Please vote!

Waltons are running their annual competition for the best allotment blog of 2017. They've chosen some entertaining and interesting blog sites in their list of fourteen. Honoured to have Allotment Heaven included.

Got ten minutes or so to spare? Why not have a read of the sites and place your votes? You're allowed to vote for up to three. And if you choose to include Allotment Heaven as one of your votes, thank you!

Do you dig it?

Allotment looking a bit sorry for itself? Covered in weeds and looking beyond hope? This past year has been a bit of a disaster for me too. Family commitments left little time to do anything on the plot. Result? Weeds, weeds and more weeds.

Autumn is the perfect time to get back on top. The objective is to turn the soil so winter frost can get right into the ground. If your soil is easy to work, aim to remove all weeds. First job on each subsequent visit is to rake over the areas already worked to upset any new weeds.

Unlucky and have heavy clay soil? Don't worry too much about removing all the weeds. Your aim is to turn the land spadeful by spadeful, dumping the weeds upside down. The bigger the clods of earth the better. Frost will reach right into the earth to break up those lumps of clay. In early spring you can re-dig the land, now more easy to work, removing any remaining weeds.

You might think you can spend a whole afternoon digging for Britain, but pretty soon you'll be finding excuses to avoid another muscle-aching session. Much better to restrict yourself to a couple of hours or less. That's enough time to make progress without killing yourself. You'll be amazed how quickly you get the plot back under control.

Don't delay. Go get that spade and boots. Don't forget the coffee and cake for half time. Here's the result after my first tidy up session...

19 amazing allotment blogs


Thank you Waltons, for including Allotment Heaven as one of their 19 amazing allotment blogs. To read the full list of entries, click here.

Bee friendly


It's hard to understate the importance of bees. Don't just think honey. We rely on bees and other insects to pollinate most of our fruit and vegetables. Sadly, our bee population is under threat from intensive farming, urbanisation, disease and other factors. In the last century 20 species have become extinct in the UK, with another 35 currently under threat. 

The honey bee and bumblebee are the most recognisable of the species. Actually there are about 270 varieties. And not all depend on a hive. Some bees are solitary. 

The strange thing is, places that are good for bees are good for people too. We share their love of varied, natural green spaces, clean air and water. We both love wild areas full of blossom. Grow plants that attract bees and not only will your allotment or garden have the happy background sound of buzzing, you'll improve your chances of a better fruit, vegetable and flower crop too.

Suttons Seeds have produced a useful infographic giving more information and action you can take to encourage bees in your allotment or garden. To view this click here. There's also a useful list shown below of bee friendly plants to grow throughout the year, produce by Friends of the Earth.



Grow your own superfoods

Superfoods is the latest food industry health buzzword to persuade us to buy their products. There is lots of evidence they really do you good. To read independent advice on their benefits from the NHS click here.

Having convinced yourself they're a good thing to have in your diet, here's a helpful and informative guide to growing your own superfoods. Just click either image to access more information about superfoods. If you'd like to print this guide, click the Print Friendly button at the foot of the post.

Grow Your Own Superfoods Grow Your Own Superfoods

Social history website


So damp over the last few weeks, there's been little chance to do anything on the allotment. So what's been occupying me?

I've been building a social history website all about St Ives. It's such a beautiful little town with an ancient history. Quite a bit of my time has been spent transcribing newspaper reports from 100 years ago mentioning St Ives in local and national newspapers. 

Seems so much further back in time. Transportation to Australia for minor offences, and public whipping. World War 1 seems to have crept up unannounced locally, but pretty soon all the town was taken up with military manoeuvrings. Poignant letters from sons at the Front. And the first news of casualties and deaths in battle.

If you're interested in that type of thing, click the image above to go to the website.

Vegetables to plant in October

October is a forward-looking month. Time to plan for spring. So here's a list of vegetables to plant now.

Garlic
Garlic cloves are best planted in Autumn. They benefit from a good dose of frost. Don't need much tending once in, just keep the weeds at bay, water when dry from late spring and cut off any stalks that appear. Read more >

Broad beans
Autumn sown broad beans mature a good month ahead of spring-sown varieties and are more resistant to mildew. Sow two inches deep, eight inches apart. Support with canes as they grow. Water as flowers appear and once a fortnight thereafter.

Onions
Sow Senshyu semi globe yellow seeds now for perfectly sized onions next July. One packet will supply enough onions for you and all the family. Read more >

Spinach
Still a couple of weeks left to sow spinach for a nutritious, tasty and trouble-free crop over winter. Read more >

St Ives Flower & Produce Show 2015

The summary, exhibitor results and photos of this year's show are now available, learn more >

Zen and the art of weeding

Few things are more satisfying than doing a bit of weeding. Why? Because it achieves on all the important levels. So it...
  • Makes you slow down
  • Compels you to take notice
  • Returns a sense of achievement

Really? Just try it. Of course, it's more satisfying if you've got good alluvial soil and the weeds are all annuals. So much easier to pull. But even if your soil is clay and it's full of couch grass, it's still worth the effort. Will just take longer. And who else is going to do it?

So take a couple of hours out. Pack a snack and flask for a half time break. Put the radio on low volume. Get comfortable. Slowly and carefully work away. You'll be surprised what progress you make and how restful the work is. And to quote from the original 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' by Robert M Pirsig...
We want to make good time, but for us now this is measured with the emphasis on 'good' rather than on 'time'...

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