August 2007

Although I think it’s going to be much too late for my pumpkins to come through, it’s great to see the big yellow flowers as shown in the picture to the left (click to enlarge). If I’m lucky & we finally get some prolonged summer sunshine (the weather forecasters say we may be on the edge of an Indian summer!) & I may end up with pumpkins big enough to slightly worry the younger Halloween visitors.

Looking back to last year I had big pumpkins already in July (had a break in blogging August to November). But it’s been a slow year in a number of ways. Sunshine has been patchy & it’s been so wet at times that the garlic got rust & my potatoes struggled. Tomatoes that were bursting out all over the place in 2006 have been virtually non-existent this year & I’m going to dig them up shortly because they’re a bit of an eyesore. Still, at least I’m not alone. All my neighbours have had similar problems.

The onions & shallots have been good though, especially those I grew from seed… I’ll try that again next year. At the beginning of the month my grandson Connor had great fun pulling them up to take some home for his mummy. Couldn’t get enough of them.

Of course another reason it’s not been a great season is because of my focus on building a ‘new’ shed. Having started in April I finally finished half way through the month (hurrah!). Reminder for the future… save the construction work for the winter Dumbo! The compensation was a wet & windy Saturday afternoon when I was snug in the completed shed sowing seeds in trays with Radio 3 gently playing in the background. Made it all worthwhile, but I’ve learned & I’m saving for the colder months the chicken shed, veranda & mini shed for the grandchildren.

Additionally learned the groundsman for the Town Council has no objection to me taking the plot that backs onto mine, doubling the amount of ground I’ll have. The plots there aren’t marked out yet… hope they do so before Winter. I’m going to initially just keep cutting the grass etc & then start digging planting areas out so I have a good mixture of raised beds & standard beds. More room for the chickens, & Barry has plans for bee hives.

Cleaned the new shed windows… thought what my wife Linda would say, given that cleaning windows at home is definitely under the ‘Could do more often & better’ list. Decided I’d tell her what I’d been doing, since however much care I take my daughters always find out & tell.

Did some fitting out inside the new shed. Put in a fold down shelf, the idea being in Spring I can have lots of room for seed trays, in Summer I can fold the shelf down & dig in plants that need warmth (e.g. butternut squash) inside the shed. I’ll add some extra shelves in the winter at eye level. I put some low level black plastic shelving against the front of the shed & put lots of trays of growing seedlings on them, as seen in the picture to the right. Looks really inviting. So although vegetable growing hasn’t been a great success this season because of weather & my focus on shed building, at least I’m back on track again now.

Also managed to get the plot much tidier at long last by putting support struts at the back of the shed to lean all the useful wood I’ve accumulated for future projects. Less hiding places for the slugs now! Even started collecting more from the building site on the local industrial estate... they were again happy for me to recover pallet wood that gives me 2 metre long planks.

Initially started locking the shed up, but decided in the end if anyone wanted to get in they could very easily, they’d just have to smash something. Better save the smashing bit if I can. There was some vandalism a few years ago but none for a while. Long may it continue.

Got all three water barrels up as well. Initially intended to link them together so one would overflow into the other. Had a rare moment of sanity & wondered why I was bothering, when all I had to do was to periodically move the hose from the guttering down pipe into the emptiest barrel!

So, with a nice ‘new’ shed available I started to move stuff out of the old shed. Remembered I’d brought my Qualcast hand mower to the plot (this was an idea from my wife a few years ago to give me more (!) exercise) & casually thought I’d try it on my plot. What a result! Really effective, much better than strimming the whole thing. Got carried away & mowed the communal path shared by my neighbours. Will save me some time in the future.

My grandsons Sammy & Connor visited with me to dig up potatoes… ended up with the pair of them diving into the hole I’d dug. They thought it hilarious when I said I’d get into trouble from their mummies because of the state of their clothes. Since the old shed was emptied by then I took the opportunity to get them to blow the old shed down, bad wolf style. I did some simultaneous pushing & when it fell down they stood silent for some minutes (a rare event!) amazed. Net result shown in picture above.

And the plum tree started to flower this month! Thought it was maybe on its way out, but it must just be a bit out of synch. Was given a greengage tree by my allotment neighbour. Wonderful timing since I’d tasted greengages for the first time in my life that same week & thought how nice they were. That’s gone in next to the plum tree.

Underlying this month was sadness that my friend & next-door neighbour David passed away on Saturday 04-Aug at 14:50. It was at that time every Saturday for more than 10 years we’d commenced our weekly battle on the squash court for an hour or two, followed by a beer & thoughts on how we’d put the world to rights. Only a month before we’d drawn one all at snooker even though David was very weak by then. Just one small example of the courage he showed throughout. He was a year younger than me… it certainly makes you think!

Thanks for reading my blog. John

This month's photos (click to enlarge)

Inside the new shed... which has a great view across the countryside at the back

Waterbutts all set up, just need extra fixing to the shed to ensure they don't tip over onto little heads!

All the 'saved' items prevously hidden by the old shed, ready for allotment recycling

Salad crops coming on

How the plot looks this month (pre-grass cutting!)

Here's the land to the back of my plot that the groundsman says I can have

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