I'll be enjoying a midwinter garden in the Highlands for the next while, and on a slow dial-up connection. I'll still be hoping to look in at gardening blogs - tho it seems as if many places are blanketed by snow just now.
After a day of gale-driven heavy rain on Friday the soil was too wet on Saturday for any serious digging. All rather frustrating, since the rampant wild forget-me-not is spreading. However, it's easy to dig out once things dry up a bit, so I mustn't get too downhearted about its onward march. I cheered myself up by a bit of year-end tinkering: checking the netting over the broccoli and spring greens and pegging it down more firmly, and planting some very late bulbs up against the shed, where the sunflowers had been in the summer.
The bulbs were the result of an exuberant order from Avon Bulbs in September, when I was confident of finding time to plant them up both at home and at the allotment. As it was, only my daughter got her share in on time, planted up in the courtyard of the Music School at her school - the beautifying of which she and a friend have taken on off their own bat. I was especially keen to finish planting, as the leftovers included some rather lovely White Parrot and Abu Hassan tulips. We'll see what manages to come up from this Christmas planting. As well as the tulips I popped in the last of a bargain bag of narcissi, reckoning that cheap and cheerful might have to carry the day.
I pulled a couple of leeks, sorted out some shallots to take home from the rack in the shed, and with daylight waning went for a muddy stroll round the site to see what was happening. There are always plots which I look at enviously - pristine, dug to perfection - and those which make me feel that others are in the same boat.
Evidence of Friday's gales - this tree was well and truly blocking the main access road.
Some greenhouses had broken panes, and sheds had tar paper ripped off the roof. I didn't take photos of those, but I felt that this lucky glass shed cum greenhouse deserved to be featured. One of the classic do-it-yourself allotment constructions, all tidy and ship-shape for winter, and eco-friendly down to its little push mower.
That was probably my last visit to the plot for this year. Very shortly I'll be heading north, to what looks like being a warm, wet Christmas.
That's going to be my mantra for the rest of this winter and into the next growing season. I had naively thought that I might get away without netting the broccoli and spring greens/cabbages since there was no actual broccoli in evidence yet. When I popped along to the allotment today with the kitchen waste I was horrified to see the plants almost stripped to skeletons in some cases. Much tangling and soft cursing later I had rigged up netting over a cobbled-together arrangement of canes and climbing frame poles. It'll do for now, but I hanker after a rod and ball cage with more robust netting, one that would fit together each year with a minimum of make-do. It would very definitely be an 'investment', but at the moment I feel I'm investing time in bringing on plants and not getting the full crop from them that I could if they were better protected.
I didn't realise that strawberries put on a show of autumn colour. After they'd finished fruiting I cut back the foliage. It's now grown again, and given a pleasing display as a decorative plant.
Sadly this is all I have to report from the allotment this week. Hard ground frost coupled with extreme pre-Christmas busy-ness have meant no time at all to get along to the plot. Perhaps next weekend - if I manage to finish my Christmas shopping during the week. Now there's an incentive.