Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Bessie her last visit to the allotment

All my cars have been called Bessie after an old school teacher, well it was Fiat Punto Bessies' last run to the allotment with 5 sacks of crushed glass for under the slabs and two sack loads of shredded paper that is now living in the old recycled Wheelie Bin that I acquired and dropped off on Monday when I dropped off more paper and the car mats that are now keeping the top of the compost in the daleks warm.

I also managed to make a few more soft bricks out of milk bottles filled with sand. 

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Weather and Health Slows Down Play

Well the obligatory icy freezing and wet conditions and the coughs and man cold have prevented any real progress on either plot over the last two weeks. In addition the loft needed clearing as the builder is coming to make the alterations to the bathroom and wc and the ceilings are being removed and replaced so all the Christmas items that are normally over that area, are currently stored in the spare bedroom.

I have however managed to save a vast amount of shredded cardboard and paper for the compost bins, and these were delivered to the plot Sunday midday between rain showers. In addition to the paper and with the demise of the old car the mats were taken and used to top off the daleks. 

Maggie was on site and showed me the rhubarb I can relieve her off next time I'm down there and have time to dig it out.   

Whilst on the plot I did manage to get some soft bricks (milk bottles) filled up with the sand that had been standing in trays in the blow-away and had dried sufficiently to flow though the pop bottle funnel into the milk bottles, before having to return home for lunch.

I feel like my programme of works for the allotments is slipping.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Freecycle Comes Up Trumps Again

40 slabs come up for grabs, I came second but the first respondent only wanted 28 so I managed to pick up 12 number 400 x 400 slabs from Worcester Park and take them down the allotment. So that's 12 x 0.4m - 4.8m which is 6 slabs on 2.4m path or 3 per 2.4m path to weight down the membrane at the ends and the middle.  

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Lidl Digital Thermometer

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 have been purchased today, 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.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Tomatoes Compost & Coir

I have a new car all lined up, so I'm using the old one that I'm going to scrap to do as many mucky jobs and short runs as possible and to use up the tank of petrol before she goes to the crusher.


The tomato plants have long since gone but the spent compost & coir has been taken to Spencer Road Allotment to be used as a soil conditioner.

  Bed 2 is looking good after 14 flower buckets had been emptied on it


Bed 3 had the stable manure scrapped off and put in flower buckets and then six flower buckets of Tomato compost & coir has been added as a dressing.



A sack of sand decanted into milk bottles and put in the blow-a-way to dry out, as I need soft bricks to hold down the membrane when it finally goes on top of the beds.  

Next visit to find a home for all the sacks of hops that are currently on the paved area so I can continue to level the slabs.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Cabbage Collers & Spuds

A visit to Lidl didn't result in the purchase of the thermometers as I had hoped as they may be in this week brochure but they don't put them out on the shop floor until Sunday. So home via Wyevale to look at the sale.

A number of packs of 30 number J Arthur Bower's Cabbage Collars reduced from £3.49 to 50p a pack. I believe I have enough for many a year to come. And a 2 kg pack of Estima Second Early potatoes for a £5

Clip on light arrived today and the two bulbs yesterday so only the converter from bayonet to screw and the screw T fittings to arrive and I'm ready to rock 'n' roll with Grow Station 2 

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Rotary Soil Sieve

The Clarke CRS400 Rotary Soil Sieve has a price range of between £64.66 - £38.32 when undertaking a google search, which is mind boggling that companies get away with selling it for so much.

Tool-net have it for £24.94 + Vat = £29.93 then when you add £6.99 for UK Mainland delivery and they apply VAT not only to the item but also on the Post & Packaging it comes to £38.32.

I could not find one to pick up in a local garden centers for the £29.93 price tag.


After some searching & research I found the Apex Rotary Soil Sieve Compost Sieve Mesh Riddle from Germany which can be bought via ebay for £34.98 including delivery.

So £3.34 cheaper than the lowest UK price and shipped in from over seas, absolutely crazy but I do like a bargain, and that's equivalent to six packs of seed with change in the Wyevale 50p seed sale later in the year.

I did inform Clarke & Tool-net via email of the price difference and that I was thinking of getting the alternative product from Germany and suggested that they may wish to provide me with the Clarke CRS400 for comparison.

Funny I never got a reply from either company! 


The Apex & The Clarke are the same size looking at the specifications the images just make them look different.

If I am lucky enough to obtain a review product from Clarke so that I can compare the quality of both that will be marvellous, however I get the general feeling that isn't going to happen.

Especially if they are fundamentally the same product with different branding and paint colour.    

Happy to be proved wrong Clarkes or Tool-net if you read this.


Sunday, 8 January 2017

Rain Stops Play

Rain Stops Play again so the result was seed sorting. I created the labels for my new batch of tomatoes from the Grapevine and have now sorted out those that will go to the seed swap and the growing list for 2018 & 2019

Stage 3 - 2018 Grow List
Subject to acquiring even more varieties from the Grapevine 2017 Tomato seed circle  

01 Alicante - Sow by 2017
02 Amish Mayberry - Saved 2013 - Saved 2016

03 Blush - Grapevine 2016
04 Chiapis Wild - Grapevine 201605 Latah Bush - Saved 2015
06 Marvel Stripes - Saved 2015
07 Peace Vine - Saved 2015
08 Plum Roma - Saved 2015
09 Pomodore Ciliegla - Sow By 2015
10 Rainbow Blend F1 Hybrid - Sow By 2015
11 Red Cherry - Sow By 2015
12 Red Fox Cherry - Saved 2015
13 Sandpipe - Saved 2016 - Saved 2015

14 Speckled Roman - Grapevine 2016
15 Sweet Aperitif - Sow By 2017
16 Terenzo F1 Hybrid - Sow By 2015 - Sow By 2017
17 Tomatoberry Garden F1
18 Tumbler - Sow By 2014
19 Tumbling Tom Red - Sow By 2014 - Saved 2016

20 Vesennij Mieurinsky - Grapevine 2016

Stage 4 - 2019 Grow List
Subject to acquiring even more varieties from the Grapevine 2017 Tomato seed circle  

01 Black Cherry Tomato - Grapevine 2016
02 Black Icicle - Grapevine 2016
03 Brown Sugar - Grapevine 2016
04 Cream Sausage - Grapevine 2016
05 German Queen - Grapevine 2016
06 Green Zebra - Grapevine 2016
07 Gold Rush Currant - Grapevine 2016
08 Harbinger - Sow By 2015 - Grapevine 2016
09 Jack Hawkins - Grapevine 2016
10 Legend - Grapevine 2016
11 Mrs Rucks - Grapevine 2016
12 Mountain Princess - Grapevine 2016
13 Otto's Papa - Grapevine 2016
14 Red Buffalo Horn - Grapevine 2016
15 Red Zebra - Grapevine 2016  - Saved 2014
16 Rio Grande - Grapevine 2016
17 Rosella - Grapevine 2016
18 Summer Cider - Grapevine 2016
19 Yellow Perfection - Grapevine 2016

Relegated to the Seed Swap Box mainly because they are Black or Yellow Tomatoes

Arnyalma - Grapevine 2016
Berkeley Tie-Dye - Grapevine 2016
Black Russian - Grapevine 2016
Black Sea Man - Grapevine 2016
Dark Galaxy - Grapevine 2016

Brussels Sprouts

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.

Up yours T&M and then just when I thought I was done I found a pack of Rubine hiding away in another seed box. So for 2017 we are growing:- 


Eveham Special

Sow Indoors Feb - Mid March
Sow Outdoors - Late March
Plant Out April - May after last Frost
Germination 14  - 21 Days 
Harvest September  - December 

Bedford Darkmar 21

Sow Indoors Feb - Mid March
Sow Outdoors - Late March
Plant Out April - May after last Frost
Germination 14  - 21 Days 
Harvest - Mid-November to January 


Brest F1

Sow Indoors March - April
Sow Outdoors April
Harden off once 150mm high
Plant Out April - May after last Frost
Germination 14  - 21 Days 
Harvest - November - February 


Rubine

Sow Indoors Feb - April
Sow Outdoors March - April
Harden off once 150mm high
Plant Out April - May after last Frost
Germination 14  - 21 Days 
Harvest - November - January 

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Grow Light Station 2

Brought my surfing and visiting shops looking for grow lights and ancillary items to a conclusion just before bed last night and have ordered the items I need for my second stage grow station 2.

From ebay

£  9.99  Philips Tornado 42W or 60W E27 Edison Cool White Spiral Energy Saving Light Bulb

£  9.95  Daylight 6500k Spiral SAD 42w Day Light E27 Low Energy Bulb Hydroponics Lamp

From Amazon

£  0.84   Lamp Socket Converter (E27 to 2x E27)

£  1.07   Skytronic 401.090 Lamp Socket Converter Bayonet Screw

£  3.80   Mercury Switched Clip on Lamp Holder
---------
£ 25.65

Friday, 6 January 2017

Post Christmas Parcels Arrive

Well these have arrived over the last couple of days



Apex Rotary Soil Sieve Compost Sieve Mesh Riddle from Germany



I have now received the main component parts for my first grow station, Just recalled I have a nice lump of timber in the back of the shed on one of the allotments that will do the base and timber batten for the framework, so I need to recover that next dry visit.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Tomato Selection - The Final Cut

OK  in the last post I had managed to get a short list of 42 from 75 in my tomato seed bank that I would like to grow, the next step is to reduce by half-ish and create a three year growing cycle from the tomato seed bank.  

Stage 1 - remove the >>>> = Grow Every Year from the list

01 Beefsteak
02 Gardeners Delight - Sow By 2015 - Sow By 2016
03 Crimson Crush F3
04 Kibitz - Saved 2016
05 Money Maker
06 One Hundreds and Thousands - Saved 2014 - Saved 2016
07 Outdoor Girl - Saved 2015 - Saved 2016
08 Stupicke Poini Rane - Saved 2016 - Sow By 2017

Stage 2 - Remove those with no date of the oldest Grow By dates for growing this year 2017

01 Blaby Special - Saved 2014
02 Camp Joy - No Date
03 Cherry Falls F1- No Date

04 Delicious - No Date
05 Ferline F1 Hybrid

06 German Lunchbox - No Date
07 Heinz Soup - Saved 2011
08 Indian Bush - No Date

09 Kenilworth King George - No Date
10 Mini Plum - TESCO  - Saved 2014 - get new seed 
11 Minibel - Sow By 2014
12 Nector Rose - Saved 2014
13 Piccolo - Saved 2011
14 Rapunzel F1
15 Purple Russian Plum - Sow By 2014
16 Red Robin - Saved 2015 <<<<< My contribution to Grapevine Seed Circle
17 Sub Artic Plenty - No Dates
18 Sunset Red Horizon - Saved 2014
19 Super Roma - No Dates

20 Sweet Pea Currant - Sow By 2014
21 Tiny Tim - Sow By 2013   <<<<< My contribution to Grapevine Seed Circle

Red Robin & Tiny Tim will become Numbers 9 & 10 on my annual grow list.
Stage 3 - Those that Remain to be added to the 2018 Grow List

01 Alicante - Sow by 2017
02 Amish Mayberry - Saved 2013 - Saved 2016

03 Latah Bush - Saved 2015
04 Marvel Stripes - Saved 2015
05 Peace Vine - Saved 2015
06 Plum Roma - Saved 2015
07 Pomodore Ciliegla - Sow By 2015
08 Rainbow Blend F1 Hybrid - Sow By 2015
09 Red Cherry - Sow By 2015
10 Red Fox Cherry - Saved 2015
11 Sandpipe - Saved 2016 - Saved 2015

12 Sweet Aperitif - Sow By 2017
13 Terenzo F1 Hybrid - Sow By 2015 - Sow By 2017
14 Tomatoberry Garden F1
15 Tumbler - Sow By 2014
16 Tumbling Tom Red - Sow By 2014 - Saved 2016


Stage 4 - 5 of those listed below need to be moved to up to the 2018 list above, a couple cut as I don't grow many blacks & yellows and those left behind will become the 2019 Grow List

01 Arnyalma - Grapevine 2016
02 Berkeley Tie-Dye - Grapevine 2016
03 Black Cherry Tomato - Grapevine 2016
04 Black Icicle - Grapevine 2016
05 Black Russian - Grapevine 2016
06 Black Sea Man - Grapevine 2016
07 Blush - Grapevine 2016
08 Brown Sugar - Grapevine 2016
09 Cream Sausage - Grapevine 2016
10 Chiapis Wild - Grapevine 2016
11 Dark Galaxy - Grapevine 2016
12 German Queen - Grapevine 2016
13 Green Zebra - Grapevine 2016
14 Gold Rush Currant - Grapevine 2016
15 Harbinger - Sow By 2015 - Grapevine 2016
16 Jack Hawkins - Grapevine 2016
17 Legend - Grapevine 2016
18 Mrs Rucks - Grapevine 2016
19 Mountain Princess - Grapevine 2016
20 Otto's Papa - Grapevine 2016
21 Red Buffalo Horn - Grapevine 2016
22 Red Zebra - Grapevine 2016  - Saved 2014
23 Rio Grande - Grapevine 2016
24 Rosella - Grapevine 2016
25 Speckled Roman - Grapevine 2016
26 Summer Cider - Grapevine 2016
27 Vesennij Mieurinsky - Grapevine 2016
28 Yellow Perfection - Grapevine 2016

I think I'm nearly there...... Until I get the seed parcel from the Grapevine next year that is!

The Grapevine 2017 Tomato Seed Circle can be found here

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Tomato Seed Selection 2017

And now the pain begins I need to select 28 out of 75 varieties that I have in my seed boxes to grow in 2017. How do I get to the magical number of 28, there will be 22 flower buckets worth in the back garden, there will be three for the Grapevine and other seed circles that will be isolated in the greenhouses on the Allotments and the Space Saver Greenhouse at home, and two varieties grown in the ground on the two allotment plots and one variety at my eldest daughters.  

I'm not counting any space from the Mill Green Grow House and the Extension to the Little Shed on Mill Green Allotment in the equation at the moment which could hold another 12 varieties, giving me a maximum of 40 plants   

>>>> = Grown Every Year
>>> = Selected for growing in 2017

01 >>> Alicante - Sow by 2017
02 >>> Amish Mayberry - Saved 2013 - Saved 2016
Arnyalma - Grapevine 2016
03 >>>> Beefsteak
Berkeley Tie-Dye - Grapevine 2016
04 >>> Blaby Special - Saved 2014
Black Cherry Tomato - Grapevine 2016
Black Icicle - Grapevine 2016
Black Russian - Grapevine 2016
Black Sea Man - Grapevine 2016
Blush - Grapevine 2016
Brown Sugar - Grapevine 2016
05 >>> Camp Joy - No Date
06 >>> Cherry Falls F1- No Date
Cream Sausage - Grapevine 2016
07 >>>> Crimson Crush F3
Chiapis Wild - Grapevine 2016
Dark Galaxy - Grapevine 2016
08 >>> Delicious - No Date
09 >>> Ferline F1 Hybrid
10 >>>> Gardeners Delight - Sow By 2015 - Sow By 2016
Garden Pearl <<<<<< The only Tomato I will never grow again
11 >>> German Lunchbox - No Date
German Queen - Grapevine 2016
Green Zebra - Grapevine 2016
Gold Rush Currant - Grapevine 2016
Harbinger - Sow By 2015 - Grapevine 2016
12 >>> Heinz Soup - Saved 2011
13 >>> Indian Bush - No Date
Jack Hawkins - Grapevine 2016
14 >>> Kenilworth King George - No Date
15 >>>> Kibitz - Saved 2016
16 >>> Latah Bush - Saved 2015
Legend - Grapevine 2016
17 >>> Marvel Stripes - Saved 2015
18 >>> Mini Plum - TESCO  - Saved 2014 - get new seed
19 >>> Minibel - Sow By 2014
20 >>> Money Maker
Mrs Rucks - Grapevine 2016
Mountain Princess - Grapevine 2016
21 >>> Nector Rose - Saved 2014
22 >>>> One Hundreds and Thousands - Saved 2014 - Saved 2016
Otto's Papa - Grapevine 2016
23 >>>> Outdoor Girl - Saved 2015 - Saved 2016
24 >>> Peace Vine - Saved 2015
25 >>> Piccolo - Saved 2011
26 >>> Plum Roma - Saved 2015
27 >>> Pomodore Ciliegla - Sow By 2015
28 >>> Purple Russian Plum - Sow By 2014
29 >>> Rainbow Blend F1 Hybrid - Sow By 2015
Red Buffalo Horn - Grapevine 2016
30 >>> Red Cherry - Sow By 2015
31 >>> Red Fox Cherry - Saved 2015
32 >>> Red Robin - Saved 2015
Red Zebra - Grapevine 2016  - Saved 2014
33 >>> Rapunzel F1
Rio Grande - Grapevine 2016
Rosella - Grapevine 2016
Unknown Black with a working title of Schwarse Weinreich - Saved by Nellie-m
Sandpipe - Saved 2016 - Saved 2015
Speckled Roman - Grapevine 2016
34 >>>> Stupicke Poini Rane - Saved 2016 - Sow By 2017
35 >>> Sub Artic Plenty - No Dates
Summer Cider - Grapevine 2016
36 >>> Sunset Red Horizon - Saved 2014
37 >>> Super Roma - No Dates
Sweet Aperitif - Sow By 2017
38 >>> Sweet Pea Currant - Sow By 2014
39 >>> Terenzo F1 Hybrid - Sow By 2015 - Sow By 2017
40 >>> Tiny Tim - Sow By 2013   <<<<< Seed Circle
41 >>> Tomatoberry Garden F1
42 >>> Tumbler - Sow By 2014
Tumbling Tom Red - Sow By 2014 - Saved 2016
Vesennij Mieurinsky - Grapevine 2016
Yellow Perfection - Grapevine 2016

So let the selection start, I think it's going to take some time. I will review the packs and select the oldest seeds first and perhaps some of those will be added to the three for the seed circle.

Mill Green Allotment - Crimson Crush F3
Mill Green Greenhouse - ???
Mill Green Grow House - If it can be reconstructed in time 6 Varieties
Mill Green Little Shed Extension - 6 varieties

Spencer Road Allotment -
Spencer Road Greenhouse - If erected in time

Back Garden Space Saver Greenhouse -
Back Garden - 22 Varieties.