Do you ever get the feeling that you spend your whole week just waiting for the weekend? I’m sure most people do. I seem to have felt it more this week than most. As much as I love autumn and I’m excited for cosy knitwear and warm blankets and autumn foods (I’d say warm fires as well, oh how I wish we had a fireplace) I think the hint of a change in season, and the fact it’s now still pretty much dark when my alarm goes off in the morning, has got me feeling the urge to hibernate. So to counteract that I made an attempt to spend lots of time outside this weekend, as well as drinking lots of tea and knitting my super-soft-socks.
It’s the last day of August and a bank holiday weekend, so of course it’s been raining all day. I’ve watched a lot of old X-Files episodes this weekend, and have successfully turned the heel on my soft-as-can-be socks.
In a a vague attempt at leaving the house I stuck my hand-knit-sock-clad feet in to C’s boots and stomped outside the front door to survey the rain on the plants.
I get the feeling that’s it for summer now. I’m not hugely disappointed with that thought, autumn is by far my favourite time of year.
Yesterday I decided that building a table was more important than doing any digging on the allotment. I’d got bored of making cups of tea on the ground.
It may not be completely square, and it make be a little wonky, but I’m pretty proud of my efforts. It’s made completely from bits of wood that were already on the plot when we took it over – the only thing I had to buy was a new saw and some longer nails.
As I left the house this morning to go to work (whilst really wishing I could stay home, go back to bed to cuddle C and the cat, then spend the day knitting and maybe going up to the allotment) I spotted a flash of red out of the corner of my eye. I have ripe tomatoes! I’d picked off two so far for safe keeping from the the jaws of critters, but hadn’t eaten them yet. I spent my whole day looking forward to coming home and filling a bowl with those shiny red fruits.
Well, it might not be a full bowl, but it’s enough to put in my salad for work tomorrow, so that’s just the right amount (also, why is it still not Friday?). Of course, Doris had to come out and help with the gardening…
I got the urge to knit this morning. I haven’t picked up my knitting needles since January, when I knit a hat in the forest (that I’ve never worn). But I’ve been reading Foxs Lane blog this weekend and it’s inspired me to knit socks. So I had a rummage through what’s left of my yarn stash and came across some “bunnylace” 20% angora / 80% wool mix, which is deliciously soft. I bought it at Fibre East a few years ago, so it reminds me of a day full of mud and laughs and tasty treats with my favourite people. It’s happy yarn. I also realised that I’ve knit many pairs of socks before and the only ones I really wear are the fine cashmere ones, my second ever pair of socks. So I’m making a fine angora mix pair of socks, and I’m determined they’re going to be heaven for my feet.
Today has also been spent down on the allotment. An hour of digging this morning before it got too hot, then back down this afternoon after the rain to plant some flowers. I’ve forgotten what they all are already, but it’s nice to get things in the ground. I also built a fence – not the fence made of pallets I’d mentally planned, just a simple chicken wire/bamboo cane/hundreds of cable ties contraption. It works, that’s all that matters! For the last two evenings I’ve been down there until the sun sets, listening to the birds chirruping and the bees buzzing, and watching the sky change colour.
Back to work tomorrow. Why can’t I spend all my time knitting and digging and taking photos and watching old episodes of the X-Files?
I can’t believe we’ve only been doing this for a week. I’ve had a bit of a one track mind lately, it’s all been seeds, bulbs, digging, plotting, planning and clearing. We lifted out all of the raised beds, most of which were only fit for the tip. The wasps took a few days to conquer, but C dug up the whole nest on Thursday and fingers crossed they’re gone for good now. Two of the pallets have been moved and all the weeds are now up. Everything on this side is looking neat and tidy, and given the sun we’ve got today it’s so temping to start planting things! We’ve got here a bit late in the year, but I couldn’t resist getting some seeds in the ground and in the two beds that we kept I’ve planted Bright Lights chard, North Holland Blood Red spring onions, and Butterhead lettuce.
I drove straight to our plot on Thursday after work and decided to tackle the shed – which from now on is known as the Big Box of Spiders. It’s not the best shed in the world, there’s some pretty big gaps between the boards, the floor in the middle is almost rotten where the previous tenant left his massive petrol lawn mower, and there are some rather large rusty nails sticking through the roof. I underestimate the height of the door every single time I walk out of it and hit my head, and C just refuses to go in there due to the tetanus risk from those nails (he’s over 6ft tall, I don’t blame him!). There is a huge temptation to rip the whole thing down and buy a lovely new, spider free, well constructed, taller, slightly bigger shed. But that’s a lot of money, and we’ve still only been doing this for a week. So I took everything out, I’ve taken two car loads of stuff to the tip (not just from the shed – some things from the greenhouse as well, and those crumbling pallets that were being used as raised beds), and I’ve rearrange it to be a bit neater and tidier. We have shelves for the smaller things and space for our tools and folding chairs – that’s all we really need for now. If we’re still going strong in a years time maybe we’ll get that new shed then!
I’ve said it before, but we really did luck out getting this plot. We’re tucked in a corner with fields around us and some lovely neighbours. It’s so tempting just to stick some seeds in the ground and then go and sit there and watch them grow – it’s peaceful and calming and pretty idyllic.
But, we have a lot to do, and we’re slowly but surely making a plan for the rest of the plot now. C has cleared out all the weeds and the rhubarb from behind the shed and greenhouse, we’ve got a couple of compost daleks back there and it will more than likely get covered in bark chippings soon. The nettles in the greenhouse frame have been attacked with RoundUp (I loathe stinging nettles) and we’ll eventually cover that frame in netting and use it for fruit – we’ve already had a donation of some raspberry canes from one neighbour who was taking some of hers out. She assured me they’re impossible to kill – we’ll see!
So, the major jobs on our to do list at the moment are:
- Make a fence out of old pallets
- Tidy the greenhouse, maybe make a potting bench (out of old pallets – we have a lot of pallets)
- Dig up all of the grass
- Put bark chippings down behind the shed, and around the raised beds
- Plant the flowers we bought earlier today to give the plot some colour (it’s all a bit green and brown at the moment)
- Sit and enjoy the sunshine
It’s 5pm now and it’s been ridiculously hot today, so now the sun is coming down we’re going to head up there and get some work done.
Oh, and while I’m here an update on my veggies at home! I attacked my tomato plants to remove as many leaves and flowers as I could in an attempt to get them to ripen, and it seems to have worked. Unfortunately the bugs seem to be quicker at spotting the ripe ones than me, and I’ve only had two so far.
I probably need to do the same with the chillies as well, but we have a hint of ripeness appearing on one or two now. I may need to bring some netting back with me tonight and cover those tomatoes if I want to eat any of them!
One week. That’s all we had to wait until we had an email from the council letting us know a plot was available, and when C went down to meet the groundman we actually had two to choose form. The first he looked at was big, but nothing more than a big square patch of weeds (and a collapsed shed). The second plot was like striking allotment gold and we snapped it up instantly, knowing that other people were looking for a plot as well. Really – this plot is perfect.
We have, ready and waiting for us: a shed, a greenhouse, a second greenhouse frame, two compost bins, a water butt, all the tools in the shed (including a lawn mower!), and loads of raised beds. All of it, ours! We still can’t quite believe how lucky we’ve been to get this plot and we’ve been itching to get down there and start digging since C saw it on Tuesday. We’ve had a busy few days with our friend Vicky coming to stay, a whole day sat in a tattoo studio (me, not C!), and two days of torrential rain. But now the sun is out, my arm is wrapped in cling film, and Vicky wanted to come and explore our little plot before she headed back to London, so we headed down there this morning to start work.
The shed has been emptied, a lot of stuff has been taken to the tip and the remaining tools have been assessed (and some we don’t know what they’re for, we really are making this up as we go along!). While Vicky and I took a trip to the tip C started weeding and digging. We got back to find C had unearthed more than he expected to whilst weeding the paths between the raised beds, and our plans for the day quickly had to be changed.
That there, at the corner of one of the raised beds, is a wasps nest. C had got one bed dug over and looking so full of potential and we had to pack up and come home to work out how to deal with wasps. Thankfully we have a hardware store that sells absolutely anything you could ever need, including wasp killing powder. We’ve read that we need to put it down in the evening and then leave it for a while so we’ll be heading back up tonight mount our attack, and hopefully it will work so we can still get a day of digging in tomorrow. Still, that one raised bed does look nice, and now I’ll spend my afternoon planning out what we can do with the rest of the plot!