Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The First Wobble!!

Its only been just over 4 weeks since I got the keys to Plot No.5 but I have experienced my first allotment wobble!

I wanted to write this post to share as much realism as I can when taking on an allotment plot for the very first time, I'm singing Madonna's "Like a virgin" out loud to that sentence haha. 

Anyway as I was saying, there's the first steps of putting your name down on the waiting list, then there is the-what feels like FOREVER-wait to actually getting a chance to acquiring a plot and then finally that day arrives. You sign the dotted line skipping past all the small print (everyone does that right?), grab the keys with eager hands to get in and then you walk up and down the new plot fifty million times whilst chatting to yourself with lots of oooo'ing and aaaahh'ing over what could go where and how pretty its all going to look, BUT after a week or 2 of clearing out any of the rubbish and doing a nice bit of painting, there is something that just hits you. The reality of the graft becomes apparent.

I had 1 week away from the plot with my little boys birthday celebrations and a short illness but I was determined to get back to that plot to begin the work that was needed on it. What greeted me through that gate was the start of the wobble.

Now this isn't the greatest picture to really capture what my eyes saw but behind that ginormous fabulous rhubarb patch is just a huge mass of dandelions and grass. Like up to my hips grass (please bear in mind my 4"10 height!) My heart literally sank. I couldn't avert my eyes away from it because there was just another patch of grass whichever way I looked and it just made me want to cry! I just couldn't see how it is going to be managed and how it's ever going to become a productive plot. I questioned my capability of being able to take on this huge task, even though I wanted a challenge. Now if you follow me over on Instagram and saw my stories you will have seen my sad, overwhelmed mush seeking some reassurance. 

I was bowled over at how many people messaged and said you will be fine it just needs time and gave some great tips of doing it bit by bit. A lady at the site kindly reminded me that I have only had it a matter of weeks so it's going to be far from being perfectly maintained. Over the course of the day, after I came home from the plot the reassurance was helping kick the feelings of anxiety. It helped me regain some focus actually coming away as being there in that moment was becoming too much. 

The next day  I promised to go back up with a renewed positive outlook. After a little texting Mr.W at work telling him I really needed to trace some good materials to smother some of the plot he sent me the best reply he could. He happened to be stood by some huge boxes of super thick cardboard boxes and was going to run them up to the plot. I whipped the kids into a frenzy and headed straight up there to be start that process.

 Even though it was the same thing that waved at me when I walked through the gate I stared it down. Think of those intense cowboy scenes where they stare at each other for ages until one makes the first move and the other is taken down. Yes I am taking this plot down. It wont defeat me. Not for now at least. I am realistic enough to know there will always be weeds but when you are faced with them on a big scale it can make you feel like you are going to drown. I know its perfectly normal to feel this way too. At least for now the cardboard will suppress any more growth and allow me to work on a section at a time to get up and running and in my head its less shouty and panicky.

Something that I also found useful and again credit to those positive folk over on the social media platforms (Sara, Annabelle & Kimmy I am talking about you three!) was to look for the good stuff on the plot already. I have to admit I have been very fortunate with some of the established edible goodies that have been left on this plot. Rhubarb, Strawberries, Cherries, Figs and even Gooseberry bushes. That's before the other fruit trees reveal what they are too. Even if you think there is nothing I promise if you look close enough I am sure there will be something that will put a grin on your face.

That first wobble will teach you a lot no matter how soon it happens. At first you will panic then you might feel like throwing in the towel BUT It will make you a little more resilient and that bit more determined. It makes you stand up and grab the opportunity by the horns. Giving up won't reward you in the long run but holding on and working hard will. You get to put your stamp on a piece of land that will probably make you use a few choice words but make you feel amazing and you will be able to sit and admire it for all your hard work put into it especially with a nice hot cuppa (or a 'proper' beverage).

So there you have it my first encounter of an allotment wobble. Do not be put off in any way to taking on an allotment. There are so many benefits to having one and it wouldn't be fun if it didn't test you.

Until Next Time

You can see my first plot tour HERE on my Youtube channel

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Hello Plot No.5

Do you remember that feeling when you were a child and you were told you would be doing something exciting like attending a party, waiting for your birthday or even counting down to Christmas? (Oh my the C word in May!!), well that pretty much is how I have been feeling since I put my name down on 5 different allotment sites 2 years ago. I've watched my number moving slowly up the ranks from in the 30's wondering if it would ever happen UNTIL a chance chat with the chair lady at one of the local sites.

If you could have seen my face during this conversation you would have been equally excited. Even being told it needed a lot of work putting into it didn't deter my excitement. I then went up to see if I could vet the potential plot out and again I felt like a child peering through the tiniest of gaps in the gate. I could see a dream unfolding. I sent a little message to the lovely lady who invited me to go along and have a 'proper' look around (Sunday 22nd April). Well it felt like Christmas eve waiting to go the next day with butterflies building up. 
It arrived and the gate was opened and I was met with this..........................................

THREE sheds, a greenhouse, water butts, compost bins, a wheelbarrow, benches/chairs and stacks of reusable materials. The best part is the very long piece of land that I now get to call my own! Hello Plot No.5 (My lucky number what a coincindence!). What a beauty it is too. 

There is so much potential with this plot. It already has a few established fruit tree's on it along with a lovely little strawberry patch that needs freeing from the weeds and it also has the most amazing patches of rhubarb. I've been getting jealous lately over everyone's posts of their rhubarb crops dreaming of the day I get to share my own. Now I can, albeit with no effort required this year. Sorry to those whose crops are making them resort to Jedi mind tricks!! 

I don't have solid plans just yet for how I am going to turn this plot around into being a productive one but what I do know for definite is that it will be a good mix between crops and flowers more than likely in raised beds and hopefully in good time it will be home to some chickens. The family will also be contributing to creating a haven for us all to enjoy. The main priority now is to get in and give it a good tidy up, clear out as much of the weeds possible and get the sheds and greenhouse functioning well. The main one being the 'Tea Station' seems as though that's the one that is going to keep me and the family fuelled. Priorities right?!

I must say a really HUGE THANKYOU to all those who have spoken to me about it over on social media and have offered their advice already and I know I am in good hands if I get stuck. The allotment/gardening community is by far one of the friendliest, be that those you speak to in person or on these platforms.

If you would like to see the FIRST OFFICIAL TOUR you can head over to my YouTube Channel .

So there you have it, patience really is a virtue. Good things do come to those who wait, even if it is 2 years.

Until Next Time

Official Allotmenteer 

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Six on Saturday

April 7th

Oh my I hadn't realised that February was my last SOS post! Doesn't time fly by when you are having fun. 

I have been quite busy over this time being Mum, Wife, slave to the house and I managed to fit in a fab visit to a local Alpine Garden Society show. Which will start off my Six on Saturday just nicely.

1: My kind of sweet shop!
A visit to a Garden show isn't complete without bringing home some goodies is it?! I opted for this wee little Saxifraga-Peach Melba to care for and I am going to attempt to grow a few different alpines from seed after getting my hands on 5 different varities. I'm looking forward to setting these off and will keep track of progress. 

2: Second chance blooms?

Dahlia tubers are now in and have taken up residence in the greenhouse. I planted some a bit too late last year and only got some green growth so I am hoping by being organised this year I can get some lovely Cactus and Mystery Day blooms to make up for it.

3: Mini Aliens Invade!!

Gosh these are some strange looking corms. Ranunculus are a plant that I always see and cant help but admire its transformation from a tight bud to a full ruffled bloom. I managed to get my hands on a pack of 10 mixed from Wilko's for £2 so it was worth a try. I pre soaked these prior to planting which added to the Alien-ness when potting them up yesterday in the spring sunshine we have been treat to. 

4: Extra Extra!!

This past week has seen me spend some more time in the greenhouse thanks to Spring finally fighting back against Winter. It has helped me focus on what I want to gain from using it this year as a first proper growing season. Extra space is needed! It has shelving and 2 benches but it doesn't really let me maximise my growing potential. Queue an impromptu buy of this shoe rack. Its just a nice size and well, does a blinding job of being able to squeeze some more growing room out of the 4x4 space I have. A little re jig of some pots and stuff in there is still needed and I should be ready to rock n roll in there!

5: Vacancies!

The mini pond has survived its first winter in the garden. The water is really clear in there which I'm putting down to the vegetation I've chosen for it. Sadly no amphibians have made it a home yet but hopefully it wont be long. There is a few snails checking it out and some lovely little swimming bugs but please let the frogs/newts know that its free rent!! 

6: The Grand Finale

I'm not sure about anybody else but I just don't get bored of Hellebores. This 'Tutu' variety was a Mothers day gift from my lovely children. It's a really good size and and had plenty of buds on it back in March and yet still this week I am finding MORE new buds on it. It keeps me company near the greenhouse and I love how it nods in the gentle breezes. I just hope once its finished that it will come back equally as nice in its next season.

So there we have it my Six on Saturday. I really should try and commit to doing this a little more regularly as it really does let you focus and appreciate the progress being made over time. 

Don't forget to go pop over to the  Master In Command of Six on Saturday to check out his and other contributors to what is a lovely movement in gardening! 

Until Next Time

Monday, 2 April 2018

The Cleveland Alpine Garden Society Show
31st March 2018

My first ever visit.

Ever since my mum grew alpines in her garden when I was a child, I have always had a bit of a 'thing' for them. When I discovered the Alpine Garden Society last year at a local agriculture show I was intrigued as to what they were all about. 

They have been around since 1929 and are one of the largest specialist garden societies in the world! They help with conserving and protecting alpines in their natural habitat and fund conservation projects across the UK and support development in knowledge and skills in the Alpine field. They also have a huge seed exchange scheme which have an enormous amount of variety to choose from. You can find more about them HERE

When I found out there was a local show on I decided to pop along and check it out.

On walking in I first came across the plant sales. There really should have been a DANGER/WARNING sign outside! A nice handful of stalls with enticing varieties of lovely alpine plants to take home and nurture them in the hope that you can grow them on to at least some of the standard of the ones on show.

I made my way through to the show hall and again there should be another warning sign of "Don't forget to breathe". The sight of so much colour really hits you in the face (in a nice way of course.) and it made me gasp. The room was lined with tables that were split into classes/groups,Open, Intermediate, Cleveland and Novice. There were lots of varieties of Corydalis, Hepatica, Cacti, and Narcissus to name a few. Many people had travelled from around the country to put forward their pans of beautiful plants. The novice group though sadly had no entries as there isn't any beginners coming through to grow in the show. This saddened me a bit, as a keen novice gardener in general I love the feeling of growing from seed, giving it plenty of TLC for it to repay you back at each stage of its growth. It does require some patience and dedication but if you are willing to do that then you are already on the right path. Has this sparked something inside of me to give it a go?

There were some really truly beautiful specimens of Dionysia and Saxifraga. This seemed a popular entry and whilst they look amazing they require some patience to grow to these sizes. A HUGE pan of Dionysia Aretioides won the best in show prize

One thing I was surprised to see was the amazing pots of  'miniature' Rhododendrons, Conifir's and Pieris'. I never knew they were part of the alpine family!

My favourite section that I really got drawn to was the cut flower section. Four entries of six little shot glasses filled with gravel and dainty little posies of different alpine flowers. They looked fabulous and really showcased the flowers well. I fell in love with the Iris Tuberosa's black and green flowers. So unique and beautiful.

 I got chatting to some lovely local members who took their time to make me feel welcome and to see how I was enjoying the show and explained how not many young people take up membership. A category for Cacti has even been introduced to entice a new wave of growers. A lovely chap, Don Peace who I had chatted to via twitter prior to going was ever so kind to explain about the groups in the show. He takes pictures for the society and has some STUNNING entries in the show too. My favourite of his were the Fritillaria's.

On the whole the show was a brilliant experience. With something for everyone there whether you like to grow alpines yourself or just to like to see some amazing plants I would urge you to visit them. A super friendly society, passionate about growing and preserving you would be mad to miss out. Plus you can get your hands on some society seeds to have a go at growing at home and possibly enter yourself. The cakes and savouries are an added bonus too!

I left with some goodies myself. A lovely little Saxifraga 'Peach Melba' and five packets of seeds, Fritillaria Involucrata, Primrose Marginata, Ranunculus Montana and two Iris'- Latifolia and Vicaria. 

Maybe these will in time become future entries. Watch this space!!

Until next time

x N x

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Baby its cold outside

Sitting with my coffee by the radiator watching the snow starting to thaw out there is the feeling of relief that it's finally got the hint it has outstayed its welcome! Don't get me wrong when it first arrived it was lovely to be playing with the kids having snowball fights, building snowmen and sledging at a nearby hill but there comes a point when it starts to become boring and the gardener side of me is screaming inside (I'm sure many of you will be the same!)

Just before the "Beast from the East" reared its ugly head, the garden had started to show signs of waking up from its early winter rest. Even when we have been spoiled with some sunny days the temperatures has still been cold enough to remind you that we have still been in the grips of winter and she isn't going to budge without a fight. 

With spring on the horizon there isn't much that can be done in the garden still quite yet. Apart from keeping up with tidying around and getting greenhouses/sheds organised it's a great time to plan ahead for the coming months with how you vision your green spaces and what seeds you want to sow (a reminder of patience is required)

I began a few sowing's of tomatoes, chilli's and peppers which surprisingly are doing ok! It's the first time I have grown these from scratch and I was concerned about them becoming too leggy but they have been watched very closely and tended to with lots of care. 
Chilli- Cayenne
Sweet Pepper-Mixed
Tom's- Roma/Delight/Maker

 My plans for now are to just go with the flow (and the weather!) I'm using this cold snap to appreciate the little things and simply take in the lovely space I have to be creative with. Oh and its a perfect chance to just sit in the greenhouse with a hot cuppa! Stay warm everyone☺

My Real View! 
Life at No27 Campaign

Not a gardener without a bit of muck
on the hands & face!

Until Next Time
N xx