Friday, December 29, 2006

How did it go?

Pretty much to plan, actually.
Fifteen foot of six foot high chainlink in and ready, three hundred to go.

All posts in, all straining wire strained and all chainlink attached to starining bars and wire.

However, it all took alot longer than I intended and I ended up doing the straining wires and clipping the chainlink to them in the dark. The nearby streetlamp and a person who always has his halogen floodlamps on allowed me to see reasonably once it was properly dark. One of those silly things isn't it, it has to be really dark for a torch to be of use.

It was just too dark to join the remaining bit of old wire to my new wire, so that can await another day. It is firmly behind brambles to anyone on the outside. Fortunately that six odd feet is in good nick, further along it has rotted away.

Next job is to get some conversion bits from the fencing supplier, they had run out of two way braced, so supplied some corner ones with conversion brackets. Problem is they gave me enough brackets to do one post, but gave me three corners.

It is supposed to rain Friday, when I next have a dryish day, I'll fit another two-way-braced post at the next kink in the line of the fence and then start to fit the plain uprights, as there are a good dozen or so, that will take a while.

Exciting Pictures!

Not really.

This is me arriving with my nice new garden trolley from Coopers of Stortford. That's three nine foot angle iron posts, three bags of ready-mix postcrete, two spades, a bag of hand tools and a post hole borer in there.

Just to the left is the post fitted the other day.

Here is that post in close up, braced across to the original gatepost.

The work plan was to replace the two rusty posts visible to the left and right of the round metal pipe front right. Then to replace the chainlink, leaving a section of the old chainlink running from the original gatepost across to roughly the first rusty post, where it is to be clipped to the new chainlink.

Nice big pile of bramble trimmings, plus some bits of apple tree.
When I took the photo I had intended it to show the fence, but all that shows up are the rusty posts and then only if you look carefully.

This show the composted neolithic burial mound with a spade for scale.

The brambles had scaled the fence and arched down to land about where the spade is, there are occasional roots nearer the fence, but the majority are to the right.

This is a detail showing the scale of rot in the wire, you can see the pig wire patching.

Below is a movie clip of the length of replacement I have targetted. The sound is not galloping horse sound effects, it is a tape measure and some bolts, plus a couple of brackets in my pocket, bashing into each other.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Steady as a rock.

Did a bit more today. The old bit of fence where I'm working is |\ | /|\ then lots of |. The first braced post has one half of the original main gate on it, so that stays and next to it about ten inches in is my new braced post. Twelve foot along is the next original double braced post and today I removed it's braces, a hacksaw and lump hammer job. Both came out of the ground easily, one had only about a bricks worth of concrete on it! One brace got doctored with hacksaw and brace-and-bit to make a cross-piece between the gatepost and my new post. All manual labour as, doh, I'd not recharged my rechargeable electric drill, amazing how slow drilling metal by hand is compared to electric assistance. Result satisfyingly unshiftable, steady as a rock.

May get some more done tomorrow and take some pictures.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Civil Engineering

Well, I must not let so much time slip by between posts.
Keep thinking, "oh that's not worth doing a blog-post" and before I know it a month has gone by and I'm trying to remember all the little snippets, so here goes.

I measured up for hedging and it did NOT rain on me.

Only thing to happen in the greenhouse is the peppers have died. A whole week of frosty fog has seen them off, not too surprising as I do not heat my greenhouse.

Slugs have been a real problem as all my winter carrots seem to get attacked, suppose I should be used to this by now, but I keep forgetting and trying to keep them in the ground and harvest as needed through the winter.

Apart from that the plot is embarrassingly bare, the winter brassicas have been a failure, I have about ten small cabbages and some very undersized kale plants, together with some really poor red brussel sprouts, markerpen thick stalks and no sign of sprouts.

Two weeks ago the hedging arrived, together with canes and spiral guards. Of course the weather has either been soggy or frosty fog and so I have heeled the whole lot in on the allotment and will await more suitable planting weather.

Thursday my £900-odd worth of chainlink fencing was delivered.

Yesterday I set to with a vengance and put in the first braced end post by Gaynor's plot. More work needed than should have been as her predecessor on the plot had a reather casual attitude to weeds. OK I've pulled up this huge pile of weeds, ah that chainlink looks like a good place to pile them up against. End result the profile of the plot goes ; Main path, ten inch vertical drop, cultivated (not recently) area, then another ten inch higher bit in a gently arching mound, with the original fence embedded in it a full spade deep. It is like an elongated stonage burial mound

The one-peter operated post hole boreing corkscrew is really good, twelve turns, lever it up and pull out with 6-8" of loose soil on top and a plug stuck round the spike. The top of the corkscrew is like a T and I wedge a tool handle end in the old fence and under the T and pull the end up. Saves the back.

Today I cleared ready to start work along two thirds of Gaynor's plot, cut back the brambles and overhanging selfseeded apple tree to allow clear view of the existing fence. Then I dug off the burial mound alnong to where the next braced post will go. This is only about twenty feet as there is a kink early on in this run. To do the rest of the burial mound I'll need the barrow to wheel the spoil to the only bit of the plot that's relatively weed free. Gaynor should benefit as the soil that's coming out is soft and crumbly, unlike the rest of the plot and very unlike the yellow-brown clay that came out of the bottom of the post holes. Just hope she does not freak out at the pile of bramble & apple trimmings, will have to ask the council to take that away in the new year.

Tomorrow will be round the out-laws and the day after will be hitting the sales, so no more posting of either sort for a few days.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Should I change my name to Travis?

Why does it always rain on me?
Rhino's school rugger match this morning cancelled due to standing water on all their pitches, could play, but the pitches would be un-usable probably for months.

So off the dog and I went to divide a ten rod plot and show a prospective tenant "her" bit of it.
Cut up some old galvanised metal water pipe and an estate agents post (gifted over the fence by person(s) unknown), then it rained, so we sheltered in our shed.
Went to Plot 11 and measured the front edge, got the three posts in, then it rained, so we sheltered in the shed.
Gaynor, her other half and his dad went by to start in Plot 1a, went and had a chat about the brambles and how I would get the fence sorted if they were going to clear them etc.
Went back to Plot 11 and measured the side, got the first two posts in, then it rained, so we sheltered in the shed.
Returned to Plot 11 and measured the rest of that side, got the rest of the posts in, then it rained, so we sheltered in the shed.
Back to Plot 11 and measured the other side, got one post in, then it really really rained, so we sheltered in the shed.
Went back to Plot 11 again and got the last posts in, then it rained, so we sheltered in the shed.
Gaynor and her working party gave up and went home, no shed.
The lady, Lisa, turned up while it was still raining, so while her twins amused the baby in its well hooded buggy we got wet looking at a patch of soggy muddy couch grass. Do her credit, she is taking it on, it is a Christmas present for her husband as the children are evicting him from growing veg in the garden at home.

Need to contact Uma and surprise her with a choice of two plots, rather than the last one.

Measured up the rest of the north fence that needs replacement, Gaynor didn't run away screaming when I spoke about the fence, the landlord might, reckon it needs four rolls of chainlink, four expensive braced posts, thirty plain posts and lots of postcrete.

It started raining hard again so I gave up and went home, dog dumped on the way and standing in the puddle next to the dog-poo bin I found the heel of my right wellie had split open.

Will try and estimate replacement hedging material tomorow. What chance it rains on me?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

In-activity - activity.

Greenhouse, nothing done.
Area around the greenhouse, laid a pallet down to get from concrete to door mud-free.
Allotments, dug up some carrots.
Too wet and soggy\on the clay for much else at the moment.

Showing new tenants around the vacant plots.
Plot 1a has been let to Gaynor.
Plot 11 is being divided into four 2.5 rod plots and should be let to Madaline, another lady and Uma, Thelma is sending me another waiter for the last bit as one person changed their mind.
Michelle and Steve are going to each take half of Plot 1 when the current tenant gives up in April as he has told me. Michelle has already met him and negotiated digging rights on the empty bits etc. Plot 2 is also supposed to be giving up in April, but not managed to see him yet, have a tenant lined up for it though.

Hedge and Fence.
Have agreement in principal from the landlord to spend some more money on materials for both, provided I do the installation. Sigh.
Still I have a cunning plan involving the new tenant of Plot 1a where the fence wire exhibits extreme religious devotion. (Its very holy)
If I help them cut back the brambles currently hiding the holes and half the plot, then produce the tools and materials it should be in their interest to help me put a few posts in and run some wire.

That pretty much covers the last few weeks.

Coming weekend.
Show the lady without a firstname above her putative plot.
Put some posts/pegs in to mark the limits of the four subplots of Plot 11.
Measure up for and cost out some posts, wire, postcrete, saplings and sapling-guards.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


First frost this morning.

White shed roofs, frosted rear window on the car, patches all the way down the railway line into Liverpool Street, sun was burning it off double quick though.

Not at work today due to morning into early afternoon appointment in central London, it finished on time so I managed to glean the afternoon to gardening.

Still quite cold and it got a lot colder as dusk approached, still that should reduce the risk of store rot. It has been so warm and damp recently that this is a nice change.

Cleared the greenhouse of remaining geraniums and succulents as well as onions, garlic, potatoes and squash. Cleared a hole in the garage, turned the upright freezer round to make the entire hole usable, then put the framework of my older growbag planthouse in the hole. The knackered cover went in the bin and the squash, onions garlic and some potatoes went on the shelves.

Cleaned the greenhouse thoroughly, inside and out, well all the bits I could reach on the outside. Managed to hit the end of my middle finger into one of the glazing bars hard enough to open a half centimetre gash just next to the nail.

In the process of all this I accidentally cleaned the back terrace, so the wife approved.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tomato clearance

Not at work, due to a private meeting this morning, so spent a couple of hours this afternoon clearing the tomato plants from the greenhouse. Got one last bowl of tom's for her indoors, annoyingly she posts any flawed ones down the dog.

Dug over the bed and moved the newer of my growbag planthouses into the middle of the greenhouse floor.

I have an un-subtle plan to make a house within a house by constructing a soil-warmed box with this little house on top of it.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Plastic potatoes

Dug the three one-third rows covered by plastic. In my haste I overestimated how much the plastic covered, but on pacing it out today it was only just over one third length. Lower yield, but lower loss rate on these three. Left them in the greenhouse on racks to dry off, must remember to sack them by Monday night at the latest or they will be green. Moved the plastic across to the last three untouched rows, the bit I'm concentrating on at the moment gets less light (drying effect) as it is up-slope to the south and nearer the hedge.

Cleared the French Beans and put the canes away. Shelled a pound of almost dry beans and left the pods that were too alive in the greenhouse to dry off. Quite a high loss rate of the mature pods due to fungal attack, it's just too damp this year.

Dug some carrots and little parsnips for sunday lunch and cleared the last of the beetroot. Gave the beetroot to Iris and got a jar of homemade marmalade in return.

Cut down the sunflowers, birds had already cleaned alot of the seed, they were shading the leeks a bit.

Summary a soggy plot, quite lethally so up by the shed, almost greased in fact.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Wet, wet, wet, mices!

The weather has kept everything nice and wet, so nothing has happened on the plot. The plastic is still in place, so hopefully as we have now had a couple of days without rain, I may be able to get some more spuds up tomorrow.

I am having trouble with those I have dug up as they are not getting any drier than when they were dug up.

My tally of mice now stands at eight, all caught in the same square foot of the greenhouse.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Mouse and Potato Pie.

Thursday night caught a mouse.
Friday night caught two mice.
No more since. Yet!

Saturday, weeded where I temporarily had Alberts shed and planted thirty leeks from Gilbert. Where I had harvested the Garlic I planted a dozen Curly Kale, most green, some red. The soil is so sticky, had to keep peeling it off the trowel. Gave up in the end and went and watched the 1st IV score a convincing win over Guildford whilst downing a couple of pints.

Sunday, lifted the first two thirty foot rows of spuds, a little drier going today. Not sure what variety, as I have not found the label yet. Needless to say, about half will not keep, traces of blight and loads of holes. In fact the biggest and best, worth baking candidates, had the worst collection of holes. About one full sack of keepers (maybe) and one full sack of use quickly, plus a half sack of into the council composting bin. Left a big sheet of weighted down plastic covering three half rows of the remaining six thirties, perhaps it will make that bit easier if the forecast rain shows up during the week.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Shed and potato pie?

Well a very busy weekend has whizzed by.

Saturday I mowed the paths and put the shed up on Alberts plot.
Steve and Stan helped me move it down from my plot, quite easy really. We tipped it onto its roof on the main path then took a bottom edge and shuffled backwards, towing it along the grass on the apex of the roof curve.
Put another posthole next to the doorframe and used a bit of dexion and the last of the postcrete. Screwed the wooden sub-base onto the dexion. Used some odds and ends of wood and bricks to level it on the plot.
Finished off with a pallet inside and put all Alberts stuff in from where it was laid round about.

Sunday after the rhino's rugby training, interrupted by another boys broken wrist,I got stuck into potato harvesting. Oh boy, hard work, from about one o'clock to half past six. Eight eighteen foot rows at about twenty-five minutes per row, then some sorting time after each lot had dried off in the sun a bit. Overall a bit disappointing, but not surprising given this years weather pattern.

Dunbar Standard, a good sackful from two rows, but the usual (second year) infestation problem, every really decent baker had a hole in it with millipede thingys crawling about.
Just about to start the next lot when Albert hove into view, so took a short break to check he was Ok with the shed, oh yus he was very OK. Stan was working away opposite him and later on Stan told me I was "flavour of the month".
Arran Victory, could be potatoes by Maybellene of NYC, such a vivid lilac colour. Impressive yield, two rows, two sacks, lots of resurgent root growth despite the fully deceased foliage.
Nicola, two rows, no foliage left, disappointing yield visually when digging, much smaller than previous years, but some fair sized ones, once sacked at home still came to a full sack.

Took them all home by barrow and plastic two-handled bucket, re-sorted into sacks and into the dogshed. Need to recheck them this weekend in case of ; damp, blight missed damaged ones.

That means eight by thirty foot rows still to harvest and it's rained hard since the weekend.

Also rebaited all the traps I had set all round the greenhouse during the week, to get my now resident (green)house-mouse. Came out and watched me doing the floor a couple of weeks ago.

Tonight I checked and I'd got one, no bait left on any other traps, so there must be more. Re-baited again.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Eeek, I've been distracted from blogging.

For rather longer than I had realised.
Shall I just say "things are a bit interesting at work" and leave it at that for now.

Well lets play catch up.

Cleared the squash plot, the plants were dying off and the recent very wet weather had me worried about rot and slugs. Got another dozen or so good sized Crown Prince. A lacklustre assortment of Butternuts, some un-ripe. A reasonable showing of Vegetable Spagetti. On clearing the vegetation I found two rotted squash and several good ones had grown inside a pallet, between the boards, fortunately it was an old softening one so I did my jailbreak bit on them.
Dug some nice carrots, cut some nice sunflowers.
Found some overlooked sweetcorn cobs and managed to get a respectable bag of kernels off the cobs, not too sure about drying then properly, last time I used the airing cupboard and a month into storage in a jar the whole lot went mouldy, oven this time I think.

Have tidied the onions after they dried out nicely on the greenhouse staging, the tidied ones arte still there, the soft leafy ones went in the recycling bin and some that had a bit too much mould under the discarded skin layers went in the "ready-use" locker.
The greenhouse and swing seat are covered with squashes.

Aside from being a drying and squash curing area not much vegetable stuff has gone on in here. Tidied the staging of flowering pot plants, "survivor" material to overwinter indoors.
I have however in a burst of activity on Saturday 30th Sept paved half the floor space. (That is non-bed area.) This took four square municipal sized paving slabs with a ten inch concrete border under the staging. I have used sleeper off cuts to make a step up to the other half, which has all the "tut" on it at the moment. Maybe this weekend that half will get done, with all the forecast rain its going to be odds on. Then I'll need some more slabs to get from my concrete path to the door!

Just too much rain recently to dig either for cultivation or to harvest my spuds. But I'll have to dig the spuds before long, rain or no rain.
Found that I do actually have some Kale seedlings, the rampant Fat Hen was hiding them and Gilbert has gifted me some large Leek seedlings. This warm wet September has seen an absolute explosion of weeds. The summer was easy for weeds, so dry they did not germinate. I even have some of my herb patch autumn volunteers flowering, Sweet Cicely I think.
Need to order some manure.

Should have fifteen rod vacant soon, due to non-cultivation.
Probably just dip the waiting list, seems as thought two come on the list for every one who gets a plot. Mowed all the paths on Wednesday 27th, now growing back very quick and lush.

Managed to see Albert on the 27th, quite embarrassing in a way, never seen him so surprised or choked up before. Did rather spring it on him, I came up to mow the paths and he was digging away, stopped for a chat and said, come along with me, I've got something to show you. I shot off and was unlocking the door when he caught up, said "What do you think of that then?", "Very nice" replied Albert, "Well it's yours Albert" I said.
Could have knocked him over with a puff of air I reckon.
Went back to his plot and agreed which way round to put it.

First two Squash, potato, carrot and whatever meat we have soups have been done. Bacon, smoked, mmmmmmm. Chicken, carcass, ok.
Rhino-mark bakeries produced, Cheese-n-onion pasties, I don't like cooked cheese, but his granny scoffed them and Bakewell tarts which were delicious and too few in number.

Other Stuff
The rhino had its first game in the local RFU club league, they did not play well, but managed to win, just. I did not see the game after the first fifteen minutes as I got a terrible pain in my side and had to be ferried home by my OH, throwing up en-route. Turns out I have a kidney stone a-wandering.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Dandelions and onions.

Busy day's Sundays now the rugby season has started. Off to Shelford with my thirteen year old pet rhinoceros, it managed to drive an assistant coach some ten yards after hitting at high speed, the backup were left some distance behind. The friendly match of four quarters to test out teams was good, sunny weather and he got a try with seven assorted opposition hanging onto him.

On returning home and after mowing the back lawn, I took the dog to the allotment and found that all three new tenants of the old plot 14, now 14 a, b and c, were all hard at work.

Fettled the shed, took some tools home, brought back some dry readymix and set a bit of old dexion as a security post on the corner ready for when I install it. Nigel was halfway through 14a, Kate and friends were making a start on 14c, while Tracey and partner had just about finished 14b. So I offered to put the Howard 350 through the freshly weeded 14b, they accepted, so home empty shed to get 350 out the door, started first time and dug well. Partner impressed that I had done in ten minutes what had taken them days, however as I replied, if they had not done the days of weeding and breaking up the compaction then the 350 would not have done the mincing.

Put the 350 away and decided to put off potato lifting for another week, so dug up my garlic (planted very late) and spring onion sets. Very disappointed with the red onions, lots gone to flower. Also very annoyed that in harvesting the onions I also removed more by volume and possibly also weight of ruddy dandelions. Still thats another couple of rod weeded and cropped.

The rhino has taken on Worral-Thompson pretensions and had dug out our food processor from under the stairs in order to make home-made beef burgers, which he accompanied with spaghetti in tomato and pepper sauce, anyway I was rung and informed that "Dinner would be served at 6pm", missed by a few minutes as I had to put the onions from wheelbarrow onto wooden slatted trays and re-arrange the greenhouse staging to accommodate those.


Here is a photo of my Freecycle shed, before fettling.

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It has now got ;
a door attached with new hinges.
a sub-base of 3 by 2 tannalised timber.
a working padlock hasp.
a first fixing post at its destination.

Just need to see Albert before depositing it on his plot, or he'll think that someone is fly tipping and ask the council to tip it!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

In memoriam.

Last night it was six months since my beloved big sister died.

Be at peace Liz, we miss you.


It only worked.

Well, my faith in human nature has recieved a boost. My sweet talking worked, I went up to my plots last night and sitting on the empty bit of 18 was the shed.
Means I have a bit of work to do now, needs new door hinges and hasp for a padlock, then some treated 2"X2" timber to sit the metal on and secure to as well as cement some angle-iron in and secure to that too. A big thank you to all concerned. Hope Albert likes it.

Last night I also weighed my impromtu harvets with the following results.
Ten Crown Prince
Weights, 5kg, 4kg, 5kg, 4,5kg, 3.75kg, 4kg, 4.25 kg,5kg and 4.75kg, plus one I gave to Chris after he gave me a bundle of cuccumbers.

Six Vegetable spagetti
Weights, 3kg 2kg and four at 1kg each.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Rescue job.

One Peter and his dog went to mow an allotment path and found that two areas of their Squash patch had died and gone crispy. So while the dog got on with the mowing the Peter had to go and get a wheelbarrow for ten Crown Prince and half a dozen Vegetable Spaggetti. The rest of the patch is still lush and green and hiding the fruits from prying eyes, for the moment anyway.

There was a lovely layered mist lying over the site this morning when I went to catch my train, so I guess our frost pocket is living true to type.

Finished the main path and side paths for my plots and plot 14.

Saw Chris and reminded him of my offer of strawberries, showed him where to help himself from.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

I'm not as idle as my posts may seem!

I have been doing quite a bit of allotment and garden related stuff, but not actual gardening.
I have been doing most of the Site Agents work for some time now, as the actual Site Agent has not been well. He has now given up ten of his fifteen rod's, plot 14 and retained the nice sunny 5 rod plot down by the park, unfortunately this means he is shedless on his plot.
Ian and I have been plotting and accumulating stuff so we can make him a shed, but a complete shed has come my way for free. Corrugated aluminium workmans shed, just missing the night watchman and his glowing brazier! Problem is, its is on the other side of town, too big for my trailer and would need dismantling or lifting over a four to five foot fence to get out of it's current garden. So I have two choices, sweettalk our lovely Landlord into doing their venerable Site Agent a little favour in recognition of his years of hard work and get their workmen to spend a brief hour with their corporate Transit van pickup, or dismantle it with father-in-law next weekend. Will go for both in that order.
Laine has given up 21a, not sure why, but there had been no movement since spring cultivation, no planting, so suggested to the council they contact her and she told them she was relinquishing it.
So at the council's behest I moved smartly into dividing plot 14 and letting it with plot 21a. Would have liked to make plot 14 into four 2.5 rod plots, but the lie of the land conspired against that. So the flat (almost) six rod from the main path was divided into two three rod plots (14a and 14b) by the insertion of two scaffold marking posts. The narrow cross-path followed by a steeply rising two foot bank with goosebrry bushes on top makes a natural divide for the four rod (14c) at the top.
Our waiting list has gone down by five now. Nigel has taken 14a, Paul has taken 21a, Tracey has taken 14b, one lady's circumstances had changed so she no longer wanted a plot and therefore Kate is about to take 14c.
Now there are just four people waiting for a plot on our site. Can be hard to explain this to people when they look at an untended or unloved plot, 'cos they automatically think these are vacant and are then incredulous when told, oh no "Aurthura De-Ville-Masterton-Smythe" has that plot.
A week of weeding and conspiring to relocate sheds beckons.
Oh and work also.

Back on the plot at last.

Am now at last able to pick tomatoes from the greenhouse, detestable things, but the OH likes them. Some nice peppers colouring up well. Melon experiment a bit poor, two plants, two sub-tennisball melons.

So many weeds after the recent rain and warm weather it was difficult to know where to start, so I picked the fruit terrace.

Started at the shed side, weeded around the red/black currants and the gooseberries. Moved on to the rasberries, pruned out this years dead/dying wood, tied in the taller new growths and weeded between the first three rows. Too near tea-time to attack the strawberry infested remainder of the fruit terrace, so I backtracked hoing with a Wolf three pronged cultivator.

The strawberry plants have gone mental, there are more runners than at the London Marathon. Still that is two thirds of the fruit terrace cleaned up.

Will try to sort some photos next week.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Annual Show.

Did nothing much during the week after coming back from Dorset other than prepare for our little Association Show. So Thursday was see what I can show and do the entry form and Friday was haul it out of the plot and clean it prepare it etc, ready for Saturday.
Last year I was an apprentice steward, this year I made journeyman steward.
Did not help set up tables as I was taking the caravan to be serviced.
Tabled my entries after the OH had dropped me off, took a call saying the caravan had galloping damp and would I come and collect it please if I did not want the expensive repairs doing. Sorted that by defering to Monday. Went round with the vegetable judge, quite educating really. Stayed for the afternoon helping Anne, our social secretary, woman the tea and cakes hatch. This was something we had decided to trial and we sold thirty six tea and a cake deals, made the hall seem mutch busier than last year. If you want to see some photo's of our show then visit our association website at and look at the Photo Gallery.
Helped clear up and reset the hall for our annual supper. Went home for s***/shower/shave and back for seven-thirty. A good evening, our charity auction of unclaimed show entries after the meal raised £93 for Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I won 1st's for Beetroot and Squash, 2nd for Apples, 3rd's for Sunflower, White Potatoes and Carrots. Daughter won 1st for flower arrangement in an eggcup, so she got the only cup in the family this year.

Finished the day by sweeping the hall and hauling back home a collection of cut flowers that filled the car boot.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Tidy Greenhouse

Sunny, then heavy shower, repeat several times. No point hoeing as it will just move the seedlings round, too damp to crawl round uprooting weeds, so into the greenhouse.
Removed all the overblown lettuce. Found two tiny melons, unthreaded and retied the melon plants to get more sunlight. Trimmed the experimental squash so it was no longer overshadowing melons, peppers and tomatoes. Weeded thoroughly, mostly spurges and sowthistle. Retied the tomatoes, trimmed some over enthusiastic side shoots, must be better next year at tying them in and feeding, still a crop of sorts.
Will need to dig out some of the topsoil from my L shaped bed and incorporate a load of manure as it seems under provided in the fertiliser department.

When the gardener is away the weeds will play... mummies and daddies and produce millions of little weeedies.

Back Saturday from a week in Dorset, at Portisham, some nice looking allotments in Weymouth off Abbotsbury Road caught my eye, but I could not justify a visit when Lulworth Cove was calling. One village veg patch off the road up to Hardys Monument had a lovely raised bed, whole garden actually, with a drop down a beautiful stone wall to the stream that rushes down besides the street, fresh clean water on tap or rather bucket.

Back to my plots though. After driving home, sorting out the caravan, etc, I paid a brief visit on Saturday, weed seedlings by the ton, apparently we had heavy rain through the week we were away, the seedlings I had missed a couple of weeks ago are now mature plants in flower or early seed and the soil is warm and moist.

After girding my loins on Sunday I got stuck in, strimmed at home, along the main allotment track and round my plots. Mowed front and back lawns at home, then the main allotment track, four barrow loads into my hungry Daleks. (For any readers new to my blog, my house is a hundred yards from the entrance to my allotment site). Finished the boys toys bit by rough mowing the sides to the outside of the main gate and the carpark.

Weeded the bottom strawberry patch along plot seventeen, dug up two rows of Nicola second earlies, dead sticks for foliage, disappointing yield, both in quantity and size, but quite clean. Aslo sampled the carrots from my mini-raised bed, quite promising.

If Monday is dry I will continue with weeding and hoeing, plus get up the last two rows of Nicola, if it is wet the greenhouse desperately needs attention, bolted lettuce and a rampant squash have submerged the capsicums!

Looks like a week or two of steady weeding ahead. Quite annoying really as it was so clean, but that is the difference between continuous hot dry weather and rainy warm weather, germination happens in the later!

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Bit of a strange week or so.
Have not done much on the allotment or in the greenhouse since coming back from Cromer.

Major surprise last week when the Town Council rang, Albert has given up ten of his fifteen rods. His brother had come up to see him and seemingly having seen how badly he was doing keeping on top of his plots had managed to persuade him to cut back a bit. They tried to move his shed from the ten rod plot to the five rod plot, however it proved immovable.

I had a look at the shed, 3x3 clad in corrugated iron, held on with six inch nails, folded over on the inside. The wood was hard as iron and stuck in the ground, which was like half cooked brick. No wonder two elderly gents had failed to move it.

So our ten person waiting list starts to move now, Alberts ten rod is marked as three, three and four rod plots, we have Laine's vacated plot also. First on the list, Nigel, has been and taken the bottom three of Alberts ten.

Am going to see what timber and stuff I can put together to make Albert a shed on his remaining plot.

On a more personal level the sweetcorn is amazing this year, well set, juicy and incredibly sweet, had twelve cobs with five-spice pork chops for tea between the four of us this evening, yum. I must get the brassicas and leeks sorted after digging up the second earlies whose foliage has now died off.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Went to Cromer for a week.
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Carefully checked everything before going, came back to bundles of ripe sweetcorn and bagfulls of climbing French Beans
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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Sunday, July 23, 2006

When will it rain?

Saturday I picked all my over wintering onions.

Got a good tray of biggies, a good tray of reasonables and half a tray of "why did they not grow" and "oops a mutant".

Also had the police helicopter montioring my progress for over half an hour at very low level, according to a copper in a skoda estate driving through the park, "a youth on a mountain bike had threatened someone with a knife and they were looking for him".

Sunday, was just spent watering, my large pair of cans mean that even if I start at the top of plot seventeen I will empty the large horse trough by the time I get to the last bit to water on seventeen. So did seventeen and then took the dog to chase her ball-on-a-rope, hoping the trough would refill. I swear the dog would chase this ball to the point of fatal collapse, so stopped after about a dozen high speed pursuits.
Returned to find a disgruntled neighbour conteplating a still near-empty tank that they were scraping water out of, complete with what looked like leeches.
Must see if we can get some more troughs if this weather is to become the norm.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Went to visit my plot and some plonker has been and strimmed the entire area just outside the main gate, our new hedge included.

Some interesting phone calls will happen on Monday to find out which council sent their contractors to do this.
Town Council, our landlord.
District Council, owners, custodians and maintainers of the park area.
County Council, owners and maintainers of the cycleway.

It wouldn't be so bad, but I already mow sight lines from the gate posts to ensure our driving plotholders do not mow anyone down.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Target achieved, maybe?

Going with clickable thumbnails for a change here.

I finished my tidy up for the Best-kept plot competition on Monday after nearly melting on Sunday. I made two planters from four old tyres, bolting each pair together through the sidewall with three bolts. Completed my weeding to build a huge heap by the Daleks, earthed up all the potatoes, watered same with ten 11L cans per inter-row gap, watered everything else I could including the raspberries. Planted out cabbages where the new potatoes first row has been dug up, making some pigeon guards from pig wire. Sowed (very late) red and green kale, rocket, parsley and red welsh onions.

Tonight I just went and watered the freshly planted out brassicas, picked a small amount of raspberries and hoed the walkways between the raspberry rows, like the American dustbowl couds of clay dust billowing up at me.

Then I took some photos.
My Dalek Sactuary, full of replete Daleks, digesting their last meal while the next matures in front of them. The two planters I made on Sunday, scalding my hand on one of the tyres while pressing it to its twin to tighten the bolts.

A raspberry waiting for me to pick it.

The fruits of my labours tonight.

The most spectacular of my "herbs", this is the flower spike visible in photo one above

The Crown Prince Squash have finally hit their growth spurt and seem to advance by a foot or two per day.

My over-wintering onions have been a mixed success, nothing moved for the photo, but clumps of good bulbs and patches of just a bit bigger than the set bulbs.

The Sweetcorn is imitating a rainforest without the rain.

Judging either tomorrow or Thursday, results, whenever.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Small progress.

Spent most of today on Mowers.
Finally managed to take the broken Hayter into the workshop, expert opinion is that it is a broken valve. Will take about three weeks as they are full to the gills with broken machinery.
Had a look round for alternatives, all the DIY warehouse options are fine for the engine, but, and its a big but, the deck and handles are so flimsy and ready to rust. Anything of quality is too dear for my pocket as new, so a secondhand Hayter looks good at just under £200, aluminum deck, sturdy handles and the one we saw had a replacement engine a few years ago.

Eventually got on plot a bit late in the evening and cleared another thirty foot row, just two left to do. Then interrow "cultivator" hoeing, followed by earthing up.

Need to get more brassicas planted out, I've got them in pots and seed bed, but keep failing to get them out on the plot. Now I've sorted out some wire netting I can, hopefully, keep the pigeons off.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Three down, three to go.

Managed to clear three more potato rows on plot eighteen tonight.
The weed heap is growing, despite the heat it is not shrinking at all, I suspect it is drying out faster than the bugs can get in!
Some more raspberries picked.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Identity progress

Clive on Kitchen Garden suggests my weed is "Nipplewort", sounds painful.
Check out my thread on KGF at

Cold Frame clear and most common weed on 18

Cleared all weeds from the coldframe on Plot 17 tonight after strimming "my" paths and the main path.
Also mowed Charlies plot at his son Ian's request. Charlie is still recuperating from a triple bypass last year and has not been on the plot since, Ian sprayed the weeds a month ago, so I have topped them off ready for a burn or respray prior to rotovating.
Finished off my evening by picking anothe pound of raspberries.

Brought home a sample of my most common weed from Plot 18. This grows all down the earthed up potato rows, in vast quantities, there was no sign of it on this plot last year.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Seventeen clear bar cold frame.

Tonight managed to finish clearing the weeds on plot seventeen, every single one that I could find. The compost bin contents have not shrunk, and I now have a large heap waiting to go in.
Earthed up all the spuds once they were weed free.
Started on the coldframe, had to plant out the red brussels sprouts as they were suffering from the weeds sucking up all the water, made a pig-wire pigeon shield and planted a row of twelve. Soaked the rest of the frame ready for a revisit.
Finished by picking three pounds on raspberries, pretty good going for canes moved this spring. Some individual berries are enormous,some are the other extreme, suffering from the heat, dry hard and tiny.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Family day out.

Did visit the plot today, but only briefly.
Spent the day mostly shopping with the family, cloths etc, but then the rest re-arranging the terrace to acommodate the two seat swing chair I bought from Homebase for £79.99.
The visit to the plot was to deposit all the used compost from half a dozen large pots on the terrace, which I should really have emptied weeks ago, amoungst the raspberries, then to water the plants I put in yesterday, sunflowers, french marigolds and a cucumber.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Weeds where do they all come from!

Spent noon to seven in the evening on Saturday weeding!
All my compost bins are full, I have had to resort to a pile next to the bins and hope that what is inside will reduce in bulk quicker than the heap starts to decompose.
Where did I get them all from? From the spuds, the poor benighted spuds.
Top three Fat Hen, Sow Thistle and something I must ask the resident experts on Kitchen Garden Forum about when I get a picture of one to post up, it has a rosette of hairy leave from which springs a two foot stalk with occasional leaves and topped by a spray of tiny yellow flowers.
And I have still not finished, one inter-row length on plot seventeen and six rows on plot eighteen to do.
On plot seventeen the earthed up rows are pretty clean of weeds, but the inter-row ground has fat hen and sowthistle in abundance. I have to use a trowel to get the sowthistle out as it snaps too easily. I have even re-done the earthing up on five of the ten original rows, nine now left as I finished digging up the tenth for tea that night, yum.
On plot eighteen, as I am effectively clearing it properly for the first time in years the weed problem is much worse. The previous tenant cut some beds in the couch and dug alot, throwing the couch roots into piles at one end of the plot, grrrr. Despite my standard first strike of glyphosate, burner, glyphosate, some bindweed has survived, it always does though. The main problem is the disturbed dormant weed seeds, sowthistle by the ton, weed No-3 by the kiloton, some thistle, even some seedling stinging nettle.
Fortunately I thought ahead and spaced the rows widely enought to get the 350 down between them and have done so at least twice since planting, result very few weeds in the inter-row gaps, most are rooted in the loose earthed up soil. I only managed two of the thirty foot rows though, six to go although I did six foot at the lower end of each where they met the overwintering onion bed.
Great disparity in the top-growth, the two full rows are green and strong, some of the other six are yellow weak and floppy, tried a strong watering on the cleared ends to see if this improves things, if not I'll try a soluble feed as well.
Aside from the spuds, I have weeded the over-wintering onions, some of which are looking really good, the sweetcorn and my lad's corner, where bless him he had been carefully nurturing some weeds in with his crops.
My wages for all this hard work, a sunburnt strip on my "builders bum", note to self, wear a longer top when weeding.
Why all this weeding, allotment competition judging next week.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A pleasant evening at last.

I said the other day that one of the herbs was looking spectacular, well here it is in all its glory.
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Finally managed an evening where my commute home had not left me so moist at the edges that I did not feel up to more than a cold drink. So off I went to the allotment with a tray of Climbing French Beans seedlings in pots, but rather tangled together. Spent the first half an hour gently teasing them apart.
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The dog was not too impressed, spent most of her time staring alternately at her ball on a rope and me, think she was trying to tell me something.
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The parsnips have gerninated spectacularly this year, I think they have managed a 100% rate.
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My spring planted onion sets are doing well, only two or three have bolted so far.
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My late planted garlic is showing no signs of rust yet, most unusual.
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My squash plants have finally embarked on a growth spurt, with flowers.
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All in all a very restful evening from six thirty to nine at the allotment. Did the beans, picked about a kilo of raspberries, weeded the fruit terrace, pulled the Rocket from between the carrots in the raised bed where it had gone to flower and watered the raised bed copiously. I finished off my session by weeding three inter-row valleys between the spuds on plot seventeen. Mostly Fat Hen and Sow Thistle. Only eight more to do.
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This is a shot of the ripening blackcurrants on the ten bushes that I plan to dispose of once they have fruited as they are in the way of mechanical cultivation. Reckon the birds will take most as usual, they are in a long row across the plot between this years squash and "other" veg.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Too damm hot...

Another weekend of light gardening, but not due to lack of motivation, down to the heat.
Saturday, wife and I got the broken mower into the boot of the car and I dropped her and daughter off at the cinema en-route to the mower repair shop which was SHUT. Back home and fortunately Stan walked by as I was propping planks to roll the mower out of the boot and lent a hand.
Son was off sailing with granddad, but helped aquire some paving slabs on Thursday evening, left to sail saying, "Hope you get the greenhouse paved while I'm away". Some hope, it has been so hot that the automatic vents are not closing until after dark. The first pepper plant flowers have opened today.
Again lots of weeding, did everything bar the potato areas, lots of tall weeds down the spud rows I'm afraid. May give those a go one evening this week.
Lots of stawberries, starting to tail off a bit now, one large bag per pick rather than two, was able to welcome son home with a decent tub of his favourite fruit, raspberries.
Completely emptied the large horsetrough next to plot 17 on Saturday night. The 11L cans, from The Range, empty quickly as the rose has decent sized holes so you get back before 22L have come back in. I avoid watering unless there is a problem or I am establishing something, come Saturday evening everything was looking a bit wilted so I blitzed plot 17 and the sweetcorn on 18. I have left the spuds on 18 alone, but watered those on 17, 18's are spaced wider than 17's and seem a bit happier at the moment.
Horseradish seems semi-imune to Roundup, I have re-sprayed the bit on 18 that I want to get my cabbages into and also Diane's plot where I might have moved a bit too quick with the first dose a few weeks ago. It had knocked stuff back, but not killed it, so tonight it got a more considered dose.
Must get a phot of one of the "herbs" up, it is looking absolutely spectacular just now.
Everyone is turning up to garden or water from 8pm onwards at the moment.
Allotment judging 19th and 20th, I do not think I will even be in the running this year, though Gilbert has not entered, just depends who else has entered. I do think the council should enter everyone after their first year and make the prize a rent reduction or waiver.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Just could not get up any enthusiasm for heavy gardening this weekend.
Did a lot of light weeding and strawberry picking.
Picked all the fruit from my new bushes, redcurrant, blackcurrant and gooseberry. They are not netted and our avian friends had spotted them, the redcurrants especially. Managed one decent sized summer pudding, with the help of a handful or two of strawberries and one smallish gooseberry fool. A taste of things to come I hope.
The strawberries have been amazing this year, picked clean on Friday they need picking again on Sunday and we are talking pounds a time every time, sitting weeding the garlic from tha path all I can smell is that sweet strawberry aroma.
The rapsberries are starting to turn from green.

Monday, June 19, 2006

What did I do?

It seems like I was frantically busy all weekend, but without much concrete to show for it.
Friday night the Hayter starter cord snapped, fixed that and started it OK, Saturday, it just would not start, but backfired out of the carb! Wasted several hours over the two days, so its workshop for you now my boy.
Started Saturday with lots of hoeing and weeding, all the fruit areas, the onions, sweetcorn etc, only really missed the spuds and the squash. Then various non-gardening errands while it was really hot, picked six pounds of strawberries in the evening and put up my nice shiny plot numbers, firmly attached to the raised bed and a large lump of wood respectively.
Sunday, up and to the allotment society shop, bought four growbags, for my remaining tomatoes, now I've got to level and pave the greenhouse floor. The plants in the beds are doing well, even the first weed seedlings have just started to emerge! Put up a retaining fence cum wall at the edge of the Dalek Sanctuary, angle iron five foot long hammered into the ground two feet, and two gravel boards high behind it. Ran out of gravel boards, (reused), so need to get some more to finish, backfilled behind what I had done, clearing enough room for another dalek. Not sure what to run along the angle irons, some old polypropelene rope perhaps? Strimmed the main allotment path edges and the edges round both my plots. Mowed the lawn at home and at the allotment the entrance sides. Weedkilled Dianes plot for her and also the determined couch that has come back where I want to plant cabbages and leeks.
Today, just watered the Squash a little, weaning stage now and picked another six pounds of strawberries.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Squashing them in.

Had a really busy Sunday on plot 17, not finishing until after 10pm.
Did not get on the plot until about Noon, started by clearing all the large weeds and blown-over crops from the Squash plot. I got enough marble to pigeon egg sized potatoes from my volunteers to make a nice feed with the evenings barbeque. Anyway, the potato foliage, blowsey PSB, kale, five foot high swiss chard, infested with slugs and the six foot high parsnips all went to feed the newest dalek in the sacntuary, he got so full that all the others had to help out a bit. The dog came along, but showed little interest in anything, except hiding from the sun.
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Next I barrowed up what was left of this years horse manure delivery to the cleared patch. The lighter heaps to the left are on what was cleared earlier in the year. The disguised pilbox at the back is my cunning carpet store using pallets to allow it to stay dryish under a sheet of builders dpc membrane.
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Then a bit of fun with fork and boots, spread the manure about a bit.
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Went home for Hacken-Slash, here he is ready to go. Dog slunk into the house and refused to come out, could swear she said something about Noel Coward insulting mad dogs. Heat much worse as there was hardly any breeze and what there was was intermittent. Whilst getting hot out in the open I was (relatively) dry, but as soon as I decided to take five minutes in the shade I went from dry to dripping within a minute of parking my posterior in the shade.
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This is what the patch looked like after two good goings at from Hacken-Slash with a single set of rotors, followed by one with both pairs. Positively swam through the bits where manure had been heaped for some months, nice and moist still, but oh dear, where the larger plants had been was pure concrete, still lived up to his nickname. Left it all broken up a bit and the manure mixed roughly. Took Hacken-Slash home for a rest and to get Slicen-Dice.
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Here's Slicen-Dice ready to go, all 8.5hp.
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And here is how he left it, smoothly blended, with not a footprint in sight. Also ran him down between the potato rows on plot 18 to prepare for some additional earthing up. Finished this at about five fortyfive. Saw Chris and Sofia, who had been down in the morning and then deserted their plot just because a passing friend asked them to alunchtime barbeque, some people eh, just use any excuse...... Went home at six for my barbeque and packed all the machinery back in the shed whilst the charcoal was going from lit to usable.
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Returned at seven something with my plants and the dog, who had decided it was now cool enough to be awake. Started by laying the woven material I have as a starter. It is not light proof as I found last year, weeds continue to grow under it, until crop growth on top blocks out the light. Still as I got 90% of a twelve foot wide roll for free I won't complain too much, just lay carpet on top of it as well. Laying out all of the pillbox contents took a long time and left me very very moist around the edges. Woven plastic, carpet, weights, tidying up the edges, etc, etc.
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Here is a Crown Prince Squash neatly planted through the woven plastic and showing the bottomless upside down 2L lemonade bottle watering funnel, a weight on the plastic and some carpet. The only thing missing is the slug pellets and they went on as it got dark.
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Went home to be told that I was not coming in the house in that filthy condition, unless I left most of my clothes on the doorstep, but I did get given a cold beer to make up for it.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Hot and sweaty.

Thursday found out that Diane and her husband were struggling, they have not been well and he has had an operation, they have not managed to do much more than spray a 10'x10' patch on their newly aquired 5 rod plot and were getting worried by how well the long established weeds were doing. Gave her a call and arranged to strim, spray, burn, rotovate the whole plot for them, she seemed worried that I would charge a load for all this, I have the kit, all she has to do is supply the Tumbleweed (or similar) and pay for a spot of petrol.

Friday, got home from work and went off to mow. Started off by strimming Diane's plot for her. Then mowed the main path and several inter-plot paths. Mick was up there with wife and daughter working away, I thought he would be gone before I would have to ask him to move his transit van, but he wasn't, but left about two minutes after I finished where the van had been!

Today was just too damm hot, the dog did not even sunbathe, which is unusual for her, she kept to the shade, with one exception.
Barrowed all the rest of the greenhouse excavations spoil, bar a couple of bags, up to plot 17 and used it to level off the path across the top of the plot.
Hoed the fruit terrace, strawberry bed at the bottom of plot 17, onions, carrots etct etc, basically weeded everything except the spuds and the soon to be squash plot.
Dug off more of the old heap on the dalek sanctuary, again onto the plot top path and gave sanctuary to a large black dalek in preparation for sorting the squash plot tomorrow.
Had to stop quite often as sweat was getting in my eyes, so lay in the shade to cool off. While doing this I heard a noise like someone hitting a sheet of plywood away down the site, sat up and looked, but couldn't see anything, happened again, went to look, a damm cat under Karl's fruit netting hunting mice or birds, when it pounced it landed on his carpet mulch with this noise, which as it was close by us sounded like damaging action further away.
This was the one time the dog did something, exit cat post haste, closely pursued by dog, who then mooched around for twenty minutes willing the cat to return.
Raked the almost hay off Diane's plot into one big pile, not sure what to do with it, may burn it, or put it in my black dalek.
Planted out the seven of eighteen Cosse Violette climbing french beans that actually germinated. Took home three self sown Nasturtiums and an as yet unidentified herb seedling from the fruit terrace and potted them all up for re-use in a few weeks. Sowed more Cosse Violette and another CFB, hopefully I'll get a better germination rate this time.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Planted out most of the sweetcorn this evening.
The recent rain, combined with the sun, is still having a beneficial effect on my clay, after hacking through the crust the rest is like fresh warm-from-the-oven heavy fruitcake. Warm, moist and crumbly.
Also barrowed some surplus soil and turf from the greenhouse installation up to plot 17 to make up the levels on the back of the fruit terrace.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Busy Weekend all in one post.

This is a detail shot of how I fixed my greenhouse frame onto its base of sleepers.

I was fortunate in that the extension section, that I did not use, was joined on using two strips of 3/16" x 1&1/2" aluminium strip, from one of which I fashioned the six angle brackets I used to tie the greenhouse down to the sleepers with.
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On plot 17 the strawberry plants are doing well, transplanted early this year, there is alot of flower and quite a few berries set already. Nothing red yet though.
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The potatoes are galloping skyward, these on plot 17 are doing well and fairly weed free. Those on plot 18 are subject, despite previous spray treatment, to considerable bindweed. Still next year I'll grow squash on that patch and my standard carpet mulching used for my squash plot will reduce the problem considerably.
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The small raised bed has been strangely variable this year. Same soil and manure mix throughout, same two seed packets, rocket and Nantes carrot, south side is growing well, north side markedly less well, though the bindweed that fought its way up does not care.
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The herb garden is doing well. The "new age traveller" lady who had created this part of the plot, under the auspices of the tenant prior to the one I took over, from turned up the other day, she was quite unaware of who now rented what. Had a nice chat, she is very pleasant lady and is actually a herbalist, one of various skills, eventually agreed that as I would be trying this autum to get at the couch that she would harvest the herbs root she wanted later in the year. I will still keep this bit as a herbal and wildlife patch, anything to encourage the bees.
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Some damm pest(s) have been at my pea's, which looked good, but have made little progress due to something eating them.
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The greenhouse is progressing well. I have now de-turfed, dug, added soil from the sleeper holes and planted up two beds, or one L shaped bed. This shot shows six pepper plants, scotch bonnet, aztec and others, with an edging of french marigolds and a catch crop of  lettuce, as well as two melons in the foreground.

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The southern end is planted up with tomato's, marigold and lettuce, and the big boy waving his leaves is an experimental squash, which will be allowed to roam the paved area, if I get it paved in time.

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Next weekend MUST be squash bed preparation weekend.