Okay, so many changes here! I’m so excited about our garden this year, and all the things we are hoping to harvest! I took these photos about mid-June, and already so much has changed! I can’t wait to see where we end up in August. Or even September!
I recapped our allotment in this post a couple weeks back and used the following illustration to show the layout of our first plot.
To show all the changes that we’ve made this year so far and our plans for all the plants, I created a new illustration for 2018. You can see it below.
So the first big changes up from last year, are the greenhouse and a second plot! Richard is so incredibly proud of the greenhouse. It took a while to build, but mostly because we were doing it in winter and there’s only so much time you want to spend freezing your butt off outside painting pallets. The frame was built out of pallets that Richard got from his work, and for so long it looked like we were building a pen for animals. 🙂 Then he added some curved plastic pipe for the roof supports, and a shelf made of pallet scraps for starting seeds at the back, and everything got covered in plastic! The thing that took the longest was painting it all with the same stain as the shed (Tudor Black Oak) as pallets have so many nooks and crannies.
We’ve used it to start all our seeds this year, and made use of both the shelf as well as the bare ground to keep large bins full of seed trays. It was great to not have our windowsills full of little trays, like last year. 🙂 Now that everything has been planted out, it’ll mostly be used to grow all our tomatoes, chilli peppers, and cucamelons.
Outside of the greenhouse, I opted to plant some lupins and salvia because I wanted to fill the space a bit and make it look prettier. On the other side, I moved some forget-me-nots that kept showing up on our plot to make it look nicer. Our allotment neighbour has them, and they keep seeding little plants all over our plot. Since I like free flowers I decided to simply move them, rather than get rid of them.
Besides the greenhouse, we have our shipping boxes-turned-raised beds from last year. We’ve moved them to a slightly different spot because of the greenhouse, but they’re in the same part of the plot. Instead of lettuce greens (which we always forgot to pick) we’re growing all of our herbs in two of the boxes while keeping the third for carrots and radishes like before. Hopefully, the nasturtiums, which are planted around the two herb boxes, will really fill out and spill into the middle… so pretty!
Over by the greenhouse is our shed! I gave it a couple of fresh coats of stain, as it was looking a bit worn after the winter. And of course, we gave it a much larger patio! If you follow along on Instagram, you will have seen the progress on stories. It’s soooo nice to have enough room now to sit with a few friends for a BBQ, which would have been too cramped before. And I can’t stop loving the herringbone brick! We scoured Gumtree to find free bricks in our area and then cleaned the old mortar off them to add to the existing patio._
I also frosted the window to make it look less cluttered (and prevent prying eyes – people’s sheds have been broken into before), and added a window box! Richard’s convinced it’s a bad idea, but it was in my allotment dream to have a pretty window box on the black shed. So far I’ve managed to keep it alive, despite not watering it every day. I specifically chose plants that do well without tons of water.
To further pretty up the space, we have our lavender around the shed (which is so much bigger this year – yay!) and a passion flower climbing up one side. I’m hoping that after this year the lavender will be big enough to sort of make a hedge all the way around the shed, but the back plants were smaller to start, and get less light. Without direct sunlight, they throw out really scraggly long flowers, but I’m hoping that after I prune them back a bit, they won’t flop over so much.
Beside the patio, we have Richard’s beloved sweet peas, in a newly built trellis. Last year we used bamboo, but the weight of the sweet peas caused it to sag too much. So we got some old scrap wood, stained it black (of course), and put green string between them. Hopefully, they’ll get even taller than last year with their added support. I had to redo the string part a couple of times because I first used wire (they didn’t like it), and then it was too far apart for them to grow properly. Hopefully next year we can get it sorted early enough to get super tall sweet peas. We basically want to make a privacy screen out of flowers to create a little private patio area.
The only other things on this side of the plot are our bean trellises. We’ve had some issue with the one corner, where plants seem to suddenly wither and die – we’re not sure if it’s ants creating nests in the roots, or some kind of fungus. Either way, we’ll try the beans somewhere else next year.
The finishing touch for this half of the plot would be to somehow get some solar string lights above the patio, but we’ll see. We don’t spend too much time at the allotment once the sun goes down, so it might be a bit of a waste… but so pretty!
Between the shed side of this plot and the other side, we have a plum tree and an apple tree. Pruned back a fair bit from last year, but still more to go. Hopefully next year they’ll be all nice and open. I also added some solar “light bulbs” amongst the trees which come on around dusk and make it look so pretty! They were only £1 from the pound shop, but work really well.
On to the other half of this plot! I told you these allotment posts would be long! 😉
The other half of our plot is broken into three sections. On the far side, we have our strawberry patch, rhubarb patch, and a few raspberries and blackberries. Everything there was the same last year, with the exception of the raspberries. They’re all transplants from little raspberries that decided to sprout in the grass between our trees. (Turns out raspberries are pretty much invasive on our plot – they keep popping up all over the place, so we just move them where we want.) Last year we had squash plants there, which we’ve moved to our second plot, as there wasn’t enough room. Our strawberries and rhubarb are much more established this year! We got a crazy amount of strawberries in June, and are hoping for another good crop later in the summer.
On the other side of this half of the plot, we have another bank of raspberry canes. These were moved from the other side of the plot to make way for the greenhouse, and they are much happier here! Hopefully, they’ll root in really well and produce lots next year. We also added a couple yellow and black (!) raspberry plants in amongst the old ones. Beside these is our new composter that Richard built from three pallets (and stained black – of course). Honestly, Richard is so in love with his composter, and I like that we can use it to store and sort bamboo and other wood posts.
In the middle of these sections, we have all our rows of plantings. We changed the way we oriented them from last year because the slope of the hill kept resulting in the lowest plants getting all the water. From the bottom, we have two rows of potatoes, two rows of beets (three kinds), parsnips, onions, and sugar snap peas! Right beside the peas, we have our second plum tree, which we surrounded with dahlia and teddy bear sunflowers. It’ll be like a little burst of pretty flowers in the middle of so many practical things. Well, that is if they start blooming anytime soon 😉
Unfortunately, our first crop of beets and Swiss chard didn’t germinate, and the second got attacked by slugs. We’ve replanted them, and new shoots are emerging, but for now, this section looks all sad and bare. The parsnips did okay though, which was the complete opposite of last year. The snap peas have again been absolutely decimated by birds and slugs. We keep replanting them, but they just get gobbled up before they can get more than an inch or two tall. We maaaay need to buy larger plants soon.
The last thing on this plot, at the far end, are our last three trees – two apples and a cherry. The apples are doing okay – one got a bad aphid infestation and dropped a lot of apples, while the other is great. The cherry, however, keeps dropping all its fruit before it starts to ripen. There’s a pest problem there 🙁 but I haven’t managed to figure it out yet.
And that’s it! Or, at least, that’s our old plot. I didn’t document the new one this past month simply because it was so overgrown in weeds (argh!) that it was hard to see the plants. As it was left for over a year to completely overgrown with grass and weeds, it’s been hard to tame. We’re almost there now, so I’ll try and document it for July. Already it’s proven quite the courgette/zucchini patch and the squash plants are right behind! Looks like we’re in for a bumper crop this year!
So what about you guys? Do you have a big vegetable garden this year?