Since my last post the weather has not smiled on me, I took some days off to do gardening and ended up doing shed work. Replaced a single shelf with a nice Ikea cupboard I got via Freecycle and did some general tidying and shed-keeping.
Also got around to some heavy engineering that I had been putting off. Slice-n-Dice my Howard 350 had become incontinent with age and widdled all his gearbox oil all over the floor of my nice new workshed, his slightly smaller twin in the grotty shed was continent but dead with a broken heart. (Engine not starting) so I did an engine swap. Undid and hoisted off the working 8.5hp Kohler using a rope and a hook in the rafters, then wheeled the chassis out. Wheeled the dead machine up and in, removed the dead 4.5hp Kohler engine and hoisted the good one on-board, tightned everything to working order, did the same to the leaky and dead collection, placing that in the grotty shed and took the now all-good set of parts for a quick test drive round to the car and used the 12v compressor to puff the tyres up.
Between whiles I have filled the bench in the greenhouse with potted up seedling; Kale, Summer Cabbage, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Cucumbers, Sweetcorn and a whole load of other little trays of germinating seed.
Also sneaked in some manual digging in the occasional drier days or evenings and with last weeks improved weather I hit the accelerator!
Wednesday 7th April
Got home from work on a beautiful sunny evening and dug Hacken-Slash, my trusty 3.5hp Brigg and Stratton engined Merry Tiller Major out of the shed, checked the oil levels, topped up the petrol, three pulls to start and off we went. Using just a single pair of rotors I rotovated Plot 17 side to side and then up and down, nice, but still a bit lumpy and many horsey golfballs still visible.
Friday 8th April.
Deja vu, but with Slice-n-Dice and a few more pulls needed to start, really shouldn't have topped up the oil-bath air filter to the mark. Again rotovated both ways, but finished with a third pass set a bit shallower and used the handles in offset mode to avoid walking on any of the dug area.
Beautiful job, no more horse-origin golfballs.
Saturday 9th April.
Visited Homebase to return the appalling "General-Purpose Compost", which in my humble opinion was composed of "Forest-Bark" which had been used as a mulch for a couple of years, then bagged along with the waste from a dog-grooming salon. Sold as soil improver it would have been brilliant, full of un-decomposed wood flakes and unidentifiable fibres as it was, but for seed and seedling use, useless. No quibbles, paid an extra £2 and left with four 60L Westland General Purpose Compost, which has proved to be good stuff.
On my return I took Hacken-Slash, the furry supervisor and sundry tools to the allotment and after setting up a beach windbreak with carpet base for the supervisor to sunbathe in finished the preparation on Plot 17 by chicken pellet and National Growmore dosing the rotovated area and then using a spade round the path edges to give a slot for the cover to sit in and a ditch to prevent the couch grass from romping out of the path.
My son arrived and demanded a mower, which I provided and while he mowed the site paths for me I started to move all my weedproof membrane and carpet from last years squashbed on plot 18 to the now prepared 2010 squashbed on plot 17, son helped finish that job, together with re-siting all the wind weights to keep the various covers from blowing away.
So the tried to drive Hacken-Slash round last years squashbed on Plot 18, oh dear, well practice makes perfect. While I took over the rotovating he went home and mowed the lawn, then went off on his new mountain bike for a couple of hours. He returned just after I has used Hacken-Slash with the bouter (V snowplough instead of depth skid) to force out four trenches, then populate them with Charlotte seed potatoes, an energetic sixteen year old on an exercise regime is a wonderful tool for earthing up four thirty foot potato rows.
Together we did another four rows to home all the seed potatoes and packed up knackered for tea.
My furry supervisor generally approved of the windbreak as it prevented the breeze from diluting the suns warmth, though she did complain whenever one of us joined her for a sun bathe break, we finally worked out this was because her throwing ball was in the barrow and she damm well knew it was and thought we should only take breaks to throw her ball.
On the way home the ball was thrown, many many times......
Sunday 11th April.
After sons rugby training I went to the allotment and;
planted out Parsnip seedlings from Rootrainers into a blue barrel and fashioned a "prevent the ruddy fox from diogging in here" guard from chicken wire and small canes.
planted out pea seedlings at the top of Plot 17 and put up a tent of steel 2" square mesh panels for them to grow up.
planted out thirty-odd of last years Banana Shallot "Piglet Williensis" to produce seed for next year. (I have found this year that the 2008 seed has dreadfully low germination rates while the 2009 seed is great).
planted out thirty-eight Garlic cloves from three bulbs.
planted out a net of onions.
harvested some leeks and a big bag of Purple Sprouting Broccoli.
Plot 17 is now fully occupied and/or promised, bean trench is one quarter done and the current trench-spoil area is going to be outdoor tomatoes, so I now have to squeeze a lot of Banana Shallots, Parsnips, Carrots and Brassicas onto Plot 18 and this will partly have to wait for Leeks, PSB and Kale to be finished. The vacant and Hacken-Slashed ground needs a bit of drying in the sun and wind plus a fine rotovating from Slice-n-Dice before it is fit for planting anything finer than spuds.
Need to get into the big cold frame and fill it with carrot seeds, then sort out some grow bags to go in the greenhouse. Also need to get some catch crops going in the green house border before it is time to plant tomatos and peppers in there.
Oh and the reason for the post title?
I must, must, must ,remember to wear a hat when the good weather arrives or I will have a sunburnt bonce, just like I've got right now ow ow ow.