Sole Survivor 

  
I know, I know…it’s been a while. Despite my best intentions during the latter half of 2016, I have neglected both the plot and the blog. Today I am determined to rectify both of those counts! 

The last half of 2016 was brilliant. I had a fabulous holiday, went to River Cottage, walked the entire length of Hadrians Wall and celebrated my 40th birthday, all before Christmas and New Year. 

  
  
   
 
  
Turning 40 has had a surprising effect on me. I had thought that I’d hide myself away with a bottle of wine and a take away and simply deny the milestone. The surprise was that I didn’t hide…I embraced it! I’m pleased to say it’s made me more focused, not only on what I want to achieve in the future but all of the things I’ve put off doing. 

No more! I’m a list maker, and in this, my 40th year, I’m making a list of all the things I’m going to do and allotmentry and regular blogging is definitely high on that list! 

Today I thought I’d make a start and face the allotment after the spell of abandonment. I was fearful of what might greet me…

“Have the brambles reclaimed the entire plot?”

“Has the allotment turned into a jungle?”

“Will I be able to tell where the vegetable beds are under all the fallen leaves?”

“Will feral cats be living in the shed?”

The good news is that no, the brambles haven’t reclaimed the entire plot however there are some huge canes to be dealt with, I can now see where my paths are after sweeping up tonnes of fallen leaves, no, it’s not a jungle, it’s just a bit messy and thankfully no feral cats were found in the shed! 

  
Last year was admittedly a poor growing year for me. I had clearly underestimated the destructive force of the slug and snail population and a large quantity of my vegetables were destroyed. I had pretty much given up on the growing season and totally forgot that when the slugs had eaten all my squash plants, I’d planted out my leeks…  

 
Lo and behold…I give you the sole survivors at the allotment! 

  
I can’t tell you how delighted I am to see my leeks still standing! They’re not particularly big, ok, a lot of them are rather skinny but they are all still there, they’ve not bolted and there’s not a hint of leek rust either! 

I’m going to leave them standing in the ground for a few more weeks to see if they grow any more but if not, I’ll dig them up in the spring when I’m turning the beds over and enjoy a whole host of leek inspired dishes! 

Now that I’m back into the growing groove, the only thing left to do is to start planning this years vegetables! 

Bring it on! 

Brambles? What brambles?

Over the course of clearing the allotment, I’ve had the opportunity to learn lots about brambles. I didn’t have much choice really, they were everywhere!

Dad drafted in again to help beat back the brambles

Dad drafted in again to help beat back the brambles

They were growing through the fence from the park, coming up beside the apple trees, growing in with the pampas grass, they were all the way along right section of the plot. I had to get them out otherwise there’d be no allotment left, just a bramble jungle. I decided the best course of action would be to cut them down, section by section, so I could find the roots and then dig the whole thing out. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? Well it would be if there was only a couple of brambles to remove, but remember, I was only a few blackberries short of the worlds biggest bramble jungle.

Brambles ahoy!

Brambles ahoy!

It took weeks of hacking back the sharp canes, and cutting them down to ground level. Then came the root removal. They were enormous! I was able to burn about half of the dug out brambles before the wet weather started, since then, the rest of the brambles have been bagged up and stored on the plot. We’ve had a run of good weather recently so I decided that I’d get the rest of the brambles burned this week while I’m off work.

Bags of brambles

Bags of brambles

More bags of brambles

More bags of brambles

I thought that the cuttings would’ve stayed reasonably dry in their rubbish bags but it seems as if I was wrong. They were really damp which meant that I’d have a hard time burning them. There were some larger brambles that had dried out, so I started with those and tried adding a little of the bagged cuttings once a good flame had taken hold.

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The flames went out and were replaced by massive plumes of smoke. Not wanting to annoy the neighbours, I decided the only thing I could to was to have a quick cup of tea, load up the car and take all the bags to the recycling centre instead.

Quick tea break for the worker

Quick tea break for the worker

Two and a half hours, 5 trips and 36 bags later, it was done.

Bye bye brambles

Bye bye brambles

Order has been restored

Order has been restored

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Brambles? What brambles? No brambles here.