Tuesday 31 March 2015

Note to self

Note to self - Cucumber plants grow very quickly, next year don't plant so early
These in the pictures below were sown on the 26th March and are only four days old :ohmy:

The Giant Pascal Celery look very leggy, but I'm assuming I can move them on to vending machine cups, the rate the Marketmore have grown they need to be moved into larger pots soon.

The Poached Egg Plants can be moved into larger pots in the next couple of days.

Potatoes in Buckets

A little chilly and windy but in the morning the sun was out so a visit was in order and I managed to get all the earlies planted into the large potato buckets I purchased last year. I mixed equal amounts Verve compost and Coco compost with a dash of potato fertilise.

I planted two potatoes near the bottom of the bucket in line with the handles and another two about half way up the bucket at 90 degrees to the first two, following what a lot of the growers on YouTube are trying this year.

The buckets have gone into the extension to the shed and a sheet of polycarbonate sheeting has been placed in front as frost protection.

The Comfrey is really moving now it will not be long and they will all be showing

I also managed to get a couple of solar tents and a glass secondary glazing panel installed on bed 14 to warm up the soil.

Saw John on his lunch time visit and some little darlings have been throwing bricks at his greenhouse, he covered it with plastic and the little beggars came back and broke some more. I'm glad I'm as far away from the new construction site as I am, but I wonder how long before they come over the fence? 

A couple of business phone calls on the plot and lunch then I managed to get one weed membrane sheet melted to size with the 18 planting holes formed just before the rain came and stopped play. So two more sheets to make before I can get the rest of the potatoes in.

Busy week this week so I'm unlikely to get anymore free day time to get the other sheets made, But I need to get those potatoes in the ground soon.

Sunday 29 March 2015

OK I took my eyes off the potatoes

OK I took my eyes off the potatoes, and they went barmy - I had them stacked in my office and the ones on top looked great, I think perhaps I should have rotated them more often.

The weather was terrible so no visit to the allotment, instead I did some work hoping to have a little bit of give and take during the week.

I did however manage to hydrate some coco peat, and Emma managed to get me another 10 packets from the £1 shop in Crawley when she was out shopping.   

Saturday 28 March 2015

Space Saver Greenhouse update

I must get the first tray of lettuce in the pots on the paths this weekend and sow another tray load
Cabbages are doing well in their transplanted vending machine cups.

The onions sow Late Jan/ early Feb don't look happy, should I be potting them on into vending machine cups I wonder?
Not all the Beetroot are showing yet but I'm hoping for a few more to germinate. These were sown on the 5th March so 22 days Germination is 14 - 21 days so if nothing pops in the next couple I will re sow in the empty cups. Those that have germinated need to go down to the allotment greenhouse and then I can start another tray off here at home.

No sign of any Parsnips yet at all  :( - perhaps I should try chitting some?

Spring Onions are starting to show  :) they were sown on the 9th and 10th March

Thursday 26 March 2015

Coco Peat and Germination

Hydrated four blocks of Coir or Coco Peat in the square Flower buckets, they are ideal for the job as I can use hot water to hydrate at home then take to the allotment. I'm thinking I may need some more blocks the way I'm using them up, but they are a great addition to the structure of the new raised beds.

I have 2 from 8 Cucumbers - Marketmore seedling showing
          1 from 8 Poached Egg Plants
         13 from 8 Celery Giant Pascal but they are really leggy (or should they be like that ?)
          4 from 5 Cucumber - Burpless just breaking soil (6 Days from sowing)
          1 from 3 Cucumber - Cucina just breaking the soil (6 Days from sowing)
          6 from 8 Brussels Sprouts - Revenge F1 Hybrid (6 Days from Sowing)
          2 from 8 Brussels Sprouts - All Year Round (6 Days from Sowing)

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Two Sacks of Coffee and Comfrey

not one sack of coffee, but two! Both well filled sacks of coffee from the coffee shop, My sister did me proud, turns out she gave the staff in there a box of celebrations to share as a thank you for letting her have the coffee for me, after the last sack.

I think that I’m in for a sack every 2 – 3 weeks, and I can use that amount easily just priming the compost once the season and regular grass cutting in the back garden starts to happen. I will have to reward the staff with the occasional box to share. As they say there is no taste in nothing, and it's nice to say thank you 

I may even suggest that I cut my sisters grass as a thank you to her, and for composting material for me  :ohmy:  Yes there is a method in my madness  :nowink:

Having only one and a half bins empty, I will need to empty Dalek 1 into the Bean trench’s and I’m guessing what remains in Dalek 3 will go into the raised Bed 13 once I get the timbers installed, as I don’t have any more sacks of manure or enough flower buckets of spent compost.

There is frost on the cars and roofs this morning and it was 0.4C in the greenhouse at around 6:3 , so I will hold back on sowing the tomatoes until the 2nd week of April.  Day time temperatures are good especially when it’s sunny and I have to open the space saver door or cook my brassicas and other hardy plants, but those night time temperatures. at 7:23 its already 1.7C - I love having the wireless thermometer up next to my monitor, so I can keep an eye on the temperature and open the greenhouse door as it starts getting too warm for my seedlings. 

So busy day work wise with a schedule of conditions for a Party Wall Award job that’s a repeat job because the guy never built his extension 3 years ago. But somehow I need to get to the allotment at some time during the day as I need to clear the sacks of coffee off the back seat of the car. 

When I dropped off the coffee - I filled trays for drying and two flower buckets and still have quite a lot in the first sack. The other sack is in the greenhouse with the top open and I'm hoping it will dry off at least on the surface when we get some sun.

I noticed that the comfrey is breaking the soil, so now the race is on. Will the bluebells flower before they are overshadowed by the comfrey?

I must weed that bed as there are a few weed and nettles also growing. The other plan is to take comfrey root cuttings and plant them along the entrance against the wall where all the weeds grow, as an additional resource for all the plot holders and a useful alternative to the weeds.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Timber Work & Drowning Weeds

"Are you going to the allotment" says wife, I had been thinking not but as if a sign from the great white spirit, the sun came out... I looked at the garden and though about it and replied "it sounds like and idea" lets face it I was awake between 1:30 - 3:00 this morning and did some work to try and make me sleepy. It worked I laid in past my 6:00 body clock waking up around 7:00 ish.

So wife dropped off at her sisters and on to the allotment with the mission to get the twin timbers apart cut them to 1.2m lengths and paint the ends. Happy to report mission accomplished. In the 45 minutes before I had to come home all the weed have been removed for the strawberry bed. They are in a bucket and I have drowned the little blighters and they are behind glass frames leaning against the wall by the leaf bins, turning into plant food.

Let them cook in the sun (when it comes back) as just before I left the site there was a cloudy black sky and hail stones!

I love being the only person down on the allotment and beautiful the robin keeps me company and keeps an eye on me. 

My sister is around for an evening meal tonight so I'm picking her up from behind the coffee shop and also picking up yet another sack of coffee grounds for the allotment :) Deep Joy!

Sunday 22 March 2015

Turn the Compost & Bed 14 Now Done

On the allotment from 8:00 - 12:45

Topped up dalek 4 with flowers and compost from Dalek 3
Dalek 2 turned and seeded with coffee grounds then contents of Dalek 3 turned and added to Dalek 2 to top it right up, seeded with coffee grounds and watered in layers as filled.

Then the business of the day, timber joist installed around Bed 14, then empty all the sacks of 2 year old manure, coco peat and the contents of the flower buckets in the grow house to try and top up the raised bed

Saturday 21 March 2015

All that packaging for 4 seeds !

Another sowing spree this morning filling the gap behind the patio door

8 x Brussel Sprouts – All year Round
8 x Brussel Sprouts – Revenge F1 Hybrid
5 x Cucumber – Burpless
3 x Cucumber – Cucina F1 Hybrid

Now looking for something else to fill the 8 x 20mm x 20mm x 30mm deep module seed tray

I’m wondering if the name “Revenge” suggests strong taste or do they give you wind?

What I can’t believe is the size of the packet for the Cucino Fi Hybrid Cucumbers. Average of 4 seeds when I opened the pack there were actually 5 Whoopppwdo  so I sowed 3 and have saved 2 for an additional sowing this year if needed.

The wife does not understand why I have so many cucumbers and why have I got miniature white ones and Achocha Fat Baby as all she wants is a long non prickly green cucumber?. I tried to explain, looked at her face and then decided I was flogging a dead horse. If you'’re not into gardening and the allotment I guess you just don’'t get it.

She did save me seeds from a shop bought cucumber last year and I may just give them a go but I’m guessing

A)   They will be an F1 and will not be true
B)   That they will need to be grown in the greenhouse

Anyone out there ever tried growing from seeds from a shop bought cucumber?

A 40 module tray of PeaWee65 Peas sown

8 Greyhound Cabbages extracted from the seedling modules using the extraction too I made a little while ago. It works a treat lifting up the plant plug so that I can transplant them into vending machine plastic cups to get larger before they go out

The temperature has really dropped it's only 11.5 degrees in the greenhouse, good job the cabbages don't mind low temperatures. Off with the girls for a meal before they take Jen to see Calamity Jane at Wimbledon, as a belated Mothers day present and I get to play Bowie at home without any moaning  ::) 

I feel like I should be sowing much more and that I'm going to forget something  :wacko:

Pictures below

The Jig at Work zoom in and see the nice root system

Transplanting into Vending Machine Cups

First 3 transplants 2 watered one about to be 

Friday 20 March 2015

And The Next Batch Please

Moved out all the plants that had germinated

13 x Italian Cos Lettuce
15 x Tom Thumb Lettuce
 5  x Eversham Brussels Sprouts
 8  x All Year Round Cauliflowers   

Into the spacesaver greenhouse making room for more behind the kitchen patio door 

Sowed 8 x Cucumbers Marketmore
Sowed 8 x Poached Egg Plant

The batch on the left were sown on the 5th March and those on the Right on the 15th February they will be going outside next week and get planted in tubs and I will sow another batch in the last couple of days in March.

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Whilst the wifes away the husband will play

The weather was supposed to be overcast, well it was up until about half an hour before I came home from the allotment. Yep, whilst the wife's away the husband will go down the allotment for about 3 hours and play.. normally with the mud but this time it was more DIY ish.

Drill new holes and place new brackets on the runner bean wall, replace bamboo and strengthen the minty frame, making adjustments.

I cleaned up the shed so that all seeds and drinks etc. are now in the nice mini tin shed and are mouse proof. I also sorted and filled the metal gardening tool box I got for my birthday. I found the brassica collars I bought last year and I've put them with Umm the ones I bought this year.   

Cut more timber for the beds thus reducing the pile on the path and painted the cut ends with preservative, so all the timber for beds 13 & 14 and the long ones for bed 12 are now good to go in. A future visit I will work on the twin timbers, hopefully getting them apart and cut them down to 1.2m. Then I have the timber ready for bed 12.

That only leaves cutting the last two long timbers down, paint the cut ends and I will have timbers for bed 1.

Being self employed and having the flexibility to do this kind of thing is great, I don't want to be mega rich so someone else can spend my money after I have gone, as long as I make enough to pay the bills, I'm happy. At 57 its now about quality of life and happiness and playing at the allotment make me happy.

Sunday 15 March 2015

Frozen on Mothers Day

It looked like no visit this morning and the girls did a full English brunch for my wife as it's Mothers day and it would be impolite not to stay. Then some time after brunch about 10 ish, it stopped raining so I went down to drop off all the stuff from yesterday. Most of the composting browns have gone into the dustbin I'm using for brown storage until I need them.

I put another layer of flowers that have made room for the mothers days flowers in dalek 4 and a layer of leafs and coffee ground and watered each stage. The drying coffee in the metal tray isn't quite cooked yet, and the greenhouse smells wonderful. So I emptied the sack into two flower buckets and put in the grow house in the greenhouse.

Delivered bags of slug traps to John who was down painting the fence in front of his greenhouse. and placed a small pallet in between the tomato blow away and the recycle bin and stacked all the bamboo that was in the grow house in there otherwise they will dry out and get brittle and I shall need the space soon.

More tidying and sorting out and then it started to spit with rain about 12:30 so I made my way home via the Co Op and managed to acquire another 15 flower buckets as it's Mothers day they had shed loads

The girls were watching Frozen again  :nowink: and yes we did the singalong after sound like four cats in pain.

Much colder than it has been all week it's only 7.2 degrees C in the greenhouse @2:00pm with the door shut all morning and I have been having to open the door all week to keep it around 20- 25 degrees C

Saturday 14 March 2015

Didn't I do well !

Back garden clearing and a sack full of leafs for the allotment. I sieved a sack of Verve and I have to say its at least a 1/3 full of rubbish, dross and lumps of nearly composted material this year. That 1/3 is going to the allotment to be added to my own compost daleks to be broken down even more. I really want to get to the point where I make my own and only buy for seedlings.

I did really well for birthday gifts and they have done their couple of days display in front of the fire, as is tradition, (my wife's family and now ours) and there was still a lot of gardening related stuff, including an indoor greenhouse from Ikea. Good idea from the daughters but they forgot to negotiate its occupation of space in the house, with my little triffid. I have explained to Mrs C that it will not keep out rain and will turn into a fish tank if I use it outside and a build it and we will see if we can find space for it has been negotiated  :nowink: I'm not hopeful!

They also got me a spray bottle which was given to me before the greenhouse and was a clue, which I didn't get. other items for the Allotment was a Frozen water bottle (a pee take as I sing the frozen let it snow as a pee take changing the words far too often and I am threatened with having to sit and watch the film if I'm norty) A hose end for the expanding hose they bought me for Christmas

Other items include Gloves, Water Retaining crystals a Packet of 8 Seeds, a Dragon to guard the allotment from the Travellers that invaded the site next door. Two seed boxes that happen to fit in the metal tool box that my Brother in Law bought me, complete with a paper pot making kit, you can't see it because it's in the metal box.

Emma's boyfriend bought me a gardening book to add to my collection and my Niece the Mini tin Garden Shed which with having the odd mouse getting in and eating soap and anything else they can was greatly appreciated.

You may spot a small bottle of whisky for the adding to coffee from the flask again for the allotment and cold days

Friday 13 March 2015

Friday 13th Lucky For Some ;0)

A visit to take a half sack of grass cuttings and some shredded paper and a large sack of coffee grounds thanks to the local coffee shop to the allotment. The coffee ground that were in the greenhouse in metal trays had dried out nicely and were decanted into my plastic storage bin. I layered green and brown including some of last years compost into Dalek 4 and watered each layer I'm now up to the vertical slots on the bin.

Suddenly I could hear someone calling, it was from the skip company that have hired the yard behind the allotment. I walked over and the guy asked me if I wanted the claw he had just extracted from the skip and thought it was too good to put on the scrap metal pile. Just like Churchill I said "Oh Yesss" and after chatting with him it turned out he lives in a flat and has just got an allotment himself but so far has no seeds, so I popped to the shed and got him some Scarlet Emperor runners beans from last year. I like a little bit of fair exchange and no robbery.     

Back to the coffee grounds and the trays were loaded with fresh damp grounds and placed on the staging in the greenhouse to dry out. It's only to stop it going green and developing a layer of mould. I still have half a sack to dry, and I'm hoping with the sun we have been having that I can dry the next batch Sunday.
I got some very smelly soap to grate and put on the paths to try and discourage the foxes, but it appears mouse has been in the shed again and thinks it Cheese! you can see the claw and bite marks, I recall my mouth being washed out when swearing as a kid, I don't envy that mouse.

The daffs and blue bells are coming up in the comfrey bed and hopefully I will get some spring colour before the Jurassic comfrey takes the bed over.  

Cloche Frame and Spring Flowers

Above is a photo of the frame work to the large cloche in place and before gaffer tape is applied to the joints.

The path to the pot shed is looking more colourful now that the daffs are flowering and my daughters have picked up 3 more stepping stones that I will need to sink into the lawn, ok more mud at the moment until I can put down some more grass seed.

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Coffee Grounds & Wireless Temperature Gauge

The sun is shining and the wife needed to be dropped off to her sister and I have so many coffee grounds in the back of the car I'm very alert and awake thus I decided to goof off for just over 2 hours to the allotment.

Coffee Grounds have replaced the sand in the metal/ tin trays in the greenhouse and the aroma of the grounds drying in the sunshine is great. Dalek Bins 2,3 & 4 all had holes bored in the compost and were filled with coffee grounds and watered to once again start the internal heat up. The red wrigglers love it and as for the slugs they really can not handle coffee grounds, they are either dead or stunned.

To empty the shed a little I put together to framework for a large cloche I bought from Argos in the sale last year not realising its actually bed size 2.4m x 1.2m and managed to knock my little finger which is now black and blue and twice the size of the one on the other hand. The frame is really badly made but nothing some gaffer tape will not solve.

A tray of Ishikura Spring Onions have been sown. The wireless temperature gauge in the greenhouse is amazing, well worth £9.99. I can keep an eye on the temperature by monitoring the readout on the display above my computer, as I type the temperature has dropped from 20 degrees to 16.3C so I'm off for a walk up the garden to close the door.

Monday 9 March 2015

Time flys when your having fun!

Up really early, so celebrated by sowing a tray of spring Onions half a tray of `Furio' The Red Salad Onion and the other half Long Red Florence, in vending machine cups in a full tray 15 module.  I have now sorted all the packs of Spring Onions by type and used by year.

Dropped off Jen to her sister then on to the allotment and laid greens and browns in Dalek 4. Mixed up daleks 2 & 3 and transplanted some red wigglers into dalek 4. made 3 more soft bricks, burnt the contents of the incinerator and filled again with tree cuttings. Humped the 65L sack of compost to the allotment from the car park in the wheel barrow, those sacks are difficult to lift. Before I knew it 2 and a half hours of fun were over and I had to go home and get on with some work. 

A tray of Ishikura Spring Onions to be sown tomorrow. My sister rang and she has acquired another sack of coffee grounds so I went to pick her and them up from the coffee shop. Umm that means I need to visit the allotment again tomorrow to drop them off if it isn't raining.

Sunday 8 March 2015

Didn't get to the allotment ... back garden duties

Jen had a really bad night and with the girls going out for the day I decided to drop off the bits and bobs to the allotment and then work in the garden. More tidying of the bottom of the greenhouse, clearing out the cold frame as I'm going to need it soon. Plus I will need to get behind it for fix the fence post and panel shortly. Washed a load of flower pots. Went to B&Q a bought a 56L sack and a 20L sack of Verve compost. Sieved a flower bucket of verve for seedlings.

I also cut the grass and ended up with two sacks of grass clippings. I also ended up sowing a tray of parsnips.

Saturday 7 March 2015

Apple Tree Thinning

Thinning out the apple tree in the back garden today and I have filled a 56 Litre sack with all the branches cut to 100 - 150mm sections and have them in the car to take to the allotment to burn in the incinerator tomorrow. Hydrated two 10 litre blocks of coir coco Peat and made another batch of slug traps all loaded in the car ready for the morning.

Friday 6 March 2015

Plastic Pop Bottle Mini Cloche

In my attempt to do at least one gardening related thing a day, I made another 4 slug traps and 4 mini cloche's out of two Pop bottles  2 x small and 2 x larger. You really need to melt the base and around the neck with a soldering iron as they are too tough for scissors.

I cut between the melted top and bottom with scissors then melted two holes in the top for some metal tent pegs to hold them in place. they are going to be covering some radishes in long rectangular pots up the path. 

The picture on the left is the path to my gardening shed that is suddenly full of daffodils', snowdrops, crocus and bluebells. I love it, makes me feel good to see spring flowers in the back garden from my broom cupboard office. 

Thursday 5 March 2015

Sowing Seeds 5th March 2015

It's March it's Sunny and it's Dry and I can't resist anymore, so I sowed

  8 x Giant Pascal Celery,
16 x Italian Cos Lettuce,
24 x Tom Thumb Lettuce
  8 x Brussels Sprouts Eversham Special
16 x Cauliflower All year Round
15 x Beetroots (15 vending machine cups in a full tray module)

The Sprouts and Cauliflower were sown to replace those that had withered and died in the greenhouse due to too much heat and not enough watering. I have also sowed the Tom Thumb in the seed tray of Winter Gem Lettuce that just don't germinate were in.

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Clearing the Greenhouse

Monday 2nd March 2015 - 3 Hours on the allotment prizing apart twin timber joist nailed together and de-nailing battens with new wrecking bars from Wicks as they were all sold out in Screwfix.

Tidy the storage area and trim the Ivy from behind the shed, fill the incinerator ready for the next burn up.

Tuesday 3rd March 2015 - 3 Hours clearing the greenhouse so that I can actually get in the darn thing, covered one of the grow house frames with its cover so I have the grow house in the greenhouse for additional heat. Also should it rain I actually have somewhere to shelter.

It's great that I can take time to visit the allotment when the weather is fine, it does mean catching up with work early morning and in the evening, but when the sun is shining it's a real blessing.

Loo rolls primed with compost ready for sowing parsnips on next visit. 

Sunday 1 March 2015

Bed 15A & 15B Completed

Thursday 26th February 2015 - I cut the timber roofing battens to the correct length for the vertical members to the pea frames, as I was unable to drop them off to the allotment and needed the front seat of the car back.

Sunday 1st March 2015 After all the predictions of rain sweeping over the South, it's actually a nice sunny bright and warm day when the wind is not blowing. I managed to get the grape vine trimmed up and have loaded the incinerator with the Brussels Sprouts stalks I could not hit into submission with the hammer. Those I could are in Dalek 4 along with two dead flower arrangement from Valentines day donated by my wife and daughter.

I managed to install the weed membrane under the kerb edgings and build up the levels around the bottom of Bed 15A and I have now used all the saved woodchips to complete the paths around beds 15A & 15B. Bed 15B has had a topping of composted stable manure and I have fixed two solar tents on the bed to start warming it up ready for sowing.

I was just walking to the car to get the paint for the timber for the pea frames and my drill to work on the hoop frames sitting on bed 8 in the back of the picture below, when I spied two daughters and a wife trying to get as near as they could without me seeing them coming! They had decided to come and see just exactly what I have been getting up too down the allotment. Good job I have been working and not going to the pub

So a change of plan and I tried to get some of the timber apart and de nailed to make more bed frames when my Sister arrives to see me. So now me and the four ladies in my life are all on my allotment!. The winds picked up and they decided that they had seen and stayed long enough, so they went home for tea, coffee and to get Sunday Lunch ready, and I continued with the timber and tidying up the allotment for another hour.

On the home front the Red Baron Onions sown on Saturday 21st February 2015 are germinating well and growing a little larger each night.

As JRKO has done on his diary if you Copy and paste these numbers 51.385926, -0.160837 into Google and then select maps, then Satellite view and Zoom in as far as you can go.  The red pin is where Beds 15a & 15B are. The Picture is early last year as only nine beds and paths are in and it's before the greenhouse was erected on bed 6.

Bing Maps have it as it was a year or so before I took it over, the sheds were acquired by other plot holders and the plot left to grow more vegetation before I took it over in October 2012

Once the better weather comes I will get some of my own aerial views with my Quadcopters, Yep there is another drone coming for my Birthday