January 2011

Had a pleasant trip upto the allotment today. Lovely sunny winters day. Found the Garlic and Broad Beans had started sprouting. A couple of weeks ago there was nothing there and I thought the bulbs had been eaten, chuffed now! Spring must be on the way.

Got hold of 4 blackberry bushes from a local guy, £1 each, bargain! He said to plant them up to the mud line on the stalks and then to cut them back to the 2nd bud of each stalk. Didn’t take long, hopefully I’ve done it right, find out in a couple of months.

Ordered tomatoes and peas (£20), I’ll post the varieties, found some cool ones. I’m away for a couple weeks now, will be getting the first of the tomatoes underway inside. When I get back early Feb I’ll have lots of jobs to do. Make fencing and layout the plot with walkways and finely racked beds.

Our plot plan. We can fit in a lot more than I thought we would be able to. Got it from http://www.growveg.com/. Cool bit of free (trial) software. Worked out total seed costs will be £100.  Summer will be dominated by our usual favourite veg. Courgette, tomatoes, peppers and salad. Our tomato plans are ambitious. 9 varieties, 60 odd plants. I’m planning to grow the tomatoes semi-outdoors by creating mini poly fences to grow them against. We can’t afford, and aren’t allowed a large enough poly-tunnel on our plot. I’ll post more on this as I work it out.

Also ordered potatoes. 30 King Edward, 30 Swift, 30 Kestrel. Total cost incl del £15.99 from http://www.jbaseedpotatoes.co.uk . Planning to put them in egg cartons for 6 weeks odd to get them going, then plant out early March.

Plot after turning over the soil in November.

Plot after turning over the soil in November.

Today I had a spare couple of hours and it wasn’t raining so I finally got around to making our compost bin. It turned out a little wonky but it will do the job.

Also checked the broad beans and garlic we planted in November. Nothing growing, may be due to the hard frosts or maybe the seeds and bulbs have been eaten, or, I might have to be a bit more patient!

Took measurements of the plot so I can make a plan of the layout. Next job is to order seeds and start getting the early tomatoes etc. on the go.

Our first year is going to be about how close we can get to self-sufficiency with food, although my wife will be trying out crafty things as well. We rent a house, have jobs, and not a lot of spare cash so our goals will be modest to start. I figure we spend £2500-£3000 a year on regular food shopping. Our aim is to cut this and invest it into the allotment first, and then other projects as we get more competent.

Once I had secured the allotment in November I made the bold statement that we would endeavour to be self-sufficient in food from July onwards. I have since had time to reflect… The new goal is to only buy dairy from July onwards. For meat we will rely on the sea, which is almost on our doorstep.

City and the Mountains is a book by the Portugese author Eca de Queiros, published in 1901. It is a fictional reflection on the real and romantic aspects of city and country life from the viewpoint of the Portuguese elite. Starting in the city the main character is coaxed back to the country and to his family estate where he realises the benefits of country living.

We are a recently married couple who want to learn about growing, catching and making our own food. To that end we are starting with an allotment and seeing where that takes us. Maybe one day a small holding and a self-sufficient lifestyle.

This blog will contain our notes, successes and failures. Hopefully we will be able to give and receive tips from people trying to achieve the same thing.