Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Assessing Wind Damage

Visit to the allotment late afternoon to see what damage if any there was on the allotment after the high winds yesterday and last night. There was a little more than I was expecting but at least all the panels were still attached to the greenhouses and they were both still standing.

Both water butts on the new Greenhouse on plot 1 had been blown over. I had put a little water in the bottom of the water butts that I thought would have kept them there until they filled up, but it looks like it wasn't enough and the wind got to them before they managed to fill up enough to have the weight for stability. I had to stretch the hose around the down pipe and both pipes had pulled off when the Butts were pulled over so I will have to stretch the hoses and refix on the next visit

Plot 1A Greenhouse one panel just holding on one side and flapping like a shutter in the wind. So I used three large bulldog clips to hold the retaining strip in place as a temporary fix. I will pick up some more PK Screws and fix the panel mechanically and then silicon all around with clear silicon. That needs to be done on a day when there is not a lot of wind and the panels are not breathing with the airflow from the open vent.

One panel loose on the Greenhouse on plot 1.along the top right side, so again I have a bulldog clip as a temporary fic and will mechanically bond and try and refit the fixing stip with the special tool when I can find it in the shed.

Incinerators laying on there sides along with the two large water butts, at least this time they remained on my plot and didn't go for a walk on my neighbours. I have some rotting timber that I need to cut up and put into the bin that still has a bottom. I need to make a bottom for the bin that does not have one. perhaps some chicken wire will do. There is still some life in that old incinerator yet!

Netting had neem blown up and rotated along the hoops and was laying on the ground exposing the onions to the world and the wild life

A squirrel, crow or other bird appears to have helped themselves to a few onions now they are exposed so I had no option but to get the onions covered up again as soon as possible.

I relocated the lateral bar along the crown of the arch and used a couple of smaller stronger cable ties to hold it in place on the hoop. And this time I used bricks to hold the netting in place, rather than rely on the friction between the side of the hoop and the timber raised bed to hold it in place.

Content that I had done enough on this visit as I could always find more too do and it was only supposed to be a fleeting visit to check for any damage on my way to do some shopping.

I locked up and left Avalon in the care of Bonealot the security guard and part time scarecrow.



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Monday, 3 May 2021

Tomatoes Seed Selection 2021

 


There are 145 varieties of Tomatoes in my Seed Box of which 19 are F1 and 14 are new varieties that have been added this year. I spent some time today deciding what varieties I will be growing this year. The growing area at home has greatly reduced, but I now have two narrow beds to use on Plot 1 and I also have the Quadgrows in the new greenhouse if it survives the high winds tonight. 

I'm using a 7 Row by 11 Column seed tray so I'm splitting the tray by 3 and 4 thus there are 22 possible varieties but as I'm also growing some micro Tomatoes for my daughters Nursery children and fellow nursery nurses there are two rows of 3 Micro Toms so that's 21 varieties to select this year.  

Sowing 4 seeds of the following varieties

Black Krim - S.Bassett MYP&Q Seed Circle 2018
Cherry Honeycomb F1 - Mr Fothergills 2021 <<<< NEW
Crimson Cherry F1 - 10 Seeds - Dobies - Saved 2021 - Cost £3.99 <<<< NEW
Crimson Crush F4
Crimson Plum F1 - 10 Seeds -  Suttons - Saved 2021 -  Cost £4.49 <<<< NEW
Gigantomo F1 - Premier Seeds Direct - Sow by 2021
One Hundreds and Thousands - Saved 2014 - Saved 2016
Principe Borghese - Mr Fothergills - 2020  <<<< NEW
Rapunzel F1 Saved 2018 
Reisetomate - 15 Seeds - Organic Gardening Seeds - £2.99 <<<< NEW
Rotkappchen - Kings Seeds


Sowing 3 seeds of the following varieties

Bloody Butcher - D.T.Brown 2020 <<<< NEW
Gold Nugget Gelbei - Mr Fothergill's - 2020 Sow By 2024  <<<< NEW
Losetto F1 - D.T.Brown 2020 <<<< NEW
Micro Tom -  Jungle Seeds bought 2018 and Self Saved 2018 
Mountain Magic - D.T.Brown 2020 <<<< NEW
Raspberry Oxheart - Seed Parade 2020 <<<< NEW
White Cherry - D.T.Brown 2020 <<<< NEW
Yellow Mimi F1 - Marshalls 2019 <<<< NEW
Venus Balcony - Russian Seed Company 2018 <<<< NEW
Veranda Red - 6 Seeds - Suttons -  £4.49


Sunday, 2 May 2021

All Potatoes Finally In

Early morning visit to the allotment, sorted out the black tubing from Freecycle that was actually three coils of tube all wound up together. They are now cable tied, tidy and in the storage area behind the shed.


A quick peek at the white onions to see how they are doing followed by ...


A quick peek at the red onions, which are looking ok and the compost is not too dry. If no significant rain this week I will water Watered the Raspberries and the spuds in the ground.


Mixing Coir and my own compost


Planted 4 x Sarpo Kilfi spuds per large bucket and three of the excess Premier First Early spuds in the Marshalls Potato Pots


Green manure bed cut back on the left and potatoes in Buckets covered with rubber garden mats to keep the foxes out of them on the right. Three feeder hoses watering the Raspberry beds which were weeded this morning. Two new canes coming up from the roots, but three canes still looking like dead twigs at the moment.


Broke up half of the green manure bed before watering and covering with weed membrane to withhold light to encourage the worms and critters to take the manure down into the soil. It will be interesting to see if there is much difference between the two ends of the bed.
Then before I know it the alarm on my phone was warning me half an hour to round up all the tools and finish what I was doing before making my way home for lunch. I sorted out some more Coir blocks to bring home to hydrate and reload the Coir bucket.

International Compost Awareness Week


Garden Organic is the UK's leading organic growing charity. Dedicated to promoting organic gardening in homes communities and schools, and advancing organic growing through research, we use innovation & inspiration to get more people growing organically.

Making my own compost makes me 

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Sieving Compost

 


It was a little chilly on the allotment this morning, well it would be being Naked Gardening Day, so I put my skin and layers of clothes back on and set about attacking the mound of compost from the bottom of the Dalek.

The rotating sieve makes light work of breaking the compost down. It makes me wonder why bought compost can't look, smell and feel this good?

The last of my spuds going into buckets are going to love this compost mixed with coir and some potato fertiliser tomorrow. I reduced the pile down to ground level, sieved and bagged up the compost ready for use.

Don't forget it's International Compost Awareness Week from tomorrow 

I may have gone too far!

 

Happy Naked Gardening Day! 

Planning and Reviewing May in Previous Years

 Reviewing the diary over the last five years for May


2013 -Spring was the coldest for 50 years,I had the first six beds and the comfrey bed in place.Beds 5 & 6 were Sprouts and Cabbages, as expected lots of sowing and potting on happened.

2014 -Frost warnings and seedlings grown in the grow house inside the green house on Mill Green.Potato Halums were a little frost damaged, Slabs at home laid for the Space Saver Greenhouse, Erected the Space Saver Greenhouse at home and the Double grow House at Mill Green.

2015 -Potatoes in Buckets, transplanting Tomato plants, High Winds and damage on the plots, Cherry Trees have Cherries on them, Planting out Spring Onions, Harvesting Over wintered spring onions, Planting Cabbages and Cauliflowers and the Crimson Crush plants arrive, three more bed frames made.

2016 - Spencer Road - Second sowing of sweetcorn due to slow germination then the first sowing germinated after the first !, Beds 1-3 completed, Potatoes in bed 3. Comfrey bed 2 completed

2016 - Mill Green - overwintered onions in greenhouse planted to replace those that were nobbled by slugs in the beds, Sowing frenzy of beetroots, Spring Onions, Cucumber, Celery, second sowing or brassica's as first sowing died. Frost second week of May. Bean frame maintenance.

2017Spencer Road Allotment - Working on infrastructure and the watering system for the plot, spuds and onions growing well, Walking Onion infrastructure created. Comfrey Pipe erected.

2017Mill Green Allotment - Mossquito Nets to Protect fruit on the trees, Brassicas planted, SoilFixer Potatoes in Buckets experiment, Push Lawn mower obtained off Freecycle.

Having two plots on different sites really did have an effect on the overall progress last year, but the additional beds provided more opportunity for sowing and planting a greater range of varieties of vegetables to try  in 2017.

This year the decommissioning of Spencer Road and the Infrastructure works at Mill Green Plot 1 to accept the Shed and Greenhouse has not gone as quickly as I would have liked primarily due to the bad weather we have had in the way of snow and rain, combined with getting Mill Green Plot 1A back into shape as before the drop off and pick up area was created it was difficult to gain access to Mill Green and keep it up to scratch, plus the intention was to move to Spencer Road so the focus was off Mill Green, Its now firmly back on it.
 
2018 Moving tomatoes from vending machine cups into larger pots, Sown Sweetcorn, Hardening off Tomatoes in the cold frame, Transporting items from Spencer Road to Mill Green Tomatoes transplanted into flower Buckets, Cucumbers & Courgettes planted. Runner Beans & Beetroots started off at home planted. Two Crimson Crush and a Repunzel grown out in the open on the plot, they were left to go wild and become so prolific .Bought an Apex Rotary Sieve from Germany for less that the version from Wales. Radish in cut down flower bucket. Rain & Thunder storms  

2019 - May as always means the Spacesaver Greenhouse heaving with seedlings and everything hetting started off so that it can finally be transplanted at the allotmentment during the end of the month. The framework for the greenhouse was finally assembled with Andy's assistance and Emma & Andy as I was having problems hetting down on my knees due to my leg injury. Andy & I planted spuds, Brassica excess supplied by Pauline, Hazelnut tree arrives and is taken to plot and potted up. Cutting and Painting bed timbers continues, Onion Sets planted by Emma, Beetrootrs sown but fail to germiniate or are eaten by slugs. Comfrey Pipe cleaned out, Insect Houses bought from Morrisons.  

2020 - Due to Covid and the lockdown I  didn't visit the allotment during May as I was shielding my wife. My daughter and son in law visited and tried to keep the allotment tidy and undertook weed management. All of my growing was done in the back garden.  

Planned for 2021

Coronavirus UPDATE

We are slowly coming out of lockdown and both the wife and I had our second vaccinations yesterday  

To Do List  

Below is the to do list in no particular order of what needs to be done and what has slipped. 

Mill Green - Plot 1A
  • Re felt the roof of the shed - Awaiting a couple of dry days 
  • Fix the potting Bench - TBD. 
  • Tidy Up the Allotment  - Ongoing 
  • Weeding - Ongoing  

Mill Green - Plot 1

  • Potatoes - Last tray of maincrop spuds to be planted in buckets.
  • Square Foot Gardening Beds - Timber for all Square Foot Gardening Beds now cut, One set need nails removed, painting and drilling for fixing screws.
  • Rhubarb Beds and Paths - Next job to be done and completed before the second Square Foot Gardening Bed as Rhubarb due to be dispatched on the 18th May.   
  • Apple - Missed opportunity to prune trees - Do it next year  
  • Onion Sets - Planted  
  • New greenhouse -  Automatic vent fitted Just need to cover with debris netting for some shade internally.
  • Install the kerb edging along the bottom of Plot 1 - TBD
  • Clear the weeds and install a 600mm margin around the perimeter of the plot - TBD
  • Watering system to be installed from corner of plot 1 up to Plot 1A - Done
  • Tidy Up the Allotment - Ongoing 
Home 
  • Planning - Ongoing
  • Cut Planting Membrane - Make some narrow bed tomato planting sheets
  • Space Saver Greenhouse - Sweetcorn & Beetroots already in 
 

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Sowing Aubergines

 


I've never grown Aubergine before but assume they will need heat for as long as possible. I'm still a long way off from having the Solar Tunnel bed ready for Aubergines but lets get the plants sown.

15 x Long Purple from Kings Seeds (from a Magazine) 

15 x Black Beauty from Seed Parade 

10 x Green Knight F1 New! variety from Mr Fothergill's

Currently sitting on top of the fridge freeze in the Kitchen in the warmth of the house awaiting germination. Then by time they are ready to be potted up we will be beyond the last frost date for the greenhouse.  

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Second Early & Maincrop Spuds

A great morning on the allotment which started a little chilly 7:30 but by 1pm the fleece was off and tied around my waist to keep my lower back warm. I actually caught a sun tan on my face and arms so it looks like its time to start putting on some sun tan lotion.


Mayan Rose - Main Crop - D.T.Brown put into a bed, covered with hoops and debris netting to hold the frost off a little. Excess given to John on plot 10.



New! McCain Shepody - Early Main Crop - Dobies into 30 litre buckets. New! Stemster - Main Crop - Dobies into 30 litre buckets. Covered with the bottom of a bread basket to keep the foxes off and stop them digging.
I learnt that hydrating coir on the plot is a very long drawn out process using a color gas cooker and 1 litre kettle.
New! Sarpo Kifli - Main Crop - D.T.Brown to go into buckets on a future visit once I have hydrated some coir at home and taken to the plot.


I used compost from one of my Daleks up on plot 1A which looked smelt and felt wonderful. Anthea & Bill are dropping me off some great quality compost from their trading hut this afternoon which I will use if I don't have enough of my own compost.


Two green manure beds strimmed one broken up with the claw then covered with weed membrane for the worms to take down into the ground for me. I may move the potatoes in buckets over to that bed to assist in withholding light.
One panel on the plot 1A Greenhouse bodge repaired using bulldog clips until I can find the fixing tool for the plastic strips.
New spuds watered in and raspberries watered again today. Pressure is really low in the system and I can't quite work out why at the moment.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Lets Get Sowing (At Last)

I've been holding off from sowing anything and ignoring my plan as I've had far too much going on at home and I don't have the portable growing stations set up this year. It's been a very cold April and many nights of sub zero temperatures, but now I have removed the two shelves of chitting potatoes to the plot and have some in and other waiting in the greenhouse, I have the space to get sowing. 

wilko Beetroot Cylindra - 25p a pack normally bought in the end of season sale for 10p for 150 seeds. I these are just right for slicing and pickling 4 seeds per cell x 40 cells so 160 seeds good job I have four packs of these seeds. 

With 105 cell planting membrane I will fill just over third of a bed and will sow another trays worth in four weeks time so I have longer harvesting period and less pickling to do all at once.  


Two number 28 cell module trays of Marshalls Tyson F1 Sweetcorn 30 seed per pack at £2.99 each sown. These were a new variety in 2019 when I grew the Marshalls Alliance sweetcorn which were also a new variety that year and grew so well (Read Review here). 

Tyson F1 are a super sweet 20 kernel thick cob circumference variety that are said to be delicious straight from the plant or grilled on a barbecue. I can't say I have ever eaten sweetcorn raw straight from harvesting, now there is something to try this year. 

With lockdown in 2020 I didn't get to grow any sweetcorn so I'm hoping Marshalls Tyson F1 are as good if not better than Alliance, check back in late August early September 2021 to see.

Friday, 23 April 2021

Freecycle Find


Freecycle has provided another Allotment gift in the form of a 25m Hozelock wind up hose, which would have made life easier when I cleaned the greenhouse on plot 1A.

Next time I need to source water from that end of the site I now have the means to do so very easily.

Also if I get a blockage in the system I have installed I have a way of bypassing the affected area.

Happy St Georges Day

 


Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Morning Tidying Visit



On the allotment this morning between 8:00 - 10:00 sorting out the timber behind the shed on plot 1 into the same lengths and then cable tie the ends in bundles of six to go up to the timber storage rack on plot 1A.







Decanting square flower buckets of around 110 half paving blocks that I got from freecycle for holding down netting and planting membrane from the bed halfway up plot 1A to around the timber base of the greenhouse. I still have about another 40 blocks to move and they will go on the back face of the plot 1A greenhouse. This way the blocks are tidy and out of the way until I need them on a bed.


I love to see the bluebells making an appearance on the comfrey bed, looks like they are just going to beat the comfrey this year. I must weed that bed before the comfrey starts taking over.

Monday, 19 April 2021

Swift Monday Visit

Allotment visit between 7:30 and 10:00 this morning and I noticed that the woodchip pile in the drop off and pick up area is going down so I decided to move a few barrow loads into the corner of the plot ready to go on the paths around the rhubarb and between the Rhubarb and the Raspberries once dug and weeded.

I also topped up the first 3 paths between raspberry beds to line up with the top of the slabs.


I gave half of the slabs on the main path a once over with the WORX Hydroshot to see what difference it would make, and I have to say I'm impressed with the results. Next job for the Hydroshot will be washing down the planting membrane when they come off the beds so that they are nice and clean before going back into storage for Winter.

The table got two coats of teak oil brushed into the top at either end of todays visit.
I watered the Raspberries and the onions as there is no significant rain forecast in the next 10 days.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Cleaning Plot 1A Greenhouse

 

A good mornings work on the allotment this morning clearing out the Plot1A Greenhouse, removing the debris netting and using the WOR Hydroshot pressure cleaner inside and out.

Plot 1A Greenhouse with everything removed

Plot 1A Greenhouse after the jet wash inside and out and the staging put back in


Sand from the soft bricks used to level the floor and the rubber garden matting installed inside


I have to say the battery lasted a long time, I went over greenhouse inside and out with a wide jet. Then I used the brush and then used a narrow setting in some stubborn areas and still had juice to give it another once over inside and out.