Wednesday 28 September 2016

A Summer Type Day

Well after the initial heatwave in September the day time temperature is up again for a few days this week not as good as they were promising but not bad. Add that to the fact that my appointment for the morning has been cancelled, and I had to drop my wife around to her sisters which is half way to the allotment, it was a no brainer a couple of hours in the sunshine was in order.

Spencer Road was the destination as I can't get anywhere near Mill Green. I weeded the onions in bed 3 then set about digging a trench along the boundary up the end of the path and installing another two steel shelf panels that I found on the plot when I took it over last year. The foxes have already tried to dug a hole from my allotment to make a den under the shed and store that my neighbour has at the end of his plot. These will prevent that and I'm hoping will also provide an effective barrier to the weeds that encroach from my neighbours plot.

I also removed the dalek and loaded a layer of sawdust with manure from last year into two other daleks as a layer of brown. The white plastic sheet has been drawn back and black weed membrane has replaced it ready for the delivery of woodchips if and when they finally arrive.

Joe has laid on a half truck delivery of manure for the 28th October which is the earliest date we can have a sure sign that all the allotments that use the police stables as a source of manure are wanting it this time of year.

No photo at the moment I will get one on the next visit. 

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Meeting with Redrow & The Council Officer

Following the discovery of the mound of earth stopping the gate opening as a result of Redrow excavating for the removal of a tree and the installation of a site fence along the boundary between the allotment and their site, I arranged to meet the council officer on the plot. We both went and saw the site agent and showed him the problem.

It appears the digger driver had not done what was asked of him and as soon as they have finished excavating the silted waterway just beyond the far corner of our allotment they will be back to remove the debris. I have offered to open the allotment for them when they want to do it if there isn't already someone on the site.

Looks like the drop off and pick up area will be sorted in about six weeks time when medium sizes diggers arrive on the site. The fence between us and the site which was not down for replacement is going to be done earlier rather than later as they want to make the site perimeter secure, so it looks like we are going to get a nice new timber fence, which will not be maintained by the council as I believe the arrangement is they supply the new one but it remains the responsibility of the council to maintain.

I brought to the fact that the fence panel on the other side of the gate is broken over a month ago and remains unfixed to the attention of the council officer who informs me they have no money, we have been informed that they have no legal obligation to actually ensure that the allotment is secure. It makes you wonder just exactly what your rent goes on? 

Monday 26 September 2016

Plot 1A Clean Up Plot 23B Compost

Rain in the early hours but finally it stopped, the wife exclaimed surly your not going to the allotment it's been raining? I informed her the is always something to do on the allotment and made my way a little later than usual.

First surprise was that the contractor has installed a new fence between us and them and in the process has pulled back the topsoil and crated a mound behind the gate that we mainly use for access, as the other drags on the ground. (Yet another fine example of council contractor workmanship and repair)

So I will need to have a chat with the site manager and the council officer who appears to have dropped off the planet and is not processing calls or requests. The parks department are about to be tuped to a contractor who is taking over the parks departments for four councils and the current staff appear to be treading water even more than usual as a result.

The objective of the visit today was to clear up as much as possible as access is restricted due to the site now being active. Apart from Saturday afternoon and Sunday we can't park anywhere near, in fact now more workers are parking down Mill Green during the week effectively making it a single lane and the blind bend courtesy of the anti Gypsy caravan humps and vegetation has already caused an accident on the corner.

The video below shows the state of the plot, and it is in a state because I have not been doing the mid week visits because of the restricted access.

In the afternoon I cut the grass in the back garden which resulted in two sacks of grass clippings, then a visit to Emma (eldest daughter) resulted in four sacks of leafs from a back and side garden clean up. I can see many more sacks of leafs coming my way from that direction. These were all taken to Spencer Road and decanted into Daleks 1 & 2 in layers and the excess leafs were stored in the square Dalek 3 for later use.

A carrier bag of Crimson crush green tomatoes were harvested as the ones brought home and placed in the greenhouse are turning red nicely, and for no other reason than I want to clear the beds at spencer road and tidy them up a little.

Sunday 25 September 2016

Committee Meeting and Digging Potatoes

There was a committee meeting today on Spencer Road supposed to be at 10:00 so I made my way down to the plot and started to clear the potatoes whilst waiting for everyone to arrive.

Three people turned up some with their families to view the vacant plots and have taken them so we are left with the two worst plots 5a & 5b to let. The meeting clicked off around half an hour late due to the viewings but getting people to take on the neglected plots can only be good.

The minutes and items from the last meeting were dealt with and new items. The key items were:-

·         As at today there are only 2 vacant plots, 5a and 5b (previously Mac’s plot)

·         Over the summer Plot holders have been reminded not to leave hosepipes unattended and this has generally solved the issue

·         Dumping. Some green waste has been dumped near the back of the plots, committee members to watch out for any more.

·         Some rubbish has been placed against the fence ready to burn in October. Derek has spoken to the plot holder responsible, all rubbish should be on the allotment holder’s plot.
·         Derek informed everyone that the bees near the main path are not dangerous.
·         Derek has replaced the padlock on the gate next to the park and it has been welded on.

·         Trevor asked whether plot holders that leave have to clear their plots e.g. of any plastic play equipment. They are not obliged to apparently.

·         Keith Bedford (my brother-in-law) is keen to join the committee. He will be nominated and invited to attend the next meeting.  Anybody else that is keen is welcome to join. The committee wants to get everyone involved. Alan to write a committee invitation for the notice board and also a request for email addresses. Alan will set up a distribution list so that people can be emailed about manure, woodchip, seed swaps etc. Derek to email the list of plots and names to Alan.
·         Horse manure – Joe will order some (1/2 load or full?) The committee are confident that the pile will be cleared quickly by plot holders.
·         The parks department is being taken over by a private contractor from Feb 17 so the future is unknown. Jackie ( the Allotment officer at the council) might not stay in her current role.

·         Maggie suggested that we have a table near the exit where we can leave surplus seeds or produce. The committee members thought this was a good idea, the where and how need to be sorted out.

Thursday 22 September 2016

Beefsteak Tomatoes

More compost material dropped off to Spencer Road and more butternut squash harvested yesterday, I also took the time to apply weed killer all around the perimeter of the plot as Bindweed in encroaching from Adams plot as well as under the paved path on the Mencap plot.

Today more tomatoes harvested at home and finally some large red beefsteak tomatoes that are ideal for slicing and going into burgers.

Sunday 18 September 2016

Sweetcorn Potatoes & Tomatoes

With work to do in the house it was not until Sunday afternoon that I managed to get down to Mill Green to harvest the secondary sweetcorn. I harvested the primary ones last weekend but decided to leave the secondary ones to have another week of sun as the temperatures were un-seasonally high.

So I came away with another jute shopping bag of sweetcorn that were processed and frozen as soon as possible after picking and a slack load of King Edward potatoes, 3 butternut squash and a few bunches of grapes off the vine.

A swift visit to drop off the shower folding panel that will be used as a cloche and a cover for a cold frame, picked a bag load of crimson crush tomatoes to go into the greenhouse to ripen and a very large Butternut squash to add to those from Mill Green

I have been saving tomato seeds and fermenting them as good examples have gone red.
so far I have:-

Amish Mayberry
Hundreds and Thousands
Plum Roma
Red Zebra
Stupicke Poini Rane
Tumberling Tom Red
Outdoor Girl

Basically saved as I don't want to run out of seeds for these particular tomatoes.

Friday 16 September 2016

Seed Spacing Rule

A little while ago I made a couple of seed spacing rules out of a cover to plastic conduit and an old plastic curtain track putting the planting holes in at 50mm centres. See here for post.

I mused about making another rule with holes at 25mm centres, and as an offcut from a bath panel presented itself to me, whist I was house sitting for my daughter who was having work done, I decided re purpose the offcut and melt holes with my soldering iron.

I really can't believe that commercially available rule that's a metre long and cost £18.95 and no doubt some postage and packing.

Thursday 15 September 2016

F2 Crimson Crush Harvested

OK 22 different types of tomatoes grown this year but these are F2 Crimson Crush from seeds saved from the tomatoes off the free plants they sent me last year.

I know F1 seed don't always run true but It was an experiment. I got plants with two different types of leafs, some had the classic tomato looking leafs, and the others more potato looking leafs. The fruit from the plant with the more classic tomato looking leafs produced fruit with the look, texture and taste as Crimson Crush last year.

So I already have F3 seeds from a slug attacked Crimson Crush fermenting ready for saving for next years continuing experiment. 

Whilst on plot 23B dropping off some items and harvesting the Crimson Crush I also took the opportunity as it's so unseasonably warm and sunny to weed kill the perimeter of the plot as bind weed and couch grass is once again trying to invade from under the path of the Mencap plot and from Adams.

Monday 12 September 2016

UB40 - There's A Rat

The plan in my head was a dual visit to Plot 1A and 23B in the morning, but the reality was there was too much to do on Plot 1A to allow me to get to 23B. It had rained yesterday and the grass paths and the mud was wet on arrival.

The Photo above is of beds 1 - 4 after the cutting back of all the potato foliage on beds 1 and 4 that was on the way down and had completely covered the paths. I have started de weeding the woodchip paths as well. Because of the restricted access this year Mill Green is not as under control as previous years.

Bed 10 the Butternut squash has finally started to explore the rest of the plot and I spied four little squash plants which hopefully will have time to mature because they are so late in coming. Shows what growing on a bed of manure on Plot 23B did for the little beauties as there I've had one massive and five good sized squashes already and there are four more coming of a similar size to the ones here.

I harvested the few red tomatoes from the extension to the little shed on the allotment, and what looks could be the last of the Scarlet Emperor Runner beans.

I checked the sweetcorn and got milk when I pressed my nail into one of the cobs, so as I have lost sweetcorn to rodents and birds in the past I harvested all the primary and large cobs that filled my hessian shopping bag courtesy of a NatWest promotion.

Once home I didn't much around they were skinned and I must say the Swift clean up and the foliage and the tassels come off a lot easier than the Lark that I normally grow. In some respects its a shame I have already ordered Lark for next years crop, saying that I have not tasted them yet

As we are having a mini heatwave I will leave the rest of the secondary cobs for harvesting next weekend as I know I have space for them in the allotment produce freezer in the shed.

The Kiwano Cucumbers have taken over the climbing frame and started to explore the rest of the allotment, however there is one fundamental problem. These is not one single cucumber on the plant, anywhere so it looks like I have just grown compost, I was so looking forward to tasting them it's untrue.    So by now you are wondering about the rat. Well unlike UB40's hit it was not in the kitchen but dead and on the path covered in bluebottles on the allotment. It got scooped up on a spade and taken to the overgrown area and deposited. I'm guessing the foxes got it but don't really want a meal.
Soft Bricks were made with sand dried in the greenhouse from soft bricks that are now three years old and the plastic that the milk bottles are made of has become brittle and fractured. I left the allotment about an hour earlier than usual as an early lunch was in order as Kelly was on an early afternoon shift.

Later in the afternoon I visited my eldest daughter who had cut her grass and had a sack load for me for the compost bin and that was taken to Plot 23B and added with the husks of the cobs with a separating layer of manure and sawdust all watered in as loaded.

A few more F2 Crimson Crush were harvested and I will definitely be saving F3 seeds and growing them again next year. The only difference is that I will be making a wigwam frame around them as they definitely need a lot of support.

Saturday 10 September 2016

Seed Sorting & Labels

So it's that time when the sow by dates have to be added to the front of seed packs obtained in the Wyevale 50p seed sale and then the packs of seeds added to the seed storage tool boxes.

Last night I started typing up and making labels for all the new tomato seeds that I have acquired via the seed parcel. The seeds from the parcel are in all manor of shape size and material, zippy bags, small brown envelopes and sometime resealed original packing. These have been decanted into my zippy seed bags and then into the storage boxes.

Two labels for all the new tomatoes added to my collection and that will be sown next year have stuck on plastic labels and added to my collection.

Friday 9 September 2016

Seed Sowing Evening

The nights are drawing in and I have just managed to sow 72 Senshyu Yellow Japanese Onions to overwinter, a little later than usual but with the weather as it is I think they will be OK and hopefully they will get transferred into vending machine cups and beef up a little for the Winter months.

If the weather allows over the weekend I will sow a few more tray loads

Here's hoping that onion seeds sown after Christmas will be better than this year were as they all snuffed it.

Seed Saving Lunchtime

I have been away for a few days and on my return the tomatoes in the back garden are turning red nicely, so I have harvest some for us and some for my eldest daughter Emma who now has her own place and I've saved seed from some of the ones that are ripe but have split or been got at.

So fermenting in eggcups are

Red Zebra
Outdoor Girl
Stupike Poini Rana
Tumbling Tom Red

These have not been in isolation so there is a possibility of cross pollination but it seems stupid not to save the seeds especially from damaged tomatoes that I would not eat.

Sandpipe has been in isolation in the space saver greenhouse and is going to be one of my contributions to a seed circle this year. 

Thursday 8 September 2016

The Seed Parcel Arrives

Whilst we have been away the seed parcel has arrived looks like I have managed to bag the following Red Tomatoes some have saved dates and some sow by dates, bottom line is they will all be sown next year and will either germinate or not.

Blaby Special saved 2014

Fox Cherry saved 2015
German Lunchbox saved 2011
Heinz Soup saved 2011

Indian Blush
Kenilworth/King George
Latah Bush Tomato saved 2015
Minibel sow by 2014
Peace vine Cherry saved Aug 2015
Piccolo saved 2011

Pomodore Ciliegia use by 2015
Red Cherry sow by 12/2015 

Red Pear sow by 2017
Rio Grande sow by 2014
Sub Artic Plenty
Sweet Pea Currant sow by 2016
Tiny Tim sow by 12/2013

Also in the parcel was

Sweetcorn Lark F1
Glaskins Perpetual Rhubarb
Piccolo di Parigi Gherkin

I didn't manage to find any sweetcorn in the Wyevale seed sale so I may have to purchase some more Lark especially as I want four beds worth 2 on each allotment next year, 

Wyevale Seed Sale - Visit 2

I've been away for a few days between Bournemouth and the New Forest with my little Triffid (4ft splash and a tongue that can kill a man at 10 paces with one blow), to finish off the mini break I managed to wangle a visit to the Dorking Wyevale as I suggested having a meal and alcoholic beverage at the Windmill which is just up the road.

My hope was a very large group of tables and masses of seed like previous years, but what I actually found was a single table with quite frankly not a great selection, there again its 8 days after the bank holiday start of the seed sale.

I was looking for sweet corn and perhaps marrow, the only things that I'm actually desperate for, I actually came out with 11 more packs of seeds worth £27.61 for £5.50, I'm happy with that.

Thompson & Morgan Cabbage Winter Jewel F1 Hybrid 2 packs - Doh! had not noticed
Thompson & Morgan Cabbage Greyhound
Thompson & Morgan All Season Cabbage - Sir F1 Hybrid, Attraction F1 Hybrid, Minicole F1 Hybrid
Thompson & Morgan Cabbage Savoy King F1
Thompson & Morgan Long Green Striped
Thompson & Morgan Sweet Pepper Summer Salad Mix
Thompson & Morgan Onion Ailsa Craig
Thompson & Morgan Onion Bedfordshire Champion
Mr Fothergill's Marigold (French) Bonita Mix
Thompson & Morgan Kew - Turnip Atlantic

OK I don't usually grow Turnip but I have heard that couch grass does not like them for some reason and I'm happy to give it a try.

Monday 5 September 2016

Seed Catalogues

The NEW Unwins and Marshalls catalogues should be landing on doorsteps now, and with the darker nights drawing in, it's time for seed audits and planning purchases for next year.

Click on the links to open each catalogue UNWINS and MARSHALLS

Sunday 4 September 2016

The Woodchip Man Commeth (Well Nearly)

The council Allotment officer let us know of a fellow allotmenteer on another site who is also a tree surgeon and can provide woodchips, so my brother-in-law Keith arranged a drop off as we both need it for paths.

So Saturday morning was spend cutting weed membrane ready to go under the area behind the Daleks, for when the woodchips were delivered between 2 - 3 in the afternoon.

I was just having lunch and Keith called to say that it would not be happening as the guy had too much rubbish on the back of the lorry and he wants to give us good quality woodchip, which we would all prefer so we are happy to delay for a week or two until he has some quality material for us.

As I had the car loaded with compost for the daleks, and other stuff that needed to go down the allotment I went anyway and started to clear the back of the plot and the weeds that are coming up along the edge of the paths and in bed 3 as the spring onions and celery were disappearing.

I cleared and strimmed the path behind the comfrey bed and in the process trimmed up the comfrey and foliage from Joes plot that was attempting to get into mine and added the contents of my labour into Daleks 1 & 2. Manure and sawdust in the small Dalek had reduced over the year to 2/3 the height of the bin and I added lt as brown material to both Daleks and watered it in as it was all added in layers.

Removing the plastic weed membrane from behind Daleks 4 - 6 I found slug city and a liberal quantity of blue pellets of death were sprinkled. 

I then harvested a large number of green cucumbers, but I also ended up with a flower buckets worth of over ripe cucumbers which I was informed by a fellow plot holder that I could make soup with, but we are not really into cucumber soup so they ended up as a green OK yellow compost layer.      

The butternut squash has gone bonkers and I have 4 reasonable size and 2 extra large size squash now sitting on the shoe rack on the shelf in the shed so they can harden off and ripen a little. The leafs are beginning to turn and I found one 50mm long squash that is starting to turn brown but not in a good way and two more smaller ones. There are still lots of flowers on the plant, but it's how much longer the weather will hold before the frost hits and kills the plant.

A fellow plot holder John who was very excited about his harvest shared two elephant garlic seed (cloves) with myself Andy and Derek our site rep who had been spending time sorting out his path and timber edging and timber staging in the new to him Greenhouse given to him by one of the allotment holders who is about to give up his plot. Then another plot holder offered a mixture of yellow, orange and red cherry tomatoes which I accepted gracefully as mine are only just turning red.

I have to say the community spirt on Spencer Road is much better than Mill Green which is crazy when you bear in mind that Mill Green is a much smaller allotment, perhaps it is just the increased numbers of people that makes it feel like that?

Saturday 3 September 2016

And Finally They Turn Red

Well its been a long time coming and looking back at last year we were hit by blight the second week into September so they need to get a move on but Huston we finally have significant numbers of  Red Tomatoes