The opportunity of winter in the allotment garden

Winter can feel such a dreary and empty time for us allotment gardeners.

December brings the merry distraction of the festive period, but when the New Year has passed and the middle of winter sets in with cool temperatures, low levels of light and short days, we really begin to crave for the spring and the life and resurgence it brings.

To fend off the feelings of longing and despair, I have …Read More

The Chickens and The Egg

Today was a milestone in my little world of allotment chicken keeping. We’ve gone full circle, my girls and I – from egg to egg.

 

Regular readers of this blog may remember that when Itchy, the last of my ex-battery hens, started looking a bit peaky back in the spring, it coincided with a very determined spell of broodiness from Marian, my gorgeous Black Rock. So, doing the maths (one about …Read More

Evening sunshine

Time to titivate

I love this time of year. As the longest day comes and goes, a profound shift of gear occurs in the garden. Week by week, plants get bigger, bolder and brighter, and your gardening jobs change from hard graft to to harvesting the fruits of your labours. It’s the sweetest of times – everything is fresh and green and one by one, a multitude of different fruits ripen, delighting the …Read More

3-Now-we-are-four

Hey pesto! Time to get busy with basil

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – and the way to his stomach is through his vegetable patch… As I’ve said before, I don’t really bother growing onions or too many spuds: give me heaps of basil instead any day. Homemade pesto – made with great handfuls of basil and sweet, almost buttery young garlic fresh from the plot – is to my mind one of …Read More

A sweet surprise

I gasped as I opened the seed packet. Jewel-like, smooth and translucent, ‘Bloody Butcher’ tumbled into my hands. I’ve grown sweetcorn almost every year since I was a kid, but I’d never seen anything like this.
Normally the sweetcorn seeds we grow in this country are wrinkly beige-yellow things that look a bit like old bits of skin. I’d been inspired by TV botanist James Wong’s new book to grow something …Read More

View from shed to new greenhouse

Sow far behind!

If you feel like you’re not up to speed with your garden, take heart. April has a horrible habit of vanishing all too quickly – it tends to be full of such inconveniences as friends getting married and cluttering up weekends, Easter With The Family, etc etc. Last year it was building the chicken run which took up the majority of this most crucial of gardening months, this year it’s …Read More

Scratchy

Here come the girls

Meet Thelma and Louise. They’re the latest additions to our rapidly growing (home garden) hen count, just over three weeks old and already full of chirpy energy. They, and their sisters (we hope they’re girls!) arrived as eggs from our local community garden, The Green Backyard in mid February, and spent the first three weeks here in the alien-looking incubator.

They’re hybrids of a very cute breed called the “silkie”  – …Read More

Feelin’ hot hot hot!

 I fell in love with chillies while working on an avocado orchard in New Zealand back in 2007. I was living in a hut out in the bush and WWOOFing during our customary winter break from filming Gardeners’ World. Lunch often involved picking ‘avos’ straight from the tree, bashing them into a rough but oh-so-tasty guacamole with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and a shot of tabasco. We’d fry the …Read More

toms-and-Squash

To dig, or not to dig? Part 1

“Yippee” I thought, as the dark, freshly-turned folds of fenland soil presented themselves to me the first time I clapped eyes on my allotment just under two years ago. At first glance, the soil looked like the too-good-to-be-true ‘wonderloam’ my Aunty Jane used to moan about seeing on Gardeners’ World.
However, when I stuck my spade into it, I was in for a shock. This freshly-rotavated ‘wonderloam’ was in fact a …Read More