The battle of the foxes, and my onions

It's been a while since I've posted about our allotment, and I've been trying to show some patience there - but failing miserably. Especially where my onions are concerned. The photo below is from the start of June and there's quite a few onions in our first raised bed area.

onions at the start of the month: promising

We'd repurposed an old shelving unit to create a raised area in a change of plan for how we'd use our allotment, when it became clear that just digging and weeding would be a full-time job for many years to come. Taking a leaf out of Geoff Hamilton's 1970s book we're trying a raised bed approach and building the soil up instead. And as we thought a bed this size will take a lot of soil, more than we have or are prepared to buy in at the moment, hence the Heath Robinson approach. 

Compare the onions above to the photo below.

onions mid-month: tampered with

Yes, by the middle of the month there were decidedly less onions and clear evidence of digging.

Hmmnn.

And then this weekend it was worse still. I know you're not supposed to let onions dry out, but that's almost impossible with our site. I also suspect you're not supposed to dig gloves into the bed too. And yes foxes, I'm looking at you...

And so, evasive action was needed. Cue operation stick and operation wire fence. 

onions at the end of the month: fenced in

Working on the premise that prevention is better than cure, I'm trying to make it less welcome for my wildlife guests. I'm under no illusion that they have the upper hand, but with some more onions in the greenhouse, I'm trying to make my presence felt. I'm sure the onions I have left to plant out won't come to much but if I can beat the foxes and let them grow undisturbed, it will be a moral victory for me, and we may even get some baby onions in the process.

I'm also embarrassed to say that we had a letter from the council as our weed growing skills hadn't gone unnoticed. They were less happy with this natural skill of ours and so some speed-weeding was needed to demonstrate our commitment. 

 THE RESULTS OF OUR SPEED WEEDING SESSION

THE RESULTS OF OUR SPEED WEEDING SESSION

Broad beans and borlottis

The broad beans were growing, my path had a layer of black plastic laid beneath it, which I'm not sure the ants appreciated. And in the background, just in front of the wilderness that is our raspberry patch there's some borlotti beans.  I picked some broad beans on our last visit, so they've managed to thrive amongst the weeds.

The small apple tree is also doing much better than last year's single apple - you can see how much better in the photo below. 

Apples - many more than last year
 
strawberries have been plentiful

We've done well with strawberries this year bringing bag fulls home on each trip. The strawberries have also done well in the garden and now they're easing off the raspberries grown in the wilderness have taken over. Last weekend I picked four takeaway trays (yes, I am that classy) of raspberries, most of which are already in the freezer.

The crab apples are doing well, and the artichokes are growing straight through the tree aiming for the sky.

crab apples with artichokes towering above these

Quite literally.

artichokes in the sky!

I cut a few of the larger artichokes as I thought they'd go well with our broad beans. But there was a lot of choke in them, and not much of the edible stuff so I think they're best use is ornamental.

broad beans - we've picked some now

I've also decided that I'm going to cover the top edge of our plot, where we have some lavender, rosemary and other flowers, with membrane in an attempt to stop weeding this every few weeks. Eventually the plants will cover the space, but in the meantime I think they need some help.

IMG_2893.jpg
 
lavender and raspberries

Ah yes, the raspberries and bindweed. Who knew together they'd produce so many fruits, certainly not me.

still some work to do on the raspberries

Our next task on the plot is to finally start digging the area that's covered by black plastic. As one of our fellow plot owners said encouragingly, when that's dug we're over half-way. Technically yes, but it doesn't seem that way most of the time!  He also told us the BBC will be at our site filming this Friday, the mere thought of it filled me with dread and I hope they're not filming anywhere near our plot! Apparently our allotments is one of the best is Greenwich, I really don't think they mean ours, and to our fellow plot-holders we can only apologise!

Hopefully we'll get there, and most importantly feel like we're getting there at some point in the not too distant future!