Sunday, 5 April 2020

Sparkle Clean Greenhouse

Yesterday afternoon with the glorious sunshine I thought OK it's time to hit the greenhouse and give it a real sparkle clean. I had already cleaned all the trays on the top shelf so I removed everything else and brushed out all the cob webs and I cleaned and polished the polycarbonate to the front. Everything that was in there was washed, rinsed and dried before being returned.

Normally by now the Space Saver would be heaving but for the moment the 77 Module tray of tomatoes are visiting on sunny warm days, I have moved the two 40 Module trays of Onions in and I have a 40 module tray of Radish growing. The bag of Pentland Javelin spuds that I picked up from B&Q when I bought the mobility scooter garage, OK the Ketter store before the Coronavirus hit are now chitting and I've just noticed that the recommendation for planting is mid to late March so next sunny day I can see a few buckets of spuds being planted.

I will shortly have no option but to pot on the tomatoes and then I will be using the Bio Green Firefly in the middle of the opening to keep the frost at bay as the temperatures are bound to drop before the end of the month. 

Saturday, 4 April 2020


The above photograph is not mine it belongs to Juliet Davies from the Allotment Junkies Facebook group. It is a classic illustration of why this type of temporary cheap greenhouse are nicknamed Blow-A-Ways. 

My suggestion to Juliet was to drill the wall and put in 2 eye bolts one either side of the greenhouse and put a rope or bungy cord with hooks to hold it back tight to the wall

Here is a photo from 2016 of my Plot on Spencer Road with my blow-a-way with bungee cords to eyebolts fixed to the shed and there are also soft bricks (plastic milk bottles filled with dry sand) to assist in holding it down.

I didn't originally have a cord long enough to go from hook to hook so there are two chords holding the greenhouse tight against the shed.  

Mill Green 2015 and a large Blow-A-Way up against the wall to grow tomatoes in, but this had soft bricks at each level, cable tied to the upright members so 3 bricks each and 9 in all. Plus tent pegs over the bottom horizontal bars.

If this is what the wind can do to a shed (It was my Brother-In-laws) then this is why your basic plastic lightweight greenhouse is happy to turn into a kite when there is a strong wind or a storm.

I'm going to be using one of these in the back garden shortly the Bio Green ARTIC 100 which does come with tent pegs and has fixings for holding down to soil. 

I shall be using a paving slab and some weight inside to try and stop what you have seen at the top of this post from happening. 

Friday, 3 April 2020

Path Weed Membrane

With work now not possible because of shielding my wife, and a sunny afternoon and temperatures such that I could go out quite comfortably in a tee shirt as the sun shines on the rear of the house late afternoon. I dug out the scaffold board, soldering iron, silver paint marker and steel tape measure and set about marking up and cutting 3m lengths of 2m wide weed membrane.

Two 600mm wide strips were marked up and cut off with the soldering iron leaving a 800mm wide strip. They were trimmed on the ends as they had already started to fray and rolled up for easy storage and ultimately transporting to the allotment once I'm out of self imposed isolation.

Working out how many more rolls I'm going to need. 
7 x 800mm wide and at least 11 x 600mm wide rolls.  

"My Boys" as they become to be know as have been let out of house arrest and have been enjoying real sunshine the the Space Saver Greenhouse during the day and my good lady wife reminds me to bring the "Boys" back in the house at night as the temperatures fall. 

Many more now have their true leaves forming and there are still a couple of late germinators, since counting on the 25th March now 22 days in from sowing we have one extra, Maskotka, Micro Tom & Hahms Gelbe Topftomate making the germination rates increase thus:-  

4/5 =   80% Bajaja 
5/5 = 100% Cherrie Kisses 

3/5 =   60% Maskotka 

3/5 =   60% Minibel 
5/5 = 100% Micro Tom 
5/5 = 100% Red Robin 
5/5 = 100% Rotkappchen 
5/5 = 100% Tiny Tim
5/5 = 100% Totem 
3/5 =   60% Hahms Gelbe Topftomate 
2/5 =   40% Patio Plum 
5/5 = 100% Summerlast F1

3/5 =   60% Balconi Yellow F1

Compost Caddy Arrives

The Lakeland Compost Caddy that I won on the David Domoney Facebook Compost Week UK Prize Draw back on the 23rd March arrived today. I have to say it a lot more pleasing to the eye than the bucket I was using in the kitchen and it has a filter to stop the pongs of rotting vegetables to boot.  

The spec off the Lakeland web site, is copied below.

Worktop Compost Bin Slate Grey 3.5L

Smart enough to sit on any worktop, this classy grey kitchen compost caddy makes a great countertop companion for anyone who likes to make their own compost.
It’s the ideal place for all those food scraps, potato peelings, and banana skins that need a place to hide until you’re ready to carry them out to your outdoor compost heap. And there’s a carbon filter concealed in the lid to help prevent nasty niffs.
About Lakeland’s Worktop Compost Bins
They do exactly what it says on the bin! Strongly made from a single piece of carbon steel and powder-coated with a robust paint finish in a range of colours to suit every kind of kitchen, our mini compost bins each have a snug-fitting lid and a sturdy carry handle.
The ventilated lid holds a circular carbon filter that absorbs odours for up to 3 months.
Packs of Spare Filters are available in store and online and there are compostable liners available too.
20cm Dia. x 20cm H. (excluding handle). 3.5 litre.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Crop Rotation

My crop rotation is based on four beds of spuds, up to now I have had 12 full sized beds so a three year rotation clockwise with everything moving along four beds each season. This year it was supposed to be different, as I was hoping to have a lot more infrastructure to the new half plot on the left in place before the end of April and more beds to play with.    

This was where I wanted to be by the start of the season for 2020 until the Corona Virus came and as a result I can't get to the allotment as I'm self Isolating to protect the wife. 

Progress as of March 2020 is Beds 14 & 27 are in and there are Parsnips in bed 11 and that's it for the moment, as that was the easiest bed to get at and I didn't have my plan with me when I planted the Parsnips in loo rools.

I will not be visiting the allotment I'm guessing for at least for the next 3 months. If driving to the Allotment remains allowed I will see if my daughter and son-in-law want to use the allotment as a form of exercise. 

At the moment the National Allotment Society is suggesting only one person per plot and if possible to keep away for the next 3 weeks as really apart from prep work most things can wait until the last frost date which for the South East of England is the last week of April.   

Above was the Plan for 2019 Based on getting the beds in on plot 1, however the leg injury meant that only the flower beds went in late 2019 and Bed 29 ended up becoming Daffs and Tulips 

2018 Plot 1A Plan

On the basis that I will keep on Spencer Road for one more year. At the moment I have no idea if my neighbour is going to give his plot up, but you can see my thinking if he does. If it happens then his plot is larger than mine and I will have a wealth of space to move into, once it is cleared of all the brambles, Nettles, bind weed and couch grass.

There will be a bed of spud or two at Spencer Road this year and the spud beds have reduced from four to three on Mill Green this year.

The tomato grow house has been replaced with a potting bench / work station and there is another large Dalek no 6 that needs to be added to the layout shown above, The Cherry tree in the bottom left corner has been donated to my brother-in-law.

2017 Plot 1A Plan

Four Beds of spuds planned but due to the wife being taken into hospital only two actually made it into the ground on this plot and two beds on Spencer Road, Bed 7 became Cucumber, Gherkins and Sweetcorn.

2016 Plot 1A Plan

Only three beds of spuds with first early potatoes being grown in buckets, First year for Butternut Squash and gave up on strawberry bed.  

2015 Plot 1A Plan

This was the year I added the Tomato Grow House against the wall, and only three beds of spuds with first early potatoes being grown in buckets

2014 Plot 1A Plan

This was the year I lost Bed 6 to the Greenhouse and bed 5 became the Strawberry bed

2013 Plot 1A Plan

2012 Plot 1A Plan

2012 Plot 1A Original thoughts before clearing the plot


Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Hard Frost -1C This Morning

This morning it was -1C but I waited until the sun had got onto the Space Saver Greenhouse and warmed it up to 25C before I put the boys out of isolation and into the greenhouse for little real day light as I don't want them getting too leggy. If I can I want them to stay in the tray until the end of April (My usual "Last Frost" date) before they are moved up into vending machine cups and into the Space Saver full time. 

I may have a special treat coming for the Gigantomo F1 tomatoes from those lovely people from Bio Green, I'm hoping the little one will catch up with his two taller brothers.

First set of true leaves forming on many of the seedlings now.

Planning and Reviewing April in Previous Years

Reviewing the diary over the last Seven years for April 

2013 - After Burning everything that could be burnt in March, I finally started digging and weeding the first four beds on Mill Green Allotment, installing the woodchip paths and establishing the comfrey bed.

2014Potatoes in buckets, Potatoes in the ground, Sowing Tomatoes, Beetroots, Spring Onions, weeding and fertilising beds, potting on tomatoes into vending machine cups. a cold snap and fleece over the spuds.

2015 -  New edging to beds, Planting potatoes in buckets, Potatoes in the ground, Brassicas into vending machine cups, Sowing Tomatoes,  

2016 - Daffs in Comfrey bed 1, Digging and weeding new beds, Freecycle Slabs, planting Potatoes

2017 - Infrastructure works, paths desperately need replacing Neglecting Mill Green in favour of Spencer Road site as access is just so difficult due to construction traffic and no where to park. Jen in hospital with pneumonia so huge reduction in anything associated with the allotment, finally discharged and turns into Hell boy and re admitted. Constructed runner bean cantilever brackets and the extension to the shed at Spencer Road. Construction and erection of the comfrey pipe at Spencer Road. Kerb edgings and a double Dalek picked up from Freecycle. 

2018 - Plot 1 covered with weed membrane, Still on Spencer Road allotment at this stage, Plant Spuds in Buckets, Sacks of grass from Ron, Tomatoes potted on into vending machine cups, Allium Trays and planted onions, Spuds planted in the ground, Bought new B&Q Strimmer, Sowing Cucumbers, Butternut Squash and Marrows, Apple Trees in Blossom, Bluebells flowering in the Comfrey Bed, Cabbages and cauliflowers planted donated by Keith & Pauline, Onions in modules planted out,   

2019 - A lot of time was spent going backwards and forwards to the hospital due to the injury I had at the end of March and the Cellulitis that had flared up on my leg. Because of the pain and the infection gardening was really out of the question. My daughter and future son-in-law did what they could to help me get plants in the ground on the plot and I was only allowed to attend in a purely supervising role. I did make onion bed planting membrane and I was allowed to visit on my own to fill up the compost Dalek. First Early spuds in buckets, Obtained Tumbling Composter off Freecycle.  

Planned for 2020

hree storms in February which was the wettest in recorded history, so I'm still playing catch up with a lot of items that were scheduled to happen in February and March. So if the weather permits I have to undertake more Infrastructure works, and removing and storing  the Hawthorne then drying it and storing it ready for burning in October when we can once again have fires, The priority for April is getting on with the growing season which really kicks off after the last frost which in our area is the last week in April.

Coronavirus UPDATE

Early into March I ended up self isolating because my wife is very high risk and from the looks of things we will be in isolation for a lot longer than the 12 weeks that Boris Johnson was originally talking about. The To Do List below will remain and be added too with fighting the weeds that will come due to the neglect. As someone who is on his plot all year round and does not leave it alone during Autumn & Winter and who uses it instead of therapy and for my mental well being it's tearing me apart not being able to get to her.

Yes I have decided my allotment is a woman, it is dealing with mother nature after all.

To Do List  

Below is the to do list in no particular order and catching up with what actually happened in March and what has slipped into April 2020. ( It's gonna slip a whole lot longer ……)

Mill Green - Plot 1A
  • Clear Bed 2 of Cabbages and cover - TBD
  • Progress on the wall rebuild behind Shed - Contractor has removed trees
  • Remove and dispose of Corex on the roof - TBD once wall has been rebuilt
  • Re felt the roof of the shed - Tree removed from roof, temporary cover in place   
  • Fix the potting Bench - TBD
  • Clear the Wasp Nest in greenhouse 1A - To Be Done once the wasps have gone! 
  • 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
  • Weeding - Never ending job   
  • Clear Seating Area - TBD
  • New Fix the Runner Bean Frames to the wall - Completed  

Mill Green - Plot 1
  • As much infrastructure works as the weather wilallow - Seven Raised Beds Constructed in Feb two installed in March and waiting for areas to be dug and weeded 
  • 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 - Ongoing
  • Woodchip the Margin around the perimeter of the plot- Ongoing 
  • Beds and Paths - 2 New beds and paths in
  • Erect the greenhouse - New Timbers to be cut and treated   
  • Tidy Up the Allotment - Ongoing and looking better all the time
  • Remove remaining Hawthorne bushes from the wall - TBD
  • Stock pile Hawthorne to dry before burning - TBD 
  • Stockpile Timber ready for burning  - Ongoing
  • New Install at least four new beds and paths in March - First on the 1st March, Second on the 8th March, I have 4 more frames ready  
  • Planning - Ongoing
  • Planning - Ongoing
  • Catalogue Seeds - Vegetables for 2020 done just flowers remain.
  • New Cut Path Weed Membrane - Ideal Isolation Job in dry weather    
  • New Cut Bed Weed Membrane - Ideal Isolation Job in dry weather 
  • New Cut Planting Membrane - Ideal Isolation Jovb
  • None at the moment.- Add when remembered.
April on
Week 1
Week 1
Week 1
Week 1
Week 1
Radish - sow seed under cloches - French Breakfast 3 
Spring Onions - sow fortnightly - Long Red Florence
Week 1 - 2
Week 1 - 2
Week 1
Week 1
Turnip - start to sow seed outdoors
Week 2
Week 2
Week 2
Week 2
Week 2
Week 2
Week 2
Week 2
Squash / pumpkins - sow seed indoors
Butternut / Winter Mash / Winter Baked 
Marrow - two varieties
Lettuce - sow fortnightly 
Radish - Start to Harvest early February Sowings
Week 3
Cabbage Spring - harvest
Week 3
Week 3
Week 3
Kale - sow in pots or seed bed
Week 3
Week 3
Week 3
Week 3
Spring Onions - sow fortnightly - Pompeii
Week 4
Week 4
Week 4
Lettuce - sow
Week 4
Week 4
Week 4
Week 4
Turnip - thin seedlings 15cm earlies, 25cm maincrops
Last Frost