Wednesday, 1 April 2015

It's Giveaway Time

It's the 1st of April today which means that I've now been blogging for six years. I started this blog shortly after I took on my first allotment plot to follow the progress I made. Since then, I've moved to a new allotment site, taking on a new plot. That was about eighteen months ago now. I'm still enjoying both my gardening exploits and writing this blog as much as I did when I first started.


It's become a bit of a tradition on my blog anniversaries that I host a giveaway and this sixth anniversary is no exception. First up is this paper potter. It's the time of year when lots of seeds are being sown and it's so easy to run out of pots. This paper potter ensures you'll never run out of pots for your seeds again, strips of newspaper can be turned in to biodegradable pots in seconds. It also ensures that there's no root disturbance when planting out your seedlings as you can plant them as they are straight in to the soil. The reason the price is still on the box is not because I want you to know how much it was, it's because I started taking the label off but it's making a mark so I've left it where it is.


We're always looking for gardening bits and bobs at this time of year, and running out of them if you're anything like me, so I've included a few gardening essentials in the giveaway, peat pots, plant labels and jute twine.


If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning the above items, just leave a comment on this post before noon on Friday the 10th of April 2015. A winner will be drawn at random.

I'd like to thank everyone who visits my blog, many of you have become friends over the six years I've been blogging and it's been a pleasure to get to know you all a little better through the world of blogging.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Photo Medley - March

It's time for a round up of the photos I've taken this month which haven't yet made it on to the blog.

Another photo of the crocuses I've grown this year, Miss Vain. I can't get enough of their gorgeous white blooms with yellow throats. Their blooms have faded now so I've planted them out in the ground and hopefully, they'll come back again next year. I shall look forward to it.


More photos from our trip to Oakwell Hall earlier in the month.

Snowdrops in the borders. It was lovely to see so many of these pretty flowers in the garden.


A daffodil in bud. I'm sure this will be blooming by now.


I love the evergreen plants and the structure of the garden. It makes for an interesting visit even in the depths of winter.


A stump left from where a tree has been cut down. A bit of a feature set against the stone wall.


A touch of colour from the climbing plant. I'm not sure what it is.


Moss on a tree stump. I find close ups fascinating, it's like a whole other world.


Blossom waiting to open up on my little peach tree. This photo was taken half way through the month.


Anemone Harmony Pearl. I've never grown these plants before but they're so pretty, I'm a convert.


More photos taken when we visited Harlow Carr.

I think Rudolph must have been left behind by Santa.


Daffodils putting on a show in one of the borders. I don't think anything lets us know that spring has arrived better than daffodils do.


The gardens are filled with irises at the moment. I love the intense blue of this variety.


My Tete a Tetes are flowering but I'm still waiting for my Thalia to follow suit.


My peach tree has now burst in to bloom. I keep this little tree in my greenhouse so I'm trying hand pollination to ensure I get some fruit.


The onions which I've started off in modules have started to shoot, they'll soon be ready to plant out.


A cowslip by my little pond. I love these spring flowers.


I hope you've enjoyed this hotchpotch of photos.

Things have started to get busy in the garden and on the allotment now. Seeds are being sown in earnest and the seed trays are jostling for room on the windowsills. We're approaching one of the busiest times of the gardening year.


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Harlow Carr In March

We visited Harlow Carr on Saturday and though the weather was fine, it was bitterly cold.


The heather at the entrance to the garden is still putting on a fabulous show. This is a plant which earns its keep in the winter garden working hard when many other plants are taking a rest.


There's now evidence of life in the empty borders with tulips and perennials making their way through the earth. It won't be long until they're putting on a stunning show.


Daffodils are just beginning to put on their show, some are already in flower.


The Tete A Tetes are blooming away.


Some daffodils are still in bud, these must be a later variety.


The hellebores are still blooming away too.



This is Daphne bholua Jacqueline Postill, or Nepalese Paper Plant. A good candidate if you're wanting winter scent in the garden as its flowers are highly fragrant.



These pretty Chionodoxa luciliae were flowering along a low bank. I like it when flowers are raised above ground level, you get to see them up close and appreciate their finer details.


Nearby were these peculiar looking plants. I knew exactly where I'd seen them before, on Anna's Green Tapestry blog. Anna posted a photo of similar looking plants last year in A Wednesday Worisit post and there were many suggestions as to what they could be. I think they're probably Petasites japonicus. I shall look forward to watching how they develop on my future trips to Harlow Carr.


Last month, I posted a photo of the side of the stream where the gunnera lies in wait ready to regrow. This month, there's some new growth, but not from the gunnera, these pale green, almost yellow, shoots belong to Lysichiton americanum, a herbaceous perennial with unpleasantly scented, bright yellow arum like flowers.


There's lots of signs of spring in the garden now and amongst them, one of my favourite spring flowers, the primrose.


I think there'll be some wonderful pots and containers to see on my next visit, many have been planted up with tulips and I'm excited to see the colour combinations which have been used as I've taken lots of inspiration from Harlow Carr's previous tulip displays. They seem to have a wonderful knack of combining the right varieties and colours.



I'm looking forward to seeing this pot which has been planted with crocus, narcissus and tulips. None have yet flowered but it should hold blooms for some time as a combination of bulbs have been used to extend the flowering period.


The bed I'm watching over the course of the year doesn't look any different to how it looked last month. There's no new growth as yet so I'm wondering what's planted there.


On to the kitchen garden and the beds are looking even more bare than they did last month.


Most of the winter crops have now been cleared, but there's still purple sprouting broccoli to harvest.


One of the gardeners was hard at work getting the raised beds prepared for spring sowing.


Some new raised beds have been installed since my last visit. They're interesting shapes, I wonder what they're going to plant in them.


The snowdrops which are planted in the rhubarb bed are now going over and are past their best but the rhubarb is coming along well.


This is labelled as Stockbridge, I presume it's Stockbridge Arrow, a variety which is known as one of the best modern varieties.


I think rhubarb crumble will be on the menu soon.

There's a big difference in the beds and borders from what we saw last month, plants are pushing their way through the soil and where there was bare earth last month, there's now new growth. I'm hoping that the weather will have warmed up by the time we visit again, we didn't stay long on this visit as it was so cold. It would be nice to enjoy a leisurely stroll around the gardens without my hands freezing off.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

WoodBlocX Raised Bed

I was thrilled to get a chance to review a raised bed from WoodBlocX. I'd seen different WoodBlocX kits reviewed on Sue's Our Plot At Green Lane Allotments blog and also Mark's Veg Plot blog so I had an idea of the type of raised beds the company supplies, it was just a matter of working out which size would work best for me.

The beds are delivered it kit form and there's so many different variations on size and design, in fact, the company don't only supply raised beds but also ponds, retaining walls, seats, planters and many other things too. Do take a look at the website.

I decided that the raised bed I was to review would be installed at the allotment, I thought it would be great for growing my root vegetables in, meaning that I could control the growing medium with it being contained in a raised bed, no more stony soil which makes the roots fork, and with a raised bed size of 2250 X 1125 X 450mm the depth would be ideal.

I was impressed with the speed of delivery and with the delivery company. The kit arrived on a pallet and the driver brought it right to where I wanted it. It was well packaged and I could see that the instructions for construction were included.


Now I'm not one for DIY so the construction of the raised bed was left to Mick. He decided that he'd start building it on the patio, getting the corner pieces sorted out before moving it all down to the allotment.


He was very impressed that it was so easy to build, very much like building with lego, a piece at a time.


Mick thought the instructions were very good, though Mick being Mick, he didn't follow them to the letter but still managed to build the bed without any trouble at all.


Once the corners had been dealt with, Mick decided he'd move everything down to the plot to finish it off in situ. He found it easier to barrow the pieces from the site gate to the plot, which is at the other end of the site. Notice our smart new wheelbarrow, the old one finally gave up the ghost.


The area where the raised bed was going to be positioned was dug over, prepared and levelled and then it was on with completing the construction.


The corner pieces he'd already put together were laid out and then further pieces added to start building the height.


Plastic dowels, which are hammered in to the pre drilled holes, hold the pieces together.


Mick kept an eye on the measurements throughout the build to ensure it was all going together correctly and squarely.


It's obviously important that the bed is level so a spiril level was employed to make sure that everything was straight.


It didn't take long until each level had been built up and then it was time for the capping to be added.


More dowels were added to the top layer of blocks.


The dowels then needed to be sawed to size.


The last job was adding the capping and then the bed was complete.


Some of the compost from our plot compost bin was emptied in to the bed.


We'd saved all the old buckets of compost which we'd grown potatoes in last year so that too was added to the bed.


The bed's now full and waiting to be used.


As you can see, it's a very smart raised bed for an allotment site, but it should do the job very well. I'm expecting great things from my carrots and parsnips this year.

I'd definitely recommend WoodBlocX, right from arranging the delivery through to completing the build, it's been plain sailing. The bed itself looks very smart and I'm sure it will last years, the wood is very good quality and should stand up to plenty of wear and tear.

The price of a bed of this size is £261.32 but it was supplied to me free of charge. I have not been paid for writing this review and all opinions are my own and Mick's.