Sunday, April 30, 2006

Some finishing and sowing

Decided to define the split at the top of the fruit terrace between fruit and path areas, so got some oldish gravel boards. Sized, test fitted after banging in lengths of old galvanized water pipe as pegs, removed, painted with wood preservative and fitted for real.
Started to barrow loose soil to fill the path area level.

Between test fitiing and painting I sowed; Leaf Beet, Dwarf French Beans, Swede and Carrot on the plot and ;Purple Sprouting, Savoy, Robin F1 Cabbage, Red Brussels Sprouts, several other brassicas and Leeks in the cold frame and finished off by laying the raised bed to alternating rows of Carrot Nantes and Rocket.

Am in two minds about the Cresosote replacement stuff, much preferred the smell of creosote and one could use it to dilute Black Tar paint to achive a wonderfull deep black penetrating coat that also gave surface protection. This "stuff" stinks, contains god knows what and does not seem to last as long if my garden fence is anything to go by.

Finished my visit by watering all seeds sown and some previously sown
Last surviving plastic watering can rose broke, the cans are UV stable, why are the bits of the rose with holes in not? Must buy some tomorrow, bet I can't get them seperate from cans in the DIY warehouses, might see how much a metal jobbie is.

Not quite so hard days work.

Here are the photos of my fruit Terrace.

The not too promising bare clay, with the remains of last years bonfire.
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Rotovated and manure barrowed up.
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My little snooze guardian.
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The source of my "better" soil, a previous tenants weed pile, now the daleck sanctuary.
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The completed terrace, before weeding the strawberry patch.
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Today, as well as uploading my photos, I did a bit more.
Planted Gilberts gift of daffodils, two clumps between the gooseberries and one each side of the main site gate.
Emptied all my daleks into the big square emperor of the daleks, sieved two barrowloads from next to him, for the cold frane, and placed another of his subjects there. Where the daleks had been, down in the sun next to the espalier apples, I planted all my Gladioli and two rows of other bulbs, cannot remember what they are, but they are small. Dug up more dandelions from the soon-to-be squash patch.
Digging and riddling is hard work.
Went home and mowed the lawn before tea.
Finished off the day with this years bonfire, after dark burnt the tragic remains of the last tenants un-maintained shed, hardly any smoke and wonderfully warm.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Hard days work

Spent all day up the plot today starting around ten and finishing around six.
Started by going to strim the main path, found Paul trying to do his paths with a push mower! Not doing well on nine to ten inches of growth, so did his paths for him. Always worth doing this sort of thing, first for community spirit and he then dug much more before leaving, thus removing more of the ruddy dandelions. Did the edge of the path, both my plots and a couple of other "personal" paths.
The fruit terrace is now complete, will post some photos later.
Weeded last bare terrace bit, put the Merry Tiller across a few times to hack into the clay. Barrowed eight loads of stable manure, spread it, mixed it in with the MT. Dug some nice soil from the Dalek Sanctuary (used MT and pulled up half a gardens worth of chicken wire in the process) to raise the level at the top by the shed, mixed that in, raked out the MT tracks.
Dug up my sole Gooseberry, trimmed it down a bit, replanted it on the terrace with; two more Gosseberries, two Redcurrents and two Blackcurrents, all from Van Hage's in Great Amwell. Looks a bit under-populated, but they will grow.
Tidied up the "drop" from the terrace, skimmed all the loose surface off the slope, cut the bottom foot out of the slope, to give a firm walkway, and put all the spoil up top.
Moved one Dalek and the big square soilsaver to the Sanctuary, my lad turned up after school and pulled up all the kale that had now bolted, with the weeds it nearly filled the Dalek.
Finished by weeding the terrace strawberry area.

Taking it sensibly, work half hour, rest ten minutes stretching back etc, as I have to do given the two ruptured discs in my back, have to admit that during one of my rest periods I dozed off in the sunshine, the dog kept watch on me, woke up to find lots more people on site.

Gilbert had kindly dropped a load of in-the-green daffodils on 17 after I admired his the other day, put them in an upside down watertank lid, with some compost and water till I plant them tomorrow, Think I might put some clumps outside the site gate in the vergs and some clumps amoungst my new fruit.

The cowslip's I dug from mothers front lawn seem to have taken in the carpark, must get some more and some of my volunteer Teazels from home.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Musings on a diversion.

Only just got to work now.
De-railed freight train at Broxbourne, so had to swap at Harlow, go to Cambridge and then down to Kings Cross.
Why are so many allotment sites next to railway lines?
Must have gone past half a dozen or more, much variety, but all looked to have good occupancy rates.
The two I normally pass each day are as chalk and cheese.
Cheshunt where a fenced & hedged set of small looking plots sit across a bridleway from a set of larger plots that fade out halfway (or less) down the site into long coarse grass with a couple of horse troughs in it. One brave sould has just taken on a full ten rod at the start of the grass and cleared it.
Alma Road site in Enfield which seems fully occupied, but with a high number of "structures".

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Moving seeds sown

All bar one of the sweetcorn in the electric propagator has put up a shoot. Not a sausage in the cold frame. Moved seedlings to a big holeless tray with clear cover on the dining table, loads of room so also added largest sweetcorn tray from the cold frame.
Tomatoes had just started to stir so left them in the elctric propagator and added a smaller sweet corn tray from the coldframe.
Must get some Climbing French Beans sown asap.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Seed sowing.

Sweetcorn sown in heated propagator on Sunday has emerged, not a sign of anything from the ones in the cold frame. Tomato seeds in propagator have not emerged yet.
Brassica's in trays in cold frame have germinated and are trying to push the covering compost off, they look like a collection of mime artists stuck under a rotting carpet.

Must crack on with sowing more stuff this week. If the OH is in a good mood I can usually get a four tray un-heated propagator on the dining table, but other than taht and in-plot sowings I am limited to a single tray, on or off, heated propagator and a three foot by two foot timber cold frame on the patio, which also does duty as the first stage hardening off zone.

Cannot afford a new greenhouse and whenever one shows up in the local paper it seems to have appeared a day or two before in a different area and so is gone when I ring. I have been on two Freecycle groups looking for a six by eight greenhouse, but no luck so far.

A few photo's of my plots.

A panoramic view of plot 18, the bit in the foreground is not mine but most of plot 19, the corner of my old raspberry patch is in the top right corner.

The shed is mine and sits on the southern end of the junction between plots 17 and 18.

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This is the rest of the panoramic view, the coldframe behind the daleks with a pallet leaning on them is the end of plot 17.

The white blob in the foreground is the end of plot 18.
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My shed started out as the back wall of an unwanted and rotting shed at home. With a friend I cut down besides two inner vertical supports and then nailed the two outer offcuts back on to get a "portable loo", attached a door, stuck a roof and floor on, then carried it to site. It was mounted on concrete and brick piles, with roof-straps concreted into two of them so I could firmly screw the hut to its foundation.

This was too small as my plots grew, so I added the lefthand bit.

The dug area is a work in progress. A previous tenant deposited all his weeds and attached soil there, it has been a nettle and couch infested mound, last year I sprayed it with Roundup and I am now digging our lovely dark crumbly weedfree soil across the entire width of Plot 18.
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This is on the left of the shed (when looking towards the shed) and is my other major work in progress, a fruit terrace on the raised southern, shaded, damp, clay end of Plot 17.

The bushes visible in the background between the posts on the left are my inherited blackberries, which are going this year, they get in the way of cultivation and are full of  couch and bindweed.

Sunday (23rd) I went to Van Hage's Garden Centre and bought two replacement blackcurrents, two redcurrents and two gooseberries. I aim to dig up and move my only gooseberry and have already moved all my raspberries from plot 19 ending up with five complete rows, two of which are shown here.
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Three weeks ago I planted all my potatoes, these are the eight thirty foot rows on plot 18 and beyond the manure heaps are the ten eighteen foot rows on plot 17.
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From the manure heaps to the metal poles (inclusively) will be squash this year.

To the right of the blackcurrents is "other veg", so far ; onions, garlic and peas.
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This is the herb garden, couch is starting to appear in places, so a visit with a ready-use Roundup is looming.

Out of shot to the right is an oak tree and this area never gets that much light, so I am going to keep it as an ornamental / wildlife area.
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My truely enormous raised bed, made from sleepers, it was full of strawberries and chives. I dug some sixty strawberry plants out of it, and from in front of it. I can't quite make up my mind what to plant in it yet, so have added a barrow of manure and a barrow of soil, mixed it all up and left it. One of the chive clumps got sliced into four and re-planted in front.
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Potatoes and Manure on Plot 17.

This is a picture of half of Plot 17 looking north.
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My coldframe aquired and set up for £30.
I never seem to quite get it right with this, I set out with good intentions and either end up with insect infestations or stuff knocking on the roof to be let out.
The best I've managed is with lettuce, replacing clear roof panels with solid to get shade.
All the panels slide, and it is not practical for me to visit morning and evening every day so temperature regulation is a bit poor.

First post.

Well what should I say, I guess I should set the scene.

I am a married father of two who has gradually got into allotment gardening through wanting to grow healthy vegetables for my family.

Having started out with a small patch at the bottom of my seventyfive foot by twentyfive foot back garden, I graduated to having a five rod allotment plot and then grassed over the garden plot, kids and veg do not mix in a small garden.

Finding I could easily manage the five rod and not being able to grow everything I wanted to I asked for more space. After a while someone left the area and I was offered his plot, so now I had eight rods. A couple of months later the guy who had the other half of my original plot finally admitted defeat by couch grass and left.

At this point I had ten rods, then two plots up I had another three. Between was occupied by two tenants, one of whom, naughtily, sub-let part to a friend who planted it up as a herb garden. The tidy one gave up first and I got two and a half rod linking across between my two plots.

In 2004 the other tenant also gave up, and was replaced by a guy who worked a little harder at it. In 2005 this guy also left the area and I did a deal with the council. I took his five rod plot and gave up my three rod plot.

So now I have plots 17 and 18, both ten rods.