An Allotment update – things are slowly fattening up. Yes!

A whir and a whirl. Life is a rush; fabulously busy weekends spent with friends, late nights out watching incredible street dance-theatre, evenings in the pub cheering on your team at football – and dealing with the let-down, 8 year old birthday parties, 50 years old birthday parties, volunteering in the allotment shop, committee meetings, allotment maintenance. I think I’ll stop there I’m tired just looking at the list let alone partaking in it!

Plenty to celebrate but I need a few gaps, some pauses in amongst it all to re-group and re-gather my senses. All too brief and spare moments are spent on the allotment, planting, tieing in, staking, weeding, watering, mowing, manuring ground.

The rush that is summer planting is nearly over, a brief lull before the sowing and planting of winter salads, carrots, radish and greens..

The spring and early summer have been cold and wet. A strange time. The plants normally in the ground and thriving are shivering in the wind – beans and courgettes are yellow from being too cool. I’ve pretty much given up on the sweetcorn this year, such poor germination and now time is running out in terms of it growing and ripening. Repeated sowings of carrot seeds was needed as the cool weather proved too much for them.

Adaptable is the name of the game. I have to accept what life throws at me or rather what nature throws at the allotment – whether it is salty sea storms, hot humid days or chilly nights and adapt. I need a plan b, c or d to deal with it all. And you know what plan d is don’t you? Yes, it’s the one where I shrug my shoulders and say, oh well next year….. at least the ….. is doing well…….

The pleasure that is the allotment is always there.  Positives are all around with peas moving from flowers to pods with teeny teeny peas inside, I just munch the whole sugary-sweet pod when I’m working; the greens, chards, beetroot, radish and fennel are all putting weight on. The flowers are coming into their own – lots of self-seeded nasturtiums, poppies, marigolds, lavender, love in a mist, cosmos and sweet peas to please me and to tempt the buzzies.

I’m picking bunches of radishes – perfect as a snack or added to noodles or fried rice, parathas (stuffed flatbreads), salads and sandwiches. The punch of homegrown radish is formidable in comparison to its shop bought cousins.

The salads are fattening up in the cool wet weather, soon we’ll be picking fresh leaves to have with the homemade chive vinegar. And the beetroot isn’t too far behind with their glossy leaves of reds and yellowy-green shimmering and shining in the sunlight; I’ve used them as border and edging plants – I try to make the plot look as pleasing to the eye as I can.

There is a lull in the strawberry picking, I have some later varieties planted – the plan is to keep us in strawberries for as longs as is possible. Well that’s the plan…. The currants, oh they are sweet and tart at the same time, but more about those in another post. And I spied raspberries the other day, a little while yet but they are there!

For now I’ll just leave you with some show and tell photos of the allotment. Warts and all. No matter how tidy I try and keep it looking it’s essentially a practical working place, bags of compost, water butts, buckets and trugs, cardboard for weed suppressant, bags of weeds composting slowly in the sun, straw covered ground and paths, grass clippings and shredded paper as mulches, plastic bottles on the end of canes as markers rattling in the wind; it’s all here – including the broken arch that finally came apart in a recent storm. I plan to replace them with hazel stakes, they will stand up to the salty sea air that corrodes almost anything that is in its path.

Happy gardening folks!


    • You would be very welcome Mandy!! I’d love to see it through someone elses eyes, I think sometimes my eyes get used to the view and I forget things too.

    • I hope things calm down a little for your Marie.
      The yellow flowers in the background are on my neighbours plot, I think, but only think, that they are Jerusalem Artichokes. Quite a few people grow them, the flowers are pretty, the plant acts as a wind break and you get to eat the haul. Apparently they are sods to dig out so you always get “volunteers” or left overs so they grow back again easily.

      • There’s a garden writer in Toronto who grows hers in old fashioned metal trash cans. She says that even if you dump the whole thing out on a tarp, pick out the roots, and put the soil back, you’ll STILL get a crop the next year…heck of a plant!

  • If I had peas growing I don´t think they´d make it into the kitchen! Everything looks like it´s doing great, especially considering the extremes of weather you´ve been having. Are those purple mange tout I see…whatever they are, they´re beautiful!

    • I’m taste testing them before they get to the kitchen – honest!!! and yes they are purple podded peas (the pods are purple sadly the peas are still green) and you know you could always make a detour next week and come and sample a few in situ if you like 😉

  • Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful…warts and all, as you say. Everything looks healthy and stunning. It’s obvious that you have an eye for the aesthetic, in using the beets as a border, and your little pockets of flowers brightening everything up. This is truly inspirational, Claire! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Thank you Cindy, so kind of you! I can’t quite remember where I picked up the idea of the beetroot as a border, I think it was a friend. Their leaves are so bright and glossy they would make a great backdrop in a border iin a garden.

    • Kevin you’re a star! maybe I should say an illuminating star 🙂 Thank you for thinking of me. I look at all the responses I get on my blog (the conversations, thoughts, ideas and feelings) and it almost certainly keeps me going, it helps me in so many ways – literally about gardening and cooking but more probably about the world I inhabit and it’s people and their lives. Without wanting to sound too smaltzy it’s truly an enriching expereince – and you are part of it. Hapy gardening!

  • Your allotment is beautiful. If this is a tough season/year we look forward to photos after a warm snap.

    And the radishes always seem to provide a quick smile, so fast and tasty- they keep the spirits up.

    • Well it seems to have warmed up this last few days so lets hope the plants can REALLY get growing now! I’m hungry for my own homegrown food – I mean we eat bits all year but summer is the main growing season and I think I’m getting a bit impatient 🙂

  • Everything is gorgeous in your allotment. I know you’re putting in a lot of time and effort though so I’m not envious at all. I barely put in any time on my own meager efforts to grow a few herbs but that’s more than I’ve done in the last 30 years before my hips went.

    Other than the genovese basil which is growing very well, my other seedlings are a disappointment especially the 2nd try of the rosemary. I had 2 seedlings at the first true leaves stage) which shriveled away before I got a chance to transplant them outside in a larger pot. I have one scrawny lavender plant from my second seed sowing that’s 2 inches tall which I should transplant but it’s SO hot outside I’m afraid it would dry up and blow away as well. Gardening can be fraught with disappointment. 😦

    • Gardening certainly can be fraught with disappointment, but it’s the belief that maybe some day you can get it right that keeps us going! I’ve never tried growing rosemary or lavender from seed, that certainly sounds like a challenge )

  • I very much enjoy the photos of your garden. Watching the seasonal progression is fascinating! I know how fickle the weather can be. After last June’s endless days of fog, I didn’t even try planting tomatoes his year. And this year was almost without fog. I should have gone for it!

    • Hi Deb, do you use the expression “Sod’s Law” ? If not I would adopt it as it seems to sum up your situaton with the lack of a June Gloom!

    • I wouldn’t say perfectly but it is starting to come together! I think we strive for perfection, but I’m not sure that exists in gardening anyway. What I have to tell myself (sometimes) is that it is a hobby and it gives me so much pleasure to be out and about, getting my hands into the soil. Hope you are having a super weekend Tammy!

  • Your garden looks so beautiful! I love all of the flowers among the vegetables. I like the idea of the beet root planted along the border too, I’ll have to try that next year. Your attitude is so positive! How wonderful! I guess it is necessary for gardening, especially when the weather isn’t cooperating 🙂

    • Positivity and optimism always help! I have to say I’m really pleased with how good the beetroot looks as a border plant (it’s the first time I’ve tried it), there are so many great varieties out there with different coloured leaves that it gives you plenty of options. I’ve also used radishes along the borders too – but the leaves aren’t quite as pretty as the beetroot!

  • *sigh*

    I’m so jealous! My own vegetable patch just didn’t happen this year; too many other things to take care of, and this has turned out to be the year of the perennials for me. Still, next year, right?

    Last year I grew purple French beans, and they were stunning to look at – and tasted as good as normal French beans – so please let me know what that purple pea variety is. I love peas, and if the pods can be as ornamental as the flowers I think that would be a great crop to grow at the back of the flower beds!

    • Aw sigh!!! Some years are just not quuite right are they, but the positives for you are all the hard work in clearing and planning and all the perennials, and this despite all the things happening in your life, so lots to celebrate there!
      The peas are a variety called Robinson’s Purple Podded, I got them in a seed swap a couple of years ago. They are a very pretty flower, and yes the pods are purple. The peas, are more of an old fashioned type, a climber and not as sweet as normal. I like them for cooking with. There are a couple of other varieties that are purple, I was thinking of doing a post on them, so I’ll dig the information out on them if you like. They would certainly look great in a flower bed – a real cottage garden look 🙂

      • I have lots of sweet peas all over the garden, but while the flowers are showier they do have the disadvantage of not being edible…

        And I don’t mind the lack of a vegetable garden this year. After all, the work I put into the borders will pay off for years to come, so it’s okay that I have to buy my peas this year. (And any way it’s more of a token vegetable garden, really; it’s in no way able to provide any substantial contribution to the daily dinner table.)

        Any information on purple peas would be great; I love peas in any form, and have a specific fondness for pea risotto made with home-grown peas. (Though the stock water from boiling up the pods would probably be less appealing when made from purple pods… )

        • We’re talking the same language – pea risotto from homegrown peas. An dnow I need to see what colour the purple pods go when cooked 🙂

          • My experience with purple French beans was that they turned green when cooked – but turned the water a nondescript dark colour. I suspect the same would happen with the pea pods.

            Still, if you used a generic vegetable stock and then added the peas as chopped-up mange-tout just before adding the cheese and serving, the pods would probably preserve their colour; perhaps this could be good in combination with some green podded peas? Purple, green and creamy-white could make for a very pretty dish of risotto, I think.

        • The risotto idea is sold, I’m going to try that next time we make one! I’ve grown purple beans too and yes the colour does fade, but they have been very tasty, and the flowers are a lovely colour – so a real bonus 🙂

    • Thanks 🙂 April and May have been wetter and colder than normal. But I think we have been a bit lulled by the last 2 years where Spring has been dry and warmer. Basically we haven’t had the normal amounts of rainfall for the last 2 years. At the end of winter (usually the wettest season) our local resevoir was running at 40%. Strange times!!

      • it really is strange! have you seen any news about the outrageously high temps through the middle portion of the states? hotter even than here which SHOULD register that high but hasn’t yet! so bizarre. and the storms!! it does seem they’re off kilter as well. def strange!!!

      • My cucumber plants haven’t grown an inch in weeks. A bit disheartening really. Not even one blossom!

  • Looks like a lovely time of year there, even if the weather isn’t that cooperative! Your allotments have inspired me to add many more flowers to my days.

    • I love having the flowers. Normally I have more flowers like cornflowers, limanthus, tagettes but I just didn’t get round to sowing any this year. I love the way it looks with flowers in amongst the veggies and of course all the insects and bees love them too 🙂

  • I know the feeling of having some failures, but also like you, focus on and am truly grateful for the successes and getting the chance to watch it happen and learn! A beautfiul place you have!

    • I definitely learn from watching, the small details add up, the trick is trying remember what worked well so that you can try and repeat it! And thank you for your compliments Betsy 🙂

  • hopefully things will be warm by the time we are in the northern hemisphere on 1st September …. there will be a great flush of summer fruits and vegetables just ready by then …. sorry we wont be in england to drop by the allotment 🙂

    • Oh I love europe in September, some of my favourite holidays have been around that time – still warm, lovely light, but the start of the slow wind down into winter – but as you say plenty of fresh fruit and veg too!

  • Warts and all? These are some of the best looking warts I’ve ever seen! Your allotment is really amazing, Claire, and I really enjoy these tours. It’s a shame that your weather has been less than cooperative but, then again, it’s always something when you garden. Too much of this, too little of that. Thank goodness it’s never so bad as to ruin everything or to destroy the hope that next year’s garden will be better.

    • John, what are you like? Kind and complimentary! You are so right – it’s too warm, too dry, too wet, too cold…… if I didn’t have the weather to talk about what would I have to say 🙂

    • Thank you, I guess we all have busy lives, its just sometimes it seems to catch me up and I need to take a break 🙂 Well, ok I’d like to take a break….

  • You have a super green thumb…. Mine is more of a pale yellow sometimes even some basic herbs just can’t muster the wrath of the HK heat. Is that last plant a purple snow pea? Beautiful shots? Take care, BAM

    • I’m not surpirsed by a pale yellow in Hong Kong, it must be a very trying climate to grow things in – all that humidity! That’s probably a challenge too far for me 🙂 And yes the pea is a purple podded pea, which is just starting to fatten up (we had a few peas tonight in a pasta dish – delic!) Hope you have a super week ahead BAM

  • You have had a very full weekend! I do know what you mean, though, about getting in some quiet while surveying the garden and appreciating what you find. It calms me down. There are so many interruptions in the cycle of a garden, and I wonder if I would have the same dedication to it if I encountered as many weather variables as you do, Claire. I think maybe it gets in the blood, though, and you almost can’t stay away! I really enjoy getting a peek at yours and imagining what it is really like. I loved this! 🙂 And thanks for reminding me that yes, although our summer is just getting underway, I need to begin thinking about the fall planting, too! Debra

    • I think gardening is in my blood – somehow, somewhere. I’ve always gardened, always loved being outside – so I do wonder at myself when I ended up working mostly in IT 🙂 That asside I’m so behind with my winter planting, I really should get a MOVE on !! Hope you have a super week Debra 🙂

  • We are just the opposite in weather–unseasonably hot and dry–with the problems that correspond to that. You sound busy (with fun times at least) but I imagine a walk through the allotment gives you a bit of peace. Love the purple peas!

    • I’ve been hearing about the hot dry weather and some of the problems that it brings. So I should be thankful! I plan to do some actual garending next week – as opposed to talking about it, fingers crossed fo rnext week Inger !

  • Your garden is doing well despite the weather. I’m having the same problem with wet cool weather. Very few blossoms have set from 40 F lows at night. My rainbow chard and oak leaf lettuce is existing but not growing from lack of sun. Gardening is not easy!

    • Sorry to hear your garden isn’t growing as it should Karen, “existing” seems to sum things up – certainly the spinach and dwarf beans seem to be just standing there and not puting any real growth on.

  • Thank you for the walk through of your breautiful garden my friend 😀
    I am glad your plants are fattening up and slowly blossoming 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  • Wonderful, you must have worked so hard… our garden and raised beds are swimming… I can’t remember a day without rain! At least the water butts are full! Thanks for sharing, at least I can enjoy your allotment!!

    • Hi Lois, I hear it’s been the wettest June on record, not great news for us gardeners! Let’s hope for some dry, warm and sunny days ahead 🙂

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