Tuesday 30 May 2017

Push Lawn Mower From Freecycle

I came back from an overnight stay as we attended our old neighbours daughters wedding and found that I had managed to get a Push Lawn Mower on Freecycle for the Allotment,  it's virtually new and works like a dream I'm well chuffed.

Andy had cut the grass front and back and asked if I wanted the large sack of cutting, so I collected them when I dropped off my daughter and took them to the allotment for composting.

Saturday 27 May 2017

My Comfrey Cup Runneth Over

It's been 16 days since my last visit when there was about 5mm of comfrey in the bottom of my milk bottle under the comfrey pipe, but on my visit this morning I found that my milk bottle of comfrey had literally runneth over!

The weight in the pipe was no longer protruding from the top of the pipe and looking at how much I had to pull it back up the comfrey level was about halfway down the pipe.

The milk bottle was swapped out for an empty one and the full one capped and moved to one side. Then two square flower buckets of comfrey was cut up and thrust down the pipe until once again half of the weight was protruding from the top of the pipe.

The concrete blocks and the paving slab for the comfrey water butt need to be transported from Mill Green Allotment to Spencer Road at the earliest opportunity so I can have comfrey on draft.  

I could wait no longer to put the air onions in, so they have gone into the end of the bed three along with 15 bunches of spring onions as I have not had time to dug the air onion bed 2 or fabricate the raised bed out of the scaffold boards.  

One would not believe that I cleared the weeds from the onion beds 3 & 5 about a fortnight ago, the little rain we've had along with the sunny warm days and the weeds have really gone for it. I didn't have time to weed both the onion beds again, only half of bed 3. I have been promised so mulch from Marshalls to trial that may help keep the weeds at bay.

I did however manage to plant the last 10 Estima potatoes into bed 4 leaving 9 locations for some other potatoes so that's priority next visit.  

Monday 22 May 2017

Sprouts & SoilFixer SF60 Potato Test

The year I have managed not to kill off the sprouts and have 3 of 5 different varieties and I selected the best two and planted them in the bed  Cromwell, Montgomery, Eveham Special, Bedford Darkmar 21 & Rubine.

The spares will remain in the coldframe as reserve. For more information on the varieties see Sowing Brussel Sprouts Blog Post
The SoilFixer SF60 Super Soil Improver biochar/colloidal humus matrix acts as ‘sponge’ for water and essential nutrients – storing them ready for use. The ‘sponge’ matrix supports increased levels of soil microbes. The microbes (notably mycorrhizal fungi) can access the stored nutrients. They form symbiotic relationships with plant roots and supply nutrients to the roots. This mechanism is sometimes described as ‘improved soil health leading to improved plant growth’. (More detail around SF60, the role as an improver versus fertiliser, versus compost can be found in the SoilFixer SF60 FAQ blog post)

The test mixes on Mill Green Allotment in front of Bed 12 Brussel Sprouts are from left to right:-  

1) My Own Compost & Coir 50:50 
2) My Own Compost & Coir with SF60 & 5% by volume
3) My Own Compost & Coir with SF60 & 10% by volume
4) My Own Compost & Coir with SF60 & 20% by volume
5) My Own Compost & Coir with Potato Fertiliser
6) My Own Compost & Coir with SF60 & 5% by volume with Potato Fertilizer

This is a bit of an adjustment to what I had planed to test, but I'm running late this year due circumstances outside my control and normally these would have been started early in the greenhouse at the end of March, but as I never really got the greenhouse clear enough I've waited for the last frost plus a couple of weeks.

In about 13 weeks when the foliage begins to turn yellow and die back I will harvest all six buckets and compare the weight and number of spuds from each bucket, As I'm using the Marshalls PotatoPots I may have a sneak peek at 5 & 10 weeks in before harvesting.   

Tuesday 16 May 2017

The Gate Returns & Wicks 3 for 2 Offer.

Well it actually looks like Idverde who have won the Parks Contract with the local Authority can perform faster than the Local Authority and the gate is back up in record time.

I've started potting up the Tomatoes, and hardening off the ones inside the waiting buckets as I have run out of compost.

A visit to Wicks and I have managed to pick up a 3 for 2 offer on Westland Multipurpose Compost 100L with my 10% Discount app on my phone 300 Litres for around £15 is a good deal.

I normally use B&Q Verve but the 125L packs are just too heavy and large to handle easily. And buying 3 x 70L for a £10 is just not value for money.

B&Q could do with taking a leaf out of Westland book and reduce the size and weight to make them more manual handling safe.

One has to ask the question have B&Q never heard of the Manual Handling regulations?

For the moment my time is booked for decorating in advance of new carpet being laid before the stair lift is fitted, so once that's done I will be able to open the Westland MPC and see how it compares with the Verve. I do always use the Westland seedling compost but I have not tried their MPC before. I hoping the quality is as good as their seedling compost, I have never been disappointed with their products yet but we will see.

Sunday 14 May 2017

Where Has The Gate Gone !

My Sister-In-Law offered another giant sack and a half of cut grass that was collected and taken to Mill Green Allotment, but when I got there the gate and fence had been removed. I had reported that a lorry had driven into the post and had pushed it over resulting in the breaking of two of the three hinges on the gate. My brother -in-law had managed to prop it up temporally.

I fitted the Mosquito Net to protect fruit on Cherry tree  

At £3.99 each from ebay It's a no brainer and it covers the tree really well.

Thursday 11 May 2017

Update Comfrey Compost and Onions

Here is an update on the comfrey on Spencer Road allotment Plot 23B

There is only 29 days between the top two photographs

There are 16 more days between the second and third making 45 days between the top and bottom photograph.

Such is the rate of growth of comfrey in its second year

I have cut it back and placed two layers of comfrey in Dalek 2 either side of a layer of grass and watered it in as it was placed.

The 2 litre pop bottle full of sand weight has dropped further into the pipe telling me that the consolidation and rotting process is on its way.

In the bottom of the milk bottle is some nice dark semi pure comfrey, a very small amount of water was added originally to wet the comfrey to assist in kicking off the rotting down process.

Once the weight can no longer be seen the pipe will be topped up with more cut comfrey

The Estima Spuds in bed 2 have recovered from the frost scorching and are starting to find their way through the holes in the weed membrane. Bed 4 in the background was uncovered and due to the lack of rain the leaves have not degraded as much as I hoped for and as I didn't have time to plant the remainder of the spuds I cut the comfrey and covered then added more leaves to the bed and gave it a good drowning.

The Japanese and Radar onions are doing well in bed 6 but were in desperate need of a good drowning.

The spring onions were added to the Red Onion Bed 3 and watered in

I'm a little disappointed in the lack of progress of the tree onions to grow, by now I had thought they would have been much higher than they are.

I started setting up the top half of the watering system around the beds that are already in place basically because it was all so dry and needed watering badly.

Two hours goes much too fast, there is so much still to do and so little time to get it done in

Wednesday 10 May 2017

Protecting Fruit Trees

A big thank you to Sam Williams who posted on the Facebook Allotment Growers UK forum, the idea of using Mosquito Nets to protect fruit on trees. At £3.99 each from ebay I now have an easy way of making sure I actually get some of the Cherries off my Cherry trees this year.

Saturday 6 May 2017

It's World Naked Gardening Day Today

So I will not be visiting the allotment today! for more information about World Naked Gardening Day see here

Thursday 4 May 2017

Tuesday 2 May 2017

Watering System For Spencer Road

On the weekend whilst shopping I picked up some three way male hose connectors and some female and female stop connectors as they were being sold at 50p each at TESCO.

The female stop connectors stop the water from flowing when there isn't something installed and after the problems I have had with the spray guns this year leaking on Mill Green after getting them out of storage and re fitting them. I have decided to install a stop connector at the end of each hose, so I can move the head from pipe to pipe rather than buy an end for each pipe.

Like Mill Green the intention is to limit the amount of dragging the hose around the plot by installing a system of hoses from left to right in the diagram above, one hose covers the Greenhouse, the next Beds 1-4, then 5 - 8, 9 -12 the fruit cages & Air Walking Onions then the Daleks and Comfrey Beds.

Monday 1 May 2017

Planning and Reviewing May in Previous Years

Reviewing the diary over the last four years for May

2013 - Spring was the coldest for 50 years, I had the first six beds and the comfrey bed in place. Beds 5 & 6 were Sprouts and Cabbages, as expected lots of sowing and potting on happened.
2014Frost warnings and seedlings grown in the grow house inside the green house on Mill Green. Potato Halums were a little frost damaged, Slabs at home laid for the Space Saver Greenhouse, Erected the Space Saver Greenhouse at home and the Double grow House at Mill Green.        

2015 -  Potatoes in Buckets, transplanting Tomato plants, High Winds and damage on the plots, Cherry Trees have Cherries on them, Planting out Spring Onions, Harvesting Over wintered spring onions, Planting Cabbages and Cauliflowers and the Crimson Crush plants arrive, three more bed frames made 

2016 - Spencer Road - Second sowing of sweetcorn due to slow germination then the first sowing germinated after the first !, Beds 1-3 completed, Potatoes in bed 3. Comfrey bed 2 completed.

Mill Green - overwintered onions in greenhouse planted to replace those that were nobbled by slugs in the beds, Sowing frenzy of beetroots, Spring Onions, Cucumber, Celery, second sowing or brassica's as first sowing died. Frost second week of May. Bean frame maintenance.   

As one expects there are items that are common to the month, it's interesting looking back at the work on my first plot and comparing that with the second. Most certainly having a plot to deal with has meant that the progress on the second plot has not been so swift.

Below is the to do list in no particular order and catching up with what actually happened in April and what has slipped

Spencer Road
  • As much infrastructure works as the weather will allow - Ongoing
  • Raise the paving for the greenhouse- Ongoing
  • Erect the greenhouse - Still waiting for the base to be completed
  • Weed the area and create Bed 8 for Spring Onions - Done
  • Make Walking Onion raised bed frames.- Still One to complete
  • Make a decision about if to have permanent beds behind the fruit cages - Yes Behind  
  • Dig up Rhubarb from Maggie's plot - Done
  • Sow Potatoes - Half done one additional bed to go in
Mill Green
  • Tidy Up the Allotment - Ongoing
  • Clear The Greenhouse - Done
  • Hoop Cages and Netting for Onions from Mill Green to Spencer Road - Not Yet but blue pipe obtained .
  • Drain and Move Nettle Water Butt to Spencer Road - Done
  • Install hoop eyes and training wires for trees - TBD
  • Prepare Cauliflower Beds - Done
  • Warm Up Carrot Bed - Done
  • Trim the grapevine Back - Way overdue
  • Sow Potatoes in Buckets - Delayed due to weather
  • Sow Potatoes in the ground - 2 and a hlf beds to be sown
  • Bean Frame to be fixed back to the Wall - Built new gallows brackets to be erected 
  • Clear the crap out of the sheds - Started one done
  • Sow all the seeds Listed Here
  • Already stocked up with coir for 2017, but I will need to replenish for 2018 - Started
  • Purchase vent opener for new greenhouse.- Not Yet 

Shelf Fitting, Weeding & Laying Slabs

I was on the Spencer Road allotment plot 23B early this morning at about 7:30, to miss the rain that was due and arrived between 10 and 11, and to get a few hours in before the rest of the household woke up. I took the shelf and fixed the supports on the sides of the extension to the shed. I trimmed about 4mm off the width of the shelf unit to give a little tolerance as the sides are not totally parallel or a hundred percent vertical. I forgot to take the hinges, so hinges and toggle to hold the shelf when in the up position will need to be fitted on the next visit.

Still didn't get around to planting the next bed of spuds as the weeds had started to take over the Japanese Onion bed and they needed to come out as the onions don't need any competition. The other onion bed that has the Coco compost mix on has hardly any weeds, so perhaps I should mulch around the Japanese onions?

Not enough time let to get into any serious digging done, so I decided to start re arranging the paving slabs where the greenhouse is destined to go. the 300mm wide strip will now go on the boundary with my neighbours plot allowing about 700mm between the extension to the shed and the side of the greenhouse when erected.