Wednesday, 19 February 2020

My Name is Alan.... and I am a Seed-a-holic

I went food shopping at a supermarket and just wondered down the magazine aisle and then I spotted it, the Kitchen Garden magazine.

Just under £14 of seeds plus a little gardening book about Container Gardening and the Spring 2020 Pomona Fruits Catalogue for the cost of the magazine £5.99

What was I thinking? I could not control myself, before I knew it the mag had been scanned and was in my shopping bag.

Sunday, 16 February 2020


Storm Dennis has come and gone leaving many areas under water 

Chunk won Jeff’s heart over

Well Dennis is still blowing and it's raining and there will be no visit to the allotment until Monday when it's going to be dry. That visit will only be for damage assessment and recovery of items that have blown onto neighbouring plots as long as that dam wall has stayed up and not flattened the shed!

In the meantime let me introduce you to Chunk

When Jeff noticed that his garden was getting destroyed, he put out a camera to catch the culprit, a groundhog! But Chunk won Jeff’s heart over, and now he lets him have whatever he wants. You can keep up with Chunk and all of his adventures on Instagram: and Facebook:

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Storm Dennis

Storm Dennis this Saturday & Sunday causing havoc  around the coasts, especially in the west and south, gusts of 60-70 mph are likely. This will be accompanied by heavy rain at times.The powerful winds are likely to cause cancellations to rail, air and ferry service, as well as the closure of some roads and bridges.
The Met Office is also warning of a 'danger to life' from flying debris.
NOT a good weekend for getting anything done on the allotment then! 

Friday, 14 February 2020

National Nestbox Week

💘 Happy Valentines Day! 💘 

Today is also the start of National Nestbox Week, where we show some love for our wild birds and give them a safe and secure home. Why not add a nestbox into your garden? Find out more here:

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Mentioned in Dispatches III

I've been mentioned in Dispatches yet again and photos from my blog have been used in an Article by Waltons re How to pick the best shed for your allotment. 

"A shed is an incredibly useful addition to your allotment. It provides storage, shelter and protection for younger plants. A shed can also provide you with a level of comfort that allows you to garden for longer, when the mood takes you!
But how do you pick the best shed for your allotment? We asked some of our favourite bloggers for their top tips." 
I'm in good company those also contributing include: 
Katie Lane of  Lavender & Leeks 
Matt Peskett of Grow Like Grandad 
Claire Burgess  Claire’s Allotment 
Mike of Flighty’s Plot 
Adam Leone of Carrot Tops Allotment

Below are my full answers to their questions 

• What are the most important considerations for an allotment shed?

Any limitations on size by the allotment owner - Church Local Authority or Private

Security, additional Security features, hinges bolted as well as screwed, Key and internal lock, external lock other security devices or adopt the leave it open so they cause no damage mentality.  

How do you want to use the shed will depend if you have no windows, or look for a Potting Shed configuration  

• What have you learnt the hard way? We’d love to hear your anecdotes.

First shed was a cheap ship lap pitched roof, limited headroom and loss of space. I learn from this and the second shed was a T&G Pent flat Roof shed which have much more storage space, better headroom and more robust. I would always recommend T&G and Pent with door in the middle of the long face and build a bench at mid door height both sides to strengthen the door frame and make more rigid and robust against possible vandalism  

• Thinking about your dream allotment building - what features would it include?

Take a look at my blog I have a storage and onion drying extension to the side and I have also a large covered storage area to the rear of the shed. I have a solar powered light internally and a gas cooker on one bench for Coffee and Tea making. Working out storage methods within the shed, with the pent is easier. I have a high level deep shelf on each side then a bench each side and a freecycled four draw storage units. Hanging hooks on the rear front sides and door. I'm contemplating a Polycarbonate covered area to the front for when I'm caught on the plot by rain so  that I can leave the door open and sit inside and watch the showers.    

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Give Us A Break!

"Around the coasts, especially in the west and south, gusts of 60-70 mph are likely. This will be accompanied by heavy rain at times."
While the impacts of the low pressure system are not expected to be as extreme as those of Storm Ciara, it will bring widespread disruption.
The powerful winds are likely to cause cancellations to rail, air and ferry service, as well as the closure of some roads and bridges.
The Met Office is also warning of a 'danger to life' from flying debris.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Storm Damage Review

A swift visit to check that the walls behind the shed still stand and the good news it that they do!

I visited the contractors re the wall and it appears they will be starting the works in the next couple of weeks, I have been in touch with the council and let them know what's happening and they have asked me to keep them briefed.

I had lost watering cans and large pots etc. onto the neighbours plot and a Rubber Dustbin Lid that just appears to have vanished into thin air. I did recover a number of items from neighbouring plots. 

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Storm Ciara & Blowaways

There is a reason why polytunnels are affectionately called Blowaways  

There again some lightweight greenhouses that are not fixed down to the ground Blowaway as well !

Photos harvested from a number of Facebook Groups 

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Showing Plots & Clearing Up

A different tack today, as my wife has been up early a few days and she has been a little under the weather as we have both had the flu / cough thing I suggested that she have a lay in and stay on her machine to get a better charge, and that I will go to the allotment early as I have the second person "Chris" on the waiting list to show the two remaining plots, and he has already expressed an interest in the larger plot No 14. 

In the hour whilst I was waiting for Chris to arrive, I weeded and emptied all the buckets that I had grown potatoes in last year and added them to the narrow bed behind. The five buckets of compost leafs and shredded paper were added to the bed and the dalek behind the bed. One of the buckets with lids turned out to have dried coffee grounds in so that was also added to the two narrow beds and raked in, and a layer of coffee grounds were added to the dalek. 

I had arranged to meet Chris at 9am and it turns out Chris knows Brad from yesterday they both live in the new housing built behind the Allotment site and they both work in the same office block in London, They also know Henry and Coralee from plot 8 it's a small world. 

It's great that we will now have four plots taken by people that live next door the the Allotment site and that two of them can actually see the allotment from their homes, one of which is from the 4th floor in the block behind my plot and they will be able to see the whole allotment. It's like build in security. 

So all tools, rolls of fencing and other material that were stored behind the shed have now been moved out and I only have a few pots and slug traps on the racking to dispose off. The racking will not move as its now pinched between the wall and the back of the shed so I will not be able to get that out until they take down the wall.   

Friday, 7 February 2020

Showing Plots & Debris On Shed

After six months of waiting for idverde to stop sitting on their hands with their thumbs up their arse, I had an appointment to meet the first of three people "Brad" wanting to see the vacant plots on the site at 10:30 Today. The time of meeting gave me enough time to get my wife up, washed & dressed, medicated and settled before I left for the allotment. 

At the moment our site is like the Goldilocks and the Three Bears as we have a large plot and medilum plot and a baby plot up for grabs. Brad thought he might like the Baby plot but once chatting about what kind of Allotmenteer he may be, either an organised bed and path or a bear bones dig it all up every year and have no infrastructure, then we talked about Daleks and composting, incinerator for burning, crop rotation, and a little shed for tools etc. he soon decided that the medium plot no 4 would be better for him. An introduction to Wally his plot neighbour who we included in the discussion and Wally also pointed him towards plot 4 as the better option to the tiny plot 11.

I look forward to showing the empty plots and letting prospective plot holders know a little bit about how much works involved in getting a plot ready and keeping it as weed free as possible. You can normally guess which ones will make a go of it and which ones will lose interest within the first three months.   

So with Brad departed I set about clearing up the storage area where all the collapsed material and debris from the tree removal had fallen. In the photo above you can see where I had stacked a number of polycarbonate sheets against the wall over what was in 2013 a minimal crack and has now opened and the wall has started to lean into the plot and my shed. 

I did predict this would happen and it has moved quite a lot since the strapping was installed on the corner and the leaning wall has dragged this section along the damp proof course. 

I was half way through clearing up the front and the right side of the shed as I thought the builders would be coming to drag the tree off my roof from the allotment side, when the Irish ganger came with Muhammad, site security and odd job man to look at what their operative had done. 

They discussed trying to pull the stuff back over the wall and disappeared. Muhammad came back to say that the reason the guy didn't pull it back was because the wall moved and it was live and that their engineer thinks the wall needs rebuilding. It was if I had been transported back to 2013 and my original discussion with the Local Authority.        

Now I'm hoping that this eastern european construction company that has an Irish groundworker employs some common sense and has an engineer that has impressed upon them that there is a difference between careful deconstruction and demolition. 

If it was me I would remove the bolts from the wall behind my shed and push the leaning wall over into the area that has already been fenced off for the last six years. the top half of the flank wall behind the shed can then be pulled into their building site, and the bricks could be cleaned up and re used and the mortar is a sand lime mix and should clean up easily. 

Let's hope they don't try that approach without removing the straps. 

The area in front of the table needs clearing and the table turned 90 degrees. There are load of snails under the parasol base so a stinkle of blue pellets of death will be put down. The sweetcorn stalks from bed 7 also finally made it into a Dalek.   

Glass Panels moved onto beds and off the fencing to the fall zone, the stacked sweet corn storks were all cut up and added to the Dalek and the mud and debris on the paving slabs swept up. The mud on here was scrapped up and I was hopeful it would dry so that could be  cleaned up more but it rained Friday night. 

Daffs and Blue bells coming up in the comfrey bed. 

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Tree and Ivy Gone!

May 2013 I placed my shed about 750mm away from a dog leg wall which had two fractures in it.  Being a Structural Engineer I could see that the return wall to the adjacent plot was leaning such that its centre of gravity was way outside the middle third of its width and was basically an accident waiting to happen so I reported it to the Local Authority. 

Their solution was initially to strap the leaning section back to the broken section behind the shed that was not leaning. So I measured and monitored as this form of repair only becomes effective when the wall wants to continue moving and tension goes into the straps. 

October 2014 I showed the Neighbourhood Manager the amount of movement and informed him of my worries and that I have recorded and sent in proof that the wall had continued to rotate and had in fact stated to drag the stabilising wall along its DPC and that the other crack behind the shed was opening up. There being no Money I was informed that he with rather kick myself and the plot holder of Plot 2 off the plots as it was cheaper than a repair. 

I pointed out that he would still have to fence off the area where the wall could collapse and that if he did that and my neighbour and his mum could not sit under the shade of the tree and in the path of a falling 

A Jump forward to Thursday and I was at a point where the tree and ivy had grown to cover the shed and with the aid of timbers from my timber and storage rack and polycarbonate sheeting I had an ivy and tree covered storage area behind and beside the shed. Yes I needed to cut it back and off the shed so that I can re roof the shed as the correx has degraded and water is now penetrating the shed and saturating the roof sheeting material.

As I was about the leave a workmans head popped up over the wall and he started trimming back and dragging the branches over the wall into the building site, I said to him don't go mad and the tree that has damaged the wall is now in fact the only thing holding the wall back from falling over as the branches and Ivy had grown over the top of the wall. 

It appears he had his instruction and he has removed the tree and has managed to pull as much as possible over the wall until, you guessed it the wall with the ladder on it started to move and they found the wall was unstable!  

So this was my view in the afternoon of Thursday 6th February when I returned to see how much trimming they had actually done.  

I started to clear the debris of the supporting structure that went between the storage rack and the shed roof that had collapsed during the work. 

Monday, 3 February 2020

Cleaning My Space Saver Greenhouse

Q When Is The Best Time for Cleaning your Greenhouse

A There is no Best Time it’s just one of those Jobs that has to be done! With regards to 
when in the year cleaning is best done this depends on the plants being grown

For summer cropping such as tomatoes: clean in winter when the crop has been cleared

For all year round plants such as orchids: clean in mild spells in autumn are best to improve light transmission as winter approaches 

For periodic and successive crops, raising seedlings for example: clean in periods between crops such as autumn or spring

Most books suggest setting aside a good day for the task, ideally in dry, calm weather, then;

Remove plants – a sheltered area with fleece protection is a suitable area to hold plants while cleaning is carried out

This year I have nothing over wintering in the SpaceSaver, but I will be chitting my spuds in it thus I need to make sure it’s clean and ready for use by end of Feb/ March

Brush or vacuum to remove all debris for destruction or removal from the garden

This was my first job, I’ve brushed away all the cobweds and soil that has got onto the supports to my trays and emptying all the pots of compost into two 10 Litre buckets with lids to be taken down to the allotment and added to the composting Dalek or as a soil conditioner in one of the new beds.

Clean the structural parts with disinfectant or detergent (hot solutions are often best – consult manufacturers directions for use): Hydrogen peroxide based products, often sold for veterinary purposes, are especially benign to users and the environment; Garden disinfectants, such as Jeyes fluid, are satisfactory; Specialist greenhouse cleaners, such as Just Glasshouse Cleaner are also available; Domestic cleaning products may be used

Jeyes Fluid and disinfectant cloths

Glazing material should also be washed inside and out, but for plastic materials test on a small inconspicuous area first to be sure the cleaning material does not damage the glazing. Scrub off any old shade paint on the outside of the glass from the summer

The amount of green grime on the polycarbonate correx type material to the roof and side was quite astonishing, but there again the greenhouse has not really been opened and used since the end of last year’s growing season because this is the first year I have not overwintered something, so a mixture of warm water with some Jeyes Fluid and antibacterial wipes then a vinegar based window cleaner.

Ease out dirt trapped between panes using a flexible scraper such as plastic plant label

Thankfully there are not many panes in a Norfolk Space Saver

Replace broken parts such as vent controllers and draught excluders

No Bells and Whistles to worry about on this greenhouse

Pay attention to propagation areas and equipment. Young plants are especially vulnerable to diseases

Most of my time is actually spent on washing and cleaning all the trays and tray liners and modules ensuring that all the mini snails and slugs are found and that all cobwebs are removed that that

Cleaning out gutters and water butts

At the same time as cleaning the greenhouse structure, it is also usually a good idea to clean out other structures such as;


These block easily with detritus so cleaning them out ensures the free flow of water and limits build up of unwanted material in water butts.

1.    Put on a pair of rubber gloves and run your hand along the inside length of gutter
2.    Scoop out any old leaves, moss and other debris that has accumulated

3.    Pay particular attention to the top of fall pipes – these may need unblocking with the aid of a wire coat hanger

4.    Sluice away remaining dirt with a hosepipe or watering can, diverting water to a bucket for disposal around trees and shrubs

5.    Place a wire mesh cap where the gutter meets the fall pipe to trap leaves and other larger debris. Clean this out regularly, especially after leaf fall

6.    Put any debris on the compost heap

No Gutters on the Norfolk Space Saver

Water tanks or water butts

Standing water in butts can become green with algae and may be a source of water borne root rots such as Phytophthora. Uncovered tanks may harbour mosquitoes. Ideally they should be cleaned out once a year.

1.    Drain out any water by tipping the butt on its side to clear dregs and enable access for cleansing.

2.    Scrub out the inside of the butt or tank with a coarse brush, if accessible, using a proprietary cleaning product such as Just Water Butt Cleaner or garden disinfectant. Tie a brush to a stick to reach into areas that are otherwise inaccessible.
3.    Rinse with clean water.

4.    Refill then add a proprietary water butt freshener as directed by the manufacturer. This will help to keep the water clear of algae. As fresh rainwater enters the tank the strength will be diluted and so repeat the treatment from time to time.Water that is discoloured or smelly will not harm plants, although it is good practice to use tap water for vulnerable seeds and seedlings.

6.    Fit filters to rainwater diverters to ensure butts are collecting clean rainwater. Old tights make a satisfactory filter where it is not possible to fit more sophisticated equipment.
7.    Tight fitting lids that exclude light will help keep butts free of contamination by soil and plant debris. They are also a safety measure for young children and wildlife.

No Gutters means no Water Butts


Safety:Only attempt to clean gutters and glazing that are safe and easy to reach. Avoid putting your body weight against conservatory or greenhouse glazing. Long handled tools are available for safe working from ground level. Wear eye protection and gloves when handling glass or sharp metal fittings.

Set of steps to get to the flat roof of the Norfolk Space Saver.

For me this is going to take a few days a little bit at a time as I have a Man Cold and feel like rubbish, so started on Sunday afternoon with a brush up and cleaning of the top of the Space Saver and this morning the washing of many plastic pots, trays and sourcers.