Tuesday 31 December 2013

31st December 2013 - Extreme Planning and Programming to Succeed with Successional Sowing !

It's taking quite a lot of time but I'm creating a mega spreadsheet that has a diary on the first work sheet.

An audit of my seed collection with all the information off the backs of the packs on the second with the expiry date of the seed packs, amount of seeds, cost, spacing, rows and planting depths germination and anticipated sowing to cropping times,  so hopefully I use them in the most efficient order

A worksheet for every month with a list of tasks for home and the allotment, advice from all those books I have.

Lists of what I should be sowing in the cold frame and on the allotment and how many, and what I should be planting out and harvesting on the plot.

It has highlighted that I have seed for items I have not allocated space for and that I have allocated space for plants I don't yet have seed for.

I really want to master the art of "Successional Sowing" and max the production from the plot.

At least next year should be easier, and I can use this years spreadsheet as a starting point. If anyone wants a copy to look at once I've completed it, and perhaps modify for their own use, send me a personal message with your email address and I will send it over when it's complete or at least 90% there.

Monday 30 December 2013

Monday 30th December 2013 - Still Wet and Windy

Very Windy again today, I 've removed one of the fence panels as it was about to come away anyway

I was hoping to get to the allotment today but the wind and rain have prevented that, so I've started looking at successional sowing and I'm building a week by week spread sheet of tasks.
below is my plan for Iceberg Lettuce, Carrots and Onions, I'm thinking little gems at home and Iceberg on the allotment, however my main problem is so far I have not allowed a bed just for lettuce so something may have to give and it may be the marrow bed.

I'm wondering if one could grow marrows around sprouts to cover the ground and keep the weeds off? Like I plan to do with the Squash seeds Beryl sent me on the Sweet Corn Bed

The seed sower I bought off ebay arrived today, I had one of these but lost it last year somewhere, I bet I find it now I have another.

Sunday 29 December 2013

Sunday 29th December 2013 - Frosty Start

Up early and scraped ice off the car windscreen and windows - an nice frosty start and I hit the allotment about 8:30 photograph of plot 1A this morning.

Worked up a sweat and warmth by digging 2/3 of bed 10 and the path between plot 10 & 11 Viewed looking down the plot. Took breaks by removing the netting from Bed one and replacing the lawn edging with timber, weeding turning over and covering with manure

Weeded the half of bed 2 behind the pop bottle cloche which was frosty but had kept inside frost free, then covered it with a sack of Micky's Muck

Topped up some paths with woodchips and had a tidy of the timber store and the shed to make room for the nets and hoops. The roots of the sprouts and leafs were added to the dalek.

John saw the strawberries donated by Beryl and added to my collection from runners he took this year. - When the weed membrane arrives they will finally be going into bed 9. Topped up the comfrey butt with water and comfrey from the pipe. Finally packed everything away and made my way home about 1:15 ish

Saturday 28 December 2013

Saturday 28th December 2013 - Deconstruction of Fencing

De-constructed the broken fence panels and took all the wood down to the allotment to add to the obligatory wood pile - I may use it to make the bases for some cold frames using the secondary glazing glass panels -

Frances over the road has offered some timber joist from his loft conversion that I can use to make raised beds.

I also managed to fill another two sacks of leafs and added them to the leaf bins - I'm going to really struggle to find any more leafs now. Hoping for a dry day tomorrow so that I can get down the allotment and do something and make some headway. 

Tuesday 24 December 2013

24 December 2013 - Windy Christmas Eve

Well blow me down or at least my fences at home and my greenhouse and grow house down the allotment.

Photos below of the Garden this morning and the allotment after I had found the green house and grow house or at least their remains and found all the other things that had been taken by the wind and had a tidy and righted everything.

Sunday 22 December 2013

Sunday 22nd December - Sprout Harvest for Christmas Lunch

It's been raining so much that I can't really do any digging on the allotment, but I did go and harvest about 70% of the remaining sprouts. I'm leaving the small ones at the top to fatten up a little and hopefully I can harvest those in a few weeks time along with the tops to have like cabbage. I picked up all the fallen sprout leafs and put in the green dalek. Photo is after taking off the netting and before picking

I did manage to get the timber into the first bean trench but forgot to take my paper shreddings. I will chop up the sprout stems and bury with the paper and cardboard to rot down in the bean trench after Christmas ready for the beans later in the year.

Also managed to get the timber in front of the grape vine (second photo), I just need the trim up the small section one end next time I'm down there. The rain is doing a grand job of washing the mud off and exposing the slate, I just wish I had got around to washing all the mud off and out before I used them - Better than nothing I guess and hopefully will still keep the moisture in and the weed out.

Got a telephone call that my sister was dropping off presents, so made my way home so she could also collect some sprouts.  

Friday 20 December 2013

Friday 20th December 2013

A swift visit to drop off paper shredding's and some vegetable food waste for the compost bin, drop off another load of pop bottles and timber from the youngest daughters bed that broke.

I topped up the leaf bins again now all the leafs I have are in them. I filled up 3 milk bottles with sand, and laid out more in the metal trays in the greenhouse to dry off. A quick tidy up and away in an hour, as I needed to go and get Jens Christmas gift, and then get on with some work. 

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Wednesday 18th December 2013

A quick visit to the allotment to pick up the flask full of now very cold coffee that I left in my haste to get home on Sunday, after the phone call about Snoop.

Monday went by at a snails pace, and the vet was supposed to be with us between 12- 1 but because of an emergency operation didn't make it until 4:30. Absolutely agonising and heart breaking for us all, and what a void such a little chap can leave in the house and our hearts. 

Getting back to the allotment, I topped up the leaf bins again with a sack load into each as they leafs had compacted over the last few days. I still have two sacks waiting for more compaction to talk place, and I have half a sack from the front garden again and with what has finally come off the trees in the back garden that will become a full sack. Still no sign of woodchips anywhere to be seen, bleeping council about as useful as a push bike is to a goldfish!

I filled up a couple of plastic milk bottles with sand that had dried out quite a bit in the greenhouse as I had to kill a little time until the shops opened. My darling accident prone youngest daughter had managed to break her bed (on Monday but didn't want to tell me because of what was going on) and somehow managed to rip the towel rail off the wall in the bathroom.

So far the working for my self from home and the weather have not really allowed me any time and advantage to get down to the allotment for any significant time to make headway into getting ready for next year.

Snail or slug trails on the moisture to the inside of the cold frame glass - but can I find the culprit! There are only two lettuce that are not really doing much in there at all.

The spring onions on the allotment look smaller if anything from when they went into the ground and don't appear to have made any headway at all, I'm not really sure this over wintering stuff works.

Sunday 15 December 2013

Sunday 15th December

15th December - The shortest trip to the allotment ever - I went via my sisters house and picked up two large council sack loads of leafs from her drive and took to the site, I was just in the process of tipping into the leaf bins when I got a sobbing telephone call from my wife that our dog had tumbled down the stairs.

I was hoping he would have been in reasonable health to last over Christmas, but the whole family have now agreed that his quality of life is such that we are going to have to let him go because we love him, it would be cruel to prolong the inevitable. We have increased his pain killers as the vet told us we could but tomorrow I need to get them in to help him into a lasting sleep in the comfort of his home.

Friday 13 December 2013

Friday 13th December 2013 - Unlucky for some

So after over a month waiting for leaves to arrive on the allotment I get a message from our contact at the council "the grounds team are not clearing leaves this year, so it’s unlikely that you will get any leaves from us this time".

If they not collecting it's more than unlikely I would say its Bl--dy impossible ;0(

So a quick re-jug and what was supposed to be overflow leaf bin store 2 becomes a fox proof cloche

The bread trays have already been cut down. So I drilled four holes along the edge with the handle and connected them together via cable ties and once they have been lined with some plastic, we have fox proof cloches for next year.

When they are closed you have a nice carrying handle in the middle and they can be stacked flat. I can see me getting some more of these, next time the pile outside the local corner shop builds up and they get fed up with them not being collected again.

All the offcuts from the sides are waiting for me to cut off the small returns at the ends and then they will be used as bed edging on the plot, which is another good reason for getting more of them.   

I dropped these off together with 6 black sacks of leafs from the front and back garden - I'm guessing there is probably another one or two bags worth still waiting to drop off the trees given another really cold night or two.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Wednesday 11th December 2013

Sawn off the raised edges to another four bread trays to make another leaf holding bin as I swept up all the leafs in the front garden this morning and ended up with 2.5 sacks worth, and by the time I came home lunch time there were another 2.5 black sacks worth. I put it all down to the heavy frost last night - scraping ice off the cars in the morning and Jens car still had ice on the windscreen this afternoon.

So I now have 5 sacks of leafs for the allotment, I chased the council yesterday about the lack of woodchips and leaves that were promised over a month ago - knowing my luck they will drop off both on the same day and cover one with the other!

Hoping to get a lunch time visit in Friday if possible.

Job List in no particular order - Update

  Tidy the racking and storage area
  Weed and manure the empty beds - Half Done
  Finish construction of half bed cloche - mini polytunnel
  Build second half bed cloche - mini polytunnel
  Plant out over winter spring onions from the cold frame 
  Plant out over winter cabbage from the cold frame - they died
  If peppers are ready harvest and collapse the pop up greenhouse - Decided to leave erected and use for storage
  Construct the greenhouse - coldframe extension to the side of the shed
  Construct the third plastic bottle 1.2 x 1.2 m frame - Made 4th and now have enough bottles for a 5th 
  Use freecycle greenhouse framework to make a cage over a bed
  Guttering on the shed to the water butt
  Sort out the leaf stores and harvest more leafs and fill up. - On going  
  Fill up the comfrey pipe and top up the comfrey barrel.
  Dig bed 10 and create paths around
  Dig bed 11 and create paths around
  Dig Bed 12 and create Paths around
  Dig Beds 13 onwards in the triangular area
  Install kerb edgings along the main access paths
  Stake the carpet path to the ground to prevent fly away in high winds
  Lay the remainder of the paving slabs and level existing - Started
  Infill the bottom of the path around bed 1
  Cut back the grapes for winter - February Job
  Clean off the slate chippings from freecycle - especially if water still on
  Lay slate chippings around the grapes
  Sort out the shed
  Treat the allotment padlocks with the special WD40
  Chase the council for more woodchips
  Hump said woodchips to plot and fill up the paths and sacks for the paths on the remainder of the plot
  Topped up half the paths from my ever reducing pile of woodchips

Sunday 8 December 2013

Sunday 8th December 2013 - Cuts the Mustard

There has been no or little allotment action since the 24th October as I have been wrapping up at my old company and setting up my own limited company. In addition I have years of reference material to go through as my home office is really small.

I have been having allotment withdrawal attacks and the weather was great nice sunny and dare I say it warm and I needed to go and do something down on the allotment.

I decided to hit bed 3 and cut back all the mustard and then turn it into the soil. Photos below are half cut, fully cut and then turned into the soil. I managed to find a number of potatoes that had been hiding despite digging the bed over twice. The soil is so good here that I ended up putting a sprinkle of farmhouse manure over the top and have capped with cardboard like bed 4, there is no need for the frost to do anything, and I would rather the worms be called up when they hear the rain on the cardboard and pull all that good green and farmyard manure down into the soil.

The lawn edging is getting a little brittle and may last another year but ultimately I think I'm going to have to replace it with timber of some description.

I took another sack of leaves and have added to the leaf bins as can be seen above - they are both nearly full, but I want to get more and I know they break down to almost nothing. The Overspill leaf bin is now sitting on bed 4 waiting for the delivery from the council if it ever comes, I will have to chase next week as we were supposed to be having woodchip as well.

I emptied the green house and grow house, and I have put the farmyard manure that was under the bench in one and sand in metal trays in the other, hoping that when we do get sun the sand will dry out so that I can fill up some of 20 odd plastic milk bottles to make more soft bricks to hold down the cardboard on the beds.

Skimmed the earth and took to the end of the path where there was a large dip and laid four slabs at the entrance to the plot and filled the bottom of the path with woodchips.

Next visit I may lay the slabs under the bench and to the left where the carpet currently is then the carpet can go on top of one of the beds once they are weed free and have has a layer of manure added

I cleared the weed from the grape area cut some plastic hoops to go around the vines then laid weed membrane and covered with the slate chippings that I got off freecycle a little while ago. I then filled in the hoops with compost. Looked up about when to cut back the grapes and it looks like February.
I harvested some sprouts and took home but was too late for dinner today so we are having them tomorrow.