Wednesday 25 February 2015

Cabbages and Timber Battens

Well as if by magic there were some little seedling heads just showing last night and this morning, I have cabbages 8 Greyhound and 3 Golden Acre ..... it gives one that nice warm feeling inside to see new seedlings

I'm starting these off in the only bit of indoors that she who must be obeyed will let me have, behind the Kitchen Patio Door!

Good news for my neighbour Sid and Me - He has his little job keeping a roofing firms yard clean and tidy back and I get the odd broken and 4 - 5ft lengths of batten that are not worth them keeping for the next job... Lets see does he burn them or donate them to my allotment ...  No brainer really  :nowink:

So I have 7 lengths cut to 1.25m to use as posts to support an ex dog cage for the peas to climb or

I can do the Katie Lavender and Leeks thing (but use pea netting not string) or

I can add a top and bottom member and make a frame to add pea netting or plastic mesh too

Decisions, decisions, decisions!

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Bed 15B

Dropped the wife at her sisters at 10:00 so 3.25 hours working on bed 15b and the surrounding paths. I have managed to build up the paths with soil excavated for the trees and filled them with stones at the bottom edge by the kerb stones, and I have de-stoned, glass, string and other detritus from the other half of the bed which is now double dug.

I have emptied a number of flower buckets used last year for tomatoes plus 10 litres or coco peat and mixed it all up, still de-stoning during the mixing. It started to rain and I tided up and covered the bed with plastic once more. 

I topped up the leaf bins with more leafs from home and from the overspill bin made of bread basket bases.

Spread the incinerator ash on one of the trees 

Job List

1) Next visit a sack of well rotted stable manure is going to be dressed on the top fo bed 15b and then I will cover it with weed membrane and secondary glazing panels to warm the soil up ready for my peas.

2) Lay weed membrane on the paths and cover with wood chips that I have in sacks specifically for the paths as I have been proved correct and all the woodchip at the entrance has now gone.

3) Complete the 1.2x1.2m hoop frames

4) Grate smelly soap and dress the paths as anti- fox measures

5) Removed the plastic from the beds and dress with chicken pellets and replace with weed membrane which will not hold water and will wash the pellets into the soil

6) Cut Timbers for Bed 14 and paint ends

7) Install timber edging to bed 13 and bed 14

I think that's enough to keep me going for a while. 

Saturday 21 February 2015

What A Difference A Night Makes!

I sowed Tom Thumb Lettuce & Winter Gems Lettuce 6 Days ago on the 15th February. Last night when I moved the pots from their day time location behind the kitchen patio doors to the high warmer high self for the night there were still no signs of life

But this morning is a whole different ball of wax for the Tom Thumb Lettuce.

Tom Thumb Lettuce germination period is supposed to be 6 - 12 Days but that overnight growth and 75% germination on day 6 is truly amazing

Friday 20 February 2015

What A Difference A Day Makes

Well this morning more seedlings I now have 4 out of 16 All Round Cauliflower and 2 out of 8 x Eversham Special Brussels Sprouts. I've placed yesterdays and todays photos side by side so you can see what a difference a day makes!

I also melted/ cut 3 more 2.4m x 1.2m weed membrane sheets for covering the beds as it was mildish outside.

Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts

 Well after sowing 16 x All Round Cauliflower and 8 x Eversham Special Brussels Sprouts on the 15th February, this morning there are two little seedling showing their heads, one of each.

I tried an experiment last night and I'm going to do it again tonight. I placed an inside/outside Max/Min recording digital thermometer in the greenhouse, then another inside a large propagator and them put a small propagator with seeds inside the large one. All covered with bubble wrap.

Results were overnight lowest temperature In the greenhouse 1.8C min temperature in the first propagator 2.8C now I need to find another recording thermometer to go inside the small propagator to see how temperatures stack up. so that 1degree C between those two. If I can get all four readings that would be really interesting.

Thursday 19 February 2015

Chitting Potatoes

A couple of hours in the afternoon spent burning/ melting/ cutting covers for bed 15a and 14, plus 1.2m strips from the 300mm wide offcuts which will be used between the rows of parsnips on Bed 8 to keep the weeds down.

All seed potatoes now chitting away.

First Earlies all to Potato Buckets

    6 x Duke of York    into 3 potato buckets in the greenhouse
    6 x Swift               into 3 potato buckets in the greenhouse
    6 x Vales Emerald  into 3 potato buckets in the greenhouse

Second Earlies 

    20 x Kestrel   18 to Bed 13 and 2 to a potato bucket


     20 x Cara       18 to Bed 11 and 2 to a potato bucket
     23 x Desiree  18 to Bed 12 and 5 to 3 potato buckets

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Cutting Timber and Making Soft Bricks

So sunny and warm today with temperatures in the greenhouse at the top end of the thermometer, perhaps the foil at the back of the greenhouse is a little too much? and according to the digital recording thermometer it was -0.5 degrees C last night. 

Work in the morning, then at 12 off to the Royal Brompton for the wives annual MOT and service. Glad to report that the old girl passed again and does not need any additional work  :nowink:

On returning home and as it had been so good and unlike the artic conditions yesterday, I popped down to the allotment to paint the ends of the cut timbers for Bed 15B. Bed 15A is holding water on the plastic and looks like a child's play pool. I measured the length 1.34m long by 1.2m wide internally so I will cut a sheet to fit it exactly 

I then made some more soft milk bottle bricks with the last of the dried sand from the greenhouse, by which time it was time for another coat of paint and then home as the light was going and the gnats were clearly visible

Monday 16 February 2015

The Great Escape

On the plot from  8:30 - 12:50

Timber cut for Bed 15B, it was hard going because it was damp but it's done!, I just need to paint the cut ends with some preservative. The red wriggler worms were all around the lid of dalek 2 and when I opened there were masses of them. The little blighters started heading for the ground but I opened dalek 3 and chucked them in. What got me was the way they followed each other down the side if the bin, I had to run and get the phone to take the first photo and a lot of the faster ones were already at the bottom of the bin.

I gave both bins a good mix up and drilled holes and loaded with coffee grounds again.

The timbers for bed 13 are now laid out around the bed ready to be dug in on a following visit.

I also managed to make 20 odd milk bottle soft bricks as the trays of sand were dry and low and behold the second sack I picked up off freecycle was bone dry, So I now have more than enough soft bricks.

I cleared all the timbers and flower buckets off bed 15B and left it un covered to dry out a little.

Cleaned the green algae off the pitched roof sections of the greenhouse then ended up cleaning all the plastic panels on the outside, but I could not reach the opening vent at the apex on the back which is the worst until I move and deconstruct the stored pallets.

Cleared more timber and had another burn up in the incinerator, and I have tried the hoops in the two 1.2m x 1.2m netting hoop decking base frames. I don't want to cut the hoops as they are made to be pushed in the ground but If I screw to the base and go from corner to corner, I can get away with two hoops per frame and they are the same height as the others than run perpendicular to the long side of the bed.

At home later I have sown

         All Round Cauliflower
         Tom Thumb Lettuce
         Winter Gems Lettuce

These are in the unheated greenhouse so we will see how they go. Sieved a load of verve compost and put in plastic washing capsule boxes and I have left them in the kitchen to warm up a bit for the next lot of seed sowing.

Friday 13 February 2015

Last Frost Date and Planting Plan

Update Onion Tray 1 - No new seedlings  Day 17 from a Germination Period of 18-21 days
10 from 24  41.70% Germination - Alisa Craig   

Onion Tray 2 -   2 new seedlings  Day   8 from a Germination Period of 18-24 days
10 from 18 – 55.56%  Germination - Globo the Giant Onion   (18-24 days) 
 5 from 12 –  41.67%  Germination - Santero F1                 
 9 from 12 –  75.00%  Germination - Bedfordshire Champion (18-24 days)
11 from 18 – 61.11%  Germination - Kamal F1
35 from 60 - 58.33% Average Germination rate

I think the one at 4up 7along from bottom left corner was there yesterday but I missed it

Last Frost date Map so for me it looks like the 4th week of April and Seed sowing and planting out dates based on the last frost date for my area.

Last Frost date UK map from

Sowing Dates Based on Last Frost Date:

Friday 13th February 2015 - No change on the Onion front
Saturday 14th February 2015  - No change on the onion front

Thursday 12 February 2015

How Many Beans ?

Wednesday 11th February 2015
This morning during breakfast I've been looking at the photo of bed 15a which is my seed circle bed and I'm thinking of beans in and L along the back edge and the left edge looking at the photo or a [ shame front, back and left side as the sun goes down on the right, and then other stuff within the remainder of the plot. 

Update Onion Tray 1 - No new seedlings  Day 16 from a Germination Period of 18-21 days

           Onion Tray 2 -   3 new seedlings  Day   7 from a Germination Period of 18-24 days

10 from 18 – 55.56%  Germination - Globo the Giant Onion   (18-24 days) 
 4 from 12 –  33.33%  Germination - Santero F1                 
 8 from 12 –  66.66%  Germination - Bedfordshire Champion (18-24 days)
11 from 18 – 61.11%  Germination - Kamal F1
33 from 60 - 55% Average Germination rate

The reason I'm keeping track and updating daily the % success rates, is that I want to see which onions are the fastest and have the best germination rate, then I will monitor them during growing, storing and more importantly eating. Then eventually I fix on one white and one red to grow each year. 

Not wanting to use the carpet I inherited on the plot, I have placed another order for 50m x 1.5m of heavy Duty Woven Weed membrane to replace the grey dpm and for Next Winters bed covers. This time I will melt the edges rather than cut with scissors.

A visit to the 99p shop resulted in a pack of Duke of York and Vales Emerald six seed potatoes in each pack, so that's six flower buckets worth of additional first earlies for the greenhouse. Four Hanging baskets for tomatoes on the allotment, 2 Moss Basket liners and Two CoCo Liners so I can see which works the best, A 40mm x 140mm Masonry Brush for painting the shed and other timber i.e. the posts for the hanging Baskets, and two pruning Shears for chopping up the Comfrey and compost vegetation as the spring has gone on the ones I have in the allotment shed.

This evening I have been looking at the seed boxes and sorting out the beans from the seed circle, seed Parcel Round 3 and those that I acquired in the Wyevale 50p sale and the L or C on Bed 15a may have to become an E with more than one middle horizontal arm. I have the following beans to find room for on the allotment

   1. Aeron’s Purple Star Runner (10 Seeds)
   2. Blue Lake French bean (loads!)
   3. Cherokee Trail of Tears (12 Seeds)
   4. Curley Bean (11 Seeds)
   5. Minidor Yellow Dwarf French Beans (14 Seeds)
   6. Neal Climbing French bean (loads) height 8ft 2.4m <----On Wall Minty Frame
   7. Nuns Belly Button Dwarf Beans (5 Seeds) <---------Possibly in Containers or Flower Buckets
   8. Purple Teepee Dwarf Beans (12 Seeds)
   9. Scarlet Emperor Runner Beans <-------------------- Main crop at least one complete frame on the wall
  10. Sultana Climbing Bean (6)

I have not measured the actual length of Bed 15a its 1.2m wide but approximately 1.5m long so one 1.5m length and possibly 4 arms would allow 500mm to get into between for picking and it would allow for 5 different beans in one bed. So I will look at the heights these grow and decide a planting plan.

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Bed 15A Dug and Framed

I love working for myself, I worked last night and early this morning so after dropping off my wife around her sisters I made my way to the allotment and two a quarter hours later Bed 15a is dug de-stoned and the edging is in. Plus the incinerator is primed again and a 1/3 full.

The sweet plastic containers with the melted holes in are Comfrey and Nettle tea bags for the two water butts.

So only bed 15b and then the edging and planting the trees and that's the whole plot finally done.

20 Litres of Coco Peat and two sacks of spent compost taken to the site along with flowers for the dalek.

Onion Update Tray 1 No new seedlings

Onion Update Tray 2

 9 from 18 –  50%  Germination - Globo the Giant Onion   (18-24 days) 
 3 from 12 –  25%  Germination - Santero F1                 
 7 from 12 –  58%  Germination - Bedfordshire Champion (18-24 days)
11 from 18 – 61%  Germination - Kamal F1
30 from 60 - 50% Average Germination rate

Monday 9 February 2015

Paint the Little House on the Allotment

I popped down to the allotment to paint the ends of the cut timber with wood preservative. The sun came out and the temperature was 8.5 degrees and with no wind it was lovely. Once completed painting the ends of the timbers I noticed how weather beaten the shed was looking so I set about freshening it up, well on the front elevation

By the time I had given the shed and the little house on the prairie extension a coat of paint it was time to give the cut timber its’ second coat. There are Bluebells growing in the comfrey patch that I planted last year, but unlike at home no snowdrops or crocuses yet.

On returning home I looked at the onions that were sown on the 4th February and out of nowhere after 5 days there are seedlings!
Most packs say the germination period is 18- 24 days,  I can’t believe that 50% of the Kamal F1 have already

 2 from 18 – 11.11%  Germination - Globo the Giant Onion   (18-24 days) 
 2 from 12 – 16.67%  Germination - Santero F1                 
 5 from 12 – 41.67%  Germination - Bedfordshire Champion (18-24 days)
 9 from 18 –      50%  Germination - Kamal F1
18 from 60  -     30% Average Germination rate

Sunday 8 February 2015

Building Bases and Cutting Timber

Up early and down on the allotment for 8:30 and at around 9:30 the sun came out and it turned into a really nice morning and being busy I didn’t feel cold at all. Temperatures were at about 10-11 degrees which I really was not expecting.

I had taken some paper shreddings’ with me and set the timber in the incinerator alight, the wood was nice a dry and the flame coming out of the lid and looked just like a jet engine, very little smoke which is exactly what I wanted.

Built two netting hoop decking base frames and then set about dismantling what was my sisters’ car port roof, that had been blocking the main path and the path behind beds 15a & 15b since it was taken down and dropped off on the allotment.

I ended up cutting up five four metre length of roof joist and stacking them on top of the hoop frame bases to keep them apart and off the ground to dry out. On a following visit I will paint the cut ends with preservative before they make it into the ground to form semi raised beds. I'm really glad that I remembered the advice my grandfather gave my dad about rubbing a wax candle up and down the teeth and on either side of the blade, it made cutting the wood a easier than the last time I did it.

There are three 4m lengths on the path so with what's cut that's enough timber for 4 semi raised or timber edged beds.

There are some decent sized offcuts and I’m sure I will find a use for them somewhere, even if it’s just deadweight on the weed membrane.

Swept up all the wood chippings off the path where Basil and his mates have been digging looking for worms. I worked until 12:50 then made my way home for Sunday Lunch.

Germination day 13 out of 18-21 and no new onions to report so still at 41.7% Germination rate, mind you the ones that arrived first are really leggy, which I'm hoping is not a problem with onions?

Saturday 7 February 2015

Alison Craig Onions 12 Days after Sowing

12 Days after sowing during the 18-21 days Germination period so just over half way on the average period

10th seedling appeared Row 1 column 4 cell marked in red

That's now 41.7% germination rate

Sand picked up and dropped of at the allotment with the coffee grounds, some flower buckets have blown over to the next door plot and the foxes have been digging up the paths to get at worms

Friday 6 February 2015

Coffee Grounds, CoCo Peat and 2 bags of Sand Please

Picked up another 5 packs of Coir / Coco Peat from the £1 shop and managed to get a couple of sacks of sharp sand off freecycle which I will pick up tomorrow as I also managed to obtain another sack of coffee grounds from the coffee shop in the high street thanks to my sister.

I've got a car full of slug traps, and as I have met the required amount for Surbie, the others are going to be dropped off in John's (one of the old boys on the site) greenhouse on the allotment, as he does not drink any pop or bottled water to get them.

So plan for tomorrow is pick up the sand and visit allotment to drop off everything

Thursday 5 February 2015

Onion Update and Seed Parcel arrives

10 Days after sowing during the 18-21 days Germination period so just over half way on the average period

9th seedling appeared Row 3 column 3 cell marked in red

That's now 37.5% germination

I belong to the a forum on the internet at and one of the members Surbie100 (Beryl) in Kingston has arranged a seed circle that I'm a member off.

The basic idea is 20 people save two types of seeds send them to Beryl with a SAE. She then sorts them all out and sends everyone the groups seed collection.

Seed Circle

The Seed Parcel arrived this morning so I know what I will be doing tonight

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Onions - Even more signs of life !

9 Days after sowing during the 18-21 days Germination period so just under half way

Row 1 column 2 cell marked in yellow
Row 2 column 1 cell marked in yellow

That's now 33% germination

Sown tonight

18 x Globo the Gient Onion
12 x Santero F1
12 x Bedfordshire Champion
18 x Kamal F1

Tuesday 3 February 2015

Onions More Signs of Life!

8 Days after sowing

Row 1 column 6 cell marked in yellow
Row 3 column 5 cell marked in yellow

That's now 25% germination

Alison Craig Update

I sowed 24 Alison Craig Onions in a small propagator one week ago. Germination is supposed to be 18-21 days so I was looking for some signs of life around 13th - 16th February.

There are 4 little seedlings so that 17% Germination at 7 days. I'm going to have to look for more life each day now  :nowink: Modules with signs of life edged in Red

Took Kelly to Dorking for her job interview and whilst she was there I visited the Dorking Wyevale. I had a hot chocolate to warm me up and wondered around the store looking to see if I needed anything as I had a discount voucher in my wallet. I came away with cabbage collars, two paving block wire brushes for £9.99 a metre of capillary fabric/matting off the roll for the seed trays and a bag of vermiculite.  

Monday 2 February 2015

Module Seedling Extraction Tool or jig

It's been way to wet and cold to warrant going to the allotment today. But I did brave the outside to give the corner blocks another coat of paint and I also cut some dowels and made a Module Seedling Extraction Tool or jig to assist in as the title intimates getting the seedlings out of the 20mm x 20mm x 30mm deep nursery module trays I intend to use this year.

Photos above is the jig primed for use and below the guide module in the closed position


1) Take one bed slat offcut from another project.
2) Put elastic band on drill the same dia as the dowel at half the thickness of the wood as a stop.
3) Mark the holes at the bottom of the seed modules along the wood.
4) Drill the holes as vertical as possible as I only have a hand drill.
5) Cut the dowels to a length that is half the depth of the module plus the depth of the holes in the base.
6) Wood glue the dowels in place.


1) Move the single strip of module up to the top of the dowels.
2) offer the tray on top of the strip of module on the jig.
3) lower the tray.
4) The seedling plugs are pushed out of the module from the bottom.

Well that's the theory, I will confirm it works once the onions are ready to be potted on.