Sunday, June 06, 2010

Big plant-out.

Where to start on this catch up?
How about at the front of Plot 18.
Nearest camera some rather feeble looking Banana Shallots (Var Pigletwilliensis) which have been out for some weeks, over the first hurdle the Sweetcorn, four survivors from the frost at the end of May, one that lurked in the greenhouse unplanted because it would have been odd man out of the square and the more recent (re-)sowing planted out today.
To the left of that square of Sweetcorn is some Curly leafed Parlsey, beyond the next hurdle are some more Shallots and some dark purple Cornflowers, all planted out this weekend.
The strip to the left has been weedkilled due to amounts of bindweed poking its nose out.
This shot looks up towards the shed, with its new green bit on the lefthand end, across the potatoes, which are sprouting pretty well. The bit just after the potatoes had leeks in and was also weedkilled for docks, dandelions and bindweed, nestling just below the rampant Herb Patch is wire and plastic defences protecting a row of Summer Cabbages and a row of Brussel Sprouts, both of which have been out for about a month.
The detail of these defences becomes clear in this shot.
I'll have to uproot my two hurdles, rebulid the third whose top bar broke and pop them over these brassicas pretty soon or their growth will be stunted by hitting the wire.
Lurking in the greenhouse and witing for the improved defences and death of weeds are a row of Curly Kale and a row of Purple Sprouting Broccoli.
The daleks have decided to hold a parade next to the blue barrel planters, perhaps they intend to hybridise!
Two rows of Garlic next to the corrugated sheet back left, then five or six rows of onion sets, both planted out some weeks ago, hoed yesterday, finished on the right by a row of Dahlias and back left by a block of Cornflowers, both planted out yesterday.
The Peas (rusty support centre) have been out for some weeks as a row and a bit, the righthand row was completed yesterday and the whole lot weeded.
Thirty Climbing French Bean plants were planted out yesterday and gently tied in to their supporting canes. Oh how my arms love tying eighteen knots above my head.
The soft fruit had the benefit (last weekend) of another trailer load of horses doin's and (today) of a Dalek's guts.
The shed extension comprises the old garage back door (green) nailed to a framework with the door from the kids now defunct playshed hinged off a vertical attached to the first extension, the back and end are made from two gates I got off freecycle and some oddments of shedlap that Rob was going to burn, inside it has a shelf-type seat for me and a dog-type mat for my furry supervisor.
The parsnips appear to like their barrel, today I planted the only five to survive the slugs from my second RooTrainer sowing in another barrel to compare planting density.
The chicken wire seems to have detered the foxes, too high around a small area for them to jump in and hopefully too prickly to lean down.
At any rate no further damage, yet......
The construction method was to unroll sufficient chicken wire to make a hoop that just fitted inside the barrel with a couple of inches overlap, then cut along the middle of the unrolled length so the bottom has the original edge and the top the pointy cut bits, thus making two guards out of each bit, finishing in situ by folding the cut stubs back over the opposite ends uncut bits to form a hoop.
This shows the patchy Carrot growth, nice and strong at the front northenmost edge and a bit stunted further back.
This is an arial shot of the latest barrel plantup, containing Pak Choi planted out today.
The canes are weedy little jobs, just strong enough to hold the wire in place.

The other end of the bean trench has three Cuccumber plants and one left over Butternut Squash.
Now there should have been a shot of all the planted out Butternut and Queensland Blue Squash, but it seems to have gone missing since pressing the shutter on the camera.
What also went missing was rather too many of my just germinated Squash seedlings, caught in the greenhouse and fried by the recent very hot days.
Other stuff done is mostly sowing in the greenhouse this afternoon and planting out a Thyme selection from the Herb Man's Saturday Market stall outside the greenhouse and the remaining Pak Choi in the greenhouse border, additionally potted up a surprising number of self-sown Gladioli from the allotment.
In no particular order today I sowed: Crown Prince Squash, Chieftan and Harrier Butternut Squash, Yellow Zuccini, Patty Pan, Black prince Squash, Rocket, Purple Spring Onions ( the last two in the greenhouse border), Tomato Gardeners Delight, Sweet Red Pepper (last lot failed to surface), Mangetout Peas, another RooTrainer load of Parsnips.
Must remember to sit at the PC each week and blog, trouble is I now have an HTC Hero phone and for e-mail it is the poodles privates, so I tend to use the work PC all day for work and not use the home one for private stuff as I can use the phone, but it is no good for blogging.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Let's try a different Android widget.

This one seems better, but no direct upload of pictures from phone.
Anyway, I've rebuilt and extended my shed so the dog and I can shelter from the rain. Planted out my brassicas, PSB, Summer Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts, also Sweetcorn. Yesterday I planted out about fifty seedling Shallots.
All enabled by the rain and clearing last years Curly Kale.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Will try some pictures tomorrow, bit micro-blogging this.


Not too sure about this widget.

Test from Android widget.

Testing times.

Emptied a compost bin into the last bit of the bean trench and put all the spoil back on top of it.

Also trying out an Android widget for blogging.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sun bathing pointer.

First some catchup pictures from the last couple of weeks.
Last bit of manual digging on 7th March.

12th April the inside of the greenhouse.

Around fifty of the Banana Shallots have now been potted on.

12th April the start of the bean trench.

Anti-fox precautions.

Plot 17 on 12th April

Plot 18 on 12th April.
Shows the eight rows of potatoes

Saturday 17th April.
Started by weeding between the Herb patch and the Leeks on Plot 18.

Then used Hacken-Slash, the Merry Tiller to go through the weeded area.

Later in the day got Slicen-Dice, the Howard 350, out and went over it again to get a finer tilth.

Final mechanical bit of the day

was to use the weight and power of Hacken-Slash to do as his name suggests and cut down through the now hardset ground on Plot 17 and complete the bean trench. Initial rotovation followed be lots of shovelling broken up soil out of the trench to enable me to finish off by rotovating the somewhat softer base of the trench, some lovely thick yellow clay was revealed.

Did quite a bit of tidying on the Dalek Sanctuary and moved the double-tyre planters from front-left to rear-right as viewed from downslope.

Also took the wooden coldframe home, but have not yet set it up.

Sunday 18th april

Dug up my autumn fruiting raspberry, gained from Freecycle, out of its temporary home in the greenhouse border and installed it in one of the double-tyre beds.

Weeded my way through the half of the brassica bed next to the main path and composted the spent cabbages and brussel sprouts, leaving the Curly Kale and Purple Sprouting Broccoli.

Trevor, my three down neighbour, had a load of manure delivered round the back and some was still there today, so I asked if it was surplus to requirements, no it was to be bagged today, fair enough, don't ask don't get.

I think he ran out of bags, as late in the day his other half called to me over the allotment fence that I could have what was left, which was three barrowloads, almost finished filling the bean trench with that.

Went home to baked salmon fillet, potato wedges and fresh steamed Purple Sprouting Broccoli.

Gave Trevor as much PSB as we ended up eating as a thank you.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Scalped !

Since my last post the weather has not smiled on me, I took some days off to do gardening and ended up doing shed work. Replaced a single shelf with a nice Ikea cupboard I got via Freecycle and did some general tidying and shed-keeping.
Also got around to some heavy engineering that I had been putting off. Slice-n-Dice my Howard 350 had become incontinent with age and widdled all his gearbox oil all over the floor of my nice new workshed, his slightly smaller twin in the grotty shed was continent but dead with a broken heart. (Engine not starting) so I did an engine swap. Undid and hoisted off the working 8.5hp Kohler using a rope and a hook in the rafters, then wheeled the chassis out. Wheeled the dead machine up and in, removed the dead 4.5hp Kohler engine and hoisted the good one on-board, tightned everything to working order, did the same to the leaky and dead collection, placing that in the grotty shed and took the now all-good set of parts for a quick test drive round to the car and used the 12v compressor to puff the tyres up.

Between whiles I have filled the bench in the greenhouse with potted up seedling; Kale, Summer Cabbage, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Cucumbers, Sweetcorn and a whole load of other little trays of germinating seed.
Also sneaked in some manual digging in the occasional drier days or evenings and with last weeks improved weather I hit the accelerator!

Wednesday 7th April
Got home from work on a beautiful sunny evening and dug Hacken-Slash, my trusty 3.5hp Brigg and Stratton engined Merry Tiller Major out of the shed, checked the oil levels, topped up the petrol, three pulls to start and off we went. Using just a single pair of rotors I rotovated Plot 17 side to side and then up and down, nice, but still a bit lumpy and many horsey golfballs still visible.

Friday 8th April.
Deja vu, but with Slice-n-Dice and a few more pulls needed to start, really shouldn't have topped up the oil-bath air filter to the mark. Again rotovated both ways, but finished with a third pass set a bit shallower and used the handles in offset mode to avoid walking on any of the dug area.
Beautiful job, no more horse-origin golfballs.

Saturday 9th April.
Visited Homebase to return the appalling "General-Purpose Compost", which in my humble opinion was composed of "Forest-Bark" which had been used as a mulch for a couple of years, then bagged along with the waste from a dog-grooming salon. Sold as soil improver it would have been brilliant, full of un-decomposed wood flakes and unidentifiable fibres as it was, but for seed and seedling use, useless. No quibbles, paid an extra £2 and left with four 60L Westland General Purpose Compost, which has proved to be good stuff.
On my return I took Hacken-Slash, the furry supervisor and sundry tools to the allotment and after setting up a beach windbreak with carpet base for the supervisor to sunbathe in finished the preparation on Plot 17 by chicken pellet and National Growmore dosing the rotovated area and then using a spade round the path edges to give a slot for the cover to sit in and a ditch to prevent the couch grass from romping out of the path.
My son arrived and demanded a mower, which I provided and while he mowed the site paths for me I started to move all my weedproof membrane and carpet from last years squashbed on plot 18 to the now prepared 2010 squashbed on plot 17, son helped finish that job, together with re-siting all the wind weights to keep the various covers from blowing away.
So the tried to drive Hacken-Slash round last years squashbed on Plot 18, oh dear, well practice makes perfect. While I took over the rotovating he went home and mowed the lawn, then went off on his new mountain bike for a couple of hours. He returned just after I has used Hacken-Slash with the bouter (V snowplough instead of depth skid) to force out four trenches, then populate them with Charlotte seed potatoes, an energetic sixteen year old on an exercise regime is a wonderful tool for earthing up four thirty foot potato rows.
Together we did another four rows to home all the seed potatoes and packed up knackered for tea.
My furry supervisor generally approved of the windbreak as it prevented the breeze from diluting the suns warmth, though she did complain whenever one of us joined her for a sun bathe break, we finally worked out this was because her throwing ball was in the barrow and she damm well knew it was and thought we should only take breaks to throw her ball.
On the way home the ball was thrown, many many times......
Sunday 11th April.
After sons rugby training I went to the allotment and;
planted out Parsnip seedlings from Rootrainers into a blue barrel and fashioned a "prevent the ruddy fox from diogging in here" guard from chicken wire and small canes.
planted out pea seedlings at the top of Plot 17 and put up a tent of steel 2" square mesh panels for them to grow up.
planted out thirty-odd of last years Banana Shallot "Piglet Williensis" to produce seed for next year. (I have found this year that the 2008 seed has dreadfully low germination rates while the 2009 seed is great).
planted out thirty-eight Garlic cloves from three bulbs.
planted out a net of onions.
harvested some leeks and a big bag of Purple Sprouting Broccoli.

Plot 17 is now fully occupied and/or promised, bean trench is one quarter done and the current trench-spoil area is going to be outdoor tomatoes, so I now have to squeeze a lot of Banana Shallots, Parsnips, Carrots and Brassicas onto Plot 18 and this will partly have to wait for Leeks, PSB and Kale to be finished. The vacant and Hacken-Slashed ground needs a bit of drying in the sun and wind plus a fine rotovating from Slice-n-Dice before it is fit for planting anything finer than spuds.
Need to get into the big cold frame and fill it with carrot seeds, then sort out some grow bags to go in the greenhouse. Also need to get some catch crops going in the green house border before it is time to plant tomatos and peppers in there.

Oh and the reason for the post title?

I must, must, must ,remember to wear a hat when the good weather arrives or I will have a sunburnt bonce, just like I've got right now ow ow ow.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Transparent really.

Friday 12th March.
Another day off work to garden, but this time with sufficient showers to prevent allotment digging, well not prevent exactly, but enough to have made me soggy, muddy and fed up.

So I did the greenhouse spring clean, scrubbed all glass inside and out with Jeyes Fluid solution administered via a 2.5L Hozelock pump sprayer. A long and tedious job on and 8' x 12' glasshouse.

Removed one broken pane, that had a missing corner, the replacement broke in the same way about two minutes after I put the clips in. Then I worked out that this was due to the glass in that section all being skewed slightly leaving the corner unsupported, after adjusting all the panes and clips the second replacement is still OK. Another couple of panes had slipped past their clips leaving a narrow slit, adjusted the clips with a couple of pairs of pliers and moved the glass a little before reinserting the clips.

During the week I had bought a "Stewart" heated propagator from Wilkinsons, a two standard seed tray size for £28, it and my original single tray size are now sat happily warming a variety of freshly sown seed on top of a large sheet of polystyrene on the greenhouse bench. I also bought a set of RooTrainers, a single cage, which have had Parsnips sown in them.

Saturday 13th March.
Went compost shopping and bought three 120L general purpose compost bales and "four for three" 25L bags of topsoil . The topsoil was delivered straight to the allotment, where it was later used to top up my bluebin retaining wall, hopefully to grow nice carrots as opposed to the strange ones that my clay topsoil produces.
Also bought some bags of Charlotte, Desiree and King Edward seed potatoes, which are now chitting in the frost-free shed.
Rounded off the day by, clearing the herb cum bee patch of dead growth, digging up the rest of the Jerusulem Artichokes, starting another eight foot strip of digging and then having a bonfire as all the dry waste was in the way of the digging strip.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

More nice weather today.

So after watching my son's team crash out of the Herts U16 Rugby Cup 13-12 in the first round I spent the afternoon on the allotment.
The lighter coloured bit in front of me is what I dug on Thursday and Friday all the way across.
More people on site today, I'd missed the morning rush and they were all doing the Sunday afternoon post lunch nap.
They were the loosers I think as the sun was very warm and I dug with my back to it today.
The darker hillocks of Horse's doin's is what I did today, with an hours help from my son at the end, where he got in the way for the last four feet of digging and was very useful with the wheelbarrow to distribute the manure.
Damm black plastic bags do not last on the plot for storage purposes, a bird peck or fox investigation pierce the skin and you try to pick it up and the hole just runs round the bag, leaving you up to at least your ankles in it holding an empty black plastic rag.
My furry supervisor has become too accustomed to central heating over the winter and despite me following up her Thursday and Friday shivering by putting on the thicker of her two doggie coats she still sat and shivered in my direction.
So I wore an old fleece sweatshirt as a reverse bumbag back warmer and lent her my thick padded sleeveless workmand jacket, sticking her head out one armhole.
Finally a warm and contented furry supervisor, who tucked her head towards her bum and went to sleep.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

At last...

Some sunny days when I've not been at work and the ground has not been a quagmire.
Thursday 4th March, sorted out the plot numbered posts the council had bashed in on each plot. Funny I count thus, 17, 18, 19, 20, they count 17, 18, 18, 18, 20 and omitted some divided plots, so spent a couple of hours wandering round with a sledgehammer, then rang up for some exta numbered posts. Dug and manured halfway across plot 17 on an eight foot strip. Talked to Alan about topping off a thorn tree in the boundary fence at the top of his plot.
Friday 5th March, found the extra posts in a pile, so bashed them in, then Alan arrived, so we dealt with the tree, amazing how much light a fifteen foot high thorn tree can block out. The public footpath outside the sence no longer has a tree elbow poking into it, Alan has more light and won't impale himself on thorns as he clears the old compost hillocks at the top of his plot.
Then finished my eight foot strip, all bar the last ten feet was relatively easy digging as it was potatoes last year and I leave the ground rough from harvest. The last ten feet had had shallots in it and was solid greasy stick to the spade clay.
In fact at various points across the plot, mostly in the dip between last years rows of potatoes the tip of the american style spade would bring up yellow chalky clay!
I gues double-digging would greatly improve my plot, but I'm not up for that, except in the bean trench, so it will be a long process.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Shameful really, but so what.

Two days shy of a full month and here I am typing my latest timely blog update.

Until the rain two weeks ago my allotments had set like the proverbial cement, little old 20st me jumping up and down on the blade of my spade and more likly to bend it or force my boot in half than to actually get it into the soil.
So what have I done in those weeks, apart form non-gardening stuff.
Well, I harvested a good crop of Chilli Peppers from the Greenhouse and the majority are now festoned around the hot water cylinder in the airing cupboard and going wrinkly.
The Tomato plants in the Greenhouse have resumed growing, with fresh green shoots and teeny-tiny red fruits where the last flowers to set had not really grown away, thought at least one had fresh flowers today and the Greenhouse is wholly unheated.
Today I relocated the Sweet Winter Jasmine from the Greenhouse to inside the French Windows, here's hoping for some sweet autumn fragrance.
Plot 18 yielded up a decent number and mixture of Winter Squashes together with some Sunflower heads. In order to store them I had to spend a bit more on my shed, adding a set of shelves across most of the rear of the shed, so it now looks more like Hagrid's garden minus the HippoGryff than a workshed. Today I gathered in all the Blue Hubbard, which have me puzzled as they are defiantly and wartily Dark Green, some tending to Orange with a Grapelike bloom, any road they were vandal-visible as the 1 degree celcius Tuesday night had worked its dark and mysterious magic on the foliage.
Now that the soil is more amenable to digging today I dug a half-width strip across plot 17 about six feet wide after I'd wrestled all the dying octopii from Plot 18's Squash patch into the compost bins and bonfire pile.
The Workshed now just needs one end and some detail round the door coating in Sadolin Black to look acceptable from the outside and a great deal more sorting and ordering and placing and organising to look like a workspace inside.
Still I finished one long drawn out project this weekend, we got notice boards for all the Allotment Sites in 2007, I installed four over the last week, the last one yesterday, that entire job took an average of two months per board. In mitigations, it was impossible to get to any tools or "stuff" while we had the builders in and dealing with my late mothers estate after her death took a tad more than five minutes work, but it still seems to have taken an age.
Finished a newer project that was sprung on me a few months ago by Yahoo. They went and decided to get rid of GeoCities, their free web-hosting site and guess where I'd put our association website.
So after pottering round for many weeks trying to find a FREE web-hosting service that the association could use I finally found one that BT is providing as a community service and tonight in one straight off sitting I've resurrected our website.