Saturday, 24 February 2018

Thermometer with Hygrometer-Clock

I have purchased these historically for the greenhouse on Mill Green allotment and for the Space Saver greenhouse in the back garden.

I have one placed at the apex of the greenhouse with the outside sensor hung on the fence beside the greenhouse as a direct indoor out door comparison.

Then I have cable tied one at the top and second tray levels in the middle and taken the external sensor to the side walls internally so I can see the temperature variation within the greenhouse, as the sun travels across the front and the greenhouse goes back into shade. 

They also provide me with information about where the hot spots are and how the reflectors at the back of the greenhouse affect the temperature

Another six of these were purchased last January, two more for the Space Saver and three for the new greenhouse for Spencer Road Allotment and one for the grow station in the shed.

I wanted to buy more so that I could understand a little more about the temperature difference in different areas of the greenhouse throughout the day as the green house comes out of shade and into the sun and then returns into shade from around 8:30am  - 11am in the summer and then returns into sun around 3pm to sunset.

It does not appear that Lidl are selling these this year which is such a shame. I tried finding them elsewhere but no joy. so the nearest thing I can find that is powered by a conventional AA or AAA battery that is relatively small but only covers a single location was these. 

So that's 2.8 Degrees C difference between one side of the space saver and the other at the top shelf eaves level in the shade of the afternoon


Temperature survey range:0℃-50℃
Humidity survey range:10%-98%
Analyze degree:0.1℃,1%RH
Power supply: one AAA battery

The button usage
"F/C": press the "C/F" key, you can choose to display temperature in Celsius or Fahrenheit
"MAX/MIN": press "MAX/MIN" key once to display the maximum period of MAX- measuring indoor temperature 
and humidity; Then press the "MAX/MIN" key once again to display the minimum period of MAX- measuring
indoor temperature and humidity.
"RESET": press this key to clear away all your setting

Photo taken at 10:15 when the sun starts moving behind the tree and the Space Saver falls into shade until the afternoon when the sun comes from the left of the picture and once again provides light and heat. a 14,9 Degree difference between the left (shaded) and right (sunny) side of the Space Saver.

Figures for the Day 

Time     Left     Right    Difference
Night    -1.50    -1.40    -0.10 C  
Max     24.50   30.50     6.00 C
10:15   13.80   28.70   14.90 C Sun from the front
11:07   11.80   15.40     3.60 C
11:47   10.90   19.50     8.60 C
13:32   13.30   16.30     3.00 C
15:44   20.80   16.50     4.30 C Sun now from left side 

Friday, 23 February 2018

Free Seeds and why not!

I love it when friends on Facebook let you know when there are Free offers 

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Walnut Trees Arrive

A very nice gardener called Gerry who I was conversing with on the Mind Your Peas and Cues Facebook forum on one of the treads about growing fruit and nuts, sent me half a dozen one year old Walnut tree saplings as a couple of other Site Reps near me also want to grow walnuts trees to harvest their nuts on their allotments.

In return I send Gerry some Catawissa Walking Onions and the postage for the trees

Gardeners generally are such nice people and willing to share. The Mind Your Peas and Cues Facebook group is relatively young and at the time of this posting has a membership of 1,287. It has to be said it's one of the friendliest and active gardening groups on Facebook so if you have not found it yet, search for it and become a member.

Thanks again Gerry as you can see their in flower buckets for the moment until I get the new plot sorted.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Sutton Allotments Group Meeting

Following on from the emergency Sutton Allotments Group meeting called in October 2017 between The London Borough of Sutton, Idverde and the Allotment Site Reps the annual meeting was held on the 19th February at the Salvation Army building in Sutton. 

I made a presentation on behalf of the London Borough of Sutton - Allotment Site Rep Hub

Here is a link to a post about the meeting on the Web Site 

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Plot 1A - New Bed Frames

An early start 8:30 which meant that I had cleared removed the plastic edging and installed the frame on Beds 5 - 7 before 10:30 and I managed to remove the plastic edging weed the bed and kill loads of slugs that were under the weed membrane on Bed 4 and lay the weed membrane on the paths between beds 4&5 and 5&6.

The Owl has made up to the top of the handrail post that was removed when the stair lift was installed, and I should be able to move it around so the birds don't get used to it being in one place.

I also managed to get the contents of the two incinerators burnt and have started stacking rotten timber up ready for the next burn up.

I need to attack and remove as much of the remaining hawthorn on Plot 1 and burn what I can before the bonfire ban starts in April

The Daleks that were on Bed 8 have been placed on plot 1 along with other items to be used to hold down the weed membrane against the wind.

If I can get another 4 and a half hour mornings in I should be able to get plot 1A completely ready for sowing.

View looking up the Allotment 

The beds do look much better framed with decking. At the moment I have only placed a slap at each end of the weed membrane on the paths between beds 4&5 and 5&6 on the left of the main central path there is already a paved path between the greenhouse and bed 6.

View Looking Down the Allotment from the top entrance point 

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Cleaning and Covering Up

This morning I managed 3 hours on the plot and covered up the area where the shed and green house will be going as nettles had started coming through, as Its still way to stodgy to dig. I attacked the Ivy that has overgrown adjacent to the existing shed and filled up both incinerators to the brim and hopefully they should be dry enough to burn next weekend. There is a huge sack of cuttings in the greenhouse that I'm hoping will dry out more during the week.

I managed to cut up a sack load of plastic pop bottles from the old pop bottle greenhouse, and will look to do the same once a fortnight until all the pop bottles frames have been taken apart and the plot cleared.

Last week the entrance was worse than this photo, it was turning into a bog, I emailed the contracts manager at Redrow and asked if he could get some sub base laid and rolled in and this week it looked like the picture below 

A much better surface to drive and walk on when opening and closing the gates, no longer getting caked in mud before and after the wellies go on. We just need to install some pipes for the drop bolts to go into when the gates are open and closed. Nothing that some blue water pipe and some instant concrete won't solve. 

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Heating Up The Candle Pots

I have to admit my good lady wife, suggested that I bring in the pots to warm them up in front of the radiator. Normally she is not as welcoming when my hobby starts invading the house 

The pot stands on 3 legs that I made by casting concrete in the bottom of pop bottles, I take the warm pot because its been up against the pipes to the radiator indoors, out to the space saver greenhouse where the candles have been placed with their wicks extended so that I just have to slide the door open at 10:00 (bedtime) light the candles, place the Terracotta pot on top and then close the door.

The only reason I'm warming the pots is so they don't have to warm up from being very cold so they heat up and start radiating a lot faster than they would if the pots had been left in the greenhouse all day to get cold.

The tea lights 2 or 3 are used depending on the forecast last 9.5 - 10 Hours the new batch I have just bought say 8 hours but that's still taking me around until 6 in the morning and normally by then ta this time of year the sun is coming around to warm up the greenhouse anyway.

The pot heat ups and radiates the heat into the greenhouse, As its a small Norfolk Space Saver, I have considered black pop bottles to absorb the heat during the day and to warm the air during the night as they loose the heat they have gained but I've not tried it yet.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Forward Is Still Forward

After a week of man flu and rain, I did manage to get down to the allotment for a few hours this Sunday morning, which cheered me up no end, it was very cold but sunny and dry, I can do cold, I have no problem with cold, if you are working you generate heat but wet that's a whole different ball game, I don't do wet.  

I worked on shifting the blue pipe off bed 8 and stacking behind the greenhouse. I intend to mount some brackets on the wall behind the new shed on plot 1 and stack the blue pipe there once the shed has been moved over. The tarp that was over the path between beds 8&9 was removed, covered with weed membrane and paving slabs laid. 

The plastic bed edging was dug up and the decking board timber bed edging was screwed together. The bed re-dug which as it's not walked upon and spuds were dug out of it last year was no problem.

Finally the weed membrane and a couple of paving slabs either end of the path between bed 7 & 8 was laid. The climbing frames for the cucumbers on bed 7 were dismantled and stacked against the greenhouse. 

I need to get the new bed frames and the paths covered on Plot 1A ready for the growing season as much as I need to get the shed and greenhouse area of Plot 1 ready, the weather combined with personal and working commitments are limiting the time I'm able to give to the tasks.

Not as many hours on a Sunday as I would like on the plot, but little and often works as long as it is often, and that's something I need to arrange better. I just need to have in my mind that forward Is still forward no matter how slow the steps are or seem to be.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Cars & Greenhouses

Q: What do Cars and Norfolk Space Saver Greenhouses have in common? 

A: They have glass that is hard to get at and clean

I purchased an Interior windscreen cleaner for my Vauxhall Zafira which has a long sloping front windscreen that you can't reach to clean when in the seat with your seat belt on. Hell it's near impossible with the seat belt off.

Then it struck me, this would be ideal for

cleaning the dampness off the polycarbonate roof and front panels including the sliding door of my Space Saver Greenhouse.

For £2.99 you get an extendable handle from 330mm  – 490mm with pivoting head, ideal for hard-to-reach areas. Two removable double-sided microfibre pads ensure a streak-free windscreen 

I've been using it for some time now and its ideal for dealing with the internal buildup of moisture and I clear my windows and sliding door each morning this time of year to allow the sun to get in there to my seedlings and over wintering plants.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Planning and Reviewing February in Previous Years

Reviewing the diary over the last five years for February

2013 - Infrastructure works, drying weeds for burning, burning weeds, Rain start of the month, dry towards the end, delivery of woodchip to plot, built a coldframe  
2014Infrastructure works, transplanting bluebells and daffs in comfrey bed, bought and planted fruit trees, Constructed Greenhouse Sub Frame, Seeds from Lidl I could not resist at 29p a pack or 5 for a £1   

2015 -  Allotment Winter Tidy Up, Spent tomato compost & coir dressing added to beds, Sprouts, Cabbage, Chitting Potatoes, Timber base for the greenhouse created, Onions from Seeds   

2016 - Infrastructure works, kerb stones off freecycle, Base for the shed on Spencer Road. Erecting the Shed, Trimming shaggy weed membrane, gathering compost paper & Coffee Grounds.

2017 - Infrastructure works, Laying concrete slabs at Spencer Road in the Greenhouse area , Portable Grow Station created and Sprouts sown, Grow Station 2 created, Chitting potatoes in Grow Station 2,   

Planned for 2018

January was very wet, so I'm playing catch up with a lot of items that were scheduled to happen last month. So if the weather permits I have plan to undertake more Infrastructure works, clearing and weeding the area on the new plot in the location of the shed. 

I will keep a look out for the Digital Thermometers from Lidl and purchase a few additional ones for the greenhouse and to replace a couple where the screen is not quite as good as it was.  

To Do List  
  • As much infrastructure works as the weather will allow - Not enough last month!
  • Assemble new bed edging on plot 1A and weed membrane paths - TBD
  • Comfrey water butt to be taken from Spencer Road back to Mill Green - Done
  • Weed & Level the Shed and Greenhouse Area - Started but need to be completed
  • Dig the tree out of the middle of the plot - Done 
  • Remove the Trees from along the wall  - TBD
  • Lay weed membrane over the whole plot - 2/3 covered 1/3 being worked 
  • Collect the slabs from Spencer Road - All but 2 and those under the shed collected 
  • Lay the slabs for the shed and Greenhouse - TBD  
  • Erect the greenhouse - TBD
  • Make Air Onion raised bed frame - TBD
  • Move Comfrey Pipe from Spencer Road to Mill Green - TBD
  • Rhubarb Bed to be created - TBD
  • Cut more path weed membrane - enough done for plot 1A more to follow
  • Purchase vent opener for new greenhouse.- TBD

Move paving slabs from Spencer Road to Mill Green
Infrastructure works on Mill Green Allotment Plot 1
Infrastructure works on Mill Green Allotment Plot 1A
Apple - plant trees
FebruaryApple - prune trees - and train along wires.

Week 1
Week 1
Week 1
Week 1
Brussel Sprouts - 1st sowing Eversham Special, Bedford Darkmar 21 & Rubine, Breast Cromwell & Montgomery
Cauliflower (early summer) - sow seed indoors
Spring Onions - start to sow fortnightly - North Holland Blood Red       
Week 1 - 2
Week 1 - 2

Week 2
Week 3
Week 3
Week 3
Leek Herfstuezen 3 - Porvite - sow seed under glass / indoors
Leek Musselburgh
- sow seed under glass / indoors
Radish - Sparkler 3
Radish - Icicle
Lettuce (Winter) - sow fortnightly
Potatoes- chit / sprout seed potatoes
Week 3
Week 3 - 4
Week 3
Week 3
Carrots - cover / warm up the carrot beds.
Brussel Sprouts - 2nd sowing Eversham Special, Bedford Darkmar 21 & Rubine
Spring Onions - start to sow fortnightly - North Holland Blood Red
Cauliflower (summer) - prepare ground
Week 3Cauliflower (autumn) - prepare ground
Week 3Cabbage (summer) - sow seeds indoors
Week 4
Week 4
Week 4
Week 4

Sweet pepper - sow California Wonder, Lunchbox & Sweet seeds
Lettice (Winter)- sow fortnightly
Radish - Cherry Belle
Tomatoes -
01 Beefsteak
02 Gardeners Delight
03 Crimson Crush F4
04 Kibitz
05 Money Maker
06 One Hundreds and Thousands
07 Outdoor Girl
08 Stupicke Poini Rane
09 Rapunzel
Late FebAsparagus - prepare ground for crowns

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Baby It's Cold Outside!

This morning outside at 6:00 and 0 degrees at 9:00 with lowest temperatures recorded in the greenhouse of between -2.2 to -0.2 over night from the 10 monitoring locations and that was with the terracotta pot candle heater.

looking at the weather forecast for the next 10 days I think the Terracotta pot candle will be used most nights in the next 10 days

What I really don't understand is why is the temperature dips a degree after the sun has gone at 16:48  but from 23:00 or 11pm until 3am the following morning is rising by 4 degrees. 

I'm so glad the chitting spud are in the warm part of the greenhouse, the over wintering onions are hardy enough to stand the cold. 

UPDATE I asked the question of our weather guru on the Grapevine Grow Your Own Forum and got this answer

What is happening here is that last night we had high pressure with light winds, allowing the cold air to sink towards the ground with nothing much to mix it up. The sky was clear so heat radiated out into space, and you had a frost. During the day these conditions persisted, but the sun warmed the air so it got a bit warmer. Once the sun goes down the heat again starts to radiate into space - a clear or partly clear sky is showing up to about 8pm. After that it starts to cloud over as the pressure falls and this stops the heat radiating into space so fast. Also notice that the wind starts to pick up. This mixes the air and prevents the cold air sinking so the temperature at ground level actually rises.     

Now we all know! 

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Moving Home Part 1

This Sunday my eldest daughter came home and stayed with my wife, whilst my future son-in-law and I moved the bulk of the paving slab and other items that will be useful from my Spencer Road plot to Mill Green. I must admit some of the thicker 600x600mm slabs are a bugger to lift and I was really glad of Andy's help not only for the use of his van but his help and company during the day. 

We met over the allotment at 9am and worked until 4pm having a packed lunch on my brother-In-laws Keith & Pauline's plot so we didn't have to stop and pop home and could get on. Keith & Pauline looked after us well, making us a hot drink nearly every time we came back from Spencer Road with a load of slabs and kerb edgings to drop off.

I now have enough slabs to finish all the paths on Plot 1A and to get the bases down for the shed and the Greenhouse on Plot 1.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Two Water Butts & A Dalek

There were two water butts with stands put up on Freecycle just before Christmas and the person who had them said if the first person didn't collect then I could have them for my new greenhouse.

So today I drove over to Epsom to collect and the same person had a double (long) plastic Dalek which I returned to collect as I could not get them all in the car. I then picked up another two Daleks which don't have the door at the bottom, which I prefer so now I don't have to empty all the full ones on Spencer Road and can leave the smaller ones there for the new plot holder.  

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Purple Majesty Spuds Arrive !

Albert Bartlett Purple Majesty - Second Early 1kg Pack (12-15 Tubers) I've never grown these before but I'm being provided with some seed potatoes to trial by Marshalls, reading the info about them they are the first purple potato to go on sale commercially in Britain.

The web site says "They are potatoes of the richest purple – purple skin and purple flesh, jam-packed with nutrients and antioxidants it makes a fantastic member of the superfood family along with blueberries, pomegranites and kale. With its genetic origins in the Andes, it’s been specially selected for the food market and has enjoyed great success. It’s an early maincrop variety suitable for salads, and of course as jackets which prove a real hit with children fascinated by its dark purple flesh."

Again the spuds arrived in a cardboard box with breathing holes and giant bubble bag packing in a good condition. 15 number spuds the three largest measuring 65, 70 & 75mm but when you still get 15 tubers and the web site says 1kg Pack (12-15 Tubers) I'm happy if a few are on the larger than hens egg size. I have never done it but one could cut the larger spuds in half.

My nieces children were amazed when I grew spuds that had purple skin on the outside, I can only imagine what they are going to be like when they see these are purple on the inside as well. 

Provided by Marshalls Link to Purple Majesty details on Marshalls web site