Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Onions In Modules

Onion sets in modules in my Norfolk SpaceSaver Greenhouse this morning when I went to open the door before the sun comes around and the temperature gets too high. Nice to see some growth starting to show, It does not take long for them to realise they are in moist soil.

It's good to see the greenhouse gradually start to fill up at this time of year, and I'm looking forward to getting my second greenhouse erected on my new plot to take the overflow from home and to start off my spuds in buckets. 

Monday, 18 March 2019

Mushroom Trays

Mushroom Trays - Dimensions (mm) 400 x 300 x 110 are widely used in pack houses, and for transporting fresh produce to supermarkets, wholesalers, restaurants and fast food outlets. These don't tend to get collected and recycled within the industry, they tend to get dumped in the rubbish and hopefully ultimately get recycled.

They are however a great resource for the allotment holder, who can line the bottom with cardboard egg trays from the local café to be used for chitin potatoes.

This year I didn't get the egg trays and I've used seed tray modules for my spuds but have lined the mushroom trays with bubble wrap to protect my spuds from low temperatures whilst in the unheated Norfolk SpaceSaver greenhouse that I've had since 2014.

The Norfolk Space Saver Greenhouse is great when you have restricted space in the garden, however early on in the season when growing space is a premium and you are getting lots of things started, you could really do with a little more space for trays.  

Perhaps of there was a way of getting another shelf in the sloping section at the top of the greenhouse as indicated in the photo above, you could fit another two trays in there?

Thus taking my soldering iron to a few mushroom trays to remove the base and the side panels to let in light to the tray on the bottom, I have a mushroom tray extension system that will give me additional storage space for two additional trays of chitin spuds.

I've picked up another tray from the local pizza shop and will be taking the soldering iron to make another extension to lift up the tray on the right. 

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Woodchips Arrive

Finally one of the plot holders "Michelle" has found a reliable source for Woodchips for our allotment she kindly phoned me and told me it had arrived during the week and it look like some of the plot holders have already attacked the pile. The high winds over the last week had moved a few things around the plot and these items were recovered and reinstated where they should be.  

I cleared the wheelie bins and other debris from the back and side of the shed and applied a generous thickness of woodchips before putting the wheelie bins and blue water pipe hoops back. 

I was hoping for some Daffodils to take home for the wife but from the looks of things a large proportion of these have come up blind for some reason?. I'm going to have to find out why and I'm also going to decide of I'm going to leave them in this bed and just mulch over the weed membrane or move the daffs between now and next year. What would you do?


The paths adjacent to beds 12 & 13 have now both had weed membrane and a layer of woodchips applied. The timber for the new beds have been stacked to indicate the size of the beds. I will ultimately pull back the weed membrane and dig and weed these beds and the 600mm path behind indicated by the paving slab, before installing the timber. 

The paving slabs have been moved so that I can work on installing the path from the shed to the path that can be seen on plot 1A. At the moment the ground goes up and down quite a lot and the plan is to flatten it out and lay a bed of woodchips for the slabs to bed onto.

Then I realised that the slabs for the path were still covered in Hawthorne and that I needed to attack the Hawthorne as it need to be burnt by the end of March. We had sunshine and halestones on three occasions during the morning and at 1pm it was time to make my way home via the supermarket to get some shopping for lunch. 

Note to self, don't ever go supermarket shopping on a Sunday again!   

Sunday, 10 March 2019

High Winds - Greenhouse Clearance.

The forecast for this Sunday was high winds and locally we did have structural damage to buildings, indeed some of the materials from the building site behind our allotment had made it over the eight foot brick wall and onto our allotment plots, especially the eight foot by four foot sheets of foil covered insulation.

One Daff has flowered and others are on their way, but they are much shorter than I was hoping for, perhaps next week there will be enough to bring a bunch home for my good lady wife. 

Due to the rain in the morning I didn't get down to the allotment until 9:15am and I came away about 12:40pm when the hailstones started. In between I cleared two sack loads of rubbish that had been accumulating in the greenhouse and actually got to the point where I could see the floor of the greenhouse! 

I manged to create a load of milk bottle soft bricks with the sand that had dried off in the greenhouse and to empty the sand from a number of old split milk bottles that had gone brittle and degraded in the sunlight into the now empty drying tins and containers.  

I have three sacks of sand in the greenhouse which need drying out and a number of square flower buckets with empty milk bottles ready for filling so that I have the smooth bricks ready to hold down the planting weed membrane and blank sheets that will be required for the new beds.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Quad Biking

Time again for my Birthday / Fathers Day treat, the annual trip down to TRUE GRIP OFF ROAD and to go play in the quarry, the wind swept hill sides with fantastic views over the great British landscape and then into the woods and tracks that because of the time of year had some really deep puddles to navigate. A tree blocked the path in the woods and we made a new path around the obstruction as there was no way of moving the tree out of he way.  

My Railway PPE had been sitting in the shed doing nothing for far too long and I guessed it was going to be a little muddy, so I decided that I would give it an outing today. We followed Paul around the course and I picked up the rear spot as I like to keep an eye on the girls and for some reason Paul found it easy to spot me, I can't understand why can you? 

A big Thank you to Paul our instructor and guide for a smashing morning, that's him in the photograph above if you want a really enjoyable couple of hours then contact TRUE GRIP OFF ROAD

Telephone 01233 662251
Email operations@truegripoffroad.co.uk
Website http://truegrip-offroad.co.uk
Twitter @truegrip

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Funny Nature

 For a moment there I thought 

my wife had turned into a Tree !

Monday, 4 March 2019

Onion Sets

I took a trip into the local pound shop & Wilko and picked up the Onion Sets, Red Baron, Silver Moon & Setton and when my free sample of Grower's Blend Vegetable Growing Compost arrives from Marshalls I will be getting the sets off to an early start by planting them in modules indoors and then placing them out in the greenhouse, as the ground is still too cold and wet to plant them outside directly in the ground and there is still talk of snow between now and mid April after the last frost. They should root well in the modules and be ready to be transplanted once the soil has warmed up, giving them a longer growing season, and less time in the soil on the allotment so hopefully less chance of them being attacked by white rot.

I only grew a 100 bulbs last year and we ran out just before Christmas so hopefully an additional 50 bulbs will mean we have onions for much longer in 2019/2020  

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Planning and Reviewing March in Previous Years

It's raining and no allotment for me today so lets review the diary over the last six years for March 

2013 - Infrastructure works, picked up 17 paving slabs off Freecycle, met my plot neighbour for the first time, finally after clearing I started on digging and weeding, Comfrey roots purchased and grown in toilet rolls.   
2014Infrastructure works continue, Erected the green house on plot 1A, lighter nights and a few extended lunch time visits from work and early evening visits, Spuds sown and solar tents to warm up the soil on beds. Sowing seeds and a hard frost at the end of March 

2015 -  Infrastructure Works, the very last two beds and paths on Plot 1A were formed, Greenhouse clearance ready for using, Collecting and drying Coffee Grounds, Grass cuttings and composting starts, Spuds in buckets and sowing mad March.  

2016 - Infrastructure works on Spencer Road Plot 23B, Comfrey beds dug and weeded, Daleks Composting compound started, Lots of Paving Slabs off Freecycle, First two beds weeded and formed, Timber scrounged from roofing works, Spuds planted, Tomatoes sown.

2017 - Infrastructure works, Grow Stations created, walking Onions Bed and Comfrey pipe for Plot 23B, seeds sown and Grow house at home full, Onions and Beetroots sown on allotment.

2018 - The Beast from the East and snow early March this year, Infrastructure works, Woodchipped the paths on plot 1A, Catawissa Walking Onion Bed installed,  Catawissa Onion Planting Membrane made, Sowing in Grow Stations from the 9th March, Onions and Beetroots sown on allotment, The Agralan Compact Plug Plant Trainer purchased and used for the first time, Raspberries purchased and planted, Soilfixer over Winter Experiment concludes, Sprout Sowing, Mr Fothergill's Optigrow®  Leeks Experiment.   

Planned for 2019 

was very wet, so I'm still playing catch up with a lot of items that were scheduled to happen last month. So if the weather permits I have to undertake more Infrastructure works, and removing and burning the Hawthorne, and getting ready for the growing season.

To Do List

Below is the to do list in no particular order and catching up with what actually happened in February and what has slipped. 

Mill Green - Plot 1

  • As much infrastructure works as the weather will allow 
  • Water Butts - Fix taps 
  • Guttering to Shed - TBD
  • Extension to shed - rear - built minor modification required   
  • Cut Roof Joists to bed sizes - Nearly all done 
  • Paint Joist cut to bed sizes - Ongoing nearing the end thank God !
  • Lay the paving for the greenhouse - TBD 
  • Erect the greenhouse - Timbers Cut for base need to be treated  
  • Tidy Up the Allotment - Ongoing and looking better all the time
  • Remove Hawthorne bushes from the wall - Last push this month as no Fires next month!
  • Install Kerb Edging all around the plot - TBD
  • Stockpile Timber ready for burning  - Ongoing
  • Bury the Hose pipe to the Water Butt before the grass path is cut - TBD This Month

Mill Green - Plot 1A
  • Weeding - Never ending job   
  • Clear the greenhouse - To Be Done 
  • Rhubarb Bed to be created - clearance of weeds in current location and move when ready
  • Tidy Up the Allotment - Ongoing and looking better all the time 
  • Clear area behind the Greenhouse - TBD
  • Clear Seating Area - TBD
  • Plant Raspberries - Awaiting Collection from fellow plot holders
  • Planning
  • Catalogue Seeds 
  • Purchase vent opener for new greenhouse.- This Month
Sowing & Planting Plan


Infrastructure works on Mill Green Allotment Plot 1
Greenhouse on Mill Green Plot 1 to be erected
Apple - prune trees - Last chance if I still have not managed it.
Week 1
Asparagus - sow seeds inside
Week 1
Week 1
Week 1 - 2
Spring Onions - start to sow fortnightly - Feast F1
Brussel Sprouts - First sowing  Breast F1  
Week 1 - 2
Week 1 - 2
Week 1
Squash / pumpkins - prepare soil
Week 2
Week 2
Lettice - sow fortnightly
Radish  - French Breakfast 3 
Week 2
Week 2
Week 2 -3
Spring Onions - start to sow fortnightly - Ishikura
Week 3
Week 3
Peppers - Sow Summer Salad Mix
Week 3
Week 3
Brussel Sprouts - 2nd sowing Breast F1  
Cabbage (summer) - sow outdoors
Week 3
Week 3
Spring Onions - start to sow fortnightly - Arrow
Week 4
Week 4
Week 4
Week 4
Week 4
Week 4

Saturday, 2 March 2019

February Plot Tour

The February Plot tour is a little late as I went down to the allotment today the 2nd March which is a Saturday, and my normal allotment weekend day is a Sunday, but it's raining tomorrow and I need to get on with burning as much rotten timber and Hawthorne bush before the end of March as we are not allowed fires between April and September. So a couple of days into march but it shows what's happened between the January Tour and now which is February!.  

I added some footage of what else I achieved after making the video which was half way through the morning after a nice cup of coffee and a 5 minute sit down and break just enjoying the bird song and the quiet of the plot. 

Friday, 1 March 2019

Seed & Cutting Compost

I popped into Tesco for a top up shop and saw that the huge pile of Westland Gro-Sure Seed & Cutting compost was going down quickly so I purchased a couple of sacks as they are £3 each or two for £5.

I know that I will more than likely have to pick some more up once these have gone but the good thing is that Tesco keep them coming for most of March and April.  I've been using westland seed and cutting compost for the last six years now and I've never had a quality problem unlike the B&Q Verve which is so variable from sack to sack never mind year to year.  

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Marshalls Seeds New for 2019

Marshalls is one of my favorite seed suppliers, I like the packaging format and the information provided on the pack, the other thing I really like is when they supply seeds for free in their press pack at the Garden Press Event which I attended yesterday. 

Attendees of the Garden Press Event normally come home with a free goody bags from a range of companies at the event, and it's quite exciting to see what's in the bags when you have struggled home under the burden of the load especially when there are things like packs of grass seed, fertiliser and weed killer that tends to be a bit weighty. It's a long walk from the venue to the underground and then home when you have a number of bags full of goodies.

In this years Marshalls Goody bag contained the following seeds packs, these varieties suit a range of situations from container growing on a small balcony to raising crops on a large allotment meaning home-growers of all abilities and with all space can reap the rewards :-

Beetroot - Sugar Salad Mix
Carrot - Silvano F1
Carrot - Charisma F1 (Main Crop Chante nay)
Chilli Pepper - Moruga Red
Chilli Pepper - Machu Pichu
Chilli Pepper - Lancer
French Beans - Dwarf Bush Borlotti Beans 
Green Manure - Tagetes Ground Control
Onion - Hylander F1
Okra - French Quarter
Pepper - Sweet Tangerine Dream
Pepper - Lemon Dream
Radish - Breakfast Mix
Rocket  - Athena
Spinach - Cymbal F1
Tomato - Arielle F1 (Outdoor Cherry)
Tomato - Dwarf Cherry Summerlast F1
Tomato - Lizzano F1
Tomato - Patio Plum

Dates on the backs of the packs vary from one pack with 2020 to 2022 so no mad rush for me to grow them all this year but here is my starter for 10 which no doubt will change as these things do as the season goes on. I will be commenting of the results of those that I do grow this year as and when they grow and are harvested.

Beetroot - The Sugar Salad Mix is a mix of the sweetest, softest-hearted varieties so you can eat straight from the garden with no cooking. Disease resistant varieties for successful harvests. So I will grow these as well as the normal varieties that I grow for pickling, Three 2.4x1.2m beds of Beetroots last year looks like taking on that extra half plot was the right idea.

CarrotsMarshalls has teamed up with the National Vegetable Society for a chance for home-growers to show off their carrot crops at five shows around the country. See the Marshalls Blog for more information.

Chilli Peppers - Umm making me feel like I need to get the grow stations going and sow these this weekend 

Chilli Red Moruga - Rare scorpion-type peppers giving off superlative heat produced in abundance on every plant. This scrambling variety provides excellent cover in the greenhouse as well as vibrant red fruit.

Chilli Lancer F1 - The perfect chilli variety for drying and making your own chilli powder. Upright peppers develop well on a sunny and ventilated window sill.

Chilli Machu Pichu
- Rare brown peppers with medium heat and a smoky flavour adorn plants that reach 90cm (3ft) in height. Perfect for growing in conservatories and greenhouses.

French Beans - With an additional half plot I may grow these this year if the beds ready in time and next year if they are not.  

Green Manure - Companion plant for salad crops like tomatoes to keep pests away- this marigold is great for organic growers. Roots release sulphur in the soil naturally to deter nearby fungi and soil pests. Defiantly worth a go on one of the new beds where I will be growing tomatoes on the allotment 

Onion - I will grow these from Boxing Day next year me thinks 

Okra - Not something I have grown before but looking at it you can sow from January so one for next year me thinks.

Peppers - Got to be worth trying now in the grow stations, especially as I will have an additional greenhouse on the new half plot. 

Radish - The Breakfast Mix Includes a first in purple French Breakfast radishes. Excellent for harvesting leaves or juicy roots. With a satisfying bite to every radish, and as I'm on a diet and eating more salad they have to be grown this year. 

Rocket - Will be grown this year as I'm on a diet and need Salad ! 

Spinach - I will donate these seeds to one of my allotment buddies who I know likes Spinach

Tomatoes - As anyone who follows my Blog will know I love Tomatoes and grow quite a few different varieties each year, and have a large seed bank of different varieties. I save tomato seeds to contribute to seed circles to keep heritage varieties alive. That does not mean that I'm not diverse to growing F1 varieties especially when they have been provided Free or have been purchased in a Garden Centre end of season Seed Sale. 

I'm growing 22 varieties in the back garden and mini and micro varieties in the greenhouses in the Back garden and in the Greenhouses on the allotment this year so the Marshalls Arielle F1, Summerlast F1 & Patio Plum will be included in my growing list for 2019.

Tomato Patio Plum - Is a rare crinkle-leaf bush-variety producing 20-30 mini-plum type tomatoes on every plant. Happy on a sunny patio and with no support required. Great for beginner growers.

Tomato Summerlast F1 - Is a Productive plant giving you summer and autumn harvests. Easy to grow: no need to pinch out little side-shoots, this miniature variety is happy on a sunny patio or window garden, and hopefully in my Space Saver Greenhouse.