Sunday 30 June 2019

Watering Visit

Sunday was a early morning watering visit because of the high temperatures again today. I did manage to attack some of the fallen tree on top of the shed at the end of plot 1A  but that was about it as it was going to be too full on sun to work comfortably once the sun came around the shading trees. 

Saturday 29 June 2019

33 Degrees C

It was forecast at 32 Degrees C  but it's 33 C and I was over the allotment at 7:30 am and it was 22 C then

 The potatoes in buckets were looking especially droopy, but had bucked up a lot after I gave them a good watering. The trees had a good watering as did everything on plot 1A which was still in the shade when I arrived.  

Spuds on the way out from the allotment 

Thursday 27 June 2019

Wednesday 26 June 2019

Weekend Heatwave

Climate Change rather than occurring say once every 10 years we are now being warned that lots of rain and flooding followed by high temperatures could become a more like 1 in 3 or even bi-yearly. 

If we get the 32 degrees C over the weekend, yes there will have to be watering visits but it also means not a lot of work will be able to take place as it will be far to hot to work in especially on Plot 1 which is very exposed. I may get away with some work on the top end of Plot 1A early morning in the shade for a couple of hours, if I can get over there early enough.   

Tuesday 25 June 2019

BASF Nemaslug

As you will have seen this year I'm having a load of slug and snail problems, some of this I have caused because of my leg injury and running late I didn't get all my slug traps down and decimate the numbers adequately and early enough. 

Then we have had so much rain that flood warnings have been issued and the Grotto canal in Carshalton park was full and flowing down to the high street and no doubt flooding Westcroft sports Centre again this year. With all this moisture it's been a slug and snail paradise. 

An offer to trial BASF Nemaslug was made to a number of bloggers and I've taken advantage of it and yes I'm waiting for them to arrived.  So if you have not heard of Nematodes, you don't know what they are and how they work then below are three very informative videos that will bring you up to speed.  

How do Nematodes work? 

Can I see the wife allowing me to store these in the fridge, I very much doubt it! 

However the literature and guidance from web sites is that when you receive your pack of Nemaslug place it in the refrigerator immediately and use in one go within the use by date (which can be up to four weeks)  

BASF Factory Tour 

Why choose Nemasys and Nemaslug? 

Nemaslug is less effective on cloggy clay soil, which has not been worked and / or has become waterlogged so it's not going to be too effective down on plot 1 which has not been dug over or the beds put in yet. 

Nemaslug comes in two pack sizes to treat 40 sq metres at a cost of £12.99 and 100 square metres at a cost of £23.99.

Based on treating a 2.4m x 1,2m bed which equals 2.88m a 40 square metres  pack will cover 13.88 beds and a 100 square metres pack will cover 34.7 beds. At the moment I have no idea which one they are going to send but I suspect it will be the 40 sq metres pack. The figures are obvious based on mixing correctly and applying as directed on the pack.  

There is a good article from the Daily Telegraph written in 2011 that explains in detail how you can make your own free version of Nemaslug and the video below shows how to make your own nematode solution if you would rather watch a video rather than read the article. 

Slugs are generally active when plants start growing and soil temperate is over 5 degrees C  Young slugs tend to stay underground, feeding on decaying organic matter, developing unseen and waiting for young seedlings to be planted. They breed all year with two overlapping generations. Peak egg laying is March to April and September to October. So if the soil temperature is adequate Nemaslug or Nematodes can be used between March and October.

Bearing in mind that it's only effective for six weeks, I think when I get mine I will use some of the nemaslug to infect slugs caught and placed on an island of vegetation in a bucket with a lid so that a couple of weeks later I have another batch ready to use and again use some of that batch to create a third batch if I'm still able to catch enough slugs to make it viable I shall keep producing home made Nematode Solution and keep applying for as long as I can between March and October. Next year I will buy a pack and use some of that to start off the DIY Nematodes in bucket process.  

For those that are too lazy to find the slugs and make their own they can buy nemaslug every six weeks so that's about four times a year, between March and October.

I will update you on how things pan out with Nemaslugs and the home made version.

Monday 24 June 2019

Swift Visit

Do you ever wake up in the morning and remember something you should have done but didn't ?

Today was like that, I woke up thinking, bugger I didn't sweep off the slugs and snails off the blank 2.4m x 1.2m weed membrane sheets I took off the beds yesterday and put them away and I guess they will now be on someone else's plot!

So a swift visit was made and luckily the two sheets had been moved by the wind but my Daleks had kept them on my plot so they were gathered up and put away. It was just starting to rain but I could not resist looking to see if what was planted out yesterday had recovered the transpanting ordeal and were they looking healither than when I left them and the answer was....

YES, the butternut squash are now standing and looking perky.

So are the Piccolo di Parigi Pickling Cucumbers.

Even the Long Striped Marrows had bucked up, and for the moment appear to have no slug and snail damage. 

The Mr Fothergill's Esmarald cucumbers are happily starting to climb up the framework the Burpless and Marketmore on the sides not so much.

Sunday 23 June 2019

Planting Out .....

The way the slugs and snails area attacking everything this year I decided that six butternut squash in one bed was a good idea as perhaps one in six will survive. A layer of slug pellets were used under the membrane and those slugs that were discovered when the blank sheets were lifted were dispatched to sluggy heaven. My excess butternut squash plants were donated to two other plot holders. 

A number of us turned up with additional plants that were offered to other plot holders so now I have a Pumpkin in the back of the bed that I have put the Piccolo Di Parigi in along the width of the bed. These green pickler cucumbers or Gherkins grow to about 75 - 100 mm long and are supposed to be one of the first cucumbers to produce fruit and produces over a long season. 

From what I have read about them they are supposed to taste nice if used fresh or for pickles. I tried growing last year and had no success, this year I got six nice healthy looking plants. They don't look well in this photo but there again Cucumbers resent root disturbance and have to be transplanted carefully, but I'm sure if not attacked by slugs and snails they will soon buck up and look healthy as they did when I took them from the greenhouse.  

The trellis is a little short and I will extend it as they grow. I'm going to make some better frames up next year rather than using the old dog cage and fire guard that I have been using.

Along the side of the framework are four Kiwano horned melon plants, I have grown these once before. 

I've had these seed over from a seed parcel and tried all the the seeds I had left to see if they would germinate and they all did!. 

This exotic fruit is from the family of melons and cucumbers, it has an oval form and hard, orange skin and little horns. Inside it's jelly like with lots of edible seeds and very sweet taste similar to a mix of banana, melon and cucumber. The fruits store for several weeks. 

I moved the potatoes in buckets and the troughs with tulips in down to plot 1 so I have three beds worth of potatoes in buckets. I was surprised just how wilted some of them looked bearing in mind the amount of rain we have had. They the trees and all the other beds had a good watering,  

The sweetcorn have been battered and munched a little and again a sprinkle of slug pellets have been added. I had one spare which went in to replace one that was dead and two other holes have been filled with marrow plants which I'm quite happy for to wonder around the sweetcorn and across the paths between the beds, again if the snails and slugs don't get them. I gave two more marrow plants away to other plot holders. 

The beetroot bed is really disappointing there are very few beetroots that have germinated or that the slugs and snails have not eaten. I have sown a load in the two Agralan Propagators and hoping for some plug plants soon, but I think a re sowing in situ once I have received the pack of Nemaslug to trial from BASF is in order, I still have time and I did so well with beetroots last year that a have a huge stock of pickled beetroots under the stairs in storage.

Finally after last years two plums that appeared and there were lost when something had them away, I have a large number of plums this year, some within the middle of the tree are still green but its a sight to behold. 

This tree needs training as it got away from me last year but that's a project for when the sap isn't rising and I can minimise its growth and train it more along the path. 

Two sacks of grass from my sister along with shredded paper, and kitchen & dead flowers were placed in the two active Daleks who always seem to know just how much composting down they need to do between being topped up again were filled to the lids again. 

Wasps are making a nest in the bottom of the greenhouse that is full of crap, and I need to attack the trees that are now resting on my shed on plot 1A thanks to the builders next door and their attack on the trees. I have so much infrastructure works to get on with that I'm glad that nearly all the available beds I have are now full so that I can concentrate on getting everything sorted and ready for next year.

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Flood Alert Again!

Not only is there is a risk that tornadoes could hit parts of London as thunderstorms strike, a flood alert has been issued for across Croydon, Mitcham and Sutton. A yellow weather warning is in place for across South London from 6pm Tuesday, June 18 to 9pm on Wednesday, June 19.

Sunday 16 June 2019

Fathers Day 2019

My two beautiful daughters took their old Dad for a Toby Breakfast, shopping for gardening bits and bobs and then in the afternoon came to the allotment to help me weed, plant two beds of sweetcorn and three varieties of cucumbers, then home and a Chinese meal. I also got shoes, chocolates and a book which somehow seemed right for me and the day.

Sweetcorn in beds 7 & 8

Burpless on the left side & Mr Fothergills Esmarald on the front 

  Mr Fothergills Esmarald on the front and Marketmore on the right side

  Mr Fothergills Esmarald on the front and Marketmore on the right side

Spuds in buckets moved to bed 9

Someone has attacked the trees that are pushing over and holding back the wall behind the shed, looks like I have some cutting back to do. I need to expose again as the shed needs re felting, the corex I used last year has become brittle it's obviously isn't UV stable.  

Thursday 13 June 2019

Heavy Duty Plastic Tray Modules

There is a lot of pressure these days to reduce the use plastics, we see what’s happening in the oceans and on our beaches and in the countryside and I for one was brought up not to litter and I hate to see it happening. Supermarkets are being pressured to look at alternatives to supplying products in plastic containers and bags.

Gardening programs, magazines and gardening forums are talking about the estimated 500 million plant pots and seed trays are sold every year and that the majority are sent to landfill or incinerated, with very little is recycled. A large quantity of fossil fuel is used in the production of plastic pots, which take around 500 years to decompose.

It’s suggested by many that you just reduce the amount of plastic you use by simply not buying it. Then they tell you that’s It’s not as hard to avoid as you may think, and that there are a growing number of non-plastic alternatives for tools, plant pots and other materials.

The thing is I’ve been there and tried those, I’ve made paper pots and used and continue to use the cardboard toilet roll tubes even if they do get a little mouldy in use for Starting off runner beans etc. I could look into buying biodegradable pots made using materials such as coir (from coconut husks), wood chips, rice husks and even seaweed, I've tried some of those and didn't get on with them they tend to suck the moisture out of the compost in the pot.

Terracotta is nice but its costly, bulky and prone to damage. I must admit I have not really looked into Vipot which according to Alys Fowler in a post on Friends of the Earth says “they look and feel like regular pots but are plastic-free, if cared for they can last several years. When they do finally crack, they can go straight on to the compost.” So one has to ask just how long will they take to degrade if they will last several years before cracking? 
Personally I prefer taking good care of existing plastic items as it’s a good way to ensure I don’t have to keep buying it, because you can reuse it for several years.

For the last seven years I have been using vending machine cups that I use a soldering iron to make two drainage holes in. I wash the vending machine cups and stack them ready for use the following year. When in use these stand in 15 cell modules in good quality seed trays in my space saver or Norfolk greenhouse.

 I have tried growing in modules from garden centres, Wilko, B&Q etc for smaller items but the modules are so flimsy they normally can’t be used more than once and that’s why I used the vending machine cups in the first place and have now started to look for more heavy duty alternatives and smaller modules.

In 2014 I managed to pick up some second hand heavy duty very small cell propagation seed modules from a nursery off ebay and I ended up cutting them down to fit my window cill propagator and mini Ikea greenhouse and to fit standard seed trays, these get looked after washed and stacked away and reused each year.

In March 2018 I purchased an Agralan Propagator which as a plug plant bottom section with a built in watering tray and extraction tool. I liked it so much that I ended up buying another the same year. I would have liked to see what the design change was, and I was informed I would get one to play with from Agralan at the Gardening Press event but it never materialised. 
I had some flexi pots that were actually made from recycled material and I’ve been using those for starting off my sweetcorn each year, but those are now finally giving up the ghost and each year I end up with less and less of them, so I need to look for alternatives
So I’ve been looking for some heavy duty durable, robust, plastic modules to use and I think and hope I have found them. During my Google searches I found a company called CMH Containerwise Materials Handling
Their range of Materials Handling Products and Plastic Storage Systems cover a wide range of industries from horticulture/agriculture, food and general industry. Their number one aim is to provide an extensive range of plastic materials handling products that not only save their customers time and money, but that also offer an exceptional life span.
Their range of injection moulded long-life Propagation trays are suitable for all Horticultural sectors, from Bedding Plants / Ornamentals, Vegetables, Nursery Stock and Shrubs & trees.They supply module/ propagation trays in a large range of sizes and cell volumes but these can be basically broken down into the following categories:

Their products are designed to give in excess of 10 years trouble free use and they note on their web pages that trays produced 15 years ago are still giving good service today, which ticks my robust and durable boxes. 

There are no prices for items on their web site because their customers are large commercial organisations rather than domestic, and they apply quantity discount, however following my email asking if they would sell to domestic clients, I received the following reply that stated:

“In recent months, with the attention given to single use plastics and with a degree of promotional activity on YouTube through Charles Downing and Huw Richards we have had a very positive response to our range of trays. Many of the enquiries we received were small, 5 trays, 10 trays being typical which didn’t cover the minimum order level (£50+vat) . 

As a result of this number of small enquiries we felt morally obliged to supply, after all, if “small growers” were being positive, we should help them. Consequently, we have waived the minimum charge now with a minimum tray quantity of 5 units which can be mixed across the range. I have attached a price list for the most popular sizes across 2 different tray footprints. As you will see they start at £3.95 each plus P&P and Vat.”

They also sent me a domestic rate price list based in a minimum order of 5 units. Having already purchased small 20mm nursery sized propagator trays in 2014 my attention was on the normal seed tray sizes 350 x 215mm Shallow and 350 x 215mm Deep Cell Trays. I screen captured the styles and looked at each page and marked up the cell size, depth and drainage hole size to help me make a decision what to buy. Below is a neat version that may be of some assistance other wise it's a lot of clicking in and out of pages to find the information on their web site

I've ended up buying six Shallow trays and 3 Deep trays that I'm hoping will serve me well for however many years I have left to tend my allotment. Below are the other trays that they will sell to domestic customers 


Tuesday 11 June 2019

Potting Up Session 3

Potting on session 3 

Top Shelf looking Right 

Top Shelf Middle

Top Shelf Left 

Top Left Front 

Top Front Right 

2nd Shelf Left 

2nd Shelf Middle (Beetroots in the Propagator)

2nd Shelf Right 

Bottom Shelf Middle 

Sweetcorn Bottom Right before turning 180 degrees to straighten up  

Sweetcorn Bottom Left before turning 180 degrees to straighten up  

Monday 10 June 2019

Checking On My Crops Today

Months Rain in a Day

Monday there were warnings of flooding due the the rain, the red area is my allotment site, and the possible flood zone. The last time we had any volume of rain the site was OK but where the drainage in the road is blocked we lost the kerb edging on MIll Green Road so access was not so good.  

The one positive is that the open culver around one side of the site was cleared and new open concrete culvert was installed plus a new buried rectangular culvert and overflow area was built into the housing development along the other side of the site two to three years ago and the annual flooding at plots 9 & 10 stopped, so there is hope that we will get away without actually getting flooded   
Following day the railway line from via Mitcham, Hackbridge and Carshalton was closed due to flooding. I was tempted to go and see what if anything has happened to the allotment but with further rain forecast I thought I would wait until the weekend to go and see, there is nothing I can do if it is flooded.

Photos of other peoples plots started to get posted on the Facebook groups, and blight reports in some ways it's a good thing I'm way behind on the tomatoes this year.