Sunday, 22 May 2022

Sunday Afternoon Visit

 

Kelly got back early from her weekend away, and suggested I get in a couple of hors down the allotment this afternoon. I started by weeding the mares tail from the path next to the last Raspberry bed, I also extracted half and dozen Raspberry canes, and donated them to one of the new allotment holders on the plot.

It was very sunny and warm, so once I managed to clear the path for the length of the bed I decided to move to the walking onion bed as it has a little shade.


I tied up the apple tree branch that was touching the ground because of the weight of the apples already on it, and had bind weed growing up it. The bind weed was choking some of the walking onions that had self seeded, these were cleared and some needed to be replanted. 


SGB Bed 1 watered spring onions not quite recovered from being transplanting yet. 


Collecting up and cutting Blue Water Pipes to length for the the Brassica Beds. One high sprout hoop assembled another 3 to be assembled,  and four more hoops made for the bed in front of the plot 1A greenhouse. I do have some black water pipe and I may do some 600mm diameter radius small hoops for the beds on the right of the main path to keep the birds and cats off.

I collected and many plastic lateral braces and ties that I use in building the hoop frames structures and where they had become deformed I've laid them on the framing to the beds and used the spring clamps to hold them straight in both directions so that the sun can heat them and re educate them into a straight profile along their length. 

Later in the evening I ended up watering everything in the home Space Saver Greenhouse, so many things need to be transported and planted on the allotment, and at the moment I just don't have the time to get down there and get on with it all.

Hopefully next year once the last of the infrastructure works is completed over this Winter it will be some smoother sailing, as long as my wife's health remains at it's current level and I continue to get the support of my girls allowing me to get down to the plot.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Potting Up and SFG Bed 1


The morning started with potting the Celery that came last evening up into vending machine cups


12 Celery to remain at home and the rest went to the allotment greenhouse to live.


A couple of hours spent on the allotment this afternoon as daughter Emma came to look after Jen. John on the plot gave me 3 external Cucumbers and I gave him one of my greenhouse cucumbers. So my focus moved to Square Foot Gardening Bed  1 with weeds.


John's 3 cucumber plants went in along the mesh at the back of the bed.


Using my template to mark where to plant the spring onions.


Watered in after planting


Covered up to stop Basil Brush


Grapevine doing really well and spreading and growing fast


Runner bean cleared of bind weed and many Runner Bean plants already showing.

There is some trouble with the watering system and I think it's the naff splitter that replaced the one I fixed last year. I need to test out a better splitter when Sandra is on the plot. 

10 Amish Walking Onions sown directly into vending machine cups this evening. 

Friday, 20 May 2022

Celery Tango

18 peat -free Postiplug plants from Suttons KC3132 £9,29 arrived today 

Celery Tango is an RHS AGM variety with good resistance to bolting and copes well during hot weather to produce a reliable crop.

A self-blanching variety of celery, it produces lovely, smooth green stems with good flavour and texture for that well-loved celery crunch.

Height: 45cm (18"). Spread: 30cm (12").

How To Grow 

Grow plugs on in frost free conditions. When all risk of frost is passed gradually acclimatise celery plants to outdoor conditions over a period of 7 to 10 days prior to planting outdoors. Grow celery plants in moist, rich fertile, well drained soil in full sun. Prepare the soil in early spring by adding plenty of well rotted garden compost to the soil to improve its structure and fertility. A week before planting, apply a general fertiliser to the soil surface and rake it in.

Plant celery at a distance of 25cm (10") apart, making sure that the crown of the plant sits at ground level. Plant self blanching celery in a grid formation to promote self blanching. Water the plants in well after planting.

More Information 

Celery requires a moist soil at all times to avoid the stems becoming tough and stringy. Water celery plants frequently, particularly during hot dry periods. Provide a thick mulch of organic matter around the base of the plants to help conserve moisture and reduce weed growth. Celery can be harvested from August onwards, or when the stems reach around 30cm (12"), by lifting the plants with a garden fork. Lift all plants before the first frosts.


OK so looking at the packaging which way is upright? 

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Father & Daughter Weeding


Two hours with my Daughter Emma on the allotment this afternoon, taking grass from my sisters back garden in a rubber tug and filling the Dalek in layers, watering it in with layers of spent woodchip paths cleared this week, and shredded paper. Weeding the mares tail and weeds from the Asparagus beds and the path next to the Asparagus beds, then knocking up some fox protection.

Emma cleared the weeds from the onion beds and planted some onions in modules, and then recovered the beds. A quick water and then our time was up.


Plan Layout for 2022 before moving the Asparagus Bed next to the Raspberries


Filled with grass from my sisters back garden that has been in a rubber tug for a couple of days waiting for me to bring it down to the allotment and feed the Dalek. Watering it in with layers of spent woodchip paths cleared this week, and shredded paper.


New KT Thermo Compost Thermometer was built into the latest top up, the dial went straight to the top end of "Steady" which means the beneficial bacteria (micro-organisms,) are already breaking down the grass that was cut a couple of days ago and has been in a rubber tug and was already generating heat before it got into the Dalek.


Asparagus Bed half weeded, and a Heath Robinson solution to keeping Basil and his mates off the bed.


Emma and the three onion beds that she uncovered, weeded and transplanted sets in modules into the beds at vacant holes in the planting membrane, covered back up and then watered for me.  


Thank you Emma for your help this afternoon, when I'm dead and gone, and perhaps you look at this blog you will see how much I value your company, and your help with the plot when you have time, and want some father daughter bonding time.  


Weed free onion Beds, but some of the onions had started to go to seed and Emma lopped the tops off for me, but I should have told her to leave them as once onions produce a flower stem and start to set seed they won't grow any more, and they don't store well either. So next visit I will see which ones had the seed heads cut off and harvest them.

Onions that have bolted are still edible and will taste fine, and should be dug up first and eaten, leaving the others to mature in the ground..

It's common for onions to bolt (run to seed suddenly) when there is a cold snap – it's as if the plant thinks winter is setting in and quickly throws out some seeds.

They can also bolt in very hot weather – they get dry, panic and run to seed. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Walking Onions Arrive

 

These arrived today, I purchased 5 of each but happily there were 10 Amish Walking Onions bulbils

Botanical Name: Allium cepa proliferum

Common Names: Tree Onions, Top Onions, Topset Onions, Top Setting Onions, Walking Onions, Egyptian Walking Onions, Air Onions

Description:

The tree onion is a biennial plant meaning it should usually flower in its second year. However, you will find it produces small onion bulbs at the base of the plants and a multitude of small top sets where a flower should be. The number and size of bulbils can vary significantly between about 3 large top set onions and 15 smaller sets.

The parent onion behaves as a multiplier or shallot and can split to produce several small tender onions that can be eaten or regrown.

Edible Uses:

The top sets or bulbils are an ideal size for pickling or chopping into salads. The onion greens can be used just like spring onions The mature onions are tender and can be used raw or cooked like normal onions.

Planting in the UK:

Planting Period: May to December. The tree onion is quite hardy but can certainly benefit from a top mulch or growing in an unheated greenhouse to protect from frosts until it becomes established

Depth: Plant about 25mm (1 inch) deep

Spacing: Allow about 15 to 20cm between plants (6 to 8 inches)

Soil – Growing Medium: If growing in the ground, try and prepare the area in advance to produce a rich, free draining loam with a slow release, low nitrogen fertiliser. Tree onions can be grown in most composts but ensure they don't remain waterlogged or rotting of the bulb can occur. Pot grown plants can benefit from a full spectrum fertiliser that contains calcium, magnesium and sulphur.

Harvesting:

Onions have a natural cycle and the onion stems will tend to dry and die back as the goodness is transferred to the onion bulb. Collect the bulbils and replant those you are using for propagation. Collect the base bulbs and allow to air dry, preferably on a mesh to avoid damp areas that may encourage mould growth. Store in a cool, dry area.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Renewing Woodchip Paths

 

Sandra a plot neighbour who lives in the block of flats behind Mill Green allotment site sent me two photos that I've turned into a Panorama of my plots. 

When Sandra took the photos of the plot this afternoon I was on it, as my daughter Kelly was working from home and could keep an eye on my good lady wife. 

This means you can play Where's Wally and find me!  Technically Wally has plot 4 on our allotment. 


The chap we were getting woodchip from, well more a mulch than path quality has not been able to supply us for a while. I got contact details of two tree surgeons from the Allotment administrator, and asked the plot holders who live two doors down from the entrance gate to contact them and ask for some woodchips. 

Again what we have received is more leafy mulch quality rather than good solid woodchips, but beggars can't be choosers and anything is better than nothing for the moment. 


Old woodchip on 3 of the paths has turning into soil and is now supporting weed growth. I shoveled up the woodchip and swept it up off the weed membrane and put into flower buckets to be used as brown material in the Daleks when more greens arrive.


Closer view of the rotted woodchip, and the weed membrane that was cut with a soldering iron so that it dose not fray and allows me to remove and sweep up easily and forms a barrier between the underlying soil and the woodchip. 


On taking the first of 3 square flower plots full of rotted woodchip paving to the Dalek army, I spotted that the First Early spuds are in the process of lifting the lids off that I put there to stop the foxes and cats digging in the buckets. 


Woodchip Path being re-laid with the new woodchips.


Close view of the woodchip path that is spread and then compacted with the rake to between 50 - 75mm.

Completed woodchip path. The paving slabs at the ends originally held down the weed membrane against the wind before the woodchips went down, now I'm just waiting for paving slabs to come up on Freecycle so I can infill the path with saving slabs so the woodchips are only a margin. 


Clearing the path next to the Dalek Army.


Completed path between bed 6 and the Dalek Army. 

There are other areas that need topping up, and I'm thinking of filling one of the Daleks with this mulch like woodchips to use as browns until the next rot down and path replacement. 

If you did play Where's Wally, then the answer is setting up the sprinkler on the asparagus beds whist on the way back to the car park to get another load of woodchips. I also ran another top wire on the fist bed of spring Raspberries and clipped back some of the canes that were growing over the path between the them and the Asparagus bed. 

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Freecycle Win & To Do List

 

14 number 300 x 300mm slabs won off Freecycle that will go around the next Square Foot Gardening Bed, picked up from a nice chap called Richard in Wimbledon who helped me load them in the car from his new home. He found them in the garden and had no use for them and so Freecycled them. 


SFG Bed 1 that was covered up the day the bed was made so I'm guessing the weeds were in the compost I used to make the Mels mix! I'm going to have to clear this bed of weeds and start sowing some of the planned vegetables.


SFG Bed 2 again covered the day the Mel's mix was made, I need to set up the vertical climbing frame at the back and cut some Debris netting to cover this bed like SFB Bed 1. 


Mares Tail in the path and the last Raspberry bed, this area was covered for a year by a tarp the beds and paths were weeded and it has weed membrane and a good thickness of wood chip plus some rubber path material and this happens! I hate Mares tail, there has to be a way of killing it somehow?


The Mares-tail coming up in the parts of the bed that were not dug out and weeded again for the asparagus. I'm going to have to weed this bed first to try and stop the spread of the Mares-tail.


Weeds in one of the onion set beds, hopefully it will be dealt with Thursday afternoon early evening, when Emma is coming to help me weed.


Bind weed in what was the walking onion bed, I have more walking onions coming and must clear this bed of weeds next visit to the allotment.


Saturday, 14 May 2022

Swift Afternoon Visit.

A swift afternoon visit, thanks to my Daughter mum watching this afternoon to water whats in the allotment and on the plot, as there has been talk of a heat wave and we have had very little rain so far this month.

Now that the plot holder of plot 3 has gone, I will once again be able to source water from the tap between plots 2 & 3, so I ran the extension over to the tap and dip tank, trimming the tree and moving the debris that the old plot 3 holder had left in the way. 

For about an hour and a half there were only two plot holders on the site, but suddenly a number of plot holders turned up and it was not fair to hog the water, so I made my way home.  


37.4C in the greenhouse when I arrived with the vent open and the mesh panel in the door for cross flow. Beetroots at about 50% germination, and it was all new seed a little disappointing I have to say.  

Again I can see no reason why some of the onion sets are growing and others are not ?

Still only four dwarf French beans have germinated 

Only 16 Sweetcorn germinated at the moment, hoping more germinate during the week. The gravel tray was filled with around 10mm depth of water in anticipation of the high temperatures in the greenhouse during next week. 

The promise of 30C + has now been altered to thunder & Lightning storms with temperatures in the mid 20C on Tuesday and Wednesday next.  


Friday, 13 May 2022

Freecycle - Paving Stones


I saw an offer on Freecycle for 14 Paving Stones but it didn't mention how big the paving stones were. So I asked if I could have them if they were less than 600 x 600mm as I have difficulty lifting that size these days.

It turns out they are 300 x 300mm and that I can pick them up Sunday afternoon! 

I love a Freecycle win for the allotment  

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Walking & Tree Onions

During 2016 I purchased some Top, Topset, Top Setting, Air, Tree or Egyptian Walking Onions, during 2017, 2018 & 2019 I was on top of growing the Catawissa onions I had invested in and had 100's of them growing in the space saver greenhouse. 



Then in 2020 with the pandemic and shielding my wife and not going to the allotment, I didn't get around to planting the bulbils and I've only a few walking onion left that were self seeders, so I have bought some more walking onions to kick me off again, but this time I have bought 4 different varieties to play with. 

I opted for buying 5 of each variety, because I know from experience, just how fast these little beauties grow and how many bulbils you end up getting from each plant.    


A = Moritz Egyptian

Similar to the typical tree onion, but the bulbs are a deeper colour (red-purple) and the topsets are slightly larger than most strains. An unusual strain that will sometimes produce sets in the middle of the stalk.

B = Catawissa' 'Catawissa Onion'

A very hardy cultivar of Canadian origin, distinguished by its vigorous growth and the rapidity with which the bulbils that commence to grow without being detached from the top of the stem. The bulbils divide into tiers, the second set of bulbils producing green shoots, leaves or barren stems to bring the height of the plant to over 75cm.

C = McCullar's White Topset

This form produces a number of white bulbs below the ground about 2.5cm or more in diameter, plus pea-sized bulbils at the top of the flower stalk. The larger bulbs are used for eating; the bulbils are used for replanting. It is used primarily as a source of greens when other onions are dormant.

D = Amish walking onions

Similar to the Catawissa tree onion, but the bulbs are smaller in size and darker red/purple colour and the topsets are smaller than most strains.

When the bulbils arrive I will post some photos of what I have received, and blog about their progress.