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Bramham Blogs

A Trug Full of Happiness

Lottie

I think allotments should be recommended for therapy as no matter how busy, disappointing or whatever our weekend has been, spending an hour on the allotment puts me right back on track. We went up quite late today as it’s been so hot and there is no point doing anything when it’s like that. We have been taking up every water container we have every day to keep the veg going but one thing that is doing very well in this weather is the fruit. The sun ripens it and makes everything super sweet. Our gooseberry bushes are laden and nearly ready to harvest and our best crop the raspberries have started fruiting again. I had a lovely surprise with the volume and size of the blackcurrants too hidden under the leaves. They would certainly put the Ribera berries to shame. My friends have kindly bought me a couple of wooden trugs over the years which I absolutely love for collecting my fruit as I can hang it on my arm while I pick and there really is nothing that makes me as happy as a trug full of juicy raspberries and blackcurrants covered in another bunch of sweet smelling sweet peas. A proper Trug full of happiness which hales the start of continuous picking now for probably the rest of the year. Oh joy! 

Trail and Error

Lottie

Just in case anyone (and I’m not assuming anyone has) noticed the little blue/green squares at the base of the brassicas and were wondering what they were for! One thing I love about allotments is trialing new ideas to beat the pests that threaten to devour our plants. When my brassicas initially showed signs of damage I thought it was from slugs so as I’m not keen on putting pellets directly on open soil where the birds etc. can get them I thought I needed to cover them. I also know that slugs don’t like crawling over rough surfaces so I made little sandpaper cuffs to go round the base of each plant and put slug pellets underneath. I know it took ages and was very tedious but you just never know it might have worked. As it happened it was the birds but when the slugs do come out they won’t stand a chance unless of course they bypass the sandpaper and go straight for that leaf that is lying on the ground next to it! Best stick to the day job I think.

Shattered

Lottie

Wow, shattered now after another full day at the allotment in the lovely sunshine. It always amazes me how quickly the time goes by up there, but everything is looking very good, although alot of the plants seem to be in limbo. All across the allotment plants are looking very healthy but are just not growing very fast. I can only assume it is the lack of water that is making them hold back, maybe underneath the ground the roots are going ever deeper to try and reach moisture who knows. I can imagine when we get our first real rain everything is going to take off like nothing else and we won’t be able to keep up. All the planting out is nearly done now I’m just waiting for my leeks to thicken up. I like to plant them out when they are good and strong as they seem to take better, so another week or so and they should be ready. The allotment beds are pretty much full now but I’m filling in the spaces with a few new crops such as raddichio which I planted last week. We had it abroad as a cooked vegetable fried in oil and it was delicious so can’t wait for that to grow. We’ve also bought some globe artichoke plants at the garden centre today as they were selling them off. They are a fantastic architectural plant which is perennial so we’ve planted them at the end of the flower bed where they can stay put. I’m not sure we’ll make much of a meal of them but they’ll look pretty and hopefully encourage the bees. One annual I planted out a couple of years ago for the bees is borage which seeds it self prolifically. It is everywhere in the allotment now but it is great because it is really easy to pull out from where you don’t want it but we let it grow on in the corners of the beds and in between and it keeps the bees happy right through until the frosts. I just wish we had a hive as borage honey would be fantastic. When you pull out the plants they smell of cucumber which is probably why the flowers are added to Pimms. Mmmm must get the bottle out and give it a go. The reason for venturing to the garden centre was to buy more netting as the birds have been at my brassicas again, there was a small hole in the side of the netting and the little blighters were getting through and nibbling the plants. Luckily we spotted it soon enough to stop any major damage I hope and as the purple sprouting broccoli went in today I was not taking any chances. One day we will get round to making a sturdier construction to hang the netting on as it needs to stay on the bed all through the winter but for now it’s just lots of canes and connectors. Anyway after all the work it is lovely to finish the day with a box of eggs in one hand a lovely bouquet of sweet peas in the other and leave after yet another stroll round to admire our handiwork.

Timing

Lottie

I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself at the moment as I feel like I’ve got the timing wrong on quite a few of my plantings this year. One thing I am really bad at is comparing my plot to others and when I see something that is way ahead of mine I feel very envious and wish I had planted mine earlier. I think I held off a bit too long with the cold spell earlier this year and some of my plants are looking very tiny compared to others. Of course at the moment this dry weather is doing nothing to help either as we have just about run out of water now and the little things are having to fend for themselves. I planted out the pumkins last week and every day I look at them spaced so far apart and think they will never fill that space but I just keep having to tell myself that all will be well and before long they will be rambling all over and I will be worried that they are going to take over the whole plot. I have transplanted my leeks into individual pots to grow on and they look like little blades of grass, again it is hard to believe that by winter they will be huge and strong and able to stand up to anything that the winter weather throws at them. I think I am going to have to give up on having any success with my parsnips as well as nothing is happening there either. I can’t understand that one, I must be doing something wrong. I did read the other day in a magazine I think that when planting the seeds you should make sure when watering them in that you don’t create puddles, I presume because this compacts the soil and maybe stops them from being able to push through. I don’t know if that’s what I did but I think we will have to miss out on roast parsnip again this year, not that that will bother my husband as he doesn’t like them anyway. I wonder if he is deliberately doing something to sabotage them??? There is one new menace though that has entered the allotment and has been sabotaging my efforts and that is one of my chickens, Blue, who has suddenly become an escape artist and is flying out of the run into the allotment. I had been admiring my little beetroot plants and then the next day she got out and ate all the tops of them. So extra barriers have had to be installed at the top of the run to stop that. It really is a battle of wits round here. Unfortunately one little lady won’t be causing any trouble as we lost Scabbers last weekend. It was really sad to see her give up in the end but a relief as well. The others though are looking great and so at least it was nothing contagious.

This is The Life

Lottie

These are just perfect times at the moment, rushing up after you get home from work and have had your evening meal to spend an hour pottering about on the allotment. I even asked the person giving me a lift home last night to drop me off on the corner so I could get my fix. There are always a few of us up there most evenings now and we are all just lost in our own little worlds planting and weeding. I of course have been micro weeding, down on my knees taking out all the tiny weeds from around my new plants. it is just so satisfying and an excellent way to unwind and be at peace with the world. The sound of the A1 does nothing to detract from the peace and quiet either as it just reminds you that others are still flying around while you feel the stresses and strains of the day just melting away. Ah if only it was always like this. Of course the ideal is never quite perfect as we are back to needing more rain. The water butts are emptying very quickly as new seedlings need constant attention but at least the drier weather this year means less slugs and touch wood my brassicas have not been munched and are growing away strongly now. Poor old Scabbers is still with us and hanging in there by the skin of her teeth, she looks really tired but is eating everything we give her so I’m crossing my fingers she’ll pull through. Our next door allotment holder has recently taken on four ex-bats and I had forgotten how sad they look, with so few feathers and pale listless combs. They are coming out of their shells already though and making themselves at home. It’s amazing how quickly the natural behaviour returns and they are scratching away in their new run as ours do. At least I can see that Scabbers is a million times better than she was when I got her. 

Busy Times

Lottie

What fantastic weather for allotments. The mixture of sunshine and showers is making everything grow and slowly but surely the space is filling up again. We are planting out seedlings now and starting with later crops either in pots or straight into the soil. It will be none stop now throughout the summer. We have made six vegetable beds on the allotment and follow a five bed rotation system with one left for flowers in between. We also have two large fruit beds and two raised strawberry planters made out of old pallets. The concept of rotating your crops is pretty well known by most people but there are all sorts of ways of doing this and every book I’ve bought suggests different ways. I went on a vegetable growing course at Stillingfleet Lodge Nurseries last year which I would recommend to anyone wanting to grow more veg, their next course is on the 5th October  http://www.stillingfleetlodgenurseries.co.uk/ . The people who gave the course are self sufficient with their smallholding near York. They open their garden twice a year under the yellow book scheme and I definitely fancy a visit. They were so knowledgeable but also very down to earth and basically don’t fuss with anything fancy that is hard to grow, which increased my confidence no end. The whole basis of bed rotation is to stop the spread of disease as planting the same kind of plant in the same place year after year means that any disease relevant to that plant is likely to multiply and eventually ruin your crop. The benefit of a five bed rather than a three bed rotation system basically means there is a longer time between planting the same crop in that bed again. Also when you rotate crops you treat them differently and the crop following needs to benefit from the crop that was in there the year before e.g. brassicas like lime adding to the soil as they prefer alkaline conditions whereas potatoes prefer lots of manure and an acid soil so potatoes don’t follow brassicas. It is far more complicated than that though and I find that in some beds you seem to run out of space very quickly and in others you’re not sure what to put in, so I do have to return to the books to see what crops I can put where. As for the girls unfortunately poor old scabbers has gone down hill again this week and is back on the antibiotics. The poor girl is still weak from the last attack so is struggling. I have come to the conclusion that she always gets poorly after she has had a long time out of the run on the grass. The other girls never suffer but I wonder as she is an ex bat whether she is not able to cope with the rich grass. Anyway if she pulls through again I’m going to stop letting her out with the others until she is back up to full strength again just to give her a fighting chance. She won’t like it but I’ve got to try.

Weekends Away

Lottie

We have just enjoyed a lovely long weekend away in London but oh boy will we have a busy week trying to catch up with the chores on the allotment now. It always amazes me how you can turn your back on the allotment for a couple of days at this time of the year and all of a sudden that list of jobs has doubled in size. I am certainly not complaining though as the wonderful mixture of sunshine and rain has brought everything on even though that also applies to the weeds and grass. I planted my first row of beetroot a couple of weeks ago and they are through now. Last year they never took at all so I’m really pleased. I plant my beetroot in succession now after the first year when I planted three rows and couldn’t possibly eat them all. They can be planted a row at a time throughout the summer which makes sure they remain young and sweet rather than old and woody. I think with the warm weather I’ll chance the parsnips this week. They seem, in my experience, to be the most temperamental of seeds to germinate. Some years I’ve had to re sow a couple of times before success and again last year failed altogether so cross fingers with the growing conditions being just about perfect at the moment it will work. My greenhouse is full to busting with seedlings now. The sweet peas will also go out this week. I followed a tip in gardeners world and pinched out the growing tips when the seedlings were about 10cm tall and it has meant each plant developing lots of side shoots so they are bushy and strong not tall and leggy. I also need to prick out my brussel sprouts and kale as they have developed their first set of true leaves, another job to do. Finally the main job from now on in is serious weeding. This time of the year is make or break for all aspiring allotment holders. Weeding is relentless and if it is not done regularly it is not long before they take over and those tender new plants become choked and your crop disappears. Those newbies who leave their allotments for a couple of weeks while they enjoy the sunshine themselves often return to a wilderness and never recover. Luckily I like weeding and find it very therapeutic, lost in my little world as I dig out all those tiny seedlings. I call it micro weeding and I know it is very sad but I just love to see my baby plants weed free and neat and tidy.

We need Rain

Lottie

What a gorgeous weekend but boy do we desperately need some rain. Our water butts are fast running out having to water our newly planted seedlings. We don’t normally water and let plants fend for themselves but when they have just been planted it is essential, however we are celebrating as the broad beans shoots are poking out now and the first potato can be seen at last. Hopefully there will be rain later this week to get them off to a good start. I have been busy in the greenhouse planting brussel sprouts, kale, pumkins and leeks and some of those are already showing through with this warm weather. I really like using the fibre pots for things like pumpkins and sweetcorn as it means I can plant them straight out into the soil so I don’t disturb the roots. The others I plant in normal pots and thin out as they get stronger. I think it is the really hard part getting the little flimsy seedlings to grow on to strong enough plants to plant out. They are so vulnerable at this time to overwatering, drying out if it’s too hot in the greenhouse and shrivelling up, getting damaged by my clumsy hands etc. I’m not very good at this pricking out malarkey either, I saw a lady in a large nursery at the weekend hunched over a tray of tiny seedlings pricking each one out into individual pots. Mind Blowing! I don’t over plant and cross my fingers that enough survive so I prick out the bare minimum. As for the girls we have introduced the two new ones to the rest of the flock and it has gone very well, a few squals and feathers flying but they seem to be okay. The white one Ostara, named after the goddess who is the namesake of the festival of Easter by her previous owner (might have a link to eggs perhaps) and Speckledy (more like a name I would think of) have laid an egg every day so are really earning their keep. Ostara lays the most amazing pure white eggs which look like porcelain compared to all the other varieties of brown we get from the rest. Family, friends and work colleagues are now reaping the rewards as I have to give away alot of eggs each week as we can’t possibly eat them all.

Better Late than Never

Lottie


We had our first crop of purple sprouting broccoli this week despite the pigeon damage which you can see on the lower leaves of the plants. We would normally start to harvest this in late Feb but with the cold it has only just started to flower. The plants are also a lot smaller this year probably because of the poor weather and the pigeons but it is a beautiful bright purple and so tender compared to the shop bought stems. Well worth the wait and the space in the bed. I will be planting next years crop in pots in the greenhouse soon to plant out in May. We are still waiting patiently for our beans, peas and potatoes to show themselves, checking every day to see if we can see a shoot poking through the soil which becomes a full time occupation at this time of year. Scabbers has made a full recovery and is now back with the other girls scratching about as if nothing happened, though I don’t think she is laying yet. The others are doing very well though and we can get a wonderful mixed half dozen in one day. We had a go at letting the new girls mix with the others when we let them out this weekend and it is fascinating to see how they have already worked out a pecking order between the wire mesh of their adjoining runs. They seemed to get on reasonably well so I’m hoping we can let them all mix together permanently next weekend.

New Arrivals

Lottie

We have had another perfect allotment day, so good we eventually looked at the clock and realised it was 7pm. Today we took delivery of two new chickens who needed to be rehomed as their owners were moving. Taking in new chickens is always quite a bit of hassle as you can’t just throw them in with the others. They need to be kept seperate for a few weeks but in sight of the others as they will fight if you put them together. This meant a full refurbish in the chicken run so we could accommodate them. Utilising all those bits and pieces we keep in the shed at last. Eventually they were installed in their new accommodation but we spent the rest of the afternoon listening to our girls making such a din, they were making it very clear that they were top of the pecking order and the new girls better realise that. After our refurb we were able to do more planting, the onions went in and I got to use my birthday present to tuck them up safe from the stray chicken that keeps randomly digging big holes in our beds. My present was some new flexible connectors for making a frame from canes to hang netting over. I now have a fantastic collection of these gadgets and it is always great to get some new ones that improve on the last ones. I also planted my first peas. I kick start my peas before planting them by spreading them out on wet kitchen paper on a tray at home. I used to plant them direct but never had a good result as only a few seemed to germinate. When I put them on paper I wait until I see little roots appearing and then I only plant those that have sprouted. This means I always get a good row of peas but even with a good row of peas you will never get enough to make much of a meal. A lot of allotment holders don’t plant them for that reason but I think it is still worth growing some just so you can eat them straight from the pod while you work. You can’t beat it.  

A Proper Day at the Allotment

Lottie

Well after my last blog when I thought we might be away with the new season and then snow hit and all the allotment holders went back into hibernation we have actually managed to have what I would call a proper day up at the allotment today and that includes alfresco lunch and a flask of tea. Can’t beat it but boy does my back know it now! Although it was very windy today it was incredibly warm and that meant we could finally plant some of the early starters. I got my potatoes in which had been chitting away slowly on the windowsill at home. They all had lovely new green shoots and I tucked them in carefully with well rotted manure mixed in with the soil and asked each one to do their best as I covered them over. We will need to be careful once the new shoots show above the ground to cover them if frost is forecast but they should get away okay now. The other thing I managed to plant was my broad beans, each year I try a new method for staking them up as they do get quite leggy and any wind knocks them straight over. This years technique is to plant a bean against an individual stake and I will tie them in as they grow. I have a feeling I will regret this later as I planted 40 beans and will get fed up I am sure of tying each one in. I will probably end up just working string around the canes so I create a mesh for the beans to grow through, we shall see. The onions that I planted last time in the greenhouse are doing really well and I will be able to get them out next week. My sweet peas have also just start to show through the top of their pots. It is so exciting having a look every day and finally seeing a tiny bit of green on the surface of the soil.

Unfortunately this week we have had a bit of an upset with the chickens and Red has gone to the chicken coop in the sky. She started looking very sad early this week and I took her to the vets on Thursday to be put down. I’m afraid I can’t bear the thought of the DIY method favoured by hardy allotment holders as I always worry that it might go wrong and they will suffer so am happy to pay the vet to make the process easier for me. Scabbers has also been under the weather with a tummy upset and so I have been administering antibiotics and TLC this week, today she came out with the others for a roam about and although had to have a few rests looked like she was definitely on the mend. All the others are looking fantastic and we are getting eggs from all of them on a regular basis. I’m even managing to give them away to family and friends again, frittata is also back on the menu!

 

Planting and Preparation

Lottie



Today was the start of my seasons planting with sweet peas and onion sets. I’m trying a new technique with the onions to get them off to an early start and to protect them from the birds without having to cover them up with netting. Birds see the little brown tops of the onions sticking out of the ground and think it might be a worm so they pull them all out. Gardeners  World magazine suggested planting the sets in individual seed pots to get them started and as we have an unseated greenhouse I’m leaving them in there away from the birds. They are very hardy so cold won’t bother them but they don’t like soggy soil so I can keep them dry in there too. I always start my sweet peas in root training modules and then plant out later. I was going to buy some dark colour varieties this year as I like these much better then the whites and pale pinks but I didn’t get round to it so I’ve used a free packet that came with one of my gardening mags. We alway do really well with sweet peas on the allotment and at times during the summer I can pick armfuls in one go. The other job done today was to empty one of our compost heaps on to the bed where we will be planting our peas and beans. I love the look of the bed when the job is completed with a covering of rich dark compost raked over. I will be planting broad beans first at the end of March direct in to the soil as they are pretty easy to grow. They grow incredibly quickly and are delicious fresh from the pod. We also decided to remove our strawberry plants from their beds as we have had them a few years now and they should be replaced regularly. We grow them now in raised beds as we had lots of problems with slugs and weeds when growing them in open ground. We used the other compost bin to fill up the beds once the old plants were removed so now we need to find some new plants ready for a great crop of juicy strawberries, though not many make it home as they are picked and eaten while we work!

Chicken Run

Lottie

What a lovely weekend to spend up at the allotment. It is getting much busier up there now with the veg growers starting to prepare their plots ready for planting. Ours aren’t too bad as we did a lot of work at the end of the summer last year so this weekend we decided to check the girls for lice. Not a nice job but a necessary one and they all needed treating. Easier said than done! The old girls, Red, Blue and Scabbers are very tame now and we can just walk up pick them up and treat them, but the others are not tame at all. So we ended up with Natasha on top of the neighbours shed and Paris escaping into the next allotment followed by lots of running around trying to persuade them to come home and trapping them in a corner to grab them. They can move so quickly you end up running around for ages. Once you’ve grabbed them you turn them on their backs with their head under your arm and they give you no hassle while you powder their bums with louse powder. It’s a job that should be done every month or so so the girls will slowly get used to us picking them up over the summer, well hopefully. Others jobs ticked off the list were to prune the gooseberry bushes which should be pruned to leave an open framework of branches taking out ones that are running too close to the ground and crossing over in the middle of the bush. It is also a dangerous job as that are seriously prickly. Finally we got round to putting up a robin nest box. Our friendly robin has definitely found a mate and they visit the bird table together every morning. We may be too late to provide them with a home but cross fingers they think it’s a desirable residence and we can see them fledge later in the year. 

And They're Off

Lottie

At last it seems that it’s time to take our marks as allotment growers and set off for another year of growing crops. After the last two weeks of daily routine tending to the girls I have finally made the first moves in starting the planting year. The first job I’ve completed is chitting our potatoes. We tend to grow main crop potatoes in our beds and plant new potatoes in potato bags to start off in the greenhouse. So a trip to the garden centre last weekend means that my potatoes are now all neatly lined up in their egg boxes on our study windowsill waiting for the green shoots to develop. We are fans of the Sarpo Mira potato because it is highly resistant to blight and apart from last year when our crop failed we have had the most fantastic crop which has lasted us all through the winter. They produce massive potatoes that do well for everything. Next job is to get my seeds bought and I’m going to treat myself to some fantastic plastic hoops that I have seen in a catalogue which will cover my brassica crop and protect it from the pigeons, they are not going to catch me out again this year! So now to devouring my new copy of gardeners world magazine and to plan my next job over a cup of tea.

Light at the end of the tunnel

Lottie

At last the mornings are slowly getting lighter and although the weather is awful the lighter mornings herald the oncoming spring. It won’t be long now before I will be buying seed and starting to chit my potatoes and sow early veg and I can’t wait. As you can tell from the frequency of blogs nothing much happens at this time of year. The wind always causes problems and a few fence panels and flimsy sheds have blown down over the last few weeks, but luckily this year we seem to have escaped any damage. It’s just a case of eating the last few remaining veg to clear the plot and waiting for the nicer weather to come.

Attack from an allotment pest

Lottie

Be careful what you wish for they say and this morning in the wonderful fresh snow I spotted unfamiliar footprints. I was on the trail of this new creature as it criss crossed the snow and followed the well worn paths in the allotment until it went out under the fence near the main gate and I got a very strong smell of fox. We are very lucky in the allotment as we have only ever had a few fox attacks while I have been there, but I guess with the world covered in snow a hungry fox had come to have a look round for easy pickings. Thankfully no-one came under attack this time but that can’t be said of another visitor the pigeon! I was devastated yesterday afternoon to find my brassicas torn to shreds by them. Again I’m guessing because of the covering of snow the nice greenery poking out of the top was just too much to resist. All the books tell you to keep your brassicas netted and we always do but there comes that point in winter when you want to harvest and they are growing tall enough to strain against the netting. So you take it off and hope they’ll be okay. I have never actually suffered an attack but of course there is always a first time. I’m not too fussed about the Brussels as they are nearing their end but the purple sprouting broccoli which takes up space from summer doesn’t actually produce anything edible until late feb/mar so to have those shredded is a real pain. I’ve been up in the mud and rain to cover them this morning and hoping that it’s not too little too late. The sprouts tend to come from where the leaves join the stem so if I can just keep the plants alive we should hopefully still get a crop even if it is a little less that I would have hoped for.

Enjoying the Snow in the Sunshine

Lottie

I was lucky enough to be off work today when the sun came out this morning. The allotment covered in snow glinting in the sunlight is one of my favorite places to be and I took full advantage of the moment. The winter veg are completely covered but will be none the worse for it. The chard tends to grow new shoots from the middle after the snow recedes and the kale, brussels and leeks will shrug off the cold and taste even better. I was watching all the birds flitting about in the trees next to our allotment trying to get a good photgraph of the blue tits on the feeders when a young rat just walked out of the trees following it’s usual path behind the old greenhouse and never seemed to notice I was there. It’s funny how I’ve got so used to them now and they have just become part of the flora and fauna of the allotment. They like the birds are looking for food and will be struggling just as they are to find enough to eat with the ground covered in snow. Well talking of food I’m off to meet the husband for lunch so have to tear myself away, though there is no work to do up here at the moment so all visits tend to be short and sweet just to get out fix.

Pristine Snow

Lottie

I had the joy of being a trail blazer this morning and walking in fresh snow up to the allotment. First over the bridge across the A1 and the road until I get into the allotment and then it changes as I am certainly not the first one there. There are little tracks all over. Mainly rabbits but then I spotted Lotties paw prints showing me what she’d been up to that night. Thankfully there were not many rat prints but you can see a few following the usual rat runs. The big ones leave a track of their tail running across the snow between their little paw prints. I’m always looking and wanting to see something out of the ordinary maybe a badger, deer or fox but probably a good job I never do. When I let the girls out they aren’t that keen on leaving their foot prints in the snow. It took them quite a while to muster up the enthusiasm to dip their toes in that cold white stuff but the cold weather makes the robin loose all it’s fears and it will be on the bird table as soon as my back is turned. I guess they need the food after using all their reserves to keep warm overnight. 

The Science of Egg Production

Lottie

I have to admit when I took on my girls I had no idea that egg production could be so random and interesting. I thought like most people that chucks lay eggs all the time laying less in the winter when it was cold. Ah if only it was that simple. Even after four years of keeping chickens we still get pleasure out of discussing how many we get each day and trying to work out who is laying. For months now we have been getting one or two eggs per day from six chickens then yesterday a third egg appeared! We know that the two we normally get are from Natasha and Helga because of their colour but the new egg could be from either Blue or Scabbers who have not laid for ages. Red is passed laying now but Blue and Scabbers should really be laying still on a regular basis but nothing until yesterday. Now I had a feeling someone was building up to laying again as I had found a small egg like object in the nest which was like a piece of putty the other day. Almost like an egg with no insides but trying to work out who it is will keep us guessing now. Chickens stop laying for all sorts of reasons and contrary to popular belief it is not the cold that stops them laying but light levels and so this summer with it’s dark dreary days did nothing to encourage laying whereas the last few days of snow increases light levels and may have helped. Both Blue and Scabbers have also been moulting and this takes a lot of energy so also affects their laying. We are pretty sure that Paris has not started laying yet as she was bought at point of lay and may wait until spring to start. Anyway in the meantime we will keep up the detective work and pray for snow to keep production up!

Allotment Envy

Lottie

Every week there is always something new to see as fellow allotmenteers develop their plots and as is the case on all good allotments most people find second hand items to improve their plot. This week I’ve been very envious of a lovely wooden greenhouse that a friend has found for her allotment. It looks so lovely and it makes you think of happy hours pottering in the sun caring for your new seedlings. I love the variety of greenhouses and sheds on the allotment they are full of personality. Some like ours are shabby and patched up, while others are very smart. We were given our shed when we took on the plot by another allotment holder and it was painted bright blue, to jazz it up even more my nephew and friends kids painted on flowers. Unfortunately we had to replace that bit last year as it had rotted through so it now looks very patchwork but keeps our tools dry and safe. We have had to brace it too with angled wooden batons as the wind had blown it over at an unnerving angle. Our greenhouse was given to us when someone was moving house and we also have an old Wendy house to store all those things we have collected that might just come in handy. We have definitely learnt the allotment cry ‘If you are throwing that out we’ll have it’ pity we don’t have the DIY skills to make the most of it all!