Feral

Last year was a year of nearly no posts, and equally not very much gardening. My plots are, quite frankly, feral. It’s so bad that our Committee Chair has gently pointed out that I need to have a word with myself or consider giving at least one up. They look like this, and I think we can all agree there is a bit of work ahead.

It’s not all doom and gloom. In a rare moment of foresight I planted crops for about now-ish and I have leeks, kale and PSB all ready for the picking. My wild garlic is poking up in the hedgerow, and there are 2 bags of spuds in the shed. (There is also the actual garlic I forgot to plant…)

To make some inroads into the wildernesses, one of my Lenten resolutions is to spend a few hours up there 3x/week. I figure that will get me some workable beds by the end of this month and an idea of how to sort the rest. After all, the best way to ensure no change, or to have no crops is to do nothing. I’ve so far turned over half a bed, repotted lillies, unearthed the rhubarb from a carpet of encroaching grass and cut back half the bordering hedge.

Today’s jobs included clearing mummified tomatoes and chillies out of the greenhouse. There really is nothing quite like the scent of tomatoes in their truly rancid phase, other than perhaps a rotting potato. I harvested barely anything last year, and I am betting the top centimetre of soil is riddled with seeds. It would bother me, but this year I really do have to change the soil in there. Sod mountain, which has been home to many a wasp nest, is now going to be dismantled and barrowed in. The current soil is going to shore up this year’s flower bed – currently sleeping under yet more grass/strawberries/bindweed… The greenhouse also needs a wash to reveal its shiny happy self when the water is back on – the plastic shouldn’t be green on the inside!

What was nice was seeing not everything is dead in there. Sweet cicely is emerging and not all the carob trees are crispy. My peach tree is about to break into flower. I’ve sown some experimental tomatoes from identifiable fruits hanging on the vines to see if that can save me some faffing at home. Fingers crossed..

As for non-gardening updates: I still have the Horse. I’ve had him on loan since July and it makes me unbelievably happy to see the hairy, snorty mudball every day. Even though he dumped me unceremoniously on the floor today. Plus he is ably producing all my compost heaps could hope for! He’s thankfully not high maintenance, but I ride 4-6 times a week and visit twice a day, which takes time. In other news, Mr Mudandgluts and I went our separate ways last year – and though we both thought it was the right thing to do, it was still glum and it’s another reason for not really writing. I am, however, very grateful for my stonking support circle of friends and family, who are just brilliant. Mum, Gally, Michelle, Maggie, Anja and Sarah especially – you’ve been wonderful. I also cut off my hair, and I need to sort out some current photos – I now resemble Claire Balding/a ’90s Russian spy/a Bananarama reject depending on who you talk to in my family.

And finally, also from last year but very much A Good Thing, was the discovery of dusty kilner jars under the bed. The contents are awesome, in particular the sloe port which is a surprising pale gold given it was made with some pretty hearty chianti. I would definitely recommend forgetting sloe-based alchohol for a few years, it’s well worth it!

Categories: Diary 2019

26 replies

  1. Hi Beryl, I’ve just discovered your blog and have spent a long, windy, wet long weekend reading it. From start to finish, yes indeedy. As well written as some of the ‘literature’ I get from the library, and true to boot! It seems we started our garden at around the same time; it’s been nice to read of similiar trials and triumps. . And how I love your coloured beds! And, of course, your saffron ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’m glad to see you’re back (well, see, I’ve only just caught up) and I, too, can vouch for the healing influence a wee bit of gardening can make, when the heart is hurting. Even if you don’t feel like writing about it.
    The sun is going to shine again… we’d better believe it! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Gardening ‘groetjes’ (that’s Dutch)
    Veronica

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    • Hi Veronica, you deserve a medal for getting through the whole thing! Thank you very much for your kind comments. The coloured beds are sadly getting a bit soft, but they are sustaining an immense colony of woodlice. If you like saffron you should definitely give it a go. It needs a fair amount of space to make it worthwhile but it is very easy to grow. What are you growing in yours? Beryl

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  2. Good to have you blogging again Beryl, and know how you feel re starting to tidy up again ! I went down yesterday on my fortnightly compost delivery, and it made me feel guilty to be away ! But the sight of the buds coming through ignited the happiness of being on my plot again, so onwards and upwards….sloe port you say….you know where my man cave is ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • I have seen exactly how immaculate your plot is Peter, so please wear dark glasses before coming round my way…:) Sloe port is a thing of beauty and I must forget about it more often.

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  3. Welcome back Beryl, we’ve all been through those periods when life takes over and there’s no time left for the allotment to get it’s share, don’t give up even if you can’t maintain the 3 times a week schedule sometimes, once it’s covered and started you’ll find the time. Mary Garrigan

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  4. Hi Beryl, great to see you back, Iโ€™ve often wondered how you are doing. Sorry to hear your news on Mr mud& gluts. A sad time for you both. Good news about Archie, how long will you be able to have him for? As you say little & often is a really good way of tackling your plots, 2 plots is no mean feat on your own. Iโ€™ve gone over to no-dig best thing Iโ€™ve done in awhile except gain 2 grandchildren in the last 3 years lol.
    Happy gardening xx

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    • Congrats on the grandchildren! As far as I know I might have Archie on loan for a good while. I certainly don’t want to give him back, but if I have to I know he has a home where he’s loved. Plot day again tomorrow, winds permitting! ๐Ÿ™‚ As you say, no dig can be the way forward!

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  5. Welcome back! It was good to read your blog again. My allotments have been life-savers during less than happy periods and I’m sure they will be for you, too. Along with Horse! looking forward to reading about your progress on your plots.

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  6. Sometimes life takes over. Remove the perennial weeds, frough up the soil surface a bit, cover the weeds with newspaper, some of that lovely horse manure, grass clippings then a layer of the greenhouse soil and get planting. Digging is overrated and robs you of precious time to spend on other jobs. I have a brand new vegetable plot to start off this year and Iโ€™m still clearing. Best wishes Angela the allotmentglutton

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    • Thanks Angela, lovely to hear you have a new space to work on. And yes, I think that a bit of no dig is the fastest and best option for a lot of it. I’ve been meaning to try it for a while now and suddenly needs must! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Thank you – I am really looking forward to sowing your seeds, an to perhaps having a bit more variety in what I grow this year. Loads more herbs in the pipeline.

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  7. You know how it’s wrong to use that woven landscape fabric because, while it may suppress weeds, it makes it impossible to amend the soil?

    It doesn’t make that impossible if you lift it every spring, amend, plop it back down again, and plant through widely-spaced holes or slits. That’s what I’ve been doing to keep my garden from turning feral. It does make fertilizing complicated–I’ve been dealing with that by overfertilizing in spring, because I’m too lazy to mix tons and tons of gallons of soluble fertilizer, and the organic soluble fertilizers all seem to clog those hose-end mixer whatsits.

    But it lets me tend a much larger garden than I could tend otherwise. When I clear, amend, and fabric an area, that area STAYS cleared, except for a few weeds poking through the holes. So I can make progress instead of spending most of my time defending the progress I’ve already made.

    (Oh, and I don’t mulch on top of the fabric. I think that voids the warranty. I choose not to care.)

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    • Thanks for commenting – and you’re right, covering does really help. I will be using an organic no dig approach on a fair bit this year I think. I have used landscape fabric in the past but as the years go by I am more reluctant to use things that are made of plastic. Fortunately thick card works just as well and can be turned into the soil so will be used in its place.

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  8. Good to see you back, Beryl, don’t fret, life works out (even if allotments don’t, lol….) I’ve taken on another (overgrown) one as a challenge, just need to get in the right mood! Happy days…. Bazza. x

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