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I’ve Lost The Plot?

January 31st, 2012 by Karsten

Reading the headline for this post, you could indeed be forgiven for thinking that I’ve gone crazy, round the bend or what ever saying might work for you. I’m happy to tell you - that’s not the case - in that sense anyway!

But - in terms of my allotment plot - yes, I’ve had to let it go! It was a hard decision to make, because over the first couple of years working on it, I put hours of hard work that I never got to reap the rewards of.

The trouble is - and let this serve as a warning for those of you who are looking to get an allotment plot -  that to successfully run an allotment takes time. And lots of it! Try and combine it with a full time job, looking after a young family and so on, and you truly do have a job on your hand.

I’m not going to tell you that it can’t be done - just that I couldn’t! You may well be in a different position than me, but if you can’t devote at the very least ½ an hour a day to your plot, plus 1-2 hours every Saturday/Sunday, then allotmenteering is not for you!

You don’t need to ask for weeds to grow on your plot. They will! Your produce will need watering and tending to. Having an allotment plot is hard work - but also very satisfying.

Now - you may ask - where does that leave things with regards to this website? How can I be a webmaster, and not have an allotment plot? Good question!

It’s not like I’ve done much on the website either over the last couple of years, but my knowledge and experience hasn’t left me when I gave up the plot. So, I’ve decided to keep this website running, because it’s still a source of information for a lot of people visiting.

I’m probably going to be doing things over the next 3-4 months to freshen things up a bit, and maybe give updates on growing vegetables at home, since I’ve now got a good sized back garden where I can do this.

One thing I’m definately going to do, is to provide more information for allotment gardeners, whether on this website, or on sister websites. The first of those sister websites will be announced tomorrow, but looking on the menu to the left could give things away.

Feel free to check back tomorrow - if you can’t solve the riddle.

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Back To Square One

April 23rd, 2011 by Karsten

I’ve just checked back in to my allotmenteer site - after an absence stretching over 2 years - to get the site up and running again. In saying that - the site has actually done quite well in terms of visitor numbers - it’s just that I haven’t done anything to keep it updated.

I have to admit that it’s pretty much the same with my allotment plot. I’m basically back to where I started about 5 years ago, only my plot is in a slightly better condition due to all the hard work I put in those first couple of years.

Digging the soil on my plot now shows clearly that it’s been beneficial to dig in those tonnes of organic matter - I now have plenty of worms working my soil - so it’s all good.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to tend to my plot over the past two seasons, mainly because it has been totally infested with marestail weeds, successfully taking over all growing areas. Anyone who has been dealing with marestail is well aware what that means. They are notoriously difficult to get rid of, and though you wouldn’t think they can stop vegetables etc. from growing - they do!

This year I have tried to dig a part of the plot over, painstakingly removing as much of the marestail roots as possible, but I’m looking to take another couple of methods in use. I’ve found a systemic weed killer, called Kibosh, which apperas to deal with the marestail very well.

The problem that Glyphosate based weed killers have is with penetration, so another method I’m going to try out is injecting RoundUp into some of the marestail plants.

I am, of cause, going to keep all site visitors up to date with any developments.

Another thing I’m going to do this season is to get my wormeries back up and running, and post about those developments on these pages as well. As I go along I’m going to put together a guide on how to build a wormery, which I’ll make available for download, and also a guide to take things to the next stage and build a real worm farm on your plot.

Watch this space!!!

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What? Easter already? Time to get stuck in!

April 10th, 2009 by Karsten

It’s amazing how time just passes by! It’s easter weekend already, and while I haven’t done an awful lot on my plot since last update, there’s a few things I can tell you all about.

Easter weekend is usually the time of the year when most allotment plotholders start to get really busy. I’m no different! Before this weekend is over, I’m going to have my plot rotovated and ready for sowing/planting out.

Ironically I had a letter from the local council yesterday, to inform me that a ground maintenance officer had been on site and found my plot in a non-cultivated state. Those guys make me laugh! They obviously don’t know enough about ground maintenance to see that all weeds have been sprayed, and that the weedkiller have done its job. I wonder how they can get paid in excess of £20K a year!

On a more positive note, I’ve picked up my seed potatoes for this year a couple of weeks ago, and they are chitting away at the moment. This weekend my early tubers will go in the ground, while the others will be left until the end of the month. This year I picked my seed potatoes from a local farmer, at an absolute bargain price, so if you’re anywhere near a professional potato grower, you’d do yourself a favour by paying them a visit.

The downside is that they may not have the specific variety you’re after (they didn’t in my case), but, the value for money, their expertice and advice, not to forget the passion for growing spuds takes some beating! My farmer friend told me everything there is to know on the subject, and threw a few very rare tubers on the box of seed potatoes I bought of him. Price: £10.00! Would have cost me no less than £40 from the garden centre! And you guys have a new info-sheet on growing potatoes coming up soon…..

Also, the seed for all my vegetables are ordered and in the post as I’m writing this! I placed my order online again this year, due to the amazing selection you get in comparison to the shops. I bought my vegetable seeds from Dobies - but you can go with any of the seed retailers that I link to in the menu bar on the right - as they’re all more or less the same.

This will do for now - but I’m sure there’s going to be more updates coming in the next few days and weeks - as the allotment season gets into swing, so keep your eyes peeled.

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The First Day Of Spring

March 1st, 2009 by Karsten

Today is officially the first day of spring. Time to get started back at the allotment, and get the plot ready for a new season of growing.

I made the first proper visit to my plot yesterday, and spent a few productive hours, getting a few jobs done. I’m in the process of tidying up the plot, trying to recover from last years disaster. They say third time lucky, so fingers crossed, this is going to be my year!

I started out getting a fire going in my rubbish burner, a recycled oil barrel from a local garage, burning some old twigs and dried up weeds together with some bits of wood off my old greenhouse.

Next I cut back the Autumn fruiting raspberries, right down to the ground as you’re supposed to before the end of February. Talk about leaving things to the last minute ;-)

Also, my strawberry plants ended up fighting a losing battle last year with a bunch of buttercups. They’re not easy getting rid of when they first get hold, so I dug out 20 plants (a mix of mature plants and runners), and put them in some pots of compost. My plan is to build a strawberry terrace when I get the time, and put them on there i pots. Should be an awful lot easier to manage, both in terms of weeds and in terms of protecting them from pests.

Finally, I made short process of dealing with all the grass on the plot - the result of digging in fresh manure in the topsoil last year. I got out the knapsack and treated the lot of it with weedkiller. A bit sad in a way - but there’s just no way I can manage the plot without help - as time is a major issue.

All in all a rather productive weekend. If everything goes to plan I’m going to order some seed potatoes off eBay before the end of the day, because I think I might get a better deal here than with the commercial seed merchants. More on that later.

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Time Flies….

August 26th, 2008 by Karsten

Wow! Wait a minute. I just remembered that I have this website on allotmenteer.co.uk, logged in, and noticed my last posting to the site dates back nearly 4 months!

OK - let’s say it was during winter this happened - you could sort of understand. But as it happens summer is nearly gone, and this place should be bustling with reports of a bountyful harvest from my plot, so why is it that nothing has happened?

I’m afraid that this season has been another disastrous one for me! The two main reasons being lack of time due to work and family commitments, and a massive, massive mistake I made at the beginning of the season. Let’s rewind……

My previous post read:

On top of that I have, over the last month or so, wheeled in an additional 2-3 tonnes of manure, and spread it in a 2 inch layer on top of the soil. Yesterday most of it was turned into the soil by rotovator (I still need to run over parts of it another time or two), so my entire plot is now ready for sowing and planting out.

I have now learned the hard way! Never - never ever - use fresh manure on your top soil! :-)

Now - some of you may want to know why? Simply because seeds that would have been part of the diet of the animals that produced the manure may not have been digested properly (this is particularly true for grazing animals), and so they will germinate and grow on your plot.

Result? When I came back from my holiday at the end of May, my plot looked like something in between a nice meadow and a lawn! Sad - but true! Now - it takes enough out of me to get the time to go and tend to whatever crops I’ve got, so having to weed out grass from all over the plot was simply more than I could bear to think about.

Needless to say - but most of my plot has been in a horrendous state through most of the season. In saying that though - I have had a decent crop of strawberries, peas, raspberries and beetroot. Also I have had a few carrots - and a few brassicas that I don’t yet know how will turn out. Oh - and my sons sunflowers have been a tremendous success - second season on the run!

I have learned my lesson! I shall get up - brush off the dust - and move on! Success on my plot will happen the third time around - and I’m still adamant that this site will evolve into a valuable ressource for allotment plotholders and/or vegetable growers in the UK and world wide.

Just watch this space…. :-)

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I Made It!

May 4th, 2008 by Karsten

Yesterday was a day of great achievement in my allotmenteer career. After 18 months of hard work I finished double-digging my entire plot! This means that every bit of soil on my plot has now been dug over, using my “Cheat version” of double digging.

In reality, even though this technique is not a labour intensive as “real” double digging - make no mistakes - it still takes a considerable amount of effort, along with (quite litterally) tonnes of organic matter! My estimate would be that over the course of these 18 months, I have wheeled in well in excess of 50 tonnes of horse manure onto my plot, and dug it in.

On top of that I have, over the last month or so, wheeled in an additional 2-3 tonnes of manure, and spread it in a 2 inch layer on top of the soil. Yesterday most of it was turned into the soil by rotovator (I still need to run over parts of it another time or two), so my entire plot is now ready for sowing and planting out.

I’m going to do some of that tomorrow (it’s a bank holiday in the UK), while I promised to also run the rotovator over another plot or two, belonging to some elderly plot holders who would have no chance of doing it themselves. Those machines in themselves are worth a few hours in the gym - so if you’re 70+ years old - you really don’t stand much of a chance. I love helping people - so it’s a problem solved!

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Back to work

February 16th, 2008 by Karsten

Winter is losing its grip, and today I went back to my plot for the first time in nearly 3 months. I really enjoyed being back, as did my 4-year old son, but boy did I feel out of shape at the end of the day? My goodness - if I am to achieve anything of what I want this season - I’ve got to kick it into a higher gear!

In saying that though, this year I have invited one of my friends on to the plot with me, and he was there with me some of the time today. I’ve done this mainly for 2 reasons. First of all, there’s just no way that I’ll be able to manage the plot on my own this year, so I thought it would be an idea to invite someone in to share the benefits that can be had from the plot as well. Secondly - it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you work with someone else - rather than on your own.

Between us we managed to pick up well over a ton of horse manure from the local riding school, transporting it onto the plot, and digging just over half of it in. We used my “Cheat version” of the double digging method, but as well this year I’m planning to spread a layer of manure on the top soil, before the whole plot gets turned over with a rotovator.

As far as I’m concerned, you can’t dig in too much organic matter of this kind. It would be different with stronger types of manure, like cow/pig/chicken manure, but horse manure is quite mild - and excellent to get some air into the soil. I’m hoping to see some results of my hard work last season, digging in tonnes of manure, in terms of an improved soil structure as well as a sharply increased amount of earthworms to help me do some of the hard work.

Talking of worms - I cant remember if I mentioned this before - but all the worms in my wormery was wiped out last year because of all the rain. This year I’m going to start all over again - and we may even start a proper wormery on the site - because we have found out that it can help us with composting, while it can raise some funds to improve things on our site. I’ll keep you all updated on that one.

Other than that I’ve got nothing much to say today. I promise updates to the site will start to become more regular, as I get the time I need to build it, and I’ve got something worthwhile to tell you about.

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Happy New Year!

October 16th, 2007 by Karsten

I hear you say “What?”. By now you probably think “This guy is off his head! Isn’t he 2½ months ahead of time?”

Well - no I’m not! In fact I’m 2 weeks late - because I’m talking about the gardeners’ and allotmenteers’ New Year - October 1st. This date is among gardeners reconed as the start of a new season - we can take stock of the season behind us - and start looking forward to a new season with everything that brings with it.

You may well have noticed that not a lot has been happening on Allotmenteer.co.uk these past few months. Those were the months where I should have told you all about my crops - rejoyced in the fruits of my hard labour - and showed off what was happening on my plot during summer!

Problem is - I’ve had nothing to show for all my hard work! As I’m sure most of you guys would agree - the “summer” just gone has been nothing less than an absolute disaster - and my allotment plot has been no exception! This doesn’t mean that my labour has been in vain - I’m sure all my digging over and incorporating truckloads of organic matter to my plot will pay off in seasons to come - but this year has been a massive let down.

My main crop this year was potatoes! They were doing fine up until the last week in July, and as you can see in my previous article I was still optimistic at that point, still digging and planting (hoping to get a good yield at the end of september), and hoping for better weather to come round. At that point most of my potato plants looked as if they were doing just fine - with exception of a few plants that I thought had been subject to slug attacks.

One week later all my potatoes were gone! Dead! Obliterated by blight - not slugs - and all my tomato plants followed suit! There has been two successful crops on my plot this year! My Squash (marrow) plants gave me a few fruits - nothing like they would have with better weather - and my son’s sunflowers excelled! That’s it! Everything else ended up absolutely useless!

Not that it was any consolation to me - and then in a way it was - I visited my college tutor and his 2 colleagues in the walled garden at Croxteth Park, Liverpool. Their vegetable garden didn’t look any better at all - and between them - these guys have got more than a 100 years experience growing vegetables, fruits and ornamentals. I guess it isn’t just me who was hit hard then!

Now - obviously - this has hit allotmenteer.co.uk quite hard as well. Not that I wanted it to - but with the summer we’ve had - I turned my attention to other projects. At a later point I’ll tell you more about what I’ve been doing - although it has nothing to do with allotmenteering - but I need to see it work first.

I will get back to updating this website more regularly, putting new information on it that will benefit allotment plotholders, but for the time being I have to keep my focus on other things - including getting my plot ready for next season. As previously announced I’m also expecting an addition to my family in about 5 weeks time - and those of you knowing what having a baby in the house means - will know why my postings will remain erratic for some time.

This is just to keep you updated on the goings on around here. Please bear with me - this website is not dead - just in a bit of a slumber. I still intend on making it the place to come for allotment plotholders and vegetable growers worldwide.

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Let it rain - let it rain - let it rain…

June 25th, 2007 by Karsten

Wooshhh! And before you know it - another month is nearly gone and over! The latter part of this june has been as wet as they come, which is good in one sense - and not so good in another. Well - at least for me that is!

It’s a well publicised fact that I’ve not managed to do all the work I’d have liked to on my plot these last few months, and so have not got everything out of it that I wanted to. I still have to do some planting as I move along digging - which is down to me being a bit stubborn - and wanting the plot to be dug over fully this season.

The main reason for this is that I’m probably going to struggle on the time issue even more next year - due to an addition being made to our family this autumn - but also because I have seen the benefit of digging the plot on the parts where I’ve managed to get it done.

The good thing about the rain is - obviously - that the plants on my plot gets the water they need, without much effort on my part. That is without a doubt a very good thing. And it has given me a bit of time to do some research and write a few articles to be posted on this site in the next week or so on the subject of…. watering! How ironic!

Well - summer could still be on its way - it could turn very warm, and in certain areas of the UK this means that restrictions will be put in place on the use of water, so even though it’s raining cats and dogs at the moment, things could well change!

On my plot this weekend I managed to get a bit of weeding done, I got those of my potato plants that needed earthing up seen to, and I picked a small bucket of raspberries that another plotholder on the site let me help myself to. This is one of the things I love about allotmenteering - the social aspect of networking and helping eachother out.

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Let the planting begin….

May 7th, 2007 by Karsten

Another weekend is gone - and it has been a busy one! I’ve been digging, preparing seedbeds, tidying up and I’ve started planting out!

Thursday afternoon I had news of another delivery of manure to the site - and so I decided to make the most. Finally managed to finish digging over one part of my plot (way behind schedule), but with my job getting busier time has been sparse.

Now I quite litterally put in plants/seeds as soon as I’ve dug the soil over - so I’ve had to let go a bit of my planning. I’m sure I’ll be ok though. The important thing is to get things done at the moment - and I’ve still got plenty to do.

I put in my raspberry canes in their final position, as well as my redcurrant. The redcurrant and the early variety of raspberries will not be producing a crop this year - but I’ve got things to look forward to then.

Also I have planted out my sons sunflowers - 28 of them to be precise - after just under half of them was devoured by snails. I hate the little buggers!

Finally, I managed to get my strawberry plants planted out. The majority of them will not be producing a crop this year, as they are first year plants, and they have been in the pots for by far too long. Some of them has set flowers in the warm weather though, and one of them had tiny fruits on it, but still I’m not too optimistic.

In the coming week I hope to be able to but my potatoes in the ground (the first early ones at least), and as well I’m hoping to be able to put in my marrows and sweetcorn after they have been hardened off during the last 10 days.

As you can tell there’s enough to do before I’m jetting off on another family holiday on friday afternoon. I just hope the weather will treat me kindly - though the forecast doesn’t look too good.

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