Gifts and Helping Hands

We were lucky enough to have an extra pair of hands on the plot last Thursday when our friend Chris popped over for “a tour.” The inverted commas are because we waited until we’d locked him into the allotment site before breaking the news that we actually meant manual labour.  Chris is an ex-florist and loves gardening so we knew he’d be keen to help, and happily he didn’t try to escape. He got straight to work moving pallets and helping me dig the globe artichoke bed. We rewarded him with a massive supper so he seemed happy with the work/food trade off.

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We’re actually really grateful for his help as the following day we were given a few trays of broccoli from a friend, and P stopped us on the way to our plot to give us swede and  parsnip seedlings. We thought the globe artichoke bed would probably be better utilised as a brassica bed, but it still needed a little preparation before we could plant our newly acquired goodies.

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I weeded out as much of the nettle and thistle rhizomes as possible, and Rob helped shift the clay so we could lay cardboard on the bottom of the bed.

I’ve actually been working on and off on this bed for a week now and at this point I was dreaming of no dig beds. Had we the finances and resources we would’ve opted for this approach, but we don’t, so we needed to continue to break up the clay and reuse it. Once we’d laid the cardboard Rob watered it to help it settle down into the shape of the bed and we refilled the bed.

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According to The Vegetable & Herb Expert the vegetables we were given don’t like clay soil, and prefer something a bit finer and stable around the roots. I think we’re just going to have to hope for the best, especially for the parsnips which don’t like being handled at all. They had wilted by the time we planted them and they’ve not improved since. To save the bed from rabbit attack Rob constructed a chicken wire fence around the perimeter using canes for support.

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We’ve also had some other wonderful gifts for the plot over the last few weeks. Mum and Dad C gave us a rosemary bush and some National Garden Gift Vouchers. We took advantage of the 6 plants for £12 at the Wyvale Garden Centre in Chilton and bought some herbs and compost. I spent a very pleasant afternoon making a herb bed beside the fire pit ready for when we cook over the fire.

There’s lavender, mint (a gift from a neighbour), bergamot, parsley, hyssop, oregano and thyme. I’ve left the mint in its pot to prevent it from spreading. I’ve also planted a couple of the broccoli plants that we had left over and I plan to plant a few calendulas and scatter some nasturtium seeds here too. And in line with our current state of affairs, I skirted the bed with netting to keep out our furry friends.

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I’m sure it’ll look prettier when the greenhouse is sorted.

Mum and Dad L bought us a gift too – the Florabest Multi-purpose Gardening Tools System from Lidl. It’s great, it includes a weed hoe, a rake, a cultivator, and a double hoe with lightweight detachable short and long handles.

It’s been invaluable for earthing up the potatoes and breaking the clay. The long handle comes in two parts for ease of storage, but it does tend to start unscrewing itself every so often when in use. This isn’t a problem as it’s nice to have a rest and screw it back together whilst surveying your hard work. And if it can survive our clay soil (RIP spade and hand trowel) then it’s definitely won a place in my heart.

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