Maggie did for most of the afternoon, supervising is such tiring work...
Maggie out in the wild :)

* (written on Tuesday - the weather is nicer today)

Sunday, 19 July 2015

My timing isn't so great

The stars aligned today, the medication kicked in, that fabled golden orb shone in the blue sky and I felt good.

Maggie on the bench - '' ~ an allotment blog

I saw the bench, my cosy hideaway and couldn't help but giggle, it's perfect. Rustic, handmade by the man I love, with a gravelled area and with two healthy climbers to help shelter me. Maggie of course had to nosey but funnily wasn't so interested in it than the exceptionally tiny dog that just wandered on to the plot :)

I got to work and suddenly (because today I care about such things) I noticed half finished jobs and the real state of my flower beds, which I have simply been ignoring bar some weeding. Oh they were meant to be my project this year but so far I haven't had the best 2015 and boy does it show here. Half the lovely seeds I ordered haven't been planted and I never did get round to buying another permanent flowering bushy plant.

rose - '' ~ an allotment blog

I start with the roses. Dead heading is pleasant and fragrant but then the black-spot is more noticeable and I realise why Andrew bought me a pair of secateurs a few months ago and encouraged me to garden.....most of both rose bushes need cut away, including lots of sweet buds too. The plants look great, well, healthy at least once I'm done; I'm scratched and bleeding (which is only fair after their neglect) and set an intention to look after them better.

Then on Monty's advice I cut back the two oriental poppies that I missed in their fabulous moment of flowering and cross my fingers that they may come back for a little flush again. It's so weird to think about it, I didn't really do anything this year, I simply couldn't care less and not one seed or bulb has been planted by my own fair hand. It has been all about the therapy of simply being outside in the air and getting my hands dirty weeding and creating pathways. I really miss the sunflowers this year :(

oriental poppy, sort of - '' ~ an allotment blog

I finished the evil weeding between the two flower beds and we plan to get a ton more gravel delivered soon so we can have proper paths for once on 14b. It looks ok and though I'm tired (Andrew so lovingly telling me I look like I am about to collapse - thanks) I want to do more,  put my mark on the place but it's time to go. It's bloody rotten timing as I actually want to be here and get suck in, not something I can admit to that often. Plus the very first cosmos and dahlia are blooming, both are white and I think of new hope, new beginnings.

new buds - '' ~ an allotment blog

A quick harvest of some broccoli, great broad beans and 4 mangetout, a sit down on the new bench and then off we go. I realise *blush* this post is completely about me but I shall chronicle as much of Andrew's day as I can in the next post.

a little harvest - '' ~ an allotment blog

And then when I came home I had a panic attack thinking of how utterly crap I have been and am. I was a mess whilst Andrew calmly cooked some dinner (with our wee harvest). But later, once I'd settled a bit I read my own 'Allotmentherapy' essay and rediscovered the reason I go there at all, seems I do talk sense sometimes :)

Love and hugs

P.S. Our Instagram accounts are great for on the spot photos which are sometimes better than these I put up!

Monday, 6 July 2015

Sunday allotment live!

My smartphone, like most I would suppose, has a feature were you can write yourself notes, reminders or indeed long pieces of prose. For today's blog I thought I would share a couple of hours on the aplotment (wow, I haven't called our plot that in years!) as it was happening...

3.00 pm
Thank goodness we're here I really thought it wouldn't happen today with all that rain. I've just got Maggie all set up on her running lead and am now admiring the cosy hideaway corner Andrew has been building. At the moment he's putting up netting around the trellis for more of a wind break. Time I got my weeding stuff together.

3.15 pm
I'm alone on the plots for a wee while whilst Andrew runs and gets his drill, some netting and hopefully some marigolds for me. I told him I could do this on my own but I'm struggling, someone else is in the field, I can hear them but not see them. Thing is, what if they come over for a chat - I'd die, dead on the wet grass, dead, that's how strong my anxiety levels are right now.

It's rained heavy most of the day and the ground is really squelchy. I can also hear the boats on the Lough as the Tall Ships leave Belfast. Oh and I just saw that wren Andrew's been harping on about - it's nesting in our compost heap.
Big deep breaths.

eminder on shed door - - an allotment blog

I really miss my music at these times. I need to get one of those wee mp3 players and wireless headphones...

3.40 pm
Andrew's back and instantly it rains. Maggie has gone bonkers, she hates the rain yet she will not stay in the shed and goes for a run around - who is this imposter dog?! ....We three are now locked in the shed, not exactly fearing for our lives but it is a downpour of quite epic proportions.
shelter in shed- - an allotment blog

Now we can but stare out at the plot and the things we so want to do. Andrew wasn't able to get netting for over the blueberries and gooseberries and it's just as well as there wouldn't be time to do anything with it. There are puddles forming all over and I only brought one glove in here with me, why, Carrie??

3.50 pm
Ventured out again. Oh goodness that other glove is sodden, gross.
glove on post to dry out- - an allotment blog

4.00 pm
Typical, it's gotten sunny again and the fleece is off; that's Northern Ireland for you. I've just hoed around the peas - our compost had a lot of seedlings in it - oops. It goes against everything I stand for, I get very weed by the root and turf it, but boy using a hoe instead, well, it was extremely satisfying and the area looks great in no time at all.

Andrew is planting the celeriac babies, they're really healthy looking and will love all this crazy apoplectic rain.
planting celeriac - - an allotment blog

4.20 pm
Andrew is just thinning out the kohl rabi and pak choi (which are being attacked by flea beetles). We need to move the netting from over the kale and calabrese to over them. One line of garlic must be lifted to facilitate this - eek!! our first harvest of the season :)
calabrese, pak choi and kale - - an allotment blog

first garlic lifted - - an allotment blog

4.45 pm
All paths are weed free (for now, boy that was 3 trug loads! Now to more glorious weeding and removal of dead leaves in the newly released brassica area :)

5.00 pm
I run around tidying up my stuff, taking some pictures and throwing in a few yoga moves. I'm desperately trying to find any more gooseberry sawfly too, darn things, I hate them! You can really tell I am nought but the undergardener here :) But awesome work have been achieved between us.

Parsnips, carrots and beetroot doing good - turnips have bolted; pink roses and poppies; the asparagus fronds are so pretty
Proud I came, glad I got over the panic attacks but...time to go home :)

Hugs and love

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Obadiah, is that you?!

My skin smells of the earth and my body aches a little in that enjoyable 'I've worked hard' way. A great days work was achieved on the allotment today and I am blissfully sleepy now as it is starting to get dark. Maybe I should have a shower and shed the sweat and pollen from my body and hair, but this sofa is so comfy and the blanket is hugging my tired self. I don't think I could make it up those stairs.

There is a soft smile across my face as I think of Andrew, still working there. He's building me a hide away with screening and climbers so I can feel more comfortable over there. It seems to give him endless joy, trying to make me happy and also woodworking outside.

His efforts are so greatly appreciated and the peaceful corner is coming on so well. - an allotment blog

I cut away our musty old diseased honeysuckle today. It was a lot of work but yet so rewarding. That poor plant was only a tiny baby when we put it in the ground to grow up the fencing. But it never did well and was too restricted, prone to all diseases and took up much desired room. Yes it was vigorous and had many flower clusters but each one was infested with aphids and had begun to smell. The rose is going too - it's got the worst, most vicious thorns.  But, on to newer and better things! - an allotment blog

May I just also point out the Felco secateurs are fantastic, if you don't have a pair you need to make hints for birthday or Christmas! - an allotment blog

The weather has confused our little turnips and at home, our rocket, as they have bolted. However everything else seems happy and those things most recently planted have settled in well. Naturally the weeds are continuously happy and procreating like crazy but I have a better handle on it now. Well I keep telling myself that! - an allotment blog

Fun facts ~

* I stopped and dropped everything, because I felt the strong urge to do yoga
* My jeans finally ripped, in doing said yoga, haha!

* We meet up with our frog friend Obadiah who had managed to get himself into a little bottle - he got out again. He seems to like the slate garden and compost area a lot. - an allotment blog

Love and hugs

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

In praise

I made it to the allotments (despite my nervousness and hayfever), for the first time I've in goodness knows how many weeks. And boy did it feel good! :) 

A lot has changed in my time away and if I simply focus in on our plots, the change has been impressive and productive. The less said about those plots around us, the better. - an allotment blog
That's a white sky that won't quit!

Andrew has gallantly raised all our seedlings and defended them best he could, alone. He has been steadfast in keeping things going even whilst the wind and rain and low temperatures and bloody foes (sawfly, slugs, birds and weeds etc) have done their best to destroy his work and his soul. But his sweat and toil has not been in vain.

Look (and maybe marvel, as I did) at the produce we have growing. Salivate at the homemade compost and cry with me at the demise of Alan the gnome. All emotion is found here, it's a roller coaster. - an allotment blog
The roots bed is lovely good, black gold which is full of life, Alan who was attacked by the wind and lost his legs

So the main jobs this Saturday were getting the peas in, weeding like our lives depended on it and creating the path (and border edge) between the two flower beds. The weather was dry, muggy and cloudy, hence the mad variation in my photography saturation levels and well, there quality too. Being slightly damp (us ladies don't sweat), itchy and sneeze-y does not a happy or artistic Carrie make, but I have tried and that's what matters. 

Though I can't believe I didn't take a photo of the new border edge Andrew put in on the left bed - ggrrr. - an allotment blog

The permanent flower bed needs to get new plants as most have been on the plots from the very beginning and moved to 14b when we took it over. I'm really rather annoyed I missed the plum Poppy in it's glory but the red ones are still going strong and the geum beside them has never been so prolific. The cutting flower bed isn't too bad, no diseases I could spot and I look forward to having some cosmos in the house, one day :)

I think this is enough for my first time back in a while. I hope to be a better blogger and memory capturer once my hayfever is sorted out! There is much to show you here at the house too :)

Love and best wishes

P.S. We were in Prague for our 10th Wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago. If any of the photos turn out okay, I'll share them. We had a lovely time, it's a super place to visit. 

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Moment of clarity

The words come to me on the edge of sleep. They are eloquent and flowing; exactly describing how I feel, what has been happening; and they hold within them the precise emotions and maybe some of that quirkiness laying deep inside me.

But then, as it has been for weeks now, I come to this page and the cursor blinks on a white expanse that I am too daunted to make a mark on. I can't think straight, the words are so muddled and I feel intimated, plus there's the undeniable fact that I really don't have anything worth sharing. I haven't been to the allotment for a while now, the seedlings here at the house are growing on and disappearing as Andrew continues to tend the plots alone.

Okay, the weather has been a major problem and this is by far the worst year we've experienced in growing our own but honestly, I can't blame that alone. I have been terribly ill with a massive breakdown so severe I have had great trouble eating, talking, walking, following a train of thought and even caring about life at all. It has been hell and not just for me.

I take photos and they stay in the camera, I receive a stunning wooden planter from The Posh Shed Company and I simply can't write an easy review about how beautifully made it is. The act of blogging has become a rod for my back and boy do I thrash myself with it. I feel pathetic, incomprehensible and plain unworthy of being seen or heard.

Enough with the depression and anxiety already; I can't cope and I can't bare to lose any more friends and opportunities. We only get one life and damn it, the clock is ticking. ~ an allotment blog
little snippets of today at home

Thursday, 28 May 2015

happiness on the plots

Forget any and all of the glumness I spilt forth in my previous post as this past weekend it was all change; sunshine, sustained hard work, planting out, a picnic and bed making :) It was all go and we really did feel better about the place. I mean look what we parked beside for a start off - a heap of steaming manure almost as tall as Andrew :) Again I wonder at my scatological self, once an allotmenteer - good quality manure is deeply treasured, gross but true!

So here's how things stand at the moment on 24a (minus a photo of the leeks which are still going strong). We have new lovely little parsnips, carrots and beetroots, the broccoli is in glorious flower now and attracting the first bees I've seen this year and the spuds are coming through nicely and look healthier than I could have hoped for.

At the top of the plot we have an abundance of blueberry flowers, gooseberries (not photographed) and apple blossom. Everything seems healthy so far and plans are in place, in Andrew's mind, for a fruit cage to cover the blessed blueberries - I rather like to have a few this year *shakes fist at birds*!

Also the first of the brassicas were planted out and covered in netting right away - so far so good, nothing has touched them.

Over on 14b there is further evidence of happy plants and I can not tell you how relieved I am that all the asparagus crowns sent up their first spears. Sweet little geums are bursting through with dots of bright red, the poppies this year look like they are going to be spectacular and our blackberry bush is already showing signs of a bumper harvest to come. It's all just so positive, I think I may explode.

I've been steadfast keeping on top of the grass cutting and thus making the plots safer for me to walk around. As we only have a little rotatory hand pushed mower it's been hard work, I even got a huge blister this time which is only healing up now (Thursday!). It's worth it though, keeping those bingo wings at bay, working the core muscles and not tripping quite so much :)

And WOW! look at the new bed for my cut flowers, all edged and the soil greatly improved. It's time to plant out and direct sow in there now, eek! My dreams of a patch that just screams colour looks like it's getting closer. There will be another path down the right hand side of this bed and the original (now perennials only) flower bed will get edged too. 

I have other exciting news but I think you've had to absorb enough in this one post already :) Instead I shall leave you with this lovely dandelion seed head photo (NOT from our plots, haha) and make a fervent wish that you are all having a better time now that June is around the corner. 

Love and hugs

Friday, 22 May 2015

The disappoinment of May

May hasn't been going as well as I'd like. Weather wise it is colder and wetter than I can remember compared to the last few years on the plot and somehow it feels more like March over there, April at a push. And with the blasted, frustrating rain that is still forecast into the next weeks, (though now with the heady highs of 12 or 14 degrees) all we have to look forward to is more of the same:

*  Slugs having the most wondrous time and eating away at our newly planted broad beans (we've sown more);
*  Gooseberry sawfly larvae colonising the gooseberries (Andrew got there just in time, this time)
*  Prolific and never-ending weeds and grass that simply won't stop growing a few feet every week.

'' ~ an allotment blog

Oh how I weep….

Good news however is abundant, it's merely my depressed viewpoint that makes it all seem so dreary and helpless. Plus I have had writer's block for weeks and it's made me become a bitter blogger *sad face*, as in reality there are a great many little stories I would have liked to share but simply couldn't. On top of that, when I am in a low period I rarely care about spending time taking photos, I just want to work and try to get lost in my actions; take a break from my own thoughts. Thus we only have a few quick camera phone snaps with this post - sorry.

All the asparagus plants grew well and sent up their first spears, this has made us both very happy and dancing a quick jig may have been the result. ;) All 10 plants haven't failed us thus far, though once bitten we are tentative about this endeavour.

The rhubarb plants are glorious and filling out their bed nicely, the transplanting having done them no harm at all. There are many a fruit blossom all over the two half plots, hopefully well get some tasty treats.

'' ~ an allotment blog

We have many new baby carrots and parsnips germinated in situ and the purple sprouting broccoli is going to flower = happy bees (though I haven't seen many the year yet).

'' ~ an allotment blog

So this is just a catch up. We will be going this weekend and maybe, just maybe, on the Bank Holiday Monday too ;) I have my 'proper camera' battery charging up and my fingers crossed for breaks in the weather were a girl can happily click away.

At least I've broken the terrible block and got something down on paper, or rather, on screen. It'll be easier now to keep you posted.

'' ~ an allotment blog

love and hugs

Thursday, 7 May 2015

I've missed you so much

There is simply too much to catch up on and I don't know where to begin. See previous post! My latest write ups have been eaten by Blogger and are in some sort of terrible blog post purgatory *sad face*

So all my photos are way out of date and things have moved on. So I shall try to put my faith in the 'save' button and go take photos of the greenhouse exploding with seedlings and try to find some sort of recent pics of the plots. Thank you for your patience x

At 24a everything is going grand and we shall find that we are eating loads of Purple Sprouting Broccoli (not complaining!), the garlic is continuing to do fabulously, there are blossoms on the apple trees and blueberry bushes and carrots have just emerged their sweet little heads from the soil. Sadly our newly planted out broad beans suffered with a freak -3 degrees night battering but I have hope from the yet.

purple sprouting broccoli - ''

The rhubarb is still delicious, the asparagus crowns were all planted (you missed out on that story),
dogwoods have been planted, the plants in the edible forest are settling in and my 2 flower beds are coming on great. We just need more hours in the days ans more days in the week.
14b - ''

Plus I have been a bad ass grass cutting machine and have finally, painfully managed to push my little rotary mower through the tangled mass behind 14b and now all our access paths are workable. Hoorah, safety on the plots :)

At home we are coming down with seedlings as I mentioned and we even got one of those greenhouse automatic ventilation things.
seedlings - ''
Just a tiny amount of the many many seedlings there are around here!
The beech hedge is going great, as is the maple - hoorah for colour! Round the corner I am delighted to say that the wisteria is going to be covered in flowers this year for the first time, oh, we can't wait.
new growth in the back garden - ''

That, I think shall do for now, not least because it has taken ages to get the photos to work but because Blogger may well decide to eat this too, ggrrr!

Hugs and love to you all
C xx


Blogger has been a bloody trickster and bully recently, saying it has saved my posts as I go along and then flippin' well eating them!!! The publish button hasn't been working and I am at a loss, I love my wee blog and talking to you dear readers.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

I built a storage bench

During the winter months some nasty little pilferers took our lovely kidney shaped wooden bench from right off our plot, gah! What with that and the fact that our storage box looked to be falling apart, I was utterly delighted when Keter asked me if I would like to review their Eden Storage Bench. That it was called Eden (like our Allotments and the village they are in) tickled me pink and you just know the answer I gave, with much gratitude.

Keter Eden Storage Bench on the plot ~

*** A few weeks later ***
I was really glad Andrew happened to be home when the most massive of delivery lorries pulled up outside our home, blocking the light like a solar eclipse! And voilĂ  - there it was, on a free pallet too :) (Andrew has since made some use of this free wood - there is no stopping him and his DIY ways)

Keter Eden Storage Bench ~

It was expertly packaged up and oh what joy I had unwrapping it, so much bubble wrap to stomp on!
Keter Eden Storage Bench ~

So we loaded all the parts up into the car and drove right down to the back of the lottie shed. Off loaded here, we were able to get the instruction booklet out and place everything neatly in order of assembly; the only tool needed was a star headed screwdriver = awesome.

Keter had designed this so well that once the basic framework was made (note: frame re-enforced by steel), there was a lot of simple assembly by clicking into place. In many cases it was great to have a helper, especially as I'm not that tall, only have 2 hands and the wind was making the whole experience that wee bit wobblier to begin with.
Building the Keter Eden Storage Bench ~

However sometimes my helper got a little carried away and the DIY King within him broke free. It was not a bad thing at all, with my double vision there were times when the assembly was painfully slow and I was driving myself bonkers with trying to put 10 small screws in to secure the base.
Building the Keter Eden Storage Bench ~

But I loved making it and as I did so it was easy to sense the strength of the piece and know that it was well designed and sturdy. These are feelings you may not get when you think it's plastic and not solid wood. This is going to be a fabulous asset on the plot, with lots of lockable storage space, long lasting plastic material, strength enough to comfortably hold 2 people, their dog, plus picnic and a nice finish without painting every season.

Maggie and I relaxing on the Keter Eden Storage Bench ~

10 out of 10.

Now we just have to hope that no one steals it *rolls eyes*

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