Archive | December, 2013

OMG, I’ve only gone and done it again.

15 Dec

Here are a few diary posts that I made on the internet during 2008 & 2009 regarding my efforts at being an allotment keeper.

Posted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 3:56 pm Post subject: Gareth’s lost the plot
and I am fuming!

I should have check my mail first thing this morning, but left until I was going out.

A letter from the city council regarding my allotment. Due to an oversight on their part. My 125 sq Metre allotment already has a paid up tenant. I have to vacate the plot as the original tenant is all paid up, etc.

I have just spent 4 weeks clearing the overgrown vegetation, digging the whole plot over, eking out all of the bramble and other weed roots, building a 3 section compost heap out of second hand pallets, and had made the framework and laid in the planking for two 12ft X 12ft X 2ft raised vegetable beds made from reclaimed scaffolders boards.

Information gleaned from other allotment holders, indicates that the original tenant lives in a property overlooking the allotments, and speculation is that they have been watching me working over the last month, and have put their claim in just as the plot is ready for planting.

The council has offered me the adjacent overgrown jungle plot.

Posted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 4:56 pm
I’ve been on the phone to city hall this afternoon, and have met with one of the Parks and open spaces officers (covers allotments). A council worker had marked out the plot for me with spray dye, but it seems that he marked out the wrong plot.

The P&OS officer spoke to the original tenant on the phone, and he is adamant about keeping the plot (even though the other allotment holders that I have spoken to today say that it is over 3 years since he used it).

The options that I have been given are a cash refund pro-rata as tenancy runs from 1st November to 30th October. So even though I have paid my annual £36 rent I will only get £24 back. Or take the adjacent plot and start over from scratch again.

Posted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 5:18 pm
I have just got off the phone to the P&OS officer. It turns out that the adjacent plot is the one that I should have had, and that I should have checked the dye marks against the plot number on the map I received.

As a gesture of goodwill a work crew of offenders on community service will appear on Friday morning to clear, dig, and transfer the structures to the correct plot for me.

Posted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 6:51 pm
I’ve calmed down a lot in the last 90 minutes and have seen the funny side. I think it was the threat of the digi photos and video that I had taken of the work in progress being emailed to both ITV Anglia News, and the Eastern daily press that did it.

This afternoon, I got to the point where I was going to spread Sodium Wotsit on the plot, as a sort of scorched earth policy….. ….. ….. If I can’t grow stuff on it, then neither can you!

Tomorrow I am going to move my compost bins and raised bed frames. That way the greenery from the plucked and dug weeds will have some where to be put on Friday. Thankfully it was this morning, and not last week that Wendy & Ray and their 10% wrinkly discount card went to B&Q to buy me a Wheelbarrow, Wolf Hoe, First early and Main crop Seed potatoes. If it had been last week when they were purchased, I would have planted them in the last few days, as I have seen spuds being planted in fields around Norfolk over the last 10 days

Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 10:40 am
I arrived at the allotment for just before 9 am. Within just a few minutes the mini bus containing the Community Service work crew arrived, and less than 5 minutes later, 15 people were hard at work on my plot. An hour later work stopped for 10 minutes, and when I stood back and perused the work in progress to date, a serious inroad had been made. A crew of 12 wielding spades undertaking the digging and 3 undertaken brush and heavy weed clearance.

The crew broke for lunch at midday, with tea in a big insulated box type urn being served, from the back of the mini bus. 30 minutes of tea, jovial banter, and a few roll ups was enjoyed by all. I spent a few moments surveying the work, which showed that significant progress had been made. The surface weeds and most of the grasses had gone from most of the plot, over half my allotted area had been dug over, and the bottom of one of the raised beds was used as a collection point for various clumps of soil with weeds and roots still attached.

Work resumed at a decent steady pace, 12 people digging the virgin ground, 3 going over the previously dug section, removing missed clumps, and odd pieces of weed roots. At 2 pm work ceased, as Friday is their short day, the same as it is for many in the real commercial and industrial world. Over 2/3rds and closer to 3/4qtrs of the plot had been dug over and weeded. In less than six short hours, a very serious in road had been made, with a promise to return next Friday to help me finish off, and complete any other tasks that I may need help with on the allotment.

Considering all of the duress the allotment had provided for me during the previous week, I am a reasonably happy man.

Posted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:05 am
Another cuppa and I’m off to the allotment to move the compost heap pallets, and the raised beds structures. Hopefully tomorrow when the CS guys arrive, all we have to do Is to dig the plot over. If the surface
Is only dug over, that will be good enough for me, as that will make pulling out the bramble roots and the like so much easier for me

Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 11:47 pm
I deemed it prudent not to take my camera with me yesterday, although I do have photos of WIP on the old plot. You may rest assured that the camera will go up the allotment later this week, and the usual long winded posting will be made by me.

On Monday I plan to order 1 ton (possibly more) of deep litter Turkey muck, which is £8 per ton delivered (basically transportation costs), using this as the base lining for the raised beds. I have changed my mind regarding the size of the raised beds, and now wish to alter them to; four 12 X 6 X 2 beds, rather than two 12 X 12 X 2 beds. This will allow for better all round “from the ground access” rather than tramping all over them.

I shall also chat to the other allotment holders regarding Horse manure from local stables, etc. Society membership and group seed purchases.

Posted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:02 pm
Unusually for me, chaos has ruled the earlier part of my morning, as I had forgotten about the CS work crew arriving at the allotment to continue the good work started last week.

A quick trip over there to get them started and then off for my first music lesson and DIY exchange session.

The CS crew are continuing with the digging and weed grubbing, and will finish the alterations to the two remaining raised beds. I managed to alter and move two of them earlier in week, with the intention of getting the other two completed and moved before this morning. If they finish these tasks, their supervisor has promised to ridge up 4 rows for potatoes if there is time. Today will be the last time that I will get assistance from a CS work crew, and so far they have done a sterling job.

I have just had my first one hour guitar lesson, and I can now play the A minor, and the E minor chords from classical gas, and I am very chuffed with myself. But will I be able to remember it later tonight, or more importantly over the next few days ? My Tutor’s door has been rubbed down and primed, and so I have met my part of the bargain. I’ve now just got to wait for my Landlord to arrive to do the quarterly inspection on my flat, and then I can get back up to the allotment, hopefully before the CS crew knock off at 2pm.

Posted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 11:48 pm
The work that the CS crew has done is magnificent, the whole plot is dug and weeded. One of the compost bins is loaded with loads of bits of weed, grasses, and clumps of roots. The second two raised beds have been assembled in their final positions, and two rows of potato ridges been made. I am extremely happy with all the work and effort that has been put in for me.

Posted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 2:26 am
I have got a load more Freecycle scaffolding boards to collect tomorrow, which I will use as a second skin on the raised beds; a bit like double glazing. Because I have used 4 X 4 timbers for the corner posts, nailing the additional boards to the insides of the raised beds should present no problem. I’ll just have to find something to act as an insulation layer between the boards; a bit like cavity wall insulation.

On Monday I have a ton of well rotted deep litter from a Turkey unit being delivered. That works out at 2.3kgs per square metre of Turkey litter for the plot. I have also been offered a free 20 cu/metre load of freshest stable muck. As I have no intentions of using the raised beds straight away, all the stable muck will be placed into them to rot down over the coming months, ready for planting in the Autumn. The 4 raised beds will require about 14 cu/metres to fill them, so I shall heap all 20 cu/metres into them. Hopefully by then the horse muck & straw will be rotting away well, and provide me with hot beds for fresh veg through the winter months.

Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 8:50 am
A very interesting day yesterday.

Pillsbury popped over for lunch (which I managed to burn), bringing with him a bottle of his home-made Mead for me to sample. The original plan was for him to assist me for the day on the allotment. However, last week the City Council temporarily closed access to the allotments due to a possible asbestos contamination scare. Fortunately, I had already spread the Turkey litter as a top dressing on the plot, ready to be worked in with Hoe and Rake, and had heaped up around 25+ cu/mtrs of stable litter into the raised beds. The weather has been appalling this week being both wet and cold, so in reality with the closure due to the asbestos scare I have not lost anytime. Hopefully this week, we will receive the results of the soil samples, and can get right back to it.

Posted: Tue May 27, 2008 4:18 pm
Two months on, and the Asbestos decontamination crew arrived this morning to start the clean up process. I managed to sneak into the locked off allotments, just to view what had happened over the last few weeks.

All that hard work wasted! as the weeds have grown back and are approaching waist height. I got off lightly compared with others, as I had a covering of fresh stable manure put down on the surface, but this has only served to reduce the weed ground cover, but has encouraged the growth rates of those that have managed to pushed the straw and muck.

For all intent and purpose, I as well as the other allotment holders have effectually lost the most important part of this Year’s growing season.

On the plus side the council has refunded the ground rents for the whole year, and have promised to get a contractor in to help with the hard preparation work (the cost of this is probably covered by some insurance policy that the council has), and I guess that if I/we push hard enough the Community Service Crew will be made available to us again.

Posted: Thu May 29, 2008 7:05 am
I hope that the few “Set backs” will not defeat me. I had the advantage of being further ahead than I expected, due to the help from the Community Service crew, and I have secured the loan of a Two wheeled tractor. These are the cultivating machines use by the professional growers. So when I do have access restored, I can fly in like a good’un. If I treat the rest of this year as a preparation season, it will be considerably easier in the long run.

It would have been nice to get on, the prospect of low cost fresh veg was the major appeal, but it would have also gone a long way to keeping the Bi-polar condition that I suffer from in check, and me on a more balanced and even keel. However, all is not lost, and with everything else that is pending in my life at the moment, the need for prioritisation and planning will go a long way to reducing the periods of depression that I experience

Posted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 11:08 pm

Just to bring you all up to date.

It was an eventful few months on my allotment; The doubled tenancy, the asbestos contamination scare, and the appalling weather of last season.
It didn’t really work for me, although I did crop some Potatoes, Parsnips, carrots and Swede.

I received bad news in January; Gareth really had lost the plot, but in a sort of good way. My tenancy on my allotment was rescinded as my plot was required to make an access road. Norwich City Council have recently been opening up new areas on our allotments from the adjacent overgrown “waste ground”. My allotment was in a direct path for the diggers, and dozers, along with building a new access road. However, I have been offered (and I accepted) one of the new plots. As from today (05/03/09) I have become the tenant of this new plot.

It is right at the beginning of the growing season, I am really looking forward to get over there in my spare time. This year Mikki; one of my 3M’s will be sharing the allotment with me. She is a professional gardener, with loads of energy and enthusiasium, and amongst other things she is a vegetarian.

We are going over there to make a start on the new plot this weekend, and I promise loads of photos and a decent write up as we progress through the year.

Posted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 5:54 pm
I popped over there this afternoon, and it is another virgin plot that I have been assigned; more hard work for my spade.

Posted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 8:01 pm
Gareth’s New Plot;

Most of you will have followed the trials and tribulations that I experienced with my introduction to an allotment and allotment keeping last year. Two virgin plots, an asbestos contamination scare, and some personal disillusionment;


Gareth has a new plot; his third virgin plot in 15 months. I received the tenancy agreement and keys last Tuesday, but today was the first time that I have been up there to survey properly. It is 250 sq/mtrs with a ground rent of £14.99 per year, has a mature Walnut tree at the east end, and a Hawthorn hedge at the west end. This year, one of my 3M’s; Mikki will be sharing both the labours and the fruits with me, and hopefully it will be a success third time around.

Posted: Mon May 17, 2010 8:58 am

I continually battled against brambles for over 4 months, applying many doses of weedkiller, using a commercial strimmer with a metal blade and hacking away with a sickle with some gusto, along with digging for glory with extreme determination only to have the continual growth and creeping of the Brambles knock me into total and abject submission.

No doubt you are now wondering why I have bored you almost to death with such a long post reminiscing my failures with allotments about 5 years ago. Well, the answer is extremely simple; my friend, Sachiko has just been granted an allotment tenancy here in Norwich, and ask for someone to share the plot with her….. and guess who volunteered?





Hopefully a new beginning and a rebirth of my 9 sq/mtr project.

9 Dec

Having been either rather ill or very busy (and sometimes both at the same time) this year I have let both our garden, and my 9 sq/mtr project slip, and over the whole of this year we have produced only about 30% of the vegetables we have eaten.

Later this week I will start my rundown for Christmas. I have been working extremely hard since we returned from India and I have trebled and almost quadrupled my usual stocking levels so that I can gain a week (of hopefully frosty days) that I may get 2 or 3 days of Pike fishing in, and bring the 9 sq/mtr project back into line, including incorporating large amounts of Horse & Donkey manure to replenish the soil. I also wish to undertake a bit of landscaping in the garden, which includes the addition of a 12 mtr long X 1.2 metre high screening fence with a 1.5 mtr wide gated archway (all made from reclaimed pallet timber) complete with climbing Roses, and a roofed but open walled structure with an area of 5 mtrs X 3 mtrs X 2.5 mtrs high for undertaking projects under and out of the rain.

During the summer I became involved as an associate member in a local Community share Growing & Cropping project. This project currently has approx. 7 acres under cultivation by its members, and although I will not be directly involved in the cultivation, etc. why I have become involved will become apparent during March and April of next year.

Yesterday, I began cleaning up the garden a little from last weeks extremes in the weather. Although we are some 15 or 16 odd miles inland from the nearest bit of Norfolk coastline we did experience the gale force storm and the subsequent masses of wind blown leaves from Lionwood and litter from Pilling Park that were deposited in our garden. I also had a bonfire and burnt off an awful lot of old and dry Leylandii brash that we had cut and trimmed from our hedges over the previous 12 months or so, and to finish off the day before settling in for an evening of reading & online backgammon, I set a couple of Sweet Potatoes to chit so that come the late spring we will have viable slips to plant out in the vegetable plots.

This is easily accomplished by obtaining some Sweet Potatoes from a Supermarket and using a Bamboo skewer to support them with the pointy end just in some clean water on a warmish windowsill; preferably south facing so that the tubers may receive sufficient sunlight to produce slips strong enough for planting and growing a crop from. In all I will have 8 Sweet Potatoes hopefully producing healthy slips for planting next season. They will be purchased in pairs from 4 different Supermarkets so that I have unrelated stock chitting, which if we generate sufficient slips I will share with some gardening friends. It may take 4-6 weeks for the first slips to show, and we have set ours off 3 weeks earlier than last year, so that they may be more advanced and hardy enough before the springtime weather turns warm enough to allow them to be planted outside in their final positions for cropping.

sweet potato slips 2014