Tuesday 30 April 2013

Monday 29th April - More Woodchip

Keith rang me to inform me that another load of Woodchip had arrived so off I went to top up the pile on my plot ready for my paths. Good old Keith helped me barrow despite having bruised his ribs when he fell over fishing..... He is a little star ;0)

Monday 29 April 2013

Sunday 28th April - Afternoon

After Lunch went back to the allotment with Jen, four bags of the rubbish B&Q potting compost for the potatoes, and my geotechnics hand auger. As we got out of the car Keith and Pauline arrived to weed and feed their plot.

First things first Keith instructed Pauline to make coffee and tea.

First thing I had to do was go back home and pick up the potatoes as I forgot to put them in the car - Doh!

I marked up a 2.4m timber with the centres for the potatoes and used the Auger to dig neat 75mm holes 150mm ish deep - and handful of compost and then popped the potatoes into holes, filled up then racked up the soil as we had a frost last night. Jen watered in the four beds and the two bean beds whilst I packed away equipment and we got away about 6:30ish.

Well I have achieved the council target of 25% cultivated and planted before the review which they have moved to the end of May instead of April due to the slow start this year.

Here is the progress so far

When I got home checked on the half a module tray of spring onions in the cold frame and they are just showing. I need to get some more stuff going and in the cold frame this week as hopefully I should have beds 5 and 6 done next weekend weather permitting.

Sunday 28 April 2013

Sunday 28th April - Morning

Jens foot was playing up and she decided not to come with me this morning - got to the allotment about 8:30 and laid the paths around bed 4 - I noticed that the bindweed is coming through the tarp I had laid the woodchip on and into the woodchip - does nothing stop this stuff?

Sorted out the comfrey bed and used the bricks I found to tidy it up and define it as it's on the path, and transplanted one plant and finally got in the last three in their toilet rolls into the ground. placed plastic drink bottles and mini cloches over them to help and protect them the slugs.

Dug over and placed shredded newspaper into the trench and weeded the two runner bean beds as the little fellow have gone mad at home, I know it's too cold and we are still having frost but they will have to go in within the next two weeks at the rate they are growing - Note to self wait next year they grow too fast plant in WC rolls mid May!.

Saturday 27th April

Up early and over the allotment and dug over bed four it's path and half the width of bed five in the morning - about two hours in the gate went and I looked up into my wife's eyes and noted she was carrying a flask of coffee, my daughter Emma had dropped her off.

Seeing her there really bucked me up and she hobbled along the path and I got the stool out from the shed for her to sit watch and mock. After a quick break and a cup of coffee I cracked on and finally got the bed and the middle path dug by which time it was about 2:30 and we decided to pop home for some lunch.

After Lunch we went back to get the paths sorted out and the heavens opened with hailstones. with rain stopping play we came home.

Saturday 27 April 2013

Friday 26th April

Popped in to the plot for an hour after work fighting the bind weed that has appeared from everywhere! and sieved a little dirt from the pile near the shed to top up and level off the 3rd prepared bed.

At home my Runner beans on the window cill have gone mad and they must be related to the bindweed on the plot, and potted some Plum, Gardeners Delight and 100 & 1000s tomatoes seeds for the window cill.

Friday 26 April 2013

Tuesday 23rd April - Thursday 25th April Update .......

So Lunchtime visits and evening visits for the last 3 days and I now have a third bed finished and the weed membrane and woodchip path laid - the pile of woodchip is going down dramatically and if I have enough for half the plot I will be lucky.

There has been the removal of a number of bags of rubbish and hardcore over the past three days. Keith completed all the work on his plot by Tuesday as he finished laying his woodchip paths and prepped his final bed. He has done so well, but due to the type of job he has with wacky hours has managed to get a lot of time in.

I pulled back the carpet the previous owner laid down from the next area where the rubble under the location of the previous owners shed was and the earth was polished and shiny and very very hard. Keith came to the rescue with his pick and has chopped and broken the surface of an area about 4.8m x 3.0m which equates to the next three beds and paths.

Whilst getting out bricks and hardcore, he also found broken sheets of corrugated Asbestos Cement which we have placed at the front gate and informed the Council so that they can dispose of them correctly.

With Keith's help I'm beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel and last night we skimmed off the grass to an area on the other side of the path that equates to another 2 - 3 beds as Keith enjoys the heavy manual work and wants to break up the surface to that I can get in there with a fork turn it over and weed it all.

The 15m hose I bought only just manages to get from my shed to the standpipe on Adi's plot 2 and I have absolutely no chance of burying it without taking the pick to the ground as his walked mud areas are also as hard as rock. I think that's a job for another day and he is quite happy for me to leave the pipe ticked against the edge of the pathway.

There was only a 10% chance of rain today and Saturday but I've woke up on coming down for breakfast have found that it's all wet outside and spitting with rain. So perhaps I will not be able to get to the plot to get anything done this dinner time or tonight?

It would appear that putting down blue tarps over the grassed areas has really achieved very little, those areas covered with the old carpet however are clear of most growth apart from the bindweed that has managed to weave its ways over, under and where a hole or soft area is found through.

I will get a photograph of progress as it has moved on quite a way. By the time we have left over the last few night it's been way to dark to take photographs.

I've also noticed that the all the weed and especially the bindweed have burst into life and stuff I sprayed along the wall on Monday is dying - There is more of it coming up by the shed and I've placed a wigwam of bamboo poles around it for them to climb that then I'm going to spray it all.

If the plants grow as good as the weeds I will very happy. :)

Note to self and any other person reading this - the B&Q plotting compost is rubbish! it's so woody it's untrue and so not what I was expecting of a potting compost, the toilet rolls I filled and beans I planted seem to be OK with it and I'm seeing the first couple of bean heads, but my intention is to use the rest of the bags on my potatoes when they get planted this weekend. I will go and buy something a little more suited to potting.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Monday 22nd April .... Post Man Flu

I really should have not gone back to work today as I felt like a four letter word starting in S and ending in T and means the same as manure, but I had a Tender to get ready so I did. I dropped some soft bricks and some 1.2m batten off lunch time today after submitting the Tender 10 minutes before the deadline at noon.

After our evening meal Jen and I went to the plot and met Keith and Pauline down there, as another load of woodchip was delivered this afternoon, by the time we got there it had all gone! but Keith did manage to get me a couple of barrow loads.

Dealt with the bindweed that seemed to have appeared in the last 6 days I had been ill in the areas I had dug and weed to the best of my abilities with some weed killer. It has to be said some of it look like it's coming through the  wall at the damp proof course from the other side. I used the hoe on other areas where short weeds were beginning to surface.

The nettles have doubled in height over the last week and I cut them down and added them to the compost heap - there roots are next on my agenda to be dug out.

Managed to dug 2/3 of the next bed and paths and came away with two black bags of roots and weeds.

Spoke to Adi and he is happy for me to run a hose in the ground along the path to the water stand pipe on his plot, so that's a job for another day, I only have the comfrey which is starting to buck up and the roses which personally I think are dead to water but already it's a pain in the rear getting watering cans filled up - I may just fill up my small water butt with the hose to save time until I get around to putting up the guttering to the shed.

We came away about 7:45 when it started to get dark and I note that most of my plot is in shade from about 6 ish.

Sunday 21 April 2013

Saturday 20th April - Man Flu......

Its going to be a great weekend weather wise and I have a cough and cold and feel dead - as much as I would love to get over the Allotment I just have not got the energy!

Monday 15 April 2013

Monday 15th April

I've been over the allotment all day, the sun has been nice when it's out and it's been windy but not cold. My face and arms are red, and I know I have been digging all day - but below is the state of play when I came home around 7:00ish - I now have two beds ready, only another two then I can get all the potatoes in the ground. the two bays against the wall are turned over and ready for runner beans, I just need to get the netting fixed up.

I came away with five black bags of roots and weed again, I just can't believe how much of this stuff is in the ground!

Sunday 14 April 2013

Sunday 14th April

Sunday 14 - OK it rained yesterday but this morning the Sun was out so I went off to the allotment. I saved 3 x 1.2m  (4") floor board in the large wheelie dustbins in the industrial estate behind the allotment where we tend to park on the way in at about 8:30 in the morning. 

I spent some time tidying up and then hit the first bed - By mid day I had company Andy then Keith & Pauline and finally John. Keith and Pauline made me a couple of coffees during the morning, which were well timed and I finally left at 2:30 for late lunch. It was sunny but also very windy, the most wind I had seen on the site, and Keith had to right his neighbours grow house which had been blown over despite four guy ropes and weights in the form of large timbers all around the plastic.

I took off the fleece as I was too warm and I just wrapped the arms around my waist to keep my back warm whilst digging.   

By the time I had left I had dug and weeded all of the first potato bed and the 600mm wide paths all around it and managed to fill yet another 3 black sacks of couch grass and bindweed and bramble roots.

Jen and I went back to allotment about 4 ish and it started to spit with rain, but it didn't last very long. I ended up edging the bed with plastic grass boarder edging and then I moved the compost bin and it's contents to the new location so that I can clear the area beside the shed and finally get the grapes and the last climbing rose planted.

We then tried covering the hoops with plastic but although it stated it was 2m by the time you cut off the seam because they are obviously large bags for mattresses it was only just 2m so I'm going to have to make the hoops shorter if I want to make a large cloche of a short Polly tunnel. We came away about 6:30

I ache all over, funny that your OK until you stop! - now I'm off to jump in the shower and let the hot water do it's stuff, as I feel all of my 55 years and then some at the moment. It's another day tomorrow and I booked it off so that I can get ahead down the allotment, I'm wondering if I will be able to get the second bed done and the early and mid potatoes in?

Thursday 11 April 2013

Thursday 11th April

Another visit after work last night for Jen and I. We dug some more and Jen had to have a play with the Automatic Spade and I then weeded, the result was another tug of couch grass and various weeds, plus another half a rubble sack of glass. Yep more of the B stuff laid horizontal under a layer of earth.

Also found some small potatoes - which must have been there years because there was more than one years growth on my plot when I took it over.

Took four more bamboo canes of plastic so I could make the plastic grow house panel and forgot to take the timber for the frame Doh!   

Came home with the brittle garden hose and three bags of weeds for the rubbish.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Tuesday 9th April

Popped to the allotment lunch time to drop off the box of lime and water pipe, fixed the plot numbers to the post and made the hoop frame up then tonight went back with Jen to cover the hoop frame with plastic but it was too fine - so we covered the leaf bin lids with tarp and cut up the remainder into 9 number 2.4 x 1.2m section ready to cover the beds later in the year.

I also finally got around to putting the plot number on the shed before we came home.

Monday 8 April 2013

Monday 8th April

Boy do I love freecycle just picked up a 50m roll of 25mm dia blue water pipe to make hoops for my netting with.

Sunday 7 April 2013

Sunday 7th April

Sunday - Up early and down on the Allotment from 7 in the morning, constructed two frames one for the mini poly tunnel only to find the plastic clips had gone brittle and snapped when I fitted the first pipe so I will need to go and pick up some metal pipe clips from the hardware store. Made up the first 1.2m square picture frame for bird netting.

Assembled the Automatic Shovel using the fork head. Moved the last of the pile of earth from the South West corner and marked out the beds and started digging out the first bed and the path either side. As suggested dug a trench and moved the soil to the back of the bed ready to infill the trench, once I get to the end.

Really slow going taking about 2-3 inches at a time but soon got into flow, very quick to dig very slow getting at the weeds out. First few times the spring flicked the soil way to far and once you get a feeling for it after a while and taking a narrower section allows it to break up as it hits the soil on the other side of the trench, and this makes weeding a lot easier. So not so much ground dug per line but faster over all.

The normal fork was used on occasion to stand on with one foot on the dug side as to distribute my load and not flatten what I had just dug and to help further break up the soil once flipped.

Decided to unroll the hose pipe to allow the sun to warm it up as it had moulded itself around the drum somewhat to find actually it had become brittle and split!

Left for home and lunch at 12:30 and was so knackered I fell asleep for an hour after lunch - then went to Wilkinson's  in the afternoon to pick up teak oil but also came back with a new hose, 7.5kg of chicken poo manure for £4.75 which is cheaper than the Garners Club offer at the local garden centre of £9.99 for 10Kg and a box of lime.

Applied the teak oil to the garden furniture, and decided to put removable shelves in the cold frame so that new sowings can be placed close to the glass in their propagators to start off and as they grow I can lower the shelf or ultimately remove them. The bottom isf lined with insulation on the paving slabs and I'm going to get some foil bubble wrap type radiator insulation for the walls or perhaps just staple some tin foil

Picture below is the area I had dug this morning I estimate it as being 2.4m wide x 1.8m deep and I skimmed off the vegetation and removed even more glass covered with about half inch to an inch of soil and weeds.

This particular hoop frame will be covered in plastic as a mini poly tunnel or a large cloche to warm up the soil for my potatoes, Others will be covered in scaffolding debris netting.

Saturday 6 April 2013

Saturday 6th April

No visits to the Allotment during the week and I've been mega busy at work - that's got to change and I need to book in at least 3 lunch time visit a week now the weather has turned and it won't be to long until I have crops to look after.

Saturday morning was spent clearing all the Allotment / growing build materials from my parents house as we had 22 people coming to view during the 3rd open day the estate agents have arranged. - So the Plastic Bottles on Bamboo poles and the bottle capped bamboo were put into the car for shipment to the allotment and the cold frame finally made it to my back garden.

In order to erect it I needed to level out the paved area a little more and for good measure I cut the grass and made good and planted grass seed the area where the fence paned had been staked. I sprinkled some old compost and grass cutting over to camouflage the seeds from the 3 fat wood pigeons that normally come to feast when I'm making the lawn good again.   

Friday 5 April 2013

Dig for Victory

Only an Englishman would build a vegetable plot in a bomb crater in the grounds of Westminster Cathedral

For more of the same see HERE

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Playing with Timber Batten & Bottle Tops

Sid our neighbour, brought home some scrap batten instead of burning it at work, enough to make one 1.2m square frame and still have a couple of shorter lengths left over - Painted the ends to the cut timber and cut the shelf timbers for the timber store I'm making from the old fence panels.

OK I know I can buy the real thing at around 50 for around £6 but I'm making a Plastic Bottle Grow-house / cloche and All those bottle tops and some exterior grade hard as nails from the 99p shop were just asking to be used on the bamboo I have just purchased.

Monday 1 April 2013

1st April

Sunday - Jen and I hit the allotment and got dug into extracting the nettle weed around where the leaf bins are to be placed - it's where the old shed stood and there is a layer of stones and bricks - we then emptied all the bags of leafs into them and then went home for Sunday lunch for 2:00 as the girls were cooks of the mess for the day.

Lunch over and a little rest and we hit the allotment again and managed to burn all the pallets and scrap wood on the site that was dry and we left and got home about 8:30

Monday - went down to pick up the last of the wet soggy timber and fibre board and cut up the plastic cistern and disposed off it all down the dump which was empty leaving the site clear for digging ----- hip hip horray

Covered the grass with cardboard and tarps to try and kill off what's underneath whilst I dig the beds along the wall ready for the potatoes that are really quite ready for the ground

Below is how I left the site