Our second guest allotmenteer :)

27 06 2015

Today we went back to the allotment to get some more of the seedlings we had picked up this week into the ground. We also got our second allotmenteer…YING!…Ying is a colleague of mine, and a car share partner as well and he has been saying he wants to come visit for some time. He did help us out a bit…but let’s say that my mum still wins the guest allotmenteer competition (I think she also wins the overall competition with the allotment owners as well :P).

Our guest allotmenteer hard at work

Our guest allotmenteer hard at work

So what have we planted today?…well as I said previously the plan was to plant out some of the seedlings we had gotten earlier this week…and that was the case…we planted out some kale and parsley…but we also met the owner of the house we are currently in the process of buying (who also has an allotment there) and he gave us a couple of tomato plants, courgettes and cucumber…so in to the ground they went. We also put in two strawberry plants we found whilst clearing more ground.

Today's planting out

Today’s planting out

The other thing we did was to fill the water butt we had with water, thanks to our ‘neighbour’ who has a hose pipe that can just about reach our plot from his side (the water taps are across his plot…so we need a much longer hose to be able to water our plot). This will make it easier for us to water the site, especially as we realised that we need to water much more often and much more abundantly. The poor little plants we planted out on Thursday do not look to happy…but we gave them lots of water and we will hope for the best. We will now try to go to the site every day at least to water. Especially as a heat wave should be coming in the UK next week.

So, in summary…what do we have till now? Well we have cleared ‘8 plots’. However we are using 2 of them as compost heaps for the grass we are clearing. I think we should have at least space for another 8 plots. But we will get there eventually.

What we have left to clear!

What we have left to clear!

The cleared and planted site till now.

The cleared and planted site till now.

First time planting out

26 06 2015

So…we finally found some more time to go to the allotment. We had originally planned to go on Tuesday, but we had a couple of errands to run…these were mainly to go to 2 ‘freeglers’ to get some small plants they had been growing, and were happy to give away.

The first person gave us 2 types of tomatoes…we now are the proud owners of 4 (or so) plants of Cuore di Bue and a similar number of Harbinger tomatoes. The second lady had so many different types of plants, and kept giving us different things to try. We should have courgette, broccoli, tomatoes, chickpeas, beetroot, red corn, chillies, onions and who knows what else. The problem is that they were not labelled and our pen was not working…so we are not sure we have the right name for each crop, and one of them is still the ‘unknown’.

The new work

The new work

Anyways, as you can see from the photos, what we have done yesterday is ‘cut’ another plot in the previously cleared ground. In this plot we have planted out some of the plants we got on Tuesday, namely the broccoli and cucumbers. We also put in 2 strawberry plants, which Bernard found while clearing more ground, and some parsley. We then covered the plot with some netting (to prevent the pesky butterflies from laying eggs on the leaves and the birds from eating the fruits) and put down some slug repellents from what seems to be the allotment gardener’s best friend in St Albans…Wilko :)

Overview of the plot

Overview of the plot

The strawberries

The strawberries

Then, the other plot in the pair was transformed into a kind of compost heap on the advice of some other people who we met in the allotment. This is because the two large compost bins at the back are fully stuffed, and we cannot have bonfires during the summer months, which means that we need to figure something else out. So we decided to create a number of compost heaps for the grass we remove, and hope all the compost goes well.

Finally, we also cleared some more land, and we hope to ‘cut’ another pair of plots this weekend to plant out more of the stash we got this week :)


22 06 2015

One of the reasons I wanted to re-start my blog is that my Bernard and I have recently applied, and got an allotment. Therefore, I wanted to use this blog to track the progress we have done. When we got the allotment it was in quite a bad shape, but luckily super mum was visiting last week, and on Monday she spent a whole 4 hours removing weeds. This cleared about 1/3 of the worst grass so YEAH to mum for starting us off quite well. Unfortunately, we do not have photos of the site before we started clearing, but in the following photo you can see two of our compost bins, which are completely packed with grass we have cut till now (and there is a lot).

The compost bins & water butt (water butt thanks to freegle :) )

The compost bins & water butt (water butt thanks to freegle :) )

Myself and Bernard then spent around 2hours on Saturday and 4 hours on Sunday, clearing out the site further, defining the edges, preparing compost bins etc. and then yesterday started sowing the first two mini-plots. The first is our ‘legume plot’ with peas, french beans & runner beans, and the second should be our brassicas, but I did not figure out that we had brassicas, so it has beetroot & courgette.

Allotment after Sunday's Work, with the two mini-plots already sown.

Allotment after Sunday’s Work, with the two mini-plots already sown.

Then, today we went back to the site and have prepared the next 2 plots. The first is our ‘allium’ plot, with spring onions & lettuce and the other is our ‘roots’, which contains carrot, radish, turnip (yep I know it is a brassica, but I forgot about it yesterday) and potatoes (we re-planted some potatoes we found when digging up the land…will see if they grow).

Further work completed today.

Further work completed today.

As you can see, towards the back of our cleared part of the plot we have some grass and tyres. The tyres are thanks to a neighbour at the allotment (she also gave us some pallets), who told us that if we pile up the grass and root pieces and cover with some plastic, this will turn the piles to compost, and the heat created can ‘sterilise’ the compost faster from the roots…so the plan for one of our next visits is to cover the piles of grass with plastic and use the tyres and some stones to weigh the plastic down.

What else is next?…we have all this grass left to clear…that is a couple more full days to go, so we guess a couple more full weekends and then can prepare some more plots. We have cleared an area of 6 plots till now, and we estimate that we have another 12 to go. However, we think that the hardest part was towards the front, as towards the back the grass is sparser.

Another view of the site...and the work still left to do.

Another view of the site…and the work still left to do.

An overview of the site...we have till the wooden 'boxes' at the back.

An overview of the site…we have till the wooden ‘boxes’ at the back.

So…that is where we are till now…but before I go I would like to introduce you to one of our security man we found on the site whilst digging, who oversees the entire plot when we are not there:

Our plot security.

Our plot security.

Please also meet our first good, non-eaten, intact crop we found (also whilst digging). We doubt we will find such a good specimen ever again.

Our first fruit :)

Our first fruit :)

Quick Update

22 06 2015

So…since my last blog post so many years ago I have now finished my PhD, and moved to the UK nearly 2 years ago…so the story picks up from there :)

Off I go

18 07 2011

And off I go…tonight will be heading over to Germany for a week’s summer school as part of my funding agreement, and after that off to Malta for a couple of days for a friend’s wedding. The week in Germany should be great fun as should the days in Malta. I cannot wait to get some sunshine and also to feel slightly more productive. Perhaps  I will have some good news to tell after Malta. Will see.

Wishing you a great week.

Housewarming Party

7 07 2011

As I have already written before last week I moved apartment again. I will be sharing with my friend Monika, and the other room is now occupied by a guy called Joe, who moved in on Sunday. Therefore last Tuesday I invited a couple of friends (Ross, David, Zahra, Ali, Monika, Kevin and Joe) to a housewarming party/Maltese evening. I had a couple of Maltese treats such as gbejniet, twistees, galletti and Kinnie with me, thanks to visits by Bernard and Marco. To them I added a couple of other Maltese (and my favourites), thanks to Ross who took me to Tesco on the Monday.

Therefore together with the above treats I made Hobz biz-Zejt, garlic bread, stuffed mushrooms and bragjoli (with a potato salad and fresh salad). I was mostly scared about the bragjoli as I had never cooked them before, but thanks to Bernard who supplied me with his mum’s recipe and some trial and error I got it :)

Myself and Ross were at my place first, cos he thankfully came to help me in my preparations. Then came Kevin and Monika who decided to cook a Carrot cake for the evening (MMMMM…no complaints there). Then at the appointed time of 7pm (actually a bit later but Oh Well) Zahra and Ali and then David joined.

Overall it was a great evening. We enjoyed our time together I think…I enjoyed it at least…it was my favourite foods, with my favourite people in Ireland and some of my favourite Maltese music…although this at the end was not appreciated by all grrrrrrr. I think no one really liked the music, cos they even switched it off at some times…oh well. The conversation was flowing, the food was nearly all eaten and we laughed a lot. It was good to also meet our new apartment mate Joe for an extended period of time. He seems to be really nice…and a good storyteller…something he said I am definitely not…well I have never said I was…I am short and to the point…never see the reason to extend a 2minute story to 15mins…but oh well.

It was a great evening, and I look forward to a Polish evening?…a Scottish evening? or perhaps an Irish evening…possibly another Iranian evening. Will see!

Tall Ships Race 2011

3 07 2011

A week or so again, Monika told me that she was planning to go down to Waterford with friends from her lab to the Tall Ships Race Festival. I had not yet been to Waterford and the people in her lab are quite nice, so I immediately said yes since I did not have any other plans. It was great that they were organizing it, because I had no worries of looking for a car to rent, how to get there etc etc. I just gave in my name and could go, sit back, relax and enjoy.

Yesterday morning, therefore Kevin and Monika went to pick up the car at the airport, and Larissa, Hoi (I think it is written that way, not sure) and myself were to be picked up from uni at 10:30am. But it was not until 11:15 that they picked us up, and 11:30 till we left. But it did not really matter. We started the trip to Waterford, which should take us around 2hours. But with the GPS taking us through all the back roads and the traffic going in to Waterford, it took more like 3 hours. But I must say that the system was well organised, with numerous park and rides in the outskirts of Waterford, where you could park your car and buses (loads of buses, you did not have to do much, if any waiting for the buses to come/leave…at the time we were leaving our park and ride, there were 4 buses, which quite quickly filled up, left and the cycle continued).

We made our way to the city centre, and first stop FOOD. By the time we had lunch, 4pm had come, so it was no longer possible to get access to the boats, but we could watch and enjoy. The weather was lovely and so even just walking around was great fun. And I believe all the other people present agreed, because the city was packed. It was like a Maltese festa replicated by a large number of times (estimates gave an attendance of 130,000 people). We then made our way to meet other friends from their lab who made it to Waterford earlier, and we just lounged in front of one of the stages. We listened to some great music by a band called Lebowski (who I think are these guys) and chatted.

At around 6:30pm, one of the girls said that she got tickets to go see a main concert…the tickets were free, but you needed to get them. Luckily she managed to get tickets for all of us, and we made our way to the main stage. The supporting act was Brass & Co., a 10 piece (according to their website but possibly more yesterday) live band, who really got us having fun. Unfortunately I loved the supporting act much more than the main act, Sharon Shannon. But this is likely since Brass & Co. played well known songs we could join in and enjoy whilst Sharon Shannon played traditional Irish music, which to me sounds more or less constantly the same, so I cannot really do with 1 hours or so of listening to it.

Therefore some of us made our way to find some dinner (it was 9:30pm by this time). And oh boy what a hassle it was. Most of the open restaurants were full (difficult to find a table for 7). But what I could not understand is the number of restaurants with ‘kitchen closed’ or closed for the night, when the city was still full of people. Oh well. We finally settled on a trusty source…Burger King…yes we are fancy :). After having dinner, we made our way to the river to watch the fireworks display. Now I am not that wowed by fireworks…in Malta they are the order of the day every weekend throughout summer…with fireworks being let off everyday in at least 1 (but generally more like 4 or 5) villages. But I was pleasantly surprised that the show took 15minutes (I checked) and it was good…I also saw a type of fireworkd I have not seen in Malta.

At this point the throngs of people started departing. But we decided to stay a bit longer, since it was advised that if public safety is at risk, due to the large number of people departing at around 11pm, they would stop the park and ride service for 2 hours. So we made our way to a bar with live music (and another great band and singer) for some drinking and dancing. At 12:30 we were however quite tired and we made our way to the Park and Ride pickup point. We found a bus departing…at 1am…yes they were still working, even though not too many people remained, which I think shows great planning (other aspects which impressed me, and I must mention was the large number of mobile toilets, which were clean, and even had toilet paper in them, even if you went at 4pm, 11pm, whenever…well done).

We got to our car and started the 2 hour trip back to Dublin. Thank god I was not driving…thank you Kevin :) We all had a nap, whilst he drove, so his efforts are greatly appreciated.

All in all…a great day. I really enjoyed it and look forward to more trips like this :)


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