Monday 30 November 2020

Raspberry Bed Infrastructure II

Todays visit to the allotment started with using the circular saw to cut the top of the stack 2.4m x 1.2m bed frame in half and then painting the cuts and touching up the paintwork to the frames.

The 2.5m long sides were painted as they have weathered whilst waiting to be used and they were drilled with 3 pilot holes each end and then screwed into place with 75mm long screws 

The lone Dalek that was in the middle of the 2.4m length of the raspberry beds was emptied with a small shovel and the contents of acidic compost was placed in the first bed. The Lone Dalek was added to the end of the line of the lot 1 Dalek Army. 

The second half frame was removed from the stack and placed on its side on top of the first Raspberry bed and again a 2.4m long side was painted and drilled, then screwed into place. 

View of the Raspberry just before leaving at 1pm to go home for lunch and just as the rain started. 

The second 2.4m x 1.2m frame was lifted off the frame below and cut to form two 0.6m wide frames. I ended up using the hand saw on the last half of the second cut as the circular saw is really difficult to use vertically downwards and it kept binding in the slot.

First job next visit will be to turn the frames up like the first photo in this post and paint the timbers ready for the 3rd and 4th beads to be installed.   

In My Seed Box for 2021 - Swede


OK I admit when I think of swede it takes me back to my childhood as my Mum used to cook roast dinners all the time and swede was part of our staple diet, however since growing up and getting married it's not something that the wife is particularly fond off, but now as I am taking on more of the cooking duties and the fact that I have a packet "Best of All"  seed that came with the Grow Your Own magazine. I also picked up a couple of Carters Tested Seeds packs from Poundland in the sale. 

Due to my leg injury in 2019 and Shielding my wife during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020 I didn't get around to sowing Swede, and in chatting with my sister-in-law Pauline who also has a plot on the same allotment site, she has not had much luck growing swede in the past, so with the additional half plot I feel that space needs to be found to grow this vegetable in 2021 and that I should learn how to cook it !

I have a vague recollection of my old Mum boiling it, mashing it and adding butter, but I may be wrong !

Best of All  - 750 Seeds - FREE - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2021

Sow        May - Jun
Harvest  Oct - Mar

Invitation - 100 Seeds - 25p - Carters (Poundland) - Sow by 7/2021

Sow                Mid April - Mid Jun
Harvest          Nov - Feb
Germination  6 - 10 days 

Sunday 29 November 2020

Raspberry Bed Infrastructure

The access road that is about to become adopted and links to the development beside the allotment site has gone in during the last week. Again access was via the development to the side of my plots. It appears the pull in we were promised will happen, but I assume our access into our drop off and pick area (we are not allowed to call it a car park) may be compromised for a couple of weeks whilst they finish it off.   

View from the outside of the plot and one can see the area where we will be able to pull up in front of the gate and once the road is open we will no longer block and traffic when coming and going. The roundabout is not a physical entity it looks like they will put one of those white painted roundabout in front of the junction to the access roads, our access and Parchment Close 

The Raspberry collection came Saturday and so the pressure is now on to get the infrastructure of beds in place and the raspberries in the ground as quickly as possible. 

Before Picture ~ at 8:40 and the start of the day on the allotment. A great deal of digging weeding, removing woodchip and clearing was done in order to get the path in from the main path and link into the installed path system so far. And then pulling back the temporary membrane that was covered in woodchip to expose the soil so that it can be dug and weeded. As normal I will dig and weed the paths as well as the beds. 

After Photo ~ 1:15pm as I was about to leave for Sunday lunch. Temporary timbers put into the corner of the paths to hold the woodchip path in place, and provide something to better define what's coming.   

View of the main path into Plot 1 timbers laid on the path at the entrance to indicate the line of the path and where the ends beds need too go.  

First raspberry bed dug over and weeded, however the bed timber work needs cutting in half as they were built 1.2m x 2.4m and they will now be 0.6m x 2.4m

Once the 1,2m timbers are cut in half then 2.5m long member will be added to make the 0.6m x 2.4m internal dimensioned beds. I de-nailed and painted three 2.5m long timbers all round face by face during the morning and they are on top of the stacked bed frames in the photo below.     

View up the main path into Plot 1, the woodchip path is level and compacted as much as possible at the moment until the bed frames are installed. The two Agapanthus plants in flower buckets have been placed approximately where they will ultimately be planted in the plot each side of the entrance.    

Clip Glove Review


Coming Soon 

Saturday 28 November 2020

Waltons Garden Storage Chest Assembled

Cold frame removed and area ready for the  4 x 3 ft wooden garden storage chest arriving Monday 

Laid out the panels to allow them to breath as we have had rain over the last week and some of the panels were very wet.

Over the next two days the panels once dry were painted inside and out and the floor given two coats of paint apart from the front folding panel and with the weather changing and forecast for rain the store was screwed together and assembled. 

The pack of screws supplied is a generic pack and there are sizes that are supplied and not actually required for this model. I will never complain about too many fitting being supplied, and I've ended up increasing my screw stock so that's an additional win.   

The roofing felt roll had been compressed and was oval with a seam formed each side of the roll. it's always advisable to lay felt out ideally in the sun to flatten before fixing so I took the decision to lay the felt on the roof to keep the rain off the timber and from getting into the store and used the window frames from the cold frame to hold it in place and apply a little flattening force, there isn't a lot of sun about at the moment.    

Friday the felt was fixed to the roof and trimmed. Saturday the store had another coat of paint with the corners getting double attention and the trims have been painted all round and will need another couple of coats before I fix them and the Hasp to the front completing the build.

The store is however already full to the brim and has made a significant difference in the amount of available space for access else where. It's been nice being able to actually get into my shed to find the tools and materials I need without having to decant stuff for access. 

Winning the Waltons competition has been a little God send, and I'm very grateful that it happened.

Saving Loo Rolls

How many of you are now saving Loo Roll Tubes to use as root trainers for Parsnips etc. next year?

Between June and the end of October I tend to shred the loo rolls for browns for the compost bin along with envelopes, junk mail and paper waste, But loo rolls are a valuable resource come seed sowing time. My sister saved hers for me and I know of many other allotmenteers who rope in family and friends in the saving process.

I put the Parsnips in the Takeaway Containers in 2020 on the 7th March 2020 and I had not looked at them for a couple of days, and I think I really should have.  Above is the Johnsons Organic Tender & True and I moved 10 that have chitted into loo rolls full of compost

You can see the root just forming on the one in the top left corner in the photo above and the roots on the three on the bottom row must be a day or two old.

Above is the Thompson & Morgan White Gem and they had also started to sprout and I potted on 10 from this container into loo rolls as well

The roots on these are shorter and I suspect are a day behind the Tender & True 

I've drilled the bottle cap with 6 number 1mm holes to turn the small 500ml Coke Bottle into a mini watering can which is so useful for watering seed trays in the grow stations and the Space Saver Greenhouse  

last year in March I had only managed to save 20 loo roll tubes, which is why I'm saving them earlier for 2021 season. The 20 loo rolls were filled with MPC and the top 5mm with seedling compost and the seeds were pricked out and dropped with root downwards into the centre of the roll.

I try and take the loo rolls with germinated seeds down to the allotment as place in the planting membrane within a week so that the roots don't have chance to get to the bottom of the loo roll. 

I use my funky bulb planter whos bore is just right for vending machine cups and loo rolls, place the loo roll in the bore and fill any gap with fine compost and water in well. In march 2020 I only managed to get in these 20 loo rolls before we went into lockdown. 

In 2021 I have 6 different varieties of parsnips and I'm looking at filling a whole 2.4m x 1.4m bed with a 105 hole 7 per row and 15 rows planting membrane with parsnips. 

2 rows (14) x Student Parsnip   - 200 Seeds - Mag    - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2021 
2 rows (14) x Palace F1             - 200 Seeds - £2.45 - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2021
2 rows (14) x Tender and True   - 350 Seeds - £2.09 - Johnsons        - Sow By 2022
3 rows (21) x White Gem           - 300 Seeds - £1.00 - Wilko               - Sow By 2022 
3 rows (21) x New! Picador F1  - 200 Seeds - £2.10 - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By Dec 2023
3 rows (21) x New! TZ 9045 F1 - 200 Seeds - £1.99 - D.T.Brown       - Sow By Dec 2022

I will be offering my excess Student Parsnip & Palace F1 seeds to other plot holders.

Friday 27 November 2020

In My Seed Box For 2021 - Sweetcorn


My daughter Kelly declared early on in my ownership of an allotment that all sweetcorn grown was hers. Historically we have had some great harvests and the two types of corn that I have grown have been Swift and Lark F1. 2017 was extremely disappointing but it would appear that most people in the UK had a bad year with their Sweetcorn. 

In 2019 Marshalls sent me two different varieties to trial which were Alliance F1 and Tyson F1 again due to the leg injury I didn't get the infrastructure in to trial both varieties in 2019. 

The results with Marshalls Alliance F1 Hybrid Sweetcorn were nothing more than spectacular (see photos of harvest here) and I have to say they were the best Sweetcorn that I have grown to date 

This year I'm going to trial the Marshalls Tyson F1 Hybrid and hope they produce as good if not better than the Alliance F1 Hybrid, only time will tell.  

If I get the additional beds in on plot 1 I have Swift - 56 Seeds + two packets of unknown quantity as they came from multipacks and as long as I can grow them far enough away from each other to prevent cross pollination I may well sow these as well unless I'm offered any other new varieties to trial this year as a result of the Gardening Press Event 2020.


New! Sweetcorn Picasso - Its a New Variety to Mr Fothergill's and I'm up for trying out new varieties, I have some from this year to trial, however with the extra half plot I can keep them far enough away from each other so that cross pollination should not be a problem, plus I will have twice as many as they go way to fast in our family, and if I'm not lucky the local squirrel find out they are ripe before me and eats some.  

New! Sweet Corn Illusion F1 - 25 Seeds - a new variety from Dobies - Cost £2.99

Thursday 26 November 2020

Dobies Gift Catalogue

Ideal Catalogue to come through the door if you are looking for something for a gardener for Christmas. Visit this page to view on line or order a paper Catalogue  

Wednesday 25 November 2020

In My Seed Box for 2021 - Squash

Historically I was really not a huge squash fan, until converted by the Squash Queen Beryl Randall over at Mud & Gluts, so for the last four years I have been growing and eating Butternut Squash. If kept in ideal conditions Squash seeds can last 6 - 10 years.

In 2020 I had a bash at the two New Varieties of Winter Squash from Thompson & Morgan, one a Mash and the other an alternative to baked potatoes. 

Both packs had 12 seeds. The packs say packed in 2020 but I received them in 2019?  and Sow by Year End 2021 (Actual seed life is 6-10 years). I was really impressed with these varieties, I do have half of the seeds left from each pack and I may do these again in 2021, however I have just received .....

New!  Squash Mashed Potato - D,T.Brown - 10 Seeds £2.49

Acorn' squashes are known for their excellent flavour and this novel variety has soft buttery flesh which can be roasted and mashed for a delicious, low calorie alternative to potatoes that the whole family will love. The plants are vigorous in growth, producing on average 5-6 fruits per plants. The bright white squashes hold their colour well and make the perfect addition to hearty autumnal meals.

So are they the same as the Thompson & Morgan varieties? I can see a plant off and comparison being made in 2021

D.T.Brown don't appear to be doing the cream coloured Baked Potato Variety but mention that the Squash Mashed Potato can also be roasted? 

Other Squash seeds I have in my seed box include:-

Crown Prince - Seed Circle 2013
Black Futsu - Seed Circle 2014
Flat White Boer - Seed Circle 2015
Blue Ubbard - Seed Circle 2016 
Chetunao Organic Butternut Squash - Seed Circle 2017

Mr Fothergill's Butternut Squash 5 Seeds left - Sow By 2021
Johnsons Squash (Winter) 5 seeds left - Seeds Early Butternut - Sow By 2022

Waltham Butternut - 50 Seeds - Premier Seeds - Sow By Oct 2021
Butternut Winter Early Organic - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2022
Butterfly Butternut

I love the soup my Daughter Emma makes from my Butternuts and have a number of meals bagged frozen and ready to heat up and consume during 2020  

Butternut Squash Generally 

Sow Indoors - March to May
Sow Outdoors - May
Sow 3 of each variety into a pot edgeways into the compost, cover with 15mm of compost firm gently and keep moist 
Keep at approx. 15C - 20C 
Germination - Seedlings appear in 7-14 days  
Potting On at 5-6 leaf stage, stand outside for a few days in late May (avoid frost)  Transplant 600mm apart in growing position. 
Harvest July to October, Pick Regularly to encourage cropping

Tip When fruits start to swell give liquid feed every 7-10 days.

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Suttons Gift Catalogue

Ideal Catalogue to come through the door if you are looking for something for a gardener for Christmas 

Use this link to visit the Sutton's Catalogue Request Page. You can order a hard copy or view electronically, personally I love to have a paper catalogue I can thumb through and look at during the dark Winter months looking for ideas for what varieties to grow next year.  

Monday 23 November 2020

In My Seed Box For 2021 - Sprouts


2019 with the crazy weather I lost my sowing of seedlings and then I had my leg injury so no home grown sprouts in 2019, 2020 in Shielding Mode for wife due to Covid -19,  should hopefully be better in 2021,  I have ten varieties of sprouts in my seed box 
  • Bedford                         - 125 Seeds            - Thompson & Morgan  - Sow By 12/2019  
  • Bedford Darkmar          -                              - Just Seeds 
  • Brest F1                        -  40 Seeds - £3.45 - Mr Fothergill's              - Sow By 2020
  • Brodie  F1                     -  40 Seeds - £3.45 - Mr Fothergill's              - Sow By 2021
  • Cromwell F1                -   40 Seeds -            - Marshalls                     - Sow By 2021
  • Evesham Special         - 500 Seeds - £1.89 - Mr Fothergill's              - Sow By 2020
  • Fillbasket                      - 100 Seeds -    20p - Carters                        - Sow By 07/2021
  • Igor                               -  30 Seeds - £2.80  - Mr Fothergill's RHS     - Sow By 2024
  • Mongomery                  -  40 Seeds -            - Marshalls                    - Sow By 09/2019
  • Nelson F1                     -  40 Seeds -           - Mr Fothergill's              - Sow By 2020
Based on 10 plants in a bed I decided on 
  • Bedford
  • Brest F1
  • Brodie F1 
  • Evesham Special
  • Nelson F1                                    
So that's five varieties and I will need two of each to fill the 10 holes in the sprout weed membrane. 


Sow Indoors February - Mid March or Sow Outdoors Mid March to the end of April 
Plant Out in May 

A second sowing will take place 14 days - 21 days after the first, as Brassicas can curl up a die so easily if it becomes too warm as I found out in 2019


September - December depending on the variety. 


A Sprout is like a puppy, is for all year round not just for Christmas 

Sunday 22 November 2020

Making Room For The Garden Store

If you are a regular reader you will know that I won the prize of 4 x 3 ft wooden garden storage chest worth £169.99 from Waltons in their Messy Shed competition to help me organise my garden clutter, by submitting a photo of my Messy Shed.

Well she (all sheds are she, well for men anyway!) arrives on Monday so over this weekend after agenising if I should use it down the allotment or to sort out my messy shed problem at home I decided sorting out the messy shed at home would be best. 

I have been considering where to put the store and the best place is to the left of the space saver greenhouse where the cold framed currently stands.

The cold frame is the same depth as the store so it will fit on the paving slabs beside the path. 

The photo above shows the cold frame being used to bring on the huge amount of tomatoes that I usually grow at home. Now the thing is with the extra greenhouse on the allotment will I actually need to grow as many at home? 

I'm thinking possibly not, so then I agenising over do I find a better spot for the cold frame in better light possibly on the other side of the greenhouse, but If I do that there will be a huge reduction in the amount of tomatoes that will be able to be grown in the back garden.  Or perhaps the cold frame should go to the allotment? Decisions, decisions.....  

The ladder will have to be moved up so that the cold frame can slide under it. and I would loose 10 flower buckets of tomatoes, but I will have the Quadgrows in the new Greenhouse on plot 1 which is four plants and I can fit in 3 plants in the narrow beds or perhaps even put one tomato plant into each of the three square foot garden beds, which would replace the 10 plants normally grown in the back garden!  I think I have made my decision (for the moment) and if push comes to shove I can always take the cold frame to the allotment but I think it will serve me better at home.

The property next door has been let and the tenants have done absolutely no garden maintenance at all over the last two years and currently the hedge behind the fencing over is two foot of shaggy growth as I could not trim it last year and this year because of my cellulitis and the problems I have had with my legs climbing ladders.

Taking things carefully I have manged to emptied the cold frame and for the moment have relocated it on the lawn. then using the three step platform, cut back the top and the overhanging portion of the hedge behind where the cold frame was.

Sunday more composting materials in the form of all leaves that were removed from the footpath and from around the cold frame were taken is a couple of sacks and 10 buckets with lids to the allotment and fed to the Dalek's, and more clearing of the greenhouse on plot 1A and sorting of the shed took place in the morning.

Garden Store to be delivered Monday between 7am and 7pm, I'm hoping for a dry day so that in between the work I have to do, I can clear the hedge cuttings and dependent what time it arrives I may even get it erected and ready to help me start digging my way into my shed. 

Saturday 21 November 2020

D.T.Brown - Rhubarb Livingstone

Do you enjoy those bright red stems in early summer, but wish the season for sweet, young rhubarb could be longer?  If so, you will want to grow Livingstone which produces its succulent, delicious, stringless sticks from March to October. This outstanding, British-bred strain was achieved by eliminating the summer dormancy which causes rhubarb to stop cropping by the middle of summer. By the way, this breakthrough came about by conventional means and not by any form of genetic modification.

Livingstone really does yield a fine crop of high quality, red-skinned stems through the autumn months, extending the season for this much-loved fruit (well, vegetable actually!).
The disease-free plants will crop heavily once established.  Whether your favourite is rhubarb crumble, rhubarb pie or simply stewed and served with compulsory custard, Livingstone is the variety we have been waiting for.  Supplied in 9cm pots.

'Livingstone' is a compact variety to about 50cm with bright red stems. Unlike other rhubarb varieties, it does not have a dormant period in summer. The main cropping period is early to late autumn, though it can be cropped in summer if required

Sow Indoors
Sow / Plant Outdoors
Flowers / Harvest

How to grow

CultivationPlant crowns in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun, from late autumn to early spring. Crowns can be cropped for ten or more years, though division may be necessary after about five years. Mulch in spring with a 7cm layer of well-rotted organic matter without burying the crowns, and apply a general fertiliser at 70g/sq m in spring or summer. Water during prolonged dry periods in summer. See rhubarb cultivation

PropagationLift crowns between autumn and early spring (usually in November). Use a spade to divide the crown into sections each retaining a portion of the rhizome (thickened root) and at least one growing point. Sections from the outer part are better than the centres of old plants. Discard any old or decayed parts of the crown. Replant straight away or wrap in damp sacking until ready to plant

Suggested planting locations and garden typesLow Maintenance Patio & Container Plants

How to care

PruningAllow the foliage to die back naturally in winter then cut away the old leaves to expose the growing points to winter cold

PestsAphidsslugs and snails may be problematic

DiseasesHoney fungus and a virus may be troublesome

OK not quite in my seed box but ordered for the plot 1 allotment 

In My Seed Box For 2021 - Index