Thursday, 13 May 2021

Hello, I'm a dandelion.


A lot of people call me a weed but I'm a friend and come to help you!

When you see me, remember that I'm the ONLY one who wants and can grow in that particular spot. Because:

Either the soil is too compact / hard / stomped and I want to loosen it for you with my roots.

Or there is too little calcium in the soil - don't worry, I will replenish that for you with the dying of my leaves.

Or the soil is too acidic. But I will also improve that for you if you give me the chance.
Or a mixture of the above reasons, of course. ðŸ˜Š

I'm here because your soil needs my help so best you let me grow without disturbing me! When everything is fixed, I will disappear again, I promise!

Are you trying to remove me prematurely with my root? However meticulous you are, I will return 2x as strong! Just until your soil is improved.

You can even tell by my growth at which stage my help is at. If my leaves are flat on the ground then I'm far from ready but if they all reach up then I'm already a long way on my way.

Something completely different is that I am 1 of the first bloomers in spring so I will announce spring / summer for you.

During the day when it's hot, I open my flowers but in the evening when it cools off I close them again quickly. In fact, if it's not hot enough during the day I won't open them at all!

My flowers are the first food for insects after hibernation and unlike most other plants, I have pollen AND nectar, not merely one OR the other! And I am generous with them! ðŸĪŠðŸ˜‰

My flowers are even delicious for you people by the way, did you know? I used to be called ′′honey (or gold) of the poor′′ because my flowers are so sweet in e.g. jam, sauce or salad! The internet is full of recipes - check them out.

But wait until the end of May or later before you start picking and even then, don't pick everything yet! The biodiversity and bees will be very grateful!

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Tomatoes 7 Day Germination Rates

On the 5th May I sowed my Tomatoes for this year.  I recorded the germination rates per variety at 5 days. They tomatoes were taken these out of the kitchen and placed in the unheated greenhouse to get some sun and continue germination and here are the results at 7 Days, I will review germination rates again at 10 & 14 days. 

Sown 4 seeds of the following varieties

4 x Black Krim  100%
4Cherry Honeycomb 100% @ 5 Days - Well done Mr Fothergill's !
3 x Crimson Crush 75%
2 x Crimson Plum F1 50%
2 x Gigantomo 50%
4 x Hundreds and Thousands 100%
4Principe Borghese 100%
4Rapunzel 100% 
4Reisetomate 100% @ 5 Days Well done Suttons !
2 x Rotkappchen 50%

Sown 3 seeds of the following varieties

3Bloody Butcher 100%
2 x Losetto 67%
1 x Micro Tom 33%
2 x Mountain Magic 67%
3Veranda Red 100%

The tomatoes will be looked at again at 10 & 14 days and the germination rates updated. 

Monday, 10 May 2021

Tomato Germination Rates

On the 5th May I sowed my Tomatoes for this year, just 5 days later here are the germination rates per variety. I have now taken these out of the kitchen and placed in the unheated greenhouse to get some sun. 

Sown 4 seeds of the following varieties

2 x Black Krim  50%
4 x Cherry Honeycomb 100% - Well done Mr Fothergill's !
1 x Crimson Crush 25%
0 x Gigantomo 
3 x Hundreds and Thousands 75%
3 x Principe Borghese 75%
4 x Rapunzel 100% 
4 x Reisetomate 100% Well done Suttons !
0 x Rotkappchen 

Sown 3 seeds of the following varieties

1 x Losetto 33%
0 x Micro Tom 
1 x Mountain Magic 33%

The tomatoes will be looked at again at 7, 14 and 21 days and the germination rates recorded. 

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Paths & Rhubarb Beds

I went to the allotment this morning with the intention of getting the path in beside the Raspberries and clearing the triangle of land in the corner of the plot. 

Although it does not show up very well in the photo, I have placed broken paving slabs in front of the Dalek army and have laid out timber joist and cut roofing batten to support the middle and ends of other timbers such that when stacked there is air flow between the timbers and the ground. I still have beds and cold frames to get out of this timber. 

This cleared all the timber from in front of the Daleks internally and uses the margin on the path as a storage area. The two greenhouse frames I have in boxes between two beds on plot 1A will be moved to the area where I took the photo from below until I can get them erected and finally placed in the corner of the plot where the wood chip pile currently is. 

The next job was to move the spuds in buckets out from behind the Dalek army and into the two beds that were green manured, and have now been covered in weed membrane to assist in killing off the green manure and making a nice environment for the soil critters to work on it and take it into the soil. The "haulms" or the tops, stems, and foliage of the first early potatoes in buckets have started too show through the grass mulch. 

The area dug and weeded this morning looks very small, but when one sees the amount of mares-tail root, bind weed and couch grass roots that have come out of that area, it was a lot of work.  

If you have ever had to deal with a plot that was left to go wild with this stuff you will understand my pain and how long it takes to weed the soil as you turn it over. 

In my mind I was aiming for completion of about 50% of the path the reality was more like 30% but I did do a lot clearing the working area today as well.   

Soil bulks when dug and I have to say what is coming out of the path area once weeded is beautiful looking material. I raked and re weeded and then shoveled four large square flower buckets of topsoil for use in the raised Rhubarb beds. I will sieve and weed this top soil once again before using it in the Rhubarb beds. I really don't want bindweed, couch grass and mares tail taking over the new Rhubarb like it did with the one I inherited on plot 1.   

The paths were compacted using a short 800 mm length of scaffold board which was walked and jumped up and down on, the the weed membrane was located in place and covered in saved old woodchip from the other side of the plot. Then a layer from the pile out in the car park which is disappearing fast and is becoming very leafy, and then a layer of dry leaf free woodchip from the pile in the corner of plot 1A as shown in the photo above. 

A 600 x 600mm Rhubarb bed was placed at the end of the first 1.2m wide bed to see how it would look if I made another or I could possibly make it 1.2m wide x 0.6m wide. 

Placing it there helped me see how much more I will need to dig to get the rhubarb beds in and the paths between them. So it's looking like I need at least another 4 half days worth of digging and weeding to get the rhubarb beds in place, so they will have to stay in the pots for a little while when they arrive.


Saturday, 8 May 2021

Sowing Spring Onions

40 Cell heavy duty module sown with:-

3 Rows of Johnsons White Lisbon 9 seeds per cell = 135 Onions
2 Rows of T&M Kew Collation Purplette 9 seeds per cell = 90 Onions
3 Rows of Johnsons Long White Ishikura 9 seeds per cell = 135 Onions

Late with the first sowing of Spring Onions this year - give it 4 weeks and I shall do another 40 cell modules worth. Next varieties Gerda, North Holland Blood Red, Evergreen Bunching & Ram Rod

What varieties do you like to grow?

As it was raining I spent most of the morning sorting out the labels for vegetables that I will be growing that I don't currently have labels for

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Germination Rates

Here is a look at the germination rate of the Beetroots and sweetcorn sown 12 days ago on the 24th April. The propagator lids were taken off today and will only go back on if there are low night time temperatures. 

Left Sweetcorn Tray 14/28 and Right Sweetcorn Tray 17/28 so just over 50% germination at the moment. The Beetroots were multi-sown at four seed per cell module and there are not many cells that are not showing 3 or 4 seedlings so germination is quite high. 

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Assessing Wind Damage

Visit to the allotment late afternoon to see what damage if any there was on the allotment after the high winds yesterday and last night. There was a little more than I was expecting but at least all the panels were still attached to the greenhouses and they were both still standing.

Both water butts on the new Greenhouse on plot 1 had been blown over. I had put a little water in the bottom of the water butts that I thought would have kept them there until they filled up, but it looks like it wasn't enough and the wind got to them before they managed to fill up enough to have the weight for stability. I had to stretch the hose around the down pipe and both pipes had pulled off when the Butts were pulled over so I will have to stretch the hoses and refix on the next visit

Plot 1A Greenhouse one panel just holding on one side and flapping like a shutter in the wind. So I used three large bulldog clips to hold the retaining strip in place as a temporary fix. I will pick up some more PK Screws and fix the panel mechanically and then silicon all around with clear silicon. That needs to be done on a day when there is not a lot of wind and the panels are not breathing with the airflow from the open vent.

One panel loose on the Greenhouse on plot 1.along the top right side, so again I have a bulldog clip as a temporary fic and will mechanically bond and try and refit the fixing stip with the special tool when I can find it in the shed.

Incinerators laying on there sides along with the two large water butts, at least this time they remained on my plot and didn't go for a walk on my neighbours. I have some rotting timber that I need to cut up and put into the bin that still has a bottom. I need to make a bottom for the bin that does not have one. perhaps some chicken wire will do. There is still some life in that old incinerator yet!

Netting had neem blown up and rotated along the hoops and was laying on the ground exposing the onions to the world and the wild life

A squirrel, crow or other bird appears to have helped themselves to a few onions now they are exposed so I had no option but to get the onions covered up again as soon as possible.

I relocated the lateral bar along the crown of the arch and used a couple of smaller stronger cable ties to hold it in place on the hoop. And this time I used bricks to hold the netting in place, rather than rely on the friction between the side of the hoop and the timber raised bed to hold it in place.

Content that I had done enough on this visit as I could always find more too do and it was only supposed to be a fleeting visit to check for any damage on my way to do some shopping.

I locked up and left Avalon in the care of Bonealot the security guard and part time scarecrow.


Monday, 3 May 2021

Tomatoes Seed Selection 2021


There are 145 varieties of Tomatoes in my Seed Box of which 19 are F1 and 14 are new varieties that have been added this year. I spent some time today deciding what varieties I will be growing this year. The growing area at home has greatly reduced, but I now have two narrow beds to use on Plot 1 and I also have the Quadgrows in the new greenhouse if it survives the high winds tonight. 

I'm using a 7 Row by 11 Column seed tray so I'm splitting the tray by 3 and 4 thus there are 22 possible varieties but as I'm also growing some micro Tomatoes for my daughters Nursery children and fellow nursery nurses there are two rows of 3 Micro Toms so that's 21 varieties to select this year.  

Sowing 4 seeds of the following varieties

Black Krim - S.Bassett MYP&Q Seed Circle 2018
Cherry Honeycomb F1 - Mr Fothergills 2021 <<<< NEW
Crimson Cherry F1 - 10 Seeds - Dobies - Saved 2021 - Cost £3.99 <<<< NEW
Crimson Crush F4
Crimson Plum F1 - 10 Seeds -  Suttons - Saved 2021 -  Cost £4.49 <<<< NEW
Gigantomo F1 - Premier Seeds Direct - Sow by 2021
One Hundreds and Thousands - Saved 2014 - Saved 2016
Principe Borghese - Mr Fothergills - 2020  <<<< NEW
Rapunzel F1 Saved 2018 
Reisetomate - 15 Seeds - Organic Gardening Seeds - £2.99 <<<< NEW
Rotkappchen - Kings Seeds

Sowing 3 seeds of the following varieties

Bloody Butcher - D.T.Brown 2020 <<<< NEW
Gold Nugget Gelbei - Mr Fothergill's - 2020 Sow By 2024  <<<< NEW
Losetto F1 - D.T.Brown 2020 <<<< NEW
Micro Tom -  Jungle Seeds bought 2018 and Self Saved 2018 
Mountain Magic - D.T.Brown 2020 <<<< NEW
Raspberry Oxheart - Seed Parade 2020 <<<< NEW
White Cherry - D.T.Brown 2020 <<<< NEW
Yellow Mimi F1 - Marshalls 2019 <<<< NEW
Venus Balcony - Russian Seed Company 2018 <<<< NEW
Veranda Red - 6 Seeds - Suttons -  £4.49

Sunday, 2 May 2021

All Potatoes Finally In

Early morning visit to the allotment, sorted out the black tubing from Freecycle that was actually three coils of tube all wound up together. They are now cable tied, tidy and in the storage area behind the shed.

A quick peek at the white onions to see how they are doing followed by ...

A quick peek at the red onions, which are looking ok and the compost is not too dry. If no significant rain this week I will water Watered the Raspberries and the spuds in the ground.

Mixing Coir and my own compost

Planted 4 x Sarpo Kilfi spuds per large bucket and three of the excess Premier First Early spuds in the Marshalls Potato Pots

Green manure bed cut back on the left and potatoes in Buckets covered with rubber garden mats to keep the foxes out of them on the right. Three feeder hoses watering the Raspberry beds which were weeded this morning. Two new canes coming up from the roots, but three canes still looking like dead twigs at the moment.

Broke up half of the green manure bed before watering and covering with weed membrane to withhold light to encourage the worms and critters to take the manure down into the soil. It will be interesting to see if there is much difference between the two ends of the bed.
Then before I know it the alarm on my phone was warning me half an hour to round up all the tools and finish what I was doing before making my way home for lunch. I sorted out some more Coir blocks to bring home to hydrate and reload the Coir bucket.

International Compost Awareness Week

Garden Organic is the UK's leading organic growing charity. Dedicated to promoting organic gardening in homes communities and schools, and advancing organic growing through research, we use innovation & inspiration to get more people growing organically.

Making my own compost makes me 

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Sieving Compost


It was a little chilly on the allotment this morning, well it would be being Naked Gardening Day, so I put my skin and layers of clothes back on and set about attacking the mound of compost from the bottom of the Dalek.

The rotating sieve makes light work of breaking the compost down. It makes me wonder why bought compost can't look, smell and feel this good?

The last of my spuds going into buckets are going to love this compost mixed with coir and some potato fertiliser tomorrow. I reduced the pile down to ground level, sieved and bagged up the compost ready for use.

Don't forget it's International Compost Awareness Week from tomorrow 

I may have gone too far!


Happy Naked Gardening Day! 

Planning and Reviewing May in Previous Years

 Reviewing the diary over the last five years for May

2013 -Spring was the coldest for 50 years,I had the first six beds and the comfrey bed in place.Beds 5 & 6 were Sprouts and Cabbages, as expected lots of sowing and potting on happened.

2014 -Frost warnings and seedlings grown in the grow house inside the green house on Mill Green.Potato Halums were a little frost damaged, Slabs at home laid for the Space Saver Greenhouse, Erected the Space Saver Greenhouse at home and the Double grow House at Mill Green.

2015 -Potatoes in Buckets, transplanting Tomato plants, High Winds and damage on the plots, Cherry Trees have Cherries on them, Planting out Spring Onions, Harvesting Over wintered spring onions, Planting Cabbages and Cauliflowers and the Crimson Crush plants arrive, three more bed frames made.

2016 - Spencer Road - Second sowing of sweetcorn due to slow germination then the first sowing germinated after the first !, Beds 1-3 completed, Potatoes in bed 3. Comfrey bed 2 completed

2016 - Mill Green - overwintered onions in greenhouse planted to replace those that were nobbled by slugs in the beds, Sowing frenzy of beetroots, Spring Onions, Cucumber, Celery, second sowing or brassica's as first sowing died. Frost second week of May. Bean frame maintenance.

2017Spencer Road Allotment - Working on infrastructure and the watering system for the plot, spuds and onions growing well, Walking Onion infrastructure created. Comfrey Pipe erected.

2017Mill Green Allotment - Mossquito Nets to Protect fruit on the trees, Brassicas planted, SoilFixer Potatoes in Buckets experiment, Push Lawn mower obtained off Freecycle.

Having two plots on different sites really did have an effect on the overall progress last year, but the additional beds provided more opportunity for sowing and planting a greater range of varieties of vegetables to try  in 2017.

This year the decommissioning of Spencer Road and the Infrastructure works at Mill Green Plot 1 to accept the Shed and Greenhouse has not gone as quickly as I would have liked primarily due to the bad weather we have had in the way of snow and rain, combined with getting Mill Green Plot 1A back into shape as before the drop off and pick up area was created it was difficult to gain access to Mill Green and keep it up to scratch, plus the intention was to move to Spencer Road so the focus was off Mill Green, Its now firmly back on it.
2018 Moving tomatoes from vending machine cups into larger pots, Sown Sweetcorn, Hardening off Tomatoes in the cold frame, Transporting items from Spencer Road to Mill Green Tomatoes transplanted into flower Buckets, Cucumbers & Courgettes planted. Runner Beans & Beetroots started off at home planted. Two Crimson Crush and a Repunzel grown out in the open on the plot, they were left to go wild and become so prolific .Bought an Apex Rotary Sieve from Germany for less that the version from Wales. Radish in cut down flower bucket. Rain & Thunder storms  

2019 - May as always means the Spacesaver Greenhouse heaving with seedlings and everything hetting started off so that it can finally be transplanted at the allotmentment during the end of the month. The framework for the greenhouse was finally assembled with Andy's assistance and Emma & Andy as I was having problems hetting down on my knees due to my leg injury. Andy & I planted spuds, Brassica excess supplied by Pauline, Hazelnut tree arrives and is taken to plot and potted up. Cutting and Painting bed timbers continues, Onion Sets planted by Emma, Beetrootrs sown but fail to germiniate or are eaten by slugs. Comfrey Pipe cleaned out, Insect Houses bought from Morrisons.  

2020 - Due to Covid and the lockdown I  didn't visit the allotment during May as I was shielding my wife. My daughter and son in law visited and tried to keep the allotment tidy and undertook weed management. All of my growing was done in the back garden.  

Planned for 2021

Coronavirus UPDATE

We are slowly coming out of lockdown and both the wife and I had our second vaccinations yesterday  

To Do List  

Below is the to do list in no particular order of what needs to be done and what has slipped. 

Mill Green - Plot 1A
  • Re felt the roof of the shed - Awaiting a couple of dry days 
  • Fix the potting Bench - TBD. 
  • Tidy Up the Allotment  - Ongoing 
  • Weeding - Ongoing  

Mill Green - Plot 1

  • Potatoes - Last tray of maincrop spuds to be planted in buckets.
  • Square Foot Gardening Beds - Timber for all Square Foot Gardening Beds now cut, One set need nails removed, painting and drilling for fixing screws.
  • Rhubarb Beds and Paths - Next job to be done and completed before the second Square Foot Gardening Bed as Rhubarb due to be dispatched on the 18th May.   
  • Apple - Missed opportunity to prune trees - Do it next year  
  • Onion Sets - Planted  
  • New greenhouse -  Automatic vent fitted Just need to cover with debris netting for some shade internally.
  • 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 - TBD
  • Watering system to be installed from corner of plot 1 up to Plot 1A - Done
  • Tidy Up the Allotment - Ongoing 
  • Planning - Ongoing
  • Cut Planting Membrane - Make some narrow bed tomato planting sheets
  • Space Saver Greenhouse - Sweetcorn & Beetroots already in