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.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

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.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
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.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
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.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
The parsnips have gerninated spectacularly this year, I think they have managed a 100% rate.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
My spring planted onion sets are doing well, only two or three have bolted so far.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
My late planted garlic is showing no signs of rust yet, most unusual.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
My squash plants have finally embarked on a growth spurt, with flowers.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
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.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
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.