June 2008

The image on the left (click to enlarge) has haunted me quite a bit this month as I’ve dragged the wheelbarrow up & down. Arrived at the allotments one Friday to find several huge piles of manure dotted around the grounds. Missed my chance again I thought, believing a number of plot holders had arranged deliveries for themselves. It then transpired that the deliveries from the groundsmen were free for everyone.

The keenest were on the muck like flies… or more accurately to join the flies since it certainly was fresh stuff. By Saturday afternoon the pile nearest my plot had disappeared, helped on by yours truly. Now wherever you wander on the allotments the smell of the countryside permeates your nostrils. Such an amount was delivered that there’s still quite a bit left, so I’ve been having another visit to increase the size of my own pile of poo.

This has also been the month of the broody chicken as shown below. Having let them out for a wander inside & outside my plot, when it came time to gather them in I got a bit worried that one chicken was missing. Had a hawk swooped down & grabbed her? Had she been got by an early rising fox? Searched around quite a bit of the allotment paths to no avail… only to then look in & find her sat in one of the chicken house nesting boxes. And there she’s stayed for three weeks other than when I’ve lifted her out for a feed, to accompanying clucks of annoyance!

Her behaviour on those rare occasions she’s been out has been strange as well. She’ll make a sudden version of a yelping chicken, jump high in the air & then rush off somewhere. Really spooks you if you’re happy & at peace with the world, trowel in hand, radio gently playing. Had a chat with Darren, who’s some months ahead of me in his chicken roller coaster ride. I’m borrowing his box with a chicken wire bottom to put her in tomorrow. Apparently cooling off her bottom solves the problem in a couple of days.

I’m now the proud owner of a greenhouse… well, as you can see to the left, the bits that will make up a greenhouse. The owner offered it to members of the Allotment Association & turned out to be a near neighbour of mine. Spent a day taking it down & transporting up to the plot, where it now lies in bits as shown in this month’s photos. Not going to repeat past summer mistakes of attempting construction (yes, the word that’s featured in just about every month’s post so far) at the busiest time of the year, so it’s listed as a winter job.

Things planted this month were wallflowers, radish, carrots, beetroot, lettuce seedlings, peas, bush beans, cucumbers, sweet pepper seedlings & more tomatoes. I also planted some cauliflower seedlings under mesh to protect them, but I wasn’t sure if it was worthwhile mentioning them since they were eaten by the slugs before they’d hardly been in the ground. Also having another go at butternut squash, which are coming on well in the shed as shown below.

Bit of a panic when my strimmer recharger packed up. With grass growing up to my armpits & a whole extra plot to beat into submission, just what I needed! But Barry came to the rescue. He not only fixed the circuit board but made a tweak which seems to give a fuller charge & a long strim. What a hero! So in celebration I strimmed the new plot as well to tidy it up.

I’ve not been cycling up to the plot since my beloved Gazelle Dutch bike has gone back to Halfords yet again with a recurring problem of a squeak coming from the pedal hub. Has got so bad I haven’t needed to use the bell much… you can hear me coming for a mile. Bit disappointed when you consider it cost £600 (well, bit less out of my pocket since it was under the Cycle to Work Scheme, so tax free). Supposed to be in for a couple of weeks, but twice that now & little news. I’m going to write & reject it under the Sale of Goods Act & see if I can get a replacement, but I am missing the carefree cycle to & from the allotments.

Other highlights in John's world this month were:
• The five hares I saw on a walk from Kings Ripton, two of which came within three feet to give me a good look over for several minutes.
• The first holiday by ourselves for my wife Linda & I after 34 years of marriage. We went to one of our favourite places on earth, Hunstanton, & had a brilliant time.

Thanks for reading my blog site. More photos below & you can leave a comment by clicking 'Comments' at the foot of the page. John

This month's photos (click to enlarge)

Basil seedlings, which cost more than £1 a plant in the supermarket

Cos lettuce, really nice & crunchy

Sweet pepper, battling against marauding chickens & slugs

My own pile of poo

Chickens waiting expectantly

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