If you have been following my blog over the last few weeks, you will know that I have been having some family problems that now take up a lot of my time. On top of this we have a very anxious rescue dog that we brought home in October called ‘Judy’.
Right from the start it was apparent that she was not an ‘allotment dog’ as she is scared of most things and quite often just stands and shakes with her tail between her legs when we are outside our front door. However we have all become very attached to Judy as she is such a loving dog and we refuse to give up on her, especially as she is responding to training with me.
So all of this forced myself and Mr Thrift into making a very hard decision…..
On Saturday we handed back the keys to my four beautiful allotments. It was such a hard thing to do as not only have I spent the last ten years working them and producing most of our fruit and vegetables, but as I stood and looked at the plots for the last time I realised I also have so many fond memories …. my daughters planting and picking crops, playing on their bikes or on their swing and I remember them collecting ladybirds and making mud pies. We also had lots of lovely family picnics there too.
However as my youngest daughter pointed out to me, these memories will stay with me forever.
So what about my blog?
I’m still going to carry on writing my blog as it’s one of the things I love to do and I will still be talking about cooking from scratch, cleaning the old fashioned way, etc. but instead of allotment gardening I will be talking about my ‘kitchen garden‘.
I’m sure that you already know how much I love growing organic fruit and vegetables and I certainly couldn’t give up growing them completely. So my blog is going to be focusing now on how much I can possibly grow in my small garden.
So over the last few weeks I have started to transform my garden.
The photographs below show my back garden in November, before we had made the decision to give the allotment plots up.
After much consideration, I decided that the top half of the garden would be my new vegetable patch and the grassed area near my greenhouse would remain, for my dog to run around.
My main aim is to grow as many fruit and vegetables in the garden as possible, but this will be a challenge as it’s a very small area with shade in some parts.
I began by cutting shrubs back and digging out their roots….and I must say it took far more trips to our ‘green waste’ tip than I thought it would. I cut back the large shrubs we had (the choisya, lavatera, elaeagnus and the rosa rugosas) and then started to dig out the roots, but no matter how I tried I just was not strong enough to dig out the three remaining roots of photinia, the elaeagnus and a self seeded root of a pussy willow (which incidentally I didn’t even know was there).
After cutting everything back this is what it looked like:
I was actually amazed how much bigger the area was than I realised.
I found lots of rubble and large stones which I piled up around the left hand edge of the garden. The garden slopes down to the left so these stones will help to hold the soil in:
I also found two slabs buried under the soil too:
Unfortunately everytime my dog ran around the new vegetable patch she would end up absolutely filthy, covered in mud. I decided to use some of the chicken wire from my allotment to make a fence to keep her out and I also made a little gate for easy access.
After I cleared all the shrubs from the garden I then hit another problem….the fence at the end of our garden that was previously covered in the shrubs, was completely rotten and part of it was holding onto the support post with a piece of wire. At first I thought we could just use screening to cover it, but if I wanted to use the fence as a support for plants then it just wouldn’t be possible. So after much discussion we decided to go ahead and replace the fence….it was an expense that we hadn’t bargained for, but it looked much better afterwards and they dug out the three remaining roots for me too:
Over the last couple of weeks I started to bring home things from my allotment that I wanted to make use of and some of my remaining crops. I have been busy freezing leeks, carrots, brussells and some parsnips (I still have my celeriac and remaining parsnips yet to freeze).
Unfortunately as the rent for the plots was due I had to leave some of the crops still growing e.g. curly kale, spring broccolli, spring cauliflowers, etc., but hopefully someone will have a nice crop from them.
I also brought home some autumn raspberries, the currant bushes and the gooseberry bush that I only bought and planted in early October at the allotment and some chives and a few strawberry plants. I also brought home a couple of globe artichoke and some of the wall flowers that I grew from seed too, and a hand full of jeruselum artichokes, a comfrey plant and a few overwintering onions.
I ‘heeled’ the bushes into the ground and planted the wall flowers at the front of my new wire fence and planted the globe artichokes, but I’m not really not sure if any of these plants will grow, as it really is the wrong time of year to move them….but I will keep my fingers crossed.
One last thing I bought home was a few snowdrops from my lovely woodland area, as these remind me of my friend who passed away two years ago this month.
Though time was short I managed to bring home my tools, nets, some woodchip (that I still had bagged up ready to use), some large pots and some willow canes (to edge my new path). I also managed to bring home my two bug boxes, some glass and some of the weed suppressant paths that I stitched up last year on my sowing machine, so I could use them again. And finally I bought home the raised bed that I made for sowing my carrots into each year, the bird bath that I brought on ebay for £5 last year and the chair my dad used to sit on when he came to my allotment:
I have an area in front of my greenhouse at home where nothing really grew due to the roots of the bushes that line our fence. I already had weed suppressant in this area to screen off my neighbours garden from ours (unfortuanely they also had a new dog a month ago so our behaviourist advised us to do this while we are having problems with Judy), so I put the raised bed on the weed suppressant and filled it up with all my remaining homemade compost from home and topped it up with some of my allotment compost too. I then planted the strawberries that I brought home from my allotment plot (again I’ve got to keep my fingers crossed that they will survive, due to transplanting at the wrong time of year). Again I fenced this area off with chicken wire so my dog doesn’t jump all over it and made a little gate:
So that is how things are looking this week in my new kitchen garden. I have come a long way in a just a few short weeks but there is still alot to do before I am ready for planting.
I know I will miss my allotment plots, but I can’t change the circumstances that brought me to the decision to give them up. By growing vegetables at home I will have more time for my family and our anxious dog.
I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.