1/6/24

I’ve put all the lobelia into Bed 9. Just as well I put them in a slightly bigger tray at home; they never would have survived otherwise and they’re noticeably larger. I fed Bed 9 with half-power feed (1 cap per 4 litres) and gave some to the sunflowers too. The tomatoes and cosmos got full strength feed.

I deadheaded the pond irises and cleared the pond, though there wasn’t all that much weed to gather. The forget me nots have their first flower buds.

I added a bunch of corn cockles around the sunflower and borage in Bed 7. They might help each other stand up. The courgette had been pulled out and was dead. Although I have a spare at home, I think I’ll just fill this space with the zinnias.

The marigolds that I grew at home have gone in near the cucumber (and site of possible other cucumbers!) and a few more in Bed 1 too.

There’s not much more to do in my big week off now. Beds 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11 are all done. Bed 1 needs calendula, Bed 6 needs more nasturtiums, Bed 7 needs zinnias and some more cucumbers if they can play ball. If I magically have time, I do still want to dig under the beach of the pond and make it a gentler slope.

31/5/24

It was windy and rainy today, but I will still out there, working with my mac on. I planted out all the Roma tomatoes along with their marigolds and I’ve added marigolds to Bed 1 too.

Three sunflowers have gone into Bed 6 and one into centre of Bed 7.

The baby robin visited again and was feeding from the spilled food. His front is just starting to turn red. I’ve now added some old pumpkin seeds from photography days, along with mealworms to the mix.

Below the feeder the woodland bed the lungwort has really picked up. Today I added a few small clumps of violet from home in among all the other seedlings. I keep working on picking out the biggest weeds as they become obvious. This first year is a formative one for self-seeding later and seeing where the gaps are.

30/5/24

I didn’t put any protection around the sweet peas last night, but happily nothing had been eaten.

I did a full strim before Suzy visited to admire my work and then mowed once she’d gone. If I’m lucky I’ll catch the grass for a level 1 in the next few days. It looks so much better when it’s neat. I’ve now put some grass seed around the pond slabs. I look forward to constantly maintaining that in a few months.

Suzy and I put up the tomato frame for the Romas together and put the netting frame over the beetroot too. It won’t stop slugs, but should stop the birds pulling out new seedlings.

A beautiful pink poppy has appeared in the bug hotel. There are all kinds of poppy and flowers in the top of the planters now as well as a lovely little foxglove. I hope that my various foxgloves will self seed all over the place. They’re biennials, which is a bit boring, but maybe some are already underway.

I’ve finally got my hands on a teasel. All the wildlife literature keeps mentioning them as being good for the birds, so I’m pleased to have one. It’s another biennial, so it’ll come up next year. They also self- seed. Morning glory seedlings are coming up where I dropped them. Let’s see if they climb or trail at all.

29/5/24

It rained too much yesterday for it to be worth making a trip to the plot. Today I was firing on all cylinders and planted all the cosmos into Bed 2. My seedlings were so awful this year that I had to go the garden centre.

I put in all my RHS sweet peas against the other end of the netting. They’re very little, but have pinched and I hope some food and water will help them along.

The blackbird accompanied me again and clearly remembered where to find the ants. Later on, I saw it bathing in the pond for the first time. The sparrows are eating well at the feeder and are nothing like as nervous of me now. I saw a party starting to clear up their ground spill too. Over in the woodland bed, the lungwort looks better now.

I’ve sown more carrot and beetroot – including fillers in the original beetroot row. The carrots are doing really well, but some of the beetroot have been bitten and some have been pulled out.

Five Red Alerts have gone into Bed 1. I’ve left some borage, which will stay or be dug out later according to how it goes/grows. I think this will be a borage-heavy year, which will be great for the bees.

I’ve put 17 marigolds along the back of Bed 9. Very little candytuft is coming up along the front so far.

The Summer Carousel nasturtium plants have gone into Bed 5. I’ve put the Trailing nasturtiums into Bed 6 – though I think the plants coming up from seed now are actually Summer Carousel. I’ve added some morning glory seeds to the bed. It looks like only one cornflower has come up so far. 

I’ve settled the slabs in by the pond and have improved the end ones that have some concrete on, by giving them a preliminary clean with the wire brush. They need more working, but now have colour when wet, which is pleasing. A bit more top soil is needed, but the landscaping of sloping the ground is almost complete. 

The majority of the plot is still just beginning to wake up, but the ledge is looking fab, thanks mostly to the fleabane and the sweet william.

27/5/24

There was a new creature in the pond today. Could be the larva of anything really.

Mum and I put the netting up today. Once you have some experience behind you, it’s not a particularly big job. This is the last year for this piece of netting. I’ve planted 8 runner bean plants against it.

The blackbird came to visit and found the beds in Beds 4 and 5 that I’d uncovered. Very rewarding to have the eggs dealt with by him. The first sunflower has gone into Bed 5.

I’ve put the oca in between the garlic. A couple of tubers went mouldy over the winter and by the time I came to plant, one had dried up completely. I still put that one in, just in case there was some life inside it.

The courgette has gone into Bed 7. I rested a broken leaf on a coconut shell as slug protection as I’m trying not to use as many slug pellets. I want to bring the birds in with food and have them take care of slugs for me.

It turns out that I don’t have as many cucumbers coming up as I thought. Borage has grown inside the cloches, as well as everywhere else in the bed. Evidently the cucumbers are going to be harder work than I thought.

I did a bunch of general weeding. Brambles are now starting to come through the fence, so I now have weeds to watch out for. I was able to leave the watering for the rain to take care of.

19/5/24

The insect life is going mad at the plot. I’ve got bees robbing the nectar from the irises around the pond. A beautiful blue damselfly flitted around the pond a few times and I spotted the first hoverfly. In the water I saw a diving beetle that was a good bit bigger than the usual little ones, and there are butterfly eggs on the flag iris. Where I dropped seed on the front ledge, there are a few seedlings among the stones.

I mowed the plot to keep on top of it, but when I’m back from Salzburg it’ll need a strim and hopefully a mow on 1.

I’ve weeded around the onions to help them along. The first cucumber has been released from its cloche now. I didn’t give a thought to putting a collar around it – I’m out of practice!

JBM has donated some slabs from his old patio, which I’ve started setting out for somewhere to sit in front of the pond. With the gate, entryway and sloping ground, I’ve got some landscaping ahead of me to get the slabs straight, but also bring the ground up appropriately. This is one bag of top soil. I have two more at the ready, though they’re intended for elsewhere really – all were discounted.

18/5/24

It’s very difficult to get to work when all around the plot there are new flowers to look at.

I uncovered Beds 4 and 5 as they’ll need a bit of work and sun/rain on them. I’m glad I did, because I uncovered big ant nests. I raked them to disturb them and was very happy that the blackbird and baby robin came to get their fill of eggs. I’m not sure how interested they are in the actual ants. There was a deep hole in the corner of Bed 4, with an unidentifiable lump – quite possibly a chewed and stored tulip bulb, stolen from Bed 3.

I’ve sown a front row of candytuft in Bed 9 as it takes a while to come up and I feel like time is getting away from me a bit. I also poke a few nasturtium seeds in Beds 5 and 6, to possibly help out the plants I have at home.

I’ve propped up the everlasting peas using the hoops. I don’t know why the one by the apple tree has to be the most resplendent of the plants.

I’ve separated the two cucumbers and replanted them. A germinated seed has been poked back into the ground to carry on. Also in Bed 7 I’ve thinned and moved around what has turned out to be borage plants. I’m happy for them to help in the flower areas of the bed as they’re so nectar-rich.

I did a great chore of tidying up the nursery. One poppy got tucked into Bed 7, other pots were emptied onto the compost. I put together a terracotta pot of poppies and while I was working in my shed doorway, a red-head cardinal beetle dropped from the roof and crawled around on my foot.

What looks like godetia is growing in the cracks of one of the stone steps and nearby bindweed has found the apple stick frame.

I had a fiddle with the pond beach. Lots of pebbles had fallen in making it too shallow. I’ve made it better but it may benefit from being a gravel area. I’d like a shallow water area for birds, but it’s not really that yet. The big excitement was that I saw a pale green damselfly over the pond!

12/5/24

I sat by the pond for ages today. I spotted a new thin creature on the rocks down in the water. They seemed to move fast so I’m not convinced they were leeches. I saw another creature (the same kind?) on some algae near the top of the pond. It had a clear head and body and flexed its back end. The irises have begun to open in Bed 3 and the ones around the pond are days away from joining them.

The lupins are starting to open. This pink one is a transplant after the pond build, so it’s great to see it looking so healthy after a winter in the nursery. Foxgloves, which I suddenly love this year, have started to open. I have white a pink and this deeper pink and yellow one is just starting to open on the ledge.

I’ve marked out where the tomatoes in Bed 1 will go, and where the courgette in Bed 7 will go. I’ve finally got the latter to germinate by putting the seeds on damp kitchen towel in the airing cupboard. After all the trouble I’ve had this year, I’ll be doing that again.

Three of the 4 cucumbers in Bed 7 are now up inside their cloches. I gave them all a water to encourage the last one to get going. At the sides of the bed, I’ve added some cornflower seed. What I thought were cucurbit volunteers are now clearly borage. I’ve learned that they have new reserves of nectar every two seconds, so I’m glad to see them again for the wildlife.

A mad piece of chard had started regrowing in Bed 2, so I’ve moved it to the end of Bed 6. I was going to have a row, but it turned out that I’d thrown out the old seed. I added some cornflower to the middle of Bed 6. Most of the rest of the bed will be Summer Carousel nasturtium.

I did some pick weeding and sprinkled a little more larkspur in the flower beds. There’s little point in having it grow old in a pot. I’ve dumped handfuls of morning glory seeds along the perimeter, just in case it magically germinates and decides it can climb the fence after all.

In the heat of the afternoon I strimmed the edges and the grass. Strimming the edges is always the best way to make the plot look better. I’ve removed the plastic squares from in front of the pond now, as when I lifted them it turned out that the worms had been busy making casts up into the grids. The pond edge looks better without them, but I need somewhere permanent to sit in all weathers, as I clearly can’t tear myself away from the pond’s edge.

11/5/24

I’ve finally cleared all the pond soil off Bed 1 and used it to fill various holes in car park – including where I got stuck in the mud on Thursday. I then covered all the patches with grass seed and went over the big bare patch where the broken shed had lain for so long.

Bed 1 is now open and I’ve roughed it up. It still needs weeding though. It’s covered in ant hills, so I could do with some help from the birds. They’re getting braver, but at they’ll surely peck around when I’m not there.

I’ve put in some apple sticks to try and keep the everlasting peas from immediately going through the fence. They might just help a little.

My transplanted foxgloves are close to flowering and broadcast seeds are coming up. I’m hoping that the red-edged leaves are godetia, which will seed down for years to come like it has at home. 

I did a pretty good preliminary tidy and sweep of the shed. It still needs a proper turnout, but there’s now room to stand and move. It helped that I foisted a bucket of coffee grounds onto Mr B too. 

5/5/24

I weeded all along the ledge and did the same broadcast sowing as usual with larkspur, Californian poppy and mixed candytuft.. I put some corn cockle at the back where the everlasting peas have a bit of a hole, and sowed alyssum at front.

Bed 11 is now looking much better than before. It had turned quite green with mostly poppy seedlings and I’ve now weeded the whole bed. Since I was at the back of the plot, the birds were back on the feeder, including a great tit.

I also had a wonderful visitor when a baby robin flew into the bed and tackled a huge worm. I wish the robins would return to the plot.

When I was sitting on the ground, I saw how good the pond looked and how settled into the allotment it now is.

The hellebore now has new shoots coming at the base. I need to make sure I remove old flowers and leaves as needed to encourage growth.

All the weeding is now done. It’s now a matter of waiting for the seeds to come up – and weeds are already coming up among seedlings in front bed.