Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Snow on the plot!

Well it's been colder than a penguin's privates this past week and allotment activity has ranged from zero to zilch! Not a lot you can do when everything is frozen. That includes Roath Lake and Caerphilly Castle's moat which was a sheet of white this morning after a light dusting overnight. Very pretty but the swans and ducks don't look amused!

Dave has taken a little trip around Cardiff recently and posted this photo online with the allotment behind him. It's a very white plot! Poor Worzel Scummage the scarecrow is sinking in the soil!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More allotments coming to Cardiff!

It looks like the demand for allotments has become so intense that Cardiff Council have decided to expand!
Not quite sure how all of this is going to work in each area but for anyone looking for a plot in Cardiff then I hope this link will shed a little light on the situation. ("shed!" hehe!! oh dear!)


Monday, November 08, 2010

Autumn Clearing

After a week of endless rain we managed to grab one dry-ish day to finally get rid of all the old rotted wood, brambles, dried grass and weeds by having a bonfire. It was much needed after clearing up all the rubbish at the back of the plot so that we could get a rotavator in.

We made a day of it and had a BBQ as well. Once the fire got going we drank tea, ate burgers and got dripped on by the occasional rain cloud that drifted by. Very muddy but also fun.

Once the fire had died down we roasted marsh mallows off the embers. Lovely!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Dig Issue at The Guardian

Out of complete coincidence I went to a Bloggers meet up group a couple of months ago and met with some other Bloggers in the 'Diff. (Cardiff!) Some were food enthusiasts, pub writers, fellow geeks and fashionistas. A real fun mix of people who talked about their passions and blogging techniques.

After the meeting and talks I gained the attention of a Guardian journalist and I was asked if I would like to write about my plot. To be honest, I have never really thought about my blog in an "audience-appealing" way which I know sounds daft seeing as it's open to the whole world to read! I blog about the plot because it's fun and it's a nice record to have of what you have done each year. I don't do it to gain attention. It's quite humble really!

Writing posts on The Dig Issue is easy as it just flows when you're on the plot and looking around you. Writing for The Guardian is a bit more "Ooh blimey!" Somehow though, I did manage to scramble my thoughts into a coherent fashion and wrote an article in 800 words that summed up my allotmenteer experiences. Somehow it just flowed and worked and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. (blow of a tiny trumpet!)

The link is here if you would like to read it. :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gourd Lanterns

Halloween will be upon us soon and even though we didn't plant any squashes - we were left some Gourds in the Greenhouse from a mystery allotmenteer. I couldn't actually cut any open but Dave managed to make some lanterns which are very impressive! Just need some tealights to go inside them.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Green Fingered Family

My dad has always been into gardening and I knew that his mum enjoyed growing vegetables too. In fact, she insisted that I got manure onto my plot when she found out about my new gardening hobby. "Get manure, it makes all the difference" she said.

I am very lucky that my dad has such a great interest in his family tree as I have recently just found out that my great grandfather had an allotment for over 40 years! I couldn't believe it. Even more staggering is that his father (my great, great grandfather) was the Head Gardener for Deepdene House in Dorking, Surrey. (Since demolished in the 1960's)

Very much a green fingered family!

Here is a photo of my great grandfather, James, on his plot which ran alongside the railway he worked on and the very first photo of me on the plot in 2006. A very similar pose!!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Potato Drama

Unfortunately we had a potato misunderstanding on the allotment this past week. Dave noticed that one rogue tomato plant had got blight so he pulled it up... and all the potatoes. (noooooooo!)

He didn't realise that they were a disease-free variety and now we have around 20 Kg of potatoes to store! I admit that I wasn't best pleased by his actions at the time but I've calmed down and I am now rapidly trying to think of an assortment of ways to store/use the spuds. They are an impressive crop tho. Some of them are HUGE! One measured nearly 6 inches wide! (I gave it away to a mate)
Plus they taste fantastic. :)

I am definitely doing spuds again next year. So basic but so satisfying.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Crunchy carrots!

Despite having a very absent August I have managed a trip up to grab some produce before the slugs take notice or the courgettes turn into marrows! (Admittedly we have thrown into the compost bin the biggest courgettes you have ever seen! I doubt they would fit in the oven!)

The carrots have been particularly good this year however. I chopped them up to have with hummus. Delicious! I am definitely going to grow more next year.

The funny thing about allotments is that it takes a few years to work out how much of everything you want to grow and even then you cannot guarantee the correct sized crop. I planted 25 sweetcorn plants this year and only 5 came up! However, I planted 12 climbing French bean plants and got waaaay too many. A ridiculous bumper crop - I couldn't get rid of them to neighbours and friends quick enough!

Can't win! :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Away from the plot

Unfortunately I managed to crash my car on the 9th August and it had to be scrapped so I have not visited the allotment for nearly 3 weeks!! Dave has been busy tidying up the paths in my absence so hopefully everything is still okay up there apart from perhaps a lot of overgrown beans and courgettes!!
It has been really wet weather over the last week so it is probably rather boggy at the moment too.

Back at home, my chillies and peppers are sprouting beautifully so I will post some photos of those soon. I think a few chilli dishes will be on the menu for Autumn!

I should be getting a car this weekend so I hope to be back on the plot this week. I have lots of catching up to do!!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


The plot opposite mine is completely overgrown and I tend to use it as a parking space. However, it was recently discovered that some wild raspberries have been hiding at the back of the plot which is soon to be massacred/strimmed by the council!
With some help I managed to grab 6 plants and make some space behind the greenhouse for the plants. I'll cover these up next year with some industrial netting to keep those annoying birds off!!
Hoping to get some time this weekend to dig back a bit more and maybe plant some more round the side.
Rather excited about having some fresh raspberries next year!! Yeay!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Squishy Beans

You may remember that I posted some images of some rather squishy beans last month. I have researched like crazy and I still have no clue as to why my beans went black in their pods. I can only assume that something wasn't right with the soil nutrients as I have eliminated various root diseases, blackfly, and tell-tale leaf issues and I'm still clueless! Perhaps I should ask Gardener's Question Time?
I think it is time to stop growing broad beans for a while.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Lots of produce!

I have had quite a good batch of produce this year despite a couple of hiccups. I got 2 batches of broad beans before they went mysteriously squishy and a good crop of red currants after the birds did their best to destroy my plants. Evil creatures.
Here are some photos of various peas, beans, carrots and currants that I have enjoyed so far this year.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Allotment Exhibition in Cardiff

Betina Skovbro is a freelance photographer who embarks on different photography projects in and around Cardiff each year. This year she focused on allotment holders and has an exhibition at St Fagans Museum until October 2010. A good way to have a sneak peak at all allotments around Cardiff!

More details can be found here:

There is also a photographic exhibition running in August at the Waterloo Tea Gardens in Pen-y-lan. (Probably the best Tearoom in Cardiff! Grab a pot and a homemade cake there - it's fab!)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A new look and a new name!

Welcome to "The Dig Issue"!
I quite fancied a refresh on the old blog so I've had a play around with the look and spent about a month trying to decide on a new name. Luckily I know a few people who are very good with playing with words so I did get quite a few fun suggestions! The Dig Issue was up against some absolutely brilliant puns on gardening but it was definitely the overall winner. The runners up were:

  • A pile of crop
  • Leaf it out
  • It's plough or never
  • The place of spades
  • The root of all leaf-all
(Groan, groan!...)

I know, but seriously, the old name of "The Allotment" had to go. So obvious!
I just need to tweak BlogPress so that I can still blog from the iPhone and we're all sorted.

I'm rather pleased with the final look. I've added in all the books I read, shops I've used, blogs I follow and updated the links. It's much, much cleaner.

I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, July 05, 2010

The life of a climbing french bean

I adore beans, I grow at least one variety a year and they are usually pretty good. They are easy to plant and they grow really fast. Birds will destroy the young shots at the first chance they get so netting is pretty crucial. Once the climbing poles are in place it can be tricky to put netting over the young plants but it's worth it if you can.

I lost about 10 plants to birds this year and I just had to keep replanting. Probably a bit of a mistake to do that as I eventually had about 5 plants growing from each pole! Very heavy! I did get loads of beans this year tho - too many! I also had a healthy number of ladybirds laying their eggs and munching on blackfly which kept the infestation down without having to use soapy water on the leaves.

Once the plants have produced enough beans they die down and I tend to leave a few hardy pods to dry up and produce bean seeds for the following year. Make sure your beans are not an F1 hybrid variety though else you won't be able to plant anything!

Hoping to try bolotti beans next year.

F1 HybridsCrossing two genetically different plants produces a hybrid seed (plant) by means of controlled pollination. To produce consistent F1 hybrids, the original cross must be repeated each season. As in the original cross, in plants this is usually done through controlled hand-pollination, and explains why F1 seeds can often be expensive. F1 hybrids can also occur naturally, a prime example being peppermint, which is not a species evolved by cladogenesis or gradual change from a single ancestor, but a sterile stereotyped hybrid of watermint and spearmint. Unable to produce seeds, it propagates through the vining spread of its own root system. Source: Wikipedia

Friday, June 25, 2010


Produce is in full flower at the moment. Mange tout and the potatoes in particular. Everything is struggling with the dry and very hot weather. (24 degrees!) Been watering every other day to keep everything tip top. Bloody hard work with watering cans but that's allotment rules.

My broad beans are still dying rather rapidly. I haven't got the foggiest why they seem to be wilting so badly but I have managed to get a half decent crop from them. Probably the only crop I will get this year unfortunately.

The latest spell of fantastic weather also means that I can't dig any more for planting. That means no squashes this year unless the weather cools a bit. It is unbearable enough just weeding in high temperatures so I'm definitely not digging! Ugh!

I've planted some sweetcorn and some very late runner beans but hopefully they should do okay. Fingers crossed!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, June 21, 2010

Funny beans

I'm concerned about my broadbeans. I have pulled up 2 plants as the leaves have all died and look like they have a disease. I've gone through all my books and can't fathom out why they look burnt. There is zero blackfly on them so it can't be that. Funnily enough the pods aren't affected so I really am at a loss to figure out why they look so dead! It's a mystery!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Birds, beans and berries

Well the birds have certainly taken a liking to my produce again. They are probably at the top of my enemy list along with dandelions and slugs. Although the latter are yet to make a significant impact on my crops yet. Only a hint of them on the strawberries so far.

Unfortunately I have to keep replanting my climbing French beans as they have been nibbled too much by the birds. The same with my red currants. The birds completely trampled my netting to get to the fruit! Vicious animals! They really are a nuisance.

On the positive side my potatoes just look amazing. I think the added compost really helped this year. The broad beans have no sign of blackfly which is just short of a miracle and only one mange tout plant has sufffered in our recent heatwave.

Going to try and get some space ready for the runner beans today. I'm very much behind everyone else in planting those!

I passed this cage full of brassicas on the way out of the allotment. Someone had put a tyre and a stuffed monkey hanging from the inside with a polite notice to "not feed the monkey". Allotment humour!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Started growing in 2010!

So here we are in 2010 for the 5th planting season on the plot! The 6th year if we count Karl and Dave's first year.

I have gone back to growing spuds again. I have gone for a blight-free variety however from Thompson & Morgan called Cara. They seem to be growing very well so hopefully there will be some spuds come July?

I have also gone bonkers for peas this year. Dave claims he has no luck with them so I'm hoping my Mange Tout success will rub off onto the common Kelvedon Wonder. Think I might have planted too many!!

My broad beans seem to be doing okay too. I feel like the nit nurse examining the tips for black fly before pulling them out. It really works tho! They are just starting to flower.

Sage has flowered like crazy (not sure what to do about that?) and I've plonked in some coriander seeds in the herb bed to see how well they do. So far - so good.

We have already pulled up most of the rhubarb which has been amazing as usual. Splitting it up has been very beneficial. Think you have to treat it quite roughly to yield a good crop. We didn't force it but we got amazing bright red stems. Lovely.

I've just put in 3 courgette plants under cloches and I'm planning on doing a fair few sweetcorn plants either today or next week. Funnily enough - I haven't done any runner beans yet. Time is tight but I have until July to get my bum in gear and dig a patch for them. The allotment plan hasn't quite gone to er... plan! but everything seems to be going quite well.

On a technical note - I'm giving the BlogPress App a go so that I can blog from the plot. I'm just so tired from digging some days that I can't bring myself to upload photos. This is an experiment to see how well it works before I decide to move the blog to another domain/server. If it works well I will save myself the headache of transferring my blog somewhere else.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Cherry Trees

First of all - yes I know I haven't posted in a while. My fault entirely but I hope to eventually move this blog over to a new domain and host it from something different than Blogger so I can redesign it. The allotment IS still on the go, I just haven't documented it like I should. A new plan for 2010 and the summer photos will be uploaded as soon as pos!

The main reason for my very late but latest post is the news today about cherry trees. Apparently the Natural History Museum are looking for people to survey where local cherry trees are growing to create a map of where they thrive the most. We have a lovely cherry tree at the end of the plot so I'll probably register that. Plus our lovely local, The Albany Hotel Pub, has some rather enormous cherry trees in their beer garden so it might be worth noting them too.

If you have a cherry tree and want to register its location online for their studies, have a look at:

I still live in hope that I will get to taste a fresh red cherry from our own tree before the birds have them all...again. *sigh!*