Planting trees and a new bench

This morning I headed off to B&Q to see whether there were any other nice plants I could add to the handful I bought yesterday for the allotment. I found a few lovely ones and lugged them back to the allotment in my trusty orange plant transporter (aka bucket).

I decided on a hydrangea bush (one of my favourite flowers), two white climbing hydrangeas (to grow over a trellis screen) and a stunning double primrose. I put everything out on the bench while I decided where to plant them.

Cliff swung by to say hello and suggested that I use the door prop to make a bench. We inherited the door prop when we took over the allotment 5 years ago. I hadn’t thought of having a bench part way down the allotment but it’s a cracking idea. Cliff ambled off to see whether he could scavenge some wood for the legs.

Whilst he was off searching, I made a start on sorting out the trees. I carefully read the label on each tree before filling both buckets with water and leaving the trees to soak.

Next I dug four holes. I made sure these were deep enough for the entire root of the trees. It was interesting to see what the soil was like at depth. I left the holes for a while, to help Cliff put the finishing touches on the new bench.

After I came back, a couple of the holes had a small amount of water in them. I had planned to put some compost in the bottom of the holes before planting the trees however Cliff generously donated some of his well rotted compost which would be better than the store bought stuff I had. I made sure each hole had 2-3 shovels of compost before planting the trees. I have laid out the trees so that they are away from the wettest sections of the plot and yet near enough that the trees will drain some of the excess water away. The trees are set out in two lines along the length of the plot. This is so that when anyone sits in the shed, they can enjoy a view along the entire length of the plot. I did debate about doing a row of trees like we have already in front of the coop but I thought better of it.

The next job was to plant two of the new bushes. Yesterday we bought a beautiful yellow flowering bush (something beginning with F) and a blue hydrangea. After some trial and error, I decided to plant both of the bushes either side of the new bench. The yellow bush has a 1.5m spread apparently so it will be a lovely wall of yellow flowers when it gets bigger. I plan to keep a close eye on both bushes as they are quite near the soggiest section of the plot. Again,I ensured that both bushes had a couple of shovels full of compost before planting.

As I was deciding what to do next, Cliff swung by with a hook and a latch for the shed door. He quickly set it up and we no longer have to worry about the shed door slamming!

We had a quick chat about the flowers I had out on the bench and Cliff suggested a hanging basket. I hadn’t considered a hanging basket before as I am not usually good at remembering to water flowers. He disappeared and reappeared a few minutes later with a wall bracket and a hanging basket. I chose to plant the double primrose and the two zebra primroses in the basket. Cliff really does have a good eye for these things because it just adds something extra to the shed.

In the mood to continue potting, I potted my blueberry plant in a larger pot with ericaceous compost. Blueberries prefer acidic soil (high peat content) and this can be topped up each year to keep the plant happy.

I took a break and managed to catch Will and pay him for the beautiful bench. I asked whether he could make us some small planters to grow herbs in. He said he had some already made and would drop them off for us in the next few days. I can’t wait to see what they are like and to plant my herb garden. I have been waxing lyrical about having a herb section for years and never managed to get it done.

Onward, ever onward! I decided now the site was pretty much deserted that I would try to build the fruit cage over the fruit bushes. I planned to use the greenhouse shield with a few extra lengths of wood to create the frame. Simple in theory. Not in practise. After about 15 minutes I managed to get the frame upright and half prop it up. It crashed down almost instantly. What followed in the next hour and a half doesn’t really bear thinking about but it ended in defeat and the greenhouse shield half broken. The phrase, bitten off more than you can chew comes to mind!

Leaving it to be sorted another day, I decided to untangle and tidy the fruit bushes. The raspberries were easy to sort, snapping off the old dead wood and checking the new growth. The blackberries were more complex having grown in a massive cluster and dangling branches rooting all around the box. With the help of several bamboo poles, I managed to wrestle the blackberries into position. The wineberry and tayberry need some pruning but I had left the secateurs at home. A job for tomorrow.

My furtling around the back section of the plot yielded some exciting news. The gooseberry I transferred last year which I thought had died, is still alive! It’s tiny admittedly but nonetheless, alive. I thought about planting the red gooseberry next to it bit remembered in time that I needed secateurs to cut open its root wrapping.

In clearing mode, I got rid of the black currant bush that we got given last year. It didn’t survive the replanting. Incredibly, one branch had fallen to the ground and had seeded itself! I replanted it over by our other black currant bush. I hope it will survive!

The chickens have been busy laying all this week. So much so that there were 18 eggs on Saturday morning. More than I have had in months! I hasten to add this would be three days worth but even so, impressive for old ladies!

I did a bit of hoeing – much harder work without Phil’s amazing contraption – and some light weeding. At the end of the day, I sat on the bench outside the shed and surveyed my work. There is still lots to do but it looks like it’s beginning to get there.

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