After breaking my wrist in the summer of 2012 which impacted on allotment life through to the Autumn, and after the wettest Summer and Autumn that I can remember, followed by an extremely busy Christmas with a house full of lovely people, it is about time I got back to the allotment.
I visited today, managing to squeeze an hour in to eat my breakfast and drink my hot herb tea [I have a kettle and hob in my shed!] before the rain fell. All I managed to do was pull up the dead stems from last years Calendula, and mourn over my Spring cabbage – all 30 plants have been eaten by slugs and/or snails, razed to the ground by terrestrial gastropod molluscs.
This year I shall just sow flowers and medicinal herbs and buy in greens from Asda, unless someone, somewhere can tell me how to protect my veggies. BTW, I did put down slug pellets, the non-organic blue ones, loads of them….
I also need to construct, or get someone else to construct, some staging in my greenhouse. This is the time to to sow early seeds, and I have a greenhouse up and glazed, but no shelves or tables to work on or keep seed trays on.
So, been busy [daughter married and all], but some things have been done.
First, we have a greenhouse – presently in bits in my garden – but still…
Secondly, we have a shed – presently in bits on the allotment – but still…
We have dug over a vast expanse of the site. Well, my husband dug and I watched. Also helped by my lovely Henry .
About a couple of weeks ago I put in Potatoes, Onions, and Peas!
And a week before that I planted Raspberries!
Therefore, all in my garden would be lovely – except a lot of my little plants got eaten by SLUGS. So we have strewn eggshells round the most recent plantings and will see how we get on.
This is looking from the top of the plot, looking down to the East, on a very hazy morning. My heart sank a little when I took in the 9 tyres, plastic sheeting and weeds. Not to mention that the whole site had been compressed after Wessex Water had been in with their equipment and dug a new hole for drainage [or summat]. Anywho, just look at the mess….
The nicely dug area at the back of the centre photo is nothing to do with me, that’s the next plot with the grass path between. At some stage one person had both plots and grew Tay berries right across both plots spanning the path. I have to begin to demarcate my edges as the path has merged with the weeds almost everywhere so I am not sure where my allotment ends and the paths begin. So, first job was mark the boundary:
This is the right edge of my plot with the path separating me from the plot of a very helpful young man from Yorkshire… This doesn’t look like much, but it took me ages.
I got a chair out, [borrowed from a neighbour] and proudly bashed in my plot marker for all to see. Actually, the view from my allotment is lovely. Take a peek.
The plot that my friend and I share has been dug over and planted with a lot of soft fruit and flowers. My friend was given a green house that was erected near the base of the plot. My own little area was planted with some herbs, but during planting I heard that I had been given my very own allotment, so I dug them all up again! The photo above shows my space after I removed my Ladies Mantle, Joe Pie Weed, garlic etc etc. the children were very quick to plant some more stuff. I think that’s a cherry tree gone in there…
And above you can see the whole plot looking up from the South.
My friend’s children have been frequent visitors to the allotment and take a keen interest in what is being planted.
Below is their progress.
You can see their little footprints all over the place, but I think here we have raspberries and gooseberries. This is quite a transformation from what the plot looked like when they first took it over. You couldn’t see the soil for the weeds. Which is kind of where I’m at at the moment. OK, so they have plot 39, and I have been given plot 14 which is waaaay over there to the left.
My plot is going to have a page all to itself, so click out then click back in…..
OK, so having a website called Growing Medicine refers to two things.
1. The medicine I give my patients grows. It has been a living, photosynthesizing, independent fresh plant. Full of natural goodness, as they say. Vitamins, minerals, secondary metabolites….all there in the various parts being made, ready and waiting to be used.
This is in stark contrast to the medicine produced by Big Pharma; synthetic chemicals produced in a factory.
2. I intend to actually grow some of my medicine myself. Lots of the stuff I use I buy in from specialist herbal suppliers, especially anything exotic or difficult to grow.
Lots of stuff I can pick freely from the fields, woods and canal path near my home. This includes Meadowsweet, Nettle, Cleavers, Elderflower, Elderberry, Hawthorn, White Dead Nettle, Comfrey, Yarrow, Ground Ivy, Ribwort…
But some stuff is elusive, like Marigold, Self Heal, Violets, St John’s Wort, Scullcap, Chamomile, Goldenrod, Boneset and more. Last week I was offered a share in an allotment and I didn’t need to be asked twice. I have my key to the gate of the plot, and went there today after lunch cleverly getting the timing right as the sun went in behind the clouds and the driving rain whipped the back of my head just as I started to dig.
The whole plot is a mess…
…so you can see it is quite a task. This is my end [above] where the compost will go. I have dug out a small 6′ x 3′ area ready to put cardboard on and cover with ‘soil improver’ from the local council at £10 a ton. I will lay this to a depth of 6″ then put in out my little herb plants when they have started to grow.
I have sent off a big order to www.poyntzfieldherbs.co.uk who specialize in medicinal herbal seeds up in Scotland, so I know they should be hardy enough to survive Somerset.
Although I have been University trained in Herbal Medicine, and have been educated in Phytochemistry, Pharmacognosy and Botany etc, I haven’t been told how to grow the plants we use in our medicines.I think it is assumed we will buy them all in as I have been doing. But hopefully soon I will make some lovely fresh tinctures and will have an Open Day when you can drop in and taste some…
The greenhouse at the top of the photo belongs to the next plot up, ours starts where there is a square of freshly dug soil. Anyone with any allotments tips, please feel free to put them in the comments box. I am a novice here…
A few weeks ago was the end of the blackberry season here in the South West. The common blackberry Rubus fructicosus L is ubiquitous, as Julian Barker says in his book The Medicinal Flora of Britain and Northwestern Europe;
‘Understanding the full variability of the bramble is a specialist obsession, the elucidation of which has already taken more than a lifetime and is only just begun. Over 2000 ‘species’ have been described in Europe. The variation between different groups shows up as the arching of the stem, if and how it roots, and the detailed nature of prickles, glands and hairs. Fortunately for us, we can safely generalise: there is no other similar group of plant to confuse even the most urbanised blackberry-picker.
‘A clambering shrub with shoots lengths from 1-3 metres. Compound leaves with leaflets inn 3′s, 5′s or rarely 7′s, stipules present. Sepals fuse at their base to form a cup; the 5 ‘teeth’ are turned down in fruit, as when you open a banana. 5 white or pinkish petals are free as are the many stamens and numerous separate carpels which coalesce to form the aggregate fruit. Widespread and abundant in woods, hedges, scrub, heaths and open commons.
‘This is the most generous of wild plants and it is in the wild where most of us would have it stay. The understanding of its ancestry, speciation and progeny is likely to absorb the attention of a few generations of botanists yet. Blackberry picking must be the most widespread remnant of collective gathering in post-agricultural, industrialised communities. As well as food, the medicinal use of the leaves is ancient. However inconvenient the thorns may be, the Highland economy was no doubt grateful for the legitimate free wool they provided. It was thought improper to eat the fruits after Michaelmas because then the Devil had licence to defile them by spitting or urinating on them. Yes, they can taste a little queer late in the season!’ Julian Barker *
The blackberry has a long growing season, no matter how many you pick, there always seem to be more there when you go back a few days later. We don’t have to boil them all up at once into jams or syrups like our ancestors did. If we have too many to make into crumbles and pies we can freeze them and use them later. We like to defrost a pack and mash with a little icing sugar for instant fresh jam. It’s lovely, but store in the fridge as it doesn’t keep long.
* Barker J, The Medicinal Flora of Britain and Northwestern Europe, 2001, Winter Press, West Wickham
…and they are asking for cakes, biscuits and [today] Dolly Mixtures?
I just tried a new thing. I tipped cottage cheese, yoghurt and cream into a dish. Added chopped cherry tomatoes, snipped salad onions, chopped mange tout and french beans. I stirred in some cracked black pepper and a bit of salt, placed it in the centre of the table and said try some on a Ryvita.
So Henry did, and he loved it. He called it de-licious.
Which isn’t bad from an 11 year old boy.
And he forgot about the Dolly Mixtures….
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