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Garden

Garden, Home and Garden, Personal

A Slow July

lavender plant

I have declared July to be the month of slow living in our house.  In other words I’m quite happy to be a hermit this month, potter round at home and in the garden (and the allotment) and just enjoy the summer with my little girl and my other half.  Slowness is definitely the order of the day.

Here’s what we’ve been up to this July:

Our allotment is overflowing with summer raspberries at the moment.  We didn’t plant them – the last allotment holder must have grown them – but we are very thankful for them.  Raspberries for pudding every night!  They taste especially good when you have a little helper picking them for you!

raspberry picking

raspberries freshly picked

Thanks to the last allotment holder, we also uncovered a ripe crop of strawberries under some grass!  I’m so glad we didn’t go in and willy nilly clear the plot because so many good things have popped up that we didn’t know about when we took over the plot in January!

strawberries

pick your own strawberries

We’ve also done a bit of planting in our garden this July.  When I say garden, it’s really just a little concrete yard with some borders to grow plants, but we absolutely love it.  Our allotment is only two minutes walk from our house, so it kind of feels like an extension of our garden.  I finally planted a hydrangea, which has been on my garden wish list for about 7 years!  Behind the hydrangea is a houttuynia – it’s actually edible.  My other half got the inspiration to plant it from James Wong (his all time favourite allotment book!).  We haven’t eaten it yet – apparently it’s good in stir fries – so I’ll be sure to report back when we do!  It can spread quite a lot, but we’ve planted it in a very controlled area – it’s bordered on four sides by bricks so it should stay contained!

hydrangea

We also planted some lavender plants in the border for the bees.  The lavender is right by our back door so it’s really nice to walk out of the door and smell the lavender.

lavender plant

When we were planting the hydrangea we accidentally snapped a stem off of the hydrangea so rather than letting it go to waste, I popped it in a little vase I found in a charity shop.  In the same shop I also found the old McEwans beer bottle which I couldn’t resist either.  My other half despairs sometimes!

hydrangea in vase

Finally, for some reason snails absolutely adore our little concrete yard, even though there’s not too much greenery and a lot of gravel down.  As we’ve planted some nice plants that we really don’t want to get eaten, and haven’t had much luck with any other methods of natural slug/snail control, my daughter and I have started “Snail Patrol”!  Snail Patrol involves going round the garden every evening before bed, collecting all the snails we can find, popping them into a pot, and then depositing them in the woodland down the road from us.  So far we’ve removed about 30 snails, and my daughter loves it!  She’s absolutely fascinated by snails!

gardening with kids

snails

snails in pot

Needless to say this book – The Snail and The Whale by Julia Donaldson – is a new favourite in our house!  I love it as much as my little one!  Definitely one of Julia Donaldson’s best books.

the snail and the whale julia donaldson

What have you been up to this July?

Garden, Home and Garden

Allotment Progress!

It’s been a little while since our last update, so I thought I’d share some of our allotment progress with you today.

To start with, some brutal honesty: progress on our allotment has been a little slow lately.  I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but we actually changed sites in the New Year as a new allotment came up much much closer to home (the other one was 5 miles away – which is quite a lot when you don’t have a car), so we’re starting from scratch again.  We still have the very ambitious aim of getting most of our vegetables from the allotment come summer and autumn – wish us luck!!

allotment gardening

Greenhouses aren’t allowed on our allotment, so we recently purchased a polytunnel.  We’ve only got a few things growing in there at the moment – tomatoes, chillies and lettuce – but we’ve planted some seeds indoors again to get a good start on the growing season.  We’re trying out cucamelons again (we tried them last year but they didn’t come to anything so hopefully being in the polytunnel will help), some heirloom potato varieties (my partner got quite geeky and went to a local seed potato swap!  Who is this man I thought I knew?!), herbs and squashes for now, with plans to sow directly into the ground later in the growing season.

As we got the allotment in January we didn’t really know what was already growing on the allotment.  Rather excitingly quite a few fruit canes have since sprung up, as have rhubarb and hazelnuts.  I’m sure there will be a few more surprises as the growing season goes on!

allotment blog

It’s been really handy having the allotment so close to our house – we can just pop over whenever we want instead of having to cycle 5 miles there and 5 miles back.  And it means we can keep a better eye on our produce – we watered our plants on late Saturday afternoon, and when we popped over on Sunday morning to see how things were going (when we took these photos) the heat in the polytunnel from the morning sun was so great that our tomatoes and lettuces had completely wilted (see the above photo!), but thankfully we got to them just in time and managed to revive them with a good water.  And learned the important lesson to open up all the polytunnel vents in warmer weather!

Speaking of water, something we’ve been sorting out too is the water situation.  Our allotment doesn’t have a water supply on it, so something that’s important for us to set up are water butts. With everything that our new house needs (it hasn’t been touched in years), we don’t have the funds to buy an allotment shed, so we were initially wondering how we might set up a water butt without a shed to attach guttering and a downpipe to.  After a bit of internet searching it turns out you can add guttering to poly tunnels, which is what we’re planning on doing.

water butt

Homebase kindly sent us a few water butts, that we are planning on using in conjunction with the polytunnel and some guttering.  While Homebase sell quite a few water butt accessories, sadly they don’t sell the polytunnel pipe kit, but we’ve ordered a kit from the internet and I’ll be sure to share my progress with this as soon as we get it all set up!  While we don’t have them set up just yet, the water butts themselves (these ones) have a great capacity (210 litres) and seem pretty sturdy, and look like they’re going to do just the job!  We’ve actually got three water butts for the allotment that should fulfil all our water requirements!

What are you growing this year?  I’d love to know!

PS: some of my favourite allotment books

Homebase sent us some water butts to help us out with our allotment, but all words and opinions are my own.