Goodbye 2009

What will I remember 2009 for allotment-wise? Guess the woodchip experiment most of all. Spent hours hauling tons of the stuff (well, it was free) onto every uncultivated space on my two plots, see Jan 2009 photo below to see how neat it all looked. Then had plenty of time during the summer to ponder on the success as I watched the grass grow up through it. Unable to use the lawn mower, had to spend loads of time each week strimming.

I’m still struggling to get settled into a routine. Lots of pictures at the foot of this post showing progress since I first took on my allotment in January 2006. I’m ending the year disillusioned over the amount of maintenance raised beds create… all that grass cutting and couch grass creeping up the sides. So I’m now about a third the way through having a complete change on the front plot, converting to just two large unraised beds.

Also must avoid wasting time constructing cloches. They didn't really work since they were never the right size for the next job. I’ll just put up more temporary but adjustable protection. Crop-wise it was a bit of a mixed result. The greenhouse helped a lot and meant I had tomatoes right through into November. Managed to propagate lots of flower seeds for the garden. But the strawberries were a disappointment… won’t use my own compost again since it encouraged too many wood lice. Did you know woodlice love strawberries?

Pumpkins in the greenhouse didn’t quite work… lots of growth and flowers but little fruit. Suspect they weren’t being fertilised since no bees in the greenhouse. Won’t grow potatoes again… still not dug out all those I planted in 2009, and takes so long to get them in in the first place.

Highlights in 2009 were… daughter Becky’s wedding to Barry. The baby birds, robins (the Glums) at home and blue tits at the plot.

Started playing (and occasionally winning) pitch and putt, darts and pool, with sons David and John. Grass snakes at Houghton Meadows in May. Nettle fertiliser… although I didn’t have a ‘scientific’ assessment (and must do in 2010) of how it helped the tomatoes it’s so easy to make. Apple wine, having gone into industrial production when there were so many apples for free I’ve now got about 150 bottles-worth to tide me over. Finished decorating the hall and living room (phew!).

Hopes for 2010? Construction wise I’ll be having a bash at the polytunnel, and Chris and I will be putting up a tree house for the grandchildren to play when they’re on the allotment. Aiming to have lots of barbeques on the plot with all the family. Looking forward to spending more time with wife Linda on the plot now she’s started to visit with me. Barry’s grapes should produce their first crop for wine making this year. And looking forward to lots of figs… the fig tree is getting bigger now and I’ve managed to get lots of cuttings from it. And if we’re really dreaming, I’ll be watching England win the World Cup in summer with my sons on a big spanking new TV.


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