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Cut flowers from the allotment

A posy of flowers from the cut flower patch

Much as I would have loved to have been wandering the cobbled streets of some Mediterranean town or sipping a cocktail somewhere glamorous, staring out to sea, there are some weekends when a girl has to put such plans on hold and get down to tackling those jobs she’s been putting off for weeks, if not months. The sort of jobs that get neglected in the hustle and bustle of busy lives or are pretty unappealing when the sun is shining, namely compost making, shed tidying and a trip to the tip.

It’s a hectic time of year, as Wellyman is studying for a degree, in his spare time, with the Open University. He’s coming towards the end of his third year, with essays and a project due in over the next couple of weeks, so whilst he was busy scribbling away it seemed the perfect time to get on top of the jobs that I haven’t been able to do because of all the rain.

Borlotti beans

My borlotti beans nearly ready for picking

After a rain sodden morning on Saturday I was pretty grumpy having had to listen to stories of the glorious sunshine and heat that were elsewhere but by 2 o’ clock the sun was finally shining and the plot beckoned. Loppers at the ready, I tidied up the mess left behind by the hedge butchering incident of the previous weekend. I wrestled with a few wayward bramble shoots and then turned my attention to the tayberry. I had thought it would be a real nightmare to remove this year’s fruiting canes and tie in the new growth, some of which was 10ft long and growing along the ground into my other beds. Fortunately, it didn’t prove to be as bad as I had expected. I had thought I would have to be swathed in protective clothing in case one of the thorny canes sprung back at me but I even managed to tackle it without gloves, which I’d forgotten to bring up with me. Gingerly, and somewhat painfully, I twisted the long, arching, and still very pliable canes into the support that was already there, tying them in place with some twine. Remarkably, I came away with only a few puncture wounds and scratches!

Celeriac

Celeriac remoulade in a couple of weeks, I think.

The next on the list was the compost. I’ve done very little to the compost heap this year. Visits to the plot have often been snatched in between spells of rain so that piles of plant debris have tended to be dumped on top of the heap without any work to make them more compostable. This untouched mountain of material had got so large that, rather than tackling it, I simply opened up another front of composting waste, depositing the old broad beans and peas on a pile next to the actual heap. It was starting to look a little bit of a mess and, if I actually wanted some compost from it, I really needed to give it some attention.

The loppers were a surprising good tool to chop up large pieces of plant material; I cut back my comfrey plants and added the leaves to the heap with some nettles that were growing around my tool storage area. I had a bit of rummage underneath and despite my neglect there was the lovely sight of some dark brown crumbly compost below the layers of the more recent additions. The heap is contained simply in one of the large sacks you get sand delivered in from a builders merchant, with 4 stakes at each corner and a couple of covers to put on top to stop it getting too wet. Of all the different types of compost receptacles I’ve used I have to say it is the simplest and the most effective. Although, I can’t claim any credit for the construction, as it was already on the plot when we took it over. It does show though, that all those different products marketed at us as the best way to make compost are probably unnecessary if you have the right spot for a rubble sack and some stakes.

Florence fennel

I’m so chuffed with my Florence fennel which has been my nemesis in recent years.

Sunday morning was shed time. I had a clear out several months ago and had failed, again, to keep any sense of order or tidiness but one of the problems was that I had never actually got round to taking everything that had been bagged up to the tip. A third of the shed, and that’s a significant amount of floor space in my tiny little storage area was taken up by rubbish bags. Once these had been removed the shed wasn’t actually as bad as I had thought.

The final job was to add another line of wire support for my espalier apple. When we bought it in the spring it was two-tiered but when I was pruning it a few weeks ago I had spotted two branches that looked perfect to be trained out horizontally, to create a third tier. We’d picked up some hooks with a bolt on them from the hardware shop and Wellyman did the drilling. It’ll be a while before it has filled the space but already the apple tree has created a lovely screen between two parts of the garden.

Now my ‘to do’ list is looking a lot a shorter maybe I can find the time for a few cocktails, might have to be in the back garden though.

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