Tuesday 27 February 2018

Gardeners World Special Allotments 2016

Something to watch when SWMBO is watching soaps ! How come I never saw this in 2016?

Sunday 25 February 2018

Free Timber & Babington Leeks

Builder behind my plot asked, "Would you like some timber joists to use for your raised beds?" I was around there like a flash and only had to put them over the wall. All nicely stacked up and ready to cut to size now.

I know we are supposed to be getting 8" or 200mm of snow this week but I thought I better start warming the beds up a bit so I dug out the solar tents and then went about filling 8 milk bottles of sand to hold them in place against the wind. The path between the beds has membrane in place and a slab either end, I just need to lift the slab on the main path and tuck it under before the woodchip goes in when it comes.

The frames to beds 2 &3 have now been screwed together and the weed membrane between beds 2&3 and 3&4 has been laid and a paving slab placed at either end waiting for the next delivery of woodchips. I need to find a couple of membrane sheets cut to bed size but for the moment I'm leaving be 3 open to the elements. 

Gerry the kind gent who sent me the Walnut Trees also sent me some Babington Leeks your supposed to plant them about 200mm apart but for the moment I have them in flower buckets filled of my grade 1 home made compost. I should be able to collect the bulbils about July/Aug and plant some for next year.  Dig up the cloves in Autumn and leave a few to produce leeks in late winter. 

Here is what I have found out about them, apart from they are very much like Catawissa Walking Onions with the bulbil at the top 

Babington leeks, Allium Ampeloprasum var Babingtonii, is one of the tastiest and easy to grow perennial vegetables. Named after Charles Cardale Babington, this wild and hardy perennial leek is a native sea shore plant and perennial ancestor to garden leeks. It is extremely low maintenance and ideal for polyculture spaces as it will thrive between other plants and can tolerate a range of soils and positions.

How to Grow 

When your bulbils arrive you can sow direct about 8cm deep allowing 8-10cm space between each bulbil. Alternatively you can sow the bulbils in a roomy pot and just leave outside, when tips emerge, you can carefully separate out the sprouted bulbils and plant them as above. They will remain dormant until late Autumn/early winter, when you should see the first growing tips emerge.
How to Harvest 

Mark where you have planted them so you can look out for growth appearing. The first appearance of Babington leek shoots can vary depending on your local climate and region with first shoots as early as October right through to December/January.
How to Propagate New Plants 

Babington leeks are so tasty that you will want to harvest them all, but if you want to increase your stock quickly you need to let some of them flower. The leeks will throw up a very tall stem around July time with very attractive purple flowers. These in turn go on to produce a head of bulbils, each bulbil producing a new leek. The head will naturally bend and plant itself or you can gather bulbils and separate them when the cases are papery and sow in a new spot. As the plants mature, they produce a very large underground bulb with a cluster of ‘mini bulbs’ or offsets which will form clumps of new growth above ground. You can lift and separate and move bulbs around when they are in their dormant stage. You will find leeks popping up in strange places as bulbils sometimes get flung a distance, but it is exciting when that happens! It takes patience to establish a Babington colony, but well worth it and you will have them forever. The life cycle of the leeks is: Emerge in late Autumn/early winter, harvesting period March to June, flowers emerge July to August ( from plants that have not been cut for harvesting), Bulbils can be collected in August, plants die back by end of September. As each year passes the underground bulbs become larger. Timing of growth/flowering cycle may vary according to your location and temperature.

How To Eat

Babington Leeks – flowers, stems, bulbs and bulbils are all edible. The leeks have a deep savoury taste and make the most delicious base for soups, are great in omelettes, or just simply sautéed in a pan. They have a garlicky hit too which just adds to their many culinary uses.

I also managed to clear a little more of the area behind the shed and have installed a couple or polycarbonate sheets on the gap to create a dry storage area. 

Next visit to take down the sprout cage from bed 12 and install on bed 2, and cover Bed 7 & 8 with glass panels to warm the beds up.

Saturday 24 February 2018

Thermometer with Hygrometer-Clock

I have purchased these historically for the greenhouse on Mill Green allotment and for the Space Saver greenhouse in the back garden.

I have one placed at the apex of the greenhouse with the outside sensor hung on the fence beside the greenhouse as a direct indoor out door comparison.

Then I have cable tied one at the top and second tray levels in the middle and taken the external sensor to the side walls internally so I can see the temperature variation within the greenhouse, as the sun travels across the front and the greenhouse goes back into shade. 

They also provide me with information about where the hot spots are and how the reflectors at the back of the greenhouse affect the temperature

Another six of these were purchased last January, two more for the Space Saver and three for the new greenhouse for Spencer Road Allotment and one for the grow station in the shed.

I wanted to buy more so that I could understand a little more about the temperature difference in different areas of the greenhouses throughout the day as the green house comes out of shade and into the sun and then returns into shade from around 8:30am  - 11am in the summer and then returns into sun around 3pm to sunset.

It does not appear that Lidl are selling these this year which is such a shame. I tried finding them elsewhere but no joy. so the nearest thing I can find that is powered by a conventional AA or AAA battery that is relatively small but only covers a single location was these. 

So that's 2.8 Degrees C difference between one side of the space saver and the other at the top shelf eaves level in the shade of the afternoon


Temperature survey range:0℃-50℃

Humidity survey range:10%-98%

Analyze degree:0.1℃,1%RH
Power supply: one AAA battery

The button usage
"F/C": press the "C/F" key, you can choose to display temperature in Celsius or Fahrenheit
"MAX/MIN": press "MAX/MIN" key once to display the maximum period of MAX- measuring indoor temperature 
and humidity; Then press the "MAX/MIN" key once again to display the minimum period of MAX- measuring
indoor temperature and humidity.
"RESET": press this key to clear away all your setting

Photo taken at 10:15 when the sun starts moving behind the tree and the Space Saver falls into shade until the afternoon when the sun comes from the left of the picture and once again provides light and heat. a 14,9 Degree difference between the left (shaded) and right (sunny) side of the Space Saver.

Figures for the Day 

Time     Left     Right    Difference
Night    -1.50    -1.40    -0.10 C  
Max     24.50   30.50     6.00 C
10:15   13.80   28.70   14.90 C Sun from the front
11:07   11.80   15.40     3.60 C
11:47   10.90   19.50     8.60 C
13:32   13.30   16.30     3.00 C
15:44   20.80   16.50     4.30 C Sun now from left side 
20:10     1.60     1.30     0.60 C
?           -0.10    -0.50    -0.40 C Lowest over night temperatures
07:22     0.00    -0.50    -0.50 C Following Morning.

Friday 23 February 2018

Free Seeds and why not!

I love it when friends on Facebook let you know when there are Free offers 

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Walnut Trees Arrive

A very nice gardener called Gerry who I was conversing with on the Mind Your Peas and Cues Facebook forum on one of the treads about growing fruit and nuts, sent me half a dozen one year old Walnut tree saplings as a couple of other Site Reps near me also want to grow walnuts trees to harvest their nuts on their allotments.

In return I send Gerry some Catawissa Walking Onions and the postage for the trees

Gardeners generally are such nice people and willing to share. The Mind Your Peas and Cues Facebook group is relatively young and at the time of this posting has a membership of 1,287. It has to be said it's one of the friendliest and active gardening groups on Facebook so if you have not found it yet, search for it and become a member.

Thanks again Gerry as you can see their in flower buckets for the moment until I get the new plot sorted.

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Sutton Allotments Group Meeting

Following on from the emergency Sutton Allotments Group meeting called in October 2017 between The London Borough of Sutton, Idverde and the Allotment Site Reps the annual meeting was held on the 19th February at the Salvation Army building in Sutton. 

I made a presentation on behalf of the London Borough of Sutton - Allotment Site Rep Hub

Here is a link to a post about the meeting on the LBS-ASRH.org.uk Web Site 

Sunday 18 February 2018

Plot 1A - New Bed Frames

An early start 8:30 which meant that I had cleared removed the plastic edging and installed the frame on Beds 5 - 7 before 10:30 and I managed to remove the plastic edging weed the bed and kill loads of slugs that were under the weed membrane on Bed 4 and lay the weed membrane on the paths between beds 4&5 and 5&6.

The Owl has made up to the top of the handrail post that was removed when the stair lift was installed, and I should be able to move it around so the birds don't get used to it being in one place.

I also managed to get the contents of the two incinerators burnt and have started stacking rotten timber up ready for the next burn up.

I need to attack and remove as much of the remaining hawthorn on Plot 1 and burn what I can before the bonfire ban starts in April

The Daleks that were on Bed 8 have been placed on plot 1 along with other items to be used to hold down the weed membrane against the wind.

If I can get another 4 and a half hour mornings in I should be able to get plot 1A completely ready for sowing.

View looking up the Allotment 

The beds do look much better framed with decking. At the moment I have only placed a slap at each end of the weed membrane on the paths between beds 4&5 and 5&6 on the left of the main central path there is already a paved path between the greenhouse and bed 6.

View Looking Down the Allotment from the top entrance point 

Sunday 11 February 2018

Cleaning and Covering Up

This morning I managed 3 hours on the plot and covered up the area where the shed and green house will be going as nettles had started coming through, as Its still way to stodgy to dig. I attacked the Ivy that has overgrown adjacent to the existing shed and filled up both incinerators to the brim and hopefully they should be dry enough to burn next weekend. There is a huge sack of cuttings in the greenhouse that I'm hoping will dry out more during the week.

I managed to cut up a sack load of plastic pop bottles from the old pop bottle greenhouse, and will look to do the same once a fortnight until all the pop bottles frames have been taken apart and the plot cleared.

Last week the entrance was worse than this photo, it was turning into a bog, I emailed the contracts manager at Redrow and asked if he could get some sub base laid and rolled in and this week it looked like the picture below 

A much better surface to drive and walk on when opening and closing the gates, no longer getting caked in mud before and after the wellies go on. We just need to install some pipes for the drop bolts to go into when the gates are open and closed. Nothing that some blue water pipe and some instant concrete won't solve. 

Thursday 8 February 2018

Heating Up The Candle Pots

I have to admit my good lady wife, suggested that I bring in the pots to warm them up in front of the radiator. Normally she is not as welcoming when my hobby starts invading the house 

The pot stands on 3 legs that I made by casting concrete in the bottom of pop bottles, I take the warm pot because its been up against the pipes to the radiator indoors, out to the space saver greenhouse where the candles have been placed with their wicks extended so that I just have to slide the door open at 10:00 (bedtime) light the candles, place the Terracotta pot on top and then close the door.

The only reason I'm warming the pots is so they don't have to warm up from being very cold so they heat up and start radiating a lot faster than they would if the pots had been left in the greenhouse all day to get cold.

The tea lights 2 or 3 are used depending on the forecast last 9.5 - 10 Hours the new batch I have just bought say 8 hours but that's still taking me around until 6 in the morning and normally by then ta this time of year the sun is coming around to warm up the greenhouse anyway.

The pot heat ups and radiates the heat into the greenhouse, As its a small Norfolk Space Saver, I have considered black pop bottles to absorb the heat during the day and to warm the air during the night as they loose the heat they have gained but I've not tried it yet.

Sunday 4 February 2018

Forward Is Still Forward

After a week of man flu and rain, I did manage to get down to the allotment for a few hours this Sunday morning, which cheered me up no end, it was very cold but sunny and dry, I can do cold, I have no problem with cold, if you are working you generate heat but wet that's a whole different ball game, I don't do wet.  

I worked on shifting the blue pipe off bed 8 and stacking behind the greenhouse. I intend to mount some brackets on the wall behind the new shed on plot 1 and stack the blue pipe there once the shed has been moved over. The tarp that was over the path between beds 8&9 was removed, covered with weed membrane and paving slabs laid. 

The plastic bed edging was dug up and the decking board timber bed edging was screwed together. The bed re-dug which as it's not walked upon and spuds were dug out of it last year was no problem.

Finally the weed membrane and a couple of paving slabs either end of the path between bed 7 & 8 was laid. The climbing frames for the cucumbers on bed 7 were dismantled and stacked against the greenhouse. 

I need to get the new bed frames and the paths covered on Plot 1A ready for the growing season as much as I need to get the shed and greenhouse area of Plot 1 ready, the weather combined with personal and working commitments are limiting the time I'm able to give to the tasks.

Not as many hours on a Sunday as I would like on the plot, but little and often works as long as it is often, and that's something I need to arrange better. I just need to have in my mind that forward Is still forward no matter how slow the steps are or seem to be.

Saturday 3 February 2018

Cars & Greenhouses

Q: What do Cars and Norfolk Space Saver Greenhouses have in common? 

A: They have glass that is hard to get at and clean

I purchased an Interior windscreen cleaner for my Vauxhall Zafira which has a long sloping front windscreen that you can't reach to clean when in the seat with your seat belt on. Hell it's near impossible with the seat belt off.

Then it struck me, this would be ideal for

cleaning the dampness off the polycarbonate roof and front panels including the sliding door of my Space Saver Greenhouse.

For £2.99 you get an extendable handle from 330mm  – 490mm with pivoting head, ideal for hard-to-reach areas. Two removable double-sided microfibre pads ensure a streak-free windscreen 

I've been using it for some time now and its ideal for dealing with the internal buildup of moisture and I clear my windows and sliding door each morning this time of year to allow the sun to get in there to my seedlings and over wintering plants.