Tag Archive | Allotment paths

Weed Suppressant Paths And Parsnip Crisps

When I had my first allotment in 2005, I decided to have four rotational areas which I separated with Michaelmus Daisys and I must say they look beautiful in September each year when they flower.

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At first, I would walk all over the soil to plant things and dig it all over each winter.  This was easy to do with one plot but when I took on more plots four years ago, I had to re-look at how I did things.

I decided that in between each row of Michaelmus Daisys I would have four ‘fixed’ beds separated by paths, so I didn’t need to walk on the soil.  The only exception was my potato bed, where I would remove the paths each year and dig the whole area over.

I used weed suppressant that I cut to size for my paths and held it down with small tent pegs.  However, the wind had other ideas so I had to resort to holding it down with bricks instead.

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The bricks were not ideal as the slugs love hiding underneath them and I have often fallen over the bricks when I am not looking at my feet.  Also, the wind still blows the weed suppressant about, as you can see in the photograph below, but the worse thing is the weed suppressant frays like mad where I cut it and I have strands of it everywhere, which gets tangled up in my trowel, fork and even around my legs sometimes.

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  On the plus side however, the paths have been great as I didn’t need to walk on the soil, which meant I could weed when the ground was really wet (as I could just reach into the bed) and all I’ve needed to do each year is lightly fork the soil over if I wanted to and it doesn’t get compressed.

So I decided I needed to do something different.

I thought long and hard and considered the usual options of slabs (which would be far too expensive), wood chip paths (again expensive for the wood to edge the paths) and just plain soil paths (I tried this before and I spent ages weeding them).  In the end I decided to have another go at weed suppressant paths, but this time I was determined to do them properly with no edges to fray.

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I brought the weed suppressant from our allotment shop as it is only £2 per meter (with a width of four meters wide), so this is really good value, though it is a low grade weed suppressant that does need to be doubled.

I cut it into strips that were large enough to be doubled over and I left a couple of inches extra to sew the hems.

I found the weed suppressant would not pass through my sewing machine as it keep catching underneath, so after a whole morning of trying every way possible, I unfortunately had to edge the top and bottom of it with duct tape before I could manage to machine sew it.

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I sewed the sides together and then turned the weed suppressant inside out

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I then ironed the path flat (I was supprised I could iron it without it melting, but it was fine)

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I then sewed the ends up

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And then I used some Eyelets to stop it from fraying when I pinned it down onto the ground.  I also used a bit of duct tape before putting each eyelet on, to give the weed suppressant a bit more strength.

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I spaced the eyelets just wide enough to fit the double pins that I had bought, to hold the weed suppressant down.

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I’m hoping these pins will be better than the small tent pegs I used originally… but I will let you know when it is next windy.

I laid the paths at my allotment and I am really pleased with them.  I think the paths look much better without the bricks and fraying:

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If the new pins hold the paths down, then I will try and do the rest of the weed suppressant paths around my allotment over the next year or so.

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Parsnip Crisps:

I’ve not written a recipe on my blog for ages, so I thought today I would.

I like to use everything I grow in as many different ways that I can.  At the moment I still have parsnips at my allotment and it won’t be long before I need the space for something else.

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Parsnips are lovely roasted and I especially like them in a spicy parsnip soup or a nice parsnip cake.

You can also use parsnips to make ‘parsnip crisps’, which is something a little bit different and they taste wonderful when they are served warm.

  This is how I make them:

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Parsnip Crisps

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800g parsnips

6 teaspoons olive oil

Salt to taste

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Preheat your oven to Gas 3 / 160C /325F

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Wash, peel and slice your parsnips finely (I used my food processor for quickness, as it has a slicing attachment)

Rub the olive oil all over the parsnips

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Lay the parsnip slices on greased baking sheets

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And bake in the oven for 25 minutes, turning half way through the cooking time

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While thay are still hot, sprinkle with salt and then enjoy!

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday at my usual time.

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Allotment Paths and Using Up Leftovers

This week I finished the paths around my dad’s bit of my allotment.

I managed to get bags of woodchip from our local council for £1.00 per bag.  The paths took ten bags of woodchip, so it cost me just £10.00 to do.  I know it would have cost an awful lot more if I had gone to a garden centre to buy the woodchip.

I am very pleased with the result and I think my dad will be happy too.

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I spent the morning clearing away my old peas.  I saved the seeds from the tall growing variety I had grown.  The seeds are an old variety called ‘Peashooter’ and they are expensive to buy.

I will put the seeds in an envelope and store them in a cool dark place, until I plant them next year.

Afterwards I dug manure into two of my beds ready for next year.  The manure is two years old now and it really is well rotted and great to dig in.

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Today I took a walk around my allotment.  I was very pleased as I thought the allotment was looking particularly beautiful in the afternoon sunshine.

The Michaelmus Daisys were still looking stunning and they were teeming with bees and butterflies, it was wonderful to watch.

The sun flowers were looking great too.

The birds will soon be enjoying these seeds.

The Crocosmia that my youngest daughter planted earlier in the year, is also flowering now:

The dahlia’s that I grew from seed are still flowering well too:

A nasturtium that self seeded over the summer is now trailing over my compost heap and it is flowering nicely.

I like adding the leaves to salads as they taste peppery and it’s just something a bit different in a salad.

The green manure I planted last month, is growing well too.  It is phacelia.  I will cut it back before it flowers and dig it into the soil.

You can read about green manures here.

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I also noticed my shark fin melons are just about ready to pick.

You can read about my shark fin melon plant here and here.  I am looking forward to making soup with them.

I put my keys next to the other shark fin melon so you would be able to gauge the size of it from the picture:

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Using Leftovers

I try to use all our leftover meat and vegetables.  I really hate throwing good food away, it doesn’t make sense to do this.

Using your leftovers also saves money.

Previously I wrote about my ‘Use it up’ Vegetable Curry Recipe.  You can find it here.

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Remember the beef I bought on Sunday that was reduced from £14.14 to £3.54…  You can read about it here.  I made a lovely roast dinner for us all, but there was some roast beef left over.

The next day, I made a beef and vegetable pie with the leftovers.

It is a very easy pie to make:

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All I did was to reheat the beef and leftover vegetables in the microwave until piping hot.

I mixed them with a white sauce and covered it all with a layer of pastry.

I brushed the pie with a little milk and then cooked it in the oven for 20 minutes,

gas mark 6 / 400F / 204C.

I served it with homegrown vegetables.

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The beef and vegetables were all leftover from the day before, so again this was a very cheap family meal.

I know a lot of people reading my blog will know how to make a white sauce and pastry.  For those that don’t, I will show you how I make these things next week on my blog.

 If just one person learns how to feed their family more cheaply after reading my blog, then I will have achieved my aim.

 

Thank you for reading my blog today.

New Allotment Paths and Laundry Liquid

For the last few days I have been working on the top half of my 4th allotment plot.  This is what it looked like in January when I took the plot on:

The tree in the middle is a plum tree.

The previous plot holder, Eric, had tried to grow vegetables under the tree, but he told me that nothing grew properly as it was just too dry and shady under there.

After I had strimmed the couch grass and weeds in January, I covered it all with weed suppresant.

Last year, my dad had given up his allotment, as it was just too much for him. He asked if he could have a little bit of my plot to work.  I thought this was a wonderful idea, as I can’t think of anything better than having my dad growing his vegetables with me, as I think the world of my dad.

So in April, I dug a patch at the front of the plot, removing all the weeds and added loads of compost.

Dad has grown leeks, runner beans, onions, lettuces and squash this year.

I have been worrying about the weed suppressant around dad’s patch, as I have bricks and old pieces of wood holding it down and I have worried that dad would trip over them.

So this week, I have used old pieces of wood, to make the edge for two paths and I have laid weed suppressant in between them.  Next week I will be visiting our local council to buy some wood chips to put over the weed suppressant.

The bricks etc are just there to stop the weed suppressant from blowing away in the wind.  They will be removed when I put the wood chips down.

In the photo below, you can see I have also put wood around the edges of the tree.  I have decided that this area is going to be a woodland area and I will continue to work on it over the next few weeks.

I removed the weed suppressant from around the tree this week and you can see that all the couch grass and weeds have been killed.

I have some bulbs to plant and I will be on the lookout for some cheap woodland plants or plants that I can take cuttings from, to fill this area.

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Laundry Liquid

For a while now I’ve been making laundry liquid to wash my clothes.  Today I made some more, as I had run out.

It washes well and is so much cheaper than shop bought wash powders and liquids.

I really don’t know where I got the recipe from, it was somewhere on the net, so I can’t take any credit for it.

This is how I make it:

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1 cup of soap flakes

½ cup Soda Crystals (also known as washing soda)

½ Cup Borax (in the UK it is a substitute of borax which works well) 

1 ½ litres of water

Put the above ingredients into a saucepan and heat, stirring until the soap flakes have dissolved

Pour the mixture into a very large bucket and then add 8 litres of cold water.

Stir and then pour into containers, leaving space at the top so you can easily shake the container before you use it.

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You only need approximately a quarter of a cup of washing liquid for each wash.

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I use old plastic milk containers to store my liquid in.  The recipe makes just over 10 litres of liquid.

The above amount will last quite some time and washes well.

You won’t see lots of bubbles when it washes, but this doesn’t matter.  Wash powders that you buy actually have bubbles added, not because thay are needed, but because people think their clothes aren’t washing properly if they don’t see bubbles.

Thank you for reading my blog today.