Monday 31 August 2020
Sunday 30 August 2020
Over the last couple of days the temperature has really dropped and whereas normally I would visit in a tee shirt today a fleece was required for warmth first thing and until the temperature and exercise warmed me up. It rained most of yesterday so not really a day for digging as a bit stodgy.
The Thompson & Morgan Baked & Mash Potato Winter Squash plants just seem to want to grow and grow. I did take a look inside and the squash is just starting to grow behind the flowers and there are a lot of flowers under the canopy of leaves.
The foxes have knocked over the two planters of tulips onto the path. I will leave them there until I bring the Power Planter down to drill some holes along the foot path kerb stones and transplant all the daffs and tulips from bed 13.
Now that I own Plot 1 I don't really have to use the path between Plot 1 and Plot 2 to get to my original plot 1A which is in the back corner. The path doesn't usually get used much by my neighbour until April/May when he comes and clears all the weeds that have grown ready for planting each year. I'm hoping for a good splash of spring colour and to provide some food for any bees that venture out early.
I bought some kitchen scraps and three buckets of apples, plus another three 10 Litre buckets of spent compost from the new potatoes and spread it over the bed next to the plot 1 shed. I then raked the compost level and sowed and watered in the Thompson & Morgan Mixed Green Manure mix.
As the last remaining buckets of new potato and tomatoes are harvested at home I will bring down the compost and cover each new bed with a layer and plant green manure.
A tidy at the rear of the shed was in order as I could not get down the back to access the wheelie bins. I sorted out the path weed membrane and they are all now stored in one location for ease of access. Timber donated to me for shelving in the shed was moved to the rear covered store.
I rescued a sheet of twin wall polycarbonate sheeting and placed it on the left slope of the shed on plot 1 on which the roofing felt has ripped and the water is now saturating the roof sheeting. I can't look in there to see the damage as it's a health and safety risk if the wall behind decides at that moment to collapse. The Council really need to sort out the wall behind as I will not have a shed to play with if they don't take their fingers out soon.
A tidy of the inside of the shed also took place and I managed to find a couple of hose pipe ends that I bought last year for this year. Now I will be using those next year as there is no point having a complete watering system in place as I have very few crops in the ground due to Covid-19.
The weeds have once again decided to take over the patio area, so they got a treatment with weed killer. I don't like doing it but I can't keep on top of the weeds and put in new infrastructure.
Now I'm not shielding the wife, it was nice to have a break and a cup of coffee with my sister-in-law on her plot halfway during the morning. Before I knew it, my time was done and it was time to drop off a sack of spuds at my sister-in-laws on the way home as she had bought lunch as was staying on the plot into the afternoon / early evening.
Friday 28 August 2020
Thursday 27 August 2020
I took another three buckets of spent compost, six buckets of Apples and one bucket of kitchen waste to the plot this morning, as there was a meeting on site with a number of plot holders who have worries and concerns that needed to be addressed by the local Authority and Idverde or that Adam Brind LBS Neighbourhood Manager is already dealing with, below are the notes that have been uploaded to the Mill Green Allotment Facebook Group for those that couldn't attend.
Wednesday 26 August 2020
Following the Blog Post What Can I Grow From August Onwards here are some more ideas curtesy of Dobies & Suttons, yes they are basically the same company and if you subscribe to the newsletters on both you will get the same email and the same offers but with different company headings have sent out a newsletter about seeds to sow in September. There suggestion are
Broccoli Stromboli Average 22 Seeds £2.99 - Perfect for all dishes from stir fry to Sunday Lunch.
Cauliflower Snowball Average 200 seeds £1.99 - Compact and very early with solid pure white heads of superb quality. maturing time approximately 20 - 26 weeks from sowing.
Leaf Salad Winter Mix Average 900 seeds £2.99 - Can be sown up to October outdoors, for picking leaves over Winter, or sow through the Winter under glass or on a windowsill.
Radish Mix Average 500 Seeds £1.99 - the email I'm reading says Dobies but that means Suttons as well Specially formulated mixture which will give a good range of shapes and colours maturing at slightly varying times to to give successional cropping.
Raddish Dragon Average 130 seeds £2.49 - A first class radish producing roots that are a cylindrical shape, bright pink skins and tasty, crisp white flesh.
Spinach Rubino Average 200 seeds £2.99 - An excellent round-leaved, mid-green variety with distinctive bright red stems and leaf veins, ideal for use as baby leaves.
Turnip Armand Average 960 seeds £2.49 - a late maturing variety that performs magnificently under cold conditions. The attractive purple-and-white roots can be harvested from November to March.
Lettuce Winter Gem Av 200 seeds £2.99 - Enjoy the sweetness of "Gem" type lettuce through the Winter with this hardy version of the popular "Little Gem" variety that can be grown with only frost protection
Here is a Link to all the Seeds that can be sown in September from Dobies/ Suttons there are more than are listed in the Newsletter which I have listed above so it's worth a look.
Tuesday 25 August 2020
I know that Gigantomo are a F1 variety, but I'm loving the size and the taste, they are so good for burgers and BLT's. I'm saving seeds and I'm going to be interested in what two types of plants I get from the experiment.
Now I know that F1 saved seeds will not run true to the original, however I have done this before a couple of times. I did this with the Crimson Crush plant they sent me to trial when they first released plants only.
The result from saved seeds was two very different looking plants one with classic tomato leaves and the other with more potato looking leaves. I followed the more tomato looking plant into the second year as the fruit was more like the original, and now many years later have seeds that produce a tomato that look & taste the same as the Crimson Crush F1 but from my own seed stock so it cost me nothing to buy the seeds anymore.
I have 3 seed left over from the pack I bought this year so my plan is to grow a plant from the original F1 Seed and perhaps 4 from saved seeds and see how closely they follow the original F1.
I will save seeds from the first generation and sow them the following year and keep on going each year until I have a stable seed that gives me something closely resembling the original or perhaps better.
Monday 24 August 2020
One tends to think of Waltons as just Shed providers but they sell much more than just sheds and at the moment have an offer on that people with block paving may find useful
NOW JUST: £5.99 (WAS £9.99) Link to Offer
- Versatile; Ideal for patios, paving, decking, brick-work and stone-work
- Telescopic; Ranges from 80 to 140 centimetres in length
- Metal spike; Great for cleaning in between paving slabs
- Wire brush; Perfect for removing grass and weeds from the edge of driveways
- Guarantee; 12-month guarantee
Sunday 23 August 2020
My Daughter Kelly is at home again this morning and the weather forecast is dry so up early, breakfast and on the plot by 7:30am but only three hours until to 10:30am this morning, as I need to get home to care for the wife, and five and a half hours yesterday was enough for my feet and body, so I'm not pushing it today!
The nearest acidic composting Dalek from last year was lifted and the compost exposed to the world since last year when the two Daleks were continuously topped up with alternating layers of apples and shredded paper.
At the moment I have one Dalek full to the brim with this years apples and shredded paper, and I had four 10Litre buckets worth of apples that I brought down yesterday that I had nowhere to start composting. Those are now in the second Dalek from the right and the end Dalek has a layer of woodchips and last years Acidic compost in the base to hold in place against any high winds and is ready for the remainder of the compost from last year in the remaining Dalek in the middle of the overgrown area.
The area for the relocated bin was dug and weeded and produced a trug load of couch grass, nettle and Mears Tail roots, it does not look a big area but it took time to clear, only to be covered over with weed membrane and a thick layer of woodchip, which will hopefully keep the weeds at bay, or at least make it easier to keep on top of them once all the infrastructure is in place and I'm just in allotment maintenance mode.
I placed a spare board along the path where the next bed frame is due to go and levelled up the wood chip path.
I didn't have time to deal with the invading bindweed on plot 1A today, but I did give it a blast of weed killer before leaving the plot. I don't like having to use weed killer but sometimes you need a little helping hand to get on top of fast invading weeds on the plot.
All of the hosepipe ends that I had last year apart from one didn't survive the winter even though they were taken off the hose pipes and stored away. Due to Covid-19 I never got to the £1 shop to stock up again, so I took my watering wand with the on/off switch and watered the Thompson & Morgan Winter Squash whilst on site this morning moving the end around from plant to plant, and gave them a good drenching.
At the moment it's all leaf and flowers, they are in there and bees have been in and out of them so I'm hoping for pollination and some baby squash but I have not spied anything growing just yet. James Sean Cameron is also growing these this year and has only just notices a very small squash so looks like I'm not too far behind him.
Up on plot 1A the Waltham Butternut squash are making their way out of the bed, they always seem to want to get out to the path between my plot and plot 2. I have turned the ones on the main path back into the bed but the others exploring and invading the beds either side are welcome to roam as I don't have anything planted because of my wife shielding for Covid-19.
Don't worry little Dalek I will get you over and all lined up with your mates as soon as I can!
Harvested two buckets worth of new potatoes that were grown in the back garden tonight, and the compost will be taken to the plot next visit to be dumped as conditioner on one of the new beds prior to sowing green manure.
Saturday 22 August 2020
My Daughter is around to look after the wife this morning and it's supposed to be dry so up early, breakfast and on the plot by 7:30am until 1pm when she is leaving to see her friend.
Photo above is how I left the allotment today and the photo below is how it was at the end of play last weekend. I like to record progress as it's too easy to get despondent that you have not achieved what you think you should have. I'm now 62 but in my head I'm still that 23 year old, with boundless energy who worked at about 2 - 3 times as fast as my body will now allow.
I've weeded around the outside and the inside of the two last bed frames that were installed by my Daughter and Son-In-Law during lockdown. I've cleared back the weed membrane along the leading edge and have weeded and laid path weed membrane and made a woodchip path.
The trees that have died have been taken out of their large buckets and the soil will be used on the bed to bring the levels up as at the moment the paths are higher than the level of the beds, and that will never do. I have compost made last year that I will also add to the bed.
I intend to sow a green manure mixture which will add nutrients and nitrogen fixing bulky, organic matter (Humus) to the soil. This will help to improve fertility and soil structure and will also act as a cover crop for 40 - 90 days whilst it grows to about 230mm or 9 inches or taller before it is cut and dropped and left for the insects and worms to take it down into the soil.
The 80 gram packs I have are sufficient to sow 2.85 square metres. my beds are 1.2m x 2.4m which is 2.88 square metres so its as If Thompson & Morgan have made stand bed packs.
The mixture of seeds contains Rye, Vetch, Tetraploid Italian Rye Grass and Forage Peas.
I can either scatter the seeds over the soil surface and carefully rake it in or alternatively sow thinly about 12mm or 1/2" deep, in narrow drills which are 150mm or 6" apart. During dry periods it may be necessary to water until the green manure establishes
I moved the two incinerators to the hard standing/ paved area at the end of bed 13 on Plot 1A.
The two Daleks stranded in the middle of no mans land need to be brought in line with the other Daleks once I have dug and weeded where they are going too stand. I need to charge the strimmer's battery and knock down the vegetation along the path and work my way to the corner of the plot on the main path.
Friday 21 August 2020
With two apple trees in the back garden that produce such acidic fruit that you can't cook with them, and seven days of windfalls, you can at least pick them all up and make acidic compost with them.
Thing is I dropped this lot off before work in the morning and with the high winds in the evening I picked up another four buckets worth that will need a new Dalek tomorrow when I drop them off to the plot.
Thursday 20 August 2020
Wednesday 19 August 2020
It's that time of year again .....
Yes I know Gigantimo is an F1 but I have a stable Crimson Crush saved from the first original plant using seeds from the tomatoes I grew that year, so why not see what I get next year from saved Gigantimo seeds!
If it runs to form I will get two very different looking plants and will wait to see what I get and then proceed with one line or the other that looks more like the original or perhaps save seeds from both types of plant next year.
Monday 17 August 2020
Due to shielding my wife, the back garden including the patio was taken over to grow Tomatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Mint and Potatoes. I've had a few harvests already but though perhaps I should take some photos before it's all over so lets have a quick whiz around the back garden
Sunday 16 August 2020
I met the Wolf-Garten UK marketing staff at the Garden Press Event this year and told them about the vintage soil-miller that my brother-in-law and his wife found when they took on the half plot next to theirs and when they were clearing the blackberries.
It's nice to be Mentioned In Dispatches every now and then. Here is a link to the original posting re the Wolf Vintage Soil-Miller
And here is a Link to the WOLF-Garten UK Facebook page
I have a number of Wolf tools, I love the fact you can just buy the heads and change the handle and that you can have a long or short handle but use the same head. Check out the complete range of tools at Wolf-Garten Tools web site
Saturday 15 August 2020
It's that type of weather again when the conditions are right and the warnings are coming, for me this year I have only first early spuds in and half of those have been harvested but useful to know for the tomatoes.
It's a free service so it's worth registering for, you just need to enter your name and the first part of your postcode and email address. Click here to visit the Blightwatch Website
Friday 14 August 2020
Friday and the temperature is a little lower and the threat of flash floor and thunderstorms is still with us, but as it hadn't rained and because I had another four 10 litre bucket with lids full of apples making 11 buckets in all. I loaded them all into the car and dropped them off to the allotment and stacked them next to the current acidic composting Dalek.
The squash are really going for it now, that flash flood downpour and the warm weather appears to be doing them really good.
Alternating layers of apples and shredded paper with a dash of coffee grounds all topped off with shredded paper and a layer of spent compost to keep the amount of fruit flies to a minimum.
Not a long visit but enough to give me empty buckets for more apples, as the two trees in the back garden are really dropping apples at a fast rate now.
Thursday 13 August 2020
This happens nearly every time we have a really heavy downpour of rain in Wallington. The Fire Brigade used a picture of the 2016 Wallington Flood when three cars were stranded and people had to be rescued in a post this morning, it's as if they knew it was going to happen again. Luckily this year it only rained for around half an hour and only one numpty needed to be rescued and pulled out the the drink before the police came and stopped any other plonkers having a bash.
Yellow thunderstorm warnings have been issued for much of England, Wales, parts of Northern Ireland and southwest Scotland, with the potential for lightning, heavy rainfall and hail.
It comes after temperatures above 34C were recorded for the sixth day in a row in parts of southern England, for the first time since at least 1961. Yesterday afternoon we heard the thunder in the distance and the temperature did drop a couple of degrees early evening. This morning I had planned to get down to the allotment by 6:30 and back again by 8:00 taking many buckets of apples to the Plot 1 Allotment Dalek for composting.
I had just taken the buckets from the back garden to the front as the rain came, and I ended up stacking the buckets along under the ark (window box) to try and keep them dry. So for the moment the drop off will not happen as I'm expecting a parcel today at anytime between 8am and 6pm. The photo above was taken midday, the rain lasted about and hour and then the sun just dried everything up and it was as if nothing had happened apart from a great reduction in the temperature compared with the last six days.
Wednesday 12 August 2020
I visited the allotment this morning after doing my first hoop iron inspection since the lockdown to drop off five buckets of apples from the back garden for the acidic composting Dalek.
The photograph above is bed 13 on plot 1A which I covered with the blank weed membrane sheet that I forgot to take a photo off on Sunday. The path need weeding around this bed and the comfrey needs hacking back and treading to kill it off as this may not be Brocking 14 as I inherited it as it was on the original boundary of plot 1 & 1A. I get enough Comfrey from my comfrey bed next to the shed on plot 1A for the two comfrey pipes and to use as a composting accelerant.
The paved area at the bottom the bed 13 is where the paving slabs I laid a week last Sunday were stacked and where I intend to store the two incinerators. I also watered the squash.
Whilst I was on the plot an elderly Asian lady walled into the allotment who I had never seen before, so I challenged her and asked her which plot she was visiting? It turns out that she lives in the converted flats behind my plots and just wanted a walk and a look around. I explained that I was leaving and that I would be locking up, and that she has no right just to wonder around the allotment, it's for plot holders and their guests only.
It appears that we will have to lock ourselves in as other sites do in the borough if we are to prevent the curious from just wondering about. On Spencer Road site a few years ago there were some African women who were just coming into the site and using it like a supermarket and helping themselves to plot holders produce, and that was what made them start locking the gates behind themselves.
I will be asking the council / idverde to make up a sign to put on the internal gate but getting people to change their ways will be difficult.
Monday 10 August 2020
Last of the Summer Sowing
I’ve posted this list in August for a couple of years now, so if you’ve seen it before, bear with me. This year though there are a lot of new gardeners, curious as to what can be sown just now, who might find this useful.
We’re now at the warmest time of the year. It's hot. Winter may still seem far off, but the great wheel is turning and colder, darker days are coming. Along with lower temperatures come the long nights and shorter daylight hours. There's just less of the sunlight essential for any photosynthesis and plant growth. In the British Isles from about Halloween to the Saint Valentine’s Day (Oct. 31st to Feb. 14) the sun is in the sky for less than 10 hours a day. With the short daylight hours and lower temperatures plant growth slows to a crawl, at best. Over the next twelve weeks the growing season is going to slowly ebb to a close.
There is a bright side to all this gloom, though; if you get the timing right and the winter is kind, crops reaching maturity just before Halloween will rest in dormancy for months, without bolting or going to seed. We can do nothing about the scarcity of sunlight, and little about the lower temperatures; the last of our tender summer crops are doomed to perish in the frosts. But, get the timing right though and your winter hardy crops will grow to maturity just as they reach winter dormancy and sit, preserved in Nature's Own open air fridge, until the spring. All of this means that harvesting veggies from your plot doesn’t have to end as the summer months give way to autumn and winter.
Knowing what to sow, when and what particular varieties are most likely to succeed is half the job when it comes to winter gardening. There is a big rush to sow the last autumn and winter crops in the next few weeks, then it quietens down with just 4 crops to sow in Autumn to overwinter. The exact dates vary with your latitude and local climate, but here is a rough guide of what you can be sowing in the next few weeks.
To sow by mid August: LAST CALL
First early potato varieties (Arran Pilot, Pentland Javelin etc…)
Spring onions (White Lisbon, North Holland Blood Red).
Carrot (Fast maturing fingerling varieties such Amsterdam Forcing, Adelaide, Napoli, Early Nantes and Nantes Frubund).
Spring Cabbage (Durham Early, April, Offenham or Wheeler's Imperial are all good choices).
Leaf Beet (Swiss Chard, Perpetual Spinach).
Spinach (Medania, Giant Winter etc...).
Lettuce, autumn cropping; (Lollo Biondo, Little Gem, Cos varieties)
Lettuce, winter cropping under cover; (Winter Gem, Winter Density, Arctic King).
Lettuce, winter cropping outside; Winter Marvel (This variety only).
Endive (Batavian Queen, Natacha, Cornet de Bourdeaux etc...)
Kohl Rabi (Superscmelz, Lanro F1).
Kale (Red Russian, Nero di Toscana only)
Turnip (Snowball, Albina Verduna, Armand, Purple Top Milan).
To sow before the end of August.
Raddichio (Palla Rossa, Rossa di Verona, Treviso)
Radish (Chinese Rose, Black Spanish)
Winter Purslane, also known as Miner's Lettuce or Claytonia
Onions from seed; (Senshyu Yellow, Keepwell).
Parsley (small supermarket pots can be divided for planting out).
To sow by the end of the first week of September
Land cress, aka. American Cress
Oriental Salad Leaves, Leaf Mustard, any winter mix
Lamb's Lettuce, aka. Corn salad.
Calabrese, to mature in May (Stromboli F1 - This variety only).
Cauliflower, to mature in May. (Snowball - This variety only)
From September to November, Garlic; Germidor, Early Wight
In early October, Onion sets, Shakespeare, Senshyu Yellow (red varieties are more liable to bolt in the spring after overwintering).
In Mid-late October,
Peas (Meteor, Douce Provence, Feltham First).
Cauliflower (All The Year Round under cover, this variety only)
In early November, Broad beans (Aquadulce Claudia).