Flowers from the allotment

Today when my husband brought produce back from our allotment plot he also surprised me with some wild flowers from our plot. He cut the top off his plastic water bottle to transport them home in water. I transferred them to a little jug.

Some wild flowers from the allotment

They are so pretty.

The next day

I was surprised to see how different the wild flowers in the jug looked the next morning.

Wild flowers the next day

They have picked themselves up and look even prettier.

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We were disappointed when our whole row of marris peer potatoes, on our garden veg plot, got blight. We dug them up and ate them as new potatoes so they weren’t wasted but didn’t give us much of a yield.

That left an empty row so I decided to sow radish seeds as it is the only crop that would be quick enough to sow so late in the season. Now we are reaping the benefits of sowing a quick salad vegetable.

Yesterday I picked these and they are only a fraction of the row, picking the biggest ones, first.


I am happy with these as I love the crunch that they add to our lunch time sandwich as well as any salads we have. It is a great way to use a bit of a late space on the veg plot.

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There is BIG stuff at the allotment

It has been a good year, weather wise, for our first year sharing an allotment plot. Last summer was hot and dry and would have been difficult. Our own garden veg plot didn’t do at all well as we couldn’t keep it watered.

This summer started off hot and then has been wet during the growing season. Recent weeks have been a mix of sunshine and rain which is perfect for the allotment. The two couples that we are sharing the allotment plot with are both away on holiday for two weeks so at the moment it is all down to us.

We are also in charge of watering the plants of our friends and allotment sharers opposite us. They had put their pots in the front garden near an outside tap to make it easy for us. Instead of watering we have had to empty the trays that the pots are in to save them from drowning!

So watering hasn’t been needed. What we have found though is that it has been difficult to keep up with harvesting before everything gets really big. Everything has gone mad. T wanted to enter some competitions. He was hoping for the longest bean, longest carrot, biggest pumpkin and tallest sunflower. He planted the sunflowers from seeds and now the tallest one must be more than ten feet high.

Yesterday I decided to take some photos of the biggest things on our allotment plot.

Giant courgette

We have all been using the usual glut of courgettes and also giving some away to the neighbours. Some got too big and were more like marrows. We decided to leave this one and see how big it eventually gets.

My husband in front of giant sunflower

T’s pumpkin plant is snaking alongside on the left of the grass path.

Me in front of giant sunflower

We think this one could be more than ten feet high and it is still growing.

Giant bean

Beans like this are too big to be good to eat. They are more than twelve inches long. We decided to leave a few plants as we couldn’t keep up with picking. They will be good for taking the seeds for planting next year.

We have filled the freezer with cooked runner beans and given loads to our neighbours too.

Looking lush

Giant sunflower head

This sunflower head is too heavy for the plant to hold up. The seeds are forming on the head and will be good for the garden birds.

Wild flowers

Wild flowers attract the bees and give a splash colour. In the background is hubbies bargain, twenty pound, mower. He keeps the paths and the grass around our plot neat with this mower.


We have a row of artichokes from some seedlings that a neighbour gave us. None of us has ever grown artichokes before.

White onion

Red onion

The onions have been amazing. We haven’t lifted any garlic yet but must have a look soon.

Bee on sunflower

Our car beside our plot

See how neat my husband is keeping the grass around our plot as well as our paths through the plot.

This has been a learning curve and we will tweak a few things next year. Next year we will grow less runner beans as we have been over run with them.

D who lives opposite us is thinking about us taking on the empty plot behind this one. He has an idea of planting the tall things around the edge as a screen and then putting a lawn in the centre with a bench. He fancies a big square of wild flowers and I like the idea of some spring bulbs and some sweet peas for the summer. We could add a lavender bush and a rosemary bush.

We think we might be a bit crazy but we are all warming to the idea. Watch this space!

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Another broody

As Jenn is new to my blog, yesterday, I decided to try to get a photo of the whole flock for her to see. This is tricky with a couple of broody girls. I put a fish treat in several small bowls. I lifted both Smoke and Marmite out of the nest boxes and sat them on the patio.

I then rattled the corn tin to get the flocks attention and quickly put the dishes on the patio. The flock came running and I snapped away feeling pleased that I was getting all the girls in shot. Then I suddenly realised that one girl was missing. Vanilla wasn’t there.

I had checked the nest boxes but not the chicken shed. Vanilla was in the corner of the chicken shed and gave me the broody growl when I picked her up. By the time I had put her on the patio the rest of the girls had wandered off. Doh! I was mad at myself for not noticing that Vanilla was missing.

Today I decided to try again. This time I filled the little bowls with mash. I lifted Vanilla from the chicken shed first as that is more awkward than lifting girls from the nest boxes. I then lifted Smoke and Marmite and lined the three broody girls in a row on the patio. A shake of the corn and then quickly put the mash down.

Bingo! I got a couple of shots with all ten girls before the broody girls headed off again.

Vanilla in the corner of the chicken shed

Mash for the flock

All ten girls in shot, hurrah!

So we have Flame, front row, left. Spangle next at the dish. Salmon next at the front and Jasmine at the dish on the right. Next row back we have Smoke at the dish, Marmite next and Vanilla on the right. Back row we have Speckles on the left, Ebony in the middle and Cinnamon on the right just leaving the patio.

I can’t believe we now have three broodies at once. Smoke who started first had laid nine eggs in twelve days. Marmite went next after ten eggs in seventeen days and now Vanilla after just six eggs in eleven days.

Eggs are a bit down in numbers all round at the moment. Cinnamon, Salmon and Jasmine are averaging two eggs a week. Spangle lays one egg every two weeks. Ebony and Flame are averaging four eggs a week and of course Speckles doesn’t lay at all. Oh well, that’s how it goes!

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Another broody

Over the last few days I had the feeling that Marmite was going broody. She was spending much longer in the nest box and making the clucking sound.

Last night I had to lift both Smoke and Marmite from the nest boxes at bedtime and perch them in the chicken shed.

Today I lifted both girls out of the nest box to take a break and to remove other girls’ eggs which they had been sitting on.

A pair of broodies together

You can see the angry gleam in Smoke’s eye. Marmite is a more docile girl. When I next checked on them they were together in one of the nest boxes as both the other nest boxes were occupied with girls trying to actually lay their eggs.

Broodies in the nest box together

Oh well, at least this way they only clog up one nest box. Smoke doesn’t look best pleased at sharing though.

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Smoke’s tactic to have an egg to sit on

Flame is happy to lay her eggs next to a little girl and if it’s a broody girl they get to sit on Flame’s eggs. Flame could lay in one of the empty nest boxes but she actually seeks out a nest box with a little girl in it.

Flame laid her egg next to Smoke yesterday and Smoke sat on it as soon as Flame left the nest box.

Ebony is quite different. Whereas Flame seems drawn to little girls in the nest box Ebony has no tolerance of them at all. Ebony has no time for little girls either in the nest box or out of it and will peck them away from her.

Today Ebony was in the nest box getting ready to lay her egg. I had lifted Smoke for a break and Smoke realised Ebony was in the nest box. Smoke wasn’t brave enough to try to join Ebony in the nest box but Smoke wanted Ebony’s egg to sit on.

Smoke kept a vigil at the ramp of the nest box. Sometimes I swear these broody girls have a sixth sense when another girl is laying an egg. I have known the broody girl leave the nest box they are in to sit on an egg laid in the next nest box. We think they are alerted by the sound of a girl leaving a nest box.

Smoke could see Ebony in the nest box so she decided to wait outside. She had her wings raised and was determined to wait it out. If I moved her aside she would instantly take up her position again.

Ebony is in the nest box while Smoke waits outside

Smoke is on alert outside the nest box while Ebony lays her egg

And here is Smoke sitting on Ebony’s egg until I removed it

These broody girls are very determined. I am not even trying to break Smoke out of this as sometimes when I take her out of the nest box she will stand and shout her head off and she is the loudest of all our girls. Smoke can shout even louder than Ebony and that’s saying something!

I now just take Smoke out mid morning and mid afternoon for a break and lift her every time I go in to check if is she is sitting on an egg and if she is I remove the egg. I will let it take it’s course.

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It couldn’t last

After a rare week of no broodies I knew it couldn’t last. A few days ago Vanilla started laying again and just like last time, when she was taking the role of chick to Flame, it was twenty one days since her last egg and eight days after I broke her chick relationship with Flame.

On the same day Smoke went broody. It really does seem to be one in and one out. Smoke had laid twelve eggs in fifteen days. She had laid her last six eggs six days in a row and that always seems to spark her going broody again. She only ever lays for between one and two weeks before going broody. Smoke often lays one or two more eggs after she has started being broody which is what she has done this time too.

A few days later Flame started laying again. It had been fourteen days since she last laid and like last time she was playing at mothering Vanilla it had been twelve days since she broke out of it. It’s amazing how the timing is exactly the same. Once again I hadn’t really expected Flame to start laying again so soon as she had been moulting but like last time the feathers stopped dropping and she started laying.

Broody Smoke

Here is Smoke protesting after I got her out of the nest box to take a break. It’s slightly out of focus because she was quivering. We seem to be destined to have at least one broody all summer. Sigh!

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A wealth of runner beans

We have been bringing produce home from the allotment most days. At the moment though the most prolific produce is runner beans.

A day’s harvest of runner beans

Every visit we bring home this many runner beans and that still leaves loads more to be picked by the two families that we share the plot with.

Some of the beans are more than a foot long

I prefer to pick them smaller than this but some get to this size so quickly.

A pan of beans ready to cook

I have cooked them and divided them into portions for the freezer. Some people don’t like beans when they have been frozen. I cook them just as I like to eat them and freeze them in portions that are enough for the two of us.

When I take them out of the freezer I put them in a small oven dish and cover them in foil. I then put them in the oven, along side of whatever I have cooking in the oven, for the last fifteen minutes of cooking time.

I find that they are just the same this way as if they have just been cooked. We have also been giving our next door neighbours some too. There are plenty to go round.

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Marmite and some yogurt

I gave the girls some yogurt as a treat yesterday. I wasn’t going to post about it as I have already done a yogurt post this summer but Marmite looked such a state that I couldn’t resist.

Marmite is splattered with yogurt

Marmite looks as if she has dipped her head right in the dish. All the other girls have yogurt on the end of their beaks but Marmite has it covering her entire beak and the edge of her comb and splashes on her face. She looked like she really enjoyed the yogurt.

When I checked back later the dishes looked as if they had been licked clean and Marmite was completely clean again. I do wonder how they manage to clean up so well. They love a yogurt treat.

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No broodies, hurrah!

I haven’t posted for a few days as there hasn’t been much going on. This is a good thing! For the first time this summer we have no broodies and it is bliss. It is so good to go up to the chicken run and see all the girls out in the run doing normal chicken things.

Since Flame came out of her “mother and chick” thing, just like last time, this has started her moulting. I am picking up loads of her feathers from the run and the chicken shed in the mornings. Despite this she still looks pristine.


Speckles is also moulting but is doing so, a few feathers at a time, like the seramas moult. This means she too looks pristine.


Ebony is a bit fluffy underneath and still has white carotene on her head. She seems to have had a white head for months. Head feathers really do take the longest to unfurl.


Eggs are thin on the ground as those girls who are no longer broody are still recovering. Whereas we were having some, five egg, days we are now getting just one or two eggs a day. This is okay though as it’s still enough for breakfast eggs at weekends and one day during the week.

The new chicken shed is also bliss. It is so quick and easy to clean. It needs a lot less pine shavings and poop picking in the morning only takes a few minutes. I then wipe the inside, including the roof, with a wet wipe which only takes five minutes and means it is dust free and clean on the inside.

This is by far the easiest chicken shed we have had so far and mites have nowhere to hide so I am also able to keep it mite free. It is a learning curve but if I were to advise anyone thinking about starting to keep chickens I would definitely recommend a plastic chicken shed.

So all is normal in the chicken run for five minutes, touch wood,  until the next drama comes along.

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