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.