Tuesday 29 November 2016

Crime Management Services

Today I received an email from the Crime Management Services basically thanking me for contacting the police to report the recent crime. By reporting this I have apparently helped the police to understand local crime and police the area more effectively!.

It then informs me that they are writing to inform me that this crime is being assigned to a dedicated investigating officer.

Which is more than likely to be one of the Parks police that you can't ever get hold off because they only appear to work in the afternoons Monday to Friday, but we will see. 

It the proceeds to inform me that "This officer will be in contact shortly (if they have not been already) to discuss the investigation further. Please tell the officer how you would prefer to be contacted, so that they can keep you fully up to date throughout the course of the investigation."

Then follows information about getting advice on crime prevention, further support or information about local policing, the investigating officer will be happy to help. Alternatively, I can find useful crime prevention advice on our crime prevention pages at www.met.police.uk/crimeprevention. also If I  would like independent support or advice I can contact Victim Support at any time on 020 7740 8282 or online at www.victimsupport.org.uk.

It then informs me that although the investigating officer should contact me at the earliest opportunity, occasionally other operational policing issues cause short delays, and if I have not been contacted within 5 days of receiving this letter I should chase them up.

Monday 28 November 2016

Meeting the Old Bill on the Allotment

The original break-in was reported to the council allotment officer and she was meeting with the Parks Police that day, and hopefully informed them.

The site rep left an answerphone message, for the Parks Police the following day and I telephoned them the day after that but they can't log a CAD number unless they actually meet you on site.

On Sunday one of the committee members who lives next to the allotment saw two youths on a motorbike, one climbed over the fence and was seen and his mate on a motor cycle called him and got him to climb out as he noticed that they were being watched. No only watched but video recorded as well thanks to a neighbours CCVT camera.

So today after repetitive break-ins every couple of days and after ringing the parks Police in the morning a couple of times and in the afternoon and not getting a reply, because unbeknown to us they don't come on duty until after 2pm and they only work Monday to Friday, after listening to the recorded messages I telephoned 101 and within a hour two officers were on the plot.

The advice is if you see anyone on the plot who should not be there and is not a plot holder ring 999. If you find criminal damage and items stolen after the fact ring 101 and they will get a patrol car and a couple of coppers down normally in around an hour.

The CAD number for the latest break-ins is 4797 28/11 and basically they have taken broad details and will get the neighbourhood team to liaise, and have suggested that individual plot holders contact them with details regarding what has been taken and the value of what has been taken or broken and they will get their own visit and CAD number, but the individual reports will be linked back to CAD number 4797 28/11.

They could possibly pick up fingerprints off containers and tools that have been touched whilst they have been searching sheds etc. but it would require a separate visit with the shed owners. We need to try and identify just how many times they have been back since the burning of the mentally and physically handicapped schools polytunnel.

I will get an email from the local team and will pass on what information and photographs I can, including a plan of the allotment. The registration number of the bike that two youths one who climbed the fence next to the residential property has been given to the police and they will trace the owner if it's not bogus number plates but although his pillion passenger climbed over the fence committing trespass and then exited via a tree they could not blame them for the other break-ins unless other evidence could be found to prove it was them.

So if your shed gets hit and they go thorough tins bottled or have moved tools, don't tidy and clean up and touch anything until you have reported it to the police and asked if they would like to take finger prints.

Interestingly the policeman informed me that are no longer allowed to pursue escaping criminals on motor bikes as it could cause them to have an accident and possibly injure innocent bystander(s). So basically the little shits know that they can use a motorcycle for crime and get away with it!

Sunday 27 November 2016

Not Quite Fort Knox

OK Fort Knox is a little bit of an exaggeration, but I bought two shed locks off ebay at £3.25 each, and today I visited the site to see if I had been hit again in the recent attacks.

Luckily I hadn't been attacked again, so only the twist in the top left corner of the door to contend with. I decided that I would put an additional lock in the corner rather than the rotating external toggle, hopefully preventing fingers getting in to apply force to the door. The horizontal bar at the top was prized away from the vertical T& G boarding. So that has been reinforced and the door screwed back together rather than nailed. 

The door shuts nice and sung again and no water can now get behind the door, and the only difference is that now I have two keyholes in the door. I also changed the lock halfway down the door so they take the same key and I don't have to have too many different keys on my key ring.

Whist on site I also managed to get the 10 sacks of leafs into Square Dalek 3 and I tried to clear to melted milk bottle off the lid,  but it had welded itself to it when the little darlings set fire to it. The watering hoses were put away as the water is now off for the winter anyway.

And the above with a couple of chats with neighbouring plot holders took the best part of four cold hours, I just don't know where the time goes when your on the allotment. My plans for also clearing the greenhouse on Mill Green will have to wait until next week.

Good news on the break-in front is that we not only have some cctv footage but also a registration number for a motorbike the scoundrels were using when they were seen hopping over the fence Friday. I'm looking forward to meeting the Parks Police with that information Monday afternoon if it can be arranged. 

Saturday 26 November 2016

More Shed Break-Ins Reported

It would appear that more shed break-ins have happened Thursday night and have been discovered on Friday, Unfortunately the information came too late to report to the Parks Police who only work Monday to Friday and office hours it would seem as at any other time you get an Answerphone.

So gathering information over the weekend re others that have been hit is key and we will be contacting the Police to report the lasted attack on Monday.

Jane on Plot 3A & 3B found her shed door left open, but could not see if they had taken anything.

Khalida on Plot 7A shed has been broken into, as yet I have no information as to what if anything was taken or any reports of damage  

Derek Plot 25A his shed was open and they appear to have been looking into storage jars and containers. The dividing fence between his plot and Mireille's Plot 25 had two panels kicked out.

Would Spencer Road Allotment holders visiting there plots over the weekend please let me know if they have been visited or if they spot the possible entry and exit routs so we have a complete picture to provided to the Police on Monday.

Thursday 24 November 2016

Seed Sorting

I have two main seed tool boxes, one holds open packs and packs that have been decanted into small high business card type boxes and are in alphabetical order. The other tool box holds the unopened packs or sowing in 2017. There are three much smaller boxes holding peas & beans and seed packs dated 2018 and beyond from seed sales that will get decanted into the two above in the picture, as I run out of seeds (God forbid).

Yes my name is Alan and I am a Seed-a-holic, a few weeks ago I didn't have enough Sweetcorn, now thanks to the Seed Parade 1p a pack flash sale I have an additional pack of Lark Sweetcorn just incase I have any germination problems with the packs I've got and they will bleed over into next years seed supplies. 

I have been sorting and have put aside seeds of varieties that I don't want to grow again, or I just didn't get around to using or I have obtained via seed swaps or multipacks and not going to grow and have put them aside for a local or our own Allotment Seedy Sunday.

Brighton Seedy Sunday will be held at Brighton, Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College on Sunday 5th February 2017.

Wednesday 23 November 2016

10 Bags of Leafs

House sitting at my daughters today waiting for the sky man to come and install her broadband, so I decided I would clear the entrance to her property and ended up with 10 sacks of leafs that are now deposited on my Spencer Road plot, awaiting the fabrication of a leaf bin or enclosure.

I have two bins on the Mill Green plot but I need to fabricate something for the Spencer Road plot as I don't want to leave them in the bin bags. That's another job to add to my ever increasing list of things to do before the next growing season.

I also have all the leafs to sweep up that are in the back garden, no rest for the wicked.

Monday 21 November 2016

And this weeks Numpty Award goes to

Sutton Council's Approved Fencing Contractor

After six weeks of waiting and then chasing because they had not come and repaired the wooden perimeter fence, the councils approved fencing contractor finally arrives and proceed to replace a fence.

But its not the wooden one they walked past on the way into the site, its the concrete post and chain link fence that has been removed to allow the contractor next door access to excavate and lay hardcore risings to provided us with a drop off and pick up area!

I contacted the council officer and let him know what they have done and sent the photo of the wooden fence yet again, he replied and informed me that he sent the photo with the work instruction. Doh!

Talking to the Redrow Site Agent, and informing him that had blocked the access that was created, he informed me that they do still intend to create the drop off and pick up area for us but now as the fence has been replaced they will do the work when they replace the fence between the allotment and their construction site.

Saturday 19 November 2016

Scaffold Boards Committee Meeting & Slabs

Saturday is not my usual Allotment day over the weekend, I'm normally a Sunday morning kind of guy. But this Saturday Derek the site rep had arranged a small half truck and for us to collect some scaffold boards that are no longer fit for duty on a scaffold but will make a most excellent base to the greenhouse that is going to be placed next to the shed, a base to the fruit cages or small onion beds planned for between the fruit cages and the Daleks.

So up early and met with Del at 8:30 to load the van and then drop off to our plots. The committee meeting was fruitful, we have dropped off inside or pinned a notice to the sheds of plot holders that we don't currently have contact detail for. We also established that the little blighters have been back following the initial break-ins and have hit more sheds.

I had not noticed before but the also melted a hole in my blow away that is tied to the shed, so I guess I'm kinda lucky I still actually have a shed!

The next job at hand was to removed and distribute the stacked paving slabs that were on the paved area in the photograph above. Then I proceeded to rough level the paving slabs using the stones and debris that I have already excavated during my weeding and preparing the shed area and the first four beds and the comfrey beds and Dalek army at the rear of the plot.

Once the slabs are roughly level I will get some crushed glass to fill in the voids under the slabs and to provide me a better surface to get the slabs all even.

The amount of stone and debris I have so far has raised slabs as you can see in the photo above, the next job is to start digging beds 5 - 8 and use the risings to lift the rest of the slabs so that I can get the greenhouse erected for the end of March beginning of May. 

Friday 18 November 2016

Weed Membrane With Planting Holes

Following on from my post about marking up the Onion Weed Membrane I finally bit the bullet last night whilst my good lady wife was getting her Emmerdale, Coronation Street, EastEnders fix, and set up a scaffold board between the sink and the worktop in the kitchen and draped the marked up weed membrane over it and proceeded to heat seal 105 planting holes with the soldering iron.

If you have ever used Mypex weed control membrane then you will know that cutting it is a nightmare as it unravels to produce a mess of strands which get caught in almost anything that goes near it, and after a year on the site you may as well throw it away as I did the first year I used it.

It is possible to buy these sheets already produced in a variety of sizes and with different hole configurations, see the QuickCrop web site, however I prefer to custom produce mine out of sheets cut to my 2.4m x 1.2m bed size using my trusty soldering iron. 

So 105 holes later I have my first onion specific sheet ready and waiting which is a good thing as I need to make two of these just for the overwintering onions that are in the greenhouse. I guess it took me about an hour and a quarter to get the tools and set it up and cut, I didn't rush but that time in the dark winter months is going to save me hours of weeding and looking after the onion beds during the growing season.

I have sheets that are now going into their forth year and quite frankly apart from being a little dirty, they do get a brush off before I put them away for winter, they still look as if they have many years of service in front of them.

The added bonus is that I have Brassica Collars to last me a lifetime, as nothing get wasted.

Thursday 17 November 2016

In the Cool Light of Day

On my way home from a site visit this morning, I popped into Spencer Road Allotment to look around in the daylight, and found that in addition to setting fire to the ploy tunnel on the plot used by a school for physically and mentally challenged children and teenagers, they had tried to lever my shed door and the timber framing to it has been prized apart at the top left corner. I have plans to reinforce the top of the door and put in an additional lock in the corner, I've already ordered one on ebay as half the price than the DIY shop and the key appears to match the lower lock already on the door.  

They had set fire to one of my bird scaring windmills then decided to burn the bamboo stake in half

They also melted a soft brick milk bottle full of sand that is used as a soft brick to hold the lid down on my square compost bin at the back of the site.

It looked at they then attempted to try and cremate my meerkat garden ornament that stands in the comfrey bed behind the Daleks as he was placed on the square Dalek lid.

I suspect that they had run out of gas in the burner they pinched from one of the other plot holder shed that he uses to melt holes in the weed membrane, as the meerkat appears uninjured.

We are hoping to piece together their route around the allotment so we can try and establish where they are getting in from, and where they are exiting.    

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Polytunnel Arson

Following on from my post yesterday about our allotment break in.

Once we had light this morning we discovered the little darlings (for want of a better description where their parentage on the fathers side is questioned) who had been breaking into the sheds, had set fire to the polly tunnel that is on the plot next to mine and is used for the disabled and MENCAP society.

It's a shame that these morons get their pleasure from doing this to people who get so much pleasure from their allotment.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Little $£"%^* have done it again!

Got a phone call from the Spencer Road site rep that the little darlings have been on the allotment, broken into sheds and been on the nick again, Brother -In-Law and I went down to appraise the damage and losses, looks like I was OK but they broke into his shed and stole the small blowtorch he uses to melt holes in his weed membrane. I have sent emails to all plot holders that have registered and the site rep put a notice on the Allotment Facebook group.

T&M All Season Sprouts and Cabbages

It's that time of the year when I'm going through my seed boxes and sorting out what I'm going to grow and where and how many, especially as I now have two allotments to contend with.   

During the Wyevale 50p Seed Sale I picked up a pack of the Thompson & Morgan All Season Brussels Sprouts and All Season Cabbages multipacks. I thought what a great concept, three different varieties that take different amounts of time to grow and it can extend the cropping over 18 weeks for the cabbages & 26 weeks for the sprouts.

As we all know a Sprout like a pet isn't just for Christmas

The normal retail price for these packs of seeds is £3.99 a pack and you get an average of 30 seeds in the sprouts so that 10 seeds of each and 35 seeds in the Cabbages so that's, Ummm hang on, not divisible by three? So 12 & 12 and 11 maybe for some reason? Why would anyone do that surely it should say average of 36 seeds and have 12 in each pack? 

The seed outer packs are huge the measure 130mm deep and 180mm wide, and have two slots to hang them up with. This size super pack don't fit in well with all my other seeds and in my two plastic seed boxes, so I opened the packs to retrieve what I logically thought would be three packs of seeds inside, obviously one for each variety. 

Nope what you get is a single pack containing all three varieties!

Now don't get me wrong but what a great concept completely ruined by the final execution. As a gardener I like to know what I'm growing where, Am I likely to actually grow 30 - 36 cabbages even with two allotments? Highly unlikely. 

Not wanting to sound like a racial slur against cabbages but they all look the same when they are young, how the !"£%^&% hell am I suppose to know the difference between a Sir, Attraction and Minicole? The photo on the front is less than helpful as the Attraction is all chopped up.

The Sprouts are exactly the same a single pack of seeds inside the huge outer packaging, and they are just a load of balls and look even more alike especially once off the plant.  

So come on Thompson & Morgan if you are going to do this kind of thing at least put the seeds in three separate small bags, so we know what we are sowing and growing. I expect you sell these varieties on their own as well as in a multipack.


T&M have acknowledged my post see their reply and the conversation here . It appears that they don't think that mixing the tree seeds and providing in a single pack is a barmy idea, they really expect you to grow all 30 or 35 plants on your allotment.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below

Monday 14 November 2016

Not Quite Bugs Bunny Carrots

Sunday was spent nattering with neighbouring plot holders and finally harvesting the carrots. As the title says these in no way of the imagination can be compared with the ideal Bugs Bunny type carrot!

These particular ones were left overs that my brother in law had started off in modules and they have inter-wound around each other as if in a crazy dance, or a loving embrace as they have grown and then have become stuck.

Where's a dog with a bucket of water when you want one?

My aim and objective is to gown some really nice long straight cigar type Bugs Bunny carrots in 2017.

I have acquired a number of different variety seeds, four different types from Lidl, Rote Riesien 2, Nantaise 2, Berlikumer 2, Karnavit.  I must say that the back of the packs are really not all that informative as they have vague instructions in four languages, so it was off to Google and search for some better guidance, which I have typed up on my planning page for Mill Green

Friday 11 November 2016

Seed Parade Flash Sale

A post from Small Pumpkin on the Grapevine today alerted me to a Seed Parade Flash Sale that ran until 9am there was a good selection but at 1p a pack I spent a princely 6p plus postage on:-
   Tomato Alicante 100 seeds
   Carrot Chantenay Red Core 2000 seeds
   Sweetcorn Lark F1 40 seeds
   Lettuce Lobjits Green 500 seeds
   Onion - Spring - North Holland Blood Red 400 seeds
   Leek Mussleburgh 400 seeds

I have registered with them for newsletters etc. so hopefully I will get an email next time they have a Flash Sale - The seedaholic in me can't resist a bargain.  

Thursday 10 November 2016

Planning the Plots

Eagle eyed visitor to the diary / blog may notice that tags for Home and two new pages have appeared just under the Alan's Allotment banner. Home brings you back to this blog but the other two pages take you to the current plan for my Mill Green & Spencer Road Allotments.

These pages will hold my thoughts and plans for 2017 and they will be under development, review and reflection from now and over the winter months and will no doubt be modified on a continuous basis. Especially Spencer Road 23B as a lot depends on how many beds I get ready over the Winter months.

This is the time of year for reviewing what went well, what went bad, to check the seed boxes and plan what is going to be planted where bearing in mind the bed rotation  


Wednesday 9 November 2016

Grow Your Own Magazine

After being nominated and selected as the Grow Your Own magazine forum the Grapevine Member of the Month for November, which lifted my spirits no end, I was thumbing through the December Issue of the magazine which obviously comes out in November and found that one of my forum feedbacks to questions asked by the magazine Admin team along with three other Grapes had made it into the magazine.

Very chuffed !!

Monday 7 November 2016

Save The Bees - Free Wildflowers II

I missed out on free seeds last year but registered my interest on the Beefayre web site and this year received a packet of specially selected mix of wild flowers that will not only look beautiful, but will also attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators to my Allotment. There are enough seed in the pack to cover half a square metre so that's 0.5m x 1.0m.

I will use flower buckets and place them at the end of each of the paths between my beds on the allotment. Not forgetting to collect seed heads in September for re sowing the following year.

Sunday 6 November 2016

First Frost & Final Potato Harvest

I've been meaning to harvest the last of the spuds before the first frost, and had planned to do that this Sunday which was actually our first frost day and I ended up scraping ice off the car windscreen before going to the allotment, the grass paths were white frosty and there was a covering of frost on the weed membrane over the potatoes I had gone to rescue plus water in buckets had a layer of thin ice on the top.

Luckily the weed membrane had kept the frost at bay and it not raining on the 5th of November which does not happen that often, the ground was good for the extraction.

The last remaining spuds were in beds 1 and 4 and I started in bed one because the sun just about gets to that end of the allotment this time of year as a large tree in plot 3 shades my plot during the winter months when the sun does not rise as high in the sky.

Normally my kids mock the fact that I don't get a good jacket potato size crop, well they cant do that this year and I will most defiantly be growing Sarpo Mira, Blue Danube & Axona Potatoes again next year, In fact all the spud I grew this year did really well.

I'm actually saving some of the egg sized spuds to use as seed potatoes next year to see how they produce from my own saved spuds. Lets face it, if you happen to leave a small spud in the ground it grows and you get volunteers the following year anyway.  

I ended up with five B&Q builders buckets worth of spuds to fit in the back of the car.

Having cut the Scarlet Emperor Runner beans off at the base a few weeks ago, I had a flower bucket full of dry pods, and again because of the frosts, these were harvested as I want some beans for myself for growing next year, but I'm also contributing the Bean and Pea seed circle on the Grow Your Own Grapevine forum.
I sorted through the five buckets and extracted the largest of the spuds and washed them and they have been left to dry off on the draining board so they can be bagged up into a potato canvas preserving bag for storing potatoes, it has a breathable black liner that keeps out the light and prevents sprouting, with a drawstring at the top and a zipper base that allows easy access when hung on the back of the outside kitchen store. It's around 260 x 380mm, and holds approx. 2.5kg of potatoes.

These sell for £4 - £5 each on Amazon but I bought a load when the 99p shop had them, I just hope the £1 shop who have taken over the 99p shops also sells them in the future.

Something for the Little Blighters...

On the way home from Mill Green I popped into Spencer Road to drop off some cardboard and a little something I had picked up for the plot

OK I could not resist when I was for sale after Halloween, Hopefully if the little blighters who keep coming over and breaking into the sheds see it in the half light with will scare the be-Jesus out of them.

Perhaps surgical gloves filled with sand half out the ground and some old shoes may help improve the effect.

Saturday 5 November 2016

Grow Your Own Grapevine MOMship

I've been a member of the Grow Your Own magazine forum the Grapevine for a while now, and have blogged here about the forum in the past. The members are called Grapes, and as virtual friends go they are a nice bunch and ready to share plants, seeds, knowledge and advice, and the vine (the forum) has a great community spirit.

I discovered to my delight that I have just been nominated as November 2016 Member of the Month or MoM. To explain what this honour means here is an extract off the forum 

"It is very difficult to choose a single MoM out of so many deserving Grapes, but we choose a shortlist every month, which is then selected from by Admin. The shortlist is chosen from; those who give great gardening advice, those who consistently support the community aspects of the Vine, and relative newcomers who show enthusiasm and community spirit.

Any Grape is free to nominate another Grape if they wish to do so (with reasons, not just cos they're a pal ) and they will then be shortlisted."

The badge of honour is added under the posting banner of the person selected, then the forum Admin and the Moderators post that the MoM has changed and then a thread starts of people who have spotted who the new MoM is, waiting for the new MoM to notice that they have been selected.

I was the punting around the forum catching up and looking for who was MoM when I noticed my banner,  I was completely taken by surprise and what a nice one. I suppose I should thank My Mum and Dad for having me and whoever had the bad judgement to nominate me, and all those that voted for me and all those that have sent nice messages

The Knight image above was posted by forum member Big Mallly (yes with three L's) 

Friday 4 November 2016

More Free Paving Slabs

Yesterday I went after a posting for 38 number 450 x 450 x 50mm thick paving slabs off Freecycle and I manger to get in before anyone else so they became mine for the collecting.

Having picked up 600 x 600 x 50mm in the past I knew they would be heavy, but I was surprised just how much easier to hump around they were. Needless to say transporting in the back of a car 6-7 was the maximum I could safely carry without lifting the front wheels off the road or knackering the rear suspension.

The first two loads were unloaded and placed along the back of the plot in front of the row of daleks, the next spread along the centre path filling in the gaps where I had removed some to hold down the weed membrane between beds.

The last three loads were collected and dropped off in the rain, so they just got neatly stacked on the hard standing where the greenhouse is going for later distribution.     

Thursday 3 November 2016

Onion Weed Membrane

Today I cut two sheets off the weed membrane roll, the width is 2m and my beds are 2.4m x 1.2m wide, so first cut to length, then cut to width leaving me a 800mm wide strip for under the centre path.

Next job was to mark up for onions, the back of the Wilko packs for the Japanese & Red Onions 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.

My daughter gave me a Sakura Pen-Tough Gold Medium Point 2.0mm quick dry Metallic Paint Permanent Opaque marker that she no longer has use for, and it's ideal for marking out the holes on the black weed membrane. Knocks the socks off using chalk like I have used before, not as messy and I can fold the sheet up to deal with later when I have time.

First I set out the lines for the 7 holes along the width of the sheet measuring off the woven lines for guidance, then I marked 150mm centres along the length such that when I placed the Doritos Mexican Salsa lid that has a diameter of 85mm in the line with the arrow lining up with the spacing ticks I had put on the lid on the quadrants, I could then draw around the lid giving me a guideline for the soldering iron when I get around to cutting out the holes. 
So 105 holes to cut and another sheet to cut off the roll and mark up like this one. 

My Walking Onions came today, I opted for a 50:50 split of Catawissa which originated from the USA and Air Onions that came from Finland.

The most common tree onion and one of the most prolific other than the air onion is probably the Catawissa. The scale of farming in the States allowed it to become very well established after its rediscovery in the 70s and many un-named tree onions are probably derived from this variety.

Ian from treeonions.com was true to his word and I received 20% extra onions see post below

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Patrick & Pat are no more..

I noted the temperature in the SpaceSaver greenhouse was 2.9 degrees C this morning at 6:20 so it had to be colder than that in the early hours. I love having the Indoor outdoor wireless Digital LCD Thermometer's in the greenhouse the readout units are mounted on wall next to my computer workstation. Ideal in the summer as it gives me the heads up when to go and open the door to drop the temperature and vent the SpaceSaver.

After last year when we had hardly any kids knocking for Halloween Trick or Treat. This year it went bonkers for bangs on the door and at 8:30 the two tins of Haribo and other sweet had gone so Patrick & Pat were brought inside and we let any others that knocked after that take it out on the door.

The mortal remains of Patrick and Pat have been cut up and decanted into a couple of 10litre food buckets with lids along with flowers from the wife's birthday, and leafs off the trees in the back garden and taken to plot 23B to feed and top up Dalek 1

Well any excuse to get an hour or two on the allotment right.

Managed to tighten up the last raised bed and to fabricate another two, sacks and flower buckets of last years manure laid in layers with Patrick and Pat and Dalek 1 & 2 topped up again. lots of nice red wigglers in there again.


Tuesday 1 November 2016

Top, Topset, Top Setting, Air, Tree or Egyptian Walking Onions

I'm having a bash at the All year Alliums Challenge 2016/17 on the Grow Your Own Grapevine forum, I have my three varieties of over winter onions in and I have recently received my everlasting onions and potato onions from Norfolkgray on the Grow Your Own Grapevine forum

I really fancy having a go at the Tree Onions Botanical Name: Allium cepa proliferum Common Names: Tree Onions, Top Onions, Topset Onions, Top Setting Onions, Walking Onions, Egyptian Walking Onions, Air Onions 

it is perennial and provides a crop for the kitchen all year round and is prolific in a unique way – it grows its new generation of baby onions at the top of its stalks, where the flowers ought to be. At the top of a 3ft hollow leaf stalk, the walking onion develops an apple-sized topset of papery bulbs, like tiny shallots. These mature and turn purplish-red during summer, shedding their paper covering and sending out small roots and shoots of their own, until the plant is carrying a lump of vegetable life high above the bed.

Then the stem dies and breaks, the lump comes crashing to earth and the bulbils break free and scatter. If they hit good soil, they root and start the process again. In a year or two, you’ll have Egyptian walking onions all over.

As the plants stumble onwards, you might, according to many gardeners, find yourself with an embarrassment of onions. There will be green onion shoots or scallions in late winter, picked as they punch their way up through the snow. There will be side bulbs developed a month or two later alongside the mother bulb, just like more familiar spring onions on the supermarket shelf. And there will be those aerial bulblets from the “flower head” in summer.

The top sets or bulbils are an ideal size for pickling or chopping into salads. The onion greens can be used just like spring onions The mature onions are tender and can be used raw or cooked like normal onions.

I have just ordered 30 Walking onions from treeonions.com who sell off their website or as I found them on ebay the cost per onion works out

10 bulbs £4.99 = 50p each
20 bulbs £7.99 = 40p each
30 bulbs £9.99 = 33p each

As a thank you for my blog about him, Ian has informed me that If you let Ian know that you found him via me Quote "Cadalot" and you order directly from his web site, he will send you 20% more onions than you ordered.

There is a great deal of information about Walking Onions, how to grow them and the history and photographs on Ian's website  treeonions.com, and it's well worth a look.

Update on the Onion Experiment from the last view from the greenhouse door