Monday 31 March 2014

Sunday 30th March 2014

Being Mothers day and with the clocks going forward I didn't go to the allotment this morning. I did however burn the holes in the pots and left them all out in the garden to dry off. Later in the afternoon whilst tidying up the shed and getting out the tools I need for the hoop iron survey tomorrow I happened upon the cat litter trays I had miss placed. So I've ended up with seed tray and bit and bobs that need to go to the allotment so a quick visit was made to drop it all off.

Two trips from car to greenhouse and shed and then a sort out and away, and watering the peppers, as they had dried out. I need to rethink the peppers and perhaps used more of the self watering pots, next one to try is a milk bottle version.

Last weekend I made one and discovered they are easier to fit top into bottom than pop bottles. The handle also allows watering to the bottom from the top  :) I've stuffed the handle with off cuts of the coconut matting rolled up.

However I have another used for them in mind - I'm going to fix a post in the ground with short lengths of wood on that are made so that the handle slides on and I can stack them vertically to grow things strawberries / lettuces off the ground and away from slugs

Drill small holes in the lid and thus water or rain one and it will water the one below, etc.

Looking at the 100s and 1000s there are now 5 little two leaf seedlings
  :D 2 more in 24 hours, I would never have believed I would love growing vegetables so much  :nowink:  

Sunday 30 March 2014

Saturday 29th March 2014

As it's Mothers day tomorrow and it's nice and Sunny I hit the allotment to get the last of the main crop potatoes in the ground. Half of bed 10 was covered in weeds - I cleared them last week  :( . So I finished off the edging to the plot and then got on my knees and weeded again, but hopefully for the last time for a while. After searching everywhere I found the weed membrane and cut some plastic to hold it down and filled some milk bottles with sand for the soft bricks.

In looking for the potato membrane, I found the strawberry so that's now on bed 5 holding back the weeds until I can get back to fill the holes with the strawberry plants currently in pots.

Bed covered I drilled the first 9 holes with the Augur a hand full of compost in each hole then place in a potato and then cover with compost then infill the hole with the soil that came out of it.  A break for a coffee with Keith and Pauline then on again with the second row of 9 potatoes.

In between the major job for the day as I pass the greenhouse, I have been placing the module trays in a seed tray of comfrey water, I've topped up all the pop bottle pots water reservoirs with water.

Looking at the beetroots there and now 12 out of 15 cups showing beetroots. so that's 5 more in 3 days.

I have to say it took longer than I thought it was going too but at least they are now in the ground. A old dog cage is sitting on top of it hopefully it will keep Basil Brush off

In addition 3 of the 100s and 1000s have germinated and are showing. It's 98 degrees in the greenhouse with the door open and god knows how hot in the growhouse in the greenhouse, so I have not zipped up the fronts, but must check the over night temperatures for the next few days. The little bent over white thing in the picture of the 100s and 1000s was standing up and showing two tiny seed leafs when I came away ...

I love watching things grow

In the afternoon, I had another sort of the seeds when I added the lambs lettuce that arrived from Premier Seeds and sorted out my excess of spring onion seeds into type and date order and I want to grow lot and lots of onions as we use them every week.

So another tray of 15 vending machine cups with twin drainage holes filled with Ishikura spring Onions are now sitting in a 15 module tray liner in the cold frame ready to explode (very slowly knowing onions) into life and ultimately join their White Lisbon brothers down on the allotment.

Reading the back of the packet - (yes I do!) they are a revolutionary onion that does not form a bulb (so I'm going to call them Che Guevara from now on )  yet they stay white and very straight. They can be harvested  pencil-thin or thinner (why would you want too ?) or left to mature to carrot-size (so they become a leek then?) The long harvest period means one sowing lasts the whole season! (so does that mean my idea of successional sowing Spring Onions has just gone out the window?) 

I also want to get in some  "Furio" Red Onions, Shimorita, Winter White Bunching, Ram Rod and Feast F1 Hybrid.

Then in the evening when dropping off my daughter Kelly to the pub to meet her mate, I stopped off at the Co-Op and picked up 14 round Flower Buckets as they have shed loads because of Mothers Day and then TESCO who now inform me that they recycle theirs but still let me have 7 of the square buckets 3 short and 4 long, that fit so nicely in the greenhouse. I realised that putting in the early potatoes in the ones I had meant that I would not be able to use them for the tomatoes later.

There will be a hole burning exercise on Sunday 
:nowink:  and I need in the next week to go and buy one or two of the very large B&Q 125L sacks of verve compost again.

Friday 28 March 2014

Thursday 27th March

 A quick visit to water the plants in the greenhouse.
There a 7 out of the 15 pots in the beetroot tray showing signs of life. 

The spring onions and beetroots are doing really well

Monday 24 March 2014

Monday 24th March 2014

An eventful afternoon, the plan was pick up my blood pressure tablets and then pop to the allotment. I was in the process of picking up my tablets when a telephone call informed me that my eldest daughter Emma was in A&E as she had fallen over and broken something.

One Hospital Visit and hunt for the New A&E Department - why move the bleeding thing when I have been visiting since I was a boy God Only Knows - but got to her just as they were injecting to numb so they could re-set after gas and air didn't work because of too much pain.  

One X-Ray later and it was a dislocated little finger and not broken like it looked, and the one next to it is being used as a splint for the next two weeks until she has her appointment with the break recovery team. Bless her she was so brave.

So a quick visit to cover the potatoes with some fleece as last night was extremely cold and frost on the cars again this morning. Photo above is bed 9 undressed with it's fleece undergarment.

All the potato beds are now lined with fleece and re-covered with anti Basil Brush stuff

A nice lady gardener has told me grated smelly soap from the £1 shop works a treat at keeping Basil Brush away but you have to re-apply after rain, I must try that.

Sunday 23 March 2014

Sunday 23rd March 2014

I woke up at 5:50 - breakfast dressed and everything ready for a quick start then OMG ice on the windscreen. Scraped off the windscreen and drove to the allotment getting there about 7:00 and seeing a very wet greenhouse but happily not a frozen one.

The sun does not come around too the greenhouse until about 8:30, but I uncovered the rest of bed 10 hoping for the sun to dry things out a little

The soil under the carpet and DMP was shiny and hard and I took a pick axe to it to break it up before digging over with a fork and weeding. In between rested by creating a set of staging from the grow house blow-a-ways for the right hand side of the greenhouse as  you face the door.

Un-covered the strawberry bed number 5 and started to mix the farmyard manure into the soil a little more as the worms don't seem to have done a very good job on this bed for some reason.

I had just completed digging bed 10 and was just installing the white plastic edging when hailstones stopped play - I sheltered in the greenhouse and pottered around in there. I covered up the potatoes on beds 7 - 9 with what I have at hand, as Andy had informed me it's likely to be minus 2 - 3 tonight.

The additional staging in the greenhouse means that I now have 8 square flower buckets of early potatoes in the greenhouse. I've put bubble wrap and weed membrane in plastic bags that is intended for the other beds around them as some additional frost protection.

Outside it was 12degrees C inside the grow house in the greenhouse it was twice that - I didn't check the difference between the basic inside vs outside. Propagator lids sitting on top of the grow house for additional insulation.

Also on the allotment today were Keith & Pauline, Andy and Barry for a short time as rain showers and hailstones stopped play for Barry and he went home. Only us nutters carried on.

More beetroots now showing, that's 5 little heads now and the onions are coming on leaps and bounds - I gave them a little soak in comfrey. The additional tomatoes made the trip with me today. I didn't get to sow my carrots, parsnip and radish but there again once I heard about the temperature drop, perhaps it's just as well to let the sun tents keep warming up bed 1 and the pop bottle cloche bed 2

Had a tidy up down the bottom of the plot and moved the dalek next to the green one on the path.

In the last two week I've gone from "looks like the comfrey is coming back" to "blimey look at the size of those" - I'm sure if I sat all day and watched it would be like one of those time lapse videos.


Saturday 22 March 2014

Saturday 22nd March 2014

Swift visit to the to drop off the tomatoes and some spring onions to the greenhouse and to water what's in there. Keith and Pauline on the site and they called over did I want a coffee as soon as they saw me. Well it would be rude to refuse. a few of my Beetroots are just poking their heads above the compost which made me smile and very happy there is that nice warm feeling in side when your babies appear.

About 50mm of water in the rectangular flower pots I use to catch water off the shed until I get around to sorting out and fixing the guttering. One side went into the blue water butt and the other into the black one connected to one side of the greenhouse. A few inches of water in the watering can connected to the guttering on the other side.

Covered the last potato plot that need to be dug as there is rain forecast for this afternoon and I want to be able to dig it tomorrow morning hoping to hit the allotment at daylight and if I have a night like last night that will not be a problem.

Now home and potting up more stuff some to take with me tomorrow for the greenhouse on the allotment and some to stay in the cold frame here at home until I get the space saver greenhouse erected.

1/2 tray 15 cell module of Limnanthes Poached Egg plants to attract the ladybirds to eat the aphids
( Surbie100 sent me a few seeds last year and it worked so I bought a pack this year 99p for 35 seeds )

1/2 tray 15 cell module of April (spring) cabbage on seed per module 8 to grow on large
                                                                                              and 7 as spring greens

1/2 tray 15 cell module consisting of 11 x Crispus Brussels Sprouts (Unwins)
                        only supposed to be 10 seeds in the pack for £2.99 but got in the 50p sale
                                                        4 x Attwood Brussel Sprouts (Jamie Oliver) from last year

1/2 tray 15 cell module of Giant Pascal Celery (Suttons) 1750 seed £1.49 but got in the 50p sale.

Friday 21 March 2014

Friday 21st March 2014 - More Tomatoes

Four lots of tomatoes to add to the 100s and 1000s already in the greenhouse  Gardeners Delight / Beefsteak / Money Makers and Sweetbaby were potted up lunch time out in the wind which made things interesting. They are now sitting in the cold frame waiting to be taken down to the grow house in the greenhouse on the allotment. I'm just hoping its going to be warm enough for them to germinate.

I also have Harbinger, Sweet Million, F1 Lizzano and Ferline tomatoes to pot up

Thursday 20 March 2014

Thursday 20th March 2014 - Water Feeder

Up between 2 - 3am typing up thoughts for meeting at 11. woke up at 6 and worked on proposals so rewarded myself with an afternoon visit to check that the greenhouse is OK in the high winds and to water the seedlings, trees and potatoes as there is no rain forecast for a few days (however its raining now as I type this at 9:40pm)

More sand out to dry for more soft bricks - fixed the hose to the water butt and planted Green Red Yellow and Orange Pepper seeds.

At home made more pop bottle water feeder pots for the greenhouse out of pop bottler and coconut hanging basket liners. Cut top off pop bottle, cut bottom off pop bottle, stuff neck with rolled up strip of coconut liner. fill top with soil bottom with water and put top in bottom.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Tuesday 18th March 2014

Up at 5:00 left home at 6:00 to be in Fulham to do a survey and meet a Contractor and Architect at 7:00 so on the way home lunch time I dropped into the allotment for an hour to weed Bed 1

I replace the lawn edging with plastic and covered the Bed with the plastic solar tents to warm up the soil before planting. 

Watered the trees, the apple is really motoring now and more leafs are showing.

Monday 17 March 2014

Monday 17th March 2014

A lovely sunny day and I had a couple of meeting in various parts of London.
On the way home late afternoon, I made a quick diversion to the allotment to water the bits in the greenhouse and to cover up plots 7,8 and 9 to protect them from Basil Brush. Used about everything I could find. I'm really going to have to construct some more chicken wire hoop frames, like the one on bed 8 (the one in the middle in picture below).  I was working until 9:00 last night so pinching and hour for the allotment does not really hurt.

Sunday 16 March 2014

Sunday 16th March - In Go Some of the Potatoes

What a lovely day - up at 6:00 and over the allotment at 7:00 - dew in the grass and the greenhouse vent nicely closed. I had great aspirations for the day morning and as usual it always possible to get twice as much done in your head.

Beds 7 8 & 9 in the photos below, got their new plastic edging, bed 6 & 8 were weeded, I could not believe that I got a tug of weeds out of bed 7, Spring is certainly bring them on. As can be seen in the photo bed 7 was covered in cardboard and was weed less but the worms have not done a great job of taking the farmyard manure into the ground. All Three beds got the same dressing at the same time.

So weed membrane placed and held down with plastic cladding timber and soft bricks, 75mm hole were drilled and the bottoms lined with some verve compost.

Only one coffee with Keith and Pauline during the day as I found a couple of cool cans of bitter that really should be used in slug traps but it was sunny and warm so Keith and I polished them off. It was nice to see so many people down there working away and even better that the wind blew the smoke from three fires away from me 

The excess of bluebells from home were planted in the comfrey patch and I shared what I didn't use with Michelle and the nice lady on plot 7 

By 1:00 I had managed to put in some earlies in flower buckets in the greenhouse and beds 6 & 7 were planted, and then a dash home for a really nice roast dinner cooked by Kelly & Jen (Emma's away this weekend). After dinner I cut the grass in the back garden and started getting ready for patch repairs. 

Jen suggested I go back to the allotment to complete the sowing of bed 8 thus reducing the quantity of chitting potatoes in her kitchen - So I returned with a sack of grass for the compost heap for another hour and half which saw the last of the King Edwards into bed 9 and eight number 9 Swift potatoes into Flower Buckets in the Greenhouse hoping to encourage even faster early potatoes.

Saturday 15 March 2014

Saturday 15th March 2014

15th March - Up early, marking up and cutting out the holes in the weed membrane for the potatoes and the sweet corn, then a swift visit to the allotment listening to Annie Lennox courtesy of Goose Girl from the forum to drop them off and the Verve Compost.

Only Keith and Pauline were on the allotment and I went to inspect how they were doing digging into and sieving the old weed covered compost mound they inherited. I tweaked the staging in the greenhouse, watered the trees the apple ones no have some small leafs on them and then returned and home to plant all the daffodils, bluebells and crocuses that I had potted up and laid out where I wanted them. I spent all of the rest of the day replanting, finally calling it a day about 6:00pm

The plan for tomorrow is to be up bright and early and get the potatoes in.

Friday 14 March 2014

Friday 14th March 2014 - Drop-in Visit on the way back from a Survey

Swift visit on the way back from a survey to drop off and erect the last grow house / staging that I modified last night. Nice sunny and warm and very gratifying to see the vent opener was working and the vent was open. With the door open and a cooling of the greenhouse it closed a little, I'm very impressed.

Quickly erected the framework, modifying four large lengths from last years blow away so I have additional plastic bits to extend the height on the south facing eaves one and add another shelf. I didn't have time to get the 125L sack of Verve out of the car.

The evening whilst the wife watched all her soaps, I was entertained by rolling out weed membrane, cutting to bed size and marking out hole patterns with the aid of a jar lid and chalk and cutting them out for planting potatoes and strawberries. I really want to minimise the amount of weeding this year.

A very good day for my new business, enquiries for and picked up another 3 jobs today, now I need to catch up with the ones I've already got and make sure I don't over book myself. I also need to fit the allotment in here and there for the occasional visit

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Wedneday 12th March 2014 - Gosh It's a Greenhouse

I got to open the present that has been sitting in my hallway for the last 3 weeks and guess what? It's a space a saver greenhouse for the back garden...... who would have ever had guessed 


So I need to get cracking with finishing off replacing the fence panels and posts that got blown down in the high winds and level off the sloping paved area for it to sit on.

Update - My Boss (me) gave me the day off, so a quick visit to the allotment to drop off one of the 4 tier grow house frame to use as staging that I modified last night It was already partially erected so I put it together and it fits in there like a glove.

Then I dropped of Kelly to do some shopping in Sutton High Street and went to B&Q picked up some instant concrete and ended picking up two 125L sacks of Verve Multipurpose compost for growing most plants seeds and cuttings. One is still in the car and need to be dropped off down the allotment and the other is now in the back garden waiting for the erection of that greenhouse.

The rest of the day was clearing up, casting concrete inserting stepping stones into the lawn and laying out all the daffodils, bluebells, snowdrops and crocuses that are in the green and in various sized of pots

Looks like I will need the hand auger from the allotment for this job as the ground is plenty hard.

Last thing as the light was going and the wife and daughters were cooking up a special 3 course evening birthday meal I was modifying the next grow house staging that will need to go down to the allotment and into the greenhouse.

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Tuesday 11th March 2014 - Extended Lunch Visit

Had an extended lunch time and took a plastic rubbish bin water butt and more seed trays and loo rolls, and the Automatic vent down the allotment.

I had a quick tidy of the shed, and sorted out the loo rolls inserting round cardboard into square seed trays as last year they started to fall over if they were not tightly packed when they got wet. So it looks like I will need some more to complete three trays for the runner beans - I want to get them ahead of the slugs

The greenhouse water butt is set up this one will be for nettle tea, and I need to take a drill down to make a hole for another fitting on the framework for the Automatic Vent Arm - I can see hours of fun trying to get that adjusted 

I spent the evening modifying the second grown house so that I can remove the tray and the central tube without having to disassemble the staging every time I want to do it.  These will go in at 2nd and 3rd levels so they can be removed when I want to grow potatoes or tomatoes

Wet sand on metal trays to dry out in the sun (if we get anymore) for soft brick making with milk bottles

Monday 10 March 2014

Monday 10th March 2014 - Flower Buckets

Kelly asked if I could drop her off to work so as I was halfway to the allotment I took some potting compost and flower buckets down - from the look of it I could get easily 8 flower buckets around the grow house inside the greenhouse, I'm thinking 100s and 1000s tomatoes - Now I'm wondering if I need any more benching in there? I could perhaps have two levels of 100s & 1000s tomatoes. I have some framework for a couple of blow-a-ways I could use .... Ummm decisions decisions

I've put the cardboard box to the blow-a-way grow house on the floor over the weed membrane and I'm not convinced that I really need gravel or pea shingle over it at the moment.

About 10 minutes after I got home the postman delivered the automatic vent opener, typical !

Sunday 9 March 2014

Sunday 9th March 2014 - I've Got A Greenhouse

Up at 7:00 and out of the door at 7:30 - clad the greenhouse after Keith gave me a hand to place the timber under the base. It's really useful to have an additional pair of hands sometimes. As always he sent Pauline to make tea and coffee and once the timbers were under I fixed the subframe to the timber along the back of the greenhouse, but waited until all the glazing was in before joining the timbers together at the corners and screwing the sub-fame of the greenhouse to the timber all around.

I just managed to get all the panels in and was only half an hour late for lunch. I had to return to tighten all the nuts up and drive the two large staples into the ground over the joist hangers that are diagonally opposite on the long sides of the greenhouse.

Erected a mini blow away and placed inside the greenhouse and sorted out the woodchip paths behind and on the side facing the wall - A dustbin water butt will be going there fed by the gutter on the wall side slope, at the moment the sun facing slope will drain into a watering can or bucket.

Finally got home about 5:00 but I'm ready to start stuff off - I have to have a go at some peppers - top temperature in the growhouse in the greenhouse this afternoon was 84 degrees

Friday 7 March 2014

Friday 7th March 2014

I had to go pass the allotment twice today but I didn't have time to stop as I have work to get done, the client need the report quickly so that the house purchase is not delayed.

Returned home to write up the report and joy or joys the missing bolts and the additional fixings I ordered for the greenhouse have arrived .....Yipppppeee, then I get an email to tell me that the automatic vent has been shipped - I like it when a plan comes together, and the sun has been shining all afternoon.

Went to the post office at the co-op this afternoon and picked up some more flower buckets they were throwing away.  last night I ordered some solar powered fans that I will trial in the allotment greenhouse when they arrive.

So if the weather stays with me, I may have a clad greenhouse on the allotment this Sunday ready for sowing action. I can see some very early early potatoes on the horizon grown in flower buckets.

Thursday 6 March 2014

Thursday 6th March 2014 - Back Garden

I had to take the wife for a blood test today so before then I finished using all the excess paving blocks to make a brick BBQ using the top of the one we had last year - Jen and I started taking it apart and cleaning it late last night and I wanted to get the bricks built - dry bonded walls so can easily be modified or removed in the future.

The paving in front of the sheds is there or there about, the kerb stones need levelling but all I need to do now is repair the fence panels either side. Hopefully I will get the new trellis and panel with new post in this weekend then I can plant all the daffs and bluebells back in front of the paving once Jen has placed all the ornaments on the brick paving. It will be good to have it neat and tidy like it was last year.

I just could not resist and sowed a tray with modules of White Lisbon Spring Onions in the cold frame. 

Here is what it looked like last year before the high winds took out the fencing and half of the plants in tubs with them

Wednesday 5 March 2014

Wednesday 5th March 2014 - Palram Great Customer Support

I got an email from Palram at 5:30 this morning from a lovely lady in the spares and support department called Estela Berkowic who is obviously not based in the UK. She sent me the instructions for my greenhouse and provided me with the name of it. It appears that my brother in law got it from B&Q just as they stopped producing this model but they keep all the spare parts.

Parts and quantities identified - she sent me the price and then arranged to telephone me so that I could pay and she could arrange shipping from Palram in the UK. She has passed me on to a UK based person for sourcing the correct automatic vent so I will wait to hear from him, but he has a lot to live up too. Such a nice helpful lady, I do hope they know how good she is, well they should do now I emailed them on their Facebook page.

So bright sunny day I just had to go to the allotment and give the timber extension to the base another couple of coats of paint. The spare bits I need will be with me next week so hopefully once I have the automatic vent I will have a fully functioning greenhouse to start my seed off in.

Last week when I weeded the comfrey bed and planted daffs and bluebells there was only one comfrey plant showing today I saw at least half of them starting to poke leafs up out of the ground. The early starter will be excavated and the roofs chopped up to add to this valuable resource

On the way home I popped into champions to pick up some timber to make more pop bottle cloches and corner brackets for fixing the timber base together. The idea is to raise the greenhouse up so I don't bang my head on the door and to give a little more height for growing, plus add some weight to the greenhouse so it does not act like a blow-away.

The guy from Palram sent me links to a UK suppliers of the automatic vent but he is going to send me the appropriate fittings for my particular greenhouse.     


Tuesday 4 March 2014

Tuesday 4th March 2014 - Lighter Nights

As its getting lighter in the evening, and it was dry, so I dashed down to the allotment to cut the two 1.2m length of timber and paint them with preservative.

I took two work related phone calls down there, so didn't feel bad about being there and came away as it was getting dark, but I'm an hour and a half nearer getting the greenhouse completed.

I emailed the company that made the greenhouse for some spare parts, and an automatic vent opener but I'm still awaiting an answer from them.

Sunday 2 March 2014

Sunday 2nd March 2014

Woke up expecting to see dry and it had been and was raining despite the BBC forecast of Sunny Intervals. I left home about 7:30 and it was lightly spitting with rain until I got to the last road near the allotment.

Basil Brush has paid me a visit getting inside the pop bottle cloche and digging holes, and digging up the woodchip paths. He then he had the cheek to walk to the bottom of the plot and stand there watching me.

After a few choice words from me to him questioning if he had a father and involving his death by hanging from his family jewels from the nearest tree, he ran off .

I managed to get three sides of the greenhouse erected then got a phone call from Keith asking if I was over the allotment and did I need some help. About quarter of an hour later Keith arrived to help me complete the tricky bit, the side with the entrance. Pauline was directed to make Tea and Coffee and come back a little later with drinks and sat and watched as Keith and I completed the jigsaw.

Keith and Pauline then went to get on with clearing the new area of their own plot and I went about clearing the weeds from bed 6 and then treading it flat ready for weed membrane. I was called over for a second cup of coffee and inspected their progress. Keith later assisted me in carrying the greenhouse over from the patio and onto bed 6 the right way around.

Another call and a third cup of coffee.  I just had enough time to de-nail the timber and remove the additional batten and polycarbonate track. I've stacked the timber on the frame to hold it down for the moment. 

So as soon as it's dry I need to cut two 1.2m lengths of timber and paint them all with wood preservative and create a base that will provide some weight but also lift the greenhouse enough so that I can walk in without cracking by head open every time I do. Once the frame is screwed down to the timber base I will be happy to clad it and then get the staging erected inside.


Saturday 1 March 2014

1st March 2014 - Ruby Turner

Working hard all day on the hard landscaping in the back garden.

Jen took me to Croydon Fairfield Halls to see Ruby Turner as an early birthday treat - what a cracking concert .

God I love that woman ( my wife that is )