Monday, 30 January 2012

Back "by popular demand"

I’m a bad blogger.

There, I said it.

It’s been almost a year since my last post, and I feel terrible. Of course, nothing much has happened in that time – such is the life of a Wayne.

I’m lying of course, a vain attempt at placating my guilt and buying myself a bit of time whilst I think about what to put here in my first post of 2012.

Suffice it to say that last year was possibly a bit of a write-off where the plot is concerned. A flurry of activity toward the beginning of the year, which Wayned (pun intended and badly executed) as the year progressed.

Thanks to the wonders of modern Facebookology however I now have a timeline of what I did, and when I did it (to a certain extent), so a quick recap reveals:

• 2 weddings
• 1 cut finger
• 1 Vegas stag do
• A bike ride
• A job change
• The beginning of pre-school
• A beard

2011 in a nutshell.

So, why the renewed efforts to get blogging? Well, at this juncture I should probably mention a few people – so I will. Via the wonder that is the Twitter machine @allyssaroxx @victony01 @anita_neet and various pals on the Grapevine ( all convinced me in their own way to get blogging again, so here I am…

Is that enough explaining?


So – during a conversation between LadyWayne and myself a number of weeks ago, I aired my concerns at being able to carry on with the plot. “We’ll make it more of a family activity” she replied. We’d had this discussion before…

A promise of spending every Sunday morning (weather/schedule permitting) on the plot as a family was offered. I took it – with open arms.

So, after the Christmas mayhem (we hosted again – gladly) I set about gathering my seed catalogues and the search began for my own seed stash. That search is still going on – I’ve lost my tin.

Writing this I’d like to make you aware that I am at present, a little bit edgy at the prospect of having yet to sow a single seed. Other gardeners (of any level) will understand this apprehension, as the season fast approaches, the knowledge that in a month or so, chaos will reign supreme as I try in vain to get seeds to germinate, eke out every second of daylight, run out of room….

Deep breath.

Of course, before one embarks on the annual seed-fest and subsequent flurry of activity, it is important to prepare the final resting…..growing place of the plants you intend to grow.


I’ve missed a step.

This often happens (again, beginners like me will understand).

Firstly, it’s probably a good idea to decide on what you want to grow. Previous years have been a bit hit and miss – the last 4-5 years have been a steep learning curve, understanding what grows well on the plot, what you like to grow and so on.

So, I’ve drawn up a list of the produce I am looking to grow this year – based on our likes and successes:

• Sweetcorn (lots of)
• Beetroot (lots of)
• Carrots (successional sowings of)
• Peas (podded and “mange tout” types)
• Potatoes (2nd early & main)
• Courgettes (green only)
• Squashes (butternut & one other type)
• Gherkins (although not a big success last year)
• Chillies (see previous item)
• Onions
• Garlic
• Fennel
• Celeriac
• Brussels Sprouts
• Broccoli
• Spring Onions
• Runner Beans
• French Beans
• Parsnips
• Swede
• Turnips
• Herbs (oregano/mint/rosemary/thyme/sage/basil/parsley)
• Rhubarb
• Apples
• Strawberries
• Raspberries
• Flowers of various descriptions (one year on looking at my plot I decided it was too “green” and vowed to inject more colour in subsequent years)

I’m sure there are some things I’ve forgotten – but that seems enough to be getting on with for now.

So, I’ve started to order seeds from numerous suppliers in the absence of my own stash – I will learn to put it in a safe place, I will.

This Sunday just passed was out first “day” as a family on the plot. Sods law that only days before the pretty weather ladies (and a few chaps) suggest that we are in for a four-week long cold snap! They of course are right, and a quick recce out the front window on Sunday morning revealed a frost – confirmed by the blast of cold air as the kitchen window was opened as we prepared breakfast.

Breakfast done, I loaded the car up with the basic paraphernalia required this time of year – the lopper, pruning shears, secateurs, long-handled spade, 3 bags of leaves and several layers of clothing.

TheBoyWayne and myself dressed as one would expect, boots, scruffy trousers/jeans, jumper and body warmers (though I think they’re called “Gilets” nowadays). LadyWayne however, perhaps less as one would expect:

Car now unloaded LadyWayne and TheBoyWayne awaited instruction – I uttered a few basic requests and set about tackling the apple tree with my pruning shears. The tree was in need of a haircut:

I started tentatively as always – keeping the “goblet” shape in mind, and soon realised that I perhaps needed to be a little more ruthless and clambered onto the tree to access the more meaningful branches. After about 45 minutes, several branch stabs and a cut finger, it started to take shape. I took a step back and glanced over onto the plot to notice that LadyWayne had made great progress and had cleared several beds already!


I have omitted the numerous "raised-voice" instructions that TheBoyWayne had already received at this stage – as they will most likely add nothing to the sense of progress.

“The beds are in good shape – makes it a lot easier to dig” uttered LadyWayne after another couple of beds had been cleared.

Now in itself this probably doesn’t mean much to many of you – but to me it meant that the years of hard work that have been put in to date, are finally starting to pay off. I remember spending hours on some of the beds – pulling up roots, pulling weeds, digging in leaf mulch, compost, cardboard and so on. The soil it seems is starting to improve.

*takes a moment*

Once the tree was nearly complete, TheBoyWayne decided he’d had enough of being “talked to” because he kept walking over the beds instead of using the paths, and wandered off a few plots up to go and see the “bock-bock chickens”. He soon returned pronouncing he didn’t like the chickens – but wanted mummy to go and have another look with him anyway.

Off they went as I finished off the tree. It always looks harsh after its haircut – but hopefully I’ve done what is required for another year:

LadyWayne had cleared tens beds by this point, TheBoyWayne helping deposit the discarded weeds, roots and dead plants onto the “compostarium” (parents/viewers of Mr Bloom’s Nursery will sympathise). So, they decided to go for a walk around the allotment site – which gave me about half an hour to prune the roses, cut back the raspberries and have a bit of a tidy up.

Now, the raspberries have just been decimated in this photo - I intend to tidy them up, and stake the canes properly this year.

The rose doesn't look much like this, but last year saw plenty of blooms - I'm hoping this year will be the same:

It also gave me the opportunity to picture in my head where things are going to go this year. More organised gardeners/allotment holders will have charts and crop rotation plans, but as with most things I tend to rely on what’s in my head at the time– which is why I’ll never be more than a pottering gardener.

The vision I have will manifest itself into a living plot one day – I know it will. For now - it just looks a bit like this:

(I know it looks a bit untidy, but I will tidy it up as the year progresses, I promise. The lack of shed doesn't help)

Parents of young gardeners will know that it having children on the plot will probably mean that a ten minute job will most likely take fifteen with them “helping”, and that it can sometimes be a little frustrating – but, the rewards far outweigh the hardships.

It’s those little moments – peeing on the compost heap (male wee is a well-known compost accelerator – I discussed this with a friend recently), which he of course takes great pleasure in doing. The “daddy, look what I’ve found!” as he runs over clasping something in his hand – the look of panic on my face as he presents me with this:

(on taking this photo the chrysalis moved in my hand and I very nearly created my own little chrysalis!)

TheBoyWayne will have his own bed this year to grow whatever takes his fancy – I may need to employ some cheating tactics to get things moving a bit quicker – patience are not a 3 year old’s strong point.

I’m looking forward to 2012.

Now where did I put those seeds…?

p.s. someone remind me to bale everything properly please.

Apologies for the mammoth post - I've had some making up to do. Time for s sit down...


Anonymous said...


This blog is brilliant, from the *takes a moment* to the peeing on the compost V.funny.

When you said plot i thought you mean a 2 by 2 piece of grass not all that space and boxes!

Am inspired and will promise to do stuff with the girls in our very dull garden this year!

Hurray, @allyssarox Nic X

Currysniffa said...

Hey Wayne (see what I did there :D ) Great blog fella, you write really well unlike me, your blog is a pleasure to read keep it coming..

Newbie said...

I second what they both said :o)