Sticking To The Plot ~ And The Comfort Of Gardeners


Hurrah! We’ve had rain after weeks without a drop, and at last the nightly allotment watering duty is on hold. It’s a big relief. Throughout May and early June I was spending at least an hour each evening pounding the plot paths, a watering can in each hand, making trip after trip to the water tank, this in a bid to keep newly planted beans, beetroot and greens going strong.

And it’s not only that the effort of hand watering is hard work and bothersome. Somehow it’s also an activity fraught with dilemmas. Because you know very well you can never can give plants what they actually need. It’s all too hit and miss. And then once you start, you need to keep on, and so there’s the problem that plants won’t get their roots down and establish themselves strongly, and in fact this year I’ve been trying not to water too much, relying on mulching wherever I can. Also watering in dry weather tends to compact the soil, which can be a problem around lettuce and carrot seedlings. And so yes, there are many moments when you think aren’t there better ways to spend one’s time.

But then the cropping starts, and when you can devour fresh picked artichokes, the leaf ends well doused in hot garlic butter, or tuck into lightly steamed broad beans served with salsa verde made from garden herbs, or gobble sun-warmed strawberries straight from the plant, or munch on a freshly pulled baby carrot, it’s obvious. It is not only worth it; there IS nothing better.


And so I can report that all on the plot is presently going (roughly) to plan. With the advent of rain last week came the planting out of leeks, sweet corn and assorted caulis and cabbages, Cherokee climbing beans, dwarf French beans, courgettes and squashes. Potatoes have been earthed up, and compost bins emptied and replenished with scavenged vegetation. Butter and runner beans that had been planted out earlier but then had to be sheltered from gale force winds have had their protective covers removed and the climbing pea and seedling asparagus beds have been mulched.

So now for some photos:


Climbing peas Lord Leicester and Alderman bringing up the rear; Belle de Fontenay potatoes centre; in the raised beds: seedling clumps of perennial leeks (Russian variety), kohlrabi and cabbage left foreground, and a rather poor showing of parsnips to the right.



As pretty as a pea flower? This one is called Champion, another old variety of climbing pea.



Verbascum and the butter bean canes. I have quite a few flowering plants dotted about my two plots. They attract pollinators for one thing, but also make up for some of the unsightly bins and pest protection devices. Pot marigolds grow themselves where they please; likewise the Nigella, and now it seems the wild moon daisies are intent on taking over the place. Behind them are the onion beds netted with enviromesh against allium beetle.




The header poppies are not mine though. They have just appeared in a new wild flower plot in the allotment orchard. Fellow allotmenteers, Phoebe, Siegfried and Ian have been working hard for over a year to reclaim this area of neglected fruit trees for everyone to enjoy, this on top of working their own plots. They are an all round horticultural tour de force, and I think myself very lucky that our lockdown regime has allowed allotment going. Over the past weeks I have been able to see them there and so, more or less social-distanced of course, tap into their positive gardening energies. It would be churlish not to pass some of them on.

So here are more views of the poppies and the reclaimed orchard.




64 thoughts on “Sticking To The Plot ~ And The Comfort Of Gardeners

  1. Rain rain glorious rain….The trees and grass around my flat are smiling with joy….and I am loving listening to the rain as it falls. Your garden must be so very happy 🙂

    1. We had rather too much of a downpour today, but yes the bouts of night-time rain have been lovely to listen to, and also the sudden showers between hot sunshine earlier in the week. And as you say, all the plants are standing so tall and happy at last.

  2. I just hauled out three gallons of water for three plants that LOVE water. We haven’t had any rain either. The plants are fine, but my back is not happy with me. I’ve been trying to find a long mini hose that attaches to my sink faucet that would water the indoor plants AND be long enough to get the plants on the deck, too.

    I lust for your tomatoes. Actually, I lust for anything fresh in the way for fruits and veggies. We aren’t in full season yet. We have a bit of corn, lettuce (round 1). No tomatoes yet and the cukes are ready, either. The rest of the produce doesn’t pop until July and August and the orchards aren’t ready until September and October. The dryness is worrisome since all winter we had heavy rains. All through Mach and early April, too, but since then, nothing. The trees don’t care because they sink their roots into the aquifer, but the flowers are looking a bit brown.

    The watering prohibitions are up. You can’t water your gardens or wash your car until we get substantial rain and a look at our weather forecast is the brightest i’ve ever seen! Every day, a big bright sun without even a hint of clouds. We usually have dry summers, but June is usually rainy in a normal way. I’m just hoping that the aquifer filled up nicely during all the winter and spring rains.

    Meanwhile, lack of rain notwithstanding, the weather is absolutely gorgeous and we seem to have new flowers that have drifted in from who knows where. What is tall, rather gangly flowering plant (weed? garden transport?), and has a beautiful puffy white flower that looks sort of like a rose, but isn’t. I’ve never seen them before, not even wild. I wonder if the birds drop seeds as they fly by.

    Even though our feeders are down, we have a lot of birds, mostly consuming the blackberries and raspberries. These very thorny plants have taken over all the open paths in the woods. You can SEE the woods, but you can’t go there. Anyway, we are also having a pretty big infestation of ticks and fleas because the winter was so warm, so keeping out of the woods is a good idea anyway.

    All over the world, I’m hearing people saying they are seeing weather they’ve never seen at this time of year. From heavy rain in Tasmania to the biggest ever Lion’s Mane jelly fish on our north Atlantic coastline. These normally grow to about a foot in width, but the ones that have arrived are as much as 300 feet long and five or six feet wide. They had pictures on the news yesterday.. They are as wide as the divers are tall! Gigantic. Fortunately, not killers (vinegar takes the sting away, mostly). It is definitely keeping the beach crowd minimized..

    Also, there is a new expanded influx of large sharks and a LOT of seals (which the sharks like to eat). Strange days on planet Earth.

    1. Am now struck by your image of thorny woods growing ever thornier – that you can see them but not go there; nor would want to because of ticks. It’s making me think of an Angela Carter yarn. And as for the weather, there are many accounts of confused conditions around the globe; ours has certainly been very changeable: cool and very wet today after a few days of tropical heat wave. But tales of 300 feet long jelly fish tentacles are beyond hair-raising. Surely Jules Verne territory. Maybe all our conjoined fictions have decided to inhabit reality all at once. Now there’s a thought to do one’s head in. In the meantime, I sympathise with your aching back. Those 3 gallons were kindly borne for thirsty plants. And yes, tomato lust. It seems to have gripped me and many I know. The horticulture industry here has been beseiged beyond anything it has ever experienced before – everyone after seed or plant plugs.

      1. I’m just hoping we have a chance to somehow fix things, hoping we have enough time remaining to do it.

        Those jellyfish were terrifying. They think it’s because the ocean is much warmer than it was, but you couldn’t PAY me to get into that water. The body of that jellyfish was really as wide as the diver was tall, so I’m guessing about six feet.

  3. I am salivating over your veg Tish, and “sun-warmed strawberries straight from the plant” brought back memories….

  4. Oh, I do so have garden envy, Tish!! Where we are now, I’m never going to have such a garden, although I will be planting more things in the fall, when the growing season really starts here. In the meantime, I strive to keep my three tomato plants, my one artichoke, and a couple herbs watered every other day (and certainly mulched!) to get them through the heat of summer. 🙂 If I can do that, I’ll feel quite successful…but I’ll still be envious each time I see your garden.


    1. I think you’re brilliant being so persistent. I’m thinking now of African farmers contriving sunshades for their young plants in particular. They would use bits of handy leaf litter and sticks loosely woven together to make simple ‘parasols’. I’m not sure I could cope at all with your intense heat let alone do gardening.

  5. It’s lovely to hear that you too finally got rain, and plenty of it, yes it was needed very much. Here a hosepipe ban came on the day after it started to rain. We were lucky too. Nearly mid summer and so lush everywhere. Enjoy!

  6. Your allotment is a credit to your hard work and dedication Tish. The photos make me envious, all that healthy looking produce. Like Janet I am struggling to keep my 3 tomatoes in pots producing. The problem is not keeping them growing, they grew like weeds, the problem is some pesky creature that snuck in overnight and gobbled a large number of the small green, unripe tomatoes. What was left I covered with cloth bags and next morning “it” had chewed through the bags and finished off the remaining tomatoes….😱 oh well, some you win, some you loose. The eggplants, spinach and silver beet still looking good

    1. That sounds to be one very determined pest, Pauline. And most frustratingly greedy of it. One of the things that takes most of the time at the allotment is ensuring the pigeon, allium beetle and butterfly defences are secure. And then there’s the slugs and pea moths, and even woodlice are having a good munch in unlikely quarters. None of these critters have notions of fair shares. All good luck with your surviving veg.

  7. Rain is so wonderful to see, we had a whole day of it yesterday which was just perfect, well almost perfect as it did mean we had to cancel a social distancing lunch with our eldest 😦

    1. Sad about missing lunch with the eldest. So many factors to consider with this social distancing lark. Having to include the weather’s habits too is much too much. Should be less rain today. Possibly…

      1. We did all morning but dried off thank goodness so we could see her. She’s now six months pregnant and so were really anxious to catch up in person.

  8. *Hangs head and wanders off sulking.*

    These are amazing. It is an uphill battle for me to grow any sort of decent crop. Don’t know how you do it.

    1. But you DO grow good stuff, Ark. And you’ve not been doing it with intent for very long, have you? There’s so much to learn about one’s local conditions. All I can say for my output (and I’ve been plodding away at it for 13-14 years on the allotment) is: raised beds, constant compost making and mulching, feeding with comfrey gloop now and then, and sticking to things I know will grow – given a fair following wind that is. I bet your soil is fairly impoverished, but having the hens will help with that. I remember someone telling us in Nairobi that when our house was built in the ’30s-40s, the builder took away the top soil and sold it. Am guessing such things are a possibility in the Jo’burg environs. Also termites in Nairobi used to make off with any compost I dug in. I hadn’t learned then that it was best to pile it on top of the soil. Keep at it. It will be worth it 🥕🌶🌽🥔🥬

  9. I love seeing and reading about your garden and allotment Tish. Partly it’s the sheer joy of seeing fresh fruit and veg (yep, I’m salivating too) and partly it’s the feeling of solidarity with other growers (though I am seriously small-time here) and knowing that you’re doing good for yourself and your environment.

    1. Gardeners together – however they do it. It’s also a propaganda-free zone, though there may be debates as to the best way to deal with slugs. Happy weekend, Su. More power to our mutual planting activities.

  10. I enjoyed this walk through your allotment this morning. As your harvest comes in, you will be amply rewarded for your efforts.

    It’s been really hot here for days without any rain in sight. In a normal routine, I would give the outdoor plants just a passing thought as I run off to do something ‘more interesting’, yet this year’s weirdness has kept me home obsessing over what’s growing and how it’s doing. Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time watering. I hope I too will be rewarded for my efforts 😊

    1. I think everyone has been much more garden-minded for all sorts of reasons. Here in the UK covid has compounded with Brexit, and people are wondering where their salad stuff will come from – problems with picking UK crops without imported workers; worry over lack of food imports when so much comes from Spain. It’s weird all round. Anyway, food luck with your crops. Plants usually reward their growers who care for them 🙂

      1. It’s so interesting how we are seeing a resurgence in traditional practices – home cooked meals with the family around the table, baking bread, growing your own vegetables, etc. All things I doubt anyone predicted at the beginning of the year! I understand the added sense of insecurity in the UK with Brexit looming. Stranger days ahead, I’m afraid.

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