Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Is Spring here?

Two of us working on the plot today, are we mad .....probably.   The weather was so good I just had to be outside and.  spring must really be here now.........frog spawn in the pond up on the allotments!  That and a sunny day, managed to start my gardening year by planting out my 6 cooking apple tree cordons.   The raspberries were a disaster last year so they had to go ......no room for sentiment on the plots.  By the way Mike thanks for the amaryllis bulb you gave all of us at Christmas.......mine is just about to burst into flower and promising to look spectacular.
Cathy (plot 37)

Sunday, 22 September 2013

We are so lucky

Flushed with the success of our BBQ, we kept the fingers crossed for good weather on our coach trip day out on the 25th August. We need not have worried as the 27 members who were looking forward to the outing gathered in the car park in sunshine fairly early on the Sunday morning awaiting our transport.
We had booked a 29 seater but was delighted when a 35 seater turned up, mainly because it gave us room to spread out and be really comfortable as we would be on and off the bus several times during the day.
The three venue trip continued in fine weather and after an hour we arrived at our first stop, the National dahlia collection trial grounds at Long Rock near Penzance. Around 3 acres of dahlias in numerous beds at their best for us to photograph, admire, smell and order if we liked any particular ones. Varfell farm is only open to the public on one day of the year and we took advantage of this, still in perfect weather, heaven!
After nearly 2 hours, we were ready for a bite to eat so on to the coach again and headed for Penzance town centre where our party were given 90 mins to grab a lunch wherever they fancied and get back to the coach again. Some just sat along the lovely promenade nibbling on sandwiches among the 'palm' trees, Codyline Australis really, Cornish palms, overlooking the busy sea traffic. This is where the Scilly Isles ferry comes in too. Others like me opted for an outdoor café lunch which was very nice thank you in the warm sun, the view from our chosen café below.
Off then to our final destination, N.T.'s fine walled garden, Trengwainton gardens just on the Western outskirts of Penzance. Still the sun shone and after walking around their excellent, impressive grounds, we were all on time at the rendez-vous tea rooms, comparing notes and photos at what we had just seen. The furthest point of the gardens actually overlooks the whole of Mounts Bay and what a sight , the sea sparkling in the sunshine from our high viewpoint was memorable.
All in all, a great day out which everyone as they wearily stepped off the coach commented on.
To my surprise, instead of getting in their adjacent parked cars, several strode off to visit their allotment before heading home, their stamina I admired, oh to be young again, or even young-ish.
We were lucky to get both important days in our allotment calendar to be sunny, happy, successful days. 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

A good day for us all

The season is just right for our allotments to produce their best year for good fruit and veg with rain and sun alternating at the correct times UNTIL the day selected some time ago for our annual BBQ and prizegiving for the best allotments. Obviously a lot of planning, roll ordering, games, cups and rosettes, seating, shelter etc, etc, goes into the organising for such a lot of folk that were expected to attend and my wife Ruth wore her mouse clicking finger out checking the weather out on so  
many occasions before the day. Fortunately, we were warned that despite the previous 7 days being fine and dry, the Sunday was to be a horror so we had to cancel everything and hope the forecast was right as a lot of disappointment was being shown at our decision. It was a deluge, rain and wind all day so happy we had postponed for one week.
Luckily our volunteer cooks, Mike and Carol, were free on the new date, although a few folk that would have attended on the wash out day, couldn't on the rearranged day.
At the second attempt, all went well thoughout the day and 64 of our members and their families relaxed in the warm sunshine enjoying the superb spread, most donated on the day.
The prizegiving, raffle (top prize free rent for 2014), childrens games, tombola stall were all popular and folk were chattering away for hours it seemed. Brilliant! So glad we changed the date. The pictures show the gathering, Mike and Carol hard at work and top prizewinners accepting their trophy from our chair. They keep the Viv Brock memorial cup for a year and their engraved vase for good. Well done Mike and Anne, stiff competition considering 90 plots judged.
We'll do it all again next year. Coach trip next in 2 weeks.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The best season in years

Haven't posted a blog for a while as life is so busy on the site coping with the maintenance of not just my plot but the site in general. I have 2 tenants that really do more than their fair share of communal work but most are just happy to potter about on their own patch. Fair enough. We have a good response if anything specific is asked for so can't complain, too many cooks CAN spoil the site.

After a dubious start to the season, cold spring, late frosts and the signs of another wet year, the high pressure bringing warm settled weather has been with us for several weeks now and all of us are agreeing it has been the best season for crops for at least 3 years. The fruit bushes, strawberries, raspberries have responded well to the strong sunshine this year, we can't pick fast enough. The dreaded potato blight, usually here by now in Cornwall has held off and our first earlies being dug now have a marvellous crop to offer, slug free for a change. Peas too are the best we've known so far on this site, often attacked by voles, wood pigeons, etc., have had a rest this year so the harvest is really good.

One minus point of the hot spell is that the water tanks haven't stood up to the demands and we are having to rely on mains which has to be paid for obviously. The real problem that I witness is to water correctly and I have sent an email to all spelling out correct practice or the rentals will have to go up next season to pay the bills. It was difficult to write to all as only a few are guilty of wasteful watering and I am certain some think sure, but we know this. When you see a tenant running off 5 x 10 litre containers in the hot sunshine at midday just to water the tops of blackcurrant bushes and EVERY crop on the plot the despair creeps in.

Our new car park opened this week is being warily tested by everyone. It is a tadge further and uphill on earth which will turn muddy when the wet returns but we'll do something to improve that soon, it seems ok and good to be separate from the visitors to the house. 

Most of the money from the Cornwall in bloom win in 2012 was spent on our weathervane which has proved useful when deciding whether to have a bonfire or not with regard to smoke direction and annoyance of others. However, with the small balance left have bought a bird bath for the community gardens which will provide a centre piece for a few years, pic here and of the formal garden (one of 4 different gardens) also the new car park with our own bays.

Busy organising our annual BBQ and prizegiving on 4th August to be followed by a coach trip later the same month. We have quite a good social life which is enjoyed by 50 - 60%, the others just want to potter as already mentioned, suits us.

Off to enjoy another sunny day in this beautiful county, we are lucky with 160 beaches to choose from or pretty moorland to walk on or even stroll around our lovely allotments.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Hosting tours of our site.

Every year we invite garden clubs to come along and enjoy a guided tour and talk around our pretty allotment site as we are proud of what we have created from nothing in 3 years. Last Sat, 1st June it was the turn of the St. Cleer club and I was looking forward to their visit as when I had given a talk in their memorial hall back in deep winter their members were very interested in what I had to say and couldn't wait to come to us. In fact, two of them came to see us 2 days after, they said they couldn't wait til June.
Although surrounding the site looks like a bombsite at the moment while work building car parks and other site work, our patch looked A1 after Billy had done his magic with the ride on  the previous day. The visitors really enjoyed the tour, talk and refreshments offered after and stayed for a long time chatting in the sunshine asking questions on various subjects. I like it, as it does our association a lot of good around the county to give a good impression, word of mouth goes a long way. The photo here shows some of their club relaxing after their hour long tour. My lovely wife Ruth emerging from the shed after her tea making duties, much appreciated by all.
There is a huge high pressure over the country and it's hot as I write which is unusual to clash with the Royal Cornwall show week and our water tanks have not stood up to their sternest test so far in that the blimin' things have run dry too quickly. We are going to have to look at adding a second one each end linked to the first one. A learning curve for us, thought 540 gallons each tank would be enough for a good while but not. They are not cheap unfortunately.
A late frost unusual for this part caught a few out including me with runner beans, potatoes, dahlias scorched but not killed. They don't look very healthy but will feed the beans up on seaweed extract to perk them up. It's midsummer's day in 3 weeks, had to get the runners and dahlias out surely by June? The joys of allotmenteering! Love it.

Friday, 24 May 2013


We've just celebrated our 3rd birthday on this pretty, sheltered, hidden 3 acre site but this year will see a lot of changes for us as to our surroundings.
As part of a £1.6m grant to create 16 cycle trails around us there are to be new car parks, a new cafe, cycle hire facilities and a toilets too, the latter being very welcome as it's a 10 minute walk to the present loo and back. This involves removal of the existing ancient Cornish hedge between us and the adjacent road and realigning which is quite a big job as the hedge had several mature trees growing out of it. The realigning is to allow coaches and our allotmenteers to see properly when emerging from our new car park under construction this week.
The site is now very exposed to the heavy traffic as the hedge has been totally removed this week but will be rebuilt speedily on a different line.
My poor dear wife who solely handles new applications for a plot with us has been inundated over the last 10 days with emails and texts requesting details of how to apply simply because we are so exposed, no-one could see us in the past which was fine by all the existing members. We have no vacant plots to offer regrettably.

We are supportive of the new project as it will be really good once all finished with something like 5,500 more trees being planted as part of the scheme and of course being NT, everything will be landscaped and planted up soon, in fact within the next 7 months as the grant expires in December this year and all work has to be completed by then. A tough task given the scale of work.
Crops on the plots are looking healthier than last year even if about 3 weeks behind thanks to such a cold spring which is still here even if it is mid summer's day in a month. Despite requests, there is nothing I or our committee can do about it, blame the jet stream being too far South. It's forecast to only reach 12/13 degrees by day for the next week when it should be 18/20 now.
I'm pleased to say every fruit tree in our new orchard planted last month has sprung to life and will look as if it's always been there next year.

Two more visits by garden clubs in the next 3 weeks, St.Cleer and St.Teath, hope the weather is kind on both days, helps with a good impression so much.

Here at Lanhydrock there is a very efficiently run plant nursery and the 2 regular staff (both have an allotment with us too) agreed to stay behind after work one evening this week to give our members a glimpse of their working environment. Fortunately, the event was well supported by around 50 of us taking advantage of the fine evening to spend a couple of hours milling around the many polytunnels questioning the patient staff. We ended up drinking tea and coffee while watching the £12,000 potting machine in action. Thanks again Kenny and Veronica for giving us an evening to remember and to all those who came along.
The photos show the wall being rebuilt, our car park being made and a couple from the nursery tour.
More soon.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

All is well.

Since my last blog, the cold wind which had been blowing since February has at last relented allowing our normal warmer South Westerlies to come in which does bring in rain but we do need it after the ground had been subjected to drying sub zero conditions. The soil was cold to quite a depth.

Our allotmenteers are a hardy breed and most had been on site at some point during the cold snap to prepare their patch for the season ahead and I include  a couple of pics showing the site a week after the milder weather returned, i.e. the second week of April and looking around I felt satisfied we had a good team on board now, the iffy, maybe, sometime, never tenants had gone and been replaced with keen, knowledgable ,true gardeners. Credit to them all for the hard work put in, let us hope the season ahead rewards.

The mini orchard has now been planted. This is situated on an area in the far corner which was a problem to know what to do with as too wet for a plot here, we tried it. Strange as the patch faces S.W., gets plenty of sun but perhaps the giant trees behind the area prevent enough air circulation, who knows, just hope the 15 fruit trees take off and flourish.

We are more exposed to the passing world now with the removal of boundary trees and the imminent realignment of the Cornish hedge that hides us from the road. This is to allow better vision for us and the coaches visiting Lanhydrock to  exit the new car park, all part of big changes in the area (not allowed to say the E word, but rhymes with great). Some tenants feel uncomfortable with the high visibility of our site but we have been assured that we will be ok with a new screen shortly.

Our social life has us attending an event every month but had a disappointment this month as the day before we were due to visit the St. Austell brewery to tour the works, we were asked to cancel as there was emergency maintenance to be carried out the same w/e and the water was turned off so machines all off too. How inconsiderate! Fortunately, I was able to contact all those going in time as we had arranged to meet there. Oh well, another time, can't be helped.

Must say we are sorry to lose Kevin and Charlotte Chapman who had been with us since day one but found life's other commitments to much to justify keeping their plot. We will miss them in particular Charlotte's lovely smile whenever you saw her. :)

Right, it's good growing weather so I'm off the computer now to get planting, I have a lot of competition this year with all the plots looking good. Glad. Billy no- mates has even risked planting out his runner beans, mine are just considering germinating in the greenhouse. I must be old fashioned thinking the second week in May was early enough. Have always had a gardening calendar in my head, maybe I need to have an update soon.