Sunday 29 September 2013

Sunday 29th September

Arrived at the allotment just before 8:00 and started by harvesting the last of the runner beans, ended up with a plastic storage box full from the two beds, stripped the first bed of foliage and added to the green compost dalek.

Next on the agenda was to harvest two cabbages, and the netting enclosure for the bed thus being removed to allow so, a liberal sprinkling of slug pellets were added before re- pegging. The lower leafs of the cabbages that had been nibbled a little were also added to green dalek.

A layer of comfrey to assist kicking off the composting process was then added to the green dalek.

I harvested all the beetroots and carrots from bed 7, adding their foliage to the green dalek. Pulled out the lower sections of the sweet corn stems and cut them in slices to add to the green dalek. A layer of tea leafs that gone past their sell by date was sprinkled on before more runner bean foliage was added. Bed 7 now being free of plants, it was turned over weeded and then covered with a sack of mature farmyard manure.

Dug up half of the potatoes on bed 4 and covered what was left with the half framed netting cage to keep the fox from digging the ones on the ground up. And before I knew it, it was nearly 1:00 which is when I planned to leave for home for lunch.

Harvested all the red and green tomatoes in containers and buckets outside the grow houses and cut them back.

After lunch I went over the Merton and picked up the two sheets of twinwall polycarbonate sheet, each approximately 1250x700 mm, and took them to the allotment and added then to the pop bottle cloche for the mean time. I have plans for these to become doors to a mini greenhouse built on the side of the shed once I remove the plastic framed grow house after the tomatoes have finished.

It took quite a time to wash all the potatoes and carrots, Jen cooked off the beetroots and removed the skins and cut up the runner beans and bagged them up into meal sized bags for freezing, and we created three food parcels one for my sister, one for Jens and a third for our neighbour Sid.

Saturday 28 September 2013

28th September 2013

Captains Log Supplemental

A very hectic week at work, no real time to get the allotment during lunch time and had to work from home Thursday due to having the cavity walls insulated - we were on the list twice for it to be done for free last year but the company could not organise a booze up in a brewery and it never happened, so just paid to have it done, it is supposed to pay for itself in 3 - 4 years.

I did get to the allotment Thursday night to water what's in the grow houses and Andys toms in his grow house..

Mr Fox once again spotted and again has dug up bed 3 which actually already has a carpet of mustard showing! Now that was quick only went in on Sunday.... I topped up the paths around bed 3 with woodchip and then scattered anti dog and cat crystals that I inherited from my Dads shed when I cleared the house earlier this year. I have absolutely no idea where he bought this stuff from but it will be interesting to see if it deters Mr Fox. I may be on a quest to find more if it works. 

Picked even more red toms and looking at the state of the plants and the weather I think all toms will be picked this weekend and some will be used to make green tomato chutney. with the slug action going on there is going to be a major harvest including the last bed of potatoes and cabbages, the end of the beetroot and the carrots. Then I can green manure the beds, whist there is still time for it to grow.

Just answered a couple of freecycle Offers for two sheets of polycarbonate and 450mm square grey paving slabs - picking up the polycarbonate Sunday afternoon and keeping fingers crossed and waiting to hear about the slabs - I do like freecycle.   

Supplemental notes to the Captains Log Supplemental     

Went and collected 18 grey 450x450mm paving slabs and delivered to the allotment ..... That's the patio area done then ;;)

Sunday 22 September 2013

Sunday 22nd September 2013

Up as it got light 7:00ish dressed and breakfast and left for the allotment about 7:30. Started inspecting my domain which once again had been raided by Mr Fox or perhaps a couple of them. Bed 3 had two dig holes and he obviously was not interested in the potatoes that he had dug up! Bed 9 had a hole and a few of the wood chipped paths around had been dug as well.

Got the wheel barrow and went to the car and found Mr Fox standing between the two gates watching me, as I got nearer he slipped away under the fence and into the overgrown area where I suspect he has his den. I picked up the two tugs of paving bricks that I brought down to the allotment to make a base for the water butt. I also took some sheets of cardboard and hessian and onion sacks that I had brought from home, and wheeled them back to plot 1A

So first thing first, I dug up all the remaining potatoes from Bed 3. I dug around in the 2/3 of the bed that I had already dug the potatoes from and found quite a few that had obviously been hiding. The soil is really good and I managed to remove some couch grass and a few other weed that are trying to re establish themselves in this bed. In the harvesting and weeding process I have removed quite a lot of stones and bits of brick and general debris from the bed. I can see that with each season the soil should get better and better, what I don't really understand is with the age of the site why it isn't better than it is already?

So with the sieve full to the brim with potatoes I raked, levelled and removed more stones and sprinkled the bed with mustard as green manure. I then topped it off with a sprinkling of compost to cover the mustard seeds to keep them away from the birds prying eyes. Bed finished the wind sock went in and two bamboo canes with plastic bags to hopefully scare and keep the birds away, (fat chance).

The weed are really growing well under the pop bottle cloche, so I decided to move it to Bed 2 over the spring onions. This is where I shall over winter the rest of the onions.

Next job was the bricks under the water butt 

I have seen very few slugs so far, but during today's visit I captured and exterminated four of the bleeping things, two going up the debris netting, one outside and more worrying one inside on Bed1, another on the very large compost bin donated by my sister and the last on a brick that I moved. I shall have to get into the beds with sprouts and cabbages, clear the weed and the lower leafs and sprinkle blue pellets of death me thinks, perhaps a job for a lunchtime visit.   

Thinking about winter and the need for the water butt then looking at how the sun has bleached the front of the shed, I decided to paint the front and side of the shed. The side where the greenhouse is will have to wait until I've done with the greenhouse. I have a side extension to the shed planned for there. There are a few locations where the odd nail would be useful to stop the rain running inside because of the way the feather edge cladding is bowed - another lunch time job me thinks.

I harvested another large onion sack of  runner beans and all of the corn as they are not looking good and with the weather turning. So corn on the cob tonight for tea, especially as Kelly loves them so much and she is away on holiday for a week from tomorrow. She considers all corn from the allotment hers but is willing to share with immediate family and Sid only.

The black dalek is full and I ended up clearing a small bed in the edge of the site and installing the large green dalek donated by my sister. By the time I had filled it with the grass and other allotment plants and leafs etc it must have been at least 9inches to a foot deep. A sprinkling of comfrey on top as an activator. The runner beans will end up in there when I finally strip them. If the weather holds there should be a couple more weeks of beans to harvest yet.   

Thursday 19 September 2013

Thursday 19th & Friday 20th September

Evening visit to water the toms in the plastic green /grow houses - came home with a harvest of red toms - some have split so left them on the deck around the comfrey.

Friday 20th September - Sowed another

6 plastic cups of Ramrod Spring Onions 
6 plastic cups of Shimonita Spring Onions
6 plastic cups of Thompson & Morgan Winter White Bunching Spring Onions
still only two little Gem Lettuce seedlings showing their leafs
Too few Cabbages germinating to sow as over wintering spring greens, may have to try another batch to get the 20 I need over the weekend.

Getting nagged by Emma that she wants be to grow 100&1000's again but this year the pack only had 8 seed in and only one survived. I wonder if there are seeds in the mini tomatoes? going to have to look now to see if I can get some for next year from this years crop. If not, I didn't see any 100&1000's in the Garden Centre sale, I may have to go and have another look at the Croydon Branch   ::)

Photos are from Wednesday - now fridge freezer delivered I used the packing to line and insulate the cold frame

Tuesday 17 September 2013

17th September 2013 -

Last night dropped off the husks to the corn and other vegetable matter for composting including the two black sacks of grass that have been sitting in the back garden for a week. Harvested all the red toms on the allotment and watered those still green in the grow houses.

There are many more toadstools on the woodchip than there were over the weekend!   

Cold frame Temperature  -
                 inside High = 20.8 degrees C Yesterday
               Outside High = 12.0 degrees C Yesterday difference = 8.8 degrees C

Middle lid closed, side vents closed over night.

Last Nights inside Low   = 8.7 degrees C last night 
                Actual inside = 9.1 degrees C at 6:30 am 
             Actual Outside = 8.7 degrees C at 6:30 am difference = 0.4 degrees C

It seemed much colder last night when I walked the dog than It has been ..... looking at the weather forecast looks like 12 today rising to 15 - 16 by the weekend and possibly dry... Yipppeee

Monday 16 September 2013

16th September 2013 - Cold Frame Temperature

Middle lid closed, side vents open over night.

Last Nights inside Low   = 8.3 degrees C  last night       
Yesterdays inside High = 20.8 degrees C Yesterday

                Actual inside = 8.8 degrees C at 6:30 am 
              Actual Outside = 7.5 degrees C at 6:30 am

So the cold frame appears to provide about 1.3 degrees C improvement on external temperature with the vents open at 6:30 am. It makes me wonder what the difference as the lowest external temperature during the night?

Tonight I will try with the vents shut during the night and take more readings when I get home from work and before I go to bed and then again in the morning to try and see just how effective the cold frame actually is before I think about installing bubble wrap and foil etc.
Anticipated High Today on the BBC Weather web site for my post code =12.0 degrees C

Saturday 14 September 2013

Saturday 14th September 2013 - A Quick Harvest in the Rain

Toadstools everywhere is what I've found on visiting the plot to harvest. I'm not sure why but they seem to be popping up all over the plot especially on the woodchip paths! I'm assuming I can pick and compost? Anyone know if this is a good idea or not?

We picked some sweetcorn for tea, nor wanting to pick and freeze until I have too.

We braved the light shower for a little while and took retreat in the shed for a little while longer and then when it ended we went back to the runner beans and have ended up harvesting  two large hessian sacks of runner beans.

There was signs of blight on some of the tomatoes that are outside, the ones under cover look OK at the moment, so we picked all that were red inside and out and came home with a very large container of tomatoes. The Plum Toms in the grow house are orange and not really red enough to pick yet, I will be keeping an eye and picking them as soon as possible. If I do end up with a greenhouse on the allotment, I will definitely be putting the toms under cover in the future.

Pulled some radish, leaving the ones that were too small or too large and woody looking laying on the path, they will make it into the compost heaps, next dry visit

It was far too wet to contemplate digging up potatoes, perhaps tomorrow or early next week if the rain stops.

Cold frame Temperature - Middle lid open by an inch, side vents open over night.

    Low 11.1 degrees C  last night       
    High 20.1 degrees C Yesterday
           14:5 degrees C at 3.00pm  Outside Temperature  12.5 degrees C

All 6 Ramrod Onion pots now showing signs of growth tails - 10 Days to total germination
Still No sign of any White Lisbon Onion action
2 Little Gem Lettuce seedlings visible
Cabbage Sown 5th September - fist signs of growth 12th - now 10 seedlings showing in the 1/2 tray

Friday 13 September 2013

Friday 13th September - Cold frame Temperature -.

Lid closed side vents open over night

    Low 13.4 degrees C 
           16:0 degrees C at 7:00 in the Morning
    High 20.1 degrees C

First sign of Ramrod Onion tails in one of the pots - 9 Days to germination
No sign of any White Lisbon Onion action
Opened up the middle lid by an inch

Thursday 12 September 2013

12th September 2013 - Cold frame Update

Spring Onions Sown 3rd September - Nothing showing Yet
Little Gem Lettuce Sown 3rd September - first signs or growth yesterday  11th - 8 days to germination.
Cabbage Sown 5th September - fist signs of growth  today 12th - 7 days to germinate

Overnight and Day readings from the Max-Min temperature and Relative Humidity Gauge - Lids down and Vents Open

    Low 12.2 degrees C
           13.7 degrees C at 7:30 in the Morning
    High 17.3 degrees C

Relative Humidity    
    High 96% - Morning at 7:30
    Low  56% - I'm guessing at the same point as lowest temperature overnight / early morning

Wednesday 11 September 2013

11th September 2013

An evening visit on the way back from taking Emma my eldest Daughter to go and look at the car she is buying following the RAC report. Watered the toms under cover and picked nice yellow flowers that on the weekend were Broccoli - So they bolted really quickly - managed to get one lot that were still eatable. I cut the Broccoli flowers and took them home for the wife - who has put them in a vase as they are pretty ::)

Got home and my neighbour Sid had left me a load of broken up pallet wood, bless him, so after my evening meal I delivered it to the allotment, just as the rain started and the old boy of the allotment was coming out on his way home. Ron and I had a natter on the slow walk back to the car (walking at Rons pace), although I offered to drop him home he was insistent on keeping his independence and refused my kind offer on the ground it "keeps his bits working, and he is only around the corner)

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Captains Log 10th September 2013

Up at 6:00 as usual but it's dark outside and has been for the last week, I hate it winter that is, by 7:45 in the evening it's getting dark by 8:00 it is dark. My time on the allotment is reducing and apart from work in the dark which is really not practical soon all I will have is the occasional lunch time visit and a Sunday morning if it's dry.

Checked the temperature in the cold frame in the back garden this morning and it's 9.2 - 9.5 degrees- I'm going to place one of my Max-Min Thermo Hygro meters in there to see what the extremes in temperature and relative humidity really are during the day and week and I'm thinking of lining the inside with bubble wrap and foil.

I bought an emergency foil blanket from the pound shop that is for use by hikers etc. and that will give me more reflective heat and light in the cold frame during the day and the bubble wrap will give me some heat retention during the night.

I must now get used to closing the side vents when I come home from work and opening in the morning when I examine my winter seedlings and lettuce and water.

Sunday 8 September 2013

Sunday 8th September 2013

Not up quite as early as usual, but still managed to leave home at 7:15 and be on the allotment by 7:30. There was dew on the grass and it's not as warm as it has been but  not too cold to warrant a coat .

I started by cutting up roofing batten to make 1.2m square frames up to cover with pop bottle and bamboo and some with wire to go over the strawberries, but then when putting the first frame together I found that the battery to the cordless drill / screwdriver was nearly dead and the spare battery was knackered as well. Ho-Hum I will just have to wait until the next weekend visit to assemble.

Rounded up as many pop bottles as possible and stacked on bamboo, I appear to have enough to fill  another frame up. I have stood those that I have not used on bamboo canes, until I can complete the frame and make it up.

Harvested runner beans from both beds, there are lots more too come subject to the first frost attack.

Tidied up the shed and swept out all the dirt, and put the hooks on the back of the door so I can hang the fork, shovel and spade on it. I have to say it's much better than keep leaning it all inside, gives me a little more room to breathe in there and get in out of the rain if I have too - I need to stiffen up the upper timber shelf, which is bowing under the weight of weed killer and stuff at a later time and visit ( perhaps once the drill is working)

I harvested the comfrey and filled the comfrey pipe back up to capacity then replaced the bricks around the comfrey patch with the blue edging blocks that had been scattered all around the site holding down carpet and plastic sheeting, I've got enough soft milk bottle bricks for that now.

I've suddenly realised that if I'm going to over winter crops on the allotment I'm going to need a water source as the council turn off the water at the end of September - Mid October -ish.  Using the bricks from around the comfrey patch together with the a couple of concrete blocks and a paving slab made a stand for the dustbin with the tap. This one will have the comfrey feed, and I have another that I'm going to take to the allotment that is not really doing anything in the back garden.

So I also need to get the guttering on the shed and the water butt sorted out before the water is turned off, and build up a supply for winter. 

I trimmed off the lower leafs on the Toms that look as if they had seen better days, and those that are over toms so that the sun/ daylight can get at them - Many orange but not red toms on the allotment. I gave the toms and the peppers an diluted comfrey feed.

Found another blessed cabbage white in the enclosure!  I let it out and decided to harvest three cabbages as they have started to be eaten by something. One for Emma's boyfriend Andy , my sister Elaine and sister-in-law Jackie.  I sorted out some of the clean outer leafs for Sid and family.

I  found what looks like either lot of eggs or white bugs on the lower leafs. I'm not sure if they are some like of bugs - white fly, cabbage white eggs, or slug eggs, some seem to have legs like mini white spiders.

Dug up another two seed Potato locations and brought them home, they are not very big, I was expecting bigger, but the quantity is good.

Jobs still to be done:-

 * Sort out a paintbrush to paint to 1.2m timbers
 * Charge all the batteries for the cordless drill
 * Make up the 3 frames
 * Tidy up the entrance and de-weed along the path.
 * Plant Radish
 * Plant the Strawberries.
 * Clear the weeds from around the spring onions
 * Clear beds 10 - 12 plus the additional triangle

Saturday 7 September 2013

Saturday - 7th September

Picked up 5 x 50L bags of farm yard manure from the Garden Centre for £16 on offer (and another four packs of 50p seeds) and dropped off to the allotment.

Friday 6 September 2013

Thursday 5th September 2013

Lunch time I went to pick up a roll of Chicken wire and a bag of sand from a guy off Freecycle and I had to drive past the Garden Centre again - The Seed Borg got me - Resistance was futile I really had no choice in the matter, I had to go and rummage - I came out with another 11 packs of seeds but not the ones I was looking for does that mean I will have to visit the local branch to see if they have them....... NOOOOOooooooooooo....

Got some Autumn /winter peas
More Little Gem for winter crowing
2 more packs of 5 Patio Salad Collection
More variations of over wintering Spring Onions

My name is Alan and I am a Seedaholic

Sowed some April Spring cabbage and put in the cold frame this evening when I got home, I know it should have been last month but hay.... we are running late this year and it was between 29 - 30.5 degrees at lunch time although we are being told the temperature is due to drop by ten degrees and Autumn is on its way this weekend, at 50p a pack of seeds am I worried if nothing happens

Kelly and Jen came with me to drop off said chicken wire to the allotment and Kelly delighted in playing with the hose - she called it "watering the plants" , Jen and I harvested more red tomatoes - last week 3 red toms this week loads of them

Again I have muddy dirty not sure if it has also walked in oil or something paw prints on the debris netting, it looks like a fox or big cad is climbing on my debris netting and sunning itself there. It's not the first time we have found these stains but this time you can make out the paw prints nails and all.

Forgot to take to two bags of grass cutting down - next visit.

Thursday 5 September 2013

Wednesday 4th September 2013

Picked up my blood pressure tablets and got half an hour on the allotment dinner time - weeded the grapes and watered the toms and green / grow house stuff and spring onions because I knew I would not have time this evening.

There was a cabbage white butterfly inside the debris netting - how the blinking hell she got in there and how long she has been in there god only knows, I may have to harvest quickly if she has laid eggs.

It's getting too dark too early, just managed to cut the grass in the back garden and bag (2 x black sacks) for taking to the allotment, and sowed 6 modules of Winter Hardy White Lisbon Salad Onions and Ramrod Salad Onions just before it got too dark to see what I was doing....

I hate the dark mornings and night I'm defiantly a summer person. Picking up some chicken wire and a bag of sand off freecycle tomorrow lunch time.

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Tuesday 3rd September 2013

Popped into the Gardening Club on my way to do an inspection as there was little traffic (kids still off school I guess) and I had made good time and was going to arrive too early and had a look at the 50p seed sale

I ended up buying 18 packets of seeds (one of which is a 5 seed multipack) with a value of £44.92 for a £1 plus an eight pound token sent from the gardening club - RESULT! added to the ever expanding collection includes:-

Thompson & Morgan - Little Gem COS for Winter growing
3 x Suttons - Salad Onion White Lisbon - Winter Hardy
Unwins - Gro-Sure Brussels Sprouts Crispus
Thompson & Morgan - Asparagus
Thompson & Morgan - Runner Beans - Polestar
Suttons - Runner Beans - Polestar
Suttons - Runner Beans - Scarlet Emperor
Suttons - Salad Collection including 
                  Cucumber Market More
                  Tomato - Gardeners Delight
                  Rocket (Herb)
                  Onion White Lisbon
                  Lettuce Little Gem
Suttons - Parsnip White Gem
Suttons - Salad Onion Shimonita
Suttons - Salad Onion Shimonita - Patio/ terrace gardening
Suttons - Salad Onion Ramrod
Suttons - Red Salad Onions Allium Cepa `Furio'
Suttons - Sweet Corn F1 Prelude
Kew Urban Garden Collection - Spring Onions - Purplette - Ideal for window box and containers
Kew Urban Garden Collection - Spring Onions - Pompeii - Ideal for containers

Lots of onions next year, we buy a lot and eat a lot of salads and I'm going to have a go at Over Wintering along with some winter growing lettuce. Not sure that the Suttons - Salad Onion Shimonita are the same animal in differently marketed packaging as one says its for Patio/ terrace gardening.

Captains Evening Log Supplemental

Jen bought Tomatoes from Tesco when we went shopping as we had two or three red ones at home and on the allotment, then suddenly more of less overnight ........ 

The peppers at home and out in the open on the allotment are growing, but I'm not sure they will ripen before the end of the month and before the frost, they may have to go in the green / grow house on the allotment once the toms are harvested to give them a chance.

I sorted out the cold frame and planted six pots with Winter Gem Lettuce, then I sorted out my seed boxes (yes I have so many seed I need two boxes
::) I will give it two to three weeks then plant another six pots of Winter Gem Lettuce.

I will be planting some April (Spring) Cabbage to overwinter and will transplant close together at 100mm (4inch)  to harvest between April and may as Spring Greens. so perhaps 10 in a row on a 1.2m wide bed and perhaps two rows say 20 plants?

I'm not sure if I should stagger the planting and transplanting to stop they all being ready at once or if mother nature will just let them all catch up with each other anyway? Answers on a postcard or on the comments thread please...

From the 50p seed sale, I'm also going to plant modules of Winter Hardy White Lisbon and Ramrod Salad Onions which according to the packs should be ready for Harvest in March - April.  We do buy and eat a lot of salad and spring onions. I can then start off some more in March and sow little and often at 2 - 3 week intervals between March and July for a continuous supply, 

I have ended up with far to many runner beans (3 packs of 50), but If the first batch get caught by frost next year like this year I will not be going out and buying another pack at £3.65 a pop,  and I may infill some of the perimeter small beds along the main access path with wigwams, as they appear to have to be used next year. I can always stock up at next years 50p sale 

One of the 3 grape vines (a white) has now just topped the masonry wall, the other white is only about 500mm high and the Red in the middle looks more or less the same size as when planted but has leaf on it!!

Monday 2 September 2013

Kelly thinks my corn on the cob is awesome!

Suddenly my daughter Kelly is interested in the allotment  :ohmy:
 I wonder why?  ::)

She says "The cobs are awesome, just like her!" :lol:

Sunday 1 September 2013

Sunday 1st September 2013

As usual up and out early, I stopped off to pick up dalek from my sisters but it was too big to go in the back of my Vauxhall Corsa! - Got to the allotment about 7:00 and worked until about 1:20 ish

* Finished Laying the central path using the 600x600mm paving slabs.
* Weeded the runner beans
* harvested four sweet corn for the family to try
* Weeded Bed 3 and dug some main crop potatoes - better yield that the 1st and 2nd earlys

Dug over and weeded the area at the end of the plot by bed 1 and laid the paving slabs - 6 out of the 8 levelled.

Jeremy and his better half came to look at plot 3 on the allotment, gave them the 2bob tour and showed them the weeds, and let them know how much work there is in keeping ahead of the weeds, they are going to think about it.

Jen and I went back later in her car to pick up the dalek and drop it off (so that's three I now have and that should be plenty) and to water and put some blue pellets of death in where something has been having a go at the cabbages.

Note to self - Don't bother growing runner beans at home next year