Monday, 10 December 2018

Coir Pallets - Yes Please

What a great way of saving trees, using waste products that are basically Coir and can be used by growers as mulch. It would save me buying Coir blocks 

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Nothing Like it Was Supposed To Be!

Well I did it again, I looked at the weather forecast three to four days in advance and built myself up for a nice sunny day 

Thursday, 6 December 2018

What's Sunday Going To Be Like?

It's been a few weeks since I have been able to get on with anything down on the allotment so today I thought that I would look to see what the likelihood is of me getting down there this Sunday is, and at the moment it's looking promising. 

Saturday is a mixture of Sunny intervals and light cloud with only a 19% chance of rain, so hopefully by Sunday things may have dried out a little down on the plot.

My plan is to clear the interface between plot 1A and Plot 1 so that I can get the flower beds in and I may even get some of the timber for the raised beds painted if they have dried out enough on Saturday. 

I know it's counting chickens, but this time of year coming up to the shortest day and December normally being one of the wettest months of the year one has to dream and plot to get done, what you can, when windows of opportunity open up for you.    

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

World Soil Day

World Soil Day: 5 December 2018. The International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS), in 2002, adopted a resolution proposing the 5th of December as World Soil Day to celebrate the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and as a vital contributor to human wellbeing.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Planning and Reviewing December in Previous Years

Reviewing the diary over the last five years for December 

There is not a whole lot of growing that happens in December, its normally blustery, cold, rainy, and overcast. It's the only time of the year with no sowing programme, though some enthusiasts and trophy hunters will ignore convention. I can't shut my plot down completely because there is too much tidying and maintenance to do on plot 1A and I have infrastructure works to undertake on plot 1 

2012 - My First December and third month of owning an allotment was mainly spent cutting down the weeds and exposing what lay underneath and discovering all manor or debris to dispose off. There was a lot of burning of weeds in the two incinerators 

2013 - Mainly clearing up the plot, Growing and cut and drop green manure, installing an infrastructure of paths and beds. Harvesting Sprouts 

2014 - Mainly clearing up the plot, Growing and cut and drop green manure, installing an infrastructure of paths and beds. Harvesting Sprouts 

2015 - Mainly clearing up the 2nd plot on Spencer Road, Growing and cut and drop green manure, installing an infrastructure of paths and beds. Harvesting Sprouts, carrots and parsnips  

2016 - Two plots on two different allotment sites Mill Green and Spencer Road, Installing infrastructure, collecting leafs, Walking Onions in greenhouse, harvesting sprouts, manure and leafs on beds, making planting membrane sheets, High winds blow over Keith's shed. Shed Break-ins and meeting the police on Spencer Road.
2017 - Family health matters mean very little achieved on the plot. Leaf collection and sprout harvest.  

Below is the to do list in no particular order and catching up with what actually happened in November and what has slipped. 

Mill Green - Plot 1
  • As much infrastructure works as the weather will allow - Subject 
  • Water Butts - Fix taps 
  • Guttering to Shed - TBD
  • Extension to shed - rear - built minor modification required   
  • Cut Roof Joists to bed sizes - Ongoing
  • Make Bread Tray Saw Horses - Done
  • Paint Joist cut to bed sizes - Ongoing 
  • Lay the paving for the greenhouse - TBD 
  • Erect the greenhouse - Timbers Cut for base need to be treated  
  • Tidy Up the Allotment - Ongoing and looking better all the time
  • Remove Hawthorne bushes from the wall - TBD
  • Install Kerb Edging all around the plot - TBD
  • Stockpile Timber ready for burning  - Ongoing
  • Install Flower Beds - TBD   
  • Plant Spring Bulbs - TBD

Mill Green - Plot 1A
  • Weeding - Never ending job   
  • Clear the greenhouse - To Be Done 
  • Rhubarb Bed to be created - clearance of weeds in current location and move when ready
  • Tidy Up the Allotment - Ongoing and looking better all the time 
  • Clear area behind the Greenhouse - TBD
  • Clear Seating Area - TBD
  • Plant Raspberries - TBD
  • Planning
  • Catalogue Seeds 
  • Purchase vent opener for new greenhouse.- Not Yet

To Do List

DecemberApple - plant trees
DecemberApple - prune trees

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Next Plot Visit ?

After five days of rain I decided to look at the possibility of getting to the plot in the next 10 days, and I have to say it isn't looking good at all. Possibly the 9th December if I'm lucky and the forecast does not change to rain for Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th Dec. 

There are things I can do down the allotment even with everything having been rained on for the last couple of weeks, I don't mind overcast and I don't mind cold, but there is no way I'm working in the rain. 

So it looks like more planning and seed stock review during the early part of December for me then. 

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Rain Stops Play

Sunday morning I was ready for a cold morning on the plot. It had been raining over night and the temperature was very low around 4 degrees C, but I can do cold what I don't do is rain & wet.

As I approached the plot the rain started to come down, as I got closer it came down harder. I approached the last roundabout on the journey and decided that going home was on the cards.

So a morning on the plot was replaced with sorting out paperwork, shredding paper and cutting up carboard boxes into small microbe/ critter bite sizes and generating a couple of food buckets with lids worth of Brown material for the Daleks

At some stage I really must build the top half of a Dr Who Dalek for one of my composting Daleks

Anyone out there done this already ?. 

Monday, 19 November 2018

RIP Keith

Today I lost the best Brother-In-Law a man could ask for, in fact he felt more like a brother than a brother-in-law. He would do anything for anyone, and was one of life's gentleman, and was the reason I ended up getting an allotment in the first place!. 

He had taken over an overgrown plot and asked me to help him measure and mark it out with him. I said to him in passing that I fancied having a go at keeping an allotment and he talked me into taking a plot on the same site. I took my plot on with the idea that the four of us could meet down there and we could socialise on a regular basis. I had not considered the friendly rivalry of growing.  

He always managed to out grow me with everything, always donated his excess seedlings to me as he always managed to get early crops with his heated greenhouse. 

He would always find something amusing to comment upon, especially how congested my shed and greenhouse on the plot was. The Greenhouse that he donated to me when he bought a much larger one at home. 

I will miss you mate but know you will be watching and loitering around keeping an eye on things.    

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Winter Tidy

Following my close call with the small portable suitcase cooking stove, my brother in law came to the rescue even whilst being in hospital by donating a large two burner and a grill camping cooker he had in the back of his shed to me. Saturday I went to a camping shop and bought a new longer hose, gas regulator and a small bottle of Calor Gas and a couple circlips. 

It didn't take long to set it up on the bench, with the gas bottle at the back of the shelf away from the front that picks up the direct sunlight. I'm so much happier that I have a screw in fixing with a regulator on top that has a stopcock as well as the ability to turn off the burners at the stove.  

After making my first coffee, I started by cutting up all the vegetation from the butternut squash that had taken over the South Corner of Plot 1. I did find a half eaten Marrow, which appears to have been the only one that grew under the butternut vegetation. I did also find one more small butternut squash, that appears to have survived the frosty mornings, and is now sitting on the rack in the shed.  

I cleared the vegetation and weeds where I planted the marrow and butternut squash and  moved the two incinerators onto the bare soil ready for having a bit of a burn up of all the old rotten timbers and dry weeds that I have been storing up. I placed a pallet on the South corner of plot 1 and started to stack the rotten timbers on it so they can dry off in the sun. Once dry and on a future visit this timber will be cut into incinerator length ready for burning.

I moved the saw horses with the 2.4m joist from up the plot to along the plot as I need to clear the plot at the boundary with Plot 1A so that I can get the flower beds put in, but so much timber and items weighing down the weed membrane is currently located there that currently it isn't possible. 

So to the middle right of the photo above you can see the comfrey growing in front of the two greenhouse frames in green boxes that will ultimately be used as my fruit cage 

View looking down plot 1 with the huge pile of leaves collected last year that need to go into the Daleks as brown material and an old blow away frames that need taking apart.

This is the area that I'm trying to clear so that I can install the path from Plot 1A to the shed and get the flower beds in so that the tulip and daffodil bulbs can be planted.   

For the short term, the timbers that have been painted are being stacked on beds 11 & 12 and the piles of joists that still need processing will be able to be relocated across the plot on an additional set of saw horses that I intend to make up on my next visit.  

In readiness for working on plot 1 the four trees from last year have been placed on the paths between bed 10 & 11 and 9 & 10 on plot 1A along with the two replacement apple trees that came from Jersey Plants Direct Saturday and were potted up today. 

It will be so good when I have all the bed material ready and stacked in their locations on the weed membrane ready for me to pull it back turn over the soil and dig out the weeds. 

Friday, 16 November 2018

Nearly Set The Shed On Fire!

My daughters took my wife out for a day of female bonding and shopping, allowing the old guy to spend the morning on the allotment.

The first thing I did after unloading the car, was fill up the kettle on the small suitcase camping stove and light it to make a cup of coffee. I fitted a new gas cylinder and the size of the flame was larger than usual, must be because its a new bottle me thinks then I notice flames coming out of the slider lever control slot. I opened the flap and saw flames lapping around the gas cylinder. I turned off the gas to the burner but the flames continued around the gas cylinder.

I just picked it up the camping stove and threw it into the middle of the plot, expecting to hear an explosion. Luckily the cylinder fell out and the flames went out before anything nasty could happen. 

I have heard that these little suitcase cookers can be temperamental, the instructions that come with it tell you not to leave them unattended. Well it will not be getting a second chance from me that's for sure, they are just downright dangerous and it's gone home and been put in the metal recycle bin, minus the gas cylinder of course.       

Beds 9 & 10 raked and covered for the winter

Bed 11 cleared of potatoes today and also covered over for Winter. 

I ended up with one and a half flower buckets of spuds out of the bed. I will be revisiting and sieving the soil in the bed to try and find any lost spuds

Monday, 12 November 2018

In My Seed Box for 2019 - Spring Onions

A note has been added to my  Sowing & Planting Plan for 2019 so I can get Spring Onions  going a month earlier than previous years.

Review of Onion Seed Stocks in Zippy Bags 

Feast F1 Hybrid                 - 500 Seeds - £1.49     - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2018
White Lisbon                      - 650 Seeds - £1.89     - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2018
North Holland Blood Red -                                        Mr Fothergills - Sow By 2017

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets

Arrow                                 - 300 Seeds - £2.19     - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2017
Arrow                                 - 300 Seeds - £2.19     - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2017

Ishikura                              - 500 Seeds - £2.29     - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2017
North Holland Blood Red   - 500 Seeds - £2.09     - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2017
Pompeii                              - 300 Seeds - £2.19    - Thompson & Morgan Kew Collection - Sow By 12/2017
Purplette                            - 300 Seeds - £1.99    - Thompson & Morgan Kew Collection - Sow By 12/2017

Ishikura                              - 375 Seeds - £2.99      - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2019
Ishikura                              - 375 Seeds - £2.99     - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2019
Purplette                            - 375 Seeds - £2.99     - Thompson & Morgan Kew Collection  - Sow By 2019

Long White Ishikura           - 375 Seeds - £2.40       - Johnsons - Sow By 2020
Long White Ishikura           - 375 Seeds - £2.40       - Johnsons - Sow By 2020
White Lisbon (Winter Hardy)  - 500 Seeds - £1.00      - wilko - Sow By 2020
White Lisbon (Winter Hardy)  - 500 Seeds - £1.00      - wilko - Sow By 2020
White Lisbon (Winter Hardy)  - 500 Seeds - £1.00      - wilko - Sow By 2020 

White Lisbon                      - 700 Seeds - £2.00       - Johnson from Wilko (20p in sale) - Sow By 2021
Long White Ishikura           - 375 Seeds - £2.50       - Johnsons (20p in sale)- Sow By 2021
White Lisbon                      - 120 Seeds - £1.00       - Carters from Poudland 10p in sale - Sow by 2021

Ramrod                              - 250 Seeds - £1.00       - wilko - Sow 2022

Alphabetical Listing

                                                Sowing            Harvest

Arrow                                     Mar - Apr          Aug - Nov
Feast F                                         Mar - Jul          Jun - Onwards ( Winter hardy) 
Ishikura                                         Mar - May        Jun - Sep - Thompson & Morgan
Ishikura                                         Mar - Jul          May - Oct - Mr Fothergill's
Long White Ishikura               Mar - Jul           May - Oct - Johnsons
North Holland Blood Red       Feb - Jul           Apr - Oct
Pompeii                                  Mar - Jul          Jun - Oct
Purplette                                 Mar - Jul          Jun - Oct
White Lisbon (Winter Hardy)       Mar - Sep         Mar - Nov  
White Lisbon                            Mar - Sep         May - Oct - Thompson & Morgan
White Lisbon                            Mar - Jul           May - Oct - Mr Fothergill's

Sowing Plan for 2019

In 2017 spring onions were grown in vending machine cups in tray modules and transplanted into the onion beds plant membrane, but white rot got a few and the rest had to be harvested early or disposed off.

In 2018 I tried to grow them in cut down square flower buckets but the results weren't very good, saying that the Spring was unnaturally warm and dry.

IN 2019 a return to growing in vending machine cups in tray modules and transplanted into the onion beds plant membrane, 

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.  


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


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


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.