Monday, 22 July 2019

Extreme Weather

Here we go again it's either a months rain in a day that floods the allotments or high temperatures that make working in the sun unbearable and increases the need for visits and watering. I'm just going to have to visit every other day to keep a close eye on things, and water the plants. 

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Sunday Visits Resume

After a few weeks of bad weather an injury to my leg last weekend, I managed to get down to the allotment for a few hours Sunday afternoon. It's a little disheartening to see the bind weed covering the rhubarb and the weeds in the footpaths and bed but I had some harvesting to get done, there was no time for weeding!

The view above is the corner of the plot after I had strimmed the edges as idverde finally came and cut the grass but made a shite job of strimming the edges, they left two clumps along the bottom that I had to remove. My little battery strimmer did a better job than they did with their professional petrol equipment. I need to get the kurb edgings installed as it will give them and me an edge to trim too. 


The onions were harvested from the full bed there were a few that were starting to show sign of white rot attack and they didn't end up on the rack they have been taken home to be sliced and frozen for adding to stews etc.  The overflow bed of whites have not really grown much larger than the sets so I have left them in place for the moment. 

Next on the agenda for the day was to harvest my first early spuds from the buckets 

It's satisfying to brush the compost away and reveal the spuds 

Had I been growing in the back garden then I could have lifted and harvest the spuds from the inner liner of the Echo Green Basic Potato Pot 330cm. I like this over the others I have  as there is nowhere for snails and slugs to lurk like they do in the curved strengthening ribs of the ones in the other photos of spuds in buckets.   

Again it's nice to see the spuds tight against the sides of the buckets 

Not the best results I have had from six buckets of first early potatoes but they do look nice and tasty and will go down nice with a salad. My daughter Emma likes the very little ones so I will let her have them. 

The sweet corn is really taking off and looking good. All six butternut squash plants are looking healthy, the 2nd early spuds have flowered and fruited and it will not be too long before they need to be dug up. The cucumbers are climbing the framework and are at the top and I can see small cucumber growing. I need to extend the netting on the gherkins and the Kiwano.

The foxes have been having a great time digging out the woodchips along the paths. There is a wasp nest in the greenhouse that needs clearing at some point in the future.  

I managed to straighten up the pear tree that the fox had dug up and pushed over, and then it was time to go home to my good lady wife having accomplished at least a little today 

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Grass, Freebies and Update

On Saturday morning I responded to an offer on Freecycle for Approximately 30 metres of 25 mm diameter and 5 metres of 30 mm Blue MDPE underground cold water pipe. Saturday lunch time I fell over and hurt my leg again see post It's One Of Those Years!    

After four days of having my leg up and iced and now being able to hobble along without too much pain I went to collect the blue water pipe from Garry who had kindly agreed to hold it for me after I explained my predicament after falling over the kerb. Bless him he had even rolled it up nice and tight so it went into the car easily. 

I noticed that idverde had been to strim the blind bend corner tee junction that we have to turn into to get to the allotment and though smashing that means they must have finally after 3 months cut the grass they were supposed to be cutting monthly.

No such luck as you can see we have grass going to seed which is something we never had when the council used to be responsible for maintaining the paths on the allotments. Last year cutting the grass on a regular basis was the only thing idverde actually manged to do. 

I made a complaint about the grass some weeks ago and I have heard that other sites are finally getting cut so hopefully they will come back and run the sit on lawn mower up and down the path, ot takes then 10 minutes and they could have done that why the guy was strimming the bank on the blind corner at the entrance. But I guess joint up thinking as saving money is something idverde are just no good at. 

The foxes have been having a field day digging out the woodchips and covering the paving on the plot. 

The sweet corn and thickening up but still are short compared with previous years. The marrows are looking healthy and there are flowers. 

 All six butternut squash plants are looking healthy in the bed in the back ground and the Gherkins and Kiwano are looking healthy and the pumpkin has flowers on it. I'm just hoping we have enough summer left to get fruit. 

Marketmore and Burpless cucumbers on the sides seem to have stalled or have been eaten by slugs where as the ones on the front from John are growing nicely up the framework and have flowers on, again I just hope there is sufficient time to get a harvest  

First Early spud are done and need harvesting this weekend 

And looking at it so do the second batch of first early spuds grown in buckets. 

  Looks like the fox has pushed over the pear tree when digging and looking for worms and I need to re pot this tree when I visit on the weekend. Hopefully I will be more mobile by then but I'm going to have to take things slow and put in a few coffee breaks. 

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Flying Ants

The light blue currently showing up on radars isn't rain, but instead swarms of flying ants!

I saw a swarm of these taking off from the allotment last Saturday, always after a long dry and warm period. 

Sunday, 14 July 2019

It's One Of Those Years

Following my cellulitis and the delay it caused me with regards getting everything ready and in the ground, I was looking forward to getting down on the allotment to play catch up this weekend when I tripped over the kerb margin around the petrol pump and as I went forward I felt the muscles in my calf, the back of my knee and thigh rip & burn and go twang! 

A pain shot up into my buttock as I launched forward and managed to somehow glide and then gain support off the bonnet of the car on the other side of the pump which was to the owners and my surprise!.

After hobbling into the station to pay for the petrol and getting home my calf was nearly twice the size it should have been and there was a lot of pain! 

Needless to say I was not unhappy on Sunday when it rained in the morning as I could not hardly walk and could not have gone to the plot anyway. I found a crutch my sister had donated to our growing medical equipment store from when she did a similar thing on holiday a couple of years ago to help me get around and reduce the pain for a couple of days .

The Doctor says ice packs and anti inflammatory tablets over the next 10 - 15 working days are going to help apparently. I do hope so as I have my son in laws stag do to attend and we are on these bad boys soon.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

77L Shallow Long-Life Propagation Tray

If you follow my blog then you will have read on the post Heavy Duty Plastic Tray Modules, that I have been looking for alternatives to the weak plastic tray modules that I have been using and that I have to replace on a regular basis in order to reduce the amount of non recyclable plastic I use, and I found a company called CMH Containerwise Materials Handling who make heavy duty robust plastic modules that will last at least 10 years and they have customers still using their products 15 years or more after purchase.

The tray above is their 77L Shallow Long-Life Propagation Tray it has 7 rows of 11 cells that are 30mm x 30mm and the tray depth is 50mm and for me as I have a Norfolk Space Saver Greenhouse it's important that the module is 350mm x 215mm or a normal tray size and will fit inside a standard tray.     

Originally I only bought one of this tray size, but having now received all my trays from CMH and thinking a little more about how I want to grow next year, I have purchased a few more.   

As hopefully you can see from the photographs above these trays are engineered and made to last and as I have had a Beetroot crop failure this year either because this year I sowed directly or the quality of the seed, the slugs and snail or the extreme weather we have had I'm reverting to starting the beets off in modules. Historically I sowed into vending machine cups but I'm using these modules to start off plug plants that I can move up to bigger containers or perhaps just sow directly.  

As you can see the module is a snug fit in the standard tray 

And here it is once watered in and placed in the Norfolk Space Saver Greenhouse seed tray racking system.

If you visit CMH Containerwise Materials Handling and make an enquiry then please do tell them where you heard about them, this gives them and myself some ideal of how many people are visiting their web site as a result of my article. I have not been paid to write these articles about their company and I'm not on commission. I have to say I'm quite honoured to be listed with Charles Dowding and Huw Richards 

Hopefully I may get discount on future purchases if enough of you find them via my blog, but if the modules last as long as I think they are going to, I don't think I will be buying too many more of their trays. That being said I have got another half plot now and an additional greenhouse that is half constructed so who knows what next year might bring.  

As I will have a number of this type of tray I will be making an extraction tool to remove the plug plants easily and that will be a subject of a future post on the blog.  

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Watering Visit

I popped in to the allotment on my way back from the doctors to water between 5pm - 6pm. 

The sun was still on both plots and the temperature was between 25C - 26C and only the area in front to the wall as you walk onto plot 1 was in shade, so I started pruning back the Hawthorne whilst leaving the watering system on the plum tree and two of the potato beds.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Wednesday Night Visit

The potatoes in buckets have not done well in the sun despite being watered on Saturday and Sunday. I've gave them another deep watering and hopefully they will buck up but I need to come at least every other day to water these as they are not buried in the soil for the roots to search out additional water.

It's been well over two months since idverde have been to cut the grass on the maim path, plot holders are starting to complain so I've emailed them about it.

I can understand the plot holders getting upset especially when they take the time to strim there paths between plots. The plot on the right has been given a non cultivation notice and has 11 more days to run before it becomes a termination notice and they get another 28 days to remove anything of value, which on this plot is the 3 trees she planted two years ago. 

What you can't see is the the half plot behind this one is so well cultivated but he has all this lot going to seed next door. 

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Watering Visit

Sunday was a early morning watering visit because of the high temperatures again today. I did manage to attack some of the fallen tree on top of the shed at the end of plot 1A  but that was about it as it was going to be too full on sun to work comfortably once the sun came around the shading trees. 

Saturday, 29 June 2019

33 Degrees C

It was forecast at 32 Degrees C  but it's 33 C and I was over the allotment at 7:30 am and it was 22 C then

 The potatoes in buckets were looking especially droopy, but had bucked up a lot after I gave them a good watering. The trees had a good watering as did everything on plot 1A which was still in the shade when I arrived.  

Spuds on the way out from the allotment 

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Weekend Heatwave

Climate Change rather than occurring say once every 10 years we are now being warned that lots of rain and flooding followed by high temperatures could become a more like 1 in 3 or even bi-yearly. 

If we get the 32 degrees C over the weekend, yes there will have to be watering visits but it also means not a lot of work will be able to take place as it will be far to hot to work in especially on Plot 1 which is very exposed. I may get away with some work on the top end of Plot 1A early morning in the shade for a couple of hours, if I can get over there early enough.   

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

BASF Nemaslug

As you will have seen this year I'm having a load of slug and snail problems, some of this I have caused because of my leg injury and running late I didn't get all my slug traps down and decimate the numbers adequately and early enough. 

Then we have had so much rain that flood warnings have been issued and the Grotto canal in Carshalton park was full and flowing down to the high street and no doubt flooding Westcroft sports Centre again this year. With all this moisture it's been a slug and snail paradise. 

An offer to trial BASF Nemaslug was made to a number of bloggers and I've taken advantage of it and yes I'm waiting for them to arrived.  So if you have not heard of Nematodes, you don't know what they are and how they work then below are three very informative videos that will bring you up to speed.  

How do Nematodes work? 

Can I see the wife allowing me to store these in the fridge, I very much doubt it! 

However the literature and guidance from web sites is that when you receive your pack of Nemaslug place it in the refrigerator immediately and use in one go within the use by date (which can be up to four weeks)  

BASF Factory Tour 

Why choose Nemasys and Nemaslug? 

Nemaslug is less effective on cloggy clay soil, which has not been worked and / or has become waterlogged so it's not going to be too effective down on plot 1 which has not been dug over or the beds put in yet. 

Nemaslug comes in two pack sizes to treat 40 sq metres at a cost of £12.99 and 100 square metres at a cost of £23.99.

Based on treating a 2.4m x 1,2m bed which equals 2.88m a 40 square metres  pack will cover 13.88 beds and a 100 square metres pack will cover 34.7 beds. At the moment I have no idea which one they are going to send but I suspect it will be the 40 sq metres pack. The figures are obvious based on mixing correctly and applying as directed on the pack.  

There is a good article from the Daily Telegraph written in 2011 that explains in detail how you can make your own free version of Nemaslug and the video below shows how to make your own nematode solution if you would rather watch a video rather than read the article. 

Slugs are generally active when plants start growing and soil temperate is over 5 degrees C  Young slugs tend to stay underground, feeding on decaying organic matter, developing unseen and waiting for young seedlings to be planted. They breed all year with two overlapping generations. Peak egg laying is March to April and September to October. So if the soil temperature is adequate Nemaslug or Nematodes can be used between March and October.

Bearing in mind that it's only effective for six weeks, I think when I get mine I will use some of the nemaslug to infect slugs caught and placed on an island of vegetation in a bucket with a lid so that a couple of weeks later I have another batch ready to use and again use some of that batch to create a third batch if I'm still able to catch enough slugs to make it viable I shall keep producing home made Nematode Solution and keep applying for as long as I can between March and October. Next year I will buy a pack and use some of that to start off the DIY Nematodes in bucket process.  

For those that are too lazy to find the slugs and make their own they can buy nemaslug every six weeks so that's about four times a year, between March and October.

I will update you on how things pan out with Nemaslugs and the home made version.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Swift Visit

Do you ever wake up in the morning and remember something you should have done but didn't ?

Today was like that, I woke up thinking, bugger I didn't sweep off the slugs and snails off the blank 2.4m x 1.2m weed membrane sheets I took off the beds yesterday and put them away and I guess they will now be on someone else's plot!

So a swift visit was made and luckily the two sheets had been moved by the wind but my Daleks had kept them on my plot so they were gathered up and put away. It was just starting to rain but I could not resist looking to see if what was planted out yesterday had recovered the transpanting ordeal and were they looking healither than when I left them and the answer was....

YES, the butternut squash are now standing and looking perky.

So are the Piccolo di Parigi Pickling Cucumbers.

Even the Long Striped Marrows had bucked up, and for the moment appear to have no slug and snail damage. 

The Mr Fothergill's Esmarald cucumbers are happily starting to climb up the framework the Burpless and Marketmore on the sides not so much.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Planting Out .....

The way the slugs and snails area attacking everything this year I decided that six butternut squash in one bed was a good idea as perhaps one in six will survive. A layer of slug pellets were used under the membrane and those slugs that were discovered when the blank sheets were lifted were dispatched to sluggy heaven. My excess butternut squash plants were donated to two other plot holders. 

A number of us turned up with additional plants that were offered to other plot holders so now I have a Pumpkin in the back of the bed that I have put the Piccolo Di Parigi in along the width of the bed. These green pickler cucumbers or Gherkins grow to about 75 - 100 mm long and are supposed to be one of the first cucumbers to produce fruit and produces over a long season. 

From what I have read about them they are supposed to taste nice if used fresh or for pickles. I tried growing last year and had no success, this year I got six nice healthy looking plants. They don't look well in this photo but there again Cucumbers resent root disturbance and have to be transplanted carefully, but I'm sure if not attacked by slugs and snails they will soon buck up and look healthy as they did when I took them from the greenhouse.  

The trellis is a little short and I will extend it as they grow. I'm going to make some better frames up next year rather than using the old dog cage and fire guard that I have been using.

Along the side of the framework are four Kiwano horned melon plants, I have grown these once before. 

I've had these seed over from a seed parcel and tried all the the seeds I had left to see if they would germinate and they all did!. 

This exotic fruit is from the family of melons and cucumbers, it has an oval form and hard, orange skin and little horns. Inside it's jelly like with lots of edible seeds and very sweet taste similar to a mix of banana, melon and cucumber. The fruits store for several weeks. 

I moved the potatoes in buckets and the troughs with tulips in down to plot 1 so I have three beds worth of potatoes in buckets. I was surprised just how wilted some of them looked bearing in mind the amount of rain we have had. They the trees and all the other beds had a good watering,  

The sweetcorn have been battered and munched a little and again a sprinkle of slug pellets have been added. I had one spare which went in to replace one that was dead and two other holes have been filled with marrow plants which I'm quite happy for to wonder around the sweetcorn and across the paths between the beds, again if the snails and slugs don't get them. I gave two more marrow plants away to other plot holders. 

The beetroot bed is really disappointing there are very few beetroots that have germinated or that the slugs and snails have not eaten. I have sown a load in the two Agralan Propagators and hoping for some plug plants soon, but I think a re sowing in situ once I have received the pack of Nemaslug to trial from BASF is in order, I still have time and I did so well with beetroots last year that a have a huge stock of pickled beetroots under the stairs in storage.

Finally after last years two plums that appeared and there were lost when something had them away, I have a large number of plums this year, some within the middle of the tree are still green but its a sight to behold. 

This tree needs training as it got away from me last year but that's a project for when the sap isn't rising and I can minimise its growth and train it more along the path. 

Two sacks of grass from my sister along with shredded paper, and kitchen & dead flowers were placed in the two active Daleks who always seem to know just how much composting down they need to do between being topped up again were filled to the lids again. 

Wasps are making a nest in the bottom of the greenhouse that is full of crap, and I need to attack the trees that are now resting on my shed on plot 1A thanks to the builders next door and their attack on the trees. I have so much infrastructure works to get on with that I'm glad that nearly all the available beds I have are now full so that I can concentrate on getting everything sorted and ready for next year.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Flood Alert Again!

Not only is there is a risk that tornadoes could hit parts of London as thunderstorms strike, a flood alert has been issued for across Croydon, Mitcham and Sutton. A yellow weather warning is in place for across South London from 6pm Tuesday, June 18 to 9pm on Wednesday, June 19.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Fathers Day 2019

My two beautiful daughters took their old Dad for a Toby Breakfast, shopping for gardening bits and bobs and then in the afternoon came to the allotment to help me weed, plant two beds of sweetcorn and three varieties of cucumbers, then home and a Chinese meal. I also got shoes, chocolates and a book which somehow seemed right for me and the day.

Sweetcorn in beds 7 & 8

Burpless on the left side & Mr Fothergills Esmarald on the front 

  Mr Fothergills Esmarald on the front and Marketmore on the right side

  Mr Fothergills Esmarald on the front and Marketmore on the right side

Spuds in buckets moved to bed 9

Someone has attacked the trees that are pushing over and holding back the wall behind the shed, looks like I have some cutting back to do. I need to expose again as the shed needs re felting, the corex I used last year has become brittle it's obviously isn't UV stable.