Sunday, 1 August 2021

Planning and Reviewing August in Previous Years

 Reviewing the diary over the last eight years for August

2013 - Built my first Comfrey Pipe after making it in buckets and experiencing the stench, harvesting spring onions, radishes, Wyevale seeds at 50%, trouble getting a fork in the ground used a pick axe. Central path of paving slabs from front garden went in on Mill Green. Wyevale 50p seed sale


2014 - Growing Marrows for the first time, harvesting, Onions, Spring Onions, Carrots, Wyevale 50p seed sale end of August.  


2015 -  Onion End Rot on Mill Green allotment, harvesting month, Digging up paths for compost bins, First Red Tomato 6th August, Sowing Beetroots, whitlow appeared on my finger just as I got my second plot at Spencer Road.   


2016 - End July / Early Aug end of season gardening sale at Wilko, First and last time trying to grow Celery and butternut squash, Pickling Beetroot, 17th August first ripe tomato, end of season Coir top up for next year.  


2017 -  Harvesting and Pickling Beetroots, Spring Onions in cut down Flower Buckets, SF60 Potato In Buckets Harvested, Self Seeding Pumpkins, Comfrey Pipe Upgrade, Overwintering SF60 Spring Onion Experiment,  Agreed the Drop off and Pick Up area with Redrow and the Council,  August Bank Holiday - Wyevale Seed Sale


2018 -  Harvesting so many tomatoes from the three tomato plants on the allotment. Second beetroot bed planted up first week of August. Finally have the stove in the shed and can make coffee. Harvesting cabbage and cauliflower. Pickling Beetroots. Harvesting cucumbers, courgettes, runner beans.  Built the rear extension to the shed on plot 1 .Drying tomato seeds for seed circles. Harvesting potatoes and tomatoes. Picked up packs of seed from the Wyevale seed sale. Started to review my seed box for 2019.

2019 -  Harvesting spuds cucumbers, runner beans etc.. High winds had to rescue sweetcorn. Runner bean frame collapsed so made good on a temporary basis. Shed repairs & weeding. Make a plug plant extraction tool. Pick up materials for cucumber A Frame. Won Kew Gardens Collection Heavy Duty Bypass Secateurs. Segway Stag Do 


2020 -   Heatwave during the first two weeks of August then heavy rainfall and flooding under Wallington bridge. Due to the pandemic I  had been shielding my wife and had not been on the allotment between March and the end of July. Lots of weed clearing to do. Harvesting Tomatoes at home. Apple acidic compost being made as a glut of apples from home. Infrastructure works on plot 1 continues as only cleared down to the shed on plot 1, Potatoes harvested, Meeting with Adam Brind re the wall behind my sheds, Japanese Knotweed and problem plot holders & Trees Only 6 people on the waiting list. Tomato Seed saving at the end of the month  


2021 - August is normally the month for harvesting 

Below is the to do list in no particular order and catching up with what actually happened in July and what has slipped. The plan is now to get a few late crops in and to work on getting the plot ready for next season. 

Coronavirus UPDATE

It appears we are no longer following the science and Boris has buckled do to pressure to get the economy going again.  

To Do List  

Below is the to do list in no particular order of what needs to be done and what has slipped. 

Mill Green - Plot 1A
  • Re felt the roof of the shed - Completed 
  • Fix the potting Bench - TBD. 
  • Tidy Up the Allotment  - Ongoing 
  • Weeding - Ongoing
  • Greenhouse -  Clear and install shading internally. 

Mill Green - Plot 1

  • Potatoes - Harvest the first early spuds 
  • Square Foot Gardening Beds - Two beds formed but were too late for planting up this year. Over winter get the 3rd bed in and get ready for next years season  
  • Beds and Paths - Two Rhubarb beds are dug and installed, need to get the third bed done and transplant the Rhubarb from bed 1 into bed 3    
  • New greenhouse -  Shading installed internally.
  • Install the kerb edging along the bottom of Plot 1 - TBD
  • Clear the weeds and install a 600mm margin around the perimeter of the plot - TBD
  • Tidy Up the Allotment - Ongoing 
Home 
  • Planning - Ongoing
  • Cut Planting Membrane - Narrow bed tomato planting sheets dome and installed make square foot gardening bed blanks
  • Space Saver Greenhouse - Update list of what's in the Space Saver. 
 

Thursday, 29 July 2021

Watering Visit!

 


An early morning visit from 8 - 10am primarily to charge the 2 litre bottles on the potting table with nutrients and fill up the Smart Reservoirs in the Quadgrows again as the last top up on Monday didn't fill the reservoirs and my daughters are away again from Friday to Sunday night so my chances of getting and doing anything significant on the plot of the weekend regardless of the weather is minimal. 

The photo top left is after I had filled all four Smart Reservoirs and topped up not only the 2 litre bottles I already had on site but those additional ones I needed to ensure I can actually top up all 4 at 15 litres each that's 60 litres capacity.

Currently I have 42 litres in bottles already made up for the next top up and I will recharge and add nutrients each time ready for the next top up. I'm really happy with the growth and the way the Quadgrows perform in the greenhouse and I'm contemplating additional Quadgrows for the other greenhouse next year. 

With the amount of rain we have had this week and the flooding there was no need to water anything out on the allotment today, which is just as well as dealing with the Quadgrow took enough time. I may have to look at setting up a 60 litre water butt so that I can do away with all the pop bottles. 


The varieties out on the allotment are only a third of the height of those in the greenhouse and in the Quadgrows, they are developing fruit. 


Suddenly within a week the tassels and the corns are on the sweetcorn which has really loved this hot, humid and wet weather, as have the weeds that are once again invading the paths on plot 1A. I really need to weed and replace the wood chips on plot 1A.


 The onions need to be harvested and put on the rack to dry out ASAP


The first three bed of raspberries are all doing well and moving up to the top wire, and I spot them going red but they are either not quite ready or are gone each time I visit the plot. Me thinks getting the wild life camera set up is going to let me know if it's animal or human taking them.


The Rhubarb is looking good but I really need to get that third bed dug and weeded and the squatter in bed one moved into it's own bed. I also need to spend some time removing the mares tail that is having a field day coming through the wood chipped paths again! 



Cucumbers & Gherkins making their way up the mesh. There was one giant courgette and the other had been eaten by something, perhaps a hungry fox.  

Monday, 26 July 2021

No Cults - Follow Up Inspection.



It's in excess of 28 days of the non-cult letters and Jane Hardy the idverde allotment officer is meeting me this morning to re-inspect the site. There are a number of plot holders on the plot today as they have issues they wish to bring to Janes attention.

Two of the three plot holders who have been issued with non cults have at least cut back all the weeds and are in the process of digging and cultivating the land. One has even sown something in one corner of their plot!.  It's only taken her two years, but finally.  

The third on the other hand did nothing because he was waiting for the non-cult letter, then stated that it never arrived and after it was received, still decided to do nothing. I did ask all three of them if they don't have the time to spend on the plots to please give them up as there are 36 people on the waiting list. 

There are a number of issues which I can't really blog about, until hopefully they are resolved in some way.


As I had not been down this weekend the levels in the Smart Reservoirs of the Quadgrows were on the low side and I used all the made up bottles that were in the greenhouse and when I left the bottles were on the potting bench but I didn't have chance to add the Nutrients A + B to the bottles. 

It's OK being a site rep but I hate it when it steals precious allotment time, dealing with complaints and site inspections. These days I refuse to undertake the inspections as you set yourself up as a target. I accompany Jane and tell her the plot number and give her some background i.e. letting her know that a plot holder is currently in hospital and that's why their plot is a little overgrown etc. and they will be back on it as soon as they recover.  

We have been known the help keep plot clear and water for plot holders who are sick, but we have learnt over time that even God only helps those that help themselves.

Sunday, 25 July 2021

ASDA End of Season Sale

 

My daughters were away this weekend as they had a wedding to attend so they decided to make an extended weekend of it. This did mean that I was not able to visit the allotment as I have to keep an eye on SWMBO. 

However I have them well trained as when they saw the gardening equipment being sold off in an end of season sale, they sent me photos of the shelves and asked me what I wanted and picked it up for me

I goth them so get me 10 twist nozzle sprayers for my watering system that now covers both plot 1A and Plot 1 and can actually be connected from either end of the plot.

I do have plans to extend the system and to put a tap in behind the plot 1 greenhouse at the potting and cleaning table.  

   


Two way splitters were a £1 each, Tomorite was £3.36 for the litre bottle, Growmore fertiliser £1.31 and Advanced Concentrated Weedkiller £1.98 

Friday, 23 July 2021

Measuring Out Green Manure Seeds

 


I always feel a little like a drug dealer measuring our quantities of product when I get the kitchen scales and a little medicine measuring cup out and start bagging up.  

"Honestly your Honour when arrested I was just weighing out bed size quantities of Green Manure! "

It's that time of year again where I have worked out how much Green Manure I need to cover a 2.4m x 1.2m bed. It's always tempting to put far too much seed down and it's nice to have all the Green Manure in bed sized bags. 

As can be seen in the photo above that one pack from the D.T.Brown six pack Green Manure Seeds Collection will cover seven 2.4m x 1.2m beds.


Thursday, 22 July 2021

Wood Chips Storage



We have got to a stage where the wood chip pile has more or less been used up and I need to request some more but I have floated the idea with the other plot holders of moving the drop off bay to the right which is actually more or less straight in front of the timber gates to the drop off and pick up area.

There was a plot holder who was parking in that corner and leaving the car over night which is why we could not use it in the first place. If you examine the photo, bottom of the fence is a concrete retaining wall so actually storing wood chips against it would be ideal.   

Hopefully the plot holder who has had a shed dumped in here on the right, for way too long will get it removed shortly.    

Pauline's Progress

 

As can be seen in this photo Pauline has cleared the right side of her plot down to around the front of the shed. She only has beside the shed along to the apple tree to clear and she also wants to remove the apple tree.  

The Daleks are now no longer in the weeds and some membrane has been laid 




She is piling up the weeds and removed vegetation at the end of her plot as she will have to bag it and remove it or pay for someone to remove it as fires are not allowed on the allotment at all. 

 

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Shed Roof & External Store

Last night there was some thunder & lightning and Rain, wet stuff from the sky!

So why the need to get down to Avalon (my two plots) at 7am this morning? 

 

To finish screwing timber roofing battens to hold down a tarp roof covering on the original Plot 1A shed that was bought in 2012 when I got the plot.  With the tree being dropped on it and it needing re roofing for a couple of years, one of which I was shielding my wife. 

I had bodged it to try and keep it water tight since I noticed it needed attention when the tree was growing over it. Rather than use felt I decided to use a new good quality tarp that I had been given by a friend who sold them and other gardening items. It's an allotment shed, its a make do and mend mentality. 


You can make out the profile of the sag that has happened as the roofing sheeting got damp and sagged but I'm hoping to ease that back up using a few roofing battens internally under the board. 


I have not made my mind up about trimming the tarp at the moment, I may just staple it to the shed, especially along the back. 

The plastic tall-boy store was inside one of Pauline's sheds and she didn't want to take it to her new allotment and I thought it would fit in behind the shed where I had the original racking and covered storage area before they took the tree away and left most of it sitting on my shed in early 2020. 

It's made to measure and fills the gap so well. The path behind the shed needs wood chipping but at the moment we don't have any. I may see if I can rustle up some paving slabs as I won four off Pauline's old plot. 

This end of the allotment and the storage area has been left whilst I have been concentrating on trying to get Plot 1 infrastructure completed. I really could not ignore re roofing the shed anymore especially with the heavy rain forecast for this weekend. 

The potting table up this end needs taking apart and a new scaffolding board surface screwed to the frame as the teak timbers have rotted but the basic frame is still sound.

I also need to finally clear the Plot 1 greenhouse of the items stored in there and net it up and get it ready for some over wintering growing. 


I used all 10 bottle that's 20 litres of water filling up the four Smart Reservoirs in the Qhadgrows which means the tomatoes and evaporation has used 5 litres of water of their 15 litre capacity in three days so the 7 - 10 days claim looks about right for temperatures in the high 20's to low 30's Centigrade.

When filling the reservoirs I noticed that there are small Gigantimo Tomatoes forming, and out on the plot there are Crimson Cherry and Crimson Plum forming. I'm so hoping to get some red tomatoes before blight takes them.  

I charged up the 10 bottles and found another couple and charged those as I don't plan to visit the allotment again until next Monday. 

There are Raspberries going red on the my Malling Juno (early) which are supposed to crop early to late June. This being their first year it's a wonder they are producing anything at all.

I left the allotment at 9:45 as I had to collect a external computer storage device on my way home.  

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Dalefoot V Westland Compost


On the 18th of June I potted up my mini & micro tomatoes half in Dalefoot Wool Compost for potting and the other half in Westland New Horizon BIO3 Tomato Planter and now the result on the healthiest looking tomatoes so far is in...


Dalefoot Wool Compost for potting


Westland New Horizon BIO3 Tomato Planter

And the winner and what I will be growing my mini and micro toms in next year is Dalefoot Wool Compost for potting. Looking at how lush and green the tomatoes I can quite believe there are nutrients in there that would last 12 months. With the hot weather we have been having It appears the reduces watering could be right as again the plants in the wool compost don't look as stressed as the Bio3 compost. 

The plants were originally mixed together in the same area of the Space Saver Greenhouse and they have all been watered via the saucer from the bottom and to the same amount.   


PRESS RELEASE

NEW: Dalefoot Composts adds comfrey into its peat-free range to give plants a nutrient super boost

  • Comfrey – the organic gardeners best friend – a ‘dynamic accumulator’ packed with nutrients is added into the Wool Compost range
  • ‘Bocking 14’ variety has high levels of potassium, phosphorous & nitrogen for healthy plant growth, larger flowers & bigger crops
  • Comfrey now being grown sustainably at Dalefoot farm as company scales up peat-free compost production to supply many more garden centres and nurseries across the UK, plus online for home delivery
  • Bracken for Dalefoot’s products sourced from Exmoor, Northumberland & Wales, helping farming communities & local biodiversity further afield

Dalefoot Composts, the Lake District peat-free compost maker, has added comfrey into its peat-free Wool Compost range giving an extra super charge of nutrients and trace elements for blooming, healthy plants.

Now with a hat-trick of performance-packed natural ingredients - comfrey, bracken and sheep’s wool - the Wool Compost range feeds plants for at least a season, requires less watering, as wool cleverly retains moisture, and is Soil Association-approved for organic gardening. Wool Compost is available in Potting, Seeds, Vegetables & Salads, Tomatoes, Double Strength and Ericaceous1.

Comfrey is renowned in the gardening world for being a plant superfood. It has very long roots so is able to absorb nutrients deep in the soil as it grows, and when harvested and then added to compost or a traditional comfrey tea, the nutrients give a growing ‘kick’ to other plants, encouraging strong, healthy growth.

The introduction of comfrey to the compost mix marks the culmination of a five-year project by the Dalefoot team to grow the plant on a commercial scale, sustainably on the farm, and harness its extraordinary qualities. The fast-growing comfrey crop can be harvested four times a year, so there is plenty on tap to meet rising demand for the company’s premium composts in the future.

The company is also now sourcing bracken from Exmoor, Northumberland and Wales, as well as locally in Cumbria – helping a diversity of farming communities and local landscapes. Bracken is an invasive plant but when harvested sustainably and composted, provides rich potash for plants and acts as a fantastic soil conditioner. Sheep farmers are benefitting too as supplying wool for the compost means they have a market for a product they struggle to sell.

Dalefoot’s peat-free products are unique as they use a fully-traceable, sustainable blend of wool, bracken and now comfrey to make composts for every gardening need. Wool releases a steady stream of nitrogen and other must-have nutrients which, when combined with bracken and comfrey, means no further feed is required over the growing season.

 

Professor Jane Barker of Dalefoot Composts said: “Comfrey is a truly remarkable plant offering a multitude of uses and we’re excited to grow it right here on the farm for our compost. We’ll be looking at how we can use it in other products for the gardener in the future.

“Our farm’s bees, insects and wildlife are also benefitting from the biodiversity boost the new comfrey fields and their nectar-rich flowers bring to the local environment.”

 Over the past 12 months, compost production has doubled at Dalefoot, with 177 garden centres and nurseries now stocking its products. 

 The Dalefoot team also restores peat bogs, some of which were once owned by peat compost companies, across the UK for the likes of Natural England, NatureScot, South West Water and wildlife trusts. Peat bogs store more carbon than forests and many in the UK are now in poor condition, releasing carbon rather than just storing it. To date, this work equates to 1 million tonnes of carbon emissions - equivalent to 500,000 flights from London to New York - saved since Dalefoot started two decades ago.

The range is available online at www.dalefootcomposts.co.uk from £11.99 per bag down to £8.50 each for orders of 50 bags plus delivery, and also from a growing list of stockists.

Watering & Shed Re-Roofing

 


When I arrived at 7am the whole plot was in shade. I set the sprinkler up so that it would water the Raspberries and the Rhubarb at the start of plot 1


I then set about stripping the Heath Robinson repairs to the shed roof on plot 1A which is at the opposite end of the plots and remains in shade until about 10am when as it happens is when I had to make my way home.

I'm using a good grade tarp and have cut timber roofing battens, drilled and screwed them so that they are ready for fixing all around the edges tomorrow. 

I want the tarp to lay in the sun and let the heat flatten the folds in it out. I laid some polycarbonate sheets on the eves both sides and I did wonder about perhaps once the tarps is fixed all around perhaps I should overlay the whole thing with the polycarbonate I have?


Sections of an old mesh fireguard let some air flow into the greenhouse via the door but keep the nosy fox from getting in there and running a mock. The tomato plants  are now up to eaves level and soon I will have to nip the tops off.  I just hope I actually get some tomatoes this year as I'm reading that allotment growers locally are dealing with blight.


I have no idea why the allotment agapanthus I've grown has a white flower when the plant I got the seeds from to grow it, has blue flowers! 

When asking why on one of the forums I have been informed that they only way of ensuring the same colour is to split the original mother plant up and growing from seeds they can develop flowers that are a different colour.

Monday, 19 July 2021

Pauline's Progress


Pauline sent these photos over with a note that she had started at 7am but was back home just after 10 as it got too hot. The area cleared is within the collapsed fruit cage and it looks like she is having all the fruit out and going for a more of less blank canvas to carve up how she wants too. 

If she is going to continue sending me update photos I will share them here so that readers can also enjoy her journey.  

Met Office First Ever Heat Warning

The Met Office has issued its first ever extreme heat warning today as the UK experiences sweltering conditions in parts of the country.


I can't help it in my head I just hear Basil Fawlty saying 

"Specialist Subject the Bleeding Obvious!"

Early Morning Watering

I usually visit the allotment on a Sunday morning, however with all the car breakdown shenanigans yesterday and the anticipated 32 degrees C forecast for Sunday, being on the allotment digging Rhubarb bed 3 was not really something I wanted to put myself through. 

It was however with the sun and temperatures we had Saturday and Sunday a no brainer that I would have to do an 7:45 - 10am visit to the allotment to water the half that is in the shade this morning. Temperatures today are anticipated to be 29 - 30C with thunder storms but little in the way of rain later tonight.

Pauline didn't want to take a half parasol with her to her new allotment but it's ideal for the table behind the Plot 1 greenhouse as I have the table up against the wall. Getting that set in place this morning made darting in and out of the greenhouse and working at the table bearable.

The Smart Reservoirs of the Greenhouse Sensation Quadgrows in the greenhouse that were topped up last Wednesday were approximately half empty this morning and I used all the 10 bottles I had ready and then had to make up another eight bottles to fill the Quadgrows up. Based on 2 litre bottles that's 36 Litres and I have 4 Quadgrows at 15 Litre each capacity so 60 Litres.

I topped up the 10 bottles and added the Type A & Type B Nutrigrow Plant Food Nutrients to the bottles so they are ready for the next top up which if the temperature remains high like this may be this weekend or mid next week.

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Moving Pauline II

A couple of weeks ago my sister-in-law Pauline came up from her new home in Horley by train to visit us for a spot of lunch and so that I can help her move some of her tools from her three sheds on plots 6 & 7 down to her new plot on the allotment that is behind her house. She has a T&P shed and and gardening shed, then there was the two old asbestos sheds on her second half plot that she inherited.  

Today her son-in-law and my son-in-law are moving the remainder of the items she wants to ship down to her new home and plot. It's a little bitter sweet as I helped her and Keith measure up and set out the plot when they took it over, and it was Keith that talked me into getting my plot on the same site. The idea was that we could meet up and have socials on the plot or Keith and I could graft and the girls could natter. That really never came to pass as the wife got ill and her mobility got bad so quickly that having a fall put her off coming over and helping me. 

Keith passed away a couple of years ago now, and Pauline has now moved nearer to her daughter who is due to make her a Nan soon. I miss Keith a great deal he was more like a Brother than a brother-In-law, and now there will be no coffee making and sharing with Pauline.

I arrived early to clear the plot 1 shed in order to fix a bookcase that was going to the tip to the back wall of the shed. 

Soon Andy and then Pauline & James turned up and we set to work filling first Andy's van and then finally just a few items in the back of my car.

We then made our way to Horsham to and I was driving down the M23 and about a mile away from the Peas Pottage when there was suddenly a noise like a rumble strip and I decided that pulling over would be a good idea. 



On jumping out of the car I was shocked to find that the tyre had exploded!  Pauline and I evacuated the car and I tried to ring the RAC. I have to say they now want everything logged on the internet. Now just because I have a smart phone does not mean I use it to surf the web. 


Andy pulled in as he had a warning triangle and more importantly two seats that he was taking to Pauline's new plot so jumped over the barrier, Pauline and I got the seats and we tucked into the packed lunches that Emma my daughter had made us.

Now what does really worry me is if I had broken down on the new four lane section of the motorway would I have been expected to drive my car on the inside lane to the emergency laybys that are at about mile centres?

The removal of the hard shoulder is such a bad thing and really has not been thought through !  

Finally after about and hour and a half the RAC arrived put on a transport wheel and then we went to the service station and they found a somewhere that could fit me a new tyre. I followed the RAC Van to their venue and I was in and out again in around 10 minutes! 

Pauline and Andy had gone on ahead in he van once the RAC had arrived, and I followed the sat-nav to Pauline's new home.  A cup of coffee later we all went to the allotment to drop off those items that needed to go straight to the plot, Andy and Pauline having already stored a lot of other stuff in her garage. 

View from the top right corner of the plot 



View from the top left corner of the plot with the weeds removed and covered in weed membrane and the weed thinned from the fruit bushes. 


Looking at the section of the plot between the fruit cage and the shed that needs clearing to give Pauline a clear run at organising getting her greenhouse in beside the shed and getting in the beds sorted for 2022. 

Thankfully the dive home was uneventful! 

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Bamboo Scaffolding & New Path


Early morning visit to water, finish the bamboo scaffolding on the Quadgrows, in the plot 1 greenhouse. The tomatoes in the Greenhouse & Quadgrow are nearly 3 times taller than the same varieties out on the plot.

Tidy the shed a little to find the tomato clips.

Watered the sweetcorn and beetroots.

I also dug and weeded and install the path next to Rhubarb Beds 1 & 2.

I'm glad I stockpiled some wood chips in the corner of the plot but with all the rain we've had its very black and degrading under the surface inch or two.

I think I may need to spread it out and thin on the tarp to let it dry out a little.