Friday 28 February 2020

In My Seed Box for 2020 - Gherkin

GHERKIN - The last time I tried growing Gherkins was in 2018 and only because my sister loves she liked the ones I pickled for her in 2017 but I have bought some new seed and I'm having another bash in 2020.

The seeds came from Seed Megastore and are called Gherkin - National and cost me 59p for 25 seeds 

Very quick growing and prolific in habit. Produces a mass of small prickly fruit for pickling.
Sowing Time: February to April.
Germination: Germinates at 20°C.
Sowing Instructions: Sow seeds in 1cm (½in) deep in 8cm (3in) pots of moist compost. Germination usually takes 10-12 days.
Growing Instructions: Acclimatise the plants to outdoor conditions before planting outdoors after all risk of frost has passed 60cm (24in) apart. Plant in a sunny sheltered spot, in fertile moist but well drained soil and keep well watered.
After Care: Harvest the fruits before they reach full size for improved quality and better cropping.

Thursday 27 February 2020

Garden Press Event 2020

My Press Pass arrived today and I've been looking forward to attending this event again as I have been attending since 2014 and I always enjoy the day and meeting up with other bloggers who are regarded as freelance gardening journalist and the occasional celebrity gardener, professional gardening journalist and authors. 

It's nice to see the regular exhibitors and to find out what's new for the coming growing season and then each year there are the new companies and new products that are coming to those that garden. 

Each year there is an area dedicated to featuring new products when those attending have the chance to vote for their favourite. 

These highly sought after trophies are awarded to the best new product that those attending feel stands out from the rest. 

All proceeds from this initiative are donated to Greenfingers, a national charity creating magical gardens in children’s hospices up and down the country. 

The GIMA are delighted to continue to support this charity and they are very proud that The Garden Press Event has raised over £15,000 for this charity in the 15 years it’s been in existence. 

Exhibitor List (as at 10th February 2020)

The list of exhibitors is growing on a daily basis, but here’s is the list as it stood on the 10th February 2020:-

Agralan Ltd, Allensmore Nurseries Ltd, Ambrogio, ARS UK, Barcham Trees PLC, Bathgate Horticulture, BBC Gardeners' World Live, Bio Green, Bord na Mona UK, British Garden Centres, Bulldog Tools, Burgon and Ball, Campingaz, Candide Gardening, Clover Peat, Cobra Garden, Common Sense Gardening, Cotswold Tourism, Ltd, Dalefoot Composts, Darlac Ltd, David Austin Roses, Denys & Fielding, Dobbies Garden Centre, E.P. Barrus, EGO, Envii Garden Products, Evergreen Garden Care, Farplants, Fiskars, Flowers from the Farm, Flymo, Forest Garden, Fruit Collectors, Gardena, Garden Beauty, Garden Day, Grazers Ltd, Greenfingers, Greenworks, , Hayter & Toro, Henchman, Honda UK, Hotbin Composting, Hozelock, Husqvarna, Hygeia, Hyrdroveg Ltd, ITIP Handles Ltd, Ivyline, John Deere, Johnsons Lawn Seeds, Johnsons Seeds, Kabloom, Kindgergarden Plants, Kubota (UK) Ltd, Life at No.27 + Collins, Lifestyle Garden, Liquid Gold Leaf, Lubera, Majestic Trees, Makita UK Ltd, Malvern Garden Buildings, Meadow View Stone, Melcourt, Mr Fothergill's Seeds Ltd, National Garden Scheme, Natural Grower, Neudorff UK, Newby Hall & Gardens, Niwaki, Oase UK Ltd, Perennial, Poppelmann GmbH & Co. KG, Primeur Limited, Primus (A Perry Ltd), Root Pouch Europe, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scheurich, Spear & Jackson, STIHL, Suttons, The David Colegrave Foundation, The Lawn Company, The Patio Black Spot Removal Company Ltd, Thompson & Morgan, Thorndown, Thrive, Vegepod, Vitavia Greenhouses, Vitax Ltd, Webb, Whartons Roses, WoodblocX, Woodland Trust, Woodlodge Products, Wyevale Nurseries Ltd

I'm looking forward to meeting up Matt Evans the UK Marketing Manager from Bio Green again who are attending this event for the first time and I will be interested to see what products they place into the New Products Area for voting upon. I would have thought one would be the Firefly but they have such a range of new products they introducing to the UK this year it's going to hard to pick.     

Wednesday 26 February 2020

Another Free Dalek

My Son-In-Law Andy telephoned to inform me that he had acquired another Compost Bin/ Dalek off Facebook Market Place for me to add to the Dalek Army on plot 1 for FREE.

He is going to pick it up in his van and drop it off to me on the plot, when we are both free to meet up down there. He is a good lad, but I can't tell him that it will go to his head.    

It matches the other two that I have filled with rotting apples to make acidic compost, and that I have not relocated along the boundary with plot 2 yet. 

Tuesday 25 February 2020

Cucumber Swing F1 Competition Winner

I love entering gardening related competitions and today I had a message pop up that Mr Fothergill's had mentioned me, I followed the link and.....

LINK to Cucumber Swing F1 information but at £2.40 for 5 seeds I don't think I would be trying them if I had not won them in the competition. It will be interesting to see how they compare to what I have been growing previously and if they are value for money or not.  

Fools Spring

The Snowdrops, Daffodils, Bluebells and Crocus all seem to think Spring is here are these all started to bloom between the last two storms. 

Even Sean James Cameron is thinking that it feels like Spring has arrived in his latest video Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring?. However here is the reality Sean 

A few dry days in a row, and the ability to get on my new half plot and dig my beds is what I really need


After posting this at Breakfast, I have just received this warning.... As I assumed Fools Spring


Monday 24 February 2020

Allotment & Life Update

Rain, Rain and more Rain !  The weather is not my friend at the moment and I'm not getting any progress made on the allotment, then come Friday and my computer decides to reboot and reset my profile so I loose everything that has been installed.

I calling an IT support person I know, but as he has gone to Hong Kong for a fortnight, I ended up with one of his employees. So many hours of backing up everything on the computer before playing with Regedit and then finally building a new profile and I at least had email back but have lost part of my mail manager. 

Saturday was spent recovering more data under the new profile. As it was dry I fitted in a visit to the allotment to give the two plot holders their keys. Idverde sent them to me but failed to package them correctly and they arrived in a bag from the post office with their sincere apologies that the enclosed item has reached me in this condition and that if anything is damaged or if anything is missing I could claim. 

During the week I scrounged five secondary glazing panels from my neighbour a couple of doors away as they were having their old Crittall window frames replaced and I can use these as a cloche / Cold Frame and covering to warm up the soil in the beds early.  

I only had limited time on the plot, as I needed to get back to the wife and to recovering the computer, so as it was dry I painted the top and the tall stack of raised beds as they were painted last year just before my accident, the top one was not filly painted and the others could do with freshening up before they are put in place.  

Update on the tree on the shed and the wall, nothing has happened yet, they are nearly there with the road construction to the rear of the property and I can't see the wall being done until that's completed, but I did note that the steel container in that corner has now been removed so hopefully they will start at the end of this week or the beginning of next. 

Sunday the Backup Disk No 2 stopped working!  It appears it's the power supply and not the hard disk and as I have two of them I can at least use one at a time. So a quick trip out to buy another portable 2TBytes backup device Which I will call Disk 3 and most of Sunday was spent backing up Disk 2 to Disk 3.  

Today I will be backing up Disk 1 to Disk 3 so that I have a backup of both of my 1TByte backup disks.      

Wednesday 19 February 2020

My Name is Alan.... and I am a Seed-a-holic

I went food shopping at a supermarket and just wondered down the magazine aisle and then I spotted it, the Kitchen Garden magazine.

Just under £14 of seeds plus a little gardening book about Container Gardening and the Spring 2020 Pomona Fruits Catalogue for the cost of the magazine £5.99

What was I thinking? I could not control myself, before I knew it the mag had been scanned and was in my shopping bag.

Sunday 16 February 2020


Storm Dennis has come and gone leaving many areas under water 

Chunk won Jeff’s heart over

Well Dennis is still blowing and it's raining and there will be no visit to the allotment until Monday when it's going to be dry. That visit will only be for damage assessment and recovery of items that have blown onto neighbouring plots as long as that dam wall has stayed up and not flattened the shed!

In the meantime let me introduce you to Chunk

When Jeff noticed that his garden was getting destroyed, he put out a camera to catch the culprit, a groundhog! But Chunk won Jeff’s heart over, and now he lets him have whatever he wants. You can keep up with Chunk and all of his adventures on Instagram: and Facebook:

Saturday 15 February 2020

Storm Dennis

Storm Dennis this Saturday & Sunday causing havoc  around the coasts, especially in the west and south, gusts of 60-70 mph are likely. This will be accompanied by heavy rain at times.The powerful winds are likely to cause cancellations to rail, air and ferry service, as well as the closure of some roads and bridges.
The Met Office is also warning of a 'danger to life' from flying debris.
NOT a good weekend for getting anything done on the allotment then! 

Friday 14 February 2020

National Nestbox Week

­čĺś Happy Valentines Day! ­čĺś 

Today is also the start of National Nestbox Week, where we show some love for our wild birds and give them a safe and secure home. Why not add a nestbox into your garden? Find out more here:

Wednesday 12 February 2020

Mentioned in Dispatches III

I've been mentioned in Dispatches yet again and photos from my blog have been used in an Article by Waltons re How to pick the best shed for your allotment. 

"A shed is an incredibly useful addition to your allotment. It provides storage, shelter and protection for younger plants. A shed can also provide you with a level of comfort that allows you to garden for longer, when the mood takes you!
But how do you pick the best shed for your allotment? We asked some of our favourite bloggers for their top tips." 
I'm in good company those also contributing include: 
Katie Lane of  Lavender & Leeks 
Matt Peskett of Grow Like Grandad 
Claire Burgess  Claire’s Allotment 
Mike of Flighty’s Plot 
Adam Leone of Carrot Tops Allotment

Below are my full answers to their questions 

• What are the most important considerations for an allotment shed?
Any limitations on size by the allotment owner - Church Local Authority or Private

Security, additional Security features, hinges bolted as well as screwed, Key and internal lock, external lock other security devices or adopt the leave it open so they cause no damage mentality.  

How do you want to use the shed will depend if you have no windows, or look for a Potting Shed configuration  

• What have you learnt the hard way? We’d love to hear your anecdotes.
First shed was a cheap ship lap pitched roof, limited headroom and loss of space. I learn from this and the second shed was a T&G Pent flat Roof shed which have much more storage space, better headroom and more robust. I would always recommend T&G and Pent with door in the middle of the long face and build a bench at mid door height both sides to strengthen the door frame and make more rigid and robust against possible vandalism  

• Thinking about your dream allotment building - what features would it include?

Take a look at my blog I have a storage and onion drying extension to the side and I have also a large covered storage area to the rear of the shed. I have a solar powered light internally and a gas cooker on one bench for Coffee and Tea making. Working out storage methods within the shed, with the pent is easier. I have a high level deep shelf on each side then a bench each side and a freecycled four draw storage units. Hanging hooks on the rear front sides and door. I'm contemplating a Polycarbonate covered area to the front for when I'm caught on the plot by rain so  that I can leave the door open and sit inside and watch the showers.    

Tuesday 11 February 2020

Give Us A Break!

"Around the coasts, especially in the west and south, gusts of 60-70 mph are likely. This will be accompanied by heavy rain at times."
While the impacts of the low pressure system are not expected to be as extreme as those of Storm Ciara, it will bring widespread disruption.
The powerful winds are likely to cause cancellations to rail, air and ferry service, as well as the closure of some roads and bridges.
The Met Office is also warning of a 'danger to life' from flying debris.

Monday 10 February 2020

Storm Damage Review

A swift visit to check that the walls behind the shed still stand and the good news it that they do!

I visited the contractors re the wall and it appears they will be starting the works in the next couple of weeks, I have been in touch with the council and let them know what's happening and they have asked me to keep them briefed.

I had lost watering cans and large pots etc. onto the neighbours plot and a Rubber Dustbin Lid that just appears to have vanished into thin air. I did recover a number of items from neighbouring plots. 

Sunday 9 February 2020

Storm Ciara & Blowaways

There is a reason why polytunnels are affectionately called Blowaways  

There again some lightweight greenhouses that are not fixed down to the ground Blowaway as well !

Photos harvested from a number of Facebook Groups 

Saturday 8 February 2020

Showing Plots & Clearing Up

A different tack today, as my wife has been up early a few days and she has been a little under the weather as we have both had the flu / cough thing I suggested that she have a lay in and stay on her machine to get a better charge, and that I will go to the allotment early as I have the second person "Chris" on the waiting list to show the two remaining plots, and he has already expressed an interest in the larger plot No 14. 

In the hour whilst I was waiting for Chris to arrive, I weeded and emptied all the buckets that I had grown potatoes in last year and added them to the narrow bed behind. The five buckets of compost leafs and shredded paper were added to the bed and the dalek behind the bed. One of the buckets with lids turned out to have dried coffee grounds in so that was also added to the two narrow beds and raked in, and a layer of coffee grounds were added to the dalek. 

I had arranged to meet Chris at 9am and it turns out Chris knows Brad from yesterday they both live in the new housing built behind the Allotment site and they both work in the same office block in London, They also know Henry and Coralee from plot 8 it's a small world. 

It's great that we will now have four plots taken by people that live next door the the Allotment site and that two of them can actually see the allotment from their homes, one of which is from the 4th floor in the block behind my plot and they will be able to see the whole allotment. It's like build in security. 

So all tools, rolls of fencing and other material that were stored behind the shed have now been moved out and I only have a few pots and slug traps on the racking to dispose off. The racking will not move as its now pinched between the wall and the back of the shed so I will not be able to get that out until they take down the wall.   

Friday 7 February 2020

Showing Plots & Debris On Shed

After six months of waiting for idverde to stop sitting on their hands with their thumbs up their arse, I had an appointment to meet the first of three people "Brad" wanting to see the vacant plots on the site at 10:30 Today. The time of meeting gave me enough time to get my wife up, washed & dressed, medicated and settled before I left for the allotment. 

At the moment our site is like the Goldilocks and the Three Bears as we have a large plot and medilum plot and a baby plot up for grabs. Brad thought he might like the Baby plot but once chatting about what kind of Allotmenteer he may be, either an organised bed and path or a bear bones dig it all up every year and have no infrastructure, then we talked about Daleks and composting, incinerator for burning, crop rotation, and a little shed for tools etc. he soon decided that the medium plot no 4 would be better for him. An introduction to Wally his plot neighbour who we included in the discussion and Wally also pointed him towards plot 4 as the better option to the tiny plot 11.

I look forward to showing the empty plots and letting prospective plot holders know a little bit about how much works involved in getting a plot ready and keeping it as weed free as possible. You can normally guess which ones will make a go of it and which ones will lose interest within the first three months.   

So with Brad departed I set about clearing up the storage area where all the collapsed material and debris from the tree removal had fallen. In the photo above you can see where I had stacked a number of polycarbonate sheets against the wall over what was in 2013 a minimal crack and has now opened and the wall has started to lean into the plot and my shed. 

I did predict this would happen and it has moved quite a lot since the strapping was installed on the corner and the leaning wall has dragged this section along the damp proof course. 

I was half way through clearing up the front and the right side of the shed as I thought the builders would be coming to drag the tree off my roof from the allotment side, when the Irish ganger came with Muhammad, site security and odd job man to look at what their operative had done. 

They discussed trying to pull the stuff back over the wall and disappeared. Muhammad came back to say that the reason the guy didn't pull it back was because the wall moved and it was live and that their engineer thinks the wall needs rebuilding. It was if I had been transported back to 2013 and my original discussion with the Local Authority.        

Now I'm hoping that this eastern european construction company that has an Irish groundworker employs some common sense and has an engineer that has impressed upon them that there is a difference between careful deconstruction and demolition. 

If it was me I would remove the bolts from the wall behind my shed and push the leaning wall over into the area that has already been fenced off for the last six years. the top half of the flank wall behind the shed can then be pulled into their building site, and the bricks could be cleaned up and re used and the mortar is a sand lime mix and should clean up easily. 

Let's hope they don't try that approach without removing the straps. 

The area in front of the table needs clearing and the table turned 90 degrees. There are load of snails under the parasol base so a stinkle of blue pellets of death will be put down. The sweetcorn stalks from bed 7 also finally made it into a Dalek.   

Glass Panels moved onto beds and off the fencing to the fall zone, the stacked sweet corn storks were all cut up and added to the Dalek and the mud and debris on the paving slabs swept up. The mud on here was scrapped up and I was hopeful it would dry so that could be  cleaned up more but it rained Friday night. 

Daffs and Blue bells coming up in the comfrey bed.