Karen and Pete's allotment

This is the place to discuss not just allotments but all general gardening problems and queries which don't fit into the specific categories below.
(formerly allotments and tips, hints and problems)
pete+karen
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Karen and Pete's allotment

Post: #277772 pete+karen
Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:20 am

Hi - I haven't been here since 2008! - Karen and I keep tidy gardens for a living but I had a hip replacement recently so would like to share (click to enlarge) some pictures of our allotment from the last few years.
Most of our work these days is at "new build" over 55 / 60's sites where the ground is often half full of builders' junk and so it's a real pleasure to get over to the allotment where we get our best growing fix - the soil here's been worked since at least the dig for victory days.
allotmentdrive.jpg
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There are approx 40 plots on our site which is just nice, it's surrounded on all sides with back gardens and you can't see it from the entrance so we get very little trouble from veggie burglars.
I've cut the main grass here for a few years and yet people still wang rocks on there... so I cut high and it's been enough to stop someone coming in with a sprayer.

bins.JPG
bins.JPG (28.04 KiB) Viewed 1945 times
But we love our allotment - the time can just fly by. Our first plot was 20ft x 100ft and the first thing we did was to put up four reinforced pallet bins, bolted together, one 6x4 and three 4x4. We fill the big one first, then turn this into the next one, then the next one until the last turn goes through a stout weld mesh riddle to get out the few sticks and stones. It is possible to have finished compost inside a month if you've the time and/or energy

What we wanted was not raised beds so much, but to have defined 3-4ft wide beds.
Around then, I made a timely mistake with an estimate on a turfing job and we got ourselves 12 narrow grass paths across the width, down the length of the plot. It looks a bit pretentious but it was (sort of) free and we have the petrol machines to keep it neat. This is from our early days - when I first got a camera:

golden karen.jpg
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Our plot was getting a bit full up of flowers and we were running out of room – having the flowers gives us a lot of pleasure but we haven't got as many out to work as was the intention – so when the old couple next to us finally called it a day, we were very pleased to be given their plot – I'm not sure this is right when there's a waiting list but current plot holders get first shout, that's rules.

sneezeweednbees.jpg
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This white Agapanthus we found in a pot underneath nettles at a garden clearance – we split it up and lined out 40 plantlets

whiteagapanthus.jpg
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So this was our second plot, which we'd had for two years before getting it underway... one row of raspberries (at supermarket price) pays rent for both plots several times over - both plots together equal nearly 450 square yards and we pay £20 a year

2ndplottakingshape.jpg
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After the initial thorough dig and removing carpets, window frames, bindweed etc. we wanted to try the no dig method. I've read that just one teaspoon of rich garden soil can hold up to a billion bacteria, several yards of fungi, several thousand protozoa and scores of nematodes – we've plenty of material to use as mulch for the worms – and you can't find a better garden helper - they leave behind eight times more micro organisms than they eat and their castings are loaded with calcium, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium and large amounts of humic acid, an excellent natural soil conditioner.
“Perceived as lowly, but actually holy, the earthworm feeds the soil, even it's waste, improves the taste, of every pea and bean”
Worms have survived mass extinctions over hundreds of millions of years while other species perished. It now appears it may be possible to figure out just how the land masses broke apart - and carrying the worms with them, drifted to far corners of the globe by studying the distribution of worm species – why, for example, Caribbean worms are closely related to those in Fiji.
Last edited by pete+karen on Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:09 am, edited 3 times in total.

pete+karen
margo - newbie
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Re: Our Allotment

Post: #277773 pete+karen
Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:39 am

broccoli.jpg
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Last year we did well with french, broad and runner beans, the beetroot, potatoes, cabbage and broccoli were good... we planted four redcurrants bushes but the strawberry bed was a little tired, so we reset a new one for this year... and we'd picked 20lb of autumn raspberries by September
Of all home grown veg, we find that fresh pulled carrots surprise the most people in the difference from shop bought - but we hadn't attempted them for two years because of the carrot fly – we've tried earthing them up like potatoes and used pelleted seed to avoid thinning, but enviromesh is maybe the only sure answer?... We bought some mesh for last year and decided to let the carrots fight it out with the weeds underneath – mistake – the weeds won – we sowed again end of august under glass sheets – oh well... this year we will have carrots!
carrotboxwithlights.jpg
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The leeks also need meshing away from leek moth and / or leaf miner as I found out again in 2012 - I cut them down to ground level and they came up again but last year they were under mesh and we planted them in clumps of 4 or 5 like I believe they do in the east – they were small but beautiful and we're still harvesting them.
2012leeks.jpg
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Our outdoor tomatoes had always succumbed to a late blight but in 2011 we had a decent crop of beefsteaks for the first time

bigtoms.jpg
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- the thought of just picked tomatoes made me try and ensure success again in 2012 and I made this box for some cordons –

bigtombox.JPG
bigtombox.JPG (61.85 KiB) Viewed 1943 times
- but the wind blew it over the first night... it could've worked if I'd had it anchored in time? We stuck with bush varieties under these corrugated sheets last year.

clocheonhinges.jpg
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pete+karen
margo - newbie
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Re: Our Allotment

Post: #277774 pete+karen
Tue Feb 25, 2014 12:11 pm

Earlier in the year we used our cloche to bring on early potatoes - this photo was taken on May 1st

potclocheMay1st.jpg
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Geoff Hamilton once showed us a test he was doing with two identical plots - same flowers - same veg - same soil, one was grown with the 'help' of synthetic chemicals, the other not. He found no difference in produce quality but the bees did – while one plot had the occasional visit the other was alive with bees.
This pretty Phacelia tanacetifolia is one of our favorites, it's sold for green manuring, it seeds like a weed, we always leave some in and the bees love it.

phaceliaandbee.jpg
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In the spring of 2012 we at last got some asparagus in - it all took and we can maybe look forward to a few spears this year, if it hasn't drowned..
Chives (great for edgings) and tree onions / "Egyptian Walking Onions" - Allium proliferum :-

chivesandtreeonions.jpg
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The reason why we work is basically... we've got to do something to feed ourselves. I believe everyone deep down wants to work and it's just plain wrong that people are on the dole more than a few months and doing nothing constructive.
When I first grew veg I failed with onions, oh well I thought, they're cheap to buy in the shop and then I read what the farmers were using to help them grow their onions.

karenseivingcompost.jpg
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It was around that time I heard about cabbages that produce scorpion poison to kill caterpillars... and I saw an open university programme where two blokes fishing had caught some barbel with extra bits growing on their heads – they found it was the pork luncheon meat used as bait, made from pigs fed growth hormones. Thirty years on and we've got nuclear fallout to think about... (sorry, but I find it worrying)

gypsohila.jpg
gypsohila.jpg (185.11 KiB) Viewed 1943 times

While I was in hospital the care I received was exemplary – I had only one complaint – the food – is it possible that a big percentage of the folk in hospitals are there because they don't know (see Remotely Controled by Aric Sigman) they're eating the wrong food... I've just read a book called: “Stuffed and Starved” ---- I'm no expert but it's my guess that IT IS possible to feed ourselves with real food but it would mean much less meat and to farm close to home.

middlejuly (530x370).jpg
middlejuly (530x370).jpg (223.55 KiB) Viewed 1943 times

Here's to a good year for us all - pete.

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Green Aura
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Re: Our Allotment

Post: #277775 Green Aura
Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:58 pm

That's fabulous - you don't do housecalls do you? To the north coast of Scotland! :lol:
Maggie

Never doubt that you can change history. You already have. Marge Piercy

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. Anais Nin

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happyhippy
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Re: Our Allotment

Post: #277777 happyhippy
Tue Feb 25, 2014 5:17 pm

Wow what an amazing allotment!We got our lottie last year,raised beds and woodchipped the paths!Our first lottie season was a roaring success and I am just planning now what to grow this year.Have grown veg for 30 yrs so not a newbie but I am to lottie growing!All the best for a great growing season guys! :cheers:

pete+karen
margo - newbie
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Re: Karen and Pete's allotment

Post: #277788 pete+karen
Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:53 am

Thanks both :) I did have a few more pics to add but I ran out of stuff to say lol

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jamesintayside
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Re: Karen and Pete's allotment

Post: #278024 jamesintayside
Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:06 pm

Thank you so much for share of pics - I know it must take some time to upload. I love the cloche on hinges idea.
Well done - hope the hips are ok to as I am due a hip replace soon.
my inspiration a great blog http://tinyallotment.wordpress.com/

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happyhippy
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Re: Karen and Pete's allotment

Post: #279347 happyhippy
Sat May 31, 2014 6:51 am

Have you got any recent pics from this year?I love looking at your pics.You've both done a really fab job! :cheers: How do you get your edges so neat and straight???

maisieandgrace
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Re: Karen and Pete's allotment

Post: #279364 maisieandgrace
Mon Jun 02, 2014 6:43 am

Wow.That is amazing.

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bonniethomas06
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Re: Karen and Pete's allotment

Post: #279366 bonniethomas06
Mon Jun 02, 2014 9:05 am

Your allotment is BEAUTIFUL. I am half tempted to make one of these photos my desktop background on my computer! Well done, absolutely puts mine to shame - but a great incentive to get up there this evening!
"A pretty face is fine, but what a farmer needs is a woman who can carry a pig under each arm"

My blog...

http://www.theparttimesmallholder.blogspot.com

Gra
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Re: Karen and Pete's allotment

Post: #279399 Gra
Wed Jun 04, 2014 8:09 pm

Looks incredibly organised but thoroughly enchanting and an inspiration to all allotment holders. Perhaps you would answer a couple of queries, are the various structures you've made easily demountable and transferable (I presume you rotate your crops) and have you made them in such away to try to keep slugs out?

Pumkinpie
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Re: Karen and Pete's allotment

Post: #279409 Pumkinpie
Fri Jun 06, 2014 9:05 am

Inspiration. It looks great.
Must get to mine to have a tidy today.


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