Monday 25 April 2016

You know when you are getting old when.....

You know you are getting old when......

You are out shopping with your daughter and your face lights up when you see Sainsburys have a kneeling stool in their gardening section and are flogging it at £10 as you need one for the 2nd allotment plot.

Sunday 24 April 2016

Cheeky the Robin

A very late start this Sunday due to the rain and shopping, but I went to plot 1A and watered the Japanese Onions inside and outside the greenhouse, found the watering hose reel. I took cuttings from the comfrey plant 5 with leafs and 5 root cuttings.

I dropped off a flower bucket of shredded paper and the hose bought yesterday to plot 23B. I planted the 5 cuttings with leafs into comfrey bed 1 and managed to dig, weed and de stone a small area of bed 3 and was talking to my new BFF Cheeky when my neighbour from 3 plots away arrived. She had been asking for help to re felt her shed roof as the felt blew off in the last storm, and you have to help a damsel in distress, as I finished felting the roof for her it was time to come home.

Saturday 23 April 2016

More Paving Slabs

Two more trips to pick up paving slabs from Francis, and finally I have enough to cover the whole of the greenhouse area, with three over that mean I can now clear and pave the area in front of the shed. All the buckets in the photograph are full of concrete, flints, bricks and stones which will make their way under the slabs to bring the area up.

I cut the grass a couple of days ago and the sack of cuttings have made it to Dalek 1 along with a half sack of paper shredding's. They have been dampened down. I also took the opportunity of spraying the weeds that are coming out from along concrete path with my neighbour. 

Monday 18 April 2016

Call me Weedy Miller

A quick visit to plot 1A for an extended lunchtime visit to restore the water system and water in the potatoes, also watered the overwintering onions in the greenhouse and under cover plus the sprouts donated by Keith (brother-in-law)

Onto Plot 23B to drop off a spirit level, more slug traps, potato weed membrane and a blank sheet for the beds. the tool bag seat that my sister bought me a little while ago, and the super strength weed killer for the bind weed and the couch grass.

Looking at the path along plot 21A I'm going to need it. I didn't apply it today because it looks like rain but hopefully if the weather allows I can next Sunday. 

I took the opportunity to apply the Wolf Miller to bed 1 as lots of little weeds are beginning to grow. I also milled the strip tuned over a week ago Sunday. I do love this tool, I know they are not cheap but they are so effective.   

Sunday 17 April 2016

Potato Planting Sunday

Not the fastest of starts this Sunday, over night the temperature had dropped and there was a frost and I wanted the soil to warm up a little before I started planting potatoes. First job was to find the hand auger which involved sorting out the shed a little until I spied where the three parts were, Note to self put them somewhere you can remember easily for the spuds that are going to make their way to plot 23B.

I loaded the car up with the Windowed Auger, a 1m rod and the handle & five mushroom trays of chitted potatoes on egg boxes and made my way to Plot 1A, and got there just before 9am. My Brother-in-law Keith and his wife Pauline were on their plot and there were a few other plot holders already there. Normally I get the plot to myself until Andy the ex fireman turns up but as the weather is getting better and the time of year, there are more faces on the allotment. 

Bed 3 was first with 25 Estima potatoes sown and two deep watering pop bottles inserted in the third hole in the middle run from both ends. The slug traps put down last week have been doing their job and a number of slugs could be seen in the traps

Then on to bed 4 and I planted 18 Sarpo Mira's and I managed to plant 10 buckets of two Albert Barrlett Vivaldi per bucket, taking me up to 12:45 and time to tidy up and go home for Sunday Dinner.

I returned after Sunday Dinner and managed to plant up bed 2 with 18 King Edwards and finally Bed 1 with 9 Sarpo Axona and 9 Sarpo Blue Danube.

The water is back on now, but I didn't manage to get the watering system re installed, as by the time I was done it was 5pm and quite frankly I had had enough for the day, plus if there is going to be another frost, I didn't see the point in watering that late. The plan is to reconnect it system on an extended lunch break visit tomorrow and water in all the spuds. 

Plot layout is from 2014 in the Watering Diagram above.

Friday 15 April 2016

Sowing Time 04 - More Tomatoes & Replacements

I've been doing the Greenhouse and Kitchen shuffle Unheated Greenhouse during the day and Kitchen at night with the toms and had a mishap and lost a tray or put it another way 8 varieties of Tomatoes that were just coming up as seedling slipped out of my hands and hit the deck going everywhere. I lost:- 

Cherry Cascade F1 
Crimson Crush F1 
Lizzano F1
Nectar Rose
Red Robin
Red Zebra
Sunset Terenzo F1
Terenzo F1 Hybrid 

With no real way of identifying what was what and them being a little to small for transplant, its re sowing time.

Germination of the other seed sown on the 27th March which is 19 days from sowing stands at

 3 of 4 100’s & 1000’s 
 0 of 4 Beefsteak
 0 of 4 Blush
 0 of 4 Harbinger 
 1 of 4 Heartbreaker F1 .
 0 of 4 Kibitz 
 2 of 4 Plum Roma
 3 of 4 Rainbow Blend F1
 0 of 4 Sandpipe
 5 of 4 Sunset Red Horizon
 1 of 4 Sweet Mullion F1
 0 of 4 Sweet’n’Neat F1
 0 of 4 Tumbler

Of course the best tray with the most germinated seeds was the one that hit the deck

Re Sowing and New Varieties sown
  4 x Amish Mayberry
  4 x Cherry Cascade F1
  4 x Crimson Crush F1
  4 x Ferline
  4 x Nectar Rose
  4 x Outdoor Girl
  4 x Red Robin 
  4 x Red Zebra 
  4 x Stupike Poini Rane
  4 x Super Roma
  4 x Sunset Terenzo F1
  4 x Sweet Aperitif  
  2 x Terenzo F1 Hybrid - Last of the seeds
  4 x Tomatoberry Garden F1 Hybrid
  4 x Tumbling Tom Red

Wednesday 13 April 2016

9 Heavy 600mm Square Slabs

I received a txt last night from Frances who let me have all those slabs via Freecycle a few weeks back that 6 of the rest of them were ready for collection. I was up at the crack of dawn, reviewing some calculations and drawings for a client who's builder and structural engineer don't see eye to eye. Then once the rush our was over I went to collect them thinking that one trip would do it.

What awaited me was not the textured slabs, but 600 x 600mm x 50mm thick dense concrete smooth slabs that had been under the massive shed which has now been replaced. So not 6 or 8 per trip but 3 because of the thickness. two trips wiped out the rest of the morning and the last an hour and a half in the afternoon.

I was lucky that my brother in law Keith was over the allotment and helped me unload and stack them. They will not be going much further from where they are stacked only in front and the side of the shed as they are too heavy to hump anywhere else.

Once they are in place I can finally fix the location of bed in front of the shed. It looks like I will be catching up with work tonight whilst the wife watches her soaps.

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Plot 1A Extended Lunch Break II

It's nice and sunny and last night I worked out that I'm going to need six beds just for the Second and Main crop potatoes, so I may have over done it on the potato front this year. With 12 full length beds and up to now only using 3 beds a season for spuds,I have a 4 year crop rotation.

From now on it looks like I will be using four beds on plot 1A and having a three year crop rotation. And the pressure is now on to get the third bed on plot 23B in so I can plant the rest of the Main Crop potatoes.

The photograph above shows bed 4 cleared, turned over, and dressed with fertiliser and coffee grounds. Secondary glazing panels now occupy Beds 2 & 4 so as to help the warming up of the soil ready for planting the potatoes next week.

The weed membrane sheets were laid out on the hoop frame and left to dry, then brushed off and folded up ready for reuse this season.

The greenhouse was given half an hour of tidying, OK removing dross so that I can at least get in there now. More attention and clearing required so that the early potatoes in buckets can start off in there

Monday 11 April 2016

Plot 1A Extended Lunch Break

An extended lunch break and I managed to get Beds 1 to 3 cleared of the hoops and in Bed 1 the over wintered cabbages that had gone to seed, and weeded including the bind weed and couch grass that had stated to re invade bed 1
The beds have been dressed with some fertilised and coffee grounds, and the 27 hole weed membrane sheet made Sunday afternoon is now on Bed 3. I need to work out if I can use the usual 18 hole potato sheets of if I need to create another 27 hole version to accommodate all the potatoes this year. 
Two sacks of weeds came away with me and at the moment all the cabbage and sprout membrane is in the greenhouse. The over wintering Japanese Onions are doing really well in their bed and the greenhouse. One tray is now under the extension to the shed to harden off, so I can replace the onions in the bed that have been nobbled by the slug. A load of slugs got dispatched to sluggy heaven today.

The Parsnip left to bolt for seed at the end of bed 9 are doing well, I have moved the cloche off to protect the smaller snips on the right of the photo. 

At least I know the seeds from these parsnips have a history of growth on my allotment as the originals came from Edita on plot 7 

The Overwintered cabbages in Bed 16 are doing well, there are a few weeds to deal with in the bed but I will take care of them next visit.

The Daffodils in the Comfrey bed are gone but there is a small splash of colour provided by the bluebells, at the moment still no sign of comfrey

Sunday 10 April 2016

I had help on the plot this Sunday

Its been a good week, I have managed to pick up a water butt and another composting Dalek but this one also come with an anti rat base, which I have never seen before, apparently they bought it as an extra. It's a little over a year old the owners for whatever reason decided they don't want it anymore and decided to freecycle it.

This Sunday I had help on the allotment in the form of my sister Elaine who committed to a couple of mornings on the plot, after I had helper her out in her words "as a form of payback".

True to her word she was up early and we met down at the allotment just after 8 and she worked solidly for four hours digging an area and assisting me in screwing the bed frames together and allowing me to prep and expose the next area to be worked.

I managed to edge the next 2.4m of dig and between us we filled up another 3 flower buckets of stone and concrete and I took away two sacks of couch grass and weed roots, wood glass and other detritus that came out of the ground.

After she left I trod the path area down with the feet shuffle and then using a couple of short scaffold boards to help consolidate and flatten. I then pegged some weed membrane in place, put a paving slab either end and the boards on top and will continue to load and consolidate the path.

There are those that say its a waste of time weeding paths, but to my mind as there is so much couch grass, If you were not to clear the path areas, it's only going to migrate from under the paths and back into the beds.

In the afternoon I decided to cut out a new 2.4m x 1.2m bed weed membrane with planting holes off the roll for three rows of potatoes as I have so many this year, and decided to try and video the process.

The first year I used weed membrane to plant through, I cut the sheets with scissors and after a year they all went shaggy as the edges frayed and the sheets weathered and started to come apart and unwoven.

The answer is to used a soldering iron to cut and weld the edges, and the sheets that have been made this way are as good 3 years on and I'm hoping for another few seasons out of them.

Below is the two attempts I make of showing how easy it is to use the soldering iron on the weed membrane. Take One what happens when your sister sends you a text message saying "I'm knackered lol x x" whist your daughter (Kelly) is using your phone to make a video.

Sunday 3 April 2016

Quadbikes Vs Allotment

Well  the weather is not looking too bad today, indeed its a perfect day to go to the allotment but not for me.... because my daughters have bought me a two hour Quad Bike Adventure course for those wishing to take their quad biking to the next level for my Birthday last month. 

Hang on I have never driven a Quad bike, OK ex Biker who had a Yamaha YDS 250cc back in the 70's

Groups are no larger than 3 riders per instructor, So that means "the instructor will tailor the session for you specifically so it can be as demanding or leisurely as you wish!"  Hoh yes demanding, and we get to "spend a full 2 hours on the bike where you can build our confidence and work our  way to negotiating the most extreme climbs and drops the site has to offer! Ummm OK how demanding?

You will tackle both safari style routes, as well as tricky obstacles – climbs, descents, ditches, water hazards and side slopes over a mixture of open and woodland terrain.


We had what can only be described as the best birthday experience that Emma and Kelly had ever arranged for me. Put it this way I reminded them that Fathers Day is coming up, as once we had finished our 2 hour stint, It was so enjoyable that I could have done it all over again there and then. We all said that we would love to come back for more and we will. 

Paul our instructor took us over the quads and explained how they worked and how to use them in different situations. He got us to start them and circle then got each of us to perform an emergency stop. Once we were comfortable, and he was satisfied that we had mastered the basics off we went. At each stage we stopped and were briefed about what we were going to do next and how to deal with the increasing difficulty factors and at the end of two hours we had been through tracks in the woods and up and down steep hills, were going down chalk quarries through water and up the steep slopes on the other side, and just having a shed load of fun.  

A big Thank you to Paul our instructor and guide for a smashing afternoon, that's him in the photograph above if you want a really enjoyable couple of hours then contact TRUE GRIP

Telephone 01233 662251
Twitter @truegrip

Saturday 2 April 2016

Daffs in Comfrey Bed 1

The Narcissus Tete-a-Tete that I bought from the Benhill-Crescent Horticultural Society Trading Hut for the house over Easter were looking a little sad.

I had also managed to cut the grass again and had a sack of grass cuttings and some kitchen waste and pop bottle slug traps so decided that a swift morning visit to plot 23B before a work related site inspection in the afternoon was in order.

I fed Dalek 1 which already is about a third full, and planted the Narcissus around the locations where the comfrey is going to be planted, which I marked with timber pegs for the moment. I have enough Narcissus to do the same once Comfrey bed 2 has been created. 

Once the Comfrey on Plot 1A appears I shall take some root cuttings as start them off in loo rolls in the greenhouse then they will be transplanted into the Comfrey Beds 1 & 2 on plot 23B

I had backed the car down the path and parked behind the shed and I was about to leave when the plot holders next door who bring mentally & physically challenged youths to do some gardening arrived in the van with sacks of compost to top up their raised beds so I decided to start laying out the paving slabs down the allotment as I could not leave until they had unloaded. 

Each trip obviously got longer as the path extended and the chap next door had a sack barrow and took pity on me and helped me move the last 6 slabs that are way in the distance in the photograph. 

Friday 1 April 2016

To Do List for April 2016

Each year over winter I create a plan and say I'm going to stick to it, normally I start looking at it then get busy and it's quickly forgotten. This year I returned to found my town on the first selection page, turned on the radio buttons and working back from the last frost date for my area it has produced me a preparation sowing and planting schedule week by week for the whole year. So the plan this year is to stick the schedule on here a month at a time, as I come back to my blog on a regular basis and I don't have to look for a paper copy.