Thursday, September 15, 2011

Slug Destruction

My recent trips to the allotment have resulted in finding the biggest and slimiest slugs EVER! I think August is the time they decide to stuff their slimy faces with whatever is left on the plot. Since all the rain, they have just turned into monsters! They turned my cabbages into lace and have been climbing up my bean poles for the most tender beans, I even slid on one en route to the greenhouse! They are seriously massive now and are everywhere!!

But, despite their disgusting persona, they do make me laugh when the Guardian run stories like the one below. Very, very entertaining!

Slug brings Darlington traffic to a halt 

Not only eaten but pooped all over my brassicas!

I had to use gloves, they were seriously slimy!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Slug Fest

I just wanted to write a quick post to mention Tom at and his Rogue Gallery. He tweeted me for images of garden rogues and well..., I couldn't resist sending over some of my slimy foes! The SLUG!!

His story on my slugs can be found here:
Just scroll down to Slug Fest

His writing had me crying with laughter this morning - his blog is a fantastic read and I thoroughly recommend giving his site a visit. I love his "weed of the day" posts. Brilliant.

He is also on Twitter @Haplessgardener

Thanks Tom! :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Growing in small spaces

Before all the recent rain came along, I was at Karl's house for a BBQ in early June. Since he bought a house it has been difficult for him to get to the allotment so he tends to grow veggies from home in his petite garden. It's actually quite an achievement considering how much space he has to work with. It is a very cute little garden and he uses every inch wherever he can. Karl used to drive me potty with his haphazard planting in the early allotment days but now he has a space that has to be meticulously planned and organised each year. It is impressive how he manages it all.

Karl's garden consists of two decent sized bricked beds, one raised smaller bricked bed and a patio floor. He experimented with square foot gardening last year where he grew something different within 1 square foot in a bed but I think this received mixed results. See

This year he has mostly grown tomatoes in the larger beds and made good use of sturdy sacks and troughs for smaller plants. He is growing asparagus successfully from a large black pot (a plant that was very difficult to grow on the allotment) and he is training peas up a spiral support. The herb sack is especially well made with little pockets of thyme varieties. You can find strawberries growing in little planters alongside the bed walls and random pots of prepared seeds ready to pop up over the summer. Even the smallest corner is a home for the humble watering can.

I adore the homemade look to people's gardens. There is so much more personality in a back garden than an allotment as you can truly put your stamp on it. I love the personal touches of lanterns, baskets and tealight holders that are interspersed amongst the plants at Karl's. It is a very thoughtful and snug kitchen garden.

Potatoes in sacks
Fig tree and spiral growing peas
Herb sack
Hidden watering can storage
Tomatoes and strawberries
Lanterns, candles and baskets
*I'm sure Karl will correct me on some of the above information but this is just my observation.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

May & June on the plot

We've had a funny old spring so far. Heatwave in the week leading up to the Royal Wedding and then endless rain throughout most of May and June. It has not made planting easy at all.

The good news is that produce has been popping up although we have had some surprising failures. Such is allotment life! We had our usual lovely crop of strawberries but I made a mistake leaving them without netting and they have been nibbled by the birds. Raspberries are doing okay too. Just a few tasty ones popping up here and there. Not bad seeing as they were only transplanted at the end of last year.

The broad beans are doing very well. I have been spraying them with washing-up liquid frequently and it has helped them grow taller before pinching the tips out. Only one plant has blackly on it so far and I scrubbed it down before pinching (and squishing) all the growth and bugs out of the top. Messy but at least the plant has a chance of producing pods now. You have to be vigilant with broad beans and really look after them during flowering otherwise they get massacred by blackfly aphids. The ladybirds have also caught onto the aphids and are helping me out by munching on them too. Very handy natural predators.

Other successes are the potatoes, both varieties are doing well and the Apache have started flowering.
Our biggest disappointments have been the courgettes and runner beans which have been attacked by something being netted. The courgettes were fantastic under the cloches but once they had established, we took the covers off and something ate them! Really surprising as we usually do really well with courgettes. The runner beans have also had a very slow start. We have planted them twice and only half have come up. Again, I think something is having a nibble despite netting and slug pellets. Very strange. (rabbits???)

One of my allotment neighbours has kindly given me an assortment of climbing beans to plant as he has too many. They are a mix of french and berlotti I think? We shall see what happens. Weirdly - nothing has eaten these yet despite not being covered at all!

Just one more thing…
We have an extra recruit on the plot! My friend, Abby, has asked if she could help out on the allotment to learn about growing veggies. Not sure how much she will actually learn from us but she seems to be enjoying it so far! Together we have planted carrots, beetroot, spinach and the mange tout. It certainly makes a difference having a team on the plot working together.

(Apologies for the late posting - technical problems!)

Friend or Foe?

Broad beans flowering

Cabbages (looking a bit nibbled!)

Part of a donated bean selection (Thanks Paul!)


Dave's potatoes

On closer inspection - VERY nibbled cabbages

Something ate our courgette plant! :(

Spuds looking luscious and green

Spuds close to flowering soon

Raspberries! (delicious)

Some runner beans have made it (but not all)

Wonderful strawberry bounty

Dave's tomatoes

Dave's tomato construction

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Just a quickie...
The Dig Issue is now on Twitter! You can follow my tweets here:

Monday, May 09, 2011

Spring has sprung in April

I always seem to think I've got loads of time before I need to start sowing anything and then panic when I realise that it's April already and I haven't planted anything! This has been another one of those years.

Our harsh winter died down pretty quickly and we have been enjoying the warmest April on record since... erm... well, a long time ago! It has been a bit of a distraction to be honest. With Dave in Thailand for 3 weeks I've been digging after work whenever I could fit it in. When the thermometer hits 23°C you do tend to favour the local pub's beer garden instead tho. Who can dig in that heat?

Distractions aside I got a couple of rows of broad beans planted and my apache spuds in the ground as planned. They've popped up nicely within the last 3 weeks so I'm rather pleased with them so far. I've strimmed the grass twice this month and decided not to wage war with the dandelions. (Although they still make me mad)

Most of the beds are ready for planting although we are losing a battle with the couch grass encroaching onto the beds as the wood is disintegrating. We may need to make some drastic decisions next year.

I had a turf war with a spider over the course of a week too. One had decided to make a ginormous web across the greenhouse door that I walked into 3 times! I tore it down every time I went into the greenhouse and by the next day there was another one! I am not kidding - this happened about 7 times. Clever yet stupid creature.

On a positive note, I've managed to get my hands on an old Nikon D40 DSLR and I've fallen in love with it. Great camera for photographing plants and bugs. Might have to invest in a new one when I'm feeling a bit more flush with cash! All the photos in this blog post have been taken with the Nikon.

Gradually digging through all the beds
Rhubarb crop
 Bee on the chive flowers
 Beer space ready for a BBQ
 Broad Beans popping up!
 Row of Broad beans
 Forget-me-not (It's flipping everywhere!!)
 Snoozing on a glove in the greenhouse...ahhh!
 Apache spuds come to the surface
 Raspberries in flower with ants all over them
 Rosemary in flower
 Worzel Scummage flopped over
 Spider's web in the greenhouse doorway (a new one each day)
Strawberries in flower

Through the rhubarb
Unripe red currants
Growing space at the flat is limited so I've used the last small spud seeds to do spud containers on the balcony.
So that's April done. Onto May...

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Rode Hall Gardens

This is quite a late posting but I just have to mention this little gem of a place I visited earlier in the year. 
In March I visited Rode Hall in Cheshire. It's quietly tucked away in the country but a real treat if you manage to get there early in the year for the snowdrops.

Now I have to admit that I'm not really into flowers just yet. (Apart from sunflowers) For me it's all about eating what you grow but it was a really fabulous place to visit and the kitchen garden really caught my eye. I don't know how many people look after the gardens but everything looked so neat that I'm sure there must be an army of gardeners at hand?! There were onions hanging from the previous years crop and the rhubarb was incredibly early and luminous pink. The ground was freshly turned with crumbly, chocolate-like soil and the greenhouses were full of freshly potted plants ready to go out in spring. The amount of space they had allocated for just kitchen gardening was immense. (2 Acres apparently!) There is even a tiddly little house on the site of the kitchen garden for a knome gardener to live in. It just oozed quintessential English kitchen gardens from the Victorian era. Lovely.

You can find out more about Rode Hall on their website.
Can't wait to go back in the summer!

Rode Hall
 Kitchen Garden
Kitchen Garden (So much space!!)
Italian Walled Garden