Sunday, October 18, 2009

Shameful really, but so what.

Two days shy of a full month and here I am typing my latest timely blog update.

Until the rain two weeks ago my allotments had set like the proverbial cement, little old 20st me jumping up and down on the blade of my spade and more likly to bend it or force my boot in half than to actually get it into the soil.
So what have I done in those weeks, apart form non-gardening stuff.
Well, I harvested a good crop of Chilli Peppers from the Greenhouse and the majority are now festoned around the hot water cylinder in the airing cupboard and going wrinkly.
The Tomato plants in the Greenhouse have resumed growing, with fresh green shoots and teeny-tiny red fruits where the last flowers to set had not really grown away, thought at least one had fresh flowers today and the Greenhouse is wholly unheated.
Today I relocated the Sweet Winter Jasmine from the Greenhouse to inside the French Windows, here's hoping for some sweet autumn fragrance.
Plot 18 yielded up a decent number and mixture of Winter Squashes together with some Sunflower heads. In order to store them I had to spend a bit more on my shed, adding a set of shelves across most of the rear of the shed, so it now looks more like Hagrid's garden minus the HippoGryff than a workshed. Today I gathered in all the Blue Hubbard, which have me puzzled as they are defiantly and wartily Dark Green, some tending to Orange with a Grapelike bloom, any road they were vandal-visible as the 1 degree celcius Tuesday night had worked its dark and mysterious magic on the foliage.
Now that the soil is more amenable to digging today I dug a half-width strip across plot 17 about six feet wide after I'd wrestled all the dying octopii from Plot 18's Squash patch into the compost bins and bonfire pile.
The Workshed now just needs one end and some detail round the door coating in Sadolin Black to look acceptable from the outside and a great deal more sorting and ordering and placing and organising to look like a workspace inside.
Still I finished one long drawn out project this weekend, we got notice boards for all the Allotment Sites in 2007, I installed four over the last week, the last one yesterday, that entire job took an average of two months per board. In mitigations, it was impossible to get to any tools or "stuff" while we had the builders in and dealing with my late mothers estate after her death took a tad more than five minutes work, but it still seems to have taken an age.
Finished a newer project that was sprung on me a few months ago by Yahoo. They went and decided to get rid of GeoCities, their free web-hosting site and guess where I'd put our association website.
So after pottering round for many weeks trying to find a FREE web-hosting service that the association could use I finally found one that BT is providing as a community service and tonight in one straight off sitting I've resurrected our website.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Gardening v Rugby

At the moment gardening, at any rate blogging about gardening is loosing steadily to U16 rugby administration. Gardening has been done, but not as much as I'd ideally like to do.
All Potatoes harvested, most Tomato plants just about finished, Chilli Peppers mostly red, Sweetcorn eaten, Autumn/Winter digging well under way.
Here is plot 17 and the steady progress made on digging has reached a line from the top of the raspberry canes at mid left and straight across following the weed growth.
The nice fresh horse manure is courtesy of my good friend Robert and I have also neatened up the path edge which had meandered considerably over the years.

On plot 18 some weeks ago I had to employ Derris dust on the brassicas to deal with Cabbage White caterpillars, the odd looking barrowload is squash and sweetcorn, topped off with sunflower heads. I have chopped down all the sunflowers as they were overshadowing the ripening squash and some had fallen across the path to my shed, all the leaves went in the compost bin, followed by the cut to fit sweetcorn plants.
Today I paid a flying visit to the plot and spent my gardening time picking over all the onions that have been drying in the shed at home. Some losses to rot and a few where the neck is going to succumb to rot, so they went for early consumption.
This shot is my Banana Shallots var Piglet Willensis all neatly rowed up after loosing the loose skins.
Also packed away the fourteen Crown Prince squash that had been curing on the garden table and laid out another batch from the allotment, together with (at last) some Butternut squash that had emerged from the dying squash leaves unscathed by rot.
All new squashes harvested yesterday and also got a large number of minature pumpkin type squash, can't remember the variety, but breakfast teacup sized, fluted fruits and three that looked the same, but instead of bright pumpkin colour were deep dark green. Some dark green Australian squashes are awaiting harvest.
These two shots are for Johnboy on Kitchen Garden forum, they show how the seed-bed ( left in ground from 2007 to seed) Banana Shallots have divided, each bulb growing a fresh bulb under the brown-skin next to the flower from this year.

Extreme close-up showing where the flowerstalk broke off from the new bulb.

First ever Raspberry Vodka sieved and bottled to clear. Second roasted Crown Prince squash today with roast chicken and the 80% uneaten roasted squash awaiting its conversion into Squask, Bacon and Chilli Soup featuring Onions, Shallots, Potatoes and Garlic. The same fate as last weeks one, yum.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Zoom Zoom Spud.

Sunflower have either zoomed for the sky or snapped off, tallest is about eight feet and yet to bloom. The large bloom looming over the dog is over six feet tall and dripping nectar.

The squash have spread magnificently and hiding under the leaves are a number of steel grey Crown Prince.
The later planted Hubbard do not yet seem to have set decent fruit, but I'm not going to search and end up trampling the stems.

The onion patch has now been cleared and hoed.

This is a sample single plant of Charlotte spuds.
I have now harvested six of my eight potato rows, five Charlotte and one Desiree, sadly the biggest and best Desiree, almost without exception, had occupiers, multi or zero legged occupiers.
Dog and I spent all day Wednesday 18th and Tuesday 19th August spud harvesting, well I did, she hid in the shade most of the time, where I joined her when I got too hot. Took a while as I was having to clear the inter-row gaps of weeds before digging.
Two old fashioned metal dustbins with cheap potting compost now contain the three barrow loads of potatoes and I'll consign today's harvest to a pop-up nylon fabric weed bag/bin and order some paper potato sacks from Edwin Tuckers.
Just two 30' rows to dig now.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Scotland & Weeds.

Last week I are mostly bin being in Scotland.
Very nice in Lundin Links, went and climbed Largo Law, an extinct volcano plug down the road with the top about 290m above sea level. Strange up on top, like wandering round on a human molar tooth, several high points and a channel across the middle. The farmer whose land it is in seems to have directed access to the steepest face, but a damm fine view all round and an OS trig point on the highest bit. The Ordnance Survey mapsite shows it neatly here.

Yesterday I are mostly bin harvesting and then processing greenhouse Tomatoes into frozen sauce base with undivided Garlic cloves.

Today I are mostly bin harvesting onions and shallots.

Started by clearing the coldframe of bolted Cos lettuce and an undercrop of creeping weeds, before digging it over.
A week away and weeds had flourished so well that the crop was half hidden, so weeding as I harvested I spent a nice afternoon in the sun.
The Banana Shallots (Pigletwilliensis) produced a level barrowful which filled four of those blue latticework plastic supermarket trays in the workshed and the rest of the various Onions produced a heaped barrowful which filled four wooden trays in the workshed.
Breathing in the workshed is now a trifle difficult if you do not like your air strongly onion flavoured.

As I have the rest of the week off work I hope to do much more at the allotment, so wait and see.

Tea was:
Sweetcorn from plot to pan to plate with butter and sea salt.
Streaky pork slices, chunked and pan fried before adding to the sauce and heating through for fifteen minutes and serving with fresh Charlotte chips.
Two red Chilli Peppers from the greenhouse, two undivided Garlic cloves, a bird-pecked Catshead apple, a huge Banana Shallot, six small Tomatoes from the greenhouse, one medium Patty-Pan summer squash, four mushrooms, all diced and fried in a generous glug of Olive oil, a squeeze of tomato puree and a glass of water

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Pick-n-mix bar.

On Friday 31st July my intention to spend the whole weekend was intercepted by a request to assist with an un-scheduled "make do and mend" at the Rugby Club. So Saturday 1st August I welcomed the new month in by digging out missing sections of paved paths, mixing concrete and filling in the holes with concrete and paving slabs. Finished it off with a convivial viewing of the All Blacks getting stuffed by the Saffies.
Sunday 2nd August up the allotment for a mega-picking of Purple French Beans, two carrier bags full, gave some Alan and more to three neighbours at home.
Also picked:
  • twenty-four Patty Pan Squash lurking under the leaves, where there were also a number of immature Crown Prince Squash.
  • enough Calabrese from the second planting for three to enjoy for tea.
  • Potatoes dug a carrier bagful of Charlotte, sorted the largest and smallest into seperate bags for use later in the week, then used the intermediate sized ones by following a recipe posted by Primrose at Kitchen Garden Forum with amendments, I used fresh Rosemary from outside the front door and fresh Garlic from last weeks picking, a large marble sized buld that had not "cloved", delicious.
  • the first outdoor Tomatoes, just a handful mind.
  • two Cucumbers, from the now rather sad and devasted plants, leaves all shrivelled up.
  • a 2.5lb Cos Lettuce.
  • six Sweetcorn cobs.
In the herb patch the Elecampane is reeking of honey scent and I counted six different types of bees on it, as well as Hoverflies.
Got a compliment from Verity on my bedding Dahlias which are covered in flowers today. The Asters are looking good, but the Gladioli have suffered from the wind and rain.
The weeds have thrived and I pulled quite a number.
Greenhouse Tomatoes are picking consistently, a handful every other day, which is good as my beloved does not really want to eat much more tomato than that. I suspect I am maltreating these plants in some way, perhaps my cordon pruning is too restrictive as many of the flower trusses are mutating into new stems at the tip.
Picked my first Greenhouse Chilli Pepper today, a hot green finger one to go into a chicken dish for tea.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Off computers a bit......

Off computers a bit at the moment, sometimes after working at a screen all day I end up in a mood for days where I just can't be arsed to peer at a screen again in the evening, so apologies for the lack of updates.
Raspberries are now all picked out and the nets packed away, just as well because some juvenile Blackbirds had discovered the weak points last week and were always in the "cage" each time I went up the plot, funny not avian interest until the crop was over the peak, even on the unnetted rows.
Calabrese, the secondary shoots did appear, but on cooking they were VERY woody at the cut end, so just as well I'd pulled the row and picked the shoots as I put the rest of the plant into the compost bin. The second planting is just coming on, but is smaller than the first.
Potatoes continue to be very enjoyable, steamed and buttered, mmmm. Dug some last week and my beloved cooked the lot instead of an appropriate amount, so I ended up carefully slicing a dozen decent sized steamed cold spuds and sauteing them, mmmmmm mmmmmmm.
Leeks, the seedlings are established, but with some losses that either didn't like the transplant, or got pulled by the birds.
In the herb patch the Wintersweet has been pruned back hard as it was flopping out four feet in all directions and swamping other stuff. The Elecampane has finally started to put out its rich honey scent as sufficient flowers open.
Talking of flowers the bedding Dahlias are now a vibrant slash of red and yellow across plot 18 and the Asters are starting to flower along the main path end, as are the Gladioli in several locations.
Garlic was harvested this weekend as the tops had died off, a disappointing crop, nothing even reached golf ball size, despite being in well tended barrels with no competition, good loam to feed on and careful watering as needed. The surviving Elephant Garlic, all three of them, are still growing strongly.
French Beans are picking strongly, nice and easy as well with the purple pods, got seven pounds in the freezer from one picking.
Greenhouse Tomatoes are now picking, got fourteen Sunday evening when watering.
Got another load of Horse manure from my friend Robert Saturday 18th July and I emptied it along where the first row of Potatoes had been. Bloody foxes went through it in detail and played in my onions, pulling half a dozen up.
Spent most of Saturday 25th July weeding the top quarter of plot 18 among my leeks, piles of weeds. also sowed some follow on salad stuff.
Feeling a bit more computer friendly, so hopefully a better update next week.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Don't mention Raspberries.

No really please don't, I've got a real glut at the moment, picked 16lb on Sunday 5th July and another 20lb on Saturday 11th July.

Saturday 4th July was the second "make do and mend" day at the Rugby Club, I helped install a drain to stop the patio flooding the clubhouse via the fire door during heavy rain, then watched the Lions make up for their first two dismal performances against South Africa.
Sunday 5th July I weeded all of Plot 17, dug potatoes for tea and picked; mangetout sugarsnap peas, cuccumbers, lettuces, purple french beans and raspberries.
I got Chris & Alison to help themselves to all the ones down by the coldframe, then got Terry & Sue to pick the uncovered row up on the fruit terrace, that left me just the four netted rows and they yielded 16lb.
Mary was asking about some un-picked fruit on a couple of plots, so I offered her my redcurrents and some gooseberries, she left with a mixing bowl of each and the promise to me of a couple of jars of jelly and jam.
The redcurrents looked like polished jewels lurking in the bushes.
This is how the onions and shallots looked after I had finished.

Saturday 11th July I spent two hours picking fruit.

Then I uncovered some of the brassicas to weed them, nice easy job as the soil hasn't set hard, although there were some impressive cracks.
Then I noticed that under the next set of protection my calabrese was somewhat more advanced than I had thought.
Take a look at these two.
I harvested about fifteen of these, gave one to John who couldn't quite believe his eyes, three to Bob & Tracey, two for Sunday dinner and ten for the freezer. Left some smaller ones to bulk up a bit and it looks like there might be sideshoots.
Harvested half a carrier bag of purple french beans, some for Sunday dinner the rest went in the freezer.
Dug two potato plants, which gave some small spuds for my tea, everyone else had already eaten, with a good amount for Sunday dinner.
Managed to lure Mary back to pick more redcurrents and gooseberries, another mixing bowl of each, amazing how laden the two bushes of each are this year.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Feeling fruity and catching up.

Thursday the 18th the evening was so oppressive, weather-wise, that ended up dozing off after tea and went allotmenting around eight. Picked strawberries and raspberries, more raspberries than is decent from a few canes heeled in at random a few years ago, didn't touch the ones under netting and got two full nappy bags.
OK, yes, but I always have some nappy bags with me as they are the cheapest doggy tidying bag you can get.
Watered all my barrells, the sweetcorn and strawberries.Planted out five more sweetcorn I had found lurking at home and my last lot of Squash.
The previously planted Squash are now showing variable growth.The Butternut on the south edge are starting to voom and are nice & green, some of the others are not much different to when they were planted out. The soil is still nice and moist, not set but still showing rotovation effects being a crumby surface of at least an inch deep. Under my planting mulch of carpet the soil is moist all the way up to the carpet. I'm now hoping that with warmer nights the voom will VOOM.
Friday 19th was BSAGA committee meeting.
Saturday 20th was Rugby Club make do and mend day, spent most of it sanding external woodwork and re-fixing ariel cables. Did watch the Lions match, which was disappointing.
Sunday 21st picked yet more fruit and weeded a bit. Also dug the first new potatoes of this year, delicious.
Friday 26th much to the dogs annoyance was vaccination booster evening, followed by an early night, due to rain. The thunder skirted round us.
Saturday 27th despite the still oppressive weather I spent most of the day at the allotment, only left as it started to rain.
Hoed all open ground on Plot 18 and under one of the pigeon defences. Planted out 102 leeks, interrupted by fruit picking. Where my OH can now claim she has helped at the allotment this year, as when she brought me a cold drink and several large bowls, she then ventured under the netting with me to gather in over eight pounds of raspberries.
Did a lot of watering of various dryish looking plants, especially the lettuces and sweetcorn, which brought on the clouds overhead which started to spot.
So I harvested four potato plants, three lettuce, cos, frizzy and Little Gem and went home for tea.
Sunday 28th too hot, got up late and went for a long walk with the dog, then lay around in the shade.
Drat, forgot to water the greenhouse, so must go and do it now.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

They're Pinks, I'm Pink.

Well I'm actually puce from the sun.
Nice Pink's though, really heady rich scent from them as well.
So hot this weekend that my furry supervisor hid in the shade!

The blackbirds have been at my Redcurrents,

I wouldn't mind the odd missing current, but they always seem to pull the whole sprig off, then discard it and pull on another current.
So it was out with the net and over all the Raspberries, Currents and Gooseberries.
The Raspberry straining posts hold the net up over them
and cunning use of an old loft water tank and two Daleks holds it up over the Gooseberries and Currents.

The Climbing French Beans are between two and four feet up their supports now.

The first planting of Lettuces are looking good.

Plot 17 has been fully weeded, that was Saturday's main job.

CFB's hand weeded, Sweetcorn carefully crosshoed, Onions & Shallots ditto, everything else a combination of hoeing and trowel / hand weeding.
The fruit net was job two and I wound down by planting out twenty five more Sweetcorn and ten Sunflowers on the top of Plot 18.

Today was pigeon defence rebuilding and weeding the Brassicas, which had outgrown the Mk1 defences and were trying to push the wire skywards
For the front three rows on plot 18, Dwarf Curly Green Kale, Brussel Sprouts and Savoy Cabbage, I made some large goalposts of 2"x2" whacked into the ground with a 2"x1" crossbar and some "pond" netting at £29 for 20m, had to get if from Coopers of Stortford as the Allotment Society shop had completely sold out of netting.
For the next two rows I reused the chicken wire hoops from the Mk1 defences.
But used all of them, half down one side, half down the other, each with only one side in the ground, the other being interlaced into the opposite, like ( & ) but leaning in to touch at the top only.
The last two rows stayed untouched other than re-attaching the green netting to the Mk2 defences on the left.
Did some letting this weekend.
What a contrast between people, one made arrangemenst to view, did not keep them and then did not answer the phone or respond to voicemail messages, so moved on down the list.
The next came out today and is taking two and a half rod.
The last did eventually after some persuasion give me my arm back and look what he did to his two and a half rod jungle on Saturday and Sunday, right now he is out ther carefully burning that heap in the middle.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Rain stopped play.

Saturday saw me faced by two soggy sticky allotment plots, can't even hoe them as the soil sticks to the hoe and the weeds just laugh as they re-root.
So, what to do then?
After rebuilding sons's rear bike wheel hub, clean and regrease bearings adjust tightness and ensure lock nuts actually lock rather than come undone, I set to manure collection, Robert had obtained seventeen bags fresh from the horses arse for me, so I collected them and stored them in three daleks, which I set up between the Climbing French Beans and the Lettuces. Mowed the main path and my side paths at the allotments, then the back lawn at home before delivering son to his friends house.
Sunday awoke to the sound of heavy rain, it cleared as I collected daughter from friends house, so I set to in the back garden, where I could work from the concrete path as I worked to weed, fork over, remove bricks, cultivate and plant up, the area between the path and the greenhouse.
The BumbleBees living under the path entertained me for most of the time, I had had to set up protection for their nest earlier in the week as the rain kept washing any loose soil down to block the entrance, some broken terracotta pot makes a nice wall and landing pad for the bees entrance lobby.
Did this V shaped bit first and planted two more Cucumbers, one clump of Chives, a dozen Piglet Willie Banana Shallots, five Pak Choi, and half a dozen Lettuces.
Relaid the three paving slabs.Relaid the one at the corner nearest to camera, then got another one from the allotment and laid it at the door.Cleared my way back from the Hazel tree to where I stood on the path to take this shot. dug up the rose from by the fence and planted it next to slab three, together with a bit of Lemon Balm I found amongst the weeds, planted my new Gorse just out of shot bottom left and to its left I planted a small Bamboo. All the bricks under the Hazel came from where the builders had loose laid them as a dumper truck runway, ending up about eight inches underground.
The greenhouse looks empty, but is very full, most of the shelving is out and the Tomatoes and Peppers are growing away, Tomatoes in the lead by quite a margin. Enjoyed a snack of fresh Sugar Snap Peas straight off the plant as I worked. Potted up some Mint I found in the weeds and both a Geranium and my succulent "Queen of the night" from the house.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Twice burnt...

Had Friday 29th May off to garden as son and I were going to watch the England Barbarians match on the 30th. It was so hot I did not get as much done as planned, but I did have a very pleasant day with the dog for company.
Fabricated more anti-pigeon defences and planted a full double row of Brassica's and another half row, bit of a mix, about a dozen Dwarf Green Curly Kale, a dozen Purple Sprouting Broccoli and the rest was Calabrese. The new defences adopted the previous last barrier nearest to the Squash plot, so weeded all thet it covered before setting out the new arrangement and underplanting.
Planted a very closely spaced line of Dahlias to separate the Brassica's from the Squash plot and also planted another Squash or two.
Cleared and cultivated the Cold Frame, added a bag of sieved topsoil and planted half up with my own plug-plant Cos Lettuces, the other half awaits some more Lettuces.
England let us down and we had to unpeel ourselves from our seats in the east stand, stuck down by sweat from the intense sunshine.
Sunday I pottered a bit, bought some string, watered the new plantings and David told me a pigeon had been strutting up and down INSIDE my new defences and that he had ushered it out. Removed various stuff from the greenhouse. which has become a bit too hot for some seedlings, watered everything in and next to it. went back to the allotment in the evening and fixed some more plastic netting over the sheep/pig wire that the pigeon must have walked through.
Oh yes, much to her disgust I washed the dog, ideal dog drying day.
Tonight, for entertainment, I went and watched the Allotment Committee of the Town Council.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Photograpic extravaganza!

A very busy weekend with photographs taken this evening.
Over Saturday and Sunday I weeded all of both plots, the onions were hoed between rows Saturday and then the whole lot gone over with an hand onion hoe on Sunday to get any weeds still alive and green. Also planted another 104 Piglet Willie Banana Shallots.
The Brassicas have avoided any feathered attention and seem to have established themselves and I planted a closely spaced row of Dahlias between the first wire cloche and the main path.
Some bindweed is appearing near where the watering cans are in this shot. I'll allow it to grow enough to be hand sprayed with glyphosate, either next weekend or the one after. This was where the hedging plants were heeled in so did not get sprayed previously.

The greenhouse is finally emptying out as about twenty assorted squash went into the carpeted squash bed. It was so hot on Sunday when I did the last ones that after re-arranging and cutting the carpet I had to retire to the shade before popping out into the sun again to plant them.
The Potatoes are doing well, after hoeing between the rows, I watered the plants through the top of the earthing up and then re-earthed, Monday night they got another can watering using the spout rather than the rose.
The herb patch is burgeoning with lush green growth, the Elecampane leaves waving over the top of it's sheep wire support.
One of this years disappointments, the Elephant Garlic, only two of the cloves came up. Mind you a local garden centre had Unwins EG cloves on sale at half marked price, £2.99 for two solitary cloves in a poncy perforated plastic bag
The coresponding ordinary Garlic is doing well in both barrells, the soil has settled quite a few inches from the brim, but the garlic seems happy, Fox has been persistently rootling in one of the Strawberry barrells.
Climbing French Beans have not yet started to romp up the supports, but are coyly twining round the base, apart from some which insist on throwing themselves across the paths.
Between the CFB and Potatoes, bounded by the slow moving Sugar Snap Peas I planted Tomatoes "Cherry Red", Ridge Cuccumbers, Sweet Pea on a cane cone and a dozen mixed Lettuce. Sweet Corn in the background.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tiger Tiger!

Saturday was a rugby day, spent watching the Guinness Premiership Final at Twickenham, not a particularly technical game, but watchable and exciting, well done the Tigers.
Today, up late and did all my mowing, then checked my plots, left just as the rain restarted, so into the greenhouse for a tidy up.
Put all the Banana Shallot seedlings out to harden off and re-organised everything.
Planted out six Red Cherry Tomato's in the beds and six Carribbean Mix Chilli Peppers in two grow bags.
Attacked the Winter Jasmine, cutting out all the dead bits and then un-potted, root-pruned, and re-potted it, just visible to the left in this picture.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A bit seedy.

Tuesday 12th May. Emptied the dog shed, some stuff to the bin, some to the kitchen (ex-caravan plastic bowls and steel cutlery), some to the shed, moved the shed and revived the whirlgig dryer. Had to prise the rusted off stub out of the ground socket, which is in a big lump of concrete, then cut the dodgy end bit off the assembly. Now have a whirligig that can take a T-shirt, but not a sheet.
In the greenhouse, I relocated the germinated Sweetpeas and Crown Prince Squash from the heated propagator to staging and sowed Sweetcorn and Futsu Squash in their place.
Pricked out more Dwarf Green Curly Kale, some Little Gen Lettuce given to me by John and some Cos Lettuce of my own sowing.
Sowed some more Cos Lettuce in a mini-plug module, I had tried some Little Gem earlier in the year without success, but believe that packet, from several years ago, had become "tired".
Did the regular watering, now have my four growbags for the floor, so when the allotment plants get planted out the staging "planks", [ section aluminim resting in an aluminium "angle-iron" frame, get lifted out to leave the frame and the growbags go underneath, using the frame to help hold the canes.
Need to rationalise the greenhouse beds as they are more than half covered with 3" pots in trays and a growbag greenhouse, so this weekend I'm looking to sort out the bit of garden between the path, end fence nd greenhouse.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ahead of myself but behind my posts

Wooah, just realised I have a whole week, including a Bank Holiday to catch up on.
Saturday 2nd May County did not get out of the pool, Sunday 3rd May Club A's did not get out of the pool, so son rather disappointed, though the B's did make the semi-final for the club.
Monday 4th May slept late and did the garden tidying when I got up, so the only thing left lurking in the garden is the dog shed!
Just don't look at what is between the two sheds.
Tuesday night I planted out my French Beans, one double row of about thirty-six plants.
Saturday 9th May, raked, trod down, re-raked the path end of Plot 18, then planted a short row of Dwarf Curly Green Kale, a full row of Brussels Sprouts and a full row of Savoy Cabbages. Constructed pigeon shields from sheep wire and chicken wire before taking son on Rugby Club social outing at 12:30 to go Zorbing at Westmill Farm , Zorbing or Sphering consists of being strapped inside a plastic sphere with a friend opposite you, the sphere is held within a larger sphere by many many webbing straps and the inter-sphere gap is inflated. Once inside the sphere is pushed down a hill. An alternative is unstrapped, three occupants, five buckets of water and the access hole plugged up. Son managed both.
Returned to the allotments and planted a full row of Purple Sprouting Broccoli and a full row of Calabrese, also constructed further pigeon protection and watered everything. Rejoined adult sociability for a drink or dozen....
Sunday, off to BSAGA allotment shop for four growbags and another bag of Humax MP compost. Then to the tip to dispose of the rubbish from last weekends garden clearance.
Up to the allotments around midday where I did a lot of hoeing, all of Plot 17 bar the fruit terrace, some weeding in the fruit terrace and herb patch, where the Elecampane is beginning to fill its support enclosure. The new Quince top right is looking good.
Finished off by prong hoeing and raking the path end of Plot 17 that was not planted before planting two rows of Kelsae exhibition onion seedlings, about sixty plants, the a single row of Piglet Willie Banana Shallot seedlings.
Daughter brought me a cold drink and stayed to help, she did a lot of stone picking and watering. During a nice sunny break from our labours lying on our backs with the dog in the sunshine and chatting the swifts came wheeling into our view, like bold black scimitars slicing through the pale blue sky as they twisted after insects, daughter counted ten with her young eyes.
This is a close up shot of last years seed crop of Piglet Willie Banana Shallots which survived the winter and are already set to flower.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Smashing, NOT.

When I said some mindless little oick I did not think it would look eight years old.
But if the one Steve has seen chucking stones and following a dog walker round the park yelling abuse at the chap, is the one responsible for stoning my coldframe, then that is what it looks like.
Anyway the last pane of glass was smashed Wednesday night and the grass path and the front of Carl's plot were both strewn with stones up to mug size. Picked up all the glass and used all available plastic sheeting for the sides, with the three leftovers and some plastic netting to cover the roof, together with some strategically placed chickenwire. The best bit is a sheet from a BT phonebox which got slung, or blown, over the fence a few years ago, it is incredibly strong and barring the etched BT logo is clear.
Planted pea seeds on the rest of the pea frame to come after the early seedlings.
Had the day off work as I was helping with a Rugby festival tomorrow and son is playing for his club in a Tens Festival on Sunday. Found out during the day, poor timing and communication, that son is actually playing for the County on Saturday, looks like he was second choice and first couldn't make it, so my schedule has changed.
So being an opportunist, I buttonholed John as he walked past my door, to check if he was actually going to do anything with his plot or just give it up, he says he is going to work it, I'll reserve judgement as he has done nothing at all to date this year.
Dog and I went and looked at the allotments and decided that they were damp enough for me to end up wearing them on my boots if we did anything, so one of us chased a ball that the other threw a number of times before I did some shed stuff while the sun dried the surface.
It's relevant, in my workshop shed I built an open fronted cupboard in the back right corner, sized so some plastic storage boxes I have fit neatly on top, two, one on t'other. Painted the chipboard in the area before building the cupboard, and afterwards completely tidied and re-arranged the contents of the entire shed, including Slicen-dice who now attempts to poke entrants with his handlebars.
Went up the allotment before school out time, planted out all twentyfive sweetcorn, then lurked for a bit as school out was prime suspect for stone throwing, but no chuckers.
Came home and cut all the yellow Winter Jasmine that was shading the front of the greenhouse, ruddy stuff had grown behind the glazing clips and I lost two removing it. So had to burrow in the garage to find the box of spare clips. One day I'll have all my "stuff" organised and available without having to move any of it to reach any other bits.
The tidier shed made room for more "stuff" including the spare greenhouse glass which was on the path leaning against the "dog-shed" on the lawn.
Just a pile of construction timber and some oddments to remove from the path and a few slabs to lay before I can walk on paving from the back door into the greenhouse.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mundane meanderings.

Well on Monday evening I did what I threatened to do and got some free space in the greenhouse, by moving some of the Brassica seedlings and French Bean seedlings up into the roofless coldframe on Plot 17 with a bit of anti-pidgeon netting across the front half of the top and some clear plastic sheets across the back half.
Then I spent an hour or two pricking out "Pigletwilly" Banana Shallots, so I now have about 150 of them to plant out in a few weeks.
Tonight I planted peas directly into Plot 17 as a successional sowing and to fill up the support structure I had built, checked the cold frame and neither pesky pidgeons nor cold air had got at anything, yet.
Back to the greenhouse, where I sowed Squash, Crown Prince (six seeds to the packet) and mixed Sweet Peas (20 seeds to the packet) and popped their little 3" pots in the heated propagator, watered them, then balanced the lid on the pots as they wouldn't fit inside it.
Having an early night tonight as I spent the day trawling IT trade shows at Earls Court.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Can't decide weather....

Friday evening.
Loaded the shredder I inherited from Mother into the trailer, added all the logs from the tree I felled a few weeks ago and took the whole lot to Robert, who had accumulated fifteen bin bags of horse manure for me. Had a pleasant chat with Robert over a cup of tea before taking my leave and going home via the allotment where I offloaded the bags onto the bottom end of Plot 18.
The weather took a while to make up its mind about what it was going to do and finally settled on "mostly sunny". Intended to mow the main path and the carpark in order to put loads of grass cuttings in the very bas of my bean trench, but it was not to be. I started the self-propelled grass collecting Hayter and it ran very well for ten minutes, allowing me to cut the grass near the shed, the path just outside the garden and one stripe of the new terrace before it died and would not restart. Took all the plastic housing, incorporating the fuel tank and air filter, off and inspected and cleaned the carburettor, no joy. So tried my Suffolk Punch, which refused to start at all and the the starter cord snapped. Fixed that and it still refused to start and to add insult to injury the brass eyelet in the plastic housing came adrift and the next pull of the cord cut a nice 1cm groove up through the housing.
Gave it all away and used the Hayterette and rake on the lawn instead, then mowed the car park.
Put six bags of fresh horse manure in the bottom narrower section of the bean trench, covered it wit a layer of soil, trod it down a bit and ran Sliecen-dice up and down the trench. Then added another six bags, evenly distributed and a bigger layer of soil and re-introduced Slicen-dice to the trench.
Left that to settle and slung my geometrically arranged molehills of well rotted horse manure on Plot 18 evenly across the surface and rotovated it in with Slicen-dice.
Went to the BSAGA allotment shop and bought fifty eight foot canes, ten four foot canes and another two hundred three inch square pots.
Put the rest of the decent soil back on top of the bean trench, I'm leaving the clay from the bottom spit for the moment, watered it with half a dozen cans of water to get it to settle and weather a bit quicker.
In order to do that I had to put out my membrane and carpet cover on my squash bed, so I could shovel properly, but to do the carpet etc, meant three different piles of "stuff to move, lay out, weigh down, change the arrangement....... you get the idea?
Got the Hayterette out again and mowed the main path and my side paths, planted out half a dozen more peas, but had to put up another length of pitch-roof steel mesh for them to climb, plenty of room for another sowing now.
Finished the day at the site by strimming the edges of the main path and both my plots.
Came home for tea via the greenhouse, where I potted up about forty Dahlia seedlings, forty Aster seedlings, re-potted half a dozen squash seedlings which were a bit big for their current pots and potted up ready for the terrace the Honeysuckle into a nice green glazed pot.

This coming week I need to get some free space in the greenhouse and the only way is to move some of the Brassica seedlings and French Bean seedlings up into the roofless coldframe on Plot 17 with a bit of anti-pidgeon netting across the top. Some mindless littl oick has been bunging stones and one of the last sheets of glass iin the coldframe is smashed, so I need to look around for vandal discarded estate agent boards, the plastic signs fit perfectly and the posts are very useful. Our local vandals tend to nick the whole thing and bung it into bushes in the park. With the liberated space in the greenhouse I can then resume potting up seedlings

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Teenage raider.

Paid my teenager for his assistance on Sunday, so was surprised on Monday to get a Multi-Media-Message from him on my mobile in the afternoon (school re-started today) with this photo of a weeded portion of plot and text intimating that he had been extra helpful, un-requested, and some money would be nice.

Now to be fair I had said it needed weeding, but it had my galdioli bulbs under some wretched creeping cross between couch and a pineapple and he nearly:

  • got all of this weed out.

  • turned over every spadeful of the "dug" area.

  • missed all of the gladioli bulbs.

  • didn't disassemble the Emperor of the Daleks while putting the weeds in.

  • did all of the area before getting bored.

  • didn't use all of my chicken manure pellets on a 6'x3' area.

  • took off his muddy shoes and shorts before scurrying back into his bedroom.

Aww Bless.

So I tidied up after him and re-turned the soil, getting the bits he missed etc, not a bad job for an unsupervised fifteen year old, especially as he must have spent half the time there texting his mates. I was told, at length, several times, by my other half that he had carried out a similar exercise in baking, but had eaten most of the evidence.

Tonight I planted out eighteen pots of pea plants after retrieving my steel mesh panels from the hedge, then dug stage two of the bean trench
ready for some mowings to be forked into the bottom of the thinner bit.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


EDF Cup Final all day Saturday, sons side played Bedford this morning.
Decided to take advantage of son wanting to earn some extra pocket money. so, we cleared 60' of old fence where I had already set new posts and un-rolled a new roll of 6' chainlink.
The, with extra help from the four other plotholders we carried the unrolled wire into place.
Then it took me several hours to put up the straining wires and attach the chainlink to it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

God, grave, digging.

Talked to God quite a bit on Sunday using the big white telephone.
Damm painful stomach bug, kicked in with a vengance around noon, after I'd been to the BSAGA shpo and bought 200 3" pots and 150L of Humax, MP compost.
Completely washed out on Monday, off work Tuesday.
Trouble is prolapsed lumbar discs really do not like it when their owner lies around alot and start to grumble, so late Tuesday I went and mowed the allotment path both to stetch my back and as a test to see if my bug "followed through" with exercise, it didn't, so back to work today.
Came home, changed and dug stage one of my bean trench, 30'x3' x one spit deep, cleanly shovelled out. Any potters out there want some good clay, I've got loads to dig tomorrow. Robert is collecting fresh sackfuls of horse doings from his neighbouring farm for me and I'll take some logs to him in payment. Finished the evening nicely in the greenhouse, potting up Butternut squash seedlings into 3" pots and my supervisor disgraced herself by sitting on the peas, which seem ok, offended, but OK.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Shovelling s**t!

Today I are mostly bin shovelling manure.
Great delivery combination, Defender 110 crewcab with a twin axle electrically tipping trailer. Their terrier did what terriers do and flew around the back of the cab barking at my supervisor, who blithely ignored him.
Rough dug the inter row gap after the last planted raspberry row and liberally manured it.

Likewise all around the bush fruits, gooseberries, red and black currents.

The Elecampane is poking its leaves out on the herb patch.

Finished by distributing all the remaining manure across plot 18 in wheelbarrow load piles.
Notice the cunning use of an old length of corrugated iron to keep me down to a single footprint, used twice for each pair of heaps in the middle two rows.
On / off drizzle the whole time, I'm now out of stuff I can do in the wet on the allotment, so here's hoping for some dry weather in the next couple of days.