Posts filed under ‘allotment tales’

gardening with kids (during a heatwave)

It’s over 3 weeks since our last Saturday morning allotment visit and we didn’t make it yesterday either. It’s been unseasonably hot in the UK for weeks now and our weekends are such a precious balance of down time versus adventure.  Yesterday was the first day of the school holidays and we relished sitting around […]

Continue Reading July 23, 2018 at 6:32 am 14 comments

gardening with kids – new friends and allotment grown elevenses

toddler and dog playing ball at the allotment - nipitinthebud.co.ukLast week I visited the allotment for the first time with just Luca as Euan was at school and we’d not managed a weekend visit.  It was a beautiful sunny day and while we waited for Dave to arrive Luca made a new friend, a spaniel called Zac.  Zac kept picking up stones and dropping them at our feet as we talked to his owner Lesley.  She said he likes to play catch with stones but soon went off to find him a ball when we realised how good he was at intercepting every single throw and wincing at the clunking sound of stone on teeth.  Luca was in his element combining his love of balls and dogs and Mummy time.

Luca playing ball with Zac at the allotment - nipitinthebud.co.uk-1-3.jpg

boy and dog at the allotment - nipitinthebud.co.uk

toddler and dog at the allotment - nipitinthebud.co.uk

Allotment - toddler and dog playing ball

excited dog at the allotment - nipitinthebud.co.uk-1

Zac was getting so exhausted by the sun and ball play and we could see he would never voluntarily stop bringing the ball back to us.  So Luca and I said our farewell’s and headed down to Dave’s plot, not before stopping to say hello to some other allotment animals.

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We had a little explore while we waited for Dave to arrive.  I’ve always loved the ramshackled sheds at the allotment but over the years, as new plot holders have arrived, there have been more new ones cropping up.  I’ve always loved this shed which has gradually been grown over Virginia Creeper and turns an amazing red colour in the Autumn.  I encouraged L to go and knock at the door but he wasn’t at all keen!

allotment shed covered in Virginia Creeper  - nipitinthebud.co.uk

Our patch is coming along well and we picked some lettuce to take home.  We only have 2 carrots growing after our long weeks of waiting but it’s 2 more than last year!  Still no sign of our kohl rabi but I’m happy to see that the tomato plants we put in a few weeks ago are looking fab.   It’s thirsty work gardening so we always take our Oxo Tot twist top water bottle and on this occasion snacked on broad beans.

allotment thirsty toddler_oxotot twist top bottle - nipitinthebud.co.uk

thirsty toddler_oxotot twist top bottle - nipitinthebud.co.uk

It was the perfect time to pick the broad beans as there were very few black fly on them.  Dave plants his broad beans in November and I used to do this as well when I learnt that they escape the black fly by being ready to pick just that bit earlier than beans planted in February.allotment toddler in the broad beans - nipitinthebud.co.ukallotment toddler broad beans - nipitinthebud.co.ukallotment toddler eating broad beans - nipitinthebud.co.uk

We weren’t able to visit the plot at the weekend but hope to on Saturday.  So much changes when you can only visit every other Saturday.  Thank goodness we have Dave to keep an eye on things for us, especially with the upcoming heatwave next week.  If you’ve you’ve missed any of our other gardening with kids posts you can catch up with them by clicking the link.  Cheerio for now and happy gardening.
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Photalife

June 21, 2018 at 1:32 pm 14 comments

#30dayswild in June with the Wildlife Trust

#30DaysWild day 01

Today is the start of the Wildlife Trust’s #30DaysWild – the UK’s month-long nature challenge to help you feel happier, healthier and more connectsWilded to nature. This is the fourth year of #30DaysWild and last year 250,000 people took part. The Wildlife Trust are hoping to double that this year and we’re all set in our house with our free information pack, wall chart and stickers to record our daily random acts of wildness. There’s no shortage of activity ideas on the Wildlife Trust’s website and we’ve downloaded the #30DaysWild app which has 100 suggestions to choose from. Acts of wildness can be as simple as having your lunch in the garden, listening to bird song or learning to identify a tree.

We’ve kicked off day 1 of #30DaysWild by downloading the #GreatBritishBeeCount app to record our bee sightings. It’s a terrific app for uploading your photos and includes information to help you identify the bees you find. We spotted our first bee (a banded white tailed bumble bee apparently) at our local park in Kingsholm a couple of weeks ago. Our second bee was snapped at Trellisick House NT in Cornwall on Monday and our third and fourth bees were spotted on Dave’s comfrey plants and on Bernadette’s flowers by the entrance to the plot.

#GreatBritishBeeCount - bumble bee at Trellisick House NT Cornwall

#GreatBritishBeeCount - bumble bee on comfrey

#GreatBritishBeeCount - bumble bee on flowers at the allotment

If you’d like to take part in the #GreatBritishBeeCount check out the information on The Friends of the Earth website including a little video. We’ve only spotted Bumble Bees so far but we’re hoping we come across some of the more unusual bees over the next month (sightings are being recorded until 30th June).

June 1, 2018 at 1:39 pm 3 comments

gardening with kids – sunny Saturday mornings on the plot

We made our Saturday morning visit to the allotment yesterday. The day before I’d received a text from Dave to say our runner beans were coming up so we were excited to go and check their progress and see how the rest of our seeds were doing.

brothers at the allotment
I love how random and unexpected nature is. Out of 15 runner beans planted 2 weeks ago a handful have surfaced but most are still hibernating. Our first sowings 4 weeks ago are showing varying signs of progress – the lettuces are coming along beautifully but there’s no sign of watercress, carrots or kohl rabi yet. I had it in mind that carrots took 3-4 weeks to germinate but when I checked the archives for the first carrots I ever grew it was more like 5 weeks before they appeared.  It’s always a bit of a guessing game as to whether they’re just slower growing from year to year or whether it’s a failed sowing. We’re at a wedding next weekend so if there’s no carrot life signs in 2 weeks time we’ll either sow another row or switch to dwarf beans which always germinate pleasingly quickly.
brothers working at the allotment
This week we arrived mid morning and Luca was awake and was actually quite helpful.  He still can’t grasp not walking across little plants but it was a chance we had to take.  Last week arriving at the plot with a sleeping toddler was useful but it was so much hotter arriving at lunchtime. George was working away and not available for a lift home so we knew we’d need to have enough power for the walk home. Luca spent a happy 10 minutes poking soil around with his trowel while E and I watered and planted shallots.
toddler weeding at the allotment
toddler running at the allotment
Dave gave us some Roma tomato plants the sweet scent of which fills me with such joy (it’s all down to my love of green tomato chutney and needing to grow my own for that).  Dave finds it amusing I think that I love growing tomatoes over and above all else!  As we’re not around next weekend I took a chance on bedding in the tomato plants rather than waiting for them to get bigger in their pots.  We’re so lucky that Dave takes care of our plot when we’re not there otherwise I doubt I’d take such a chance.

One of the most wonderful things about being part of an allotment community is leaving the plot with freshly picked produce even though your garden isn’t producing anything edible yet.  Dave gifted us asparagus, cabbage and lettuce and you probably don’t need me to tell you that it tasted better than any you’d buy in the shop.
freshly picked allotment grown asparagus
allotment grown lettuce

My favourite photo from our visit yesterday is this last one.  There’s something so wonderful about fresh, vibrant green vegetables – as beautiful as any flower to an allotment grower (if you’re thinking ”that’s a bit weird” don’t worry, my husband thinks so too!) 

I’m going to share our muddy rooted lettuce with Darren at Photalife as part of his #mysundayphoto link up.  It’s our first time joining in and there are some terrific pictures from other families if you find yourself with some browsing time on a lazy Sunday afternoon

Photalife

May 20, 2018 at 12:15 pm 18 comments

gardening with kids – watering, wigwam making and wise words from an old friend

On Saturday morning the sun was shining, the sky was blue and there were whisperings of ”allotment, allotment” in the air. It was already 2 weeks since our last visit to sow our first seeds of 2018. I knew there wouldn’t be many signs of life in our seed beds but I wanted Euan to understand the importance of being habitual with our visits, especially to water on sunny days. It’s a about a 25 minute walk for little legs to the plot and I’ve accepted Euan can only really do it one way on a hot day to remain moan free. Last time we got a lift down with George on his way to work but that meant we were there an hour before our allotment guardian Dave arrived and toddler Luca was full of energy, excitement and mischief. On Saturday I decided it would work better to play at home for a bit and walk to the plot when Luca was ready for his nap. It wouldn’t give us much time to work but on a hot day our visit would be cut short anyway as there’s little shade on the plot. I set my sights on achieving one task of sowing some new seeds and anything else would be a bonus.

6 year old watering at the allotment

Sometimes knowing you are short of time is good for concentrating the mind and in the 30 minutes that Luca napped we managed to water our seed beds, sow a row of beetroot and make a wigwam for our runner beans. As expected there was no sign of our carrots (they usually take about 3 weeks to germinate) but the lettuce was peaking out of the ground and the water cress was showing some signs of surfacing.

handful of runner beans for planting

Euan was excited about making a runner bean wigwam and surprised by how quick and easy it was. We borrowed 6 bean poles from Dave and pushed them into the ground in the shape of a hexagon. We used 2 cable ties to fasten the poles together at the top and then planted a bean either side of each bean pole and a few spares in the centre. Euan was intrigued to see the different varieties of beans Dave had saved from last year and said he felt like Jack in the story of the magic beanstalk as he popped them in his pocket to walk back to our patch to plant them. I’m not quite sure how the 3 varieties of beans we planted (white, purple and black and brown) will differ in appearance and taste but that’s half the fun of gardening using saved seeds isn’t it!

6 year old making a runner bean wigwam

Dave offered us some greens to plant as he always sows more than he needs so he can share plants with other allotment holders. We declined the offer as we only have a small amount of space and I wanted Euan to grow things he enjoys eating. He was quite keen to grow a cabbage, inspired by a photo in Dave’s shed of him holding a giant 36lb cabbage, but he was easily persuaded not to when I pointed out it wouldn’t be ready until summer was long gone. Each year Dave tries to beat his 36lb record and there’s a friendlyand informal giant cabbage growing competition that goes on among other growers on the plot that starts with donations of Dave’s seedling cabbages.


Dave's giant 36lb cabbage - nipitinthebud.co.uk

We’re saving the last bit of space on our patch for some tomato plants Dave is currently bringing along in his shed. Tomatoes are my favourite produce to grow and the reason I took on an allotment in the first place (thanks to my love of green tomato chutney and not being able to source green tomatoes anywhere). I’m really hoping our tomatoes don’t suffer blight again like they did last summer. At least when you only have a small patch the loss of 4 plants doesn’t feel as great as the year blight destroyed over 20 previously strong, healthy, fruit giving tomato plants.

We were delighted to see our friend Henri at the plot on Saturday. He’s a familiar figure during harvest time when he leaves the plot pushing his bike laden with his allotment grown produce. Henri will celebrate his 94th birthday this year which is amazing having undergone a triple heart bypass operation 7 years ago. He’s in pain every day and beginning to struggle with some of the heavier allotment tasks but his plot is still immaculate and abundant. Henri is Italian and grows grapes on his allotment that he nurtured from seeds smuggled insidea hanky in his pocket when he arrived in Gloucester soon after the second world war had ended. His brother had been a prisoner of war in the Forest of Dean and stayed here when he was freed having fallen in love with a local girl. Henri decided to join his brother in Gloucester and he took on his allotment not long after. It’s amazing to think his grape vine is truly one of a kind in England and he makes about 14 litres of wine each year from the grapes he picks.

6 year old and 93 year old allotment buddies

Henri is so knowledgable and we all love to hear his gardening wisdom. When I asked if I could take a picture of him with Euan he said ”Of course” and reached his arm out for a hug. I loved the picture I snapped but there was something missing. I took a second picture and this time got Henri’s bike in the frame. If you know Henri you just can’t picture him down at the allotment without his bike!

6 year old and 93 year old allotment buddies

I think this second picture could be one of my all time favourite allotment photos now. I love what it says about Euan’s delight at simply being on the allotment. I love the ease of these two allotment buddies, born 87 years apart, in front of the camera and with one another. And it reminds me of a picture I shared in another post featuring Henri called ”I is for … inspired by older people”.

Talk to old people, they know cool stuff

Conversation connects and encourages people. We all have cool stuff to share and we need more ways to bring people of different generations and cultures together. All over the country this is happening on allotments and I feel so lucky to have been welcomed back into this beautiful allotment community with my boys.

© ‘‘Talk to old people, they know cool stuff you don’t. Talk to young people, they know cool stuff you don’t” image was from a website called ‘We are what we do’ which is sadly no longer on-line. The brilliant book created by them called Change the world for a fiver’ can still be found pre-loved though.

Keeping it real logo - debsrandomwritings.com copy
design3

May 11, 2018 at 8:28 am 15 comments

gardening with kids – our first allotment sowings of 2018

21-4-18- allotment-first sowings 2018 - nipitinthebud.co.uk-12.jpgI’m so happy to be returning to the allotment this year thanks to our friend Dave giving us a small patch of ground on his plot, just like he did last year when 5 year old Euan tried allotment growing for the first time.  I was a bit dubious about how productive it would today with a wandering toddler in tow so set my expectations low to avoid any sense of frustration.  If nothing else we’d enjoy some fresh air, sunshine and chats with lovely allotment holders.  We did just that having arrived an hour before Dave with no tools or seeds (our amazing plot guardian Dave he even shares his shed palace with us so we can just rock up without having to bring things with us!).  It was so lovely to chat to our old plot neighbours Pat and Robin.  I had feared I might feel wistful for the days when I was able to spend all day at the plot but I obviously love my kids more than gardening which is good to know! I love being at the allotment but enjoy it in a different way now.
21-4-18- allotment-first sowings 2018 - nipitinthebud.co.uk-4

It’s beautiful to see how much Euan loves being there too. Admittedly he loves exploring more than the actual gardening at the moment but he shows interest and diligence with the latter when he does help because he gets to have some free time to play first. Pat and Robin are very gracious about him doing laps of their plot via the secret path behind the shed and zig zagging along the pathways between their vegetable beds. On this occasion, between playing hide and seek and pointing out plants he recognised, Euan assisted Pat with planting her seed potatoes (she didn’t need the help of course, but E was thrilled to be given the responsibility of tucking the potatoes into their trench).  This is what I always loved about the allotment – the sharing of knowledge between generations and the relaxed and easy sharing of time.
21-4-18- allotment-first sowings 2018 - nipitinthebud.co.uk-11

Euan correctly guessed the name of the rhubarb plant and happily helped to tug some stalks from it when Pat offered us some.  We also received some forced rhubarb from Dave so we shall have to decide how to use our two kinds of rhubarb.  The beauty of blogging is that there is never a shortage of ideas so a quick look at my post 5 ways with… a ton of rhubarb will be a good place to start!
21-4-18- allotment-first sowings 2018 - nipitinthebud.co.uk-721-4-18- allotment-first sowings 2018 - nipitinthebud.co.uk-821-4-18- allotment-first sowings 2018 - nipitinthebud.co.uk-9

We wandered over to Dave’s plot to await his arrival and saw that he had prepared the ground for us so we could get straight on to the business of sowing our first seeds (I know!  how lucky are we?)   We rummaged through Dave’s seed tin and Euan chose kohl rabi after his success with growing it last year, Autumn King carrots, watercress and lettuce.
21-4-18- allotment-seeds sown

Luca was actually quite interested in what we were doing but had to be distracted with invitations to dig holes away from where we were working.   He just couldn’t grasp the concept of walking around the seed beds every time he decided to make a beeline for me.  He loved the watering can but found it a bit ‘‘big, big” .  I admired his determination to keep returning to the watering can and check whether it was still to heavy.  A couple of lines of seeds later and it was just the right.  He looked so pleased with himself as he dragged it over to me.
21-4-18- allotment-first sowings 2018 - nipitinthebud.co.uk-13

Luca definitely worked up an appetite for his snacks after all that effort.  He’s not a big eater but loves nibble sized fruit and veg and chomping his way through apple slices occupied him for a little while at least.  I can’t wait until our allotment growing starts bearing fruit as I always loved snacking on green beans, peas and berries freshly picked.  I think Luca will too so it was very thoughtful of Dave to give us some space right by the blackberries.
21-4-18- allotment-first sowings 2018 - nipitinthebud.co.uk-14

The allotment provides a sense of community for us that is lacking in the street in which we live (as home owners in a street of tenants and students who come and go). We have history at the allotment and there’s an ease in conversations as we stop to chat with people tending their plot. Although we had a 5 year gap after letting go of the plot when Euan was a year old it feels like we never left. Only now we have the privilege of enjoying the space and growing again with 1/10th of the effort it would normally take.  It makes it a joy to be there with the boys and we are ever grateful to our wonderful allotment friend Dave. Gardening with kids is fab!
allotment gardening with kids_toddler wandering
design3

April 23, 2018 at 10:02 am 12 comments

goodbye baby, hello allotment grower

2-6-13 - buttercups 2_for banner
It’s been 5 years since I updated my blog header so you’d be forgiven for thinking the baby in the field of sunny yellow rape seed flowers is Luca rather than Euan. Now that E is a boy with an allotment patch it’s time to update the header to reflect his lovely involvement in the plot.

I created this new header last year but hadn’t been able to upload it without it cropping and distorting.  I’d been trying to puzzle out how to do that when it slowly dawned on me that I should be thinking about refreshing the whole design. This new header doesn’t really reflect where I’m at with writing these days as gardening and cooking are no longer the mainstay of my content and I have two boys not one to share stories about.

I chose the Blix theme when I first logged into WordPress nearly 10 years ago and I’ve been fearful about making changes in case I preferred it the way it was or all the formatting looked wrong.  More recently though I’ve really been questioning whether to keep blogging and having decided to keep writing I need to let go of my fears and take up the challenge of learning to do things differently.  The lovely Happiness Engineers at WordPress assure me I won’t lose any information and with a job title like that you’re gonna trust them aren’t you.  I’ve been reading up on how to make improvements to my blog and it turns out I’ve been making a rookie error all these years by just using nice pictures of the boys in my header. It’s funny how you don’t see what’s right in front of you until you start looking with fresh eyes so despite my hits counter being over 400k visitors to my blog would would be hard pushed to work out where they have arrived. G laughed when I told him about my blog name being missing from my header and I knew why immediately – introverts don’t tend to want to draw attention to themselves and what may have been a shy, albeit conscious decision 10 years ago, is now a bit of a daft oversight!  Woops! Thank goodness for other bloggers who write helpful PDFs about how to navigate all this stuff, I’m off to do a spot of reading and find some dutch courage to put myself out there a bit more …

 

March 5, 2018 at 8:48 pm Leave a comment

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About Nip it in the bud


Welcome to my blog about growing and cooking allotment veg since 2009 and growing sweet boys since 2012. Take a walk with us through our life in Gloucester with a boy, a baby and 3 cats.

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Cheery uppy post sent with love is always good but especially heartwarming when you know someone has sat down with a pen and paper and given minutes of their time to create something for you
I've always quite liked the "family rules" meme boards but never found one that didn't elicit a "yes, yes, nooooo" from me when I read the list of rules. I was in the right place at the right time today when I saw this one and offered it a home with us.
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Regrann from @elluminations - . @musicalgeorgemoorey has released the next Spaces track Illuminations (or should that read Elluminations?!) based on the story of a 9th century monk and his cat Pangur Ban (a favourite childhood tale of mine). Here's the original artwork I made in response to the track. Greetings cards available in my etsy shop! #spacesgloucester #pangurban #monk #blackfriars #originalart #artistsofinstagram #etsy #etsysellersofglos - #regrann
Regrann from @musicalgeorgemoorey. Me - piano. On Monday I'm releasing "Illuminations" - a song based on the story of Pangur Ban, a 9th century monk's cat - recorded @GlosBlackfriars. #spacesgloucester #lookcloserlistendeeper
The labyrinth at @gloucestercathedral
Regrann from @musicalgeorgemoorey - Stunning.
We visited @gloucestercathedral today and happened across the @workofheartgarden (click link to find out more). Claire created the garden after losing her husband Ken. You can download the pattern for a heart to donate and raise funds for @suerydercharity. We made a donation to buy two for the boys to hang while thinking of a loved one. Claire's had over 50k hearts sent to her - that's the power of love for you
This may be the best board game ever invented if you like the silliness of Dr Seuss stories! (Horton hears a who game!)
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The Hawaiian goose whisperer @musicalgeorgemoorey (or as he said "not really, I've got a bag of seed") at @wwtslimbridge
Euan found treasure in the playground at @wwtslimbridge. Thank you Hannah , he loved rehiding them and secretly watching other children find them. #wwtslimbridge #gloucesterlife #loveontherocksuk

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