Monday 31 October 2016

Patrick & Pats Guts added to Dalek 2

The Inners and outer skin of Patrick and Pat the cat (so named by Kelly my daughter and carver) were taken down to plot 23B and their biological and technological distinctiveness was added to the rest of Dalek 2  Resistance was futile."

Whilst there I managed a chat with some fellow plot holders and cut all the remaining comfrey from Comfrey beds 1 & 2 and added it in alternating layers with last years manure that has stood in flower buckets for the last year holding down plastic on the plot as I work my way from both ends towards the middle. I have been approached by a company called SoilFixer to undertake some testing of their products and report the results here on my Blog next year.

To this end they will supply me with their Compost Humification Agent, or in simple terms a compost activator with the extra Humification factor.

I would have been delivering more decking for the raised beds had Wicks not increased the price and dropped the 4 for the price of 3 offer that they had been running, so it looks like no more timber until Easter next year when it will go on offer again.   

Sunday 30 October 2016

Shovelling Horse Muck

The clocks went back last night or was it this morning, well anyway, up early and there is fog outside and set up the Spencer Road facebook group,

Once it was light an early/ late start on the plot depending if you go by the body clock or the re set clock and soon after arrival I was the only one on the plot and was shovelling horse muck

It looks like lots of people took advantage of the extra hour but I would rather get cracking. I tried the wheel barrow extender I bought on the first run, difficult to keep it from slipping down but the extended load did fill a complete bed in one trip.

Following trips were done with two flower buckets per trip filled and the horse manure built up around them.

I took a bucket of flowers to add to Dalek 2 which was watered down and then last years horse manure from a flower bucket added. Dalek 2 was teaming with red wrigglers so that combined with the drop in level I know that they are doing the business in there.

I managed to fill up Dalek 5 to the brim with new horse muck, and another Dalek horse manure filling session will take place once I have transferred the compost from Dalek 4 into Daleks 1 & 2 to top them up. The size of the pile, I should imagine I have a couple of weeks to get it done. 

Thursday 27 October 2016

Everlasting Onions

Well Norfolkgray on the Grow Your Own Grapevine forum asked if anyone wanted everlasting onions. I said yes and she kindly sent some to me together with some tomato seeds she didn't want. I do love that forum, they are such a nice crowd on there and they have a good sense of humour.

They were planted straight away and watered and are now relaxing after their journey in the SpaceSaver greenhouse.

Everlasting onions (Allium cepa perutile) are a rare perennial onion which is extremely productive and undemanding.  They do not appear to suffer pests or diseases, frost does not bother them, and if it gets too hot and dry they die down to bulbs. 

From what I have been told and researched they appear to be one of the easiest and most productive vegetables to grow, just like all perennial vegetables you plant once and harvest forever.

Everlasting onions know what they are doing as far as reproduction goes.  They split in half numerous times throughout the year.  If they are divided each division will also multiply, so hopefully it will not take too much time to create a decent patch.

I've also read that If you cut off the roots with a few mm of the base of the bulb this can be sprouted and replanted. They grow into strong clumps that you 'pull' as required for any purpose you need onions for. They can last many years and will grow in part shade.
These are grown in Russia and as the name implies will sustain very severe Winter weather.

Recommended by the RHS to be an excellent attractant and nectar source for bees and other beneficial insects if allowed to 'go over' and flower (so if you have room leave any plants in that have gone too far rather than pulling them out straight away).
  • Sowing Instructions: Sow thinly in drills ¾” (2 cm) deep in rows 15” apart from mid March (weather permitting) until early Sept.
  • Harvest and use immediately when they have reached your desired size, thinning the row as you go.
  • Always ensure you do not clear all the plants from a row, this allows them to clump up and regenerate.
  • Winter hardy these can be ‘kept going’ from Season to Season
For more information see

Tuesday 25 October 2016

View from my Greenhouse Door

View from my Greenhouse door including my over wintering onion experiment.

Doh! I obviously had onions on the brain so when I say green onions in the video what I really meant was green tomatoes

Save The Bees - Free Wildflowers

Right now bees are struggling to survive and Just Bee Drinks are determined to do something about it!

One simple way to help is by planting bee friendly wildflowers. Just fill in the form on their web site and they will fly some free wildflower seeds to your door!

I'm posting this to help them as I've just received my pack.

Melting Holes

As I've sown the over wintering onion bulbs in vending machine cups and have used all the ones I have ready, it's time to get out my trusty soldering iron and melt two drainage holes in the bottom of the next batch of vending machine cups, ready for the coming growing season.

I have found that if I stack them in 4's the hot bit is long enough to penetrate and melt the holes quickly and efficiently.

Second Shoe Rack Modified & Installed

The second shoe rack modified to sit next to the first on the bench in the shed is being used as a butternut squash rack allowing air flow around the squash.

I have also found them ideal as onion racks in the past.

Monday 24 October 2016

Tip & Trick Shredded Paper

Here is how I transport and store my shredded paper to and on my allotment ready for compost making time with my Dalek

Over Wintering Onions

With the wife needing a couple of days bed rest I decided that I would not dig up the spuds today on plot 1A but went about the task of planting over wintering onion sets into vending machine cups in the back garden.

Whist away last week I bought two 50 packs of onion sets from Wilko at £2 each. One Japanese onions and the other Red Onions. No real description on the pack identifying which particular Red Onion variety they are mind you.

Keith donated the remains of his bag of Radar Onions from Thompson & Morgan as he has filled his bed up already.

Last year I managed to sow from seed but this year only a handful of the 75 seed I planted have germinated, for some reason I have had a really bad year for growing all onions from seed even new seed.

last year the onions left in the greenhouse as spares did so much better and looked so much healthier than those that were in the ground and at least 12  - 15% had been attacked by slugs and snail. So my cunning plan this year is to grow these in vending machine cups that stand in modules and plant them on Plot 23B early spring as they start to regrow and hopefully they have a reasonable root system in place by then.

I also intend over the winter to make a Onion Weed Membrane 2.4 x 1.2m sheet so that I can minimise the amount of weeding that will be required. The back of the Wilko packs suggest 150mm centres so 1200 / 150 = 8 and 2400/ 150 = 16 spaces so that's 7 x 15 holes = 105 planting holes in the sheet.

The top of the vending machine cups are 75mm diameter and the bulb planter is about that so I need to measure and check, so I'm guessing 75 - I00mm dia holes will be needed which hopefully will fill up with onion and not to many weeds.

The photo above is as far as I got with the compost I had over, so a swift visit to B&Q resulted in the purchase of two 75 litre packs of verve Tub and Basket compost that says it feeds for 4 months which with the onions going dormant for a short time should be enough with a comfrey feed as they start to kick back into action next year.

As it's the end of the season they are knocking them out at two packs for £10. This size is much more convenient to lift and store away, if I had more room I would have bought another couple. Umm another reason to sort out the sheds when I get an opportunity.

End of the day one Japanese onion was bad and I had an extra Red so in the grow house we have

  49 Japanese Onions that's 3 and a half trays
  51 Red Onions that's another 3 and a half trays 
  45 Radar Onions that's 3 trays
145 Onions

So that's 10 trays of over Wintering onions in total, looks like I will need two weed membrane sheets and I can put Spring Onions in the remainder of the second sheet.

Sunday 23 October 2016

Committee Meeting and Onion Harvest

There was a committee meeting this morning at Spencer Road and my brother -in-Law Keith was welcomed on board.

We are going to try and get all plot holders email address so that we can notify people when there has been break-ins and send newsletters and updates re manure deliveries, Woodchip deliveries and perhaps even organise Seed Swops, an Allotment BBQ etc.

The meeting was at 10 but I got there at 9 and harvested all the Purplette Onions and more Spring Onions, and also brought home the shoe rack to modify it so that it fits on the shelf in the shed so that I can store more butternut squash and the like in the shed and let some air flow around and they ripen off.

Sunday 16 October 2016

Sad Monkey Face Today

It does not happen that often but it's a Sunday, it's been raining all night and it's still raining and there is nothing under cover that I can do down on the allotments.

Looks like I will have to get on with some work so that I can goof off during next week!

Later in the day a sunny spell and a visit to plot 23B to drop off some compost and harvest some spring onions when this happens

Wednesday 12 October 2016

A Nagging Feeling

Joe had told me that the little darlings that had broken into sheds and nicked Dereks cabbages including his two best for the year had used a set of steps to assist in getting over the fence. 

Derek now thinks that perhaps they got in through the gate that someone had not locked behind them, that they were disturbed perhaps when someone came late to the allotment and had to find another way out.

When Joe told me about the steps I replied "I wonder where they got those from"  

A nagging feeling and though came into my mind over night and I now know the answer. My daughters partner gave me an old beat up plaster and paint covered set that were left in the cellar of their new maisonette. I'm going to use them to get to the top of the shed for painting and ultimately when required for replacing the felt.They were not in the shed but laid down on top of some correx to stop the wind taking it. When I looked they were gone, the steps they used were mine!

So the compost drop off visit became a shed tidying exercise which was needed anyway as the squash needed spreading out and I have another timber shoe rack to go on the bench. It's going to need modifying to fit, but that's a job for another day.

With space made the steps were recovered from Joe's shed and now reside in my shed rather than laying on the floor outside.

Monday 10 October 2016

Clearing Plot 23B Bed 1

Reports of little arseholes breaking into sheds and nicking vegetables filtered through facebook Sunday night. Luckily they were disturbed and did not nick anything from sheds only half a dozen of Dereks cabbages.   

The battery drill that had the batteries charged Saturday ready for use Sunday only just managed to put together the timber decking boards for bed 5. It looks like I will have to buy a replacement, I was hoping it would last long enough that someone could buy me a replacement for Christmas but I can't wait that long for a replacement. So as I could not assemble the raised beds, I decided to clear and cut up the rest of the butternut squash and topped up three daleks at the end of the plot. Brother in law Keith and his wife Pauline were on their plot spreading manure Keith had got from a local stables.

The Crimson Crush tomatoes were finally giving way to blight so they were dug up, cut up and bagged up and taken home destined for the rubbish bin. With the butternut squash off the paved area next to the shed I can start levelling the slabs ready for the erection of the greenhouse over the winter months.

Sunday 9 October 2016

Harvesting & Clearing Plot 1A & Plot 23B

An early start and a visit to plot 1A as access is restricted during the week, the weather is still being very kind to us and I'm taking full advantage. The aim of the visit today was to extract the remaining half a bed of King Edwards from bed 2, turning over the first half again and looking for missed spuds as I hate it when volunteers start growing in the beds in the following year.

The comfrey was cut back and the pipe filled to the brim again with the weight just sitting on the top.

The butternut squash and cucumbers that only grew foliage were cut back and up into small worm digestible dalek composting size. I know it takes time but I feel I have to give my compost making buddies as much help as possible to assist me in making good quality compost.

Below is a short video, hopefully for your enjoyment.

Then it was onwards to plot 23B for the last hour to start clearing the butternut squash there and feed the daleks. 

Low and behold another four smallish squash were found in the initial clearing of bed 01 and the paved area in front where the greenhouse is planned for.

A Tupperware box of Raspberries were picked for Emma, and a number of spring onions were harvested.

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Melting / Cutting Weed Membrane

With the work on the paved/ woodchip to be areas over the last few days I'm now out of weed membrane to go down the paths. So early evening whilst the sun was still in the sky and it was still warmish outside I set about melting /cutting weed membrane sheets off the roll.

First sheet 2.4m long and then cut the 2m width such that I ended up with 800 for the central path and 1.2m for a bed cover. Then it struck me, the 800 offcuts are too wide for the 600mm paths between the beds, but if I cut the 2m wide membrane in thirds I end up with 666mm wide which is 30mm upturn each side and three strips out of one sheet.

I managed to get a further two sheets or enough for six paths between beds cut, rolled  up and in the jute allotment bag ready for my next visit.

Next comes the labour intensive part, digging and weeding beds 5 & 6

Monday 3 October 2016

Early Lunch Time Visit Plot 23B

I set the alarm and get ready really early for a meeting on site and schedule of conditions today and the other surveyor emails me to advise he has not been able to arrange access. So my plans changed completely and thus I wrangled an hour on plot 23B after dropping my good lady to her sisters.

The plan was to fabricate some raised beds, the batteries on the portable drill had different ideas and they were both knackered. I'm sure they were both fully charged a week or two ago, Ho Hum.

So in preparation for the wood chip man the green corex was lifted and weed membrane and slabs were laid for the central path between beds 3&4.

The weeds along the edge of bed 4 on the path edge were dug out and the gray plastic dpm was pulled over to cover the ground.

The grey dpm that was over the path between beds 4 and what will be 6 was lifted and weed membrane laid in it's place.

Next visit the plan is to fabricate the raised beds from the timber that is already on site drill batteries permitting.

Sunday 2 October 2016

Plot 1A & 23B Infrastructure Works

Up late and a slow start mainly due to the darker mornings and a 30 minute telephone call from my little sister just as I was about to leave, so rather then being on the allotment before 9:00 I didn't get there until after 9:30.

A car had managed to miss the mill green turning complete and go up and over the anti-caravan humps on the field edging on the corner of the turning, slicing the top off the hump with the front of the car, and landing on the other side of the hump with it's arse in the air. it must have been too much speed and the driver lost control, perhaps a stolen joy ride.

Plot 1A was visited first to look for the membrane pegs. Redrow had been true to their word and removed the debris from behind the gate which is good as it means no more complaints from the plot holders.

The membrane pegs were not on the surface so I decided to use paving slabs and do without them at the moment. Watered the tomatoes and harvested what were red. The butternut squash are doing well but they need another week to get to a reasonable size or larger. So I'm hoping the frost will hold off for at least another week or two.

With the woodchip man delayed and hopefully coming soon I wanted to get the end of the plot sorted as best I could for the moment. The white water proof plastic did extend right to the back of the plot and I had drawn it back to get the comfrey beds in and then the Daleks.

The objective having installed the metal shelving between my plot and Adam along the boundary was to get the weed membrane in behind the Daleks and along the path. 

The small Dalek that was under one of the larger ones has been passed on to one of the new plot holders, the green dustbin and the now empty small Dalek and incinerator have now been placed along the boundary and the weed membrane is there ready for the woodchip to arrive.    

The very first signs of blight were showing on the Crimson Crush tomatoes so they were harvested and I achieved a whole carrier bag of mainly green fruit. The slug had started helping themselves to the ones touching the floor as the plant collapsed due to the sheer size and weight of the fruit..

Seed from the F2 plants Fruit have been saved and I will definitely be growing them again next year, only difference is I will be erecting a wigwam for support or using the professional square support frame with string and clips for support.

The other change is how early I will be sowing seeds and growing the plants as it's only the extended summer and record breaking temperatures in September this year with the resulting delay in blight that has allowed so many tomatoes to turn red and remain on the plants for so long.

The spring onions are finally at a size where they can be harvested, they were grown as usual but again seemed to take an absolute age to mature. Next year hopefully I will have some nice compost and manured beds for them to grow in.

Next visit the weed membrane around bed 4 and the path will be installed so that they can be wood chipped straight away when it finally arrives.  

Saturday 1 October 2016

Tomato Seed Saving

I've been in the process of fermenting tomato seeds in egg cups but one batch decided to start sprouting roots so I'm trying a hybrid method of the cut and smear on kitchen towel and fermentation.

I'm soaking the seeds and getting most of the muck off then placing them in 8's in squares that are drawn on the kitchen towel that are zippy bag size.

The reason for so many is to send them into a seed circle I belong to.