30 September 2006

Man make fire!

After giving last weekend a miss due to illness (kids and me), popped down in the week to do a bit more. Decided to see if I could get a bonfire going, and oh yes! Started off quite small, bit turned into something a little bigger than expected! But very satisfying to see those blackberries go up in flames, and so quickly. Fortunately all perfectly safe and no-one else around to smoke out - well apart from me. Burned about a third of the brambles cut down so far.

Cut a bit more of the hedge back and cleared some glass away, but over did it after recent illness and spent the last couple of days 're-recovering'. No pictures, but a bit disillusioned as it seems so long to get anywhere. Probably fed up due to being ill.

Hopefully order some garlic in the next week (from Garden Organics) and get it planted next weekend. Think that will be it on the planting front for a while though whilst try and sort some structure out for the rest of the plot, and attempt to tame the hedge. Picked up a leaflet about hedge laying at South Yorkshire Wood Fair today - www.hedgelaying.org.uk Obviously that would be a good way to go, but far too much to do so will continue chopping, hacking, etc. with it.

16 September 2006

A bed!

Having spent a couple of hours on the allotment yesterday (Friday) and today, the vast majority of the blackberries have been cleared. Well, I say cleared, I fear I'll be 'clearing' them every year for many a year to come, but they have at least been cut down to the ground.

The one good thing about them though is that they do act as very good ground cover and surprise most other weeds. So here is the view from the entrance this morning:

I have to say that the picture do the plot justice. Obviously still lots more to do (that hedge on the left, not to mention the small matter of some digging) but encouraging what has been achieved so far.

The Bed
Today I decided to dig out a small area and add some compost from the home composter. A couple of hours later I managed to dig out about 4 square metres. The soil is very good but infested with the roots of various weeds. However, we now have our first bed.

The plan is to plant some garlic here in a week or so - primarily because it's one of the few things we can plant now and doesn't need much room. As an added bonus we do like and use quite a bit of garlic.

Besides this manage to tidy up the entrance a little and cut back a small section of hedge. This will be this next main job, along with attempting to burn some of the mountain of rubbish that has been cut down from the allotment.

Just as a footnote, I seem to be having great difficulty in walking past any skips at the moment without peering inside to see what I could use. There are many skips around here and quite a bit I could use, but I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not quite ready for it yet.

Maybe down tomorrow, not sure yet.

11 September 2006

The end is in sight!

Well I can see from end of the plot to the other. Still a lot to do but after just over an hour yesterday (Sunday) I can definitely see progress - sadly forgot to take the camera.

After further investigation I'm not convinced the cold frame was actually a cold frame. It's quite big and there is lots of chicken wire around the allotment, so... Still it's not falling apart completely so the potential is there to use it as a cold frame. Not too many more blackberries to cut down now which will hopefully mean all the scratches on my forearm will have a chance to heal. Left arm still aching from tetanus jab the other day, which also came with Polio and diphtheria vaccinations as an added bonus!

Met the people taking on No. 17 next door. They've done really well in clearing their site in a short period of time, so hoping to use this as inspiration to 'keep up with the Jones'! Apparently the site used to be thriving and full of people, sadly about 50 years ago though. But you can drive down the path by all accounts to be alongside your allotment (preferably with a combine harvester to clear the way), which will be useful for delivering manure and removing rubbish like glass. I guess I'll need to speak to the allotment office about that and ask them about clearing the paths at the same time.

Still planning what to plant and where, but hopefully clear enough space to plant some garlic and raspberries in the next month or so. Well you've got to have something to aim for! Possibility of reinforcements in one of the next couple of weekends which will be a great help in cutting down the 'hedge' to a manageable size. Realized with it being so inhospitable at the moment it is not place to take the children, but hopefully clear a patch for them to play in soon(ish) which in turn will allow both of us to work on the allotment at the same time.

9 September 2006

It doesn't look like much, but...

... we've probably managed to cut back around half of the blackberries now.

Fortunately things look clearer than this on the allotment. In the far corner, not really visible is the remainder of the greenhouse. Still not sure what to do there at the moment, but am a little concerned about the safety of the brickwork if the kids come down to the allotment. On the left is the start of a huge pile of blackberries, grass, nettles, etc. That's one big bonfire waiting to happen. And not really visible on the right by the orange plastic is the small stone wall marking the border.

Managed to break a pair of secateurs, overworked them obviously! Started trying to cut back the 'hedge' as well. This may be a bigger job than clearing the rest of the allotment. As it is a hedge, or it is in my opinion, it can come down to 5 feet high according to the allotment office. Sadly they were less helpful with suggestions on disposal of all the glass and how to access the site to get some manure delivered.

Hopefully back down on the allotment for a couple of hours tomorrow afternoon, but for now currently making grand plans via the couple of seed catalogues that have arrived...

7 September 2006


After another couple of hours on Wednesday afternoon I'm beginning to see the layout a bit better and the remains of previous structures. But first some pictures...

There's an allotment in there somewhere! This was the view from the entrance when we first acquired the plot.

The view back towards the entrance from about two thirds of the way down (the remains of the cold frame in the foreground)

A Comment!
Thanks to Welshgirlsallotment who appears to about to take on a similar plot. Good luck, but it is cheating to get your Dad to remove all the blackberries brambles!

A Second Visit
I managed another couple of hours down on the allotment yesterday (Wednesday) and much to the disappointment of oldest child didn't take him with me due to the uncertainty of what lies below the bits uncovered so far and the amount of glass around.

So much hacking later I discovered the possible terracing was in fact a lower part of the allotment that at one time contained a very large allotment (20+ foot long) and still has an 18 inch brick base that would have supported it. Sadly this also means there is an awful lot of glass and rotten wood to remove. The greenhouse appears to have some sort of trough collecting the water outside with a pipe coming through to the inside of it. There was also a Belfast sink nearby.

I discovered the boundary on the other side of the allotment, a small stone wall running the length of it (I think). Probably cut back/trampled on about a third of the brambles now which is really encouraging, sadly forgot to take camera with me. Day off tomorrow so hoping to take Suzanne down and show her the 'estate'!!! And more importantly get her to start chopping things back as well.

Tomorrow I'll also be having a tetanus jab! After enquiring at the GPs whether I needed one to be on the safe side, they recommended it given it was about 18 years ago since my last one.

Manure? How Much Do You Want?
Fortunately my boss keeps horses and has access to vast amounts of manure, well rotted as well. Even better, he'll deliver! Quite how we get it on site I don't know so I'll be enquiring further at the allotment section at the council. I should probably think about getting a wheelbarrow...

Hopefully more over the weekend, although I really should spend some time with the family!

5 September 2006

Where's the Rhubarb?

We are now the proud owners of plot no. 18, Hagg House, Sheffield!

Having purchased a new pair of secateurs, some loppers and some seriously thick gloves, I spent an enjoyable and exhausting couple of hours attempting to discover what the site might look like. Still little the wiser!

I wanted to start in the bottom corner where the light is at its best, but I could get through to that so started about two thirds of the way down. Of course if I was a true allotmenteer I'd have picked all the blackberries before I started chopping them back, but there's still plenty left. My first discovered was the remains of a cold frame, quite a large one. Not sure if the wood will last out and of course the glass is broken nearby. Shortly afterwards an upside down bath, not sure what use that will be but will find some use for it.

By this stage I was quite thirsty and realised I'd left the bottle of water I'd got out on the table at home... Still I did have the radio to keep me company, not much activity on this site at the best of times, but certainly not during the week.

Some time later the rhubarb was discovered! Not looking to good at the moment, but I'm sure it will recover in time. A little disturbed to discover quite a drop (18 inches?) in the bottom third/quarter of the plot but some hacking back later there is a small stone wall, possibly a terrace effect? Right towards the bottom I discovered the brick base and remains of an old greenhouse. Lots of broken glass, but comforting to know that someone obviously had quite a good allotment there some time ago. Beyond that mushrooms! Now I would have had these, but I couldn't get there and not sure if they were in the boundary of our allotment or not.

Right now need to work out how to add pictures. Hopefully get back there Thursday morning with Suzanne for soem more hard work!

1 September 2006

The beginning (almost)

After waiting for two years for someone to die on the Crookes Quarry allotment site here in Sheffield, I have decided to take on an allotment on the Hagg House (roughly) site. More accurately Suzanne has, as due to bureaucracy I couldn't remain on the waiting list for the Crookes Quarry site and apply for a plot on Hagg House... So we are currently in the process of sending paperwork backwards and forwards before it is officially ours.

So why take up a site now, particularly give the state of the whole site? More plots are being taken all the time, not sure why, and hopefully this will give the whole site a boost and make it altogether more hospitable.

So what's it like? It has to be seen to be believed - allotment office, you should try visiting sometime. Fully grow trees have taken over about half of the site and the rest of the plots are covered in weeds (primarily blackberry 'bushes') over six foot tall. Oh and it's set on a steep hill. It's a challenge!

[Pictures to come when 'ownership' is finalised and we can make a start]