Monday 27 April 2015

Weed Membrane for French Beans

Monday 27th April 2015

During breakfast and as up early sorted out the weed membrane hole patten for Bed 15 and the planting arrangement of the French Beans. The top of the page is the path and the sun comes up on the left and goes down on the right of the Bed. 
Diagram on the above shows crosses cut for a pop bottle with the bottom cut off to be installed so that when watering the water goes at depth and not on the surface to encourage deeper roots to form

Sunday 26 April 2015

Kelly gets a full time job

I took the family to a Toby for Sunday dinner as Kelly got a full time job yesterday

Afternoon potting on the leggy Tomatoes, and sorting out the new seed trays and gravel trays in the space saver

Beautiful the Robin is back again

Sunday 26th April 2015

Rain forecast for most of the day, but it stopped for a little while so a dash to the allotment and I filled up Dalek 4 to the top using the grass from yesterday, some leaves, shredded paper and coffee grounds. I also swept up the grass off the carpet path from my neighbour cutting the common grass path and put that in the compost bin as well.

The remaining bags of coffee grounds were put into the rest of the plastic containers thus clearing out the bottom of the greenhouse again. Rain stopped play so home again. 

Potatoes now showing on beds 11.12 and 13

Looks like a couple of the over wintered spring onions are going to seed.

Beautiful my Robin kept me company this morning and was very vocal 

Saturday 25 April 2015

Coffee Grounds and Confrontation

Saturday 25th April 2015
A flying visit to the allotment to drop off the coffee which was making my car smell wonderful to me, and the 3 food buckets. Jen hates the smell of coffee  :nowink: - .

Decanted the coffee in trays in the greenhouse that was nice and dry and nearly filled the first bucket. Re charged all the drying trays as it was a really nice sunny day so that the next batch can be drying. I don't think any real allotment action is likely tomorrow as its forecast to be raining all day. Decanted another lot of wet coffee into another bucket and put the lid on hopefully this may prevent the coffee going green.

I've asked my friend who is in catering to save me more of the buckets, as I have 3 more very full sacks of coffee in the greenhouse to deal with. I may use Dalek One just to hold my supply of coffee grounds, I have numerous cat food zippy bags which will also be used to store dried coffee grounds.

I'm not going to say no to a constant supply of coffee grounds, and if I do get too much I can pass on the excess to my brother-in-law who is on plot 6. or the Bee lady from plot 5 that has already said she would take any excess I happen to acquire.

Unfortunately I said hello the gentleman (and I use the term loosely) who I had the confutation with a little while ago, who for some reason appears to believe I'm the devil because I'm the allotment rep and is telling people, like the bee lady that the removal of the vegetation was because I'm working with the council to get her thrown off the allotment all other manor of fiction about me. Following my "Hello Name" he started to rant and rave then offered to "take me outside the allotment" to fight him if I talked to him anymore!.

He obviously thinks allotments are a little like pubs  :nowink:

I tried to defuse the situation, bottom line no fisticuffs but he does not want me to talk to him any more, and I assume he will not be talking to me  :nowink:- So I just said "I'm Happy not to talk to you if that's what you want", which actually a really good result for me  :D as before this he used to make my ears bleed and would then move on to the next unfortunate person he saw on his way to his plot.

I'm sure this will not be the last of it, and he was much more angry than when we originally had words!, and has obviously been stewing on the matter, obviously no one has ever told him to shut up and let them get a word in edgewises. 

Home and working in the garden, mowed the grass / harvested more compost material a nice sack and a half and weeded plus I have sown new grass seed in the bald areas on the lawn which really never recovered from having the fence panels laid on the grass when they all fell over last year In the high winds.

Monday 20 April 2015

Video Update 20th April 2015

Well here it is my second video and this time in landscape not portrait

Crazy busy with work this week, and I've had a few very late nights 12:00 and 10pn catching up and early Mornings 5am to get over for a full day of Schedules of Condition at Crouch End. I did manage a mid week watering visit on Wednesday

Why am I so busy with work when the weather is so good? the next bank holiday is on it's way and as usual the weather is on the turn to nasty and wet  >:(

Thursday 23rd April St Georges Day - I managed to acquire a roll of 15-20m by 900mm high chicken wire off freecycle which I will make a couple of anti fox hoop frames with

Friday 24th April 2015 - Telephone call from my sister, the guy from the coffee shop has another sack of coffee grounds for me, and a friend gave me some large food buckets with lids so I have something to put them in. Looks like I have a great deal of coffee to dry out.

Sunday 19 April 2015

Bed15B becomes Bed 16

Friday and Saturday - Repairing and installing new computer hardware and then an office clean out - 3 black sacks of things that may be useful one day removed.

Sunday 19th April 2015-

Derek the rep from Spencer Road Allotment paid a visit to have a look at our allotment, Bob arrived and informed me the woodchip is on order and as soon as the tree surgeon has some good stuff he will drop it off. Andy was on site today as well.

First point of business - Bed 16 (formally planned Bed 15B) it just easier to call them round numbers even is they are half the size of the other beds. Was worked with the Claw (The Ultimate Garden Claw Cultivator Tool ) according to the marketing hype and I have to say, it is really useful and provided that fine tilth that all the books tell you to get. I did however when working this bed and Bed 15 remove nearly 3/4 of a flower bucket of stones, bolts and nails.

So on completion the planting of two rows of carrots and covering with a solar tent. Next the frame to the hoop cage was moved over the bed, then on to Bed 15.

On clearing the stones and dross the pea frames using steel angles and mesh from the deconstructed dog cage, then the planting of a tray of PeaWee 65 peas that were beginning to hold hands. A barrier of dried coffee grounds was placed around the  peas and two primed slug traps were added for good measure.

It was amazing how long prepping 15 & 16 and sowing carrots and plating peas took me.

So a mad rush to get the ever expanding weeds out of the over Wintered Onion Bed 9 - The weed were added to those removed from beds 15 & 16 which mainly came to the surface when using the claw, and were drowned in a flower bucket destined to become useful plant food.

There were and are however a number of Volunteer Potatoes coming up, as you can see below a couple of the smaller ones on the table. On seeing these I have decided to leave the others in the ground until I have enough time to extract and plant in flower buckets. The obviously want to live, and I want to see how many I get and the quality of Volunteers. This does however make me even more determined to use buckets in the future for my potatoes. 

The Onions on the left are Spring Onions and those on the Right are Senshyu Japanese Onions

Looking at Bed 8 that had .... you guessed it Potatoes in last year there are many Volunteers that have made their way to the holes in the weed membrane  ::) - so I have removed the membrane and the timber hoop frame and they are my first port of call on my next visit.

Some flowers from home became a layer of green compost, a layer of shredded paper and coffee grounds were added and watered in. I watered everything that need it, and made a decision to buy 4 mutli jet hose ends from ASDA for the four hoses I have on the watering system as the old fashioned ends are just too awkward to play with. I just need to remember to take them off and put them away for the Winter, so they last longer.

The trees are in bloom and look great but I need to get the training wires or bamboo up and prune off the redundant branches.

Thursday 16 April 2015

Thursday 16th April 2015

Busy with works and doing the admin, invoicing, scanning all receipts etc. so my accountant can do my quarterly update, and perhaps I may just be able to pay myself  :nowink:. In addition to having a lot on at the moment, has not left an awful lot of time for growing, planting etc. since Monday.

I have however managed to pick up a six sided blow-a-way frame with shelves off freecycle locally, which I can use to stack some of the tomatoes and carrots in flower buckets up above the carrot root fly max height. I have also over the last few days hydrated more co-co peat and made more pop bottle slug traps so all that lot has been dropped off to the Allotment this morning.

The office to residential conversion has finally horded off the parking bays so only parking is now in the access road to the skip yard and the new development site. Who ever the last plonker was on the allotment last night didn't lock the internal gate  >:( :, and I can guess who it was  :nowink:

I watered the strawberries, potatoes in the ground and the buckets and the two brassica beds that have been limed. The top layer of potatoes in the extension to the shed will need to be moved out when the ones below reach the shelf above.

Sunday 12 April 2015

Mr Broccoli

Sunday 12th April 2015

Too knackered to do the allotment today, plus it would be pushing my luck with Mrs C after being free as a bird all yesterday, so a lazy day today. Kelly rang to say my adopted/surrogate daughter Sara wanted to start clearing her garden to her new home. So I had a sort out of bits and bobs and she ended up with a spade a fork some hand tools and kneeling mat, seed trays, tray modules of various shapes and sizes, a couple of propagator covers, pots and a load of French marigold seed to get her going, which I dropped off when I picked Kelly up. 

Took Jen & Kelly out for Sunday Dinner, some relaxing time after and then before I fell to sleep on the sofa I went out into the wind and cleaned up the strawberries and added another layer as I had strawberries left over from the allotment.

A thin layer of coco peat will keep the moisture in and show me when the strawbs need watering.

That's Kelly on the left and Sara on the right and Mr Broccoli in the middle 

My First Video

First time I have tried using the mobile phone to take video to upload to YouTube inspired by what JRKO is doing on his diary. Next time I will use the phone in landscape not portrait  :nowink: 

Well the heavens opened in the morning and I went to Spencer Road to meet up with Derek the site rep that I met at yesterdays Reps meeting. Until that meeting I didn't know that their allotment was basically behind ours. See satellite picture below.

He met me at the gate and we both got drenched as the heavens opened as we were heading for his shed and plot which was right at the back of the allotment. Luckily he had a small camping stove and a kettle and we huddled in his shed until the rain stopped and then he gave me the two and six tour of his allotment.

I said goodbye to Derek about 11:30. Derek is going to visit Mill Green on a Sunday morning and I'm going to return the favour. Must get the camping stove sorted and buy a little kettle. I made my way to Georges café to have a comfort break and lunch which was a nice Bacon sandwich and coffee...

The sky's cleared and the sun came out and I went down to the allotment to let the battle commence

The parks department had cleared more debris from the entrance and more from the plot with the Japanese Knot weed. I appeared to be on my own and it looked like they had left the door open, unbeknown to me John was working in his greenhouse and I would not discover he was on site for another 3 hours

The excess potatoes were planted in flower buckets.

The strawberry bed had a good weeding and the strawberries in pots have finally made it into the ground. I used the weed membrane as a template for spacing and then dressed all around them with composed stable manure and watered it down and in then covered once again with weed membrane. Fake strawberries (red pop bottle caps) added to deter any small birds that can get past the chicken wire from thinking there is anything edible there for them  :nowink:.   

The watering system was reconnected and I found to my dismay that the guns at the ends had cracked or not weathered very well. I have some traditional ends to use at the moment, but I see a visit to ASDA and picking up 4 guns on the cards.

Beds 1 & 2 were uncovered and limed and watered in

Storage boxed with lids replaced those without in the shed, just encase more micky activity occurs.

I taped the joints to the cheap cold frame I got in the sales last year for a £5 and put the cover on it and timber around it to stop it blowing away. Time fly's when your on the allotment and having fun and Jens baby sitting didn't end until about 7:30 by which time the sun was going down and my plot was in the shade of the trees and I had quite frankly had enough for the day.

Tomatoe Germination Update

Tomato update, I cant believe how fast they are growing :nowink:

11 from16 x Red Robin Tomato’s ( my contribution to the seed circle this year)
  7 from 8 x 100’s & !000’s Tomato’s
  0 from 4 x Beefsteak Tomato’s
  3 from 4 x Cherry Cascade Tomato’s
  4 from 4 x Gardeners Delight Tomato’s
  1 from 4 x Gartenperle Tomato’s
  3 from 4 x Harbinger Tomato’s
  4 from 4 x Heartbreaker Tomato’s
  1 from 4 x Lizano Tomato’s
  1 from 4 x Money Maker Tomato’s
  4 from 4 x Plum Roma Tomato’s
  3 from 4 x Rainbow Blend Tomato’s
  2 from 4 x Sweet Mullion Tomato’s
  1 from 4 x Sweet’n’Neat Tomato’s
  2 from 4 x Terenzo F1 Hybrid Tomato’s
  4 from 4 x Tomatoberry Garden F1 Hybrid Tomato’s

Germination Rate Day 7 from sowing 51 from 80 so 63.75%  - Average germination period of 8 - 12 days so the prospects for at least two of each type apart from the Red Robin and the 100's & 1000's is looking really good.

I'm hoping for full germination of the Red Robin as they will be living in the Space Saver in isolation so I can harvest seeds for the seed circle. 

The weather forecast is rain for a couple of hours today, but I'm hoping to spend most of the day on the allotment as Jen is baby sitting a teenager and 3 dogs for her sister today.

Saturday 11 April 2015

Tomatoes and Sutton Allotment Group Meeting

Allotment meeting this afternoon at 2pm - I'm allowed to take a guest so I have asked the bee lady if she would like to attend in light of no reply for the parks man or the allotment team regarding the removal of the shrubbery around her bee hives. It's hard to duck the issue if people are stood in front of you ;)

Yesterdays Cherry Cascade tomato seedling is now about 4mm high and has been joined by another Cherry Cascade plus

5 x 100’s & 1000’s Tomato’s
1 x Rainbow Blend Tomato’s
1 x Terenzo F1 Hybrid Tomato’s
2 x Tomatoberry Garden F1 Hybrid Tomato’s

Germination Rate Day 6 from sowing 11 from 80 so 13.75%  - Average germination period of 8 - 12 days

Sutton Allotment Group Meeting

Looks like if we want anything done in the future we will need to apply for Community / Neighbourhood grants, a nice lady took us through the process when mean we need to form an association and have elected members AGM's minutes a bank account and a constitution etc.

Looks like the council have to save more over the next 3 years than they have managed over the last 6 and parks and allotments are first to be hit. Thus we are expecting rises and a reduction in service. We  brought to their attention in a nice way that apart from cutting the main grass path 3 times a year they do naff all anyway.

I requested that we get some open book accounting so that we can see how much dead wood we are paying for and that we are not used to subsidise other areas of the council service, as parks have a reduction of £450,000 to save in the first year of the review and another £450,000 in the second.

Waste management are looking at consolidating services in 4 boroughs to save money.

The heads of Sutton and Merton are meeting with contractors over a 6 week period to negotiate these reductions. 

It appears there is no statutory obligation to fence and gate an allotment only provide it!

I see little chance of the council rectifying the situation they have created for our bee keeper. I pleaded  her case and reminded them of action they had taken when Mencap accidently removed the protective foliage on the other side a few years ago. One of the council officers is going to see if they can help in some way but she need clearance from someone higher up the food chain.

There are to be legionnaires testing and risk assessments of water on allotments and dip tanks and any hoses connected to the tap will be cut off! They are not sure if dip tanks will remain or not?     

The National Allotment Society - Britain's Best Allotments was brought to our attention

And then there was a round robin of site successes and achievements which also gave a chance to bring their attention to problems that need to be resolved on each site even though the council have no money. What it actually did was allow us to share ideas and telephone numbers and get links to resources that other reps have found.

Friday 10 April 2015

UB40 There's A Rat In Ma Kitchen

Sieved some more verve compost for sowing and moving on plants.
Moved some Red baron Onions up to a tray of vending machine cups

1 Cherry Cascade tomato seedling just breaking the surface not bad at just 5 days after sowing 

Neighbour found a rat on the kitchen door step and I saw another in his back garden. It appears that the local Authority Rat Man is no longer a free service as of April this year!. For what they do I will buy some poison myself off ebay me thinks.  The neighbour has already primed some old traditional snap traps with chocolate.

So spring has come but no leaving the back door open me thinks for a while.

Thursday 9 April 2015

Last of the Potatoes into Bed 12

Lovely sunny morning, no need for a coat and a visit to the allotment to take the grass, paper shredding's, coco peat and auger to get the last of the potatoes into bed 13. Again a mixture of coco peat, coffee, potato fertiliser and verve compost to prime the holes and to cover the seed potatoes.

Dalek 4 is getting topped up nicely in layers and then a coffee core was primed and watered, again using a watering can and the water from the greenhouse water butts.

the mains water has been turned on but I have not reconnected all the hoses yet so watering cans and comfrey drink for the potatoes. 

filled 6 x 10 Litre Flower buckets with one potato in each, and placed under the netting as protection against any possible frost. There are a few more potatoes that need planting in buckets, but I ran out of time as I needed to leave to pick up the wife from her sisters.

Next visit has to be the last of the potatoes into more flower buckets, strawberries to get a dressing of composted farmyard manure.  Weeding the onion bed as a few weeds have started growing, taking over.

I'm guessing the onions could do with a bit of a feed as well.

In the evening as the sun was setting I was out sieving verve compost and filling vending machine cups ready to sow a tray of Pompeii Spring Onions. I also hydrated another two blocks or coco compost.

I heard back from the Council regarding the cleared area and the removal of protection to the Bees and Allotment growers. 

"As the grounds team were going to be on site clearing plot 9 in preparation for ongoing treatment of the Japanese Knotweed, I asked them to  carry out a litter pick of the worst of the items in the area by the gate. They appear to have cleared much more that I thought they would, which is a bonus as there was a large amount of rubbish in there, but I have no plans to carry out any fencing works to the area."

I have spoken to the Bee keeper as I knew she would be upset and told her and have suggested that she lodge a complaint in writing, She received a similar letter apologising for any inconvenience caused, but no offer to address the problem so after chatting she has sent an email asked him directly how they intend to fix the problem they have created.

I have replied as if we have not yet spoken about it and reminding them that it was the council that demanded that the protection be in place to make the bees fly up and not straight out at waist level from the hives. And that when the new plot holders on the side of Bee enclosure did a similar clearing a couple of years ago a herris fence with debris netting was installed by the council to replace the high brambles.

It also transpired that a certain someone had been informing her that it was all of my planning to get her removed from the allotment!. She said initially he sounded credible until a couple of other things he said about others involvement made her question what he was saying. She now knows that I had no idea what they were doing and had thought they had just gone to the wrong end of the allotment where the Japanese Knott weed is. 

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Compost Coco Peat and Flower Buckets

Diabetic Eye screening first thing. Cut the grass in the back garden and hydrate two blocks of coco peat. Melted slots in the bottom of the 10 litre flower buckets from the supermarket to be used for the excess potatoes. 

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Mini Indoor Greenhouse full of Tomatoes

Easter Monday 6th April 2015
During breakfast sorting out seeds and just after making two podiums for the indoor greenhouse as the propagators are nearly an exact fit. The indoor greenhouse is full of tomatoes

Monday 6 April 2015

Sowing Frenzy Sunday


16 x Red Robin Tomato’s ( my contribution to the seed circle this year)
  8 x 100’s & !000’s Tomato’s
  4 x Beefsteak Tomato’s
  4 x Cherry Cascade Tomato’s
  4 x Gardeners Delight Tomato’s
  4 x Gartenperle Tomato’s
  4 x Harbinger Tomato’s
  4 x Heartbreaker Tomato’s
  4 x Lizano Tomato’s
  4 x Money Maker Tomato’s
  4 x Plum Roma Tomato’s
  4 x Rainbow Blend Tomato’s
  4 x Sweet Mullion Tomato’s
  4 x Sweet’n’Neat Tomato’s
  4 x Terenzo F1 Hybrid Tomato’s
  4 x Tomatoberry Garden F1 Hybrid Tomato’s

24 x Little Gem Lettuces
100 ish of Marigolds 

Planted out the first tray of Tom Thumb Lettuce

Planted up
6 x Brussels Sprouts - Revenge F1 Hybrid from Module to Vending machine cups
2 x Brussels Sprouts - All Year Round from Module to Vending machine cups
      Alisa Craig Onions from module to Vending machine cups
      Cucumbers - Marketmore from module to Vending machine cups
      Cucumber - Cucina from pot to Vending machine cups
      Poached Egg Plants from module to Vending machine cups

Celery Giant Pascal way too leggy so will try again

Cleaned up the cold frames and brassicas and other potted up plants into blow a way cold frame at the end of the path. The slug traps are working around where the lettuce has been planted and more slug traps placed around the timber and upvc window cold frame.

Sunday 5 April 2015

Planting Potatoes

Jen suggested that I go and play over the allotment as she would like to have me around on Easter Sunday so I went from 10:30 until 4:00 with only a bag of chocolate for a sugar rush to keep me going.

I managed to get the Beds 11 & 12 cleared and planted, I augured the 18 holes per bed. I then mixed 6 scoops of coco peat, one of coffee grounds and a touch of potato fertiliser and 6 scoops of verve compost in a trug at time.

A large scoop of the mixture went into the bottom of each hole. Followed by a seed potato and then filled up to the top with the mixture.

Then the timber was installed around bed 13 and the spoil from the augured holes and various plots and flower buckets, plus some year old manure went into the bed 13 to level it up. I'm going to leave it a week to settle and get rained on so I can Auger and get the last of the potatoes in next week. 

As you can see I didn't get around to installing the timber joist around bed 12, another job for another day but hopefully the timber and the hoop netting will hold off any frost a little if we get any this month.

Well the council parks department have been clearing the drop off and pick up area I was trying to get funding for and they have removed the vegetation around the bees. Nobody from the council bothered to inform me that they were going to do it, we just assumed they got the wrong end of the allotment and were supposed to be clearing the Japanese Knott Weed at the other end of the site and had made a mistake.

As they were going and had already cleared the area we want for deliveries of woodchip and manure plus parking we asked them what their remit was and it looks as of they will be back to clear the mound of rubbish inside as well. No money but they are working on clearing the debris on Saturday on overtime?!!!

So Tuesday I will send them an email and see if they are going to do anything about fencing the bees in again. Who knows we may get the area fenced off as well if we are lucky. Yep I've gone from feeling really negative about the rep issue to positive..

Saturday 4 April 2015

Short Fence Posts

Picked up 4 x125L Sacks of compost as B&Q are selling two for £10 and took them to the allotment and shipped them in the wheelbarrow from the entrance to the plot. Things like this are going to be nearly impossible when the development behind has happened. 

later in the evening I melted/ cut two additional sheets membrane and formed 18 holes 2 rows of 9 for the potatoes which hopefully I will be able to get in over the weekend weather permitting, and a s long as I'm not dragged out somewhere for Easter by the wife and kids.

I heard back from the Council yesterday that they think the fencing contractor did the best he could, We complained that the post were not as tall as the original and he was supposed to pull up the trod down and sagging fencing damaged by the fire brigade. He didn't even add a wire in the top holes to fix the top of the fence to enable that to happen. How on earth can you pull something up when there is nothing there to fix it too?. When I questioned their reply and asked them to look at the photo and confirm they really thought he had tried, I haven't had a reply.

The gate he fixed last year "I use the term loosely" is hanging off it's hinges again. he was supposed to see if there was a metal one in his yard that could be recycled, but that never happened. All the council say is they haven't got any money to install a new fence, and now they are saying they are not responsible for fencing only providing the allotment!

I really think I've had enough and I'm seriously thinking of putting a notice asking for a new site rep on the notice board, it's like flogging a dead horse trying to get anything done.