A week of Sunshine

Just a quick post before I head off down the allotment.

The weather forecast is looking fantastic this week, so I’m hoping to get a lot of work in. First thing – leeks in the ground. Not all of them, some are still quite small, but given that outside is now warmer than my house, it’s time to give the ones that are ready a little fresh air.

Hoping to post some pictures later…but we’ll see.

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Red and Green

Last week I had some help in the allotment in the form of my parents. This was great because while I have loads of enthusiasm, I don’t exactly have a huge deal of knowledge – they do!

Last year, one of the first things I discovered in the allotment was a rhubarb plant, and we had quite a lot of rhubarb from it before I managed to get anything else going. We took a look at the plant last week and Mum suggested that it wasn’t in a great place – it was hidden away, very shaded and rather cramped. So we decided to move it.

In the process of moving, the rhubarb plant turned into four, still rather sizeable, plants. It turns out it was a huge plant that desperately needed a bit more space. So hopefully we’ll be inundated with rhubarb this year!

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The other outcome of the weekend’s work is that I now have a functioning greenhouse thanks to my Dad’s fantastic work helping me close off the holes – and by holes I mean an entire side of the greenhouse!

Full steam ahead to spring!

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On your marks…

And we’ve started!

The new growing season is here. The leeks on my window sill have germinated and about half of their little heads are poking up above the soil.

I’ve also started some peppers, cucumbers, mint and basil – but there’s no sign from any of them yet.

Down in the allotment the rhubarb is also getting its self in gear – several buds are showing and the first leaf appeared a few days ago.

It only gets busier from here!


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Homemade Valentines Day

Usually I’m a buyer, flowers, box of chocolates, bottle of bubbly, sorted. But since I’m not really bringing in any money at the moment I figured I needed to switch it up a bit.


So, Victoria sponge cake, with homemade mulled wine jam – I’d usually go with chocolate, but since I’ve given up chocolate for lent, I didn’t. To be fair, it’s me, not the wife that likes chocolate cake, so this is probably a better valentines day present.

I’d normally give flowers as well. And I still have…kinda. There were some bulbs starting to sprout in the garden, so I’ve re-potted them and given them as proto-flowers! I’m calling them ‘probably tulips’, I’m about 85% sure…

That’s also a homemade card. Valentines Day presents entirely from things that cost me nothing, but contained a lot of thought, a little bit of work and a lot of love. #Win

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We’ve had a lovely couple of days here in Yorkshire, which allowed me to get down to the allotment and really start working on getting the beds ready for planting.

The mild weather that we’ve had has had both pluses and minus. One the positive side, the ground is quite soft, easy to dig and week. On the negative side, there’s quite a lot of weeding to do, the mild winter has meant that the weeds have hardly stopped growing.

I’m still having trouble thinking of the allotment as work, although now that my paid employed has been severely reduced, it is work. If I can make sure the allotment is as productive as possible, then that should hopefully manage to save us a bit of money we’d normally spend on food.

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Here we go…

So this is the end of my last full time week in work, possibly for over a year. Everything changes starting tomorrow.  It’s quite exciting, but it’s also quite scary. We’re going to have to put a lot of work into spending as little money as possible so that we can survive one one salary, and a nurses salary at that!

This change in our lives does, however, mean that I’m going to be spending even more time on the allotment than I was before (it might also mean that I post a bit more frequently!). And we’re just about coming up to sowing time.

Plans for February:

  1. Get the leeks started inside -our house is very cold, but I’m hoping with a covered propagator and some fleece they might germinate!
  2. Sow parsnips – These did better than I thought they were going to last year, however I need to sow lots more to account for seeds that fail to germinate.
  3. Sow spinach – I’m a bit wary of sowing green things straight into the ground as the slugs tend to get at them, but I’m going to give it a go.
  4. Chillies/Sweet peppers inside – Again, there’s the problem of a cold house, but we’ll see – I can always start over again next month.


Maybe not this many leeks though…

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New Years Eve

explosion-firework-new-year-s-eve-december-31Well, it’s been a pretty important year for me. There haven’t really been many big events (other than the wife turning 30 – that was pretty big), but in the course of this year my life has seriously changed direction.

A big part of the change in direction is the allotment, this blog and my drive to live a quieter more simple life.

The other part is that during the year I’ve decided that the academic career path I was on wasn’t working for me any more. So I enrolled in a Digital Library Management MSc starting in September (still a long way off!). It’s still essentially an academic career path…I don’t see myself leaving universities any time soon, but it seems closer to what I want to be doing right now.

Before I start the course, it looks like I’ll be having another period of unemployment (hopefully partially mitigated by some sort of part-time or temporary work). So it looks like the allotment is going to be really important this year.

New Years Resolutions:

  1. Prioritise calm and quiet in my life
  2. Aim for moderation
  3. Make the allotment as productive as possible
  4. Continue on my quest to learn Swedish
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Structural Improvements

Sometimes I feel like my allotment has a lot in common with a computer game, I keep finding bonus items when I clear an area. The bonus item I discov12438825_536636167319_981223160_oered this week was a great big pile of bricks (also a gnome who could do with some love).

The discovery of the bricks prompted me to start outlining my vegetable beds in a pseudo-raised bed style. I’d originally planned on doing this with wood taken from pallets, but the bricks are so much less work. I won’t have enough to do all the beds, but I can make a good start.


I’ve also moved further ahead with the laying out of paths in my allotment. I’d rather hit a snag when I essentially ran out of things with which to hold down the plastic sheeting. Then tent pegs were suggested to me, I tried the classic metal ones, but they ripped out in the recent set of storms, some modern plastic ones (which I didn’t have much hope for) turned out to be excellent though.


Final job for yesterday was stripping the peeling paint off my greenhouse door and repainting (it’ll need another coat). The whole greenhouse needs doing really, but the door’s a start.


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December Catch Up


I’ve been pretty lax with posts over the last few months, mostly I guess because with autumn and now winter coming on, things have rather slowed down in the allotment.

Almost all of the veggies are gone now, but we still have leeks (next year I’m planting so many more of them, they’ve been excellent) and I think maybe 1 parsnip left (these were lovely but we only had a handful grow).

Garlic is in the ground for overwintering, and it looks like all the bulbs have germinated. Maybe the wife will finally be able to make the garlic pie she keeps going on about.

Yesterday I made some mulled wine jam, essentially blackbe12080900_535562439079_1129703644_nrry jam but with an added cup of mulled wine, and boiled with some orange peel. I’m going to try it when the bread finishes baking (I think I’ve only got an hour to wait). I’m not sure that it’s set that well, but it should taste good (I may have had some off the spoon yesterday…). I have a problem with making jam in winter in our house because it’s so cold, I just really couldn’t get the jam up to temperature. I have added liquid pectin, but this was a bit old, so equally might not be working that well.

Maybe I’ll just eat the jam with a spoon!

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Last Day of Blackberries

We took the way back from the allotment that goes through the forest along Rivelin Valley, we mostly did this because I knew there were blackberries down there, and despite having some of my own, I like free food!

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It’s the last day for blackberries apparently.

The story goes that the devil was kicked out of heaven on the 11th October, he landed in a blackberry bush and out of spite, he spat on the blackberries (That’s the version we have in Yorkshire, I believe other counties are more crude…). So they start to taste bitter after then.

It’s also the old day for Michaelmas today, so happy Michaelmas! You’re meant to eat Goose on Michaelmas, but I think we’ll give that a miss this year.

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