Monday, December 31, 2007

Out with the old

Well with the old dead bits on the herb patch, which today had its annual trim and as per usual has left a reminder in one of my fingers. shouldn't complain, it reminded me to blog.

Also worked on the fruit terrace, cutting out the dead on a raspberry row, dug out the suckers on one side and inserted them back in the row where bits had died. Then dug another eighth of the fruit terrace, one quarter done.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Green housing.

Today I tidied up the greenhouse and the outside gow bag house.
The frost had finally killed off the peppers and tomatoes.
So I used the secatuers and snipped them into a pop-up canvas tidy bag, then I took out the canes and put them on the supports in the roof to dry out. Put all three grow bags outside to get really cold so I can add them to non-potato non-tomato growing areas next year as soil conditioner. Weeded the in-ground beds in the greenhouse and emptied and redundant pots in with the weeds to the tidy bag. Ended up with a nice full bag which was emptied into the old coal bunker I use as a compost bin.

Now all that is needed is a nice frost and builder free area to move my onions to, so that I can light a nice sulphur candle or two in the greenhouse.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Faint remembered thing!

Today I remembered that I have an allotment, had some difficulty recognising it, finally realised that the brown oblong thing with green and brown things sticking out of it was mine!

Also remembered that my blog is about gardening, of which I have done odd bits since July, my how time flies. so what have I done since then:
  • got a day where I was able to glyphosate spray plot 18's weeds, which have (mostly) died off.
  • the tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse have done well and are now due for final harvest and removal before we get a real hard frost as the greenhouse is unheated.
  • had a pathetic squash harvest of three usable fruits, none much larger than eight inch diameter.
  • harvested my "Pigletwillies" with quite a variety of shapes and sizes, they are in storage for re-planting next year for a harvest and hopefully some seeds.
  • harvested a poor to reasonable onion crop.
  • watched the Kale and PSB grow nicely. Picked the first of the kale today and had it with roast beef and all the trimmings.
  • decided that the weather this year has really stuffed up things that normally do ok, such as carrots which were useless, sweetcorn ditto, french beans ditto, squash especially ditto.
  • as a committee member of the allotment association I have obtained thirteen notice boards to errect at our sites. So far I have put up two experimental ones at my site, trialing metal versus wooden posts, wood gives a sturdier result and put up two at John;s site on the other side of town.

Alot of my time has been taken up with preparation for a house extension, which is now in full swing with the ground floor walls up and steel girders laid in on Friday for the first floor walls to go up. Amazing how much stuff you find you own when you need to clear terrace, garage, shed, rooms etc for builder access.

I was anticipating only being able to squeeze odd hours in at the plot over winter and having to pick up the mess in spring with mechanical resources, but the rhino broke his arm (ulna fracture) last saturday in a school rugby match and is off rugger for six weeks at least, so that could mean sunday gardening. Mind the silly boy said consistently that it did not hurt much and subsequently played three practice sessions and another school match before ending up at A&E due to a Westie biting him hard in the leg on the way to the match, which he played with a bandage round his leg. So in A&E he asked about his arm which had started to hurt alot more during the match and an x-ray showed a lovely break.

Rhino and I went and watched his teammates play a really hard match, which they lost, against Harrow. On the way home we got a new bathroom light switch, annoying when the cord snaps off inside the switch, which I fitted when we got home. Then I went to the plot and:
  • took down the firework display ads from my notice boards.
  • pruned my two espaliers.
  • pruned my currents and gooseberries.
  • dug one eighth of my fruit terrace over roughly with a spade to prepare for a good dung mulch.
  • admired the growth on the raspberries and some useful looking out of row suckers.
  • weeded and hoed my coldframe.
  • weeded and hoed my raised bed.
  • took down and stored my bean poles.
  • cleared weeds from around my hopeful looking brussells.
  • dug up a half row of spuds.
  • harvested a nice wadge of curly green kale.

Hope to do more next weekend.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

At last, an update.

My surgery incisions have finally, after a post operative infection in two of them, healed sufficiently for me to take an active interest in gardening things again.

Last Monday I did manage to do all the strimming and mowing, just in time for the annual site and plot judging. Though how well they could judge in the rain remains to be seen.

Inbetween whiles I have picked raspberries and strawberries and noted the phenomanal growth the weeds are achieving this year. My sweetcorn is almost submerged in weeds and has grown poorly, my carpet mulch is working well, as usual, around my squash, which have hardly grown at all since being planted out. The chickweed and others between the potato rows have grown to the same height as the haulms. The climbing french beans emerge from the weed growth like broadcast masts from thick fog to shuffle their way to the pole tops.

Finally felt up to some proper gardening today, weeded my cut flower patch, a shamefully small single square yard and all 90 odd of my "Pigletwillies" (Banana shallots grown from seed supplied by the inestimably helpful Pigletwille on GYO forum). Some of the Pigletwillies have vanished, one looks to have been dug out by a fox in search of something, some are huge, none seem to have gone multi-bulb yet. Garnered about a daleks worth of weeds which I left to dry in the sun, however it has rained again this evening, so heigh-ho. Looking on the bright side, at least I have not had to water stuff much this year.

Moved the square of carpet I had chucked down onto an unplanted corner along to cover the next bit, revealing some convulsed white snakes of bindweed which I will allow to "green-up" before treating them to a little feed of glyphosate based weed killer. Also need to get some more spare carpet out to contain the other weeds as I do not think I will be able to dispose of them quickly enough to prevent them seeding.

When I did the strimming I topped off plot 18 ready for some glyphosate, but have not yet had a day that combined lack of rain with sufficient lack of wind.

Despite good pickings I have had more strawberries rot on the plant this year than I have picked, but on the plus side the raspberries have been superb, combining heavy fruiting with good cane growth ready for next year.

I have shamefully to admit to buying in some kale and cabbage plants from a garden centre to try and at least have some winter stuff from the plot. Not sure if I have left it too late to sow some leeks, but that is the next thing to try in this direction.

In the greenhouse today I tied in and de-shooted my tomatoes, reapplied slug control as two peppers were suffering, planted out some more peppers and watered at deluge levels as the borders were wuite dry. Also repotted the scented jasmine which was looking tired outside the front door , until the dog knocked it over yesterday and broke the pot!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Post keyhole surgery last Thursday I am just about able to supervise a single offspring picking strawberries. My wounds are bloomimg though, purple and yellow.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


A really busy weekend.
Friday evening I planted out the rest of my Pigletwillie banana shallots seedlings, should have done them sooner as the earlier planting has romped away compared to the pampered potted ones.
Saturday I did what should be the final two hour session of lawn mowing at my late mothers place, should exchange contracts on it by Tuesday, leaving just the inheritance tax bit to do. It was really hot and sunny. Liberated the last cowslips I'll have from where they had seeded themselves in the front lawn from the haymeadow section.
Went back home and after planting out hald the cowslips I took a couple of hours break from the sun, before I got stuck in at the allotment later on in the early evening, when I strimmed the car park / wild flower meadow. Ideal time of year for this as the hay making allows the hay meadow flowers to drop their seeds and discourages the rank weeds like nettles. From July onwards it will be regularly mowed. Then went and topped the weeds on plot 18 and edged both 17 & 18. Finished the evening with the first strawberry picking of the year with my daughter, sad to say none went home.

Sunday got on the plot around ten am and finished at four thirty to go and swap my offspring at father in laws boat, traded lovely daughter for the rhino, as she has an inset day Monday and he does not, nice way for her to spend it, sailing with Grandad.
On the plot I:
  • planted out most of my squash after arranging my carpet mulch.
  • hoed and weeded my :
  1. flower patch.
  2. onion bed.
  3. banana shallot bed
  4. sweetcorn.
  5. french beans.
  6. fruit terrace.
  7. strawberry bed.
  8. empty ground.
  • planted out most of my sweet peas after building a "tent" for them to climb over.
  • mowed the main path and my side paths.

Reading the above it does not sound like much, but it took a long time, I have a blister on my right hand from the end of the hoe handle and all the exposed bits of me are showing signs of sunshine.

So I left a largely weed free plot 17 and gained a largely empty greenhouse bench, it is too hot in there for pots now, the squash got scorched and had to be dunked to survive. I think that when I get electricity fitted to my greenhouse I will, as well as getting a larger heated propagator, get an automatic watering system. Shorter term I can feel an order to NH Kays coming on for two more vent openers.

During the week I hope to plant some more seeds, now the soil has some moisture I may be more successful than my miserable showings of earlier in the year.

Might not be much gardening action after Thursday for a few weeks as I am having my gall bladder out on Thursday afternoon.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Bit of break lately.

Since April I have been rather busy with clearing my late mother's house prior to contract exchange. Much ebaying, freecycling and bonfiring. Thursday, Friday and Saturday were a major blitz which completed the process with a skip and a hired van.

Yesterday I had a relaxed day of not really doing anything.

On the gardening front, between my last blog and todays I have planted out my sweetcorn, climbing frencg beans and some of my Pigletwillie banana shallot seedlings.

Today I are mostly been gardening in my greenhouse.
Which, fortunately for me has only one slight drip point and is very windproof.
I have:
  • dismantled the inner sanctuary, removed the growbag house to the path and disconnected the temporary leccie supply.
  • planted four bought in tomato plants in the side bed.
  • planted three peppers, hot, across the side of the end bed.
  • planted three more peppers, hot, in a growbag in the greenhouse.
  • planted three more peppers, hot, in a growbag in the growbag house.
  • potted up all my Crown Prince seedlings from tray to 3" pots.
  • potted on all my Butternut from 3" to 4" pots.
  • potted up my Sweetpea seedlings.
  • un-potted and discarding any duds sorted my spring bulbs.
  • planted ten French Marigolds amoungst the tomatoes and peppers.
  • potted up my sweet pepper seedlings, discarding all the smallest ones.
  • planted three sweet pepper seedlings straight into a growbag in the greenhouse.
  • potted on my daughters pet geranium, bought a few weeks ago.
  • potted on my "Queen of the night" succulent cactus.
  • sorted out the hose and soaked all the greenhouse beds, as well as watering all my potting / plantings.
  • filled all my watering cans and placed them in the greenhouse to get warm.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Starting work on the onion bed, hoeing out the potato harvesting ridges, nicely weathered by the frost.

Here it is planted out and with the transplanted garlic, just after being watered.

Also a long shot showing the four potato rows and the nicely cultivated area between them and the onions.

The Herb Patch, Dalek sanctuary and shed after the squash plot carpet had been gathered up.

The Fruit Terrace , nicely weeded.

My skip winnings.

How to insert a fence post.
First you twists the auger in the ground eight twists,

then you pull's it out.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Garlic Post

Yet again I forgot the camera.
But, anyway, aren't the longer evenings useful?
Re-planted the garlic I had left soaking in water a couple of days ago, used the leek technique with a trowel rather than a dibber and watered in well.
Hoed with a Wolf three-claw hoe amongst the black and red currents, hmm, some difficulty here, the soil has packed down and smoothed off over the winter and the hoe barely scratched the surface of the clay. I think a session with a spade and a lot of manure may be needed.
Finished the evenings outdoor post work activity by planting another fencepost, hit a root two foot down and had to sledge it in a bit, again.
Hopefully I'll be away from these larger trees by the next fencepost, mostly dead or dying field maples.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Community Service and Potatoes

Went up the allotment and cut up the half a tree I cut down yesterday, met a prospective tenant and let 2a to her. Noticed a Jack Russell wandering far away from any people.
Kathy and co were having problems with the clods on their three rod plot, she had asked a couple of days ago if I would rotovate it for her, I think she thought I wasn't serious with the offer, anyway I went home, came back with the Merry Tiller rotovated the plot with that and was half mugged as I went to leave, said "I haven't finished yet" and left some puzzled looking people. Jack Russell on his twentieth circuit of the park.
Who looked a bit less puzzled when I re-appeared with the Howard 350 and comprehensively minced the plot. Got given £5 for petrol and a bottle of sloe gin and a promise of help with stringing the wire on the new fence. Jack Russell still there.
Too the Howard up to my plot and fitted it with the ridger, then took my ill gotten gains back home and got my four trays of chitted potatoes and some dog biscuits.
At the allotment gate four teenagers were worried about the Jack Russell and a chap with a small dog on a lead asked me if he was my dog. So I went dog catching with the help of this chap, Mr JR was not susceptible to dog biscuits, but was susceptible to other dogs bum's and while having a good sniff, the other dog's owner got him by the collar.
Then I picked him up, one frightened nice little doggie tried half heartedly to chew my hand, then gave up when he realised the size difference and that I meant him no harm.
No tag on the collar, no sign of owner, so we went home, to be greeted with disgust by my dog, delight by my daughter and "What have you got that for?" by my wife. Who then hit the phone while I offered our little guest a drink. Great things Bank Holidays, no council dog warden available, no police interest at the county control room and the only person at our cop-shop was out getting a sarnie! Cut out the middle man and tried the Vets, who advised our local animal rescue charity, who were most helpful and took the little chap in.
After this hour or so interlude, had to retrieve stuff from empty allotment site before driving Mr JR, I resumed gardening, drew four nice furrows with the Howard and was making for the chitted spuds when my mobile went off, the wife.
Our mystery guest had been unmasked as "Gus" from about half a mile, several roads and alot of twists and turns away. The charity had spoken to the police who had already been contacted by Gus's distraught owner after his escape from their property. They were now re-united.
Satisfied with that outcome I planted two 30' rows of Charlotte and two 30' rows of Nicola, then earthed them up, removed the ridger and rotovated between the drawn up ridges, then re-rotovated the other days area, still won't break down to tilth as set hard by the sun.
Back home, mowed the lawns, ran out of petrol after one full bucket and had to go and buy some, "Doh!", re-packed everything back in the shed, had tea and finished the day off with a nice roaring hot after dark wood and perennial herb detritus bonfire.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Civil Engineering

Noticed earlier in the weekend that my neighbour across the road was ripping out his wooden deck from his back garden, preparatory to some building works, so I had asked if I could do a bit of skip diving. Went over today with my little trolley and collected three good loads of timber, proper deck planks, structural bits from underneath, some concrete edging and a two person iron and timber garden seat. Lugged the whole lot up to the allotment, where a severe screw removal session will have to occur before I can use my booty.
After that I decided to continue with the northen fence. Managed to insert four fence posts during the afternoon. Doesn't sound like much and indeed the first two did not take long. However number three I hit a big root two foot down and could not use my auger any deeper. So I ended up banging the post down using the sledge hammer, I had no option as I could not go to either side due to obstructions.
Number four was even worse, hit a root one foot down, so moved the auger away a bit, then hit another root at just under two foot, so went to sledge it and hit a third root after another six inches. Number four is a bit high and will have to have some straining wire holes drilled in it. Grrrr.
Finished off by weeding and harvesting asparagus on the only vacant plot on the site, must contact next off my list to try and let it tomorrow.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Heavy Plant

Plot seventeen has now had the heavy plant treatment. The middle five rod section, comprising two and a half rod covered in carpet, where last years Squash plot was, a narrow grass path and the everything else section from last year, was given a thorough going over.
Carpet and woven black plastic, gathered up and stacked up above the herb area on top of a couple of pallets. This is the utility area and Dalek Sanctuary and that work took a good couple of hours.
The remaining Bright Lights Swiss chard cut off at ground level by spade and the tops popped on an unused bit of plot eighteen to wilt. I rescued some nicely sprouting Garlic, last years planting, which had not grown due to being overshadowed by the Blackcurrent bushes and popped them in a tub of water prior to re-planting. Said Blackcurrent bushes are now no more, well they are, but elsewhere, nice when someone does the heavy uprooting for you and they get the bushes they wanted. also some Onion Sets from last years sowing had sprouted, must have been the hot dry weather last year, then this spring the dormant bulbs had enough water to burst out.
Then fetched Hacken-Slash and his friend Slicen-Dice out of the shed for their first outing of the year.
Hacken-Slash is a Merry Tiller and quite good company, though inclined to wobble a bit. Anyway he slowly hacked and slashed his way through the five rods leaving a lumpy tilth behind.
Then Slicen-Dice took over and thoroughly minced the clods. Slicen-Dice is a Howard 350 and is a very noisy chap who works very hard, very fast.
A quite noticable difference in the tilth on the dug area, the top half that was exposed is fine and seed beddy, while the bit that was covered in carpet is much lumpier as it was so much damper.
So now ready to re-do in a few days, once the lumps have dried a little bit, if I use the ridger then the spuds can go straight in.
After that lot I was knackered and my back was protesting gently, so I wne thome and had a hot bath.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Warm sunshine, strong wind.

Strange but lovely day, wonderful warm sunshine with a cold strong easterly wind.
Two T-shirts and a fleece tied round the waist needed to keep my back happy.

The dog forced me to construct her a sheltered sunny spot using garden trolley plus coat, then she settled down to supervise my work.

I hoed out three 18' harvesting ridges from last years spuds. Leaving the soil in ridges over the winter really lets the weather work on it, this nicely weathered soil went straight to seedbed tilth. After raking in a light dusting of pelleted chicken manure I planted 120 Sturon onion sets and one 18' row of Early Nantes pelleted carrot seed, 300 seeds. Gave the carrot row one 11L rainstorm.

Then I set to work weeding my fruit terrace,. I started at the western end amoungst the "new" currant bushes where grass tufts and seed drift from my herb patch were the main offenders. As I moved east into and through the raspberries the weeds shifted to being strawberry runners, 90% strawberry runners. I have no need for more strawberries and thus nearly filled a 300L compost bin with strawberry runners plus other weeds. Towards the end of this stint I was working in the shade and my tiny hand wos frozen.

To finish my afternoons gardening I did the noisy stuff, strimmed and mowed the site drive and my plot side paths. Using the strimmer with my back to the wind was funny as I kept getting nice gusts of warmth across my arms from the exhaust.

As always my gardening is paced and I make full allowance for my bad back, half an hour of squatting to weed leads to quarter of an hour back stretching break lying straight and stretched out in the sunshine with my furry supervisor standing watch, or using me as a centrally heated windbreak.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Intentions versus reality.

I had intended to plant my onion sets on plot seventeen, but my back insisted it did not want to get exposed to cold drizzle and biting wind.

So I went and bought ten bags of postcrete for continusing witht the northern fence replacement, as I had run out of it, so was unable to pop a post in when I had the time.

On returning home I retreated to the unheated, but sheltered greenhouse and pricked out my "Piglet Willies" aka banana shallots supplied by Pigletwillie from GYO.
From one hurried sowing in a single tray on 23rd Jan, I now have ninety-seven pots, ninety three with single seedlings and four each having an additional little sprout.

The rest of the contents of the inner sanctum (growbag house with single-tray heated propagator in) to the main bench also got reorganised.

Moved the Climbing French Bean seedlings straight onto the main bench.

Pricked out the nine best seedling Cayenne Chilli Peppers, discarded the rest and a whole mini-tray that had dried out , sowed another tray of sweet peppers. The whole lot staying in the sanctum. Pricked out the eight nice little Butternut Squash seedlings and replaced them in the sanctum. Turned the fifty nicely growing sweetcorn seedlings round, as they had a slight lean.

Watered everything, then did some site agent stuff to agree with Michelle how much of the available five rods she wanted.

The finer weather means I need to be more disciplined about watering my seedlings, the max-min thermometer shows that the inner sanctum is regularly exceeding 40 degrees and as a result I lost a tray of pepper seedlings that just plain dried out.

Monday, March 12, 2007

At last a nice day when I can garden.

Sunday 11th.
Rhino bruised his elbow at school during the week, suspected break, but just bruising, anyway, he only lasted at rugby training up to the first tackle he made on someone in the practice game.

So I got an extra hour at the allotment.
However had to be careful as I carried a bit of kit at work from one building to another, it was well within my lifting limits, however my back objected and ten minutes after sitting down at my desk it started to "squirm".

Dug off the neolithic barrow from last post I set up on the fence to the position for the next one, dug the hole and set it using the very last bag of postcrete. Need to get some more, plus reciept.
Attempted to tidy the sunniest strawberry bed, oh dear oh dear.
Note to self, this year I must cut back the plants hard once they finish fruiting to prevent runners. The furthest I found was six feet outside the bed. I ended up weeding out a good hundred plants along the edges, then raked the dead stuff and oak leaves off the rest of the bed, dug out some weeds and left the higgledy-piggledy plants as they were.
Took a rest with my supervisor, the dog, nearly went to sleep lying on my plastic bag and old scourer underlay bed in the sun, noisy kids made me look up and there was my furry little guard keeping watch. About five other people there all the time, though different ones at any given time.
Removed the last of the carrots from the raised bed, why is it commercial carrots have so little flavour? It can't be like commercial tomatoes, where hendling qualities outweigh flavour and texture, carrots are hard and resilient veggies.
Weeded about half the plot used by last years early potatoes, then decided discretion was the better part of valour and went home to a beer, a hot bath and a roast pork dinner.

Monday 12th
Great days these as the daylight zone starts to extend into the evening.
Got home early enough to go up the allotment and spray the resurgent couch grass on plot 18.
About four other people up there enjoying the warm sunlight.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

I've started, hopefully I'll finish.

On Monday February 5th my mother passed away, the old peoples friend pneumonia took her quickly, after a long illness. I have therefore been a little busy with non-gardening matters. To compound things when I have had time the weather has removed my inclination as the plot has been way too soggy.

However, last friday 23rd feb, I had some spare time after dealing with some legal paperwork, so I ran an extension lead, off an RCD, down to the greenhouse and initiated plan "Frost-free".
Inside the greenhouse is a complete plastic covered "growbag" greenhouse, inside that is a single tray electric propagator.
I sowed last years seed : butternut squash, peppers, tomatoes, climbing french bean and sweetcorn and this years seed; some banana shallot seed from the most excellent Pigletwillie, a good KG and GYO forum friend.
Today I took these pictures.
The growbag house in the greenhouse.

The butternut seedlings, cover removed for photographic purposes, the peppers and tomatoes not yet showing clearly, but on the way.

This slightly fuzzy phot is of Pigletwillies banana shallots.

Just outside the greenhouse door I have this lovely display of lenten roses.

Inside on the bench various flowering bulbs, which were repotted last friday 23rd Feb.
Just visible in the foreground are my lettuce seedlings

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Sunny Day

Due to the weather I have had to mow and strim the main path of the allotment site today. The grass was over six inches in places.
The dug about thirty square yards of plot 18. Damm bindweed is still in there.

Hope this nice weather holds and I'll do some more Sunday.

It certainly brought out the plot holders, had six up there most of the afternoon.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Dig that!

Great day today, son's rugby went well.

Showed Simon the bit of plot 1 that will become vacant soon, he wants it, so I need to drop a note through Peter's door so they can get in touch and arrange takeover.

Started digging on plot 18 and got through about 20 sq yd.
Had to clean the spade every five uses, I have a "cheapie" dutch hoe head (handle went years ago) and that is perfect for spade cleaning as it is thin pressed sheetmetal.

Gaynor & OH appeared while I was digging, so was able to explain the soil heaps and show where I am heading with the fence, they said they would clear the odds & sods blocking the next section when they are next down on site.

Moved on to cut down all the dead stuff on my herb patch, while I was doing that "D" appeared, I had offered him my blackcurrant bushes as I want to get rid of them. I have a row across the plot which are in the way of rotovating etc, so I want them out. Anyway "D" dug up three and barrowed them off ot his plot, he may come back for the rest. Now that is a result, someone else does the hard work for a change! Cleared all the dead stuff and piled it up.

It has dried out alot since I last posted, I no longer have seepage running across my plots, but it is still pure grease just by my shed door.

Yesterday I made major progress on getting all the bits needed to be able to use my Howard rotovator as a plough, now I just need the one bit I'll probably never find.
The wheel axle extension that allows the wheels to straddle the plugh cut and earth roll.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Free plot - taken plot.

Had a phone call from the landlord during the week.
Diane was giving up plot 12a as they had never managed to get to grips with it and they had a prospective tenant already off the waiting list.
Phoned him yesterday, he pottered down in sensible hobby-nobby boots within half an hour of being rung, showed him round and he took it.
100% occupancy again.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Earth moving posting.

After Thursday's transportation debacle it was my good fortune to have previously booked Friday off, so I have had a nice day.

It took five minutes to walk home from the allotment site.

Dog and I took darling daughter to school, then dog and I walked to the bakers where I got some fresh ginger danish, macaroons and a freshly baked loaf, while the dog had a dump en-route. We went home where I had a cup of tea and a ginger danish, while the dog drooled a bit and then had a lump off the end of my danish. Then we both went gardening.

The soil on my plots is as axle grease, this is due to their location. Not to put too fine a point on it my two plots are a disgrace, as each has a stream running through it, To the south a primary school lies at the top of the hill, then its playing field slopes down to a wooded bank, where a public footpath lies between the school fence and allotment site fence. Inside the site fence a bank drop roughly two to three foot to the top of my plots.All the rain, runoff and soak-in comes down the slope and into my plots. On plot eighteen it is oozing out of the bank and down through the herbs into the cultivated area. On plot seventeen it oozes out behind the shed, runs under and leaves it standing in a pool. The shed is up on bricks so is ok, but the water then trickles through the fruit terrace and on ito the cultivated area.

So not really up to doing much beyond a quick inspection, plants transplanted from mothers garden are OK, bluebells up, primroses flowering. Bought in daffodils are up, leaves are anyway.

So continued my fencing, over on the other side of the site, plot 1, which is next to the old main gate. Where as it is under the hedge next to the ditch, it was quite dry, - for a given value of dry at least.

To be able to remove the old fence, (not yet, but ready to) and to insert my day's target of three new posts, I had to clear 30' x 2' x 10" of lovely crumbly moistly dry soil, this was the result of the previous plot tenants weed and rubbish disposal policy, "pile it against the fence". I guestimate I moved somewhere between two and three tons, in half barrow loads nicely balanced for my back.

The weather was a complete contrast to the stormy winds of Thursday, bright sunshine, light breeze, in fact so warm I was able to work in boots, trousers and T-shirt.

Once the target was reached I packed up and as the dog had behaved so well we went for a walk . I lay out an large old plastic compost sack and a piece of "pan scourer" carpet underlay doubled over on top of that, dog sits or lies on it depending on what is going on around us. Today she resisted the lure of looking for squirrels and did not come and stick her nose in the way of the spade.

To tell how wet it is generally round here, the noise of her running in the public green spaces we walk in was akin to someone playing the bongos with an inch of thickset custard on them. Much to her disgust she got bathed when we got home.

Finished the day by doing the weekly shop, then went to an allotment society committee meeting, but that is a whole different story.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Stuck in trains, rather than gardening, a rant.

Thursday was "interesting" as in I wish it had not been so.
Started around late morning when the cafe facia opposite work exploded out of its frame, leaving the flourescent tubes undamaged, the plastic sheet shattered as it went across the pavement and some of the largest bits whacked into the rear quarter of a passing doubledecker bus. How the passing pedestrians and bu passengers avoided injury amazes me. The plastic whilst translucent was quite thick and sturdy, must have been fairly rigid as it snapped rather than bent.
We were all advised around four to leave work early if we used trains, sadly that advice came too late for me. Went at five, via the usual two tube lines to Tottenham to find the One station shut with no relief buses and no prospect of trains running again that day. Bit hard to fix overhead power cables while the wind that brought them down is still blowing. So I took a cooks tour of the underground, extended by Liverpool Street being shut due to a fire alert, to Monument where I walked to Bank and then took two Central Line trains to Debden and finally to Epping. At Epping eventually got a one-man-operated singledecker bus, poor chap took nigh on twenty minutes to process some of the queue into a stuffed to the gills bus and off our bus groaned to Harlow, where a deserted and windy bus station awaited us. After a longer wait a bus heading for the general vicinity of Stortford. Got dropped off half a mile from home, on my normal route to walk down to the station, so walked home.

What takes somewhere between an hour on a good day and an hour and a half normally, took four hours.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A dry day at last.

Rhino had a rugby match this morning, a hard fought and honourable 5 - 5 draw against Harpenden.
Light wind, compared to yesterday, no rain, even reasonable light 1/10th cloud with nice sunlight.
When I came home decided to set out for the allotment site to fence, as my plots are both still too greasy to permit any useful work.

Just took the tools in the trolley to start with as I was unsure how greasy the ground might be. Decided the best thing to do would be the next braced, or straining, post. This turned out to be the worst post of the whole fence, could not do it inside the old fence as Cath & Colin have a raised mound in front of the old fence, so had to work outside the old fence, which was tricky as I had no flat ground to start with. What I had to work with was a six to seven foot deep ditch, with a foot wide ledge just outside the fence, which until I got to work with the spade was a slope down into the side of the ditch. Not as bad as it sounds because there were some field maple and blackthorn up to 2" diameter to give me some footholds.

Once I'd made a platform to work on progress was rapid, barring the ditch negotiation each time I needed to fetch stuff or get back to work. I had the upright's hole done within half an hour, went and got the upright on my shoulder and it slotted in just right. The brace holes preparation was done within another half hour, then back home with the empty trolley to get the braces and three bags of ready-mix concrete. As per usual the brace holes needed more taking out to fit and as per usual the old posts reinforcing concrete intruded, meaning I should really have been a foot further to the left, but it was managable.

Once all that lot was bolted together and concreted in I still has enough daylight left to finish off the fifteen foot length. Planted two dog-roses in the gap between the new fence and the deliberately left length of old fence, then sewed both fences together at each end of the old length. All the gale force wind of recent weeks had taken the bramble and pushed it over, so what I'd trimmed to vertical was leaning away into the ditch at fortyfive degrees.

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable afternoons exercise with some concrete results.
Now there is the small matter of the eleven upright posts needed to fill in between the two bits of work described above.