Thursday 29 June 2017

Tomatoes & Sweetcorn at Home

Despite having a couple of trims the tomatoes are lookin a little shaggy again after a couple of spells of rain

That's better I can water the back row easier and I and the sun can now see the fruit, and the two bottles of comfrey tea feed in the top photo have been applied to the tomatoes. 

On the 23rd June I placed Lark Sweetcorn on wet kitchen towel in a couple of old Chinese meal containers, put the lids on and placed them under the stairs in the dark for three days and most of them have sprouted and were transferred into vending machine cups for the next bed of sweetcorn.

The wife and I are gradually clearing all the cardboard boxes that the wet room came in and other storage boxes that we no longer need. I cut the boxes up into strips with a Stanley knife and then my good lady cuts them into squares so that there is air between them and the critters in the compost heap have more edges to chew on.

Storing them in the buckets with lids keep the rain and the mice out of them until I need a layer of brown between the green in the Daleks.

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Comfrey Pipe Repair

During my last visit to plot 23B I attempted to pull the weight out of the comfrey pipe to re fill it as I had another milk bottle of comfrey concentrate but the rope broke as I got the weight to the top of the pipe.

Lesson learnt, don't use cheap £1 shop nylon rope, it's crap! so having picked up some quality Nylon rope from a hardware shop I popped down to replace the rope having already made an appropriate hole in a cap and fed the rope through it and knotted it.

It was easy to unhook the straps and tip the pipe up and get the weight out of the pipe, unscrew the old cap complete with about six inches of rope and replace it with a nice new bright blue one, complete with a flowerpot saucer as a cap.

The comfrey that has gone nuts was cut back and the pipe soon refilled and the extra chopped comfrey going into Dalek 2

Sunday 25 June 2017

Sweetcorn Sunday on Plot 1A

As I was on Spencer Road yesterday it's only right that I spend some time on Mill Green on a Sunday morning Bed 11 was cleared and the paths around it de weeded. the bed was sown with a mixture green manure

When I arrived on the plot the leaves of the spuds in first three SoilFixer buckets were looking thirsty, dry and curling up a little the 4th bucket with 20% SF90 wasn't so O can only put that down to better water retention.

The Lark sweetcorn was planted into bed 2 and the fox crash barrier was moved to the bed to try and protect the little darlings. The runner beans were unwrapped and rewrapped around the correct canes and they are now making their way up the bamboo canes.

I bought a solid replacement wheelbarrow wheel off ebay, as B&Q no longer sell replacements as there is a design fault with them or so I was informed by a member of staff.

The wheel is 2" smaller in diameter and narrower than the original, but two bits of Blue water pipe cut and placed either side keeps the bearings in place and the wheel in the middle of the bolted shaft.

So no more worries about punctures.

Saturday 24 June 2017

Beetroot Onions Rhubarb & Raspberries

Saturday morning visit to Spencer Road as there is a committee meeting so whilst waiting for the members of the committee to show up I planted up four trays or 60 beetroots into bed 6

The rest of the Red Onions were harvested and put in the drying rack, half a dozen dry ones were taken home for my eldest daughter.

She also love the Raspberries from the allotment so a Chinese meal container was filled for her. 

The rhubarb appears to have taken to their new temporary homes in the flower buckets 

But there are a few weeds that have come along with them that I better weed out soon.

Sunday 18 June 2017

Catawissa Walking Onions

A trip to drop off composting materials on plot 23B and I noticed that The Catawissa Walking Onions are doing really well now with a second level of onions appearing.

I had expected vertical stems but they appear to curl around and go wherever they like and I don't need to put a second layer of wind and fox protection up around them. 

Sunday 11 June 2017

Stainless Steel Dibber - Potato/Bulb Planter - Weeder - Soil Sampler

I had two trays of beetroots in vending machine cups to get in bed three this morning.  

Normally I would use a sprung bulb planter, but I have just received a Stainless Steel Dibber,Potato/Bulb Planter,Weeder,Soil Sampler that is manufactured in the UK and sold from a guy called Den Warren on ebay for £8.50

I had not seen and auger like this one before and was interested to see how it performed against a standard bulb planter. The answer is a lot better, it produces a nice tight hole and if you wiggle it around a little it matched the taper on the vending machine cup.

The only thing that lets it down is that there are no graduations or measurements on the side of the tube for you to gauge the depth, but that was quickly solved by placing some rubber bands on the outside of the tube to the height or depth of the vending machine cup.

The Soilfixer SF60 test buckets are doing well and it's hard to see any real difference at the moment. The sprouts in the bed behind are doing well and I will let them get a little taller before I stake them.

The spuds are in flower

The runner beans that have not been nobbled by the slugs and snails are starting their way up the bamboo.

I put a few more in front of those already in and an additional bamboo at a slope The new bulb planter is the ideal diameter for toilet rolls

Friday 9 June 2017

In My Seed Box - Cucumbers

Review Of Seed Stocks in Zippy Bags 

Achocha Fat Baby - three packs from seed circles
Akito F1 - two packs from lidl
Burpless Tasty Green - single pack from King Seeds
Chicargo Pickling - from seed circle
Cucamelon - Single pack from Premier Seeds
Marketmore - five packs one from GYO Magazine
Miniature White - pack from seed circle 

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets Sow By 2016/ 2017 - None in packets

I have historically grown Marketmore & Burpless and they both did really well, however 2016 really was not as good as previous years for Marketmore, but the Burpless went Bonkers and I had too many. These two are my yearly standards

This year I have also sown Achocha Fat Baby, Akito F1, Burpless Tasty Green, Chicargo Pickling & Marketmore 

The pickling variety is for my sister who loves them, the Achocha Fat Baby, Akito and Minature White because I have the seeds and have never grown or eaten them before, so why not grow some and see what they are like.  

The Greenhouse did get erected in time to try out the Cucamelon this year, so perhaps next year?

Wednesday 7 June 2017

Onion Harvest & Hanging Rack

A two hour visit in which I found another covered area for the cardboard so that I could trim and hang the onions that I harvested yesterday and I pulled the rest of the onions from Bed 5 then covered it over to kill off the weeds as I didn't have time to dug them all out.

The photo above is mainly from Bed 5 with a few red onions from Bed 3, so if I can find a way of growing around the white rot or just grow an excess so that I end up with a reasonable amount it looks like I may need another shelf made up for the extension to the shed.  

Bed 3 was weeded and a few onions had lost their stalks, a few more were harvested to check for signs of white rot, but for the moment thing are looking good in bed 3, so I will leave them to fatten up a little.

The battery on the strimmer died more or less straight away, so I used the push lawn mower to clear the path behind me and my neighbour so I can get to the tap if I need too. The weeds coming up around the perimeter of the site on the boundary path with my neighbour were given a spray with weed killer, just before coming home.

Tuesday 6 June 2017

Air Onions & Onion White Rot

The air onions bulbs are starting to appear at the top of the onions.

I weeded the onion beds 5 & 3 on the 11th May and I've been waiting for some mulch from Marshalls to arrive to test, but when it does it will be too late for the onion beds. With the rain and sunny mild weather the weeds have gone mad in the last three weeks as can be seen in the photographs above.

I started to weed and accidently pulled an onion and found that it had white rot!   That's why the left side of bed 5 in the photo has no onions in it, about 30% had white rot!

Those that appear OK are now laying in the extension to the shed, I can't hang them as I would like as the cardboard below the shelf will not allow it. Next dry day I need to get down to the plot and lay some of the cardboard out and harvest the rest of the onions in bed 5 and place them in the drying rack before they all get white rot.

Monday 5 June 2017

Mr Sam the Allotment Man Builds A Comfrey Pipe

Mr Sam the allotment man and his Dad have built a Comfrey Pipe based on mine, however the solar powered oxygen aerator on mine is used in the plastic dustbin / water butt that I use for comfrey on draft not in the concentrate.

You don't get the smell off the concentrate to the extent of when creating comfrey tea in a bucket using leaves, unless you are silly enough to sniff the container containing the concentrate like Sams Dad!  

I have to say I love watching these guys no script and both naturally very funny and bounce off each other, they have a great father son relationship.

Sunday 4 June 2017

SoilFixer Potato Experiment & Runner Beans

The runner beans that I sowed a little over a week ago were getting to the point where they would start to wind around each other so they needed to go in today

I didn't have time to lower and fix the fames directly to the wall so I ended up hanging the new gallows brackets off the existing hanging basket brackets.

This means they are higher that they should be and that the cantilevering bamboo now aligns with the strut rather than the top member but it will do for this year.

I may tweak the brackets and fix at a lower level over the winter months, if I think it will be better lower down.

When I dropped off some compost on Friday buckets 1 3 and 5 of the SoilFixer Experiment were displaying the potato haulms, but this morning all the buckets are showing. 

Despite the forecast of showers, I did give them all a drink. I'm looking forward to seeing what the difference is between them in terms of numbers and weights of the harvest.

Note to self, get a luggage scales and some plastic bags ready for harvest time.

I also had some Grip Bond left over from the DIY I have been doing and silicone up the split in the lid to the large compost bin     

Saturday 3 June 2017

Beetroot & Sweetcorn Sowing Time

Due to my wifes ill health resulting in a couple of stays in hospital, some bedrest and recovery at home and then having to decorate before the installation of a stair lift (more on that one later!), I have not been as pro active as I should have been on the gardening front.

I was keeping to the sowing schedule, but I'm so far off now there is no real possibility of getting back on track. My eldest daughter has just used the last of the beetroots that I pickled last year so I've had a bit of a blitz and have sown

30 vending machine cups or two trays of Bettollo Beetroots
30 vending machine cups or two trays of Detroit 6 Beetroots
30 vending machine cups or two trays of Cardeal F1 Beetroots

These are now in the Space Saver greenhouse in the back garden.

The sweetcorn germination is really poor so I tried an experiment, two plastic Chinese meal containers with kitchen towel in the bottom wet and sweetcorn laid out on the towel. One container when on the shelf in the greenhouse in sunlight/ daylight and the other in the dark in the cupboard under the stairs.

The winner and best and fastest results of germination came from the container in the dark under the stairs. I have sown the sweetcorn into the pots that didn't produce and into a tray module of 15 vending machine cups.

There is however a little toe rag of a snail of a slug eating the tender shoots in the greenhouse somewhere and when I find him he will be dispatched to snail or sluggy heaven.

Friday 2 June 2017

Feeding Dalek 6

Another large sack of grass cuttings picked up from my sisters house and taken to the large Dalek 6 on Mill  Green plot 1A with a bucket of paper shredding's.

It's amazing how quickly this bin rots the grass down, once again after being filled to the top twice it's once again down to the top of the removal door at the bottom of the Dalek.  

Again I placed in layers with cut up comfrey and watered as we fill him up.  

Planning & Reviewing June in Previous Years

Reviewing the diary over the last four years for June

2013 - Potting up tomatoes & peppers, potatoes, cabbages, sprouts and sweet corn, dug beds 7 & 8  
2014Watering system installed on Mill Green plot 1A, Potted up Tomatoes into buckets, installed bed 12, Marrows in manure covered in cardboard. Beetroots, Harvested the first bunch of Spring onions. Harvested first early potatoes from buckets. End of the month bed 13 completed, second bed of runner beans sown.         

2015 -  Not many posts in the blog for this month in this year, it was however my first Vlog from the plot. first year trying French beans the family didn't like them and it they have not been grown again since. Potted tomatoes from vending machine cups into pots that were taken to the grow house on the plot. First year growing Marketmore cucumbers. Sweetcorn planted on Fathers day, First year for successfully growing a whole bed of Parsnips. First year for peas. Cherries on the cherry trees. Sent two Crimson Crush tomato plants.   

2016 - Very cold June. Grow House heaving with plants, Burpless Cucumber transplanted into pots, Tomatoes potted on from vending machine cups, Sprouts failed and I had to buy some. Third sowing of beetroots, First year for celery. Flooding at Wallington Railway Bridge
Second sowing of sweetcorn due to slow germination then the first sowing germinated after the first ! Drying Coffee Grounds

Mill Green - Runner beans planted out, sweetcorn planted out into beds mulched with cut comfrey, Sprouts planted out,    

Spencer Road - Onions, Potatoes, Beetroots and infrastructure works. 

Home - Tomatoes finally get transplanted into flower buckets.  

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 May 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
  • Make Air Onion raised bed frame.- stalled so they have been put into Bed 3
  • Make a decision about if to have permanent beds behind the fruit cages - Yes Behind  
  • Rhubarb Bed to be created - currently in flower buckets awaiting a permanent home 
  • Sow Potatoes - some more have gone in but it's getting too late
Mill Green

  • Tidy Up the Allotment - Ongoing
  • Hoop Cages and Netting for Onions from Mill Green to Spencer Road - Not Yet but blue pipe obtained and just found white rot on the onions
  • Install hoop eyes and training wires for trees - TBD
  • Plant Cauliflower Beds - TBD
  • Sow Carrot Bed - TBD
  • Trim the grapevine Back - TBD
  • Sow Potatoes in Buckets - Done
  • Sow Potatoes in the ground - TBD 
  • New Runner Bean Gallows Bracket installed - Done
  • Clear the crap out of the sheds - Started one done
  • Sow all the seeds Listed Here
  • Purchase vent opener for new greenhouse.- Not Yet