Monday 30 April 2018

Scoping Out The Week

I know the forecasts change on an hour by hour basis, but I can't help but look forward and see what may be possible gardening and weather wise. So at the moment this is what the BBC are predicting for us this week.

Looking outside in the garden the trees are swaying, the ornamental windmill is rotating at a rate of knots and its been raining hard all night and continues now. The temperature is only between 4 - 4.6C in the Space Saver greenhouse and I know the tomatoes will be sulking until they warm up again at the end of the week

My youngest daughter gave me a token for some hours work on the allotment for my birthday and Friday is overcast between two sunny days, and I believe she is having Friday off so I may have to get my request in early. An ideal day for shifting wood chips.

Lawn cutting over the weekend me thinks and Beetroot & Carrot planting on Sunday and Runner Bean planting insitu could be on the cards, along with sowing Sweetcorn, Parsnips, more Beetroots in modules, more Carrots in loo rolls, Runner Beans in loo rolls. Create more planting membrane and path weed membrane strips. 

If the expected weather happens I would expect to see progress on many allotments that have so far not been touched this year, if not I predict non-cultivation letters will start to flow from idverde from allotments borough wide. 

Sunday 29 April 2018

Not What I Had Planned To Do

When I get comments on my video from the likes of Sean James Cameron of Diary of a UK Gardener asking me if "Everything OK? No updates for a month." I kind of feel obliged to produce something on Video. I feel very honored that he actually bothers to watch what I produce to be truthful. I must say wish I felt comfortable enough to make the kind of videos that Shaun does, but I don't appear in front of the camera very often, I'm more of a Blogger than a Vlogger, but I will try and do a monthly update video in future. If you have not found Shaun follow the hyperlink above, his videos are always well worth watching, as we gardeners love to see what other are doing and how they do it, and he produces a lot of How To videos.

There are so many things that need attention on the allotment and the weather has not been kind and is threatening to go cold and possibly frosty again so I was planning to hit the To Do List today in no particular order but a lot of those at the top of the list did get done today. 
  • Show the next people on the waiting list the vacant plots - Done
  • Make an update video for YouTube - Done
  • Remove the flower growth from the Rhubarb - Done
  • Trim around the Rhubarb and sprinkle slug pellets - Done
  • Weed the trees in buckets and add mulch around the top - Done
  • Get the last of the first early spuds into buckets or bags
  • Clear some of the rubbish from the Greenhouse.- Done 
  • Clear the storage area beside the shed 
  • Move the composting material from behind the greenhouse to the storage area  
  • Find watering heads to replace those leaking
  • Make Soft Bricks with dry sand from the Greenhouse 
  • Lay out new wet sand to dry in the Greenhouse. 
  • Lay the concrete kerb stones around the boundary of the plot 

Better done when it's been dry for a few days 

  • Shift Woodchips from the Drop Off area onto the Plot - TBD
  • Cut the floor joist to length for beds – TBD

On arrival I got the wheelbarrow and took the sand and weed killer from the boot of the car to the allotment and then went back for a few additional bits from the car and started recording the update video.  

First on the agenda was the de-weeding of the trees which are nearly all now displaying signs of growth in addition to the weeds and using the coir I took down a couple of weeks ago spread the coir around the top of the buckets to discourage more weed growth. 

My bother and sister in law turned up bearing gifts in the form of excess Brassicas that he had grown and needed a home, so not on the To Do List for today, but Bed 3 had to be cleared prepped and the cabbages and cauliflowers planted. The hoop frame was erected and covered with debris netting just before I came home. No Collars at the moment as I can't lay my hands on them because there is too much rubbish in the shed, although two sack loads came away with me today.

Cabbages & Cauliflower plants planted in Bed 3 Photo before covering with Debris Netting

At around 10 ish the next people on the waiting list came to view the last remaining free plot we have at the moment, they are enthusiastic and are moving into the development behind the allotment so will be on the doorstep to do little and often and keep on top of the weeds.

I suspect we are likely to have another couple of free plots in about 3 months time when those that started and have lost interest receive their non-cultivation notices and then termination notices if they don't have to good grace to just let idverde know they are no longer interested and want to give the plots up.  

Early Spuds in Buckets are doing well

The Comfrey is starting to dwarf the Bluebells

Lidl Raspberry on the Left the other are Morrisons Raspberries

Babington Leeks appear to be recovering 

The bolted flower stems have been removed from the Rhubarb, this needs trimming and weeding again and ultimately splitting and moving to a new location.

Saturday 28 April 2018

Sand & Weed Killer

Raining again so I took the opportunity to visit B&Q and buy some of the weed killer whilst it's on offer as I'm defiantly going to need some help keeping the weeds at bay along the perimeter of the new plot until the weather changes and I can get some infrastructure in place. 

I took the opportunity to look down the sand and gravel isle and found a few split bags being sold off at £1 a sack so I bought three of those and will use it to fill up and reduce the huge amount of empty plastic milk bottles I have for soft bricks on the allotment. Lets face it I'm going to need a lot more to hold down weed membrane and nets as I get plot 1 sorted out. 

Thursday 26 April 2018

Onions In

I trimmed the grass back around the edge of the plot, and I'm thinking that getting the concrete kerb stones in would be a good thing as it will give idverde and myself something to trim against on the main path and the path between plots 1 & 2 

The two trays of red onions that were started off in modules went into the end of bed 10 and the rest of the red and white sets were sown in the planting membrane to hopefully keep the weeds to a minimum. I've netted against foxes frost, birds and allium leaf mining fly.

Richard Kelly & Ramona Boboc the Allotment Administrator from idverde visited to do an early site inspection and look at the general state of the site. It was nice to put a face to the emails and the voice. I'm hoping Ramona lasts she is full of enthusiasm and the other Site Reps are also very happy with her response time to enquires and finally the 178 people on the waiting list where there has been a site vacant and available for them for over a year are finally being processed and passed onto the Site Reps to arrange viewings of the vacant plots. I have someone coming this Sunday to view two vacant plots.  

Baby Groot

I saw him, and had to get one with the last of my Birthday Money - I Am Groot !

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Cheap Weed Killer

Me thinks a visit to B&Q to stock up on weed killer may be in order this weekend having just received their flyer for prices between the 27th April to 24th May. 

The saving between 3L Resolver 24h between the two is enough for an additional Litre with 96p change !

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Drop off & Cover Up

A swift visit to drop off the weed membrane that's had been cut to size and another bucket of shredded paper and cut up cardboard.

Update the Notice board with the Newsletter and Allotment Rules and cover up the area by the wall where I trimmed the couch grass and weeds with a sheet of weed membrane.

A visit to the site manager at Redrow next door to inform him that the electrician working on the composting WC had not locked the gate when he had finished, and ask when they will be finishing off the area by the concrete gravel board in the car park.

Monday 23 April 2018

Tummy Bug Stops Play

As the title says, I couldn't get to the allotment as I didn't want to be too far away from a WC. Not happy I had so much planned for the day, I did manage to cut some more weed membrane for the paths between visits to the smallest room in the house. 

Saturday 21 April 2018

Compost and Weeds

The areas of the new plot that I have not covered with membrane were looking a little shaggy last week when I visited the plot yesterday to add grass clippings to the Dalek, so this morning after I picked a huge sack of grass from my sister to drop down to the allotment feed the Dalek, I used the new grass trimmer and I have to say I'm very happy with how it performed and how long it lasted.   

There is bind weed coming up long the wall so that had a dowsing with weed killer, as did the nettles and weeds in front of the wall and hawthorn bush that needs to be removed.  

I'm thinking as I have the kerb stones I should perhaps define the edge at the bottom of the plot better than it is at the moment and so that idverde can trim to it when they cut the grass. 

The Bluebells are flowering and the Comfrey is growing and will dwarf the bluebells just about the time the flowers die.

The Apple Trees are in blossom and are looking bright and beautiful against the wall 

The First Early Spuds are starting to show in the pots so I will need to top them up and hope we don't get a frost 

Friday 20 April 2018

Marigolds & Membrane

Last night I sowed 49 marigolds directly into the second Agralan Compact Plug Plant Trainer and they are in the Space Saver Geen house. With there being no Spring and a Jump straight to summer (for this week at least) the Carrots in the external Grow station have also now been moved to the Space Saver. I cut 5 number 3m lengths of Weed Membrane and marked one up in third strips to used for paths and managed to get everything away before it got dark

This mornings one gardening thing before work was to cut the weed membrane with the soldering iron so that I have some to hand when I start digging and weeding the new plot hopefully on Sunday. I managed 3 x 0.666m wide x 3m long strips, 2 x 1.2m wide x 3m strips and 2 x 0.8m wide strips. The sun takes time to come around the side of the house in the morning and I managed to get three of the five cut rolls trimmed before the direct sunlight hit the patio, and I needed to start work. 

Thursday 19 April 2018

Composting Materials

It's been a case of working for the allotment rather than on the allotment last night and this morning before starting work.

As the sun has finally arrived and as the grass is dry-ish I cut the lawn last night so have a sack and a half of grass cuttings waiting to be taken to the hungry Daleks on the allotment.

I also spent last evening and some time this morning finishing cutting up all the cardboard boxes that are too small to be used for weed coverage into small bite size squares for adding to the daleks as browns, especially as the greens are now starting to flow from all directions, my eldest daughter has just cut her grass and my sister is doing hers today so the stock pile of browns on the plot will be demising soon.

I also sieved some multipurpose compost and the lumpy bits are going to provide their goodness by way of two buckets one with holes in the bottom that will be placed in the other complete with the compost so that when it rains all of the goodness drains into the lower bucket to be used as a feed for my plants that need a boost.

Wednesday 18 April 2018

Butternut Squash & Marrows

This mornings gardening or allotment related thing for the day before starting work, I printed new labels and have sown 5 x Waltham Butternut Squash seed dating back to 2103, 6 x Chetunao Organic Butternut Squash Seed, and 6 x Long Green Stripped Marrow seeds in three Pop Bottle Propagators.

I may not be able to get the whole of plot 1 cultivated this year but I can cover the weed membrane with a forest of trailing squash everywhere I'm not working on the infrastructure. 

Tuesday 17 April 2018


In an attempt to do at least gardening or allotment related thing a day this morning before starting work, I printed out half a dozen new labels and have sown six number of three different types of cucumbers namely Marketmore 76, Burpless Tasty Green & Piccolo Di Parigi  into self watering pop bottle propagators that are sitting on a shelf in the Space Saver Greenhouse

The temperature was rising and 32 - 36 degrees C inside the Space Saver Greenhouse this morning as the sun came around and onto the greenhouse.

By Lunch time the propagators were nicely damp and sweaty but as the sun is moving around behind the properties on our flank and behind the apple trees the left half of the greenhouse went into shade the temperature had dropped to 26.1C on the left but is still between 32 - 36C on the right that is just still in the sunlight.

The tomatoes appear to be liking the increase in temperature and more sunlight during the day.

The way the Red Onions are growing and nearly touching the tray above it looks like I will need to get them in the ground next weekend if at all possible.

New Battery Trimmer

I charged the battery and took my old strimmer to the plot on Sunday, but the battery didn't last very long at all, so I've decided to use some of my birthday cash to buy a new one from B&Q for £35.  The reviews for this are good and it's not costing the earth and it uses up to 1.6mm cutting line rather than the blades that my last one used. I've copied the details from the B&Q web site below because you never know how long DIY shops pages will be live. 

B&Q 18 V Battery Cordless Li-Ion Grass Trimmer

Product Information

This B&Q FPGT18LI Battery Cordless Grass trimmer is suitable for trimming small to medium sized gardens.

  • Cutting width (mm) - 230 mm
  • Power output - 27 W
  • Guarantee - 1 year Manufacturer

Features and Benefits

  • Comes with - 1.2 mm×3m cutting line
  • Accessories included - 1 x 1.2 mm x 3 m cutting line

Technical Specifications

Amp rating 1.5Ah
Batteries included Batteries included
Battery type Li-ion
Battery life 40minutes
Cable Length (m) 1.8 m
Material Metal & plastic
Cutting width (mm) 230mm
Handle type Soft grip handle
Model FPGT18LI
Power output 27W
How to use Trimming & edging
Voltage 18V
Weight (kg) 2.2kg
 What I did find interesting reading the manual, yes I do read the manuals is that (and I quote) 

" When the battery is charged for the first time and after and after prolonged storage, the battery will only accept approximately 60% Charge. However, after several charge and discharge cycles the battery will accept a 100% Charge. "

So I wonder as my old trimmer also uses a Li-ion battery is that what was happening, and does it need to be charged and discharged a few times to allow the batter to once again charge up to 100% capacity because it has not been used over the Winter months?

I have nothing to loose so I will be charging the battery on the old one and not chucking it away just yet as there may be life in the old dog yet! I will let you know the outcome, but if you are not getting as much life out of your battery bear the statement from the manual in mind and give it a few charges and see what happens before you splash the cash.

At a price of £35 it may be worth buying another so that I have two batteries and a spare unit, ummm something to ponder about me thinks!.