Life on Lottie 52a – 14/01/2019

After a good workout on the allotment Tuesday, the following day I succumbed to a nasty viral infection. You know one of those were you just feel totally crap (my GP’s description 😄) with a hacking cough, loss of appetite and just wanting to sleep. Today, in attempt to shake myself and get some badly needed fresh air, I paid a visit to 52a.

My plan is to turn the top two beds into a flower garden. Today I took up the path matting which was separating the two 1.3m x 3.3m beds, dug over the unplanted bed and top of the path, to join them and have put weed suppressant fibre down the middle which will be grassed when the weather is right. After digging the new bed, I ran out of energy so called it a day, frustrating but you have to recognise when your body has had enough. The soil is fabulous, easy to work and clearly has lots of goodness put on it. This is the benefit of taking over a plot immediately from the previous owner and not having to work on one that has been derelict for a while.

If you are new to the blog, and/or missed my A Sunny Few Hours on Plot 52a – 8/1/2019 post, above is my plan for the flower bed. The top bed apparently has always had perennials and it’s been difficult, now the perennials have died down, to sort out the plants from the weeds. I don’t want to dig up good plants, so have to leave most of it until spring, it’s all about getting the balance right when it comes to weeding.

I unearthed foxgloves, aquilegia, lots of verbena bonariensis and what I think is michaelmas daisy. Now I have to carefully plan what varieties of cottage garden plants I’m going to grow, along with the dahlias and roses I will plant. I’m not a designer gardener and have always bought and then found a home, often shoehorning plants in. Higgledy piggledy is more my idea of gardening, organised mayhem, isn’t that what a cottage garden is all about? Having said that my one rule is to always take height into consideration.

The next job on my list is the cherry tree and strawberry bed under it. As with strawberry plants allowed to go unchecked, they have spread into several beds. What I will do is pull-up the strawberries, level the soil and grass under the tree. I’m going to have to read up about pruning cherry trees, because I don’t want it to grow too big. The previous owner said it was bought as a very small tree only a few years ago and she had no idea it would grow so fast. It is nice to have a little height and shade on an open plot but I don’t want it so big it casts too much shade. A neighbour of mine when I lived in Worthing had an enormous cherry tree and I certainly don’t want it to grow that large.

I paid a visit to my local garden centre after leaving the plot, and made for the clearance section – always good value! For only £8 I bought a sedum ‘Red Cauli’, salvia ‘New Dimension Blue’ and Hemerocallis ‘Pink Damask’. All drought tolerant and ideal for the allotment, especially when I might not get there every day to water in the height of the summer.

I’m always happy for help and advice so please leave a comment.

A Sunny Few Hours on Plot 52a – 8/1/2019

I am going to be very honest and own up to being much more of a sunny day gardener. Cold, grey, winter days do not have much of a draw for me. However, getting the allotment up to scratch might mean I’ll have to shake myself and venture out on days when the sun doesn’t shine. Today was cold and windy but a beautiful sunny day, so I packed a thermos of coffee, a cereal bar and spent 3 hours on plot 52a.

I have so many ideas of what I want to do and have to remind myself that I can’t do it all in Year 1. I am drawing up plans and to help me with this I tried a couple of apps, Veg Plotter and Garden Grow Planner, neither of which really do what I want. The Veg Plotter only has vegetables to drop into the planned beds which is frustrating as I want a garden flower area. The Garden Grow Planner, doesn’t have sheds and water butts etc to drop on to the plan. It may be I am doing it all wrong but I’m going to revert to graph paper, a ruler and coloured pencils.

In the meantime, above is my Veg Plotter plan showing the fruit bushes already in-situ and vegetables I want to grow in 2019. Frustratingly I can’t see how to label things. The two top left beds are my flower garden plan, I want to join three of the 1×3 metre beds and make a curved grass area.

Until I have bought my paper and crayons, I’ve made a rough plan of my garden area using the photo editor on my iPad. It gives an idea of what I envisage for my flower garden. The tulips I planted before Christmas, no sign of anything yet, but it’s still early days. I’m not sure what perennials are in the top bed but will also use it for my cutting flowers.

Today, I dug over a few beds including one nearest to the shed. Here there is a rhubarb (next to the grey container), I’ve covered the emerging leaves with flower pots until I get some manure to protect them. I had a bag of mixed alliums Purple Sensation, Christophii, Sphaerocephalon and Nigrum and, although a little late, I have planted them in rows height wise with the Nigrum bulbs around the edge. I then covered it with some plastic trellis I found to deter visiting night animals from digging them up. The other half, I weeded, dug over and covered with black plastic. I might plant lavender bushes here.

The dinky shed needs a few more shelves and brackets to keep it tidy. I’ve been watching YouTube videos from allotmenteers and have fallen in love with the way some sheds are decorated into mini-allotment homes. My plan is to buy some Cuprinol and paint the inside cream, to lighten it up. A small camping stove and kettle will be added along with a couple of pictures and maybe even some bunting. I’ve seen a wonderful idea of making a decoupage out of seed catalogue photos to paper the walls – the effect is stunning and unusual. You can see photos of his floral shed posted by @cavershamjj on Twitter.

I returned home, cold, stiff and a little achy but it’s been a holistic few hours, which is what owning an allotment is all about isn’t it?