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2023-12-04 20:16
Saturday was the day for the big pear tree lift. All week I’d been tracking the weather forecast and it didn’t look promising with frosts expected all week, but Saturday dawned… Read More
2023-11-28 20:12
The last few weeks at the new plot have been about structures: sheds, posts and paving. It’s these things appearing that really start to make the plot look organised and ordered. T… Read More
2023-11-03 20:27
There has certainly been more rain this week than anyone could wish for, including me. The soil turned very quickly from pleasantly workable to completely sodden and too heavy to lift. For… Read More
2023-08-31 20:02
I can’t deny this is hard labour and the truth is, I’m not enjoying it at all. Boredom is setting in, so I’ve opened up new fronts to spice things up. There are many st… Read More
2023-08-05 20:25
Hello dear readers and apologies for my very sporadic posting; turns out I can do the day job, decorate, garden and move allotment sites sometimes concurrently but not keep this blog up to d… Read More
Six On Saturday – Blooming June
2023-06-03 08:21
My last post was in February and it was a six. Four months on, there is much progress to share. Pull up a chair and join me on a tour of the front and back gardens at the Gulag. Front g… Read More
2023-02-18 09:08
Since my last six in September there has been progress – just about enough to share six things. Lawn Grass isn’t my favourite plant but it seems inevitable in this garden t… Read More
Looking Back At 2022
2023-01-05 20:49
2022 was a busy year, refurbishment and general improvement at the Gulag continued and as I look back, much has been achieved. Every year has its ups and downs and 2022 was no exception… Read More
2022-04-08 13:08
The tulips are supposed to be a mix of early and late but I guess they decided there’s safety in numbers and bloomed at the same time. Generally, this would fill me with joy and I&rsq&hell…Read More
2022-03-11 17:42
Now I see I last posted about this 6 weeks ago, I have to say this has been slow progress. I didn’t help myself by deciding the carpet had to go, only to discover there were a zillion… Read More
Life At The Gulag – Hall Renovation
2021-08-26 07:56
The builders start work next week on the extension. There’s been a delay getting the technical drawings from the structural engineer so the plan is to spend the first week prepping as… Read More
Table For One
2021-08-22 19:40
This is a sensible spider. This one made a wise web design choice by not spinning across the span of the tunnel where I would walk into it and ruin his hard work. This one made use of… Read More
2021-08-09 21:51
Well, wildish. All loved by pollinators, bees particularly appreciate the open saucer shape of the rubekia and dahlia and are often found taking a quick power nap. This vase also has res… Read More
2021-08-03 15:34
I was scrolling through some recents photos – as you do when the other thing to be done is a report (or is that just me?) and noticed the shots taken of the front garden after I’… Read More
2021-07-15 10:19
It has been a slow start for the tomatoes in the polytunnel, I’m usually picking ripe tomatoes at least two weeks earlier. I’m growing a new to me cherry variety, Sweet Aperitif… Read More
2021-07-13 06:13
The tree was already growing strongly when I took on the plot and I’ve given it two quite severe prunings to move the cherries lower down the tree so I can reach some to harvest but st… Read More
Garden Improvements
2021-06-08 23:01
There is so much to do in the house but most of it is a long way out of my skill set and until the extension is complete there isn’t a great deal else that can be done. I’m n… Read More
2021-06-04 08:28
Well Ok, a lot all at once. The difference a whole week of warm, sunny weather has made to the plants at the allotment is huge. Everything is bursting out. This physocarpus was a 9cm pl… Read More
2021-06-03 17:09
This is year 4 for the asparagus bed and it’s in full production. I’m picking about eight spears every other day and I’m getting creative in ways to cook and eat them… Read More
2021-05-19 16:42
Too late for an entry in the weekly In a vase on Monday meme. This is Karl Rosenfeld peony which is always the first to open but not one whiff of fragrance about it. I’ve matched the… Read More
2021-05-17 22:26
I made a dash to the plot this evening and caught one of the storms. The damp turned my hair frizzy but the plants much prefer this weather to those icy blasts – actually so do I Read More
2021-05-07 16:51
It’s still cold out there but at least in the Gulag, hot water and heating has been restored. In order to restore my sanity, I’ve been making regular escapes to the plot. I&r&hell…Read More
2021-04-29 15:58
This house is putting up a fight and it may well empty all of my savings before we agree a truce. The latest challenge is gas pipes. When British Gas changed the meters from PayG to… Read More
Plot Patrol April 2021
2021-04-06 19:31
I managed to pick the best weather to be at the plot this long weekend. Since then we’ve had biting east winds and snow storms. I’d wondered that I had imagined the blue sky fr… Read More
2021-03-25 20:35
The house move has finally happened and now I’m 6.2 miles away from the allotment. Google tells me it will take 2 hours to walk or 15 mins to drive. The new house was built in 1938… Read More
2021-03-08 18:59
Of the parsnip variety that is and is as a result of sowing too thickly and not thinning. It required an excavation to get it out. The digging wasn’t quite on the scale of the operat… Read More
2021-03-01 21:46
What a treat, a whole day at the plot with no deadlines or other places to be. The goal for today was to empty the compost bin that had been brewing since October 2019. I seive the mater… Read More
2021-02-28 20:14
I organised myself to have a long weekend. I spent Friday morning at the plot along with a number of plot neighbours, like a group of moles emerging from their tunnels and blinking in the s… Read More
2021-02-16 19:35
Since my last post but I have been busy. The second surge swept in deeper, stronger and longer and it feels like we are just emerging at the other end. I’ve been back to redeployment… Read More
2020-12-22 15:36
Just in time a mild spell… It needed another 5 metres of bubblewrap to finish the job. As this wrap is UV stabilised and as used by Monty Don I hope to get more than 2.5 years of… Read More
2020-12-17 05:31
I’m going to be spending my week off between Christmas and New Year organising the house, emptying the loft and packing boxes ready for our move in February (fingers crossed) With all… Read More
2020-12-15 17:05
This underpinning for this wreath is a coathanger wrapped in hessian and strengthened with a few whippy willow branches. There’s a foundation layer of yew branches and then I made bun… Read More
A Cautionary Tale
2020-12-11 07:03
I sowed the cosmos as usual in April and planted out early June. All the other plants quickly put on growth, side shoots and buds and flowered like mad all summer and right up to the frost… Read More
2020-12-07 15:48
My last monthly post about life in the polytunnel was in June, so here’s a brief spin through the second half of the year in the tunnels. Scale insect invasion Until this year sc… Read More
2020-12-06 15:45
Is this really my first post since early September? There’s been a lot going on; I’m finally financially uncoupled and the house sale/move is proceeding (says in a hushed whispe… Read More
Harvest By Colour
2020-09-03 22:18
This wasn’t intentional and something I only noticed when I viewed my photos. All the reds, purples and greens grouped together. I must have done this before, just not noticed or ph… Read More
2020-07-07 10:05
How is it already past midsummer? I think we should demand a recount! In the meantime, come and take a look around the polytunnel – we can still just about get in. All is not well… Read More
2020-07-06 08:36
It’s still blooms by the armful but I’m trying to make more restrained choices. This waterlily dahlia Blanc y Verde is lovely, particularly when just fully open. I’ve m… Read More
2020-06-29 08:38
I love that I can pick a huge armful of flowers from the allotment for the house. I’ve become better at sowing and growing a variety of shapes and textures although there’s stil… Read More
2020-06-02 10:36
Flowers are an essential part of an allotment. I treat them just like any other harvest. They grow in rows with paths between for easy access. The vegetables and fruit from the plot is ta… Read More
2020-06-01 07:56
This week has seen the first flush of HT roses; Chandos beauty, Lady Mitchell and white Perfumella. All have delicious perfume but I love the form and colour of chandos beauty. I was s… Read More
2020-05-31 19:31
The temperature in the polytunnel reached 49.5c yesterday but the summer residents all seem to enjoy the sultry atmosphere. The rogue calabrese is producing more side shoots, but these ar… Read More
2020-05-25 08:27
The peonies (Francoise Ortegat, Sarah Bernhardt and Duchesse Nemours) and rose Lady Mitchell are in bloom, just in time for another vase.  I de-bud and have long stems which are perfect… Read More
2020-05-18 08:32
The first flush of Gertrude Jekyll is always the best and this weekend they have been magnificent. Keeping Gertrude company is the first of the apple blossom antirrhinum, nigella, dianthus a… Read More
2020-05-05 19:40
My plot neighbour offered me the spare bit of his allotment, reasoning it would save him having to keep mowing the grass/bindweed/bramble. I accepted because, well why not?  I still ha… Read More
2020-04-30 21:32
I’ve managed to claw back some time and my sanity from the madness that is redeployment by spending at least an hour every evening at the plot, which means stepping away from the keybo… Read More
2020-04-27 20:45
2020 was scheduled as the year of the Big Pick.  The year the asparagus came of age and I could pick every spear that emerged for a whole six weeks. The first spears emerged on 6th Apri… Read More
2020-04-14 16:49
It’s much quieter here; very few aircraft overhead and the constant thrum from the nearby A road has gone. I took time on Sunday to sit and enjoy the sounds that were always there but… Read More
2020-04-13 16:28
The last three weeks got stuck on fast forward and I missed the end of March.  Since lockdown my employer, an NHS Trust has implemented its business continuity plan meaning that as my d… Read More
2020-03-16 22:56
The biscuit and chocolate aisle have been largely ignored by the stock-pilers.  I can’t imagine why – I’d rather be in isolation with a stash of sweet treats than a cu… Read More
2020-03-13 16:45
Well more like armfuls but that doesn’t have the same ring to it!  I have four purple sprouting broccoli plants this year, possibly two too many but I’m enjoying discovering… Read More
2020-02-29 08:28
Houseplants don’t usually have a long life in my house.  Combine a north-facing living room and either over-attentive care or complete neglect, most don’t usually stand a ch… Read More
Life In The Polytunnel – February
2020-02-28 01:53
The tunnel is looking bright and shiny; clean inside and out and ready for a new growing season. I’ve been harvesting rocket and spinach throughout the winter.  The rocket is just… Read More
2020-02-26 01:23
This time of year is full of hope; hope that seeds sown will germinate and those furry neighbours will remember the three in one arrangement when helping themselves. Hope that those bulbs pl… Read More
2020-02-24 12:38
Even if they are wonky – it’s all part of my ‘allotment levels’ design ethos! My sons bought me a Ryobi One battery strimmer/edger for Christmas, although the actual… Read More
2020-02-13 19:53
It’s that time of year again when there are shrieks of delight when the early morning seed patrol reveals green shoots breaking the soil surface. I think I may have been a little heavy… Read More
2020-02-09 12:31
The polytunnel has developed a layer of green algae on the outside along with a bit of urban pollution (we are under the Heathrow flightpath and not far from a busy A road) along the roof &n&hell…Read More
2020-01-14 09:58
Is my new mantra, although I do still do a bit of hoeing and a little light dibbling with a hand fork but the spade is pretty much redundant. I’m on London clay but three years of cons… Read More
2020-01-12 21:43
Cute huh!  These teeny furballs have oh so delicately but systematically munched every spinach seed sown in the polytunnel last weekend. It seems they treat spinach seed as we would pea… Read More
2019 In Review
2019-12-31 19:33
The last day of the year and the decade and a good time to look back at the plot month by month. Happy New Year and successful growings to all my readers. January February March April Ma… Read More
2019-12-30 19:28
It was a bright sunny day at the plot today and I got in a few hours of weeding and mulching.  As I wandered around with a well-earned cup of coffee in hand, I noted what still needed t… Read More
In The Greenhouse
2019-12-29 17:51
At this time of year, the greenhouse is usually empty but this year, it’s full of seedlings from autumn sowings, cuttings and some tender plants over-wintering.  Come and take a l… Read More
The Dark Art Of Transplanting Explained
2019-12-27 07:38
But it’s one of those tasks that turns out to be very simple, you just need to remember the cardinal rule: lift by the seed leaf, not the stem. My autumn sowing of annual flowers was s… Read More
Meet The Neighbours
2019-12-26 14:09
The boy wandered around the site with camera in hand and has captured an eclectic mix of shots that convey the diversity of folk, their interests and how they garden. Does anyone else look… Read More
Raspberry Management
2019-12-01 15:31
The autumn-fruiting Joan J raspberries have been fabulous; they fruited from July to November. I do need to sit down and explain July is a bit too early and they are stealing Summer Cascade… Read More
2019-11-16 20:31
The usual suspects, carrots and beetroots although they are more nibbled than usual.  I’m very pleased with the winter gem lettuce from the polytunnel. Still picking spinach, kale… Read More
2019-11-05 08:25
The dahlias have indeed succumbed to the light frost we had in west London last week and so it was time on Sunday to lift and store the tubers. I’ve tried the Monty storage method but… Read More
2019-11-03 20:11
Or as I prefer to describe it, a green manure harvest.  Somewhere under the canopy of unwanted plants is the strawberry bed.  I seem to have lost the ability to grow strawberries… Read More
2019-10-27 08:20
As I came to write this post, I discovered that I haven’t taken many harvest photos as in previous years.  I mean there are only so many angles from which to photograph a carrot o… Read More
2019-10-21 07:01
I’m still deadheading regularly and the blooms keep coming, but there is a chill in the air and it can only be a matter of time. Before that time arrives, I’ve cut another bunch… Read More
2019-10-19 18:33
The most important part of this, other than the well-drained soil is selecting your tulips.  Sarah made me a 20% off offer which I thought would be rude to refuse.  I’ve gone… Read More
2019-10-17 21:24
This year I have tuned back into propagating plants from cuttings and so far it’s going well.  I’ve also been more successful with autumn seed sowings for flower plants.&nbs&hell…Read More
2019-10-13 18:13
I was reminded by Frogend dwellers post about this exhibition that I have yet to share my photos from an evening at Kew in September. When I look at FD’s daylight photos, I realise wha… Read More
2019-10-07 19:01
You would think, this being my third build, that it would all go swimmingly.  Nope, just made different mistakes.  What have I learnt from those mistakes?  If I ever need to b… Read More
2019-09-26 21:08
If only all problems could be resolved just by applying bigger clamps… This is the latest instalment in what is becoming the saga of the polytunnel re-build.  I’ve mentione… Read More
2019-08-21 08:56
I enjoy August at the plot.  There’s a long weekend to forward to, always spent at the plot and often with a project to start and/or to finish.  This year it will be to compl… Read More
Peach Heaven
2019-07-06 11:03
This seems to be an annual post, where I tell you how amazing the peaches are.  This year is definitely the B E S T ever.  2020 has a hard act to follow. Bonaza peach is positively… Read More
2019-07-03 20:49
My eldest son has joined the family interest in photography.  These are some photos taken at the plot – hence collaboration.  My hidcote lavendar attracting the bee models.&n&hell…Read More
Send Reinforcements
2019-06-25 20:38
These eryngium are smothered in black fly.  I had been squirting water jets from the hosepipe but then it dawned on me; no pests = no predators.  When I took this photo last week t… Read More
2019-06-14 10:16
I wanted to show you the herbaceous border in all it’s shaggy loveliness. Some parts have been flattened by the wind and rain, but a prune will encourage a new flush of growth and blo… Read More
2019-06-07 14:13
The tightly held buds have been teasing me and promising to open for a week or so.  The sun arrived last weekend and the peonies decided conditions were right to show off their beauty… Read More
2019-05-25 09:22
Five days ago, this was the size of my fist and a polite side dish for two.  Now it’s bigger than my head and could feed a family of four for a week. This is what happens when you… Read More
2019-05-18 06:40
As is the usual way with cauliflowers, they arrive within a few days of each other and they aren’t good at waiting. I find boiled cauliflower the stuff of childhood nightmares; bland a… Read More
Legume Harvest
2019-05-16 18:26
This could well be one of those ‘be careful what you wish for’ moments.  After three successive broad bean crop failures, this is turning out to be a bumper year that has co… Read More
2019-05-07 08:14
I’m picking broad beans from the tunnel, which means that sufficient streamlined pollinators found them!  I think next year, they need to go in the main bed by the door. In other… Read More
I’ve Been Busy
2019-04-26 07:28
In addition to the bank holidays, I took an extra day either side.  It was perfect weather for plotting and that’s where I spent most of my time. In between weeding, potting on an… Read More

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