Allot of Social Distancing

If there can be any positive from the current worldwide situation it is the time that we now have at our disposal. We can catch up on household jobs, tidy and beautify the garden, and spend as much time at the allotment as is humanly possible – and that is exactly what we have done for the last three weeks. Using our daily exercise allowance we have packed a bag with a Thermos, sandwiches and treats for both us and the dogs, loaded the wheelbarrow with all the essential items we need, and set off for an entire day of fresh air on the plot while at all times keeping social distancing in mind. We have all thoroughly enjoyed it.

So, what have we achieved since my last chapter? Well, the main job that has been going on for some weeks is the sowing of various seeds and the planting of summer colour. The greenhouse is now bursting at the seams with young seedlings; pots of promise yet to pop up through the compost. It feels like we have sowed anything and everything and yet, almost every time we visit, we sow or plant something else in addition to what we already have – it’s very exciting.

In addition to vegetables, we have also dedicated a bed or two to flowers so that we can enjoy some cut blooms at home. Bees and other pollinators can also enjoy the pollen and nectar. They are already enjoying the kale flowers that we have allowed to bloom before we cut it all down and dig it up to make way for sunflowers. Dan bought a selection of lovely gladioli bulbs from Sarah Raven that have gone in – if you’d like to check them out, the varieties we have planted so far are ‘Blackjack’, ‘Bimbo’, ‘Flevo Laguna’, ‘Vulcano’ and ‘Shaka Zulu’.

We have sown annuals in between the gladioli for extra ‘oomph’, including Chrysanthemum carinatum ‘Cockade’, Zinnia ‘Super Yoga Dark Red’ and Zinnia ‘Queen Red Lime’. Zinnias are, to me, almost as wonderful as dahlias. They come in so many colours and sizes; a perfect addition to the summer garden. If the flower beds grow and develops as we hope, they will be a riot of summer colour. We have also woven colour in between the veg in the bed that previously had purple sprouting broccoli in it. We harvested all the edible spears, brought them home, blanched them and stuck them in the new ‘allotment freezer’ so that we can enjoy them into the coming months. In the broccoli bed we now have radish ‘French Breakfast’, beetroot (mixed colours), swiss chard ‘Peppermint’ (the colour of the stems of this chard is fabulous!), lettuce ‘Winter Density’, Nasturtium ‘Blue Pepe’ and Papaver somniferum (opium poppy) ‘Single Black’.

As you can see in the picture above, we have a long bed that borders the car park. In that bed, amongst other things, we have autumn-fruiting raspberries. The plants were originally planted in rows but over time they had become unruly, messy and were quickly turning into one big patch. Last weekend I decided to remedy this by digging up the unruly suckers and transplanting them in gaps in the original rows, thus returning the rows to their former glory and bringing back order.

We have a particularly large, long bed (Bed 8, see planner at the foot of this post) which is going to be the main tomato bed. We have sown four different varieties; ‘Black Opal’, ‘Tigerella’, ‘Golden Crown’ and ‘San Marzano Red Plum’. All of these have germinated in the propagator and are weeks away from being planted out. As the bed is so big, Dan came up with the very good idea of placing three substantial poles in the middle, at regular intervals, up which to grow cucumbers and lablabs (Dolichos lablab ‘Ruby Moon’, sometimes called hyacinth bean). There is an eye at the top of each pole where string will be attached, extending down to the bed via a ‘peg’ to secure. They will look very much like maypoles and will hopefully be covered by a profusion of cucumbers ‘Crystal Lemon’, ‘Burpless Tasty Green F1’ and purple-tinted beans.

Talking of beans, the runner bean frame is now up and ready for action. Our runner beans will be sharing the bed that contains our precious crimson-flowered broad beans (remember how much I love them?!), all of which are now hardened off and in the bed. I’m looking forward to sharing their beautiful blooms with you.

I think the final achievement to mention is the shed. It was a job I was dreading and didn’t really want to acknowledge, however, I knew it was coming ….. our little shed badly needed re-roofing and painting. I am a huge fan of the film director Derek Jarman’s house in Dungeness called ‘Prospect Cottage’: it is painted jet black with yellow window frames. The building is a joy to behold and one of my favourites. With this in mind I wanted to pay homage via our shed and give it the ‘Jarman look’.

Once the new roof felt arrived I knew that any dreams of creating my own Prospect Cottage were not to be realised. The felt is a grey-green colour and when you’re going for a black-yellow look, it’s not really compatible. However, in the summer of last year and early spring of this year, I painted the fence that surrounds the G&T garden and we had some pots of willow-green paint left over. As luck would have it the shed was originally that colour anyway so it just required me to give it a coat or two to bring it back to it’s former glory.

With the same green paint, we also did some upcycling. A resident of one of the houses next to the allotments was throwing away two box planters that originally housed bay trees. I saw these as an opportunity so I consulted His Lordship and we agreed that, with a Maypole inserted in the middle, they would make great planters for our climbing French beans ‘Cosse Violette’, a beautiful dark purple bean, and ‘Sunshine’. As the name suggests it is a buttery, bright yellow.

I think that is about all for now. I feel exhausted just thinking back to all the things we have achieved so far! I can reveal that I wasn’t convinced I wanted an allotment again (I had an allotment in London and a polytunnel in Cornwall), however, it is bringing me such joy that I can’t imagine life without it now. There’s nothing as satisfying as sowing a seed, watching it grow, nurturing it and then being able to enjoy the fruits of your labour, be they flower or food.

Happy Gardening One and All.

The Beau.

N.B. This post was exclusively published on The Frustrated Gardener. If you are reading this on any other blog, it has been illegally ‘scraped’ by some unscrupulous folk who don’t have the talent or knowledge to write their own material. Come on over to The Frustrated Gardener and leave the pale imitation to shrivel on its virtual vine.

29 thoughts on “Allot of Social Distancing

  1. Hello John 🙂 It’s been a pleasure to read your post. You and Dan have done so much in such a short time. I can’t wait to see all the beautiful flowers you mentioned hoping you ar Dan will upload some photos as soon as they bloom. Thanks for sharing your ideas and thoughts. Hugs to the both of you. Greetings from Poland.

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    1. Hello Paul, thank you for your kind words. I can guarantee you that there will be pictures of pretty much everything that grows and blooms on the plot, so don’t worry about that 😉

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  2. The allotment is coming along at warp speed with you both being able to be there so much this spring. You have accomplished so much you should be proud. I can’t wait to see how lush and colorful it is going to be. You will be eating well this summer and through the winter. I know you are a bit disappointed about the shed colors but it looks so much better and the matching boxes are great. What a neat find. Love the family photos…well, all of them really. Cheers and happy gardening.

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    1. Thank you so much Lisa. It’s a funny time as we’ve planted so much but you can’t actually see a lot at the moment. The potatoes have just started to emerge and we have some very clear rows of seedlings coming up. Other plants are waiting until it’s warmer to be planted out.

      I look shocking in most of the photos – I used to have such high standards but comfort trumps style on the allotment I am afraid. And goodness knows when any of us will get a haircut now!

      Hope you’re well and appreciate for your comment as always 😊

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    2. Thank you Lisa – it’s only when you recap that you really appreciate just how much has been achieved on the plot so far. I’m eager for absolutely everything to grow, bloom and produce!
      Yes, a little disappointed by the shed colour but at the end of the day it’s just a shed, it’s functional and let’s not forget that it was free 🙂

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    1. Hello Paul, yes we did, we created a shallow row and popped them in one by one. Some areas of the country won’t be ready for such reckless behaviour, however, I think here in east Kent we will be fine, the danger of frost gets less and less by the day.

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  3. I thorough enjoyed reading your blog John. I wasn’t aware there were so many different varieties of flowers and vegetables and I am especially keen to see how the Bimbo blooms . I felt exhausted just reading about everything you’ve done, goodness knows how you have both managed to do all that in such a short space of time . Being a lover of Beetroot , I would also be very interested in sampling your varieties if at all possible. X Mrs P

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    1. The Gladioli are particularly exciting and, personally, I am very much looking forward to Flevo Laguna…..it is a riot of colour!!! The beetroot seeds have sprouted so we will hopefully be eating fresh beetroot very soon 🙂

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      1. I doubt that Max and Mildred understood that you would have preferred for them to obscure it at the time. Besides, you should see the other Beau. What a hot mess! 1967 C10 with a bumper sticker from . . . SANTA CRUZ! Oh, the SHAME!

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    1. You don’t really get a sense of the plot size until you are actually standing in the middle of it. We cover quite a site, however, having us both doing our bit makes it seem that bit smaller and more manageable. With a big plot comes a lot of couch grass…and that’s a right so and so to get rid of! The shed colour is growing on me 😉

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  4. it’s a huge plot and love seeing it all take shape. Our greenhouse is jammed at the moment, only the broad beans so far in open ground, though have marked out rows and wrested enough space for the sweet peas from my husband. Wanted to share the delight of cucumber Diva (Chiltern Seeds) with you – it’s a Lebanese variety so smooth skinned, crisp and almost sweet – very Biblical! Fruits prolifically. Have to share with Dan that I’m now treasuring 6 geranium maderense seedlings….! I have many nicotiana mutabilis seedlings and wish there was a way of getting them to you.

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    1. We have the broad beans out and the potatoes have just started showing their leaves so I will be covering them over again soon. I’m becoming a tad OCD at not seeing any Jerusalem artichokes yet – they were planted before the potatoes and still no sign…. You will love your maderense – our flowers are wonderful, on both the pink and white forms.
      I will look into Diva…..thank you for the recommendation 😀

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  5. Great post as usual. I’ve got seedlings on 5 windowsills and more in my potting shed and like you I’m wondering where they’re all going to go when the time seems right. I have cucumber crystal lemon in flower which is probably not ideal even in Cornwall. Keep safe and keep posting, please!

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    1. Thanks Elaine 🙂
      I grew Crystal Lemon in the polytunnel when I lived in Cornwall, but it didn’t do very well (probably more my housekeeping than the variety I should imagine!) so I am looking forward to seeing how it will do outdoors. If I remember correctly, it tasted very sweet, almost melon-like….

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  6. Good work gents allotment is looking good.Allotments here in Dublin are part of the lockdown,hopefully reopen after the may bank holiday a lot of work to catch up on.

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  7. Hi

    I love your blog
    I have just started on my own allotment in Liverpool and am following your progress very closely.
    So lucky that I can get still go and grow things.
    Keeping my husband busy with lots of projects

    Liked by 1 person

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