December 2020

28th December - and the end of this year is almost here. The strangest, most challenging year most of us have ever faced, and yet the year in which many people found solace and strength in the beauty of Nature around them. In many ways it feels as thougwe are somehow out of kilter with Narure, with our environment, with the world around us. If we could all do just a small thing to help re-balance, it would add up to such a lot.

Recently, on our Allotment Site, the plot holders have take over the management, and the first thing done was to agree we would no longer pile up any plot rubbish for the Council to remove to landfill, but only stack green waste that would need long term composting, for example, bramble prunings, cabbage stalks, fibrous stemmed plants etc, and take any other rubbish, such as broken nets or pots,old compost bags  or other non-green waste home to either put in our own domestic bin or take to the local Household Waste Site

And for the first time ever, when the lorry came, it went away with uncontaminated green waste that could be put straight into the Council's own high temperature composter. Yes!!

New plot holders are being actively encouraged to compost on their own plots, with pallets supplied if they wish to use them to make bins

So a small effort for each of us with a change of mind set, is already making a difference. 

Maybe composting could be a change you might think about making... and if you already do so, perhaps increase what you put in your own compost bins rather than sending it to landfill or, in some areas, being burned

Harvest Monday at this time in the year tends to have little "New"  but it is a good time to celebrate the huge diversity of produce available on the plot and in store, so here is the list of vegetables for this year's Christmas Table:

From Store: Potatoes, Carrots, Oniions, Shallots

From the open ground; Leeks, White Turnips, Swede, Parsnips Red Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Sage, Thyme, Rosenmary< Fennel leaf

From the Polytunnel: Beetroot, Purple Turnips, Parsley

All in all, plenty to be thankful for and enjoy!

However, I wasn't overly thankful for the Sprouts at the time: they were eyewateringly, noserunningly, mustard-horseradish-like hot!! I have not grown this variety before - Darkmar- and vowed never to grow it again! BUT, the sprouts themselves were very large, much larger than the Crispus I have grown before, and so needed a longer time to cook. It turns out that once they are fully cooked, they are absolutely fine! Thanks goodness , as I have several more plants to pick from and was thinking they woud all have to be sent to the compost bin... fortunately not!

Winter Salads are always good to have, and this week's pickings included

Red Dragon Radishes

Merveille de Jour Lettuce

Radicchio, Spring Onions

American Land Cress

Miners' Lettuce/Claytonia


Fennel leaves

which I was more than happy with, at the end of December

Out On The Plot This Week:

I enjoy walking round the site, there is always something interesting to see. I often have the whole place to myself, and yesterday morning, after Storm Bell paid us a visit in the night, there were plenty of puddles along the lanes, but fortunately no damage that I could see. The water table is very high at the moment and there are flood warnings out for the River Thames. The water meadow borders our site, and some lower plots partially flood every year. 

You can see how much standing water there was, which a Blackbird took advantage of to enjoy a morning bath



There are always things to see on other people's plots too

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    Red Crab Apples glow against the blue sky

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    Primroses on this sunny bank are in bloom

Back on my own plots, I planted the bare rooted rosebush, that one that came free, plus the bulbs of tall LIlies alongside them. These had already started to shoot, but I planted them a good 12-15cm deep, so they will be fine. The stems of the massive maroon ones are there to act as a marker so I don't spear the bulbs whilst planting others



These used to be a small polytunnel in the area, and the flag stone path that ran up the middle is still there, which means I can conveniently reach both sides of this fairly wide border, as well as the narrower one behind.

A couple of weeks back,I  planted a rooted cutting of Winter Jasmine (J nudiflorum) at the base of the trellis, which marks the boundary between #145 and #146. It had stayed in its pot for ages because I couldn't decide where to plant it, and it did look a bit sorry for itself, but it is now in flower, so I am looking foward to training the long stems I hope it grows, up the trellis, to make a bright display of flowers through the Winter and early Spring, which will provide nectar as well as a splash of colour

There are already two different Honeysuckles along this boundary, and I am hoping to add something with strong colour to the flowers for mid -Summer as well, ideally something with perfumed flowers and no thorns!

In The Polytunnel This Week:

I moved the Broad Bean seedlings from the frost free greenhouse at home to the polytunnel, as they were starting to look a bit "leggy". They won't mind the cold,and when we get a mild day I shall plant them out alongside the Perpetual Spinach as I did last year. They are Aquadulce Claudia, a variety which tolerates very cold weather, which is just as well given that the temperature was down to -4C last night!

Kestrel Second Earlies

At Home This Week:

I put the jewel-coloured bottles of liqueur in a temporary home on the desk, as their space in the garage is currently full of what my Dad called "gubbins", in other words, goodness knows what, some useful things to put away, but mostly bits destined for the bin. Given the temperature out there, that temporary home might extend for a few weeks, but they are out of the way and accessible, so that will be fine. I do have three more lots to bottle, and will try to get these done before New Year. it would be good to be able to use the dining table again!

I also checked over all the Potatoes stored in sacks in the garage, and unsurprisingly given the recent very mild conditions, the few First Earlies left had long shoots on them, which I took off. Most of them were still useable, and have been eaten. 

I was pleased there were no rotten ones in the remaining sacks, mostly Maincrop,with a few Second Earlies. Out came the ones for Christmas Dinner (Kestrel) along with some Onions, and Carrots from the box. 

Seeing the Potatoes reminded me that I needed to order my Seed Potatoes for the Spring, as there is no Potato Day to look forward to next month,, so having already worked out how many tubers I'd need, and which varieities, I sent off my order for:

Rocket (half for polytunnel) Jazzy, Carlingford for half a bed on #146 {Early Leeks in other half]

Kestrel, International Kidney, Setanta for one 5m bed  on #145 

Anya for the large tub

I chose varieties I have grown successfully before and like eating, with some white and some coloured, just in case we do get an Association Show next year!

I do enjoy having flowers on the kitchen windowsill, but at this time in the year there is little to cut fresh. However, the two Dendrobium Nobile Orchids more than make up for this with their spectacular flowers, which last for several weeks. They do have a faint perfume but you have to get quite close to appreciate it.. a little tricky across the kitchen sink!

The Mandarin tree, which I bought two years ago in a half price sale, now has its first set of "home grown" buds. They open to huge, waxy flowers with that unmistakable Citrus blossom perfume, more than making up for me not being able to easily sniff the Orchid flowers. The Calamondin Orange i showed you some weeks ago, sits next to it, and is still flowering: the overall effect is lovely. More pollination with a little brush later today!


Just to finish this week, in fact this year, is a photo of some glorious cabbages Theresa gave me, as part of a bouquet with some white lilies. It is such a beautiful colour I wanted to share it, not just to say thank you, but as a reminder that however tough things seem, kindness is out there stiil

I know I always have a jobs list, usually many and various, but this time there are only three tasks on it, one of which may well last for several weeks:

- weeding the fruit cage and doing any pruning still required

- bottling the last three fruit liqueurs

- Sowing Globo Onions!!!!

Yes, the new sowing season is underway!

Time to look forward to better times, to keep ourselves and those around us safe to we can enjoy those better times too of course. 

This year has seemed interminable in many ways, whilst at the same time seeming to just rush past as Nature continues in her own sweet way regardless

I shall be back in 2021 to wish you all Happy New Year. In the meanwhile, get that seed tin out and rifle through to see what you have to look forward to. Still time to take advantage of the free p&p offers out there if you need to top the tine up at all... and perhaps think about composting?

My contact email is

 Comments and suggestions are most welcome, and I shall reply as soon as I can

And if you'd like to know more about Harvest Monday, look at


21st December - WInter Solstice. Who could ever have thought we would be into Covid Tier 3 during the week, and then within days be classed as Tier 4 due to the rapid spread of a new Covid variant, meaning all our "Christmas Bubble" plans burst about us?  The advice given about going out.. if in fact you do even go out... is to act as though you might spread the virus to someone else, so be extra mindful of the Hands-Face-Space expectations. Sounds about right to me, especially as this new variant is apparently able to spread 70% more quickly than the original

Despite that, here, life on the plots goes on as before, because we have lived with those rules so long they are secoind nature, and of course we are rarely in a position to be close to another plot holder, and regular handwashing is necessary anyway. All in all, an absolute blessing to have somewhere so safe to go

So let's have "normality" here, and move straight into Harvest Monday

I have been busy dealing with fruit harvests from the Summer and Autumn: Damsons, Plums and Blackberries, that have been macerating quietly way on my dining room table, in their containers of spirits. More about those to follow, so let's see this week's fresh harvests

Golden Beetroot is just as sweet as red, and even thought this root had got rather large while I wasn't looking at it in the polytunnel, it was not at all tough or woody. The leaves were very colourful with their yellow stems, so I used some of the younger ones raw in salad. They were quite strong tasting, stronger than Perpetual Spinach ( which is a Beet relation) so another time I might cook them

One of my favourite herbs is Sage. Here, it is fully evergreen, so I no longer bother drying any. I do find dried Sage slightly "dusty" in flavour in comparison to the fresh leaves anyway

Sage contains Vitamin A an Iron as well as having Immune system boosting properties, but I use it because I like it, and if it does me good too, that is a bonus. I am sure I don't eat enough for it to make much difference to my Iron or Vit A  levels really,  but every little helps, especially when added to all the other vegetable "goodness" we eat. I use sage a lot with bean stews, and with chicken dishes too

Two big leaves from this sprig went in with the Roast Potatoes, and the rest will be finely chopped in bread dough to make some little rolls, which might be nice with soup

The Mooli plants are starting to grow flower stalks, so it is definitely time to pull them up. Pleased with these overall, are giving  areally good crop, especially when you htink I only sowed on metre long row. I think there may be some unexpected Christmas gifts amongst the neigbours though, as I donlt want the remaining ones to spoil now those stalks are groowing

These have been grated in coleslaw, added to stir fry and eaten raw in salad. Definitely on the list for next year: an excellent "follow-on" crop after something like Calabrese, to sow mid-Summer

I only dug up one Parsnip, as that is all I needed for this week's roast dinner (which actually had mince & onions with it rather than roast meat but it was still good, with  roast Potatoes, Carrots and Cabbage all from stores)

I am keeping fingers crossed that rodents don't start eating them, or theses roots will be coming home to join the Carrots!

Out on the Plots This Week:

There have been a couple of fairly dry days this week, and I have enjoyed the sunshine sitting outside the green shed on a bench. The wooden shed soaks up the warmth, so is lovely to lean against while I am sitting thinking through next year's plan, or not even thinking at all, just sitting

I edged the path through the Forest Garden with logs some of which are newly cut, some have been in other areas of the plots for a while... and just look what has sprouted on this one!  Two different fungi: the beautifully striped, white edged Turkey Tail ( Trametes versicolor) and one I took some time to identify, as it varies so much in colour: Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum)

I wonder what other species of fungi may start to grow as next year rolls forward. There are usually a few pop up from the woodchip, but with the logs as well, there may be even more

There are always birds to watch and this week's bird pic is of a Hedge Sparrow ,aka Dunnock. It is quite a different build to a House Sparrow, has a beak more llke a Robin, and spends most of its time lurking in the undergrowth. Pleased to have had the chance for a pic, as when they do make an appearance, it is often quite fleeting. 

There are still plenty of insects and grubs around for these to eat, although when these are in short supply, Dunnocks will eat seeds.

I am surprised to see this Hebe is still flowering. Adds a little splash of colour. It has become rather overwhelmed by the stripy grass (Phalaris arundinacea) which is rampant. I regret planting this really, pretty though it is, but it is very difficult to dig out becaue the roots form a really dense mat You have been warned!!

In the Spring i shall attempt to move the Hebe I think, so that its roots have more space. Have to think about where it could go. It might look good over on the other plot, in one of the beds by the seating area. 

At Home This Week:

I am slowly reclaiming my dining room table from the array of containers with fruit soaking in alcohol, and the header photo this week shows ho much bottling I have done. Using coffee filters is certainly less messy than muslin, and does an exellent job: the resulting liqueurs are crystal clear. So far I have:

Stones & All! Damson GIn

Czar's Finest Spiced Plum Vodka

Christmas Cheer Blackberry  Brandy

Autumn's Bounty Blackberry & Apple Gin

Some goes gifts of course (maybe Easter rather than Christmas for anyone I can't visit right now) and some will be stored in the garage until such times as socialising is allowed again

The Christmas wrapping paper and all the paraphernalia associated with jar dressing is now put away too. Much though I love sorting jars as gifts, it is always good when it is all done

The Christmas cake is still on the table, but not now in its tin. My youngest grandchild, (who is in my Support Bubble in case anyone is wondering) decorated it this year, having made the hedgehogs a few weeks back. Very festive looking. I am now really glad that Christmas cake keeps for so long, as it may take a while to munch through by myself! 

I had an early Christmas present arrive this morning: a bare root Queen Elizabeth rose. It was a free gift, with free p&p too, so it was a bit of a no-brainer to send for it. It looks very unpromising, but once the roots have had a soak, I shall plant it at the plot, in a spot I have ready for it. I have several of these "free" roses, two pink Queen Elizabeths plus a dark red one whose name escapes me right now, and they flower their socks off all Summer. Hope this one flourishes just as well

I have already planted four additional rose bushes this Autumn, all with cream or yellow flowers, so another pink one  near them is just the job I think

I made something new to me this week, after Jane shared her recipe with me: Pineapple and Chilli Syrup. The thought had been that visitors who don't drink alcohol would then have something delicious... yes, I know... what vistors?!! It'll keep though. It really is rather good, especially as a hot drink, and I can see that a thicker syrup could be poured over icecream too. I may end up having to make more for those future visitors, as I might drink this all myself!

Jane has also given me a recipe for Cranberry, Orange & Maple Syrup Winter Warmer. I have some frozen Cranberries ...


This morning, despite the rain, I met with a friend at the plot to welcome the sun rise on Winter Solstice, yes, with that hot Pineapple & Chilli drink As you might notice, the sun itself hasn't put in an appearance as such, although day light clearly happened anyway! Feels rather topical really.. it's there even though you can't see it!

So Happy Winter Solstice, previously known as Yule, and may it be the beginning of a year of light and hope. rather than how this one has felt

Funny to think this is my last post before Christmas. Almost everyone's plans have had to change in the past couple of days, and maybe, like me, you feel a bit shellshocked. I hope you are all still able to enjoy the company of someone you love, or, if you are on your own, plan a day of things you enjoy, to do, to eat and to drink. Keep both yourself and others safe. We need to dig deep, find our resilience and stay connected

My contact email is

 Comments and suggestions are most welcome, and I shall reply as soon as I can

And if you'd like to know more about Harvest Monday, look at

14th December - With Christmas less than a fortnight away, I am  trying to get the plot ready for the New Year, although unexpected jobs appear from time to time to interrupt progress. Harvests are pretty much the same each week around now, so Harvest Monday has only one main offering on the table to talk about, and that is Carrots

In theory, the Carrots growing in the ground should have been be quite safe all Winter, just being dug as required. However this does not take into account the ravages of the vole population! (Just as an aside, to answer a query from Jan, these are not Water Voles,  which are semi aquatic,but either Common Voles or Field Voles. They might look cute, but they do a lot of damage to crops, biting through stems, chopping the pieces into short lengths to carry away to their food cache.  There are also Field Mice to contend with. These eat seeds and fruit, as well as enjoying nibbling the tops of carrots).

When weeding, I noticed a few carrots with damaged tops, so decided it was prudent to dig the whole crop up, rather than waiting for the damage to get worse. 

There were certainly a lot of Carrots! I trimmed up all the damaged roots, 3.5kg of them.  These would not store well, so most were packaged up to share with friends to use. The ones I kept were turned into Carrot & Ginger Soup


That left me with 2.5 kg of Carrots to store. They will keep well in a box of dryish compost in the cool of the garage, so instead of digging some up when needed, I can just delve into the box instead. Plenty to last the Winter, especally as there is still the crop grown in a large planting box to use . These are the Sweet Candle ones grown for the Show-that-didn't-happen, but are still of course able to be eaten ... some of these may well find themselves on the Christmas table!

The undamaged ones from this week's dig are all sorts of shapes and sizes, mostly Early Nantes from three staggered sowings. I have been haresting from this bed for several months now, so it has certainly been a very successful crop again

Another harvest was also dug up with the Carrots, a non-edible one this time:

Verbena bonariensis plants. During last Winter, along with some sharp sand, compost was incorporated into the soil, and this compost delivered a dose of V bonariensis seeds from plants chopped up and added to the pallet bins at some past point. I left those not directly in the rows of Carrlots to grow on, cutting back any flowering stems that would have pushed against the netting covering the bed. I ended up with about thirty decent-looking plants, which are temporarily heeled in until a permanent planting space becomes available. This morning, ten or so went so a plot holder along the lane, and I am sure there will no  difficulty finding homes for any I am not going to need 

They really are such useful plants, with their light airy stems and clusters of purple flowers beloved of butterflies, bees and other pollinators, as well as flowering thir socks off for months on end. What's not to like?

Further edible harvests this week have included Leeks, Cabbage, Cavolo Nero Kale, Turnip Greens, Thyme and Sage

Out on the Plots This Week:

Apart from the crazy Carrot-dig, where there was only one further root from Mr Carroty's family, my main jobs have been clearing up type ones. 

I cut back the remaining Budddleia stems from by the top gate on #146, lugging these over to the bonfire pile to await burning when things dry out a bit. Cutting them back hard at this time in the year means next year's growth is reasonably compact, and as they flower on new growth, it also means flowers are not all on growth towering into the sky where we can't see them properly

The weather today has been very mild so it seemed the time to clear dead leaves out of the little pond, which can get clogged up with Buddliea, Apple and Hazel leaves if I don't keep an eye on it. A mass of decomposing leaves in such a small pond would lead to a bit of a potential imbalace of nutrients, although some leaves are probably a good thing, as they will contribute to the soil in the bottom of the pond and provide shelter for some of the inhabitants too 

Here is the pond looking good in the sunshine this morning. I have resisted cutting back any of the Bistort - a good dark pink varety of Persicaria - with leaves which turns glorious russet colour in the Autumn, or the Erigeron, because they make excellent cover for all sorts of invertebrates. This second one is still flowering, which is another reason for leaving it alone

The pieces of wood are there to deter ducks from visiting. They can spot water a they fly over, but they really do churn up the mud, which then settles over every leaf surface... much better if they stay on the river thank you!

It wasn't only the pond looking good in the sunshine.The Red KIte shown in the header photo spent ages sitting in an Ash tree opposite my back gate, calling and whistling persistently. It is difficult to tell juveniles from adults by this time in the year as they look pretty much the same, but this behaviour was typical of the youngsters earlier in the Summer once they were full fledged.  I wonder if this was a hopeful young bird thinking its parents may still provide a meal?

In the Polytunnels This Week:

Another interruption to my clearing up plan this week was the hole chewed through the cover of one of the polytunnels by a rat. Not really what I wanted to find, I can tell you!

I think it had been attracted by a mouse in one of the snappy traps in the polytunnel and so has bitten its way in to get to it. The trap was gone, so I have to assume the rat pulled it out through the hole. So far I haven't been able to find it, but eventually it will turn up somewhere no doubt

I patched the hole both inside and out with repair tape, and put a brick against it on the outside too. There was also a hole alongside the bottom of the door, now suitably repaired, which may be hpw the rat or rats got in before chewing up a lot of the remaining Kholrabi. They really are a nuisance, and with their ability to squeeze through holes smaller than you would think possible, it is difficult to keep them out, if they are determined to get in! I did set a live trap, but so far not caught the culprit


At Home This Week:

Seasonal jobs such as card writing, present wrapping, completion of knitting project etc take precedence at the moment, but one task I do enjoy is jar dressing

Through the year, some of the harvests are made into jams, jellies, pickles, chutneys etc, and now is the time that the jars are cleaned until they sparkle, have new labels and a pretty hat to top them off, ready to be gifted... here is a selection of this year's goodies, resplendent in their new attire

Outdoor jobs are even more weather dependent in the Winter, but there are alwasy ongoing tasks, path clearing for example for when the conditions re suitable . I shall be pressing on with these as much as I can as this coming week's weather is set to be very mild, so dealing with compost from paths could be a bit less cold on the fingers.

This is the last week when daylight hours continue to shorten, as next Monday is one of my favourite days of the year: Winter Solstice, the turn of the year when daytime hours start to lengthen again and life will start to feel brighter all round.  I shall be back then, and wouldn't it be amazing if all the paths on the plot were renewed by then? Maybe that is a bit too ambitious, but even another little one done would be good. Hope your week goes well, and I'll be back on 21st


PS Here is the elusive Greater Spotted Woodpecker from last week, clearly  a female as she has no red cap . My youngest grand daughter rang just now to say there had been a Sparrowhawk in the garden eying her up, so let's hope that dagger-like beak puts it off!

My contact email is

 Comments and suggestions are most welcome, and I shall reply as soon as I can

And if you'd like to know more about Harvest Monday, look at

7the December - and the weather is, for once, as you would expect for the time of year: sub zero at night, frosty fog in the morning and a bit of sun some afternoons. This is exactly what the plants need right now! Frost sweetens Brussels Sprouts and Parsnips, facilitates fruit bud formation, kills off a lot of the insect pests and allows a general halt to growth for a while.

Harvests are of course now well into those traditional for the Winter, and this week's Harvest Monday begins with Parsnips. You neve rreally know what has been going on down there under the soil since last April when the seeds were sown (and eventually germinated). Will it be a tangled mass of twisted skinny roots, or roots badly damaged by canker? Or roots so huge you can hardly dig them up whole?

As you can see, I have roots big enough to feel relieved. The large one was peeled, cut up and roasted last night, and it's smaller family members will be Parsnip Soup in a day or two. Whew! The crop is not a total failure, which as i really like Parsnips, I am really pleased about

There are still plenty of Carrots in the ground, protected from extreme weather by the original netting from when they were sown, and to some extrend from rodents by snappy traps under the net. I don't mind a few nibbles here and there but I don't want to be feeding hordes of furry creatures! They are a very verstaile vegetable, and one of my Winter staples. A "side" to roast dinner, added to casseroles and soups, or main feature in a curry or grated not coleslaw or cake: pleased to have a goodly amount still to harvest!

I grow a range of Cabbages across the year, and these round headed white cabbages are ones I particularly  look forward to each year, as they make such amazing coleslaw, as well as being really delicious steamed with butter and black pepper.

The first year I grew this variety... KIlaton, I gave each plant lots of space and they developed heads of 2kg, which is really  a bit big for me to deal with these days, especially if I cannot get to see family or friends to share a head with. This year I planted them closer together. This one is the smallest, which still gives a lot of cabbage as the heads are very dense, and teher is one left in the ground. They stand well however and are not prone to split. It si also Club Root Resistant so all in all an excellent variety certainly on next year's list!

Leeks are another Winter staple, and this year the Oarsman, a new variety for me, have more than proved their worth. They mature early, which may mean they start to develop flower spikes earlier than other varieties too but right now they are brilliant!

However, due to my laziness in not netting them against the ravages of Leek Moth, some have some delightful orange streaks in their white section, decorated with dainty little moth pupae. Give the huge size of them though, they are salvageable, whereas the Musselburgh, which were much smaller when attacked, are in a poor way.

Lesson learned? I'd like to think so!

I have already bought more Oarsman seeds, and this coming year have planned a space so that the young plants can be set out as soon as they are ready, rather than having to wait for the First early Potatoes to be finished. I shall also grow a later maturing variety, which can occupy the empty Potato bed. Sounds a good plan... hope it works



Some of this year's escaped though and look pretty good! 

That is the last of this week's fresh harvests, which have been added to with fruit and vegetables either stored ...Apples Potatoes, Onions, and Shallots ... frozen ... French Beans and  Peas or bottled ... Tomatoes amd Cucumbers


Out on the Plots This WeeK:

I made the most of the mild start to the week, weeding both the long beds with Onion, Shallots and Garlic growing, including the Senshyu Yellow seedlings. I also netted the new small Garlic bed, where the cloves Alston gave me are. These have not poked their heads up yet, but no doubt will be bsy growing some good roots to see them through the Winter. The new b=netting is much finer than the pieces I bought earlier in the year. I am unsure how it will stand up to the rigours of life on the plots without tearing, but time will tell. For now, it keeps the Pheasants off the Onion shoots, and that will do

It was surprising what volume of weeds were taken out: five bucketsful! These went into one of the dalek bins. These bins were the emergency composting overflow in mid-Summer. When I took the lids off, the volume inside had reduced from bulging at the top to about a quarter of a bin each.  I am now topping these up as I go, because my main pallet bins are all totally full

Al the weeds from cleaning off some of the paths on #145, and the rest of the Orchard also went in them, and the soil attached their roots provides plenty of micro-organisms to help everything rot down nicely. In the cold weather of course, they work much more slowly, as you might expect. 

I also moved the equivalent of 21 barrowsful of woodchip from the pile near Jackie's plot that she generously offered. I say equivalent as it was actually in giant builders' trugs, moved from one end of the site to the other in my car. I could never have shifted all that in one morning otherwise

It was enough to cover not only the Orchard, where the sloping round was getting very slippery, but two of the long paths between the netted bed. 

With the top inch of the ground being frozen at the moment, cleaning off any more of the paths is not possible, which kind of gives me a bit of a rest from that gruelling job

The Orchard looks very smart again, and access to the daleks in much safer underfoot too. I'll take a photo to share next week

I have a large pie of long pallets, with which I plan to repair the top boundary fence , but as it involves shifting the leaf mould pile against the outside of it, some careful planning is needed before starting that task. I do smile when non-allotment folk ask me if  I have finished down there for the Winter now.  There is always something needing doing, isn't there?

In the Polytunnels This Week:

Temperatures at night have been -2C, so,little is actually growing at the moment just sitting waiting. Waitng to be eaten, or waiting to carry on growing

Leaves of plants like Beetroot and Spring Cabbage wilted down in the cold , which is their protection agaings losing water when their roots are not able to take much up; they soon pick up as the temperature rises a little bit. 

Oh, and the remaining Celery looks like it has had it now, so I must take that out for the compost. I don't want to leave anything there that might develop grey mould on it! The Celery has been great success, so I must leave space to grow some next year

At Home This Week:

I have adjusted the heater in the greenhouse to ensure it stays frost free, and the Boad Bean seedlings have started to show themselves. The soil they are in is not as lumpy as this picture makes it look, honestly!  In the background you can see that the Spring Onions have had a bit of  a move on too, which is good. They don't need to be warm or they will grow too quickly and be too delicate to plant out when their time comes

A friend spotted the comment a couple of weeks ago about not having any white Chritsmas Cactus plants  (Schlumbergia) and kindly sent me some cuttings from hers.. thank you, Linda! Ileft them for the base to dry off and sel over a bit, as this helps prevent the rotting, and planted them about 2cm deep in a mix of vermiculite and sieved compost. They are in the kitchen at the moment as it is far too cold in the greenhouse. 


Most of the fruit liqueurs that I put in to "do" during the year are ready for filtering and being bottled. Some are for gifts, some to drink at home. They keep perfectly well in a cool dark place such as the garage, and it is nice to have range to choose from, or foffer to guests when the time comes we can invite people again

Here are the trials of Plum Vodka/Slivovic and Damson Gin, which are both absolutely clear, and taste pretty good too. Ineed to get on and deal with the rest now so I can reclaim the dining table!


The birds are flocking into gardens again for food, and one of my jobs this week is to put up the fat stick holder now I have been able to get more fat sticks. The Tits are the most numerous in my son's garden, where I took these photos on Saturday. Unfortunately I couldn't photograph the female Spotted Woodecker, or the Nuthatch, neither of which are regualr visitirs to my feeders

The Great Tits and Blue Tits were far more obliging!

Jobs this week are mainly maintenance work on the paths at the plots, and planning for the coming season. Other things, like wrapping Christmas presents and writing cards have made their way in as has a knitting project. Good to have a change before another sort of the seeds tins to make sure I have everything I hope to grow next year

Hope you all stay safe and well. I shall be back next week

PS No sign of the rat in the shed again thank goodness. I don't leave the door open unless I am in there, in case one comes a-visting again.  I am enjoying having a today shed now though

PPS Do check out Harvest MOnday hosted by Dave of Our Happy Acres (Thanks Dave!) as it is really interesting, and gives me all sorts of ideas to grow new crops , as well as some great bread recipes from Dave)

My contact email is

 Comments and suggestions are most welcome, and I shall reply as soon as I can

And if you'd like to know more about Harvest Monday, look at