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Having not set foot onto the plot during half term week, I did so today with a heavy heart. Chiding myself, that I hadn’t been. I had to smile, when I arrived there. One of the lotment neighbours, had very kindly and with my permission, dug a trench. I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t I? I fully understand that, and I will. That combined with the relatively dry weather, has resulted in puddles disappearing. There is no standing water. A huge relief, after 6 months of having to tread the stuff. A glimmer in the darkness, really.

Further inspection observed that spring bulbs are coming up. I forget not which varieties. There were hundreds sunk in the autumn. I am quite tempted to sink more, as the majority seem to have been eaten by the clay. In addition, the posh roses are starting to look a little alive. The one above is a pascalli. Most of the posh roses seem to be in a similar condition. With one planting looking a bit battered. The Poundland plants don’t seem to be as chirpy. One or two perhaps have buds forming.

The overwintering garlic, whilst still standing, doesn’t half look so miserable. It may well have a check with the bad weather; but it still has some time to endure before summer.

As ever, I still need to put compost into the beds. That I will do piece meal over the next few weeks. Doesn’t seem so daunting as it did before. Am further tempted to lay down newspaper and cardboard to then plant through it.

Chillis are still being pampered on a classroom windowsill. As are tomatos. There was a broadbean crisis.

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What horror and shock I experienced in my return to work after a week away. Alas they had to be doused in water.

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Very heavily doused in water; with some of the tops snipped off. Dehydration and lack of heat had toppled them. But they are now recovering.

Here’s to potential,

Yours in anticipation,

Horticultural Hobbit

Beans, Broadly speaking

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Taken last week, the above images indicate the progress of aqua dulce Claudia and Suttons dwarf beans. My one concern is that by the time I return back to them after the holidays; they will have keeled over. I did make sure that they were watered before I left. Some of them are quite tall, whereas others are still quite small and nestled in the paper pots.

I had not expected for them to have grown so quickly; I had expected them to take some time before needing to garden them off and then transplant. Once they have graduated from the window sill, I will then sow dwarf French beans in paper pots. Beyond that, it will then be runner beans.

As far as dwarf French beans go, I have some traditional green ones, some purple podded beans, as well as borlotto beans. An additional variety; yellow dwarf beans are being considered still.

A visit was made to the plot yesterday, and standing water remains. Will need to carefully consider having to draw channels in the edges to ensure that the water flows away. The battle between the Poundland and posh roses continues. On observation, there are buds on both. So it remains to be seen, which one will be more successful.

Spring Garlic was sown, just as the frost descended. As well some shallots, but not all the stash that remains in dad’s shed. These I will save for when a few of the beds are filled, in addition to the potatoes that lie in wait.

Still all to play for,

Yours in anticipation,

Horticultural Hobbit

Penny pinching and planting

Gardening, and allotmenteering, lays itself open to be very expensive. At least in the outset, and making preparations. Flicking through seed catalogues, surfing the companies online can also mean for pennies and pounds being spent.

Seed saving, as well as swapping, goes some way towards alleviating that cost. I have benefited from a number of swapped seeds, in addition I have passed on seeds for others to try. This particularly true, of people who wish to sow heritage seeds. Many seed varieties of yore, have been forgotten, save for the efforts of studious seed savers who have diligently saved seeds to keep them in circulation. There are off course many techniques, some simple others less so, that allow this to happen. With chillies, for example, one needs asbestos gloves given how potent some chillies can be. With tomatoes, one needs a penchant for slime in fishing them out of a jam jar. Beans, can be left to dry, and plucked from a crispy pod. It is that is simple. You will also get those plants and vegetables that are wont to sow their wild oats and cross widely. So that is seed saving, encouraged and plausible.


In tending the plot, an interesting experiment has developed. There are some roses that are more expensive than some of their plot counterparts, bought from a mail order company. The counterparts, are from a shop, where everything is priced at one pound or from a shop where goods are priced at being a penny below the pound. You can see the statement of the obvious. There is not much in the price of these two groups of roses, approximately £1.50 would separate the roses from online and the high street bought ones. Before the snow descended, the online ordered ones were actually demonstrating some growth on the thorny stems. The high street ones, did actually look a bit sorry for themselves. They were also still covered in green protective wax, that I had thought would have disappeared by now. 


Previously, spring flowering bulbs had been planted. It would be a surprise if any of these actually came up now,to be fair. All, generally, from those high street shops where you spend a pound. In the past, these have been reasonably successful. There are also some blueberries and redcurrant plants.


As I venture into these high street shops, I do wonder about the success rate. More recently, there have potatoes, onions, different seed varieties on the shelves. A reflection perhaps of how more and more people are choosing to grow their own food. The variety does seem to be getting more and more extensive, and more value compared to the stock held by garden centres. For many years, there has always been a clamour for Aldi and Lidl with their gardening GYO offers. With Wilkinsons also proving themselves to be a useful resource. 


Then there is the pot making contraption, Whilst it is labour intensive, it is incredibly useful. Made me reconsider, just how much money could be spent on pots that weren’t going to be occupied for very long. With the broadbeans currently in paper pots, I hope that this will also help the rather challenging clay soil on the plot.


It remains to be seen, if being savvy with pounds and pence makes any difference,

Yours in anticipation,


Horticultural Hobbit

Planning post puddles

As I sit here, planning world domination, sleet falls outside with the weather being its nefarious wanton self. Spring seems to be hiding its face, as further inclement weather hits blighty.

Should the weather change the face it currently pulls, it would be nice to get things going. As it stands, the classroom sills are full of seed trays. The windows are not in the least bit big. Lyon 2 Prizewinner leeks are still standing, very wiry young things that they are. Don’t seem to be getting any fatter, and further towards the pencil thin girth that they need to have. The cauliflowers that were sown, purple cape, mayflower and all year around, grew very leggy. Subsequently keeling over. Celery, remains, as does the beetroot. At last check, the aquadulce claudia broadbeans and suttons dwarf were just starting to poke their heads through the dirt in the paper pots.

The chilli adventure is still altogether frightening. At the last observation, five baby seedlings had stood up. The paper pots were removed from the heated prop and into a cold one, lined with white paper by way of reflecting heat and light. They had keeled over previously, in not being warm enough or having adequate enough light.

I would like to sow more cauliflower, and in turn some some tomatoes. There are still lots of other things to be sown too. Such as cabbages. I must still fill the raised beds. Damp lead mold has been used to get the raised beds at least a thirdish, or half full. Poop-that pops and I gathered-has then be used to cover the top of this. I have one bag left to pour into a be. Beyond that, I envisage topping the beds up with compost. Not filled entirely, but enough to get sowing. An aim, had been to sow various spinach seeds and fenugreek for Mama H. That would truly mark the start of the sowing season.

Last week, I took delivery of potatoes and spring garlic. It is most likely too early for either of these to be sown. The potatoes may well find themselves in the raised beds somewhere. I’m not sure where. Whilst I have garlic, these will replace those many that were eaten by the elements. However, I feel the section of the plot designated to them, may well be too wet, and not able to drain as quickly as I would like.

Thinking now, as to how many tomato seeds I wish to plant. I have both cordon and bush varieties. Yet, hobbitland is a blight hotspot. There yellow, red, and black tomatoes. So a veritable mix. These will be started off inside, and might just make it outside. Last year, they got to about 12 inches high inside. All very nice, but butchered by the weather, and therein a horrible waste. In the seed stashers, a hoard of beans to be sown. I don’t anticipate doing them yet. But will consider do so, in about six weeks perhaps. The mythology is to sow around the time of St.Patricks day.  This is most likely another paper pot job, one copy of an atrocious paper that will remain nameless, produces provisionally 50 pots. That is a lot of seeds. Mama H has made her opinion know. There are to be runner beans. Yes, Ma. I have those. The old favourite of Scarlet Emperor-the first runner bean that I ever grew-sits alongside one called painted lady. Furthermore, there dwarf varieties of French beans. Tender-something, as well as borlotto beans and purple queen. Though I can see Mama H pulling faces at the purple dwarf beans. Whilst I am convinced of their metamorphosis from purple to green on cooking, Mama may have her queries about them. Flicking through seed catalogues, I was trying to hunt down yellow ones.  The plan with the legumes, is to plant them where ever possible. The advantages of planting them by way of nitrogen tapping and its volume of doing so, are debatable  I was advised by an allotment neighbour, of ‘if in doubt, sow beans’, so this will be an interesting hypothesis test. Does the ground actually have better characteristics having formerly housed legumes. A half plot of beans may well seem a waste, but could potentially be useful. Having inherited a plot that is deemed a waste in itself, the challenge is to get something productive out of it. As it stands, garlic and onions have done well. Now the bar is set higher.

The snow is coming down apparently, outside. I do wish it wouldn’t. Makes planning that much more difficult.

Yours in anticipation.