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Allotment Survey

October 29, 2011

Not my usual sort of blog post, but I’m hoping some of you reading this will help out by completing a short (5 question) online survey about your allotment.

I’m interested to know how much rents vary across the country and what you get for your money.  The survey is completely anonymous – the only thing I ask is you give me the first part of your postcode so we can see if there are regional trends or variations.

Ready .. steady … go.  You can take the online allotment survey here.  Thanks in anticipation!

A Tale of Broad Beans and Carrots

April 6, 2010

After two days of rain, the weather finally gave us a break and we ventured up to the allotment on

Leggy broad beans

Oh dear! Broad beans spent too long in pots - will they make it?

Easter Sunday and Monday.  This weekend’s main job was planting the broad beans.   These had been brought-on indoors because last year we lost about 60% growing them outside.  This year, with an almost 100% success rate, the heavy rain and threatened snow meant we couldn’t get them in the ground.  The end result was some very tall, leggy beans, which we’re hoping will recover now they are finally planted.

Last year we grew successive sowings of broad beans, but the early casualties and the last batch being planted too late, meant it wasn’t very successful.  Broad beans freeze perfectly, so this year we’re planting them all in one go.  The freezer will cope with the surplus, and we can give the ground over to peas when the beans are finished.

Carrots – The Good Life way!

Last summer we watched some old re-runs of the classic TV sitcom: The Good Life.  In one episode, Tom and Barbara had germinated carrot seeds on wet tissue and were happily mixing them with wallpaper paste.  The gooey mix was put in a cook’s piping bag and piped into drills in the ground.  The theory being you get a higher germination rate and the paste acts as a carrier, allowing you to sow the seeds thinly.  Fact or fiction?

Carrot seeds

Carrot seeds germinating on damp paper

A bit of research later, we found this was true, but it was important to use fungicide-free wallpaper paste, which isn’t easily come by.  Being a master of improvisation, I was sure there was something else we could use.  We dismissed flour and water paste, thinking it might rot the seedlings, and finally came up with ‘Fybogel’.

If anyone has ever had a digestive problem, they’ll know ‘Fybogel’ is revolting stuff made from Ispaghula Husk.  It’s dissolved with water to make a ‘natural fibre drink’.  Actually, if you don’t drink it in about 5 seconds flat, it sets in the glass and the consistency closely resembles … wallpaper paste!

Now to put it to the test!  We sprinkled some carrot seeds on dampened kitchen paper in a plastic tray, covered it with cling film (to prevent it drying out) and put it in the airing cupboard.  Watch this space for progress reports … we’ll keep you posted.  I’m hoping by next week, they will have germinated and we’ll move on to the next stage.  If you want to try it for yourself, you can buy ‘Fybogel’ over the counter at any chemist.  I believe you can buy fungicide-free wallpaper paste online, if you want the tried and tested option.

Chipping Norton – slug capital of the universe!

Cloches on allotment

Warming the ground for next week's planting

All our ‘seedlets’ in the plastic greenhouses at home are coming on, albeit slowly.  March was very cold and germination has taken time.  Sadly, we found several decapitated seedlings courtesy of slugs.  Our garden is the ‘slug capital’ of Chipping Norton, and each year we battle to keep them in check.  Strangely, slugs and snails have never been a big problem on the allotment.  We think this is because they just pass through there on the way to our back garden!

We’re hoping for some improved weather next weekend so we can finally finish the weeding and get our planting underway.

19 September – Out with the old … in with the new

September 23, 2009
Radar Onion

Radar Onion

September seems to be a sad time of year on the allotment, watching the summer crops come to an end.  But if  you’re planning on growing veg through the winter, this month has its share of excitement too.

Before we had our allotment, we were definitely fair-weather gardeners.  The idea of growing vegetables throughout the year had never occurred to us.  Now is the time to plant those onion sets for an early crop next year.  We’ve opted for the ‘Radar’ variety again this year, having had good results with them.  Our spring planting of onions didn’t perform so well, so we’ll be looking for ideas and suggestions for the best varieties to grow.

Our spring cabbage and greens, grown in modules at home, are now ready to be planted.  These were seeds which came free with the Grow It magazine, so we’ll be interested to see how they fare.  As usual we’ve planted too many, but I’ve already promised some to another allotment holder who was bemoaning his half-empty plot.  If all else fails and we still have some left-over, a quick ad on Freecycle will soon find them a home.

I read something a few months ago which said the British were the most pessimistic gardeners in the world.  Apparently, we always plant far more seeds than we need, just in case they don’t all grow!  I guess I’m guilty of that too, but our red brassica varieties (kale and sprouts) did have a very low germination rate, so I doubt I’ll be changing my ways just yet.

Another allotment in the family!

The highlight of our trip to Portsmouth last weekend was having the opportunity to go and see the newest family allotment!  My daughter and her partner finally came to the top of the waiting list and took over their new plot just a few weeks ago.  They’ve already made great progress with 2 beds cleared and ready to plant.  Although a small plot, it will be more than big enough for them to cope with, especially with our 5 month old granddaughter in tow.  No doubt this is one baby who will be getting a gardening set for her first Christmas.


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