Clicking on any of the pictures will open them at full size in the browser window, which means you will have to use the 'back' button to return to the main pages, whereas clicking to the left or right of any picture will open them in a new window, if you fancy a closer look at any of the piccies we've posted! We've included a Google Earth satelite picture of our plots and this years planting plan at the bottom of the page, next to each other. If you choose the Earth view on the satelite image you can rotate the image until it is lined up with the planting plan, then use the arrows in the plan to scroll from Plot 2 to Plot 1.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Getting Up To Date!

There's a post in the GYO Grapevine forum that covers most of the work we did in getting our plot up to scratch, from asking advice before we got the plot, to pictures of before and after, so rather than duplicate the info here, I'll just pop up a link!

Newbie Seeking Advice / Opinions / Help - Possibility of a new allotment!

There's also another thread all about our Freecycled Greenhouse, from getting to erecting, which can also be found here

Possibility of a Free Greenhouse!

And lastly we've put in a 'fedge', (a food bearing hedge), along one side of our plot, consisting of supports with 2 varieties of Raspberry and some Brambles, there's also a
Grapevine thread about it, which can be found here

Raspberry Care and Advice!

We cut back the autumn fruiting canes last week, so its looking a bit bare at the moment, but the rasps are sprouting, so it shouldnt be long until it's back to its former glory!

So, that should get us fairly well up to date with where we are now on the Pumpkin Patch!

Onto our newer News then!

(drumroll please!)

We've taken on a second plot! With our enthusiasm for buying seeds we've taken the plunge and taken on a half plot which is about 30m from our first one! No2 Plot is orientated East / West, and is in a much better condition than was our Pumpkin Patch, so it shouldnt be too difficult to get it into cultivation! Our plans include 3 beds of potatoes (Desiree, Charlotte, Pentland Javelin and Cara), a big pumpkin / squash bed, the 6' by 4' walk in plastic greenhouse is going down there, a 3 sisters bed (sweetcorn with borlotti beans and butternut squash), a small bed of strawberries (they are already there, just need to be carefully moved), a bed of turnips and swedes, a couple of brassica beds, some beans and pea beds and anything else that we really cant fit in plot No1!

This was how it looked when we first saw it, fairly clear and the soil is in not bad condition, having been manured last year, we've also had a chance to talk with the previous plotholders (they've another lovely plot next door but one), so know whats been grown in it recently, so crop rotation shouldnt be too much of a problem!

We've taken the time to mark out the beds, which can be seen in the second picture (the string marks them out) and which are 14'4" long and 5' wide, with paths of 18" between them, and there shopuld be about 11 of them. They are North / South orientated, so should make the most of the light! The current plan is to just remove the weeds and turn them over, as they are not badly weeded or infested, then to get our crops growing, ideally long term we want to put some edging in, but time and resources will have to be found to do this later! Once we do get them edged, then we will be covering the paths with weed control fabric and barking them up with chippings, but for the time being I have a feeling we are just going to mulch with cardboard!

More info and updates to follow as we get further along with it!

Other news, we've almost finished the double digging on plot No1, there's only about 3 meters of one 3 meter bed left to do (the bit next to the pond), and then all the veg areas of No1 plot have been double dug! Unfortunately the plot was badly infested with bindweed, so its been a long and laborious job removing as much of the weed roots as we can, but we are finally seeing the end draw near!

The autumn planted onion sets and garlic all seem to be doing very well, as are the spring sewn onion sets and garlic that we put in a week or so ago and the rhubarb is sprouting nicely! We put in some Jerusalem Artichokes from one of the grapes a few days ago, so will wait and see what comes from them, neither of us can wait to get things growing, but we are all too aware that a single frost can put paid to anything we plant early, so will bide our time for a while yet!

Inside the greenhouse (newly reglazed, as we lost 15 panes of glass in the gales - fortunately it wasnt as bad as some on the plot who lost greenhouses and sheds) we've found that some of the saved leek seeds that we stored in there must have escaped, cos we've about 50 leeks sprouting from one of the borders, I think we'll leave them be for a while and try transplanting them when we need the greenhouse space! We've shared the saved leek seeds with about 25 folk from the Grapevine, so it should be interesting to see how folks get on with them!

Inside the house we've been busy propogating seeds, and now have about 11 tomato plants and about 15 chillis potted up, along with some banana shallot seeds (courtesy of a fellow Grapevine member) and some cabbage and cauli, all of which are in the loft conversion, along with the chitting spuds!

Lee spotted some large plastic barrels at work, which were going into the bin, so he scrounged 4 of them to use as rainwater barrels, all we need to do now is rig them up to the greenhouse and we'll be collecting! I also noticed a plastic display unit at work that was going in the bin, so have recycled that for seedlings in the greenhouse!

We also managed to get 4 big 55l fun tubs from Makros recently, which are going to be used for our spud trials, using 4 heritage varieties of spud that we got from another Grapevine member!

Finally, we've a second 'proper' greenhouse coming, which is going to go into the back yard, this is another freebie, will need a little bit of glass, but cant complain for free! Its 6' by 4', and will mainly be used for seedlings, then some toms and melon in the summer, and possibly some xmas spuds in a tub!

Wildlife News!

We've a hedgehog hibernating on our plot! Lee found him when trying to get to grips with the brambles and bindweed at the top of the plot in November, so we halted work in that area to let him / her have a nice quiet sleep! I dont know if you can see him / her in the piccy, but its under the straw curled up nice n warm!

With the weather warming up we've now got over 30 frogs and toads in our pond, they are mating like mad, loads of frog / toad spawn and its nice to dig to the sounds of the frog chorus! Que video of Paul McCartney's hit of the Frog Chorus!

The first toad / frog piccy is to show one on its own, the second shows the spawn in the center, along with a very large number of the ickle amphibians!

The last piccy shows some more of the little cutties!

Must say we are both happy to have the wildlife on our plot, as both toads / frogs and hedgehogs help to control the slugs and snails, so an organic way of doing it is always best in our opinion!

We've also lots of bird on the plot, ranging from a couple of Robin's, whose territorial boundary seems to be located within the allotments, blackbirds (who all seem to be doing mating dances at the moment), blue and great tits (no, not mine!), magpies, wood pidgeons and others that I dont yet know!

There's also a fox who pays regular visits to the plot, you often see his tracks on any newly raked areas, but fortunately he / she isnt using the area as a toilet!

In the woods neighbouring the allotments are also squirrels and fieldmice, being on the edge of the countryside means we are always going to have a mice problem, but no-one on the site seems to think that they are that much of a problem, so we'll have to see how we get on with them!

So, thats all for now, more piccies to follow as we get them! Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The story so far!

Welcome to our online Blog! We are Lee and Suzanne, a married couple from Partington in Manchester, and this is the Blog of our allotment, named The Dobby's Pumpkin Patch!

Lee has always fancied growing his own veg, and after we reached a point where we had finished sorting out our home (we bought our house as a repossession, so had to spend a lot of time fixing it up to get it to a reasonable standard) we took the decision to do something about it! Lee joined an online Gardening Forum, the Grapevine, (the online forum of the Grow Your Own magazine), with the user name of Dobby (we are both Harry Potter fans!), I joined soon after (as Mrs Dobby), and not long after that we found our first allotment! It is on the Moss View Plot in Partington, and I think we both knew that we had to name it after our alias's on the Grapevine, so we called it the Dobby's Pumpkin Patch!

When we took it over at the beginning of September it hadnt been worked for over 12 months, so was looking a tad overgrown (as you can see from the pictures), so we faced quite a job in removing the weeds and trying to get rid of their roots, especially as we wanted to stay as organic as possible and not use any chemicals!

Fortunately underneath all the weeds the soil was in good condition and there was some useable structure there too, making it a much easier task to get the plot cleared, which we did with a slash and burn tactic, and then spent a few months double digging the plot to remove as many weed roots as we could!