The nation was paralysed with the imposition of travel restrictions and a stoppage on social gatherings.
Panic buying then started and this without a doubt rejuvenated the Dig for Victory spirit, to help with food supplies and anxiety about food shortages. Prince Charles even commended this can-do attitude during a BBC Radio 4 attitude.
This ethos seemed to spread across the globe, as I remember seeing this article by the New York Times.
Armed with homemade toilet roll seed starters, propagators and seed labels, I thought it might be useful to do a little how to (ish) series on how to start growing your own produce from seed – which I’m hoping people find useful.
Leading into the summer everything became incredibly busy and this definitely did affect blogging activities.
I did a recap here on how fruitful the season was, and how all of the preparation paid off.
A lockdown can really spur on dipping toes into new interests – and so it was only a matter of time before I decided to experiment with new ways to make alcohol more interesting.
There were elderflowers growing nearby and I had seen that you can make your own elderflower infused gin – which was amazing and something I’ll do again. I feel I need to grow an elderflower for this purpose only.
Naturally, I had to compare an ordinary gin and tonic, along with an elderflower gin and tonic – just to make sure it was worth the effort.
That was a really difficult experiment…
The Vincent Hazel Project is something I embarked upon – which took up a great deal of time, energy and brain space from between the end of May and October.
The project involved cleaning up an alleyway between Vincent Avenue and Hazel Bank in Tolworth, which had been subject to years (possible even decades) worth of fly tipping, which had resulted in unsightly mounds and overgrown areas.
This project really came together with nothing less than phenomenal results, thanks to dedicated residents, Idverde and local landscaper Greenwood Paving. A big shout out to everyone who got involved 🙂 .
I’d encourage anyone, looking to get involved with a community project to do so, it can make you think differently about the area you live in and it’s a great way to make new friends and contacts, whilst making a difference at the same time.
There’s a patch at the allotment that needs some overdue TLC and this is the year where I’m going to make a start with this particular patch.
The space is at the end of the plot and it resides underneath some very old oak trees, which means, that not much tends to grow there, because of the fallen acorns, leaves and the level of light in this space.
Mainly, this space has been used to house nailed together cold frame, which succumb to the elements not so long ago.
If I’m totally honest, I currently don’t know what to do with this space. All I know is that it needs to be easy to maintain and useful. If you have any ideas, please do let me know in the comments below.
The first job on the agenda is clearance, whilst figuring out what to keep and what not to keep.
Pruning Red Gooseberry bushes
At the front of the plot are two well established red gooseberry bushes, which I’m reluctant to remove or move, for fear of doing more harm than good to the plants themselves.
The plants haven’t seem much pruning in recent years, and so as a result have become quite leggy. I’ve left around of the third of the plant left, and I’ve made sure that I’ve made cuts where there’s buds and new growth ready to sprout.
Moving the wood store
Keeping the gooseberry bushes in tact were two wired up logs, which have been there for quite a while.
Removing these wasn’t too much of a struggle as they have rotted at the base and just needed a quick push over. I’ve moved all of the wood in this space to a new area on the plot, behind the shed.
The wood store consists mostly of these logs and off cuts of decking used to create the raised beds.
I’m thinking that these could be quite good for a bug hotel perhaps?
Pulling back membrane
Covering the ground is a plastic membrane which has done a good job of keeping weeds at bay, but over the years, weeds have come grown through the membrane and on top of it, making it unworkable.
I used to be able to pull up the weeds fairly quickly clearing it of weeds, but that’s no longer the case. Going forward, it would be easier to run a mower over the ground.
Pruning fir tree
The space is home to a very well established fir tree, which has grown leaps and bounds over the years, without much encouragement and I’ve kind of left it to it’s own thing.
Needless to say, it’s become a little bit leggy in places and some branches have grown in the way – so a trim was well overdue.
Amazingly, as I was pruning the tree, I was greeted with a strong, delightful lemon scent – something I’d not experienced before with a fir tree. A Google search has revealed this tree could be none other than the Monterey Cypress Goldcrest.
I will most likely keep this tree in place.
What to do next…
Clearance is still underway, and I’m sure inspiration will come to me as I go as to what to do with this space.
Maybe just focusing on clearing the space should be my goal over the next few weeks, rather than getting caught up in figuring out what to do with it… What do you think?
I’d love to know your thoughts, suggestions and ideas in the comments below 🙂
Planting out is great – you’re at that point where you’ve seen your plants grow from seed, to seedling and now they’re big enough to be released into the wild!
I often try to write about planting out your plants – and the you do this is really simple, and it’s more or less the same for every plant you wish to grow, whether it’s cabbages, sprouts, tomatoes…etc.
I’ve grown from seed cauliflower, cabbages, pak choi, broccoli, sprouts, courgettes and cucumbers – and all in all it took me about week to plant everything out in their entirety.
Don’t cast a clout ’til May is out
Leading up to planting out, there’s one phrase I always tend to keep with me, and that’s “to not cast a clout until May is out.” A ‘clout’ is an old English word for clothing, so this phrase means to not disregard your winter clothing until the end of May, and this is because we still have a risk of frost until the end of May. (Thanks Google!)
Applied in gardening, this means to not plant out your seedlings until the frost is behind us, as our plants run the risk of being subject to frost damage.
The bed I chose to plant into was the same one I’d built a brassica cage onto – the ground was a little bit compacted after months of rain and walking on top of it, so I gave the bed a light forking to help with drainage.
It was quite a hot day, and even though the ground was forked, there’s no way I could plant into this bed.
I borrowed on to the top of the forked area a healthy layer of compost from the compost bin to plant into.
Not only does this make it easier to plant into, but it’s also a mulch that will help to reduce weed growth and keep moisture into the ground.
First you would need to dig a hole, and to help out with how big the hole should be, you can use the base of the pot as a guide. The hole should be big enough bury the plant.
2. Take the plant outside of the pot, and use your fingers to support the plant and the stem of the plant. The more you can handle the plant from the base the better.
3. Bury the plant into the pre-dug hole and neatly cover the base of the plant with the composted material, making sure that the roots are well covered and the plant is well supported into the ground.
Watering and next steps
Planting out can be a bit of a shock to the system for your plants, so I tend to get into the habit of watering a little bit every day for the first couple of weeks to make sure that they can get established.
Within a couple of weeks, you’ll see your plants take root and this will be reflected in the growth above ground.
You’ll also leaving your plants open to slugs and so you’d want to think about how to manage that. This guide here on dealing with slugs has some helpful tips you can employ to reduce slug damage.
What have you planted out recently? How are you getting on as summer gets underway? I’d love to hear in the comments below.