June 2007

A green woodpecker has been a regular visitor to the back of the allotments. So regular I can now tell if he’s about by recognizing his call. His favourite spot seems to be a telegraph pole about 100 metres away from my plot and he seems intent on drilling a hole in it. Wouldn’t think he’d have too much luck… I’d imagine the wood is pretty hard & tarry.

What happened to May? I wonder that myself. Had such grand ambitions for completing the bulk of the shed work over the end of month Bank Holiday weekend. But the weather was so poor I found myself in work on the Monday with grey skies & incessant rain outside. And time just slipped by until I was in the middle of the next month & nearer a June posting than finishing the one for May. But don’t let that fool you into thinking I’m just not trying… my earliest morning start has been 5:30am so no slacking here!

Thanks to Dug for the gentle shed encouragement in his April comment, & to Matron for the warning about Jerusalem Artichokes. Great web sites each have, links to both added to the right. I’m really envious of bloggers able to update every few days with ‘photos… it’s all I can do to update monthly. Maybe when I finish this shed!!!
Progress has been gradual, mainly ‘cause I’ve been thinking it out as I’ve gone along. Is organic growth the right term? Seems appropriate. On the right are progress pictures from early May (top) to last weekend (click to enlarge). Don’t be fooled by the roofing on the top picture… I was just checking I hadn’t made a disastrous miscalculation on the polycarbonate I had available.

You’ll notice in the bottom picture the shed now has windows & most of the bottom walls. There’s also a door propped open... I did think ahead & check if I had keys to the door lock. At one point I had visions of finishing the whole thing & with great satisfaction closing the door to bask in the warmth that would give me such brilliant seedlings… only to find that I’d locked myself in & had to break a window to get out!

Was worried in the early days about the wobble factor, but as more planks have gone on to make up the walls the whole thing is firming up. Some of the planks are so thick it’ll take a nuclear bomb to dislodge them, & progress has been slow partly ‘cause I’ve been treating everything as I’ve gone along. So I’m hoping this shed will see me through to my dotage.

One of the first things I do when arriving is to power up the radio. My wife gave me a digital battery operated Roberts radio for Christmas & it’s brilliant. What would you hear if you were to visit my plot early in the morning? The gentle sound of classical music wafting across the beds, with an undertone of occasional cursing as the true implication of the latest shed blunder slowly reveals itself. How would I describe the shed architecturally? Early morning cock up, mixed with late make do as you go along.

But progress there is, and in mid May I was able to have a good tidy up of all the bits & pieces of conservatory & other woody things which I’d been afraid to throw away… knowing that as soon as I did that would be the very bit I desperately needed. Started to look less like a building site.

I’m now very near to putting on the roof, having fitted the facia board last weekend so I know where the guttering would go. I was kicking myself for not keeping the guttering when helping take down the conservatory. It cost me £47 (yes, £47) for 4 metres of guttering, most of the cost being all the bits to fix & join it up. I console myself with the thought that the water system I’m constructing is possibly the most important thing I’ll set up. I’ve got a water butt from Barry & aim to have another two all linked together, so that’ll total more than 600 litres of rain water. I’ll have one hose for watering the beds & another feeding into the green house.

And what of plants? Got pumpkins, butternut squash, runner beans & broccoli planted & going well. Same with sweetcorn & broad beans pictured right. Lots of tomatoes of various types… I lie awake at night worrying if 100 are really enough ~:o). But sowings of carrots & lettuce are disappointing. In fact about as disappointing as you can get, ‘cause nothing came up!

Early potatoes were going really well initially but look like they need some sunshine. My late potatoes are just that… late of this world almost & looking really sickly. They’re in the wettest part of the plot & are probably suffering from all the rain.

My strimmer has gone wonky as well, just when the weeds are really making a concerted effort to take over. Motor turns over but that doesn’t connect with the strimmer bit. Initially a bit fatalistic about it… absolutely sure it would be just outside the 12 month guarantee. But joy of joys, I bought it on 30-Jul last year so just got to get it to Black & Decker agent about 15 miles away… quickly!

I’m still spending about 90% of my time on the shed, so plants have to fend for themselves to a large extent. Sure I’m spending the other 10% battling the slugs, who are having a field day with all the wet weather. Put out beer traps (breaks my heart to feed the little devils with Carlsberg), & although they’re catching quite a few they keep getting flooded by rainwater.
What am I aiming to achieve in July? Get the roof on, finish the back wall & fit the 4 large glass panes if I’m lucky. But experience indicates that’s probably ambitious, & I’m resigned to plodding away on the outside, & then fitting shelves inside, for the rest of the Summer. ‘What a plot I’ll have next year!’ (Borrowed that phrase from Summer 2006).
One of the early June highlights was seeing England v Brazil at the new Wembley Stadium with my sons David & John. Took a lot of effort to get the tickets… more than 500 depressions of the redial button on my ‘phone in 45 minutes before I got through. Fantastic experience. So much so we’re hoping to see England v Germany in August. The picture here shows Beckham taking a free kick (he's the nearest England dot to the ball)
Thanks for reading my blog. More photos below, including a 360-degree view of what I see from my plot. You can also leave a comment at the foot of the page. John

This month's photos (click to enlarge)
The view I see on arriving at my plot.
View to the left of my plot. The Town Council are going to extend the cemetary, so there's only 2 plots to the left of me, both really nice sociable occupants.
View to the right & another really nice neighbour. There are about 25 plots in line with mine before fields & the St Ivo Outdoor sports centre, another of my regular haunts where I play squash & tennis several times a week. There are about 4 or 5 rows of plots, so over 100 plots in total on the Hillrise site.
View to the front. The plot I look on to hasn't been tended this year... the young lad who has it was last seen late last year with new girlfriend in tow, so no guessing what's happened there. The groundsmen were up looking at it last weekend, so it may be reallocated soon. Currently there's a waiting list of 25.
View to the rear, where more plots will be allocated in time. At present it's a clear run to Ramsey about 10 miles away.
Another view of the 'new' shed.
Tomatoes all in lines.
Globe artichoke going like the clappers.
Jerusalem artichokes not far behind.
Broccoli, newly planted & protected.


  1. I loved the pictures of the allotment! Make sure your Jerusalem artichokes don't escape - they are wonderful to eat but a real pest if they escape!

  2. Anonymous9:44 pm

    I am wondering is the picture of the woodpecker the one you have been hearing and seeing? Cant wait for all your hard work to come to fruition. David and I will volunteer to be your tasters. Julia

  3. Hi John, I am wondering the picture you have of a woodpecker is that of the actual one you see and hear from your allotment. It certainly looks as if all your hard work is coming to fruition. Hope you know David and I will be willing volunteers as tasters.


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