Pots of Joy

My parents over in Kent are now in week 12 of completely shielding lockdown. Each of us kids have popped by for a distant wave and chat as often as we can (which I hope has cheered them up) but much of their joy has come from their garden.

A well established courtyard style garden which is always full of colour anyway, has absolutely flourished with the extra attention. The bird feeder is overrun with rather podgy starlings, great tits and blackbirds, while bushes are full of house sparrows. The resident hedgehog has ventured out to meet his landlords a few times and the field mice are enjoying extra scraps as laid on by my dad. The dog is making the most of it too, and has loved extended digging time. They have even had a little cat pop by, however this was not so pleasing to the dog, or the birds.

They have a sun trap of a garden, so herbs and veggies are flourishing! Here we have tomatoes, carrots, chard, lettuce and a mystery herb which have all grown in the last ten days. Pots at table level seem to be the way to keep these delicious plants safe from hungry wildlife.

Springing to life!

Everything has exploded into life, with our wild flower beds now a carpet of green. The nettles, mint and grasses have shot up to knee height overnight and are completely full of butterflies!

So many creatures today including damsel flies, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, midges and these little guys swimming about in the very new pond (who we have since found out are mosquito larvae!).

The potatoes are struggling with the lack of rain so gave a good soaking today, but the tomatoes, onions, coriander and rocket are now all happily coming through.

Our bird feeder is attracting great tits and blue tits, as well as crows and pigeons and we have also had the occasional visit from a long tailed tit!

Now it’s all a little overgrown it is absolutely FULL of wonderful sounds of nature; crickets, bird song, buzzing, cawing and cheeping! A lovely place to be.

Potato Day

Whether mashed, fried, roasted, chipped or sautéed I am a HUGE fan of potatoes. Today I have planted some new potatoes in the hope I will reap a huge pile of delicious chips later this summer.

These new potatoes had been forgotten about at the back of our fridge, and as you can see have sprouted eyes. Although they are still safe to eat they are a little on the soft side for my liking so the allotment has become their new home.

First I halved the potatoes, making sure there were eyes on each half. You can plant them like that but if you leave them in the sun for about an hour they dry a little over the new flat edge.

The soil here at Park Lane is amazingly dark and rich in worms and cheesy bugs. I dug around 4 inches down and popped the tatties in flat side down, with eyes and skin upwards. I then covered them with the earth.

They need watering maybe every 4-5 days at first, but when they start showing through the soil they need to be kept as wet as possible. We are a few weeks from that yet though!

Resident Wildlife

We adore seeing the local wildlife and have taken to recording our local spots whilst at the allotment and on hill walks around Reigate.

This little frog was enjoying Priory Park and this tiny slug and massive snail were enjoying some fresh air at the allotment. The bluebells this year have been phenomenal and all of you lucky enough to walk through Priory Park will have seen some incredible carpets of blue through the beautiful woodland.

Getting Started!

Work started last weekend with a big tidy up. Having been a little neglectful over the last few months our allotment resembled something of a wild meadow (which of course is lovely for the birds and bugs!) however our neighbours were growing tired of the local fauna being attracted in to eat their veggies.

So, job one was to cut the dead stuff back, then cut and tidy the waist length grasses (while avoiding the frogs and creepy crawlies). With that done, it looked a whole lot more occupied so work on the beds was next.

We dug over three plots; one for wild flowers, one for potatoes and another for other veggies. Now I am not particularly green fingered, but last year we had great results with tomatoes and leafy greens so going to try again this year.

The weekend just gone saw us relocate our composter – as I didn’t do it last year, the earth in the bottom third of the container was well developed and full of worms! Beautiful rich dark soil now tops our wildflower bed and we have plenty more for the veggies too! A great job well done in the sunshine, on lockdown!