Sunday 28 September 2014

Sprout Hoops

Later start as it's getting darker in the morning so at the allotment at just gone 8. It's been really bright sunny and warm and I soon discarded the fleece temperatures in the 23 - 24 range by the time I cam home.

I took two sack loads of grass cuttings from cutting the grass in the back garden last night and the skins off the 6 jars of beetroots Jen and I pickled yesterday and fed dalek 3

I then set about clearing out the rubbish from the shed in order to find the drills so I could drill the blue pipe and cut 1.2m lengths of plastic trim and drill holes either end.

Worked out half the circumference of a 600mm circle so I could drill the first holes so the tie forms a semi-circle at the top of the hoop and then drilled 600mm down and 500mm down. Connected the ties / struts with a cable tie and then stacked them on bed 11. I'm hoping that the sun will assist in making the hoops adopt the straight sided profile, I will need to sort something out on the ones that are still curving in at the bottom.

Spent the rest of the time weeding and tidying up the shed, and came away with a sack load of rubbish and weeds. Watered the peppers still not quite all yellow but getting there.

Job for another visit is to drill the holes at the end of 5 number 2.4m long members and at 800mm centres so I can fix to the four hoops when they get erected next season on Bed 1 which will be sprouts.

Thursday 25 September 2014

Yet Another Swift Visit...

Nice and warm again today 20 degrees C - and it's rubbish day, so I harvested all of the 100s and 1000s from the space saver greenhouse and all the Toms that are now red are in the fridge. All the tomato foliage is in the dust bin. 

I found too many slugs hiding under the gravel trays in the bottom of the green house and dispatched them to sluggy heaven. Washed everything and left out in the sun to dry - well until the cloud came over. The Peppers in the Space Saver don't look good at all they have a fuzz on them and look decidedly manky, I will post a picture on the forum to find out what I did wrong unless someone can tell me from here it's the picture on the above.
Did some work then in the afternoon then a swift visit to the allotment for an hour to water the peppers in the greenhouse down there. They are doing really well an one is even changing colour and going yellow. I took the debris netting off the side and roof of the greenhouse but did not get around to removing the one on the gable that's inside, a job for another day.

Fixed the fly net curtain back up at the shed door - what the eye can't see the heart can't greave over.

Finished adding foliage to dalek 3 and cut back the marrows and courgettes and I have found another couple of marrows and courgettes I did not know I had  So the biggest I brought back for my neighbour whos daughter is a warden in sheltered accommodation and shares it out to all the old girls in the block. Plenty big enough for them all to have a portion
Basil has been treading down my old spring onions and playing with a potato as a ball again, b1oddy thing.
Watered all the remaining crops then came home.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Another lunch time visit to....

My sister is coming for an evening meal and I'm going to put a goodie package together for her so harvest another cabbage (dispatched more slugs to sluggy heaven) ,more runner beans and more beetroot, but forget to get a marrow and there are at least two I have spotted that are a decent size in the foliage - Doh!.

All the excess foliage got shredded up and Dalek 2 is once again full and Dalek 3 is now getting fed.

I cut the blue water pipe and stuck into bed 3 so that the sun can warm the pipe to shape, I'm going to drill and place one of two horizontal bars to each hoop to form straighter sides and make it a more rounded top A frame shape on a following visit. At the moment I have linked them with string, but solid bar will be better

Sprouts are really small at the moment didn't get time to scatter some blue pellets of death but I will do on a following visit. Cauliflowers are all leaf at the moment and no cauliflowers at all, they were late so I have no idea if I will get something or nothing from them, but they need blue pellets of death. 

Return trip to pick up a marrow on the way back from collecting the wife in the afternoon. 

Monday 22 September 2014

Darn Slugs!

Lunch time visit to water the spring onions with comfrey tea and harvest two cabbages. Basil was poking around my plot but scarpered when he saw me coming, he knows if I get near enough he will get a boot up the jacksey.

Took the netting up and pulled all the weeds that have grown around and near to the cabbages in bed 13. I wanted to do this because something has been having a go at them and that something turned out to be slugs.

So a number of the orange monster got snipped in half as I cleared the lower leafs so that I could sprinkle blue pellets of death for any that jump off the cabbages they are already eating or try to get to my cabbages.

I cut all the outer leafs of the cabbage up and put in Dalek 2 which is composting well and the level keeps reducing at breakneck speed, added a layer of comfrey leafs, a layer of spent compost, more cabbage and more comfrey. Then wet it down and slapped the lid back on. 

Saw another or possibly the same little mouse again running around, I think he has been finishing off the corn that I have not got around to adding to the compost bin. I've seen the magpies having a go at my neighbours corn.

We ate
Kelly's peas yesterday (that's why you can't see them in the background of the photograph), she was not impressed and I do have different peas but I liked them. Shame there was only enough for two if us but next year I have bigger plans and will be planting half a beds worth. 

Note to self - blue pellets of death in the sprouts and cauliflower beds next visit

Sunday 21 September 2014

Potato Harvest & Spring Onion Planting

Darker morning so I’m not getting to the allotment quite as early, but still there by 7:30 Cloudy start but the sun came out and I managed to get quite a lot done before in full sunlight.

Beautiful sang to me to say hello, and I got straight into digging up the second early potatoes from bed 9.

It’s amazing how many large stones and bits of glass I’m still clearing from the beds. Above is a picture of Bed 9 minus all the potatoes and a picture of the potatoes that were in a good condition on the staging drying out in the sun on the next post.

So the spring onions in the greenhouse are at a point where they need to go out so I planted four rows into bed 9 and watered in. Tomorrow they will get some comfrey tea. Picture showing setting out so that the hoe has enough work and strips of membrane offcuts (see picture above) can go between if needs be to keep weeds down.

Folded a sheet of membrane in half and covered up the access path end of the bed

The membrane used for the potatoes is very frayed and I washed it off and have brought home to seal the ends with the soldering iron, so I can use it again next year and perhaps a few more.

Harvested more marrows, courgettes that think they are marrows and runner beans.

Saw a field mouse so I will have to keep a look out around the timber store and the shed as there is too much stuff in there anyway last thing I want is lodgers.

Potatoes from bed 9 drying in the sun, quite a few hollow ones with a small hole in and most of the good ones have had a good sucking from slugs. They are smaller than the first early potatoes which I really don't understand. I sorted them into 3 bags small, medium and large.

Saturday 20 September 2014

Planting Membrane

I have been cutting up a roll of black weed membrane using a soldering iron.

I tried on the first melt/ cut and it went really well. It cuts as it burns and melts the edges so that the edges don’t fray. Some of the weed membrane that I cut and formed a planting hole pattern has not weathers too well on the edges. I should have thought of using the soldering iron before.

I've placed a scaffold board on the Garden Table and burnt / cut on that. I must not get into trouble with the good lady wife, especially as I re Teak Oiled last week ready for the winter.

I’ve cut the profile for next year’s Courgette and Marrow complete with holes in the form of an X slots for the watering pop bottles. I may do that instead of melting holes for the plants in future

Now off to plant some lettuce in the back garden.

Monday - Friday Minor Updates

Monday 15th September 2014 - No allotment today but pickled my first ever five jars of beetroot - looks like I'm going to need to find more jars looking at what's still on the allotment 

Tuesday 16th September 2014 - Lunch time visit - took compost from home for "Rusty", one of my new dalek's and whilst down there harvest more beetroot to pickle and put the leafs in Rusty also a black bag of shredded paper. Watered and harvested peas for Kelly.

Thursday 18th September 2014 - Break ins on the allotment site

Well I had kind of been expecting something like this to happen as the building work is attracting the wrong kind of people to the area and discover that we are behind a nice high wall.

I went to the allotment today to water the spring onions and the plants in the greenhouse to find that they had tried to get into my shed but I have an internal locking system as well as an external one and they seem to have just moved on to other peoples that are less protected or not locked up at all.

They had however placed pallets up against the wall beside and then on top of my leaf bins to use as ladders to get out. I believe they must have come over from the construction site where the fence is damaged and still awaiting repair by the council.

They appear to have taken some old petrol strimmers from one of the open sheds and for some reason left it next to their exit, or were they expecting to return tonight and use that as a way over the wall and back into the allotment?

One of the other plot holders shed was broken into and he as reported it to the council and they are supposed to be coming tomorrow to visit and look around.  I checked my brother in laws shed and his looked OK as well.

Friday 19th September 2014 - Met PC Plod on the allotment lunch time - did his thing showed he was listening, nodded in all the right places said all the right meaningless words.
The idiots bolt cropped the chain that keeps the padlock attached to the gate but did not damage the padlock of the fitting - we think they just climbed over after the gates did not open after the chain was cut

Who ever did it got that excited when they managed to open a shed that they did a poo on the plot in front of no 3's shed. The plot owner offered to bag it for the police to run DNA, but the copper declined 

I had a real hard time not laughing  at the coppers face who then went to look at footprints in the soil. But no plaster of Paris appeared and apparently the community bobby will be around the area a little more than usual. All in all nothing like David McCallum of the Goth girly of NCIS involved. 

Popped down to Wyevale and picked up 50 Senshyu Yellow Onion Sets to put in over the weekend - I feel the need to have something growing on the allotment over winter.

Sunday 14 September 2014

I Now Feel A Little Like Davros

A lady called Shona in Caterham had a couple of daleks up for grabs on freecycle, and I arranged for her to leave them in the front garden for me to pick up on the way to the allotment. Luckily one fitted inside the other and I managed to get them both in the car on one visit and to the allotment by about 8:15

They just about fitted in the back of the Corsa and after lugging them to the plot I set about moving all the stored carpet and pallets, dug out the area where they are going to stand and de-stoned and weeded, nice to see some worm in there just waiting for a food source.

Dug a trench for the kerb stone and lined the kerb stone with weed membrane that tucks under the carpet pathway to the plot and under the daleks. Drew around them with chalk and then cut a hole out about 50mm inside the profile of the dalek so the worms could get in.

Covered the area with woodchip and then set about trimming back the marrows and courgettes and slicing small I started to fill the first new dalek.

Measured Mick's plot with him so we can check that the council are billing for what he actually has now he has taken on two more half plots. Came home for lunch about 12:30

With my 5 daleks
2 dustbin water butts, 2 super slim water butts and my big blue
water butt, incinerator, plus two plastic dustbins used for storage
I now feel a little like Davros with my dalek butt and bin army
Twin Water Butts on the Greenhouse and new dalek and butt arrangement on the Master Plan for next years planting ...... until I have time to think about it over the winter after receiving the seed circle package.

Saturday 13 September 2014

Dog Sitting Extra Visit

Overcast with the occasional sunny spell, nice and warm nothing like September should be really. Jen is dog sitting for her sister, and thus I've been on the allotment between 10:30 - 3:00 and very busy. I did take time out to visit the café for a coffee, lunch time breakfast and use their convenience at about 12:30 before returning to the allotment. 

I managed to:-

  Cut up all the pop bottles and bagged to take home 
  Dismantled the bread tray cage
  Used some of the bags of woodchips to top up the paths down the bottom end of the allotment.
  Washed the slate chippings and topped up around the grapes
  Moved the dustbin water butt down next to the comfrey butt and filled up ready for when the water is turned off
  Cut back marrows and courgettes again, into dalek
  Tops of Carrots into dalek
  Comfrey into dalek
  Bamboo into the grow house
  Made 4 more soft bricks with sand filled plastic milk bottles
  Wet sand into tin trays in the greenhouse to dry out for the next batch of soft bricks, I will need these soon
  to hold down the covers to the beds. 
  Washed off the paving slabs
  Watered the runner beans and beetroot, parsnip, cucumbers and the plants in the greenhouse.

Wasp stung my ear lobe - Doh!

   Runner Beans

I'm now going to leave the majority of the runner beans for the seed circle as I have a draw full of runner beans in the freezer. I've managed to get another two compost bins off freecycle and can pick them up in the morning.

The allotment is looking good and I'm beginning to feel like I'm nearly on top of things (that will not last long but nice whilst I buy into the illusion)

I'm not sure how there can be so much variation in the carrots which all came from the same pack of seeds.

 At the allotment

After washing and sorting by length at home.   

Thursday 11 September 2014

Pop Bottle Collection

Quick visit to water the sad looking runner beans, and the other beds as we have not had any significant rain for over a week and to pick up yet more pop bottles to come home for the recycle bin.

The wife's face when I brought them home said everything, she didn't have to say a word

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Pickup & Drop Off Area

Popped down to the allotment for an hour lunch time and bumped into the parks and allotment managers and we discussed my proposals which they are happy with as long as it's renamed a community drop off and pick up area and storage for the woodchip and manure and not a car park as that will cause problems on other allotments, but they have no money or inclination to assist.

They are going to deal with the Japanese's Knott Weed by spraying this weekend but that's about it.

They pointed me to the web site where I can apply for a grant up to £500 but the deadline for submissions was today, next one is 14th October so I need to sort out, or just make it happen by talking to the developer next door to see if he can lend us of his digger and driver for an hour and if we can add the debris to his grab lorry when he is clearing his site. 

I managed to cut up a significant amount of the pop bottles and bring home in a sack to put in the recycle rubbish this week and I did water the runner beans that were looking a little sad as we have not had much water, they are still well coved with red flowers and if this Indian summer continues, I'm hoping for some more produce and finally enough beans for the seed circle.

Monday 8 September 2014

Elongated Lunch Visit

An elongated lunch time visit to the allotment to drop off the grass cuttings from the back and the leafs from the front garden and with cutting up more courgette and marrow plants that are invading the surrounding paths, plus some comfrey and a splash of used compost, layers of green and brown have now filled up two compost bins and thus I have just replied to a posting on freecycle offering another two compost bins, I hope to be lucky.

It has to be said since I'm taking more time to cut up the vegetation and ensuring a layered structure plus the odd adding of water it seems to be composting much better. The first smaller bin had rotted down nicely and was alive with worms and wood lice and other manner of creepy crawly insects doing their thing 

Washed the dust and rubbish off the Perspex and the water pipe obtained from John yesterday.

harvested the last of the tomatoes from the grow house so only the contents of the green house now need watering on a regular basis.

Next Visit the first job will be to cut pipe into lengths that will make a high level hoop cage for the sprouts next year without the need to extend the pipes a couple of months into growing. And just perhaps if levels have dropped again another top up of the compost bins.

Sunday 7 September 2014

A Visit to Beryl from the Forum

Up early and over to Kingston to pick up some strawberry runners from that nice Surbie100, who is doing really well getting control over her plot on the hill side.

My Sister rang and ultimately came down to the allotment for her first visit, to chat about some issues she has going on and for some allotment therapy. We harvested the last of the Tomatoes from the shed conservatory which is still just about blight free, Runner Beans and a Cucumber for her to take home.

"Beautiful" my robin came to introduce himself to my sister and flew so close to her that scared the living daylights out of her and made her jump.

It was very sad to see all of the tomato and potatoes on plot 2 black with blight, the plot owner will not be happy when he comes to visit.

Harvested two cucumbers and beetroots for pickling to take home.

Most of the time today has been sorting out the weeds and laying the last few paving slabs on the patio area. One hell of a lot of bine weed has got into the strawberry bed more specifically under the weed membrane, its come through the wall and made its way under and there is a huge network of tendrils that are rooting, so I have started the clearing process and I'm digging out as much of it as I can before putting the new strawberries in that bed.

This is an area that need far more regular attention that I have been historically giving it, and it's making me question the whole weed membrane with strawberries concept.

A fair amount of time was spent topping up the compost bin in which the levels had dropped by about 3 - 4 inches over the last week, which is really good going and I must be doing something right. So topped up again with marrow and courgette, corn and comfrey, all cut up nice and small. Then I added a layer of old compost as brown waste and then more green corn, marrow and courgette, nicely topped up with the contents of todays pee bucket.

Harvested couple of giant courgettes that were donated to John the security site agent next door who supplied some Perspex and blue water pipe to Andy and I as I was leaving to go home at lunch time.

Saturday 6 September 2014

Water Butts Installed

Water Butts delivered to the allotment and installed on the greenhouse. The dusting water butt will now go down the bottom of the plot and become a nettle tea water butt living next to my comfrey tea water butt.

I really need to clear all those pop bottles that I don't have a use for now.

Mill Green - Drop Off and Pick Up Area

Survey this morning - dropped off at the allotment on the way home and harvested tomatoes from the plants under cover that blight has not hit yet and runner beans. Got talking to the site agent on the development next door and he is up to assist in clearing the dumping ground to create a Drop off and Pick Up area. However also heard from the council who inform me quote: -
Unfortunately Parks do not have the time and resources currently to investigate this project.

They also don't understand that the parking area will be within the two gates as he states
"there is also the issue of not being able to control who parks in the space unless it is fenced or a bollard in place to ensure just allotment holders are parking there."

I've marked up a Google Satellite view to try and explain to them see below they also get a new plot No 15 which at the moment is being used as a dumping ground by people who will not take their rubbish away.

Picked up my two space saving water butts from TESCO and I will drop them off to the allotment in the morning

Friday 5 September 2014

100 L Space Saving Water Butts a £5

Saw a posting under Frugal Living on the Allotment Gardening Forum that TESCO were selling off their 100 L Space saving water butts with connector and Stand at £5 each. So went and ordered two this morning, glad I did it appears that it was an error and they have gone back up to £20 each. I'm a very happy bunny.

As blight on the allotment I harvested all the tomatoes at home and now have all the green ones in the greenhouse ready to turn red. All the plants went in the rubbish as it's collection day

Wednesday 3 September 2014

To Allotment or Not to Allotment that is the question....

The answer was actually to Dorking Garden Centre and the 50p Seed Sale and an hour of searching on the tables and in the tugs and coming home with another 69 packs of vegetables and 4 packs of flowers (poached Egg and Yellow French  Marigold) I have home kept seeds for the orange ones.

Most of the seed are use by 2016 and 2017 used by date so I'm now well and truly stocked up for 2015, 2016 and part of 2017 and I now need to go and buy another plastic tool box to keep them in. One will house the used by 2015 and the other will hold 2016 & 2017.

After thinking about reducing the amount of tomatoes I now have a shed load of small cherry type that will be grown in hanging baskets and in the greenhouse at the allotment next year.

Monday 1 September 2014

End August Wyevale Seed Sale

Friday 29th August 2014 - managed to persuade the wife that a trip to Wyevale Garden Centre Purley Way to pick up seeds in the 50p Seed sale, was in order as we were back home  Saturday 30th August 2014 - Trip to Wyevale Garden Centre Lower Morden Lane to pick up seeds in the 50p seed sale - Watering Visit to allotment - picked up flower arrangement for the wife as we were away for our anniversary.  Sunday 31st August 2014 - Up early and down on the allotment for 7am- stayed until 1:00pm

Weeds weeds everywhere  First things pulled all the sweetcorn out of bed 11 and beautiful the robin watched me work and dined on grubs and things exposed as I dug and cleared. - Stacked the corn on the staging and started to cut up for the composting dalek.

Trimmed up the ever growing marrow and courgette and cut up for the dalek, a layer of spent compost , a layer of comfrey, a layer of sweetcorn, harvested the spring onions and ended up with a tug of leafs when you guessed it got added to the compost bin. The Green dalek is once again full to the brim - topped of with a watering and bucket of pee created and saved during the morning to help things along.

Emptied three square flower buckets of new potatoes and planted potatoes in two of them recharging the compost with layers of comfrey. They are seed potatoes that were donated to me.

Cleared bed 11 dug over and covered up with DPM and weed membrane to was off soil

Cleared the spring onions from bed 3

Weeded bed 2
Weeded 1/2 of bed 1 - Beetroots - Need to get into the Carrots and Parsnip
Filling flower buckets with layers of compost, comfrey, soil, comfrey, compost
Found two of Kellys sweet corn when clearing bed 11

Harvested more Marrows, and Runner Beans, Spring Onions, New Potatoes and found some Red onions when clearing bed 3, harvested two cucumbers - about 4 -5 still growing. 

To Do List

Weed the Cabbages in Bed 13
Weed the Carrots and Parsnips in Bed 1
Harvest more runner beans
Harvest potatoes in Bed 9
Harvest potatoes in bed 10
Cut up plastic pop bottles
Plant out last beetroots and spring onions from greenhouse.

View looking and beds 10,11 & 12 with Beds 13, 14 and 15A in the background

As you can see in the background the guy on plot 3 has cut down the weeds and appears to have acquired a pile of pallets.  He has also dug and weeded the corner by the path. So nice to see the high level weeds gone.

It took some time to wash skin and clean up the spring onions, I'm not sure which ones these were but they are funny in that they split in two and crow as two half semi circles when you remove the outer dry skin.

Note to self

Buy better labels that hold what's written on them or write twice once above ground and once below ground level on all labels next year