Friday, 31 March 2017

In My Seed Box - Carrots


last year I had some very strange looking carrots, and I normally only grow a half beds worth, indeed the plan up until this review was to do same this year, however looking at the information from the packs below I will be sowing 7 row at 300mm centres in the following order, based on their harvest dates.

Nantes 2 - Frubund 
Early Scarlet Horn 
Chartenay Red Cored
Early Nantes 5
Paris Market - Atlas   
Royal Chantenay 3    
Nigel F1 Hybrid

If space becomes clear

Jitka F1        
St Valery  
Sugarsnaps 54 F1

Review Of Seed Stocks in Zippy Bags

Chantenay Red Cored

St Valery - Sarah Raven Collection - sow by 2017

Jitka F1 - Sarah Raven Collection - sow by 2017

Royal Chantenay 3 - Sarah Raven Collection - sow by 2017

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets Sow By 2016/ 2017

Early Scarlet Horn - 1500 seeds - £1.49 - Unwins - best before 7/2017
Early Nantes 5 - 6m seed tape = 5 rows - £2.99 - Mr Fothergill - best before 12/2017
Nantes 2 - Frubund x 2 packs - 500 seeds - £2.69 - Thompson & Morgan - best before 12/2017
Nigel F1 Hybrid - 500 seeds - £2.29 - Thompson & Morgan  best before 12/2017
Paris Market - Atlas - 2500 seeds - £1.99 - Thompson & Morgan  best before 12/2017
Sugarsnaps 54 F1 - 500 seeds - £1.99 - Unwins - best before 7/2017

                                      Sowing            Harvest
Chartenay Red Cored - Mar - Jun          May - Oct
Early Scarlet Horn       - Feb - Jun          May - Sep
Early Nantes 5            - Mar - Jul           May - Oct
Jitka F1                       - Mar - Jul          Jun - Nov
Nantes 2 - Frubund     - Feb - Oct         Apr - Nov
Nigel F1 Hybrid           - Mar - Jun         Jul - Dec
Paris Market - Atlas    - Mar - July        Jun - Oct
Royal Chantenay 3     - Mar - Jun        Jun - Oct
St Valery                     - Mar - July        Jun - Nov
Sugarsnaps 54 F1      - April - June      Aug - Mar
Germination 14 - 21 days

Rows  250 - 300 apart


Update as the result of a thread about blogging on the Grapevine 21/04/2017

What got me was the difference in the sowing and harvesting dates for some varieties, next year I intend to sow Nantes 2 - Frubund   Sow ~ Feb - Oct  Harvest ~ Apr - Nov in Feb and March the rest are from March. It's also made me think about what other carrots can be sown beyond the June July end date that most have?.

I also better remind myself that Sugarsnaps 54 F1 can be harvested well into the following year!

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Lettuce & Tomato But No Bacon

Tis a shame we can't keep pigs on the allotment ! 

Today the last of the tomatoes in the nursery modules have been moved up to vending machine cups and 12 modules of Chartwell Lettuce have been sown. A scaffolding width weed membrane has been cut for the Air Onion bed, a 600 path weed membrane and a 2.4m x 1.2m blank sheet cut from the roll of membrane.


Monday, 27 March 2017

March Sowing & Growing Update


Here are the Lobjoits Green and Little Gem lettuces that were sown on the 6th March and last photographed on the 17th March when I did My Seed Box - Lettuce Review. I'm not sure if I will bother with sowing any more Lobjoits Green in a hurry as the germination rate is poor especially at three seeds per station, and I have many more varieties in the box to play with.

I have sown another 12 modules of Little Gem today because we like them


12 Modules of Reine des Glaces at one seed per module because that was all the seeds I had of that type from a seed circle.


The Bettollo F1 Beetroots  sown on the 16th March are just showing in the Space Saver Greenhouse where as the ones sown on 24th March just four days ago in the LED Grow Station are already more developed than them. Makes me feel like adding another box and grow light panel to the Portable Grow Light Station.




The North Holland Blood Red Spring Onions are doing well sown on the 16th March in the LED Grow House 12 days ago and moved to the space saver greenhouse six days ago. The do want to lean towards the light/ front of the greenhouse, but I keep turning them every couple of days to try and correct the lean.    


The Sprouts and Cauliflowers are doing OK, but I think that they need to be moved out of the Space saver Greenhouse and into the cold frame especially if we start having sunny days and higher day time temperatures.


Not all the varieties of cabbage are doing as well as each other and some have turned up their toes and will need re sowing, or replacements found, I think the sun and heat in the last couple of days could have knocked them back, but the Pixie & Prmo 2 didn't look particularly strong to start with. 


The tomatoes are doing well in the brick grow house and do not look too purple stemmed, as the night time temperatures in there are better than the space saver greenhouse. The ones in the small modules need moving up to vending machine cups in the next couple of days. I was hoping to have lost a tray of spuds in the ground over the weekend just gone to give me some extra space in here, but it didn't happen 



The Air Onions really need moving into their final bed but that realistically is not going to happen until next weekend if the weather remains fine and allows.

I still have to cut the scaffold boards, cut some weed membrane, dig and weed the bed and surrounding area, construct the bed and line with the weed membrane, decant compost from the dalek to fill and then plant the onions that's a full days work going on how long it took for the other tree/ walking onion bed.






Comfrey Pipe End Cap & Bottle Holder

With the comfrey growing on Spencer Road I have been making the parts I need for the new comfrey pipe.




Using bits of scrap WBP ply left over from the wet room works I have cut two cheek plates that are pre-drilled ready for three screws into the bottom of the 75x75mm timber post that the pipe will be mounted on.

The milk bottle is also around 75mm wide and is a snug fit. The height of the side cheeks was determined by being able to slide the bottle in under the silicon tube spout that is fixed to the end plate for the comfrey pipe, then it can be raised up and a brick placed under to lift the bottle up, so the spout is inside the plastic milk bottle.

The cap has a slot so its easy to offer up the pipe and end cap when erecting the pipe. The cap will also offer support to the bottom of the comfrey pipe.




The weight or press to exert pressure on the comfrey that will be cut up is supplied by a 2 litre pop bottle filled with sand that fits quite nicely into the 100mm diameter  drainage pipe that I have bought.

The trusty soldering iron made the hole in the cap to the bottle for a rope to be added and lots of knots made, so that the weight can be extracted from the pipe when it rots down and needs re filling.

The plant pot saucer also had a hole melted with the soldering iron so that the end of the string can not fall into the pipe and it also caps off the top of the comfrey pipe.



I will add photographs and maybe as video of the erection and the final pipe on this posting once it is erected.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Tree - Walking Onion Bed One


The clocks went forward and I was up at 6.00 but being dark, and forgetting to reset the clocks before going to bed, I thought it was 5.00 and I went back to bed and woke again at 6:30 which was really 7:30, so I had lost an hour and a half or two and a half hours depending on how you look at it. The result was a late start on the allotment and I felt like I had lost an hour of daylight to work in.

I went to the allotment with great aspirations of getting the Catawissa Walking Onions in, and a bed of spuds planted, plus cutting the grass to the path at the rear, in my mind I may even of had time to erect the extension to the shed. I only managed to get two things completed, as time flashes past when your on the allotment enjoying yourself, or putting it another way perhaps I'm faster in my brain than I am in reality.

I had cut strips of weed membrane and stapled it to the inside of the bed to separate the soil and the timber on the sides. Then I lined the bottom of the bed with cardboard to hopefully put off any couch grass that may remain from coming up.  I had taken some compost material with me and decided that rather than add to the dalek I would line the bottom of the Walking Onion bed with it. 

Next I opened Dalek 1 and removed the fresher material from the top, complete with red wigglers. I had taken two buckets of Coir with me and mixed that in with the compost to assist in helping the raised bed to retain moisture and hopefully not dry out to fast.    


In best Blue Peter fashion the previously prepared walking onion weed membrane was found and laid down, timber roofing barren cut to hold down the edges, and the onion decanted from their vending machine cups into hole formed with the bulb planter. Some small coke bottles will go into some of the free holes in order to assist in watering the beds at depth.   

  
The next stage was to cable tie the anti fox and wind break mushroom tray bottoms to the timber posts. I will add a second level as the onions grow, and I collect more trays.  I laid some of the tile offcuts from the wet room over the weed membrane around the rear entrance and compost bins, better than land filling them in my books.


  
I did manage to cut the grass on the path behind my plot. The daffs are dying off and the comfrey is coming up at an alarming rate, looks like I may need that comfrey pipe sooner than later. I need to deal with the weeds coming up around the bottom of the Daleks next visit.

I also need to harvest a couple of more plants from Mill Green to fill in the gaps in comfrey Bed 2 in the back of the photograph.

I returned later in the day with a huge sack of grass cuttings courtesy of my sister in law and topped up Dalek 2 to the brim. The grass was already hot and starting to cook, and I made sure it went into the bin in layers with shredded paper added  

Friday, 24 March 2017

A Little Bit Of History Repeating Itself



There was a second lump of WBP 22mm plywood left over from the wet room works and I cut it in half and put a slope on it and have taken it down to Spencer Road allotment to make a cold frame hardening off extension like I have on the Mill Green Shed. 

The seed tray on the left shows the depth and its about 1.2m tall










I'm thinking something like this with a polycarbonate roof and removable shelving. The alterative is to replace the blow away to the front of the shed, but it would be much narrower and in full sun all day so not so good for a cold frame, hardening off area.  






  


Ummm It's just a little bit of history repeating itself !

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Portable LED Grow Stations

A visit to my local hardware shop resulted in me finding clear plastic storage boxes that are wide enough to accept the 300x300mm square panel fixed to the lid and the lid shuts.

I used the trusty soldering iron to melt a hole for the kettle plug to go through in the end and three air/ ventilation holes along the long sided and one on the short sides


The original box that the lid would not shut on is being used  at the bottom of the stack to raise up the two grow stations so they are nearer the light from the window in my broom cupboard office.

Tomorrow I shall be sowing some Bettollo F1 Beetroots to go into the bottom grow house.

There is already a tray of beetroots in the space saver greenhouse, and It's going to be interesting to see if the ones in the grow station germinate faster than those that are in the space saver greenhouse.

Ummm I could possibly add one more box to the stack, but for the moment I think I will see how I get on with two.



Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Tomatoes & Spring Onions

Today I transplanted the tomato plants that have grown large enough to be moved onto vending machine cups, I placed at depth so that the seed leafs were level with the top of the compost. They are currently living in the brick grow station 2.


The Holland Blood Red Spring Onions have been taken out of the LED portable grow station and moved into the space saver greenhouse and a tray or Ishikura Spring Onions have been sown in vending machine cups and have taken their place.

It will be interesting to see how quickly these germinate in the LED grow station.

Production of Pop Bottle Self Watering Propagators has commenced in readiness of the sowing frenzy that is to come.  

Celery Experiment

A Doritos dip jar covered with black tape to stop the water going green in the sun, the little slit is so that I can see the water level in the jar. 

The bottom of the celery bought from the supermarket has been cut off and placed in the jar and they start to regrow and produce roots. There is about 7 - 10 days between each one in the photograph, and I will continue to do this until I have enough to grow on or replace what I'm buying to eat.

This is much faster that growing from seed, like I did last year! I tried some in the space saver green house and some on the allotment and they never really quite made it to a size that was edible and got caught in the first frost and ended up as compost material.  

My only decision now is do I feed them compost tea rather than water and grow them hydroponically or once the roots grow do I transfer them into pots and compost?

I think perhaps an experiment using both methods may be in order and perhaps I should put a date on each one so I know the order in which they were started off.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Cucamelon Cometh

Having a chat with Derek our site rep on Spencer Road he was talking about how a friend of his had put him onto Cucamelons and he was growing some this year. I really like the sound of the plants and thought I would also give them a bash this year, as I usually do well with growing cucumbers, so the seeds are ordered and on their way to me.
Below is the info from the Premier Seeds Direct eBay listing for your and my later information, and one of many videos I found on YouTube.
These tiny fruits originate in Central America, deliver a taste of watermelon with  a hint of lime.  The trailing vines are rampant and at home in any unheated glasshouse as well as a sunny sheltered spot outdoors.  Despite their exotic origins they are much easier to grow than regular cucumbers and not touched by the usual range of pests.  The plant is actually a perennial and provided the radish like root is dug up and stored much as a dahlia tuber over winter, they will flourish for many years.
  • Sow under cover (protected / heated) from Mid spring, 3-4 seeds 1/2in deep in a 3in pot in good compost.  (These will not germinate in cold / damp conditions, use a heated propagator or very warm location (20-25c) 
  • Transplant no later than 3 weeks after seeding as they have a tap root that can be easily damaged. . Best under glass but will grow outdoors in sheltered sunny spot. 
  • Will tolerate drought better than cucumbers.  Avoid over-watering. 
  • Provide support and space as these will rampantly trail over a large area 
  • Keep them picked and they’ll keep producing.
  • Harvest Jul-Sep

Monday, 20 March 2017

Germination 6 Days After Sowing

Mr Fothergills (Spring) North Holland Blood Red, that were sown six days ago on the 14th March and placed in the LED Portable Grow Station.

Today I Washed 90 vending machine cups, trays and modules ready for a seed sowing frenzy now the space saver greenhouse is no longer full of overwintering onions.

Bottoms of 10 mushroom trays were detached from the sides ready for being used as fencing around the Tree / Air Onions.

It has to be said for the first day of spring it has been cold, wet, windy and the weather forecast is for daytime & in particular over night temperatures to drop as low as 3 degrees C. by Wednesday.





Sunday, 19 March 2017

Onions & Walking - Tree Onion Beds


A busy morning on plot 23B this morning. All the Japanese, Red and Radar onions, another six tray loads were planted in bed 3 & 6. The blue water pipe has been put in bed 2 for the sun to do it's magic and warm and hopefully bend the high Brussel Sprout hoop cage to the right profile, you can see the shape it wants to form on the two lengths laying on bed 8 in the photo above. I will be adding some tie rods at some time in the future.




Beds 3 in the background and bed 6 in the foreground with over wintered Onions

The plastic sheet at the back of the plot has been cut up and having moved all the bags of leafs into bed 7  it now covers bed 9 where the couch grass had started making it's way through the blue tarp. The walking onion bed and the path around it has been dug weeded and half a flower bucket of stones were removed. Cardboard was laid and covered with weed membrane and weight put on to stop it blowing away in the wind.

Some excess soil from the back was moved to fill the path up next to bed 6, and the shed had a bit of a tidy up, at least I can get in it again now, as it's been full of cardboard for the paths, my brother in law has kindly allowed me to squat in his shed as he has practically nothing in it.




I just had time to cable tie the first layer of mushroom tray bottoms to the ends of the Walking / Tree Onion bed, I will be cutting some weed membrane to line the scaffold boards and filling the bed with a mixture of soil, coir and compost from Dalek 1. I also managed to pick up another 10 trays from the cafĂ© & my local Pizza man on the way home from the allotment.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Committee Meeting & Soft Brick

There was a committee meeting on the allotment today, I was there a little early and managed to make some soft bricks with sand dried in the grow house and empty milk poly bottles.

As there isn't time to dig and get Bed 8 dug in time I laid out the weed membrane on Bed 3 which was going to be spring onions, ready for the rest of the over wintering onions from the space saver greenhouse to go in tomorrow.

Spuds Under Membrane

I received a private message on one of the forums "I'm thinking about planting my spuds under weed membrane - has it worked well for you? If so what size holes and what spacing were you using?"

So I thought I would gather all the information about how I plant my spuds into a single post that I can point people to when they ask the question in the future.



Originally back in April 2013 my first year or growing on an allotment, I decided not to grow potatoes in the traditional way i.e. trench cover and earth up.

I marked up a 2.4m timber with the centres for the potatoes, 240mm and used the Auger to dig neat 75mm holes 150 - 200mm ish deep - and handful of compost and then popped the potatoes into holes, covered with compost then a layer of native soil.



I then racked up the soil as we had a frost the previous night, as I had read that some people pre mound their spuds and I thought it may offer a little more protection.  



So on the back of the photograph you can see the four potato beds in June 2013, but in amongst the potato Haulms, the stems or potato foliage above ground were lots of weeds. It was during this first year that I mentioned to a work associate that I had an allotment and he informed me that he had been a plot holder for many years and sent me photos of his weed free spuds grown through weed membrane as he hated dealing with the weeds.

So I decided the have a bash at it in 2014 and decided to make a sheet a bed size 2.4 x 1.2m and cut the holes for planting the spuds and for the Haulms to find there way out of the ground. Potatoes are not stupid the foliage wants to find the fastest way to the surface which is straight up. The weed membrane keeps the moisture from evaporating too quickly in very hot weather and the sun beating (OK it's the UK) occasional shining on the soil via the hole in the membrane, it draws the foliage to the surface and the hole in the membrane.



So that second year, I decided to use the same configuration in the weed membrane as I had the first when planting without membrane. That's the layout on the left, the hole diameter is 100mm as I have a soil hand Auger that is 75mm dia and I needed a little tolerance. last year I created the weed membrane layout on the right for second early where the recommended distance was less and the three holes with crosses had pop bottles with pin holes sunk in the ground head first, so that I could water at depth. Its easy to extend the height of the pop bottles by cutting them off at the bottom and stacking them upside down as the Haulms get taller.

As my soil is clay based, I use the Windowed Auger head below. I only have this bit of kit as I use it for taking soil samples for work as a structural engineer, my neighbouring plot holder uses a long handle bulb planter to plant his spuds



The biggest mistake I made the first year using weed membrane was in cutting the weed membrane with scissors



This is the amount of fraying that took place in a single year, and I decided to trim and fix the sheets by using a soldering iron, from that day on I have cut all my new sheets using the soldering iron as it seals the edges and you don't end up with shaggy weed membrane. See my post Planting Membrane



Short Video



So here was the potato beds in 2014, I had managed to acquire quite a lot of plastic trim from the window replacement company that was moving to make way for the housing development. I replaced the green lawn edging to the beds, that went brittle in the second year with plastic trim and I also used it along the length on the edge of the membrane placing soft bricks, i.e. milk bottles filled with sand on it to stop the weed membrane blowing away. That's pallet wooden slats either end of the bed, and some scrap timber in the middle.

Using the weed membrane on spuds, I would say it has worked very well for me. I very quickly made specific sheets for Sprouts, Cabbages, Cauliflower, Sweet corn, and this year I'm also using them for Onions, Spring Onions and Beetroots, the less weeding I have to do the more I love my allotment.

Friday, 17 March 2017

In My Seed Box - Lettuce


Lettuce was something that I was very good at growing a couple of years ago but last year was a complete and utter disaster, as fast as it grew the slugs demolished it, this year I'm going to try better and harder at slug control.

I'm hoping to plant some up around the base of the tomatoes in the back garden and perhaps find a shady spot on Mill Green, I can't really see a bed being ready on Spencer Road this year as I need to play catch up with the Onion beds.

I have a load of seed from 2015 and they will be scattered in square flower boxes as cut and come again, not what the wife likes but if there is a lettuce crisis again in spring and summer we will at least have some for our lunch time sandwiches. 

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets Sow By 2016

Chartwell (Sweetest Tasting Romaine Lettuce) x 3 packs - 500 seeds/pack - Thompson & Morgan
Tom Thumb - (Small, tasty, solid little hearts) - 1100 Seeds - Suttons
Lobjoits Green - Cos Lettuce - 1300 seeds - Suttons

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets Sow By 2017

Elyburg - 200 Seeds - Thompson & Morgan Trial Pack
Little Gem - 500 Seeds - Thompson & Morgan Starts-A-Garden
Sweetheart (Cos) - 200 Seeds - Mr Fothergill
TanTan (Larger Little Gem) x 2 packs - 250 Seeds/pack - Thompson & Morgan  
Winter Density - 1250 Seeds - Suttons
Winter Gem - 150 Seeds - Thompson & Morgan

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets Sow By 2018

Maureen - (Little Gem Type) - 175 Seeds - Thompson & Morgan  
Tom Thumb - (Small, tasty, solid little hearts) - 1500 Seeds - Mr Fothergill

Sowing Dates

Chartwell          - Mar - July
Elyburg             - Mar - July
Little Gem         - Mar - July
Lobjoits Green  - Mar - July then Sep
Maureen           - Mar - July
Sweetheart       - Mar - July
TanTan             - Mar - July
Tom Thumb      - Mar - July
Winter Density  - Jan - Apr &  Aug - Dec
Winter Gem      - Sep - Jan


Germination 7 - 14 days
Sow every 2 - 3 weeks to ensure a continuous supply
Sowing to Cropping 10-12 Weeks

Too late for sowing in Jan & Feb this year but I need to continue growing lettuce (the Winter varieties) between August - February in the unheated green houses. I also need to add these to the Sowing & Planting Plan    



Here are the Lobjoits Green & Little Gem Lettuce sown 9 days ago, the Little Gem are faster and larger than the  Lobjoits Green, I will wait until they grow a little larger then snip off and leave the stronger lettuce to mature. 

Thursday, 16 March 2017

In My Seed Box - Beetroots

We do love our beetroots, fresh and pickled, and we supply our daughters and the rest of the family with pickled beetroots each year. I normally start them off early in vending machine cups in the space saver greenhouse or the greenhouse on Mill Green allotment.

This year however Mill Green is not really accessible during the day Monday to Friday due to the construction works for watering and the greenhouse has not gone up yet on the Spencer Road allotment plot.

That said as soon as there is space in the space saver greenhouse at least two trays of beetroots will be started off, according to the Sowing & Planting Plan they are due in the 4th Week of March
The plan this year is to use the Onion Beetroot weed membrane to reduce the weeding, and yes I know it's exactly the same pattern as the Onion sheet. Now planting via a weed membrane sheet isn't going to work when I finally get around to using the seed tapes, but it's ideal for the beetroots started off in the vending machine cups. I will just have to have an additional bed that needs weeding.

Review of Beetroot Seed Stocks in Zippy Bags

Action F1 - baby type (Ready in 10 weeks)
Bettollo F1 x 2 packs - Sarah Raven Collection - sow by 2017

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets Sow By 2016

Cardeal F1 Hybrid x 2 packs (75 Seeds/pack) - Thompson & Morgan Urban Garden Collection
Detroit 2 - (275 Seeds) - Wilko
Detroit 6 - (200 Seeds) Thompson & Morgan 
Pablo F1 Hybrid x 2 packs (250 seed/ pack) - Thompson & Morgan
Wodan F1 Hybrid (200 Seeds) - Thompson & Morgan

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets Sow By 2017 +

Alto F1 Hybrid (300 Seeds) - Thompson & Morgan
Boltardy (350 seeds) - Thompson & Morgan
Boltardy x 4 packs (90 seeds/tape) no information on how long the tape is - T&M
Monorubra - Sarah Raven Collection

Post 2017

Cardeal F1 - (200 Seeds) - unwins - Sow By 2019

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

In My Seed Box - Spring Onions

Having managed to move out some of the overwintering onions from the space saver greenhouse I set about washing and cleaning the vending machine cups for re-use, the modules and the trays, and low and behold I found a couple of slugs living under the modules, so they were immediately dispatched to sluggy heaven.

So looking at my Sowing & Planting Plan I see that I should have started sowing Spring Onions in March Week 1. Looking at my seed collection I decided to sow 15 vending machine cups of Mr Fothergills (Spring) North Holland Blood Red, as we like the red spring onions.

Looking at the back of the pack, germination is 14-21 days, it also informs me that they can be sown from February to July and harvested from April to October. For Bulb Onions sow no later than April and thin to 75mm apart. 

So a note needs to go into my Sowing & Planting Plan for next year so I can get them going a month earlier. I had not planned to leave any to bulb, but perhaps I will leave a few to see how they get on for future reference.

Review of Onion Seed Stocks in Zippy Bags

Apache (Deep Purple) - T&M
Long Red Florence - Chase Garden
North Holland Blood Red - Mr Fothergills
Pompeii x 2 packs - T&M Kew Collection
Purplette - T&M Kew Collection
Ramrod x 2 packs - Suttons
Shimonita x 2 packs - Suttons
White Lisbon x 3 packs- Suttons/ Wilko/ Goodlands  

Review Of Onion Seed Stocks in Packets (sow by 2017 if not stated)

Arrow x 2 packs - T&M Heritage Collection
De Barletta - Lidl - (12/2016)
North Holland Blood Red - Mr Fothergills
Ishikura - T&M - (2014)
Ishikura - Mr Fothergills
Lilia (red Skinned) - T&M
Paris Silverskin - (2015)
Pompeii x 2 packs - T&M Kew Collection
Performer - T&M
Purplette - T&M Kew Collection
White Lisbon x 3 packs (seed Tapes) - T&M

To Be Sown Next

Ishikura - T&M - (2014)
Paris Silverskin - (2015)
De Barletta - Lidl - (12/2016)

These three varieties of onions will be sown in vending machine cups standing in 3x5 tray modules and will hopefully find there way down to the greenhouse on Spencer Road if I can get it erected in time before they make their way into the onion beds.



I will be planting the spring onions once large enough into the holes in the onion weed membrane sheets that I have made bed size. This does however present a problem for the White Lisbon seed tapes which I will have to ponder about and find some bed somewhere to squeeze some in.

Looking at the back of the seed packets, yes I do read them! What I find interesting is the different guidance provided by different seed companies for the same variety of plant. for example, looking at Ishikura Spring Onions from Wilko, Thompson & Morgan & Mr Fothergill



Sowing Outdoors

Mar - May ~ Thompson & Morgan
Mar - Jun ~ Wilko
Mar - July ~ Mr Fothergills

Frequency of Sowing

Wilko &  Mr Fothergills both suggest every 2 - 3 weeks for a continuous supply throughout the summer, interestingly Thompson & Morgan advice is that "The long harvest period means one sowing lasts the whole season!" which is kind of mad as there harvest period is shorter than both Wilko & Mr Fothergills ! Thompson & Morgan also states "Can be harvested pencil-thin or thinner, or left to mature to carrot size" although they don't state what kind of carrot.  

Thinning

Wilko & Mr Fothergills both suggest no thinning is required whereas Thompson & Morgan state it is!

Harvesting

May - Oct ~ Wilko
Jun -  Sep ~ Thompson & Morgan
May - Oct ~ Mr Fothergills

Germination 

Wilko &  Mr Fothergills both state 14 - 21 days and Thompson & Morgan provides no information on germination, I have seen this missing on quite a lot of their packs and it's something I'm and I guess most other gardeners are actually quite interested in.

I know that like Structural Engineers, if you get four or five gardeners together and ask them a question you are likely to get three different answers but until I see what other suppliers of Ishikura Spring Onions have to say, I think I will ignore T&M and go with the guidance from Wilko & Mr Fothergill.  

Monday, 13 March 2017

Some Onions Finally Go In


A swift hour long visit to Spencer Road today to drop off and plant four trays of overwintering onions which quite frankly were getting a little too large for the vending machine cups and the space saver greenhouse.

30 Japanese Onions out of 49 & 30 Red Onions out of 51, that's why they are planted from either end of the bed. 105 planting holes in the sheet so I need to leave a couple empty to add deep watering points using small coke bottles. 

There is still a tray and a half of Japanese & Red Onions in the greenhouse that will need to go down and be planted, and 45 or three trays of Radar Onions, as well as the Catawissa Walking Onions and Air Onions to deal with.  

I also managed to drill the pilot holes for the screws in the walking onion beds but didn't have screws long enough to put it together.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Replacing the Double Frame Greenhouse

The two tier Double Space Greenhouse has been on my allotment since 2013 and has served me well as a place to grow tomatoes for three years.

End of last year the plastic finally gave up the ghost and it's currently standing there in tatters, but I have a cunning plan. There is water proof ply left over from the wet room that the contractor has no room to keep for his next wet room project, and has asked me if I could use it anywhere.

Of course I can and very quickly it has been sawn in half and a slope added to the top of each sheet and I now have two side panels that can be screwed to the wall. 

I will make a frame up and fix a sheet of polycarbonate to the top and I have another sheltered from the blight carrying rain, and a grow area for tomatoes in pots on my plot again.  

The panels were dropped off at Mill Green Allotment on Sunday morning along with mushroom trays of chitting potatoes so they are there ready to plant at the end of March / start of April   

On the way home I dropped off some mushroom trays to Spencer Road allotment and as they were semi dry, managed to get the scaffold boards cut for one Walking Onion bed before the rain started and it was time anyway to make my way home.   

Friday, 10 March 2017

More Modifications To Grow Station 2


Today before the builders arrived I made another modification to grow Station 2. I had a signboard that was left on the green in front of the house by a paving company trying to drum up work, not that they were actually doing any work around here. The council come and remove such advertising so I took the correx off the pallet before the council took it away. It's now offering a little insulation to the back wall but more importantly it's reflecting light.

A careful measure and cutting of the hole to go around the power socket and the correx board is supported off the wall and by the power socket.  

I have a couple of estate agent signs also made of correx that are currently on Mill Green allotment that I will have to bring home. I acquired them when vandals uprooted them further up the road on their way home from the local tavern one night, and then decided to deposited them once again on the green in front of my house.

I'm a sucker for recycling or re purposing materials, and the backs of the estate agent signs will be white and will line the wall in the left and I can rig something up to go on the right to reflect more light onto the plants.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Modification To Grow Station 2


Today the two E27 Light Bulb Lamp Holders that I ordered arrived and I have wire them up and screw directly under the shelf lifting the light up further away from the top of the little chest freezer.

This hopefully will give me some extra head height for when the tomato plants grow to the point where they can be potted onto the vending machine cups, by then the next step should hopefully be the greenhouse on Spencer Road if I have managed to erect it in time. 

The other difference is that there is now a timer on the socket so that I don't have to remember to turn the lights on and off each day. Below is a photo pre modification.


On the round trip to the post office to send some mail with proof of posting I dropped off some kitchen compost & flowers to Spencer Road into Dalek 2, a layer of shredded cardboard, spent hops and horse manure. 


I also laid out the Onion weed membrane on bed 6 ready to take the onions down when I get a chance. I will  find a more permanent way of holding down the membrane like I have on Mill Green Allotment, but this will do until the onions go in.