Having planted some vegetables in that first bed I was then full of ideas for the rest of the plot, which included making things with our harvested produce.
One of the first things I did was make Rhubarb Gin – absolutely delicious and I will definitely make it again. I also tried making Rhubarb Muffins which didn’t turn out so great (actually they were a disaster, but I have to say it was nothing to do with the recipe) but I won’t be beaten, I will try again.
However, life can get in the way sometimes and my plans were changed in an instant.
At the end of that May my mum died suddenly and I gave up full-time work to look after my elderly and unwell father, which meant the allotment immediately went down my list of priorities. You’re probably reading this and agreeing that quite rightly I should put my family first, which I did without question, but, I will admit that in some wistful moments, the thought of being unable to get to the allotment as much as I wanted and needed to did pile on the pressure a bit. It took me quite a few months to work out some sort of balance that allowed me the time to look after dad but also allowed me some respite on the allotment. But I did, and the jobs got done, just not as quickly as planned. I took notice of some of my own advice mentioned in an earlier post and accept that it’s my allotment, its not a competition and I can do things in my own time. I gave myself permission to take things slowly and if I couldn’t get to the plot for any reason, I was not going to berate myself for it.
On the occasions I did make it to the plot, it was becoming obvious that the local birds were dining in style on our soft fruit, so one of the first jobs was to erect a fruit cage and bearing in mind our D.I.Y skills, we enlisted the help of our daughter and her partner to make sense of the instructions and get the 7 metre x 4 metre frame in place. There are many types of cage to choose from depending on budget but we went for an aluminium frame from Harrod Horticultural
The netting supplied with the frame wouldn’t be fitted until the August and
the advice is to remove the roof netting during the winter months as a heavy dump of snow can bring a frame down, so we waited and our roof netting went on this spring (2020).
With some of the fruit that I shared with the birds, I did get to make some Raspberry Jam which
was really tasty and incredibly quick and easy to make and I made so much I was able to give pots of it away.
By now we’re at the back end of August, the vegetables I planted in May were growing well and we harvested some broad beans
but I was starting to feel unhappy with the raised beds as they were… You’ve been wondering about my husband’s eyes haven’t you!
Yes, I wanted to change them. I know it had taken blood, sweat and swearing to create the five beds, but I’d only planted in one of them because I was overwhelmed and the cost was prohibitive so I needed to make things smaller and more manageable hence Operation Raised Beds.
Instead of five large beds, I worked out I could create ten smaller beds (1 metre x 1.5 metres) and in each bed I would have just one variety of vegetable. To my way of thinking this was going to be much more manageable and would make crop rotation easier to manage (more about crop rotation in a future ‘no-dig’ post).
By the end of 2019 I had created eight new beds with the intention of creating the last two once all the veg had been harvested from the remaining large bed.
And we had leeks and Brussels sprouts for Christmas dinner! These were picked on Christmas Eve 🙂
…and a sneaky peek at the beds at the start of 2020…
Now I’m a happy bunny and my husband is relieved. It sounds bonkers but as soon as these beds were completed, a weight come off my shoulders and I looked forward to making plans for 2020.
For regular updates feel free to follow me on Instagram and for new posts straight to your inbox, please subscribe (at the bottom of the Home page)