Monday 30 May 2016

Bank Holiday in the Garden

The majority of Monday which was overcast but dry was spent taking the final bits and bobs from the garden like the small bistro table and two chairs down to plot 23B whilst there I managed to put together another raised bed, well it was only 12 screws and they were already in the long sides, I have to feel like I have achieved something if I visit.

Grass cuttings and flower cuttings from Saturday were put in Dalek 1 with a layer of well rotted compost and sawdust then a sprinkle of coffee grounds added and it was dampened down with a couple of watering can's of water. (I will be so happy when the watering system is in place)

On the way back home I popped into plot 1A to add slug traps in the Runner Bean bed, luckily only one leaf had been got at but I added four pop bottle traps one each end of the trench facing in and two in the middle facing out.

I had taken the battery strimmer with me and made short work of the 600mm high grass and weed that were overtaking the path in front of plot 1 and between my plot and plot 2. I must say I'm really happy with how long the battery strimmer lasts, I have knocked it back a fair way but will charge it and have another go next dry visit to keep it under check.

The rest of the day was spend fixing the gravel boards to the fence on the right hand side of the garden and then clearing and cleaning the cold frame that was temporarily located behind the BBQ.

It received a coat of preservative inside and out, and whilst it dried, the contents were de-slugged, cleaned and ultimately it has made it's way back to the left of the space saver greenhouse where it remains cooler due to the shade afforded by the apple trees and the Agapanthus in the left of the photo. 

Sunday 29 May 2016

Runner Beans & Plot 1A update

First thing in the morning a visit to Plot 1A to sort out the support for the runner beans and get them planted.

Plot 23B - Made three more raised bed frames

Made base for portable debris netting hoop cage
Filled Dalek 1 with grass clippings and

Home - Completed all the remedial works to the fencing
Cleared all the large remaining pots of compost to Plot 23B
5 fence posts to Plot 23B for re use
sown 3 trays of Spring Onions - Ramrod, Shimonita & White Lisbon
Potted up the Burpless Cucumbers
Potted up the Butternut Squash

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Weed Membrane & Site Reps Meeting

I was up early at 5am and ordered 50m of 2m wide 100gsm weed membrane working on the basis that cutting a 800mm strip will do the paths and the remaining 1.2m will be cut into 2.4m lengths to make bed sized sheet. 50m / 2.4m = 21 sheets and I will ultimately have 14 no 2.4 x 1.2m beds on plot 23B. I paid less for the 2m wide this year than I did for the 1.5m wide last year! Go figure.

I sowed six square pots of Liminanthes of Poached Egg Plants with 5 seeds each, I really should have sown these a week or two before the runner beans. The idea is to companion plant with the runners so as to attract the ladybirds so they can then seek and destroy the inevitable aphids.
Allotment Reps meeting today at 12:30

Future of the Parks service - to save money a contractor is looking at taking over for four boroughs, Merton, Kingston, Sutton and I have no idea who the forth council is. This will happen in a couple of years and will be for an 8 year contract extended in 8year chunks to a total of 24 years before retendering.

Last years increase was 2%  grass cutting of the 36 sites cost £16,000 per year and the grass is supposed to be cut once a month between April - September (really 3 times a year if you are lucky)
£50,700 Spend and £65,000 income water charges are between £18,000 - 20,000 per year. 
Update on the results of legionella testing and advice re safety
Update on information from Ecolocal - no more laminated flyers for the notice boards due to cost.
Discussion re the use of Pesticides/ weed killer on allotment sites after an incident between plot holders. 
Plot Inspections - Mill Green to be inspected by the Assistant Parks Manager Bill Wyatt this year.

Monday 23 May 2016

Bean Frame Maintenance & Compost

A quick visit to the allotment to drop off some kitchen waste to the Dalek and to fix the runner bean frame hanging basket bracket which pulled out a fitting last year. I also weeded the Japanese onion bed and planted some substitutes from the greenhouse into the locations where the slugs and snails had mullered them.

In the greenhouse I topped up three trays of tomatoes in vending machine cups to the brim or to the underside of the lower branches. I potted up six Burpless Cucumbers from the pop bottle propagator to square pots and planted another six Burpless Cucumbers into the Pop Bottle Propagator.

The Marketmore cucumbers have still not germinated and I prefer the Burpless. I will try the Marketmore again but from a younger seed packet.

I went to B&Q as I saw on the Grow Your Own Grapevine forum that they had two 50 Litre sacks of Verve Multipurpose compost for a £5 and the offer run out tonight. Those size sacks are so much easier to lift than the 125 Litre sacks, which IMHO in the interest of peoples backs, possible hernias’ and the manual handling regulations should be banned as more often than not there aren’t two of you to lift them both ends of the journey.

I bought four sacks for the tomatoes in flower buckets that are going to be grown in the back garden.   

View From The Greenhouse Door

The View from the Greenhouse Door on Monday 23rd May 2016

Plot 23B - Comfrey Bed 2

Left home around 7:30 and worked on the allotment until 1:00. The back area of the plot has just exploded with couch grass and weeds, and it was a toss up between clearing that and getting the forth bed in. I decided to weed the rear right of the plot where Comfrey Bed 2 is going in and to dig out the metal shelf the previous tenant had buried and an angle.

I cut the grass Saturday and had two sacks of grass cuttings that went into Dalek 1, with paper shredding's. My neighbours have comfrey at the rear of their plot but looking at it I don't believe its Brocking 14. So I trimmed off flowers as I really don't want it spreading to my plot. They thought it was just weeds, and didn't know that it had practical uses, I did inform them about the flowers and seeds and explained that why it spreading and even coming up in their greenhouse.

I then weeded my comfrey bed 1 and added mulch in the form of well rotted sawdust and horse manure to the bed. I then proceeded to dig out the metal shelf half buried by the previous tenant, extract dross and couch grass and nettles to the tune of 3 sack loads and install the concrete edgings along the back of the path, disturbing some really annoyed red ants.

Here is the state of play just before I went home for lunch

After lunch after which I did some back garden clearance then returned back to the allotment with useful things taking the strimmer with me and had just enough power in the battery to clear the back path.

Tuesday 17 May 2016

View from the Greenhouse Door

There is a  thread on the Grow you Own forum entitled "View From The Greenhouse Door" well at home I have the Norfolk Space Saver greenhouse that the wife and kids bought me. The space saver is only a tray and breathing space deep so I decided to make a video rather than still photographs. Below is the first of a series of updates I will record

Monday 16 May 2016

Sowing Spring Onions & Greenhouse Update.

We do like and consume an awful lot of spring onions, so as I was up early is morning I sowed two trays of 15 vending machine cups of Purplette and Ramrod onions

1 x 15 Module tray of Ishikura Spring Onions sown on the 9th May germinated and showed signs of life a couple of days ago, however there is no sign of life in the 1 x15 Module tray of Pompeii Spring Onions sown at the same time and it still has the propagator on. Next sowing for onions at the end of the month and that will be a tray of White Lisbon and a tray of Shimonita.

Out of all of the different types of  cucumbers sown recently only the Burpless have germinated and the first two plants are now about 30-40mm tall. I will let them all get a little larger and then pot them on into individual pots before they make it to the allotment.

The Sweet Corn is doing well and the tray sown the following day is now germinating but I have enough for two beds on plot 1A. Now I'm thinking about sowing another batch for plot 23B if I can get another bed in quickly. 


Sunday 15 May 2016

Paving Slabs & Tomatoes

This morning on the allotment from 7am - 1pm I did what's in the video below

In the afternoon I been potting up the 22 tomatoes from the 20x20x30mm deep modules into vending machine cups.

Possible Frost Forecast

Metcheck has been forecasting 0 or possible sub zero temperatures over night Saturday night / Sunday morning in my area, so I used a Terracotta Pot Candle Heater I made for the first time last night.

It's made of 3 Terracotta pots of different sizes, Tesco has them in the season isle at the moment but I got mine at a garden centre last year. I found a bolt and the square washer on the top was from my box of stuff that may be useful in the future in the shed.

Washers were used to keep the bolt in the middle on the outer larger pot as the drainage hole is bigger than the head of the bolt, and some larger washers to space the pots out and a nut and away you go.

The blocks to hold it up are the bottom of pop bottles cut off and filled with post concrete left over from another job, but you can use bricks or anything that will take the heat to hold it up so the candle can go under.

I stood it on an old metal baking tray to capture the wax from the candle, which was donated by Kelly the Candle Queen.

This morning at 5:30 it's 3 degrees outside and 6.1 degrees inside the greenhouse but lowest temperatures overnight were 0.3 outside and 0.8 inside.

Friday 13 May 2016

Timber for the Next Three Raised Beds

I Bought nine number 2.4m long timber decking planks from Wicks as they are £3.99 at the moment and took them to plot 23B. Cut three of them in half and I now have the timber for the next 3 raised beds ready for after I have dug and weeded. Put down the Weed Membrane on the path between bed 2 and what will be Bed 3 before any weeds take hold. 

Visited my local hardware shop and picked up the decking screws because they are cheaper than Wicks and I want to support the old fashioned hardware shop, plus I needed a number of hooks, eyebolts, angles and other items for projects in the pipe line.

Thursday 12 May 2016

Sowing More Brassicas & Plant Swap Day

My Brassica really don't like the small plug plant modules 20mm x 20mm x 30mm deep, poor little things died, so larger modules ands a re-sow is in order - So using the small propagators I have just sown

  6 x Brussels Sprouts - Revenge in a Pop Bottle Propagator
12 x Brussels Sprouts - Eversham Specials
12 x Cabbage - Greyhound
20 x Cabbage - Golden Acre

The sprouts should be OK but it may be a little late for the Cabbage, if I go to the  Benhill-Crescent Horticultural Socity - Plant Swap & Open Day Event this Sunday, I may be able to pick some plants up, goes against the grain but needs must and all that. Below is the email I received today.





Our popular Plant Swap event is here at last!  Just bring along your surplus seedlings, cuttings or any plants you don't want and swap them for something else via a token system.  It's great fun and a chance to get something different. If you don't have anything to swap you can buy tokens at the gate. (I found out that tokens are 50p each, but a little unsure what a token will buy you?)

Swappers can take the opportunity to meet the Committee Members in their bright yellow shirts, ask experts about their garden, vegetable or plants, join the society or make enquiries about renting an allotment.

The Trading Hut will be open as usual with a wide range of summer bedding and vegetable plants for sale.

Refreshment will be available to make your day complete. 

Crimson Crush Tomato Experiment

OK I now they are F1 and may not run true, but I saved seed from the free plants I got last year because I want to see what I get if I sow them this year.

Funding Boost For Community Allotment

EcoLocal has received funding for the Carshalton Community Allotment thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

The funding boost from Postcode Local Trust will enable EcoLocal to help people learn about wildlife friendly gardening.  Both adults and children will learn how to create homes for wildlife on allotments and gardens and grown food in an organic way.

Tansy Honey said: “We are delighted to receive this funding, which will help us run a series of free sessions at our Carshalton Community Allotment where people can learn how to create wildlife friendly gardening habitats”.

Postcode Local Trust exists to fund community groups and charitable organisations through a variety of grant giving programmes. To do so, the Trust relies solely on funding from the proceeds of tickets sales from People’s Postcode Lottery. When you sign up to play People’s Postcode Lottery, your postcode is your ticket. It costs £10 for 10 draws paid monthly in advance with prizes every day. A minimum of 27.5% goes directly to charities across Great Britain and internationally.

Wednesday 11 May 2016

Pop Bottle Slug Traps

It appears that my slug traps are popular on the Grapevine Forum so I have extracted all the slug trap content from one of my previous videos and made a dedicated Pop Bottle Slug Trap Video

Sown 15 x Scarlet Emperor Runner Beans today, I'm trying to sow something each day to catch up to where I should be.

Tuesday 10 May 2016

Sowing Cucumbers & Celery

I made a few Self Watering Pop Bottle Propagators last night so today I have sown:-  

Cucumber - Miniature White
Cucumber - Kiwano
Cucumber - Cucino F1 Hybrid

To add to the Burpless and Marketmore that were sown last week.

Celery - Green Sleeves
Celery - Tango
Celery - Giant Pascal 

First year sowing Celery, the seed are so tiny from what I have read on the back of the packets looks like I need to get the cold frame back in action but for the moment they are in the Space saver greenhouse.

Monday 9 May 2016

Early Morning Sowing

With the weather as good as this I was up early and out in the garden to continue with clearing up after the contractors and to sow some much needed plants as I'm running late this year and normally have things ready to plant by now.

2 x 15 Module trays of Beetroots.
1 x 15 Module trays of Ishikura Spring Onions
1 x 15 Module trays of Pompeii Spring Onions
8 x Cucumbers Marketmore in a Self Watering Pop Bottle Propagator

I also cleared the greenhouse and have the modules already loaded with vending machine cups ready for potting on tomatoes once the sun comes back or at least it's dry and for more sowings.

Seeds sorted and labels made for a tray of Purplette, Shimonita, White Lisbond and Ramrod Spring Onions in two week intervals.

Sunday 8 May 2016

Sunny Sunday

Early Morning visit to plot 23B to plant the last of my seed potatoes 10 x Lady Christi and 8 Desire the left overs when with me to Plot 1A and went in buckets later in the morning.

Potatoes in I then when to plot 1A and planted the first early - Swift and all the left over spuds that didn't make it into the ground into flower buckets.

Now it's much warmer, I took the second layer of netting off the Japanese onions. There are weeds in there and gaps where the onions have been got at, where as the ones that were over wintered in the greenhouse and have been out under cover to harden up (picture below) a little are looking much healthier.

So next visit these will go into the bed once it has been weeded, there are still some in the greenhouse and they may replace the ones that have been hardening off to fill any more gaps in the bed. So next year I may just stick to overwintering Japanese Onions in the unheated greenhouse.

Not being down to Plot 1A since the spuds went in a couple of weeks ago I was stunned that the grape vine has leafs and that the Parsnips I left to bolt and go to seed have kind of gone mental, lets hope with the warm weather it now bolts and goes to seed.

I weeded the over wintered cabbage, one has been well and truly attacked by snails and slugs but at the moment the others don't look too bad. The jury is out as to if it's actually worth over wintering cabbage, at the moment I feel like all I have done is supply the snails and slugs with an early food source. I did use some coffee grounds and I hoping that will discourage migration from the attached cabbage to the others, I will have to keep an eye on the situation, but if push comes to shove at least I have grown some compost!

Home for Sunday Lunch then .......

Last week I've had a landscape and fencing contractor replacing the fence to the rear of my property and installing and couple of grandfather posts some concrete gravel boards to replace the timber ones that retain my neighbours earth under their hedge on the line of boundary.

The paving along the path slopes and I was going to level it off last year after doing the second step for my space saver greenhouse, but I'm getting older and I don't work as fast and I have two allotments to look after so I got the landscaper to do that and give the retaining wall to the lawn a face lift to match the one I did along the decking patio

I loaded up the car with as many Flower Buckets full of last years Coir and Compost from the tomatoes that I grew at home and made my way back to plot 23B. Now the bed in front of the paved area where the greenhouse will finally stand is now at a reasonable level. it has the layer of stable manure underneath so this is now a really nice bed. 

The planters came from the back garden along with the excess strawberries as I have filled the stacking strawberry pots in the back garden, there are a few nesting on the plastic and those will go into comfrey bed 2 when it finally gets dig and prepped, waste not want not, and besides the comfrey in the greenhouse it not even showing yet.

By the end of the day, yes walking was difficult and I felt like I had been run over by a bus but I was knackered in a good way (well that's what I keep telling myself) but the garden and the allotments are all moving forward.

Thursday 5 May 2016

Sowing Sweet Corn

For the last three years I have been growing Lark Sweet Corn, last year the Lark took so long to germinate that I sowed some Swift as I could not get hold of Lark and they germinated before the Lark and I ended up with two beds of Sweet Corn which pleased Kelly as she is a Sweet Corn addict and according to her the ones I grow are all hers we are just lucky she shares them with us.

So two cat litter trays with 15 flexi pots in each are now sitting in the greenhouse, as soon as I pop down to the allotment and pick up another cat litter tray there will be 15 more making 45 in total and I need two beds of 18 so 36 so that should be enough for a few dud seeds and a couple of spares in case the foxes wipe a few out like last year.

Sunday 1 May 2016

Plot 23B - Bed 3 goes in

After the 4 season in a day during the last week I was up early and down on plot 23B. The grass was white with frost in the shade but, it was a nice sunny morning and the grass in the sun was already frost free. I went all out for digging all of bed 3 and the path to the side and rear and I managed it, and ended up with 2 and a half sacks of couch grass roots for my efforts and two square flower buckets of stones. Cheeky the Robin was around me most of the morning, how he/she manages to get 5 small worms in his beak at a time god only knows.

In addition I have moved the wheelie bin to the back of the site and the two greenhouse frames to be used a fruit cages from beside the shed so I can try and sort out the area in front of the shed on a future visit, more than likely after I have planted the spuds still in the greenhouse into bed 3