Saturday, 25 March 2023

Pebble Pool Plus

Rain this morning so I did more cutting of the 1.22m wide weed membrane to bed lengths of 2.4m from the 50m roll, and then at midday I went to the allotment via the bakers. It was sunny and warm and it was nice to just sit and listen to the bird song, for a while and eat a Cornish pasty. I have a few robins in the nearby trees that were very active and vocal today.

I spent over four hours on the plot installing the pebble pool and cleaning the slate chippings. Once the risk of Frost is over I will install the solar fountain and the pebble pool will provide the birds and the bees with somewhere to come and source water.

The terracotta pot is in the hole just to prevent any wild life and dross from getting into the water chamber below. I watered the pebble pool to see what it will look like once full and the pump keeping the stones wet

My daughter Emma popped in to give me a hand for the last hour and a half of weeding and sorting out the next beds so they are ready for action stations after the last frost.

Friday, 24 March 2023

Measuring Out Plots


This morning I met up with Jane from idverde and we measured out plots 11 & 11A because the previous tenant did a land grab taking quite a slice of plot 11, they are now equal in size.

We are still pursuing a solution to the removal of all the debris from plots 11, 11A & 3A by the council and idverde. The council have asked once again for a costing to remove all the debris, despite Adam Brind already previously agreeing the cost of the skips. Now idverde & Veolia need to also price up their element. I'm not holding my breath, but have told Jane I will hold back on taking matters further, for a short while and pointed out the welding oxy acetylene and oxygen cylinders and torch etc again to her.

Plot 9 & 9A which has had eight foot of brambles removed, may or may not still have Japanese Knotweed was also measured and pegged out as two half plots. If when inspected in a few months time there is no further signs of Japanese Knotweed then these plots will get new plot holders from the waiting list which now stands at 40.

Finally some fencing and signs will be forthcoming for plot 9 which should have been in place for all the years this plot has been out of action and undergoing treatment. With the plot belong so overgrown and inaccessible for so long, and the hit and miss treatment over the years, the likelihood of it actually being clear of Japanese Knotweed is very remote.

At least idverde have bitten the bullet and sub contacted the Knotweed treatment out now to a company that knows what they are doing and has the training and resources. I'm assuming that the fencing will not go up until they come to inspect once the growing season is underway.

An invite has been sent to the first person on the waiting list to contact me & come and view Plot 4.

I managed to have a little tidy up on Plot 1 and to sort out the pebble pool and measure for the weed membrane to go under the plastic former. I sowed radishes into the raised planter that is beside the plot 1 greenhouse.

The heavens opened up and I took refuge in the plot 1 greenhouse and was decanting coffee grounds into tins to dry out, until the rain slowed down and I could make a dash for the car. I'm so looking forward to having a 6ft x 8ft potting shed to work in when the weather is not so kind in future.

It's been way to wet cold and windy to cut the weed membrane in the back garden, so tonight I set up the scaffold board in the living room between two fold up tables.

The new 50m roll I bought was supposed to be 1.2m wide but in fact is 1.22m or 4ft. At least now I have finished the 2m wide roll up I only need to cut the roll into 2.4m long sheets to fit the standard beds. I will get 20 sheets out of the roll, tonight I measured and cut 5 and looking at the weather forecast, I may get the other 15 processed on Sunday.

I need some winter blanks and the others once processed will have holes burnt out of them and be turned into planting membrane.

Thursday, 23 March 2023

The Wildlife Trusts - Peat Update

Peat bog © Mark Hamblin

UK Government confirms ban on all peat-based gardening products will not be implemented until 2030 

Today 23rd march 2023, Defra (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) has confirmed that while some peat-containing products will be banned from shelves in 2027, others will be exempt from a ban until 2030. This means that for some professional growers, peat use will still be permitted for the next 7 years. 


Ailis Watt, peat policy officer atThe Wildlife Trusts says: 


“Today’s announcement is bitterly disappointing. Last year we welcomed the news that the UK Government would ban the sale of bagged peat compost in England by the end of 2024. The Wildlife Trusts hoped that a ban on all peat products would follow shortly after this date.  


“The destruction of irreplaceable peatlands for gardening should have been outlawed long ago. These precious habitats are vital for nature and for our climate because they store vast amounts of carbon and are home to some of the UK’s most special wildlife. We need to see far greater levels of ambition if the UK is to relinquish its status as one of the most nature-depleted countries on Earth or come close to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Peatlands must be better protected as a matter of urgency.”  


Today’s announcement will allow a large proportion of professional growers to continue to use peat to grow plants and mushrooms. According to data from the Growing Media Monitor, plug plants and mushroom production alone made up 42% of all peat used by professional growers in 2021.  


For decades the UK Government set ineffective voluntary targets to tackle the horticulture industry’s use of peat and its corresponding habitat destruction. The Wildlife Trusts have repeatedly urged the Government to enforce bans for the last 30 years. 


The Wildlife Trusts are calling upon the UK Government to: 

·         Ban the extraction and commercial trade of peat immediately 

·         Ban all horticultural uses of peat as soon as parliamentary timeframes allow, or by 2024 at the latest 

·         Restore all bogs damaged by the removal of peat by 2030 


Ailis Watt continues: 


“The decision to allow the sale of peat-containing products to continue until 2030 does not reflect the value of peatlands - here and abroad - and is at odds with this Government's manifesto commitment to ‘deliver the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth’.  


“It contradicts the notion that gardening is an activity which is beneficial to nature and places a burden of responsibility on the consumer to ensure they are not inadvertently buying environmentally destructive peat-based products.” 


The Wildlife Trusts estimate that policy failure to stop peat extraction has caused up to 31 million tonnes of CO2 to be released since 1990. 

Asparagus Bed & Shed/Plot 1 Patio

This morning I got to the allotment early as rain was due between 9 and 10, as it happened there was a little light shower and then the sun came out and I managed about four hours on the plot.

I had started clearing the Asparagus bed on a previous visit when I had some help "Thing" who needed some assistance and I didn't get around to completing the task.

I had cleared quite a lot of the weeds but had not dealt with the long rooted dandelions. I sourced the FISKARS weed puller that Kelly had found me for free on Facebook marketplace and set to work extracting them.

I have to say I love this tool, as long as you get it over the centre of the dandelions it pulls them out so quickly and cleanly. I said to the guy I picked it up from that I was going to use it on the allotment, and he looked bemused, thinking that dandelions are only a problem on lawns and not allotments.

Here is the view after the weeding was complete.

I have a 30 litre sack of Dalefoot's Lakeland Gold which is an ideal spring mulch that encourages worms and enriches the soil. A sack is supposed to cover 1 square meter, however my beds are 2.4m x 1.2m. I'm working on the premise that if used as directed that sack feeds for 2 years.

I'm assuming that applying at around 50% the depth that it should be, that what I've done will feed the Asparagus for 1 year instead of two. I do still have some Equigrow Mulch and will put a layer of that on top at a future visit as well.

Here is the bed after applying the Dalefoot's Lakeland Gold, I did sprinkle a greater depth above where the crowns were laid out and thinner between the two trenches that were dug and along side of the trenches.

With time cracking on and the forecast for rain between 10 and 11 am I covered the bed back up with the debris netting to protect it from the foxes.

I rescued two Raspberry that had escaped from the bed next to the Asparagus bed and had come out with roots so I transplanted it into the Boundary Beds, together with another Raspberry that was growing in the path between the Raspberry beds.

That in turn meant that I had to run wires at the top and at mid height between the scaffold poles in the Boundary beds to support the two transplanted canes.

I stopped for a coffee looked at the weeds and movement that had happened to the patio in front of the plot 1 shed and decided to weed and realign the paving slabs, and infill a gap with a block and a half of concrete block paving.

Patio slabs in front of the Plot 1 shed weeded and realigned. The path to the potting shed needs some weeding and work at a future visit.

Before leaving the plot for the day, I thought I would check out the state of bed 1 and was quite surprised as it had been walked all over by the foxes but they had not dug like mad as I thought they might. They had however dug a hole in one of the Rhubarb beds which I need to fill in on a future visit. 

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Weeding & Feeding Beds

This afternoon on the plot, Bed 14 netting taken off, membrane removed and weeded, I should have taken photos of it before I touched the bed, but I had done it before I realised I hadn't taken any photos.

So photos from left to right

1) Applying Blood Fish and Bone

2) Adding a layer of coffee grounds sprinkled on the bed

3) After raking into the soil.

4) Finally covered back up with the debris netting to keep the foxes off.

Bed 1 which was cleared on Sunday was also give a dusting of Blood Fish & Bone and coffee grounds and then it was raked into the soil.

Finally the hole dug by the foxes in the Boundary Beds filled back in and cleared up.

Monday, 20 March 2023

New Delivery Date for Potting Shed

I received a Text message today that the potting shed will now be delivered mid next week. 

Looks like rain for most of the week, I have arranged with Jane from idverde to meet on the site on Friday which looks to be the best day to measure up plots 11 & 11A and hopefully try and get Sutton Council to honour the agreement they made to fund the skip so we can clear the plots and get them back into serviceable order.

The plot holders have already cleared most of the metal and had a scrap metal man take as much metal away as possible from the two overgrown and fly tipped plots. 

The head of parks, has replied to my email and side stepped most of the questions I had asked and now idverde are going to inform and remind him that one of his staff Adam Brind agreed 3 times with them to fund the skips, so removal of all the dross they had allowed the previous plot holder to accumulate could be removed. 

The council needs to support the site reps and idverde when plot holders do not work within the guideline document, and not take the "We will accept the plot holders unique way of working the plot" when in fact one could not even get into the plot because it had been made into something like a fort that kids use to build in the 50s, 60's & 70's in overgrown land along streams and railway lines.  

I'm hoping they will have good news for me on Friday or perhaps may even manage get the Head of Parks Mark Dalzell and Adam Brind down to talk to me and come up with a solution, and honour their agreement. I'm not holding my breath, but if it happens I and the plot holders of Mill Green would be overjoyed especially as we have 40 people on the waiting list for a plot. 

It now 3 weeks since I notified the council and idverde about the dangerous gas and oxygen cylinders found in the fly tipped plots that the head of parks described as "a haven for wild life rather" than its true description of looking like the aftermath of a travellers invasion, are still there and have not been removed! 

How Mark can say there has not been any miss management of allotments is beyond my and all of the plot holders on Mill Greens imagination.    

Sunday, 19 March 2023

Hydrate Coir whilst the Sun Shines

This weekend a year ago I was making the square foot gardening beds and two years ago I was cutting the slabs to go into the Plot 1 Greenhouse and getting the Quadgrows installed, March this year is looking to be quite cold and wet.

This Sunday I hydrated a CoCo Grow Plus Block of Coir to 75 Litres and bagged it up and filled the Coir storage bin ready for getting the new potatoes in Buckets in.

I also dug out the nettles from bed 1 and turned it over and then gave it a dressing of soil coir and compost from last years
potatoes in Buckets.

Two buckets of flowers went into the active Dalek together with two buckets of cardboard and shredded paper and a layer of coffee grounds between each layer. They were watered in with weed water from the weed feed butt.

Gerald is still on security detail and awaiting some idea as to when the potting shed will arrive as there was logistic problems on Wednesday and my delivery was cancelled.

Thursday, 16 March 2023

Greenhouse Loft Extension II

Having completed the assembly of the Greenhouse Loft Extension Assembly on the 8th March, and fitting the louvers over the fans openings I had been waiting for the weather to break and the sun to shine so I could test the solar panel and the twin fans before fixing them into the Dormer structure. 

The clouds parted and sunlight shone and I ran out into the garden with the solar panel and fans, and joy of joys they started spinning really fast. So I dashed back indoors and set about fixing them to the inside of the dormer front.  

The leads on these fans are a lot shorter than the first ones I purchased that had their own solar panel each, so I positioned them such that the leads faced each other and the middle of the dormer so that I could take the wire through the roof. 

I melted a hole in the roof, just back from the front panel just large enough to get the connection plug through one at a time and then filled the hole with silicone from the underside, As I want to prevent water getting in and down the wire and into the fans and also not allowing water into the twin wall polycarbonate. 

I used the Ryobi glue gun and sealed the hole also making sure it was raised so as to push water away from the hole anyway.


Having sealed the ends of the strip of twin wall polycarbonate that will support the solar panel the night before, I burnt out a recess for the back of the solar panel and the wires to go through and the four bolt holes with the soldering iron and then siliconed up the openings to stop water getting in the twin wall polycarbonate.

When I glued the legs onto the mounting plate, I used my Unwins Seed Box to hold the legs up and and tack glued the outside first and let it dry, then removed the box and glued the inside. Finally I applied silicone to the gaps in between.

Before fitting onto the mounting plate 

I found some nuts bolts and washers and mounted the solar panel to the supporting framework. 

Photo of the mounting in it's trial location. I wasn't happy with the way the wires and connectors were on the roof top and decided I would need to improvise a support, but having decided on a location that would offer some rain shielding for the connections I tack welded the legs to the roof.

Added a Twin wall polycarbonate offcut to hold the wires up off the flat roof deck and keep the joint under the panel support hopefully out of the rain, and glued it in place, then using the peg to hold the wire, I tack welded the wires onto the cross member. 

Bracket glued in place , the wires were much shorter on this one and I needed to come out via the roof and the solar panel has to face the sun.

Now ready to be taken down to the allotment and fitted. 

Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Where Is The Potting Shed?


Gerald the Gnome was ready and waiting on the base of the potting shed to see the unloading of the potting shed. 

The 4 hour slot was shortened to a 2 hour slot via an email and his plot holder was ready to come down and be around to let the the driver in. 

However a telephone call was received to say the lorry was overloaded and the delivery would need to be rescheduled! 

Looks like all the rain we have been having is making timber products a lot heavier than anticipated!  

Monday, 13 March 2023

Dalefoot Compost Arrives

My Dalefoot delivery came today. Having heard at the Garden Press Event that I intend to repeat by previous grow off between Dalefoot Potting Compost & westland New Horizon BIO3 Tomato Planter in 2021. This year it will be Dalefoot Tomato Compost V westland Big Tom Planter Compost & Big Tom Feed, they kindly supplied me with some bags of free compost to play with. 

The tracking app was so cool I could watch the driver making his way towards my location and I could see how many stops were still in front of me.  

I updated the app and couldn't find him! and that was because he was actually dropping off my compost on the doorstep!

So one by one, I added the bags of compost to my boot to be taken down to my allotment in readiness for the delivery and erection of my new Forest Green Potting Shed which is to follow later this week. 

A big thank you to Dalefoot Composts for supplying the compost for the 2023 Tomato Grow Off and some additional bags for me to trial and review. Information and links to the Dalefoots' web site for each of the compost I received can be found below:- 


Wool Compost for Tomatoes

Super-strength compost containing all the must-have nutrients needed to grow organic, succulent, aromatic tomatoes throughout the year without additional tomato feed. Now with added Comfrey! – the organic gardeners best friend – a ‘dynamic accumulator’ packed with nutrients is added into the Wool Compost range. Comfrey's ‘Bocking 14’ variety has high levels of potassium, phosphorous & nitrogen for healthy plant growth, larger flowers & bigger crops.

·         Use as a grow bag or in pots

·         Reduced watering

·         No need to feed - feeds tomatoes throughout the season without additional feed!

·         Peat-free

·         Soil Association approved

·         Wool Compost for Tomatoes 30 litre


Wool Compost for Potting

This general purpose compost is ideal for growing in pots, tubs and hanging baskets where water retention is key. No need to add extra feed or water retaining gels. Now with added Comfrey! – the organic gardeners best friend – a ‘dynamic accumulator’ packed with nutrients is added into the Wool Compost range. Comfrey's ‘Bocking 14’ variety has high levels of potassium, phosphorous & nitrogen for healthy plant growth, larger flowers & bigger crops.

·         Use in containers, hanging baskets and raised beds

·         Reduced watering

·         No need to feed

·         Peat-free

·         Soil Association approved


Lakeland Gold

Traditional Claybuster and 'Gold-standard' Spring/Autumn Mulch. Encourages worms and enriches your soil. 

·         Mulch into your beds in Spring & Autumn for improved nutrition and soil structure

·         Top dress plants such as potatoes, fruit trees, asparagus and flowering shrubs such as roses (1 bag per m2)

·         Ideal for 'No-Dig' gardening

·         Feeds for 2 years

·         Peat-free

·         Vegan friendly

·         Soil Association approved

·         Lakeland Gold 30 litre

Wool Compost for Vegetables and Salads

Perfect for "grow your own" organic vegetables, salad and fruit in an allotment, raised beds, containers or windowsill. Now with added Comfrey! – the organic gardeners best friend – a ‘dynamic accumulator’ packed with nutrients is added into the Wool Compost range. Comfrey's ‘Bocking 14’ variety has high levels of potassium, phosphorous & nitrogen for healthy plant growth, larger flowers & bigger crops.

·         Reducedwatering

·         Feeds throughout the growing season

·         Peat-free

·         Soil Association approved

·         Wool Compost for Vegetables and Salads 30 litre

Dalefoot Compost Bag Volumes

·         Lakeland Gold 30 litre

·         Bulb Compost 20 litre

·         Wool Compost 30 litre

·         Double Strength Wool Compost 30 litre

·         Ericaceous Mix Potting Compost 30 litre

·         Wool Compost for Seeds 12 litre

·         Wool Compost for Vegetables and Salads 30 litre

·         Wool Compost for Tomatoes 30 litre