Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Rip it out and start again

Snails enjoying my Bronze Fennel

If a man could live on Alliums alone then this man would be very happy and particularly well nourished.  I say this with a dash of sarcasm and a whole dollop of frustration, as apart from onions, shallots, garlic, a bit of salad and promising courgettes the vegetable plot isn’t looking all too great at the moment.

There are several conspiring factors that have contributed to this: horrific weather, hungry pests and, more so than any of the others, a serious lack of time.  Only a week ago things were looking much more promising.  The vegetable beds were significantly healthier, plants were growing well and weeds were fairly inconspicuous.  I had several types of beans and peas ready to be planted along with peppers, chillies and tomatoes.  The potatoes were growing strong and looking good and a new polytunnel was waiting to be constructed – happy days!  Suffice to say, this happiness was very short lived.

In a rare change from, my now-usual schedule of working from home, managing Doolittle's Dispensary and ensuring the animals are all okay, I had a good few hours to dedicate to the allotment.  It was decided that the polytunnel, which was half-constructed, would be secured and have its cover put on.  Easier said than done. Several hours passed and after innumerable arguments, strange looks and offers of help from fellow plot holders, we discovered that we weren’t completely incompetent polytunnel novices but instead the cover was far too small for the frame.  This realisation came after a very fraught 4-5 hours and was the final straw that prompted us to give up with a plan to write to the online retailer we bought it from. Polytunnel was left in situ half completed ... still.

Shortly after semi-constructing the polytunnel, we were blessed with gale force winds and extremely heavy rainfall for three days straight.  This ensured that said polytunnel remained unfinsished and anything growing above 2-3 feet was raised to the ground.  My beautiful 7-8ft Angelica, given to me by the lovely Sharon Hockenhull a couple of years ago, was now laying prone on the ground, my broad beans were either snapped or laying drunkenly in a semi-upright position and what wasn’t windswept had been munched by the hoards of slugs, snails, mice and pigeons that appeared to have joined forces and amassed a shock and awe style offensive.  The once beautiful potatoes were now suffering from some sort of die-off or wilt and the weeds, delighted with the wet and warm(ish) conditions, had taken over.  You can imagine my delight.

In the garden, things were a little bit more promising.  A new slate path had been installed and planting is looking lush if not rather overgrown and chaotic.  Again, a lack of time and bad weather has limited what I’ve done here but this can wait for now.

All things considered I’m now itching to rip everything out and start again, either that or drink heavily.  I just wish I had the time to do it.

On a lighter note, the winner of the Sarah Raven Kitchen Garden Competition is: @ericahughes  Congratulations!


  1. hilarious post :-) and i feel your pain!

  2. I can sympathize with this. We've had the most frustrating year ever and you're right - it can at times feel that everything is conspiring against you. I'm a great believer in ripping stuff out and starting again - go for it.

  3. Goodness, you could be writing about my allotment. Onions and shallots doing well, as are the weeds, but little else thriving, and little time to put it right. I'm sure we'll get there in the end though.

  4. I am with you and feel the pain - we have lost 10 trees since last Autumn, I have given up on my veg for the moment as everything I planted drowned or was ripped off it's legs. So like you am concentrating on finishing off the build of my new demo potager for the workshops - but even then it's stop and start. Luckily only think alive is my bronze fennels! Very precious they are too!Great post Ryan :)

  5. Same here, first time onion grower from seeds and they are fab but the rest is not doing as good as last year. The slugs are driving me crazy, the big ones are easy to spot but the tiny bastards are the ones that get my blood rising.
    Good luck Ryan, just remember... gardening is FUN! So is drinking...

  6. I have just found your fantastic blog while trying to find out if everyone is having such a terrible time down their allotments. I have just written a similar post - swiss chard is OK, everything else gone. Wish I had planted the onion sets now!


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