Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Owl Bird Scarer

Reduced to £1.50 at Homebase so I picked a couple up for the Allotment  

Code: 374642cm
Product Name: Brown Owl Garden Ornament and Bird Scarer
Colour: Browncm
Material: Recycled polyethylenecm Dimensions: (H)41 x (W)18.5 x (D)17.5cmcm

Product Summary: This life-size garden owl ornament is excellent for perching upon rooftops, around the garden and in common nesting areas to frighten birds, possums and other pests that are damaging your house or plants. Stop nuisance critters entering your property day and night using this brown owl bird scarer.

Hang on a minute do we have possums in the UK?

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Size Is Relative

This morning I had a committee meeting on Spencer Road Allotment. I took the opportunity to ship eight kerb edgings and some of the contents of the shed from Spencer Road to Mill Green Allotment.

It makes sense to move stuff with every visit, the thing is I only really need to visit Spencer Road now to move stuff I want to keep, and to undertake minimal work to keep the weed down so that my plot does not become a problem for those around it, I've been there had that one done to me and I really don't want to become a problem neighbour, before I give up the plot. 

The Catawissa Walking Onions are already growing and it will be a shame to leave them on the Spencer Road plot  but I do have the next generation in the Space Saver Greenhouse in the back garden and I need to form the bed for them on plot 1A at Mill Green sooner than later.



I had trimmed up the offcut from the second strip of weed membrane with a soldering iron at home during the week, as it was so shaggy. The trimmed offcut can be seen in the photo above, up against the wall on the right of the photo on the boundary between plot 1 & 1A.

This sheet of weed membrane felt like it was huge whilst I was working on it in the back garden, but out on the allotment it's covers very little ground, and felt so small and really proves that Size Is Relative.

I marked the wall with chalk (highlighted on the photo) and measured the length of the wall at 8 metres. I needed to verify the length, so that I could cut to the required two lengths off the 2m wide rolls I have purchased. These length will be used to cover the area where the shed and greenhouse is planned to go, and the OS map is out a little as I estimated 9m lengths would be required.

Ultimately I need to measure the plot and work out the actual area I have as I have found that most plots are much smaller than what they charge you for, but no one from the council has ever actually measured the plots. .


Due to the shape of the plot of land that forms Mill Green Allotments, every plot is a different size but they are all charged out at the same area, unless you have measured the plot and inform the council / Idverde what the actual size is.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Kestrel - Second Early Spuds Arrive

The 2kg sack of Kestrel - Second Early spuds courtesy of Marshalls arrived a couple of days ago and finally I have them in a tray ready for chitting, which is one of the first jobs of the veg gardening year.

Chitting potatoes means sprouting the tuber – putting it, most eyes upright, in a light, cool but frost-free place at about 50F (10C). Now you try and find somewhere that is light and 10C all day, it's practically impossible to find. They have been put in my Space Saver Greenhouse with a propagator over to keep the temperature up, it's 7C outside and between 8.1 to 8.5 in the greenhouse at the moment but we are looking at falling night time temperatures and possibly -1C and snow next weekend, so this weekend the bottom of the space saver will be cleared and I will start using the terracotta pot heater to keep the frost at bay or when extremely low overnight temperatures are expected bring the spuds indoors for the night.   

The blurb on the Marshalls Web Page said to expect a Pack of (25-30 Tubers) I actually got 24 because there are 7 much larger than the expected egg sized seed potatoes in my sack, indeed they are supposed to be 35mm - 55mm and I have a couple of 80mm, a couple if 70mm & a 60mm spud, but 24 is still enough for a bed and a half or a three row bed of spuds.

I'm using a 24 tray module and they were complimentary so I'm happy, but Marshalls need better quality control with regards size or reduce the number of spuds to 24 on their web site as some customers may not be happy.

They arrived in a box with four breathing holes on 2 on each side and for a moment I expected an animal and not spuds. I have to say they look extremely healthy, and have no large chits on them like you find when buying from a DIY store.   



I may use the three row and place watering pop bottles in the middle row where the holes are crossed which gives me 24 holes to plant in assuming I don't loose any between now and when they go in the ground which is scheduled for the last week of March

Kestrel seed potatoes produce smooth skinned tubers with purple eyes, and a winner of many prizes at exhibition. They have an old fashioned flavour, and make good chips and roasts well because the soft flesh does not absorb much fat. Consistently shows good resistance to slugs and blackleg. which I really need after the slug attacks last year. 

Link to Kestrel details on Marshalls web site

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Quality Street Tins

I went and did some shopping at Tesco and picked up 2 tins of Quality Street for £1.25 each. They were limited to two tins per customer which I thought was a good thing.

So more Chocolate to stuff at Easter I guess once all the Christmas Chocolate has finally gone, but I get to use the tins down on the allotment to keep the mice out of my stuff

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Composting Cardboard

Working for the Allotment and not on the Allotment !

More evenings spent cutting cardboard boxes left over from Christmas into strips and then small squares so that my worms and critters in the Daleks can get through the cardboard and have edges to attack, and they will decompose faster.

This is the time of year I'm building stocks of Brown material because come March I know Greens in the form of grass will be coming at me from all directions, Sister, Sister-in-Law, Daughter and my own back garden. 

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Monday, 8 January 2018

View From the Greenhouse Door

Not a great deal of activity in the greenhouse in January as one might expect. I'm waiting on some potatoes to show up which will need chitting but in the mean time here is what the greenhouse looks like


Excuse the rubbish in the bottom of the Spacesaver Greenhouse and it needs sorting but until I have made room elsewhere that's where its going to stay. 


The SoilFixer SF60 Spring Onion experiment appears to be holding it's own, and if I can get to a point where I have the existing greenhouse cleared on plot 1A and get the new greenhouse erected on Plot 1- I will relocate the experiment to one of the allotment greenhouse, until the last frost and then then it can live outside


The second level is currently holding a tray of everlasting onions sent to me by a fellow member of the Grow Your Own Grapevine Forum, and this year they appear to be holding their own. Last year they died for some reason and didn't live up to their name. The other tray is Catawissa Walking Onions as are all the onions on the third level down from the top.

The pad on the stick on the bottom shelf right hand side is supposed to be for use in a car but it's useful in helping me remove moisture that builds up on the inside of the greenhouse and it's door as access is obviously difficult.

The tin foil panels help reflect the light and help reduce the amount of lean that young seedlings and plants have trying to get to the light.      

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Clearing The Plot - Day 5


It's been some time since I have been able to get down and continue clearing and working on plot 1, what will having a weekend away, Christmas and wet weekends, but today I managed to get a visit in from 9 - 1:30. I had to recover the lids from the incinerators and from one of the storage bins, and then worked on digging out the tree roots and covering as much of plot 1 As possible with the weed membrane.


All manor of materials bags of leafs, hoop frames, bread trays, concrete slabs and timber recovered from the plot have been used to weigh down the weed membrane. I started to reduce the level in the internal corner formed by the wall and weeded and extracted the dross from the soil. 


Here is the view up the allotment from the entrance. I'm hoping I have enough on the weed membrane to hold it down against the wind. Time passes so quickly when you are busy on the plot.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Planning and Reviewing January in Previous Years

Reviewing the diary over the last five years for January

2013 - Infrastructure works, Laying concrete 43 slab paths and patio area, Collecting Leafs  
 
2014Infrastructure works, Plastic edging from the Window Factory, Digital Thermometers from Lidl, dismantle a greenhouse, Bean trench, Chitting Potatoes, Onions from seed  

2015 -  Coir Blocks from Poundland, Onions from Seed, Spacesaver Greenhouse, Chitting Potatoes, Onions from seed. Allotment Winter Tidy Up   

2016 - Infrastructure works base for the Shed on Spencer Road, Sarpo Spuds arrive end of January, and were set chitting


2017 - Infrastructure works, Laying concrete slabs, Base for the patio area on Spencer Road,  Digital Thermometers from Lidls for the additional green house and Grow Station, Tomato Compost & Coir to the plot as soil conditioner  

Planned for 2018

If the weather permits I have planned Infrastructure works, clearing and weeding the area on the new plot in the location of the shed and greenhouse and if at all possible covering over the whole of the plot with weed membrane in January.

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 
  • Comfrey water butt to be taken from Spencer Road back to Mill Green -
  • Weed & Level the Shed and Greenhouse Area
  • Dig the tree out of the middle of the plot
  • Remove the Trees from along the wall  
  • Lay weed membrane over the whole plot
  • Collect the slabs from Spencer Road
  • Lay the slabs for the shed and Greenhouse  
  • Erect the greenhouse -
  • Make Air Onion raised bed frame
  • Move Comfrey Pipe from Spencer Road to Mill Green - 
  • Rhubarb Bed to be created

Home

  • Cut more path weed membrane
Reminders
  • Purchase vent opener for new greenhouse.-

Tomato Grow List for 2018

There is a thread on the Grow Your Own Grapevine Forum asking what tomatoes grapes will be growing this year which got me thinking a little earlier than usual

I will be growing the usual 22 flower Buckets in the back garden and I want to grow my Crimson Crush 4th generation self saved seeds and Rapunzel on the allotment and lots of short bush varieties in the greenhouses assuming I manage to get the new plot ready and the third greenhouse (2nd Plot) erected in time.

I've catalogued all the tomato seeds in my Seed Box

Then I've sorted my Tomato seed collection by Growing Habit

In January 2017 when rain stopped play on the allotment, I created a three year plan for 2017 - 2019 that when out of the window when I accidently bought more tomato seeds in the Wyevale seed sale

So the final cut for 2018 will be determined this month on a day when rain stops play again, but what I have established so far is;

My Grow every year standards are

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


So that is 13 More varieties yet to be determined, this will be based on the age of the seed saved so that I may replenish the seed stocks and keep my collection viable.

The Greenhouse varieties will be

01 Bajaja
02 Balconi Red
03 Minibel
04 Red Robin
05 Rosella
06 Sub Artic Plenty
07 Super Roma
08 Tiny Tim


Thursday, 4 January 2018

Jar Saving for Beetroot Pickling

It's not just tins that are being saved. After pickling beetroots in all manner of different saved jars in 2017, we decided that as we have Doritos and dip on a semi-regular basis that all the different various jars would go and that we would save the Doritos dip jars, because they have a nice wide neck, and all the lids will fit each other. Even the Tesco Own brand is the same jar and lid.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Flowers On The Plot

When I first got my allotment my thoughts were only of food and not flowers, but gradually I have started to appreciate not only flowers visually but how they support and attract pollinators especially Bees, and how they can encourage certain predators or repel troublesome insects.  

We are quite lucky that we have a bee keeper on our plot, and the bees enjoy my ivy bush/ tree that grows above and behind my shed and the flowers on the comfrey. They spend time in my runner beans and other beds pollinating on their way to and from these two nectar resources which are at the furthest end of my plot from where their hives are located at the back of the drop off and pick up area.

Poached egg plants, (Limnanthes douglassi) are very easy to establish, they are supposed to be self-seeding, but I end up growing a new batch each year, and I plant these in the Runner Bean bed.  

The best thing about poached egg plants is they flower for such a long season and they attract hoverflies and ladybirds which love to feed on blackfly and aphids. So successful are they in quelling these invasive little insects which are ‘farmed’ and ‘milked’ by ants, that over the last few years since discovering them that  I have not had to wash off the aphids with soapy water, which always seemed to have a detrimental effect on the runner beans and since using the Poached Egg Plants I've had wonderful crops.

English marigold (calendula) is superb for hoverflies, which will eat aphids but I have not tried them on the allotment as I only normally see French Marigolds in the seed sales.  

French marigolds are the real smelly ones and can be used to deter whitefly. Mexican marigold does too, but it grows over 5 foot tall, and I don't think I will be growing any of that variety on the plot.


Wild Flowers for Bees In previous years I have received free packets of specially selected mix of wild flowers that will not only look beautiful, but will also attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators to my Allotment. There are enough seed in the pack to cover half a square metre so that's 0.5m x 1.0m.

I use flower buckets and place them at the end of each of the paths between my beds on the allotment. Not forgetting to collect seed heads in September for re sowing the following year.

Daffodils & Blue Bells - I purchased a shed load of Daffs and relocated a quantity of Bluebells from the back garden to the Comfrey bed on plot 1A some years ago.

It's nice to see the early growth, however in 2016 & 2017 they started to show a little early in December !. Somehow it makes me happy to see early signs of Spring in the midst of Winter, and they welcome me to the plot and make me smile.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Tin Time


It's that time of the year when you start collecting the left over tins from the Shortbread, Classic Sweets, posh biscuits and Jacobs Crackers (not in the picture but I have my eye on it) as the square ones are really useful as mouse proof storage down the allotment.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Trees On Allotments


The subject or trees on allotments is one that comes up on a regular basis, due to.

·         Perimeter Trees around the site boundary producing shade

·         Trees on neighbouring plots that are unmanaged growing too tall and producing shade on neighbouring plots

·         Roots from trees just off the allotment holders plot that are invasive and reducing moisture content in the soil

There are those council run and church run allotments that have put in place stringent rules for the planting and management of trees, indeed some allotments issue Tree Notices instructing tenants to reduce the size of their trees when they get over 2m.

Case Law – Trees on Allotments

Hastings Borough Council’s had been encouraging Mr Rock since 2008 to bring the level of cultivation of his plot up to an agreed and acceptable standard, as he had had planted 11 pear, plum, apple, cherry and apricot fruit trees on his allotment, hoping to make enough jam to give to his pensioner neighbours.

In February 2011 the council felt they were left with no option but to serve notice requiring him to improve the levels of cultivation as he was in breach of his tenancy agreement as his trees were not occupying sufficient space for the plot to be deemed as cultivated.

Rather than cultivate his allotment, Mr Rock sought an injunction and a declaration from the court to preserve his rights as an allotment holder. The Local Authority contested that Mr Rock was not entitled to the relief requested; the judge dismissed Mr Rock’s claim and awarded costs to the council and was forced to pay £650 in legal fees as judge ruled against him

However Mr Rock fought an epic David versus Goliath fight for almost two years to stop the council evicting him from his plot for only growing fruit trees and ended up celebrating a landmark victory and the case cost taxpayers £3,000. The case makes interesting reading and shows the problems in altering Allotment rules and applying them retrospectively

Read more at

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2188779/Allotment-owner-refused-cultivate-vegetables-patch-fails-court-bid-stop-council-evicting-him.html

https://www.hastingsobserver.co.uk/news/allotment-holder-wins-landmark-victory-over-council-1-5598582

The London Borough of Sutton / Idverde Allotment Gardening Guide has this to say regarding trees on your Allotment.

“If you want to grow ornamental or forest trees, please contact idverde to discuss what you intend to do. We will try to find a suitable plot for you on one of the larger sites. We do not encourage tree-growing on normal allotment plots as large trees cast shade over a wide area and take water and nutrients from your and neighbouring plots. Where possible, you should plant small fruit-trees in the middle of your plot, not on the edges where they may cast shade over neighbouring plots.

Allotment gardeners must not remove or prune trees on allotment sites. If a tree is causing you difficulty please contact the Local Authority Tree Officer”

The main problem with this liberal wishy washy guidance is that, whilst they do not encourage it they also are not banning it, in part because the Allotment Gardening Guide is relatively young with the first version being written in 2010 and that the case law Mr Rock v Hastings Borough Council has set a precedence regarding applying new rule retrospectively 

The second reason that more stringent guidelines have not been included within the Guidelines is that the Local Authority doesn’t have money or resources to monitor and enforce any hard and fast rules or guidelines.

I believe that better guidance needs to go into the publication or needs to be produced as a supplement to the Allotment Gardening Guidance document to advise new allotment holders how best to manage fruit trees on allotment plots, This needs to be discussed by the LBS Allotment Site Rep Association prior to and possibly at the meeting on the 19th February.

Only Fruit Trees should be grown on Allotments


Ideally dwarf root stock fruit trees should be grown in pots to ensure fruit trees remain manageable.

Trees should be located in the middle of your plot, or in such locations that they only cast shadow on your plot throughout daylight hours. If grown in plots or containers the roots will not become invasive on a neighbouring plot holder.

They should be maintained and not allowed to grow to a height greater that 1.5 – 2m maximum, those that do will require pruning back to an acceptable size.

Some taller fruit trees such as Bramley’s apple and taller plum trees will not be suitable for growing on allotments.


Dwarf fruit trees such as apple and pear trees may also be grown in restricted forms such as espaliers or cordons, again located such that the trunk is in the middle of your plot and they are trained such that they do not cast shadow outside your plot during the day.


The pruning of step-over fruit trees is probably easier to understand than normal pruning. They seem to have taken a bashing fashion wise and are looked upon as old fashioned which is a great shame. They can offend nobody and they take nobody's light whereas any trees planted on an allotment even the miniatures if not pruned correctly can cause real arguments.

Tenants are responsible for removal of self-set trees which should not be allowed to grow to establishment

Problem Trees on the Boundary & On Plots (London Borough of Sutton)

The London Borough of Sutton has a Tree Strategy and state “The Council will protect and enhance the tree stock while remaining sympathetic to the interests of residents; the Council will ensure that the tree stock is managed in such a way that continuity of tree cover will be safeguarded for residents and visitors now, and future generations.” And that,  

“With any population of trees there are a number of common sources of complaints including overhanging branches, shade, leaf/fruit fall, obstruction and physical damage, etc. Many of these problems can be dealt with by regular management.”

Allotment Tenants and plot holders are not actually specifically listed in Section 4.  LIST OF STAKEHOLDERS, but it could be argued that they fall under the category of “Residents and resident’s groups” However under Section 6.1.2 Policies, the first Policy states

Policy 1

The Council will carry out a visual tree assessment (VTA) of the existing tree stock on highways, parks, cemeteries and allotments on a minimum four-yearly basis 

All requests for tree pruning would have to follow the procedure in 6.5 Dealing with Enquiries

6.5 Dealing with Enquiries

6.5.1 Introduction.

The Arboricultural Section receives on average 2000 enquiries per year with regard to trees on highways, parks, cemeteries, allotments and trees on other Council owned land. They range from general enquiries about pruning and planting to reporting dangerous trees. Following any enquiry, the Section has to determine the level of response required.

There is a list of scheduled inspections for allotments on the council’s web site which can be found at https://www.sutton.gov.uk/info/200453/parks_trees_and_open_spaces/1126/trees/4

There is nothing in the strategy document regarding keeping the height of trees to a reasonable level around allotments of planting species of trees that do not grow to an excessive height so as not to cast shadow onto an allotment site.

In discussion with Bill Wyatt Technical Services Manager of the newly formed Neighbourhood Services department who was historically Deputy Parks Manager and had responsibility for allotments, there is no money to undertake such works and, as that is the case when the strategy document comes up for review, the council will not be modifying the document such that the needs of light by allotment holders will be taken into account.

This is because the council will not add work to the Tree Strategy document for which they have no or sufficient funding. So very catch 22 when you go back to the start of the document that states

 “The Council will protect and enhance the tree stock while remaining sympathetic to the interests of residents; the Council will ensure that the tree stock is managed in such a way that continuity of tree cover will be safeguarded for residents and visitors now, and future generations.”

So sympathetic but unable to actually do anything about it, whilst acknowledging that;

“With any population of trees there are a number of common sources of complaints including overhanging branches, shade, leaf/fruit fall, obstruction and physical damage, etc. Many of these problems can be dealt with by regular management.”

So the trees will be looked at every four years, but are unlikely to be reduced in height because there is not the money for height reduction unless there is also a risk to health and safety of the stakeholders.

This article forms a basis for a discussion thread on the LBS Allotment Site Rep Association Facebook group. If you are a Site Rep in the London Borough of Sutton please do request to join the closed Facebook Group.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Plot 1A Review of the Year

It's time for a review of 2017 and to look at what was planned, what actually happened and why and what lessons can be learnt as a result.




ASPARAGUS

I have been wanting an Asparagus Bed for some time, and I have a pack of seeds for Martha Washington Asparagus, 50 seeds To be sown April to May.

Reading the back of the pack they need to be spaced 450mm apart in both directions. If I'm going to have a permanent bed I'm guessing bed 16 or a row against the wall in one of the Runner Bean beds would be the best option. As I have another allotment I could always grow beans there as well. Something to think about over the Winter months.

I never got around to growing from seed, I did buy some asparagus but didn't have the bed ready on Spencer Road so gave them away. I still want to grow Asparagus but the plan will be to get the bed ready in 2018 and put crowns in on plot 1 in 2019

BEETROOT

We eat and pickle a lot of beetroot, Currently on the plan Bed 3 is shown but as Bed 4 has become available as I'm now growing the Butternut squash around the base of the sweetcorn and I don't yet have a bed available at Spencer Road for beetroot, Bed 4 will also be beetroot in 2017.

Varieties 2016 Seed - Detroit 6 Rubidus, Wodan F1 Hybrid, Detroit 2, Pablo F1 Hybrid, Cardeal F1 Hybrid.

Varieties 2017 Seed - 4 x Thompson & Morgan Boltardy Seed Tapes, Boltardy, Alto F1 Hybrid

I normally start the beetroots off in the greenhouse in vending machine cups, this year will be a two pronged attack as I have four packs of seed tapes. 2016 seed will go into the green house and the 2017 seed tapes directly into the beds.  Successional sowing will take place every in a third of a bed length every 3 - 4 weeks so that they can be harvested and pickled in batches.  

Sow from March 2-4 weeks before the last frost when the ground is warm.

We did well for beetroots they were grown at both Mill Green and Spencer Road and enough was pickled for the immediate family, plus sister & sister-in-law to last out the year. The plan for 2018 is sequential sowing and thus pickling. We are also saving Doritos dip jars as they provide a wide neck and we use enough of them during the year that we can throw all the different size jars away and have one common size and cap type so that come pickling we are not playing a game of match the lid.       


BRUSSELS SPROUT

These were a disaster growing from seed last year and I had to buy plants which really goes against the grain. This year I bought what I initially thought was a really good idea which was the Thompson & Morgan All Season Brussels Sprouts seed pack  How wrong can you be who in there right mind offers three varieties in a pack and then packs them all in a single packet see post here for more details.


Moving on from the Thompson & Morgan Fiasco, I have purchased Evesham Special from Premier Seeds Direct  & Bedford Darkmar 21 from Just seeds both for 99p a pack. My third variety is Brest F1 which I got from the Wyevale seed sale for 50p so that is three varieties for less than Thompson & Morgan were selling their All Season Brussels Sprout pack for so Up Yours T&M

Give up on purple sprouts, crap two years running don't intend to waste my time in 2018. A small harvest that had black fly so once skinned to a layer where the fly had not got too were small. I must look into what can be done to prevent this, they are covered in debris netting but obviously keeps out cabbage whites but not black fly. 

BUTTERNUT SQUASH

Currently on the plan butternut squash is shown as occupying Bed 4 but I have now decided to allow them to spread around the base of the Sweetcorn. The variety "Waltham" will be grown here and   "Butterfly" on the other plot


These went in far too late due to events outside my control, and we didn't end up with any in 2017, but with the new plot, and with wanting to get a whole load of manure, I have more than enough room to let them wonder around the area of plot 1 that I will not be getting too in 2018

CABBAGE

I'm really undecided about cabbage, as I had such a disaster with it during 2016 mainly due to the vast amount of slugs, I have been contemplating Kale, one to ponder I think. Ideally small spring green type cabbages are what I'm after.

Slugs won in 2017 and we ended up with nothing, hoping for better results on slug killing and cabbage growing in 2018

CARROTS - Do best in beds that have not been recently manured

Not that many carrots grown in 2016, In fact I need to harvest them. I want to grow many more in 2017 and want to grow big "bugs bunny type" if possible. I have acquired a number of different variety seeds, four different types from Lidl, and I must say that the back of the packs are really not all that informative as the have vague instructions in four languages, so off to Google search for some better guidance, which I have typed up below:-

Rote Riesien 2 - is a large tasty good winter keeper. The German name translates to Red Giant.Sow: April – July outdoors Harvest: September – November

Keeps well; has an excellent flavor. Heat stimulates the carotene content. Versatile – an absolute must for any garden (vegetables, juices, raw).
Carrots need very fertile, well-loosened soil. Avoid fresh manure. Keep evenly moist both during and after germination! Ensure sufficient space for each carrot!
Carrots may be planted in the same bed no earlier than every 3 years.
Sow in March/April and June/July to protect against carrot flies!

Nantaise 2 - Medium late variety valued for its especially high carotene content (14.6mg %). Ready for harvest in 110 days. Forms long, cylindrical, bright orange colour fruits with blunt end medium length roots of about 15cm (6") long. This virtually coreless variety has a rich orange colour and sweet crunchy taste.

Height: 30cm (12"). Spread: 15cm (6") Seeds germinate at +3-4C. Grows best in well cultivated, fertile, light sandy or clay loam and warm, bright location.ideal for early sowings under glass in late winter for your first crop of the year. Sowing Months February, March, April, May, June, July

Berlikumer 2 - Sowing period March - April. Harvest September. Germination 18 - 24 days

Karnavit - Sowing early under glass, fleece or plastic and later sowing in early summer. Germination 18 - 24 days

Cosmic Purple I'm growing this because it's a novity and my younger daughter does not like carrot so lets see what she makes of a purple carrot - Sowing period March - April. Harvest 110 days from planting September. Germination 18 - 24 days  Length 180mm or 7"

Nigel F1 -  A main crop variety, store well in Winter, suitable for successional sowing  Sowing March - June Harvest July - December Sow thinly 10mm deep in drills 300mm apart, thin seedlings when large enough to handle allowing 20mm between roots


Scarlet Horn -  Early crop variety ideal for heavy soil, stony or shallow as a short stumped rooted carrot Sow February - June thinly in pre-watered shallow rows and cover with a little soil. Allow 250mm (10") between rows. Thin seedlings to about 20mm, keep soil moist until seedlings are established. This variety is better suited for Spencer Road and the soil is very stony  

The Wyevale seed sail is responsible for the Cosmic Purple, Nigel F1 and Scarlet Horn packs as I can't resist a bargain.

Due to the wife being admitted into hospital carrots just didn't happen in 2017, but they will happen in 2018 !  

CAULIFLOWER

The best cauliflower I have ever grown was during my first year, and I'm thinking it was beginners luck as I have yet to repeat the success, but I have to try at least one bed. I still have some Jamie Oliver Cheesy F1 seeds and All The Year Round Cauliflower seed Suttons 2016 and Mr Fothergills 2017 Sow indoors Jan - March / Sow Outdoors March - June Plant Out March - August and Harvest June - Oct so some successional sowing needed here me thinks to extend the harvesting season.   

Due to the wife being admitted into hospital carrots just didn't happen in 2017, but they will happen in 2018 !  


CUCUMBER

I have historically grown Marketmore & Burpless on this plot and they both did really well, however 2016 really was not as good as previous years for cucumber on this plot for some reason. I will try Marketmore again in 2017


Due to the wife being admitted into hospital carrots in 2017 they went in late, and still managed to supply us with our own cucumbers, planning two sowings in 2018 to extend the harvest period.  

GHERKIN - Piccolo Di Parigi - First year for growing Gherkins and only because my sister loves them so I'm having a bash at growing and pickling them for her

Went in late but produced enough to supply my sister and sister in law with picked Gherkins, will be grown again in 2018 

GREENHOUSE

The greenhouse got limited use in 2016 as too much rubbish had / has accumulated in it. The plan is to empty, clean and reduce the staging in it such that I can use it for what it's meant for. The access problems in 2016 contributed to the lack of use , but I'm hoping the contractor will stop sitting on their hands with their thumbs up their backsides and put in the pick up and drop area they said they would for us. - Note to self chase the bloody site agent again.


Finally Redrow did start on the drop off and pick up area & the composting WC, but then stopped and have been chased. Obviously for them it's a back burner job when they are between tasks on their development and I fully understand that coming from a construction background. We have something that is useable but just needs to be completed which hopefully will happen before the growing season in 2018 
INFRASTRUCTURE

Over winter the objectives were

  • Clear the greenhouse completely - Nearly but now full of weed membrane for plot 1 
  • Build a replacement for the Tomato Grow House - Nope a job for 2018
  • Clear and Tidy the storage Area - Nope a job for 2018
  • Decant Nettle tea into Comfrey Tea Water Butt
  • Ship Nettle Tea Butt to Spencer Road - Now had to come back " 
MARROW

Long Green Striped   - To be used by Dec 2018 Sow April - May Harvest July Onwards
Long Green Trailing Exhibition Marrow - from Jungle seeds no use by date on the pack or sowing and harvesting information other than sow in peaty sterile seed compost 7mm deep at 25-30C Germination  2 - 3 weeks. Once germinated these grow rapidly and will need good light. Plant out after all frost have passed in a rich manured compost.   

Didn't happen in 2017 - now scheduled for 2018

MELON

This is something new that I want to try and grow in the greenhouses at both allotments in 2017. I have three different varieties to try, Rugoso di Cosenza giallo, Ogen & Sugar Baby.

The packs appear to say Sow from March to May, Plant out May June and Harvest August to September / Early October.   

Didn't happen in 2017 - now scheduled for 2018

ONIONS

Bed 13 currently shows Over Wintering Onions, however no onions will now be grown on this allotment due to the white rot problems on the site, so all onions to be grown on Spencer Road this year. So that means I need to find something else for bed 13.

Grown on Spencer Road but also had White Rot problems - going to try plot 1 in 2018

PARSNIPS

My parsnips were allowed to go to seed on this plot last year. They were given to me by Edita another plot holder and after three sowings of bought seed that did nothing, the ones from the allotment seed took and I ended up with a wonderful bed of Parsnips. I have so many seed that I will be growing a bed worth here and on the other allotment. 



Didn't happen in 2017 must happen in 2018

POTATOES

Rotation so beds 5,7, 8 & 9 used this year, and first early spuds possibly subject to an experiment for SoilFixer in 2017 or 2018. Looking at also the possibility of building a Potato tower above ground if I can get hold of a few more Daleks   

In Buckets - See SoilFixer Experiment result Here

Swift - First Early - Among the fastest maturing of the first early varieties, being the quickest to produce heavy crops of round, smooth, white-fleshed baby new potatoes

Lady Christi - First Early - Lady Christl potatoes are an excellent first early variety that bulks up early in the season and can be harvested after just 8 weeks of sowing. Derek on the allotment had too many potatoes and offered me his excess last year and they were excellent and are defiantly on the list this year.


Second Early- Estima & Sarpo Kifli Spuds to be grown on Spencer Road Allotment



Sarpo Mira - Main Crop - last year 2 went manky and had to be thrown away before they got in the ground, and actually the ones in Wyevale look healthier and better sized and more consistent than those I received directly from the Sarpo people. The original blight buster developed for hard living and recommended by Dan on YouTube after seeing his reveals and as there was an offer I had to try them last year. A definite for this year just not sure if to purchase direct again or not.. 

Sarpo Axona Main Crop - Blight resistant, red skinned main crop.  Floury potato idea for chipping, mashing and baking -

Sarpo Blue DanubeMain Crop -  Unusual blue skinned variety with strong resistance to tuber blight.  The perfect roastie!

Desire - Main Crop - They grow well on my allotment

King Edwards - Main Crop - Fluffy Texture Ideal for Baking or Roasting, the kids disagree about the baking as they prefer the Estima -  2kg sack bought from Wyevale last year  


Not all varieties made it into the ground due to events outside my control - will review for 2018 and repeat SoilFixer experiment in 2018. Sarpo Spud were poor and lot a lot to wire worm in 2017

RHUBARB

Something that I have wanted to grow for some time and have not really got around to it as it needs a static location, however now I have the other plot I will have room. I managed to get the seed for Glaskins Perpetual Rhubarb off the Grapevine seed circle so the plan is to grow from seed in 2017 still not decided if it should live here or at Spencer Road or perhaps both locations?  

Donated Rhubarb in buckets in 2017 going to be brought from Spencer Road Site to Mill Green. There is also Rhubarb on plot 1 which will be split and relocated and I have been promised some Rhubarb by one of the seed suppliers to trial in 2018

RUNNER BEANS

Last year only one bed of runner beans were grown, in 2017 both beds will be grown - Scarlet Emperor seeds from 2016 will be used.

Good as usual and will be grown again in 2018

SWEETCORN

Two beds of sweetcorn planned for this allotment variety Lark F1 and two beds of Swift on the Spencer Road. Butternut squash to be gown in the same beds as the sweetcorn to maximise the growing area. I'm happy for them to wonder over the path between the two adjacent beds.


Only two beds on Mill Green grown and they were stunted and late and were not as good or prolific as previous years, but everyone I have spoken too has said the same and put it down to the crazy weather conditions early on in the year. 

TOMATOES

The F2 Crimson Crush did really well on the allotments over the last two year, I will grown some outside again or in Flower Buckets if beds are not ready for them as well as the Rapunzel out in the open. I will also grow some small bush varieties in the Greenhouse as it's only 1.8m x 1.2m of 6ft x 4ft. The covered grow house skin has finally failed and if repaired in time, tomatoes will be grown there as well as in the Little House on the Allotment extension to the shed.


22 Tomato plants grown at home in 2017, hoping to try and grow some on the allotment in 2018 .

WILDFLOWERS For Bees

I have received two packs of wildflower seed for bees from two different sources this year. Historically I have not grown flowers on the allotment apart from the Daffs and Bluebells that come up early in the comfrey beds and the Poached Egg Plants that are grown to attract aphid eating ladybirds. This year I will plant a minimum of 4 - 6 flower buckets of wild flowers per allotment and move then around to encourage the pollinators in.  

Planned but didn't happen, hopefully it will in 2018