Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Allotment Favourites Collection


Got this offer via email thought it was worth sharing for New Plot Holders.

It's worth signing up for the mail shots from all the leading seed and plant providers.  

LIMITED TIME OFFER - Ends Midnight 27th January 2022!

This amazing collection will get you ready to start your allotment growing season today!

 

Grow these reliable and trusted allotment favourites to harvest throughout the year! Dobies Allotment Favourites offers a wide range of vegetable seeds suitable for both beginner gardeners and experienced plot holders.


Collection compromises of: Carrot Maestro F1, Pea Hurst Greenshaft, Lettuce Little Gem, Spinach Perpetual Seeds, Carrot Autumn King 2, Sweet Corn Sundance F1, Brussels Sprout Nelson F1, Beetroot Rainbow Mix, Broad Bean The Sutton, Cabbage Dutchman F1, Cauliflower Snowball, Courgette Sure Thing Hybrid F1, Climbing French Bean Cobra, Onion White Lisbon, Radish French Breakfast 3, Runner Bean Enorma, Turnip Purple Top Milan, Broccoli Stromboli F1, Leek Musselburgh & Kale Nero Di Toscana.

 

Allotment Favourites Collection

20 packets of seeds £45.30 NOW £20 - ONLY £1 A PACKET!


SHOP OFFER NOW 


Hurry, offer ends midnight 27th January 2022, or while stocks last.

Standard delivery charges apply. Use Order Code: SUDN166

USDA Plant Hardiness Zones

UK YouTube Vloggers like Gary O'Neill of The Allotment and Kitchen Garden love to use the USDA Plant Hardiness Zones, especially when  explaining What Can Be Grown In February. I have looked at the zoning of the UK before, but thought I would post an explanation here for reference. 

If you’ve ever looked closely at a potential plant for your landscape or spent time discussing horticulture with likeminded people across the internet, you may have come across the USDA system of Hardiness Zones.

Plants can be described as ‘Hardy to Zone 10’ or ‘Hardiness Zone 10’, but what does this mean for the plant and how does it affect where you can use them?

The system of Plant Hardiness Zones was developed by the United States Department of Agriculture and, put simply, is a geographically defined area in which a specific category of plant life is most likely to thrive.  

USDA Plant Hardiness zones are defined by the average lowest temperate during the winter in that region. 

In example Dorset (UK) is classed as Zone 9 in the USDA and states that the average lowest temperature we face is -6.7 degrees Celsius.

However, an area such as Miami, Florida, (USA) is Zone 10 where the lowest average temperature is only -1.1C.

This enables people all across the world to understand whether plants can handle specific areas of the world. Landscapers in our local area know that they could use a plant hardy to Zone 7 (-17.8C) without fear of it perishing in the winter cold. Tulips for example, can be planted in as low as Zone 4.

Drawbacks

Whilst the USDA system of plant hardiness zones is well adopted across the world, it’s not without its drawbacks. The system only takes into account the extremes of winter temperature without consideration to the other parts of the climate. There is no indication of humidity, snow cover or summer heat.

This is easily explained by pointing out that the majority of Texas, USA is also a USDA Hardiness Zone of 9. The exact same as we are in the south of the UK. However, anyone familiar with both climates will attest to how dissimilar they are. Similarly, Sochi (Russia), Madrid (Spain) and Belfast (Northern Ireland) are also USDA Zone 9; all with varying environments.

Whilst average winter temperature may be similar, summer heat, duration, humidity, snow cover and even day length is completely different. All of these factors and more need to be taken into account for a plant to thrive in a specific area.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zones are not a definitive guide but a helpful extra bit of information to use in conjunction with other information such as ‘Indicator Plant Species’, geographic information and local information.

Sunday, 23 January 2022

Rhubarb & Patio

 

Another productive morning on "Avalon" with my son-in-law Andy getting the paving slabs in front of the shed level and creating the patio area where we can both sit and have a coffee mid morning when he comes down to the allotment to help me.

I kept Andy supplied with wood chips from the corner of the plot and carried on digging and weeding the paths and third Rhubarb bed then moved the rhubarb from the first bed where it had been lodging into its own new bed filled with farmyard manure. So many weeds, Couch Grass, Bindweed, Mares Tail etc.

Finally I managed to clear an area larger than the bed and was ready for the frame of Rhubarb Bed 3 to be installed.


Rhubarb moved from bed 1 into it's own bed ready for 2022 and year 2 of its life, and this year I get to harvest some stalks. White pipe cut for corner to corner hoops to try and put the foxes off from digging in the nice new farm yard manure and compost in Rhubarb bed 3. 

There is no woodchip in the car park, I did have some piled up in the corner of the plot but it's composting down nicely. We used the bulk of what's left to level out the patio. 

One of our plot holders who lives 3 properties away from the site, has put a request in with our local friendly tree surgeon for some more woodchip.  


Andy after leveling the 600 x 600mm slabs in front of the Shed and removing some high spots and filling in some low spots after laying some membrane


At the moment the 600x 600mm slab is too snug a fit and needs to be trimmed a little before its replaced so two cut slabs are in the path at the bottom of the photo. 

We really need another 3 number 400mm x 400mm for in front of the chairs, I only have 450mm x 450mm so I need to either buy 3 slabs or keep a look out on freecycle for them, as that's where most of them have come from anyway. 


The 3 slabs on the left of Square Foot Garden Bed 2 in this picture need lining up with the ones on the patio area and the last load of woodchip has been dropped and leveled ready for relaying the 450mm x 450mm path from left to right in front of SFG Bed 2 in this photo.


The 3 slabs on the left of Square Foot Garden Bed 2 in this picture need lining up with the ones on the patio area and the last load of woodchip has been dropped and leveled ready for relaying the 450mm x 450mm path from left to right in front of SFG Bed 2 in this photo.


Once completed it will need a good broom and then a jet wash with the Worx Hydroshot.

Saturday, 22 January 2022

More Onion Sets

I have a bed and a half of onions over wintering and I still have a bed and a half of space for more onions. So I have on order from D.T.Brown approx 160 onion sets:-


D.T. Brown Heat Treated Cupido Onion Sets


Botanical Name:
 Allium cepa

Pack quantity: 250g Pack

Item code: 54035

Despatch: From 22nd March 2022.

Price: £3.95 at time of this blog posting


A recent introduction that is becoming increasingly popular amongst commercial growers. Giving a high yield, it produces consistently round onions with an attractive golden yellow colour. With a perfect slightly sharp taste and crispness this variety will keep you going right through the winter as stores well.

Heat treating our onion sets is rather like turbo-charging them! This totally natural process takes several months, but the process means they establish and grow very rapidly, giving higher yields - and with virtually no risk of prematurely running to seed or 'bolting'.

All of D.T.Browns bulbs are certified as disease and virus free.

Delivered in 250g packs, each pack containing approx. 80 sets.



D.T. Brown Onion Karmen sets

Pack quantity: 250g Pack

Item code: 56169

Despatch: From 22nd March 2022.

Price: £3.95 at time of this blog posting...

New for 2012   Variety to D.T.Brown 


An exceptionally sweet taste that makes this red onion perfect for salads, sliced on top of burgers, or any cooked dishes that require a light, sweet onion. Crisp white flesh with crimson circles internally.

No kitchen garden is complete without onions - and planting our sets this spring means you will have a supply early this summer just as stored bulbs are scarce.

All of our bulbs are certified as disease and virus free.

250g pack contains around 80 sets for planting.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Coldest Night This Year?

Brits are being warned to brace themselves for snow and hail as an Arctic blast sees temperatures drop as low as -6C - the coldest night of the winter for parts of the country.

The UK is set for another day of icy temperatures on Thursday before the mercury dips further on Friday with people being told to take care and also look out for vulnerable people who may need help.

UK forecast for the next 5 days

Today:

A few showers for coastal parts east England and northeast Scotland, locally wintry during the morning. Isolated showers at first in Cornwall. Otherwise cold but dry and sunny for most. Cloudier in the north with a little rain possible later.

Tonight:

Dry and clear for most with light winds. Widespread frost for much of England, Wales and southern Scotland. Cloudier in the north and northwest with a little drizzle.

Friday:

Mostly dry with good sunny spells in the east and south. Cloudier in the north and northwest with a little drizzle, cloud gradually spreading southwards.

Outlook for Saturday to Monday:

Increasing cloud for the weekend but remaining dry for most in the south with some patchy fog and frosts. Windier but milder with more light rain in the north.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Seedless Grapes

 

I’ve had red and white grapevines on my wall since 2013, they were bought from the £1 shop and did really well and produced grapes year on year there was just one problem, they had pips or seeds.

The wife and kids complained that although nice they were not as good as the nice ones from the supermarket don’t have seeds in, and their question was, "Why can’t you grow some without seeds?" My immediate answer was well if they don't have seeds how is one supposed to grow them?

Although a rare mutant seedless plant could be natural, the seedless form is not naturally occurring. The process of growing seedless grapes uses a form of asexual reproduction. The only way for a mutant seedless grape plant to reproduce is through the unnatural (for the grape plant) and manual asexual reproduction process.

Thus seedless grapes are grown from cuttings. The cuttings refer to amputated parts of a vine that is infected with the genetic defect that causes it to grow seedless grapes. This cutting is then dipped into a rooting hormone and planted in soil.

So after a little Winter internet surfing of the normal suspects, I have found that Suttons sell three varieties of seedless grapevines, and the two I’m going for are:-

KC5383Grapevine Plant - Flame Red (Seedless) which is supplied as a grafted plant in a 2 litre pot and Cost £18.99

Flame is one of the most popular self-fertile varieties of grape that taste even better just picked from the vine. This variety is suitable for outdoor and greenhouse/ conservatory growing and the web site says ”Choose a sunny spot and our variety will provide you with a bountiful crop of delicious grapes! The vine is very attractive too!”

When growing grape vines choose a sunny position in any well drained soil. A south facing position against a wall is ideal, and I'm blessed in having such a wall. 

"Grape vines require sturdy support for their twining stems. Before planting, prepare a framework of wires stretched horizontally between two sturdy 1.8m (6’) posts or attached to a warm wall". I have wires already where I had the seeded grapes, but I'm going to wire up another section of wall as I now know, having had them  just how much grapevines can grow.

Prior to planting, incorporate plenty of well-rotted manure or garden compost into the soil. Plant grape vines against the wire supports, allowing a distance of 2m (6’) between plants. After planting, reduce the newly planted grape vine back to height of the lowest support wire, and cut back any side shoots to one bud, before tying the main stem in to the supporting wires.

The other variety is KA1985 Grapevine (Vitis) Lakemore White (Seedless) which is supplied as a 3 litre potted plant for £19.99  

Grape 'Lakemont' is a superb grape to grow for a number of reasons. It is a delicious dessert grape or can be eaten straight from the vine when ready. The oval fruits grow in an abundance of sizeable clusters that you can harvest September.

These grapes grow to a good size, are white, seedless and taste sweet and rich. Like many Grapes, it also grows show-stopping lobed foliage that ‘colours up’ well in the autumn season. Furthermore, it is the ideal for growing on sunny, south-facing wall

Lakemore grapevines produce prolific crops that show impressive and are resistance to Powdery and Downy Mildew too.

Height of cordon trained vine: 1.8m (6’). Spread of cordon trained vine: 1.5m (5’). Untrained plants may reach up to 8m (26’)

So on my programme of works I need to make sure I have the old grapevine removed and the spot ready for one of the above and drill and O-Bolt for wires further down the wall for the other variety above are done by mid February.  

Monday, 17 January 2022

Drill Pump

 

Question How to get the water out of the Quadgrows in the plot 1 greenhouse and into the Comfrey Water Butt as it has been mixed with nutrients and just too difficult and wasteful to just pour away.  

Answer 

It will also let me drain off some of the full water butts on the greenhouses into other waterbutts scattered around the plot 

Sunday, 16 January 2022

Infrastructure Works Continue

Emma & Andy arrived early this morning. Andy & I arrived at the allotment gates around 9:15. The sun tried to come out whilst we were down there during the morning and just about managed it as we left at 1pm to head home for Sunday lunch.

Below are photos and an explanation of what we managed to get done.


Runner Bean Frame after Andy replaced all the vertical bamboos with longer 5ft canes, diagonal bracing added to the frame. The lone Dalek is likely to be moved out and into Dalek Army One and I'm thinking perhaps a cold frame-ish structure or perhaps a seedless grape vine location taking the vine to the right towards the greenhouse on plot 1A


View down the plot looking at the Runner Bean Frame and into the Butt area that has the Comfrey Butt the Nettle Butt and a Water Butt for when there is a hosepipe ban. The square flower buckets with the glass panel over contains sand that needs to go into the sand butt for growing Bugs Bunny Carrots and the bed 2 needs to be cleared of the pallet and debris on a future visit. 


Butt area still needs to cleaning up and a tidy. I need another couple of solar powered pumps to oxygenate the comfrey and nettle on draft plant feed and keep it fresh. 


The dustbins that I have been acquiring off Freecycle that were on the path beside the greenhouse on plot 1 have been moved to a temporary location between narrow bed H1 and Bed 12 whilst the Storage area behind the line of various Butts is being cleaned out and finally paving slabs laid.


Rubbish Bins in temporary location on path between the onion bed 12 and Narrow bed H1 that tomatoes were grown in last year. Nice to see the Over Wintering Onions doing well in Bed 12


Closer view onion bed 12


View into what will be the Storage Area behind the water butts once cleared and paving slabs laid

View behind the greenhouse on plot 1 looking up the plot with the potting table behind the greenhouse and what will be the rubbish bin storage area once cleared and slabbed in the background.

Compost and Mulch stored behind the bread bin bases and under the plastic chairs which are there to stop Basil Brush and his mates getting into them.

Over Winter Onions in Bed 14 doing well

View from beside the greenhouse looking at the rear of the square foot gardening beds , next visit we intend to lay the rest of the slabs we have between SFG Bed 1 and the shed making a small patio area to sit on when we stop for a coffee break.

Closer view, Question: Do I cut the two small slabs or just bring the slabs away from the edge of the timber framing? The path will be 600 but the slabs are only 450 so I can woodchip either side. 
A question to sleep on I think but I may relocate the slab and infill with woodchips when the next load arrive. The bed for the Superdome Mini Polytunnel is going in between the SFG Beds and the wall for the Aubergines.

Bio Green Superdome


The slabs laid in front of SFG Bed 2 have compacted the woodchip and need to be releveled on the next visit so they meet with the slab forming the corner. Main path a little muddy with all the working and digging and weeding, needs brushing when dry and ultimately jet washing with the Worx Hydroshot using the water butts as no water on site until March


View from the main path up plot 1 with the square foot gardening beds on the left


Rhubarb Bed 3 given a couple of coats of red paint to be installed in place on a future visit and the Rhubarb plant squatting in Rhubarb Bed 1 to be relocated in it's final home on a new bed of manure.
Most of the woodchip on the tarp in the corner used today to level out the path behind the square foot gardening beds. The corner needs to be cleared of weeds and then a 1.8m x1.8m greenhouse frame is to be erected as a climbing frame for plants and flowers.
Other work done, the tree cut down last visit was cut up and placed in the yellow trug for John the fireman to use. Andy found another bag of bulbs that were planted by the entrance to Avalon.

Sunday, 9 January 2022

Bulbs and Beds

An icy start to the day, scraping the windscreen before we set off for the allotment. Emma (Daughter) came to keep Jen (Wife) company and Andy (Son-In-Law) came to give me help on the plot.

Mill Green allotments does have its own little micro climate going on especially as it now has the tall flats on the left in the photo above and the houses to the right. When we arrived the was a little ice on the paving slab paths, but that soon thawed.

Later in the morning I was emptying the pots from the Quadgrows in the Plot 1 greenhouse and with the reflective heat off the boundary wall it was between 16C -18C in the greenhouse and the vent window was opening.


50p Bargains from B&Q that I picked up just before Christmas consisting of  Snowdrops, Grape Hyacinths, Dwarf Iris and Dutch Iris bulbs. I have two more packs of Snowdrops for the back garden. 


Andy borrowed my Ryobi Drill and the 75mm Power Planter and planted the  Snowdrops, Grape Hyacinths, Dwarf Iris, Dutch Iris, Tulips and Daffs that were rescued from Bed 18 on our last visit around the edge of the paths to Plot 1


The bulbs moved from Bed 18 before Christmas are really showing to the left of the entrance path onto plot 1 off the main path. I hope not many will come up blind this year as a result of the move, we will have to wait and see how things go. 

There is now a line of bulbs about 150mm off the leading edge of the plot on the Main path and they return all the way up the path between plot 1 and plot 2 


Andy gave me a hand to cut the blue barrel into thirds which turned out to be 11" or 275mm high sections using the Ryobi circular saw. So I've ended up with a shallow sand carrot bed container from the bottom third, and two 275mm high blue rings for the Agapanthus that will go in the ground each side of the path into plot 1 off the main path. 

I'm going to measure the mature Agapanthus plant I have in the back garden and work out where to place the centre of the plant to find the best location to allow for growth over the years such that I or the next custodian of the plots will be able to continue use the path when the plants are mature.

The blue rings are shown approximately were I think they will be going, but once I've set them out properly the rings will be dug into the ground about half way to try and contain the roots a little.


Bed 16 was cleared of the climbing frames that were erected for the cucumbers either end and the compost and coir from the Quadgrow plots in the Plot 1 greenhouse were deposited onto it as a  conditioner. It was then covered with it's Winter blanket to keep the soil from getting too cold and keep any weed seeds in darkness.  

Bed 18 that had all the Daffs and Tulips in was sporting 6 bulbs showing stem growth. They were removed by Andy and put in along the path between plots 1 & 2 and this bed then also had it's Winter weed membrane blanket put on it.

I cut the sycamore tree down that was growing in front of the apple tree up against the wall.

A curious healthy looking fox came walking about to see what we were doing. They have no fear of us at all, they are beautiful to see and keep the rats down but can also be a real pain in the arse when they start playing, digging and shitting on your plot.