Posts Tagged ‘allotment competition’

As the allotment season draws to an end

October 10, 2011

As the 2011 season draws to an end, our workload reduces on the allotment.  Apart from harvesting some of our winter veggies, we will be able to take some time off from weeding, strimming and maintenance in general.

Flower arch on allotment

The arch renewed!

Mostly, the beds are either occupied or weeded after the earlier weed explosion when we were on holiday.  I’m pleased to say the clematis arch has been repaired and is gracing the path once more.  It does now have a certain allotment charm … instead of a smart metal arch, we have a make-do-and-mend construction with the original metal and some salvaged wood.  But isn’t that the delight of an allotment?  Smart, modern, new constructions seem so out of place in a world where reuse, reduce and recycle should come first.

The onion experiment – results!  

Onion grown from a set

Onion sets win the day

If you remember, I decided to try growing onions from seed this year instead of sets.  Our onion experiment was fairly well controlled, with both lots of onions being treated equally.

I’m afraid I have to say the onion sets have won hands down.  The onions grown from seed were smaller, but more importantly, many of them bolted and several more have already gone soft, so they won’t store.

It did seem to be a lot of effort and, as we’re trying to make our plot less labour-intensive instead of more, I’m giving up my onion seed ambitions.

Successes vs failures?

Although our beans and courgettes didn’t do as well this year – presumably due to lack of rain – we’ve had no real failures.

Mayor of Chipping Norton presenting allotment awards

Me and His Mayor-ness - photo by kind permission of Kaye Freeman (Chippy News Team)

But successes?  Yes!  For the first time we had proper calabrese heads and those wonderful plants are still giving us a good picking of broccoli sprouts every week.  Another first this year is the Brussels sprouts.  To date, all we’ve achieved have been pea-sized – a pimple on the stem!  But this year, we have sprouts to be proud of (and enjoy).

Of course, I must brag again about our Commended Award in the Chipping Norton allotment competition.  That was another first … and will be spurring us on to bigger and better things next year (so I can have my photo taken with the Mayor again, you understand).

Still to come?

While the summer season might be over, of course we’ve still got plenty of goodies left on the allotment.  We’ve taken the first Savoy cabbage now, and a few swede and leeks.  The purple sprouting looks stunningly good and I’m looking forward to some frost for the kale.

Marian swede grown on allotment

The first swede of the year

Winter veggies are my favourites, I have to say.  I get bored quickly with runner beans and courgettes, but never tire of buttery golden swede, crisp roasted parsnips and the really rich dark greens.

Once we’ve taken down the beanpoles, I’ll be back with an end of season video and post it on YouTube.  The onion plaiting video has attracted almost 300 hits and I’m keen to polish my technique.  Be sure to watch it on a PC near you!

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Our prize-winning allotment and holidays

September 20, 2011

The lack of our allotment blog activity is a result of a family visit and a long-awaited summer holiday.  So now I’m going to make up for lost time and update you on our allotment activity.

Allotment competition 'Commended' certificate

Our prize-winning allotment certificate

The hottest piece of news is … Plot 66a on the William Fowler Allotments in Chipping Norton is a prize winner and that’s official!  We came home from holiday to find a letter telling us of our ‘Commended’ award in the annual allotment competition.  Last night we proudly went to the Chipping Norton Town Council meeting to be awarded with our prize.

Needless to say, we were thrilled to have all our hard work recognised.  But also a little amused as winning competitions isn’t what our allotment is about.  Our motivation is getting away from the house and our desks, (being a home-based copywriting company, this is very important), enjoying the fresh air and, having a plentiful supply of home-grown vegetables throughout the year.

Wind damage on the allotment

Our poor clematis and honeysuckle arch!

We knew you’d ‘enjoyed’ a spell of bad weather during our absence, so we wondered how the allotment had fared while we were away.  The high winds had done some minor damage to our bean poles, the sweet corn is now listing a bit, but tragedy!  Our glorious clematis and honeysuckle arch is now a sorry heap.  A damp weekend meant we have not yet been able to repair the damage, so I just hope the allotment judges don’t pop back for another look!  Our prize-winning allotment is looking a bit the worse for wear.

We must give a mention to our chum and local business networking buddy, Ken Norman.  Ken kindly agreed to ‘allotment’ sit while we were away and pick some of the surplus produce to ensure it continued to crop.  In our absence, he was allocated his own plot,  so in future years, we’ll be able to return the favour!

I mentioned our family visit earlier in the post.  Our little town-dwelling granddaughter (2½ yrs), with her Mummy and Daddy naturally, came up for a long weekend.  ‘Baby Bear’ was on a promise … she was to help dig up the potatoes she helped to plant earlier in the year.  Needless to say she was very excited at the prospect and eagerly set to work.  ‘Daddy Bear’ was in charge of the digging, supervised by yours truly, of course.

Helping dig up potatoes

Baby Bear helping Daddy dig up potatoes

Miss Baby Bear diligently carried the potatoes, one by one, from ground to trug.  This was a scene worthy of the Good Life episode where Margo helps pick the runner beans!  But she enjoyed every minute and went home chattering about her potatoes and playing at planting more.

So with the 2011 summer season coming to a close, supplies are dwindling on the allotment.  The beans are at an end, earlier than usual this year, and the courgettes’ days are numbered.  But if the weather is kind, the late peas might give us a bonus crop and we still have all the winter harvest to look forward to … not to mention some overdue weeding!


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