The diary of two novice gardeners and allotmenteers

Chris and Steve's Weblog – City Chickens

Courgette and Aubergine


Today I sowed four Courgette, Black Beauty, into modules and put them in the cold greenhouse at home. Hopefully they will make four good sized plants and I can put them out in pots in May at the allotment. Despite what the name implies they are dark green and not black at all. I have also sowed four Aubergine, Violette, which will eventually be in the lean to with the tomatoes and cucumbers.(message to myself: next year sow courgette seeds in a bigger pot, the modules just aren’t big enough for these sturdy seedlings. Both courgette and aubergine need heat to germinate. Treat aubergine seeds like tomato seeds) Update on the seeds planted on the 15th. The red cabbage and the Jersey walking sticks have germinated but no sign at all of the others yet.

Plotting and Planning Ahead


We spent a good three hours this morning at the plot. The sun was shining and it was very busy. We dug up the two minarettes to plant back at home as Trevor and Jim weren’t too happy with them being on the allotment. I hoed the nursery bed to a finer tilth and Rob weeded the fruit cage. Everything in the lean to is coming on nicely so all we needed to do there was a little gentle watering.

We popped up to Wickes and picked up some bark chippings, then went back and finished off the sitting area and the path along the bean trench. We ordered some shallots from Mick Market and he will deliver them to us next Sunday morning. We gave in to temptation and ordered a bag of Winston and a bag of Rocket seed potatoes as well. Good job we have taken on plot 18 too.

path along bean trench We have filled the blue metal bin with the wood chip from the top of the chicken run as it was made up of pine tree bark and the girls had given it a good going over. We are hoping to plant two Blueberry bushes in there soon. Rob picked them up from a cheap shop in Dudley for £1.49 each. They need ericaceous soil and peat, a little more acidic than the soil on the plot, so what we put on should suit. Finally I did a little weeding around the beetroot and we came home tired and hungry. After a drink and a bit of dinner we went out and planted the minarettes in the garden. Tipped yet another bag of sharp sand on the waterlogged lawn and took another four bags off the top of the run. We shall put this into the blue bin and fetch more wood chip from the wood yard soon so the chickens will be more comfortable again. We may have to think about covering the run before next Winter.

Signs of Life

The cucumber seedling are through already. It is only five days since I sowed them. Just a glimmer of life from the tiny tomato seeds. I almost missed them as the seedlings are so small. This morning I have sowed seeds of two more tomatoes. Oxheart, a large red beefsteak and a big golden yellow one. I have put a few melon seeds into a module as an experiment. I collected them from a yellow melon I bought from Sainsburys. I have read that they are quite difficult to germinate so put a few rather than just one. I saved some lemon pips and put two in each of two paper pots, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Also put a layer of sprouted peas in a bigger paper pot just to see what happens. I may plant them out or use them for pea shoots. I have never tasted them but have read that they taste good.

Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Peppers

gardeners delightThis morning I have sowed seeds of Tomato Gardeners Delight, Sungold, Dombito (Beefsteak), Alicante and Totem. Cucumber Burpless, Lemon, Sunsweet and Gherkin. Peppers Californian Wonder, Yellow, Green and Red. They were sown in modules with the tomatoes covered with damp newspaper, for damp darkness, and the cucumber and peppers under clear polythene for damp and light. Hope that is right. We should know in 7-10 days when they should have germinated. I am keeping them in the house for the moment and will put them in the cold greenhouse later on.

Goodbye Willow

A quick visit to the allotment this morning. The weather was bright after the overnight rain with no sign now of the heavy snow of the last few days. There were signs of new growth everywhere with brassicas getting bigger and seedlings showing through in the lean to. We dug up a couple of leeks for the lamb casserole.

Our beloved cat, Willow, died at 3.45 am this morning. She was well over twenty and had been a good girl and a good mother in her time. Rob buried her in the garden amongst the fruit trees.

Willow2  Willow

A Touch of Frost….Lost

We spent a few hours at the plot on Sunday. Everything was white with frost and we took some brilliant photographs. However when we got home we lost them. Rob thought I had saved them and cleared the memory card but I had only put them on view for a quick look before I started the dinner. We were both gutted as they looked good ones. Today it has been snowing all day and I have taken a few shots in the garden so I will add some of those on here to compensate.ducks in snow The white call ducks and our beautiful grandaughter Libbie.lib

Not Long Now

Although it is still cold with the threat of lower temperatures to come the garden is showing signs of Spring. Brave spring bulbs are defying the calendar and pushing spears of green up through the frosty soil. Spring fever of a different sort is showing its face down at the allotments. Plot holders are busy planning, mending and building. There is much discussion about what to grow where on our very windy site. The dregs of last years plants are being dug up to make room for the new. There is an atmoshphere of excitement and anticipation that is hard to explain to anyone not involved in the strange world of the allotment.

chitBack at home the seed potatoes, sitting in egg boxes in the garage, are starting to show signs of what is to come.

Crock Pot or Crackpot

It has been a very windy week to say the least. Our plans today were just to take the chicken poo and put it on the bean trench and have a burn up then come home. It was still really windy and we were lucky not to have too much damage, others weren’t so lucky. The lean to is just about holding together so we are hoping for calmer weather to come. We did our planned jobs then went over to the new plot with the tape measure to give us some idea how we would plan the potato planting. The second plot is more square than our original one and measures approximately 42′ square. There is also a small triangular fruit bed but we have told Keith he can keep that for now as he has it planted up with black currant bushes. Joe called us over and gave us three Gooseberry roots and Rob planted them in the fruit cage.

After pulling a couple of Leeks, a swede and a turnip for the chicken casserole we came home windswept but happy. The boys had bought me a crock pot for my birthday so we put the chicken and veg in there and settled down to plan the planting of the new plot. I am not sure if there was a hidden message in their choice of the present, crock pot is very close to crackpot after all. 17th March 2017 Update – My crockpot is no more. After ten years of loyal service I managed to drop a glass on top of it and it broke. I shall use the crock for drainage but the jury is out on the warming element. Might be useful for bottom heat for seedlings.


Sunny Sunday

After all the rain we have had lately it was a welcome change to be working in the mild sunny weather we had today. We arrived at the plot early and before long the good weather had brought all the plot holders out to play. We moved the small Wilko greenhouse into the lean to and it fitted perfectly along one side of the back wall. I moved the Sweetpea seedlings in there. They are coming along nicely, only one pot yet to show anything. I will need to keep a close eye on them as they have to be pinched out to stop them going straggly. I moved some Cauliflower seedlings from under a cloche and sowed another tray of Cauliflower All Year Round and put both in the greenhouse. We also sowed thirty or so Leek Musselbrough seeds in a 7″ pot. We sowed a few more Broad Bean Aquadulce along the back of the trellis where the ones we sowed in October are about a foot tall now. They have flowers but we don’t expect them to fruit as they will probably be taken at the first frost. We will see.

leekspeascaulibroad beans

We also put in a row of Peas (Fortune) as an experiment alongside the carrot bin. I have put wire netting protection along but haven’t covered with any plastic or fleece as yet.

Rob finally screwed the brass plot number 8 to a stake and hammered it in at the top of our plot. We were given it by a nice lady on freecycle.

Keith confirmed again that we could go ahead and start planting on his old plot so we came back and made a detailed plan of where we are going to plant our seed potatoes. At present they are laid out on egg trays in the garage which is probably too warm but was the only space available. I shall be happy when we have signed on the dotted line and paid the rent on both the plots which should be in April. The chap who has the plot immediately above ours gave us two Celeriac and loads of Artichoke slips. My first feeling is that we will probably plant some of the Artichoke slips for the flowers rather than to eat and give some away. I roasted a few tonight but am not too keen. Haven’t tried the Celeriac yet. Exciting moment of the day. We noticed heads forming on the Broccoli in the brassica cage.

To Chit or Not to Chit That is The Question

Rain, rain and even more rain. Temperatures are very mild for January but there are bound to be frosts and low temperatures to come. Nothing much happening at the allotment so apart from delivering the poo for the compost all we have done is tie down fences etc which have been loosened by the high winds.

The seed potatoes arrived yesterday from Alan Romans with no substitutions. Everything exactly as we ordered. International Kidney, King Edwards, Cara, Pink Fir Apple, Lady Christl, British Queen, Charlotte, Picasso and Roseval.

International Kidneybritish queenrosevalcara

All we have to do now is decide what to do with them while we wait for planting time. A lot of discussion going on on the forums about whether to chit or just plant but our first concern is how and where to store them. We have decided to put our little Wilko greenhouse inside the lean to and lay the potatoes on the shelving when we are ready to chit them. They are in very good condition at the moment so we want to keep them that way. We are planning to grow some in pots and bags and the rest in the ground. I have e-mailed Alan Romans for advice about storage and planting times so we will wait and see what he says. I will have to look up again which are earlies etc as I have forgotten now. Later this month we are planning to sow another row of broad beans and peas outside and sow cauliflower and leeks in pots undercover. Hope the rain slows down a bit though or we may have to wait until February.