Sunday, 31 January 2021

A Change of Plans & Name


I've been thinking of naming my allotment after a thread on one of the Facebook groups asked what plot holders call their plots, and I have decided on Avalon as I'm into the Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table    

The isle of Avalon has been, for centuries, a mythical place that symbolizes purity, abundance and magic, and which is the reason for the strong significance it has had in Western culture for so many years. It's the reason I chose the name because for me the allotment is a magical place were I get to play with the soil and get in touch with nature. 

As I see the gate to the drop off and pick up area, I feel at ease and pieceful. By the time I get to the inner gate and can see my plot the magic happens, all the burdens and worries that I had outside the magic Isle evaporate and the birdsong get louder and is wonderful to listen too.   

We have had so much bad weather during January and my wife has been having problems standing from sitting and has needed a lot of assistance for a week or two, so I have not had the number of visits to the plot and have not made the progress I wanted during January. 

With my wife's better mobility and with Kelly around to keep an eye on her plus it being dry, I was up early and it was -0.5C and the windscreen was frozen when I left for Avalon. I love getting to the allotment and enjoying the birdsong and the quiet at 8:00am. 

For at least two hours I had the whole of the site to myself until the normal faces ambled in for various reasons and durations. Being the first plot after the main gate most wave and say good morning or stop and have a short chat before continuing on to their respective plots.

As I arrived I realised I had not brought the circular saw with me, but looking at how little wood chip was left I decided a change of focus and plans were in order. So decided to deal with the two paths between the last two raspberry beds and if there was enough time get the compost bin that the storm took on a trip onto the neighbouring plot finally installed at the end of Dalek Army II. 


The path on the left needed to be dug and weeded for the last 1.2m, but the path on the right of the photo above was weeded when I put the bed in. I overlapped the weed membrane that I had cut to 660mm wide with the main path and then proceeded to bring the wood chip in, and lay between 50 - 75mm deep and then compact with the front of the rake. The photo was taken as I got to filling about half way as I thought it was a good shot to show how I cut and use the weed membrane under the wood chips. 

The frost had done a good job of breaking up the soil in the last raspberry bed so I raked and levelled it off. I have a Dalek full of acidic compost to put in when I get the last of my raspberries which should be in March   


Above is a photo once the two paths had been installed from the main path. I did use a fulcrum to leaver up the third bed up a little as I was filling up the paths. The wood chips get dropped off in the corner of the drop off and pick up area aka the car park, and I am so glad that I'm the first plot in from the gate. My feet and legs are not as good as they should be thanks to the type 2 diabetes and my 23 year old mind keeps forgetting I have a 63 year old body.     


This was the view from the area in between the Raspberry beds and the Daleks that needs clearing and covering. One of the next jobs is to dig and weed a strip 900mm wide along the back of these raspberry beds and install the path to 600mm width. Looking at this photograph that first path on the left could do with another layer of wood chips when I install the next path.   


I dug the area where the last (for now) Dalek is placed and managed to get a trug load of couch grass and mares tail roots out before bedding the Dalek in place. I had some offcuts of weed membrane that I laid around the new Dalek and along in front of the last three. I placed some lumber at the end and in front of the Daleks and then wood chipped them in. 


Having a new empty Dalek didn't last too long as I have used it to store the many buckets of shredded paper and cut up cardboard that I have been processing using the cardboard that Christmas generated. Lots of browns for mixing with the greens produced this year to make lovely compost for next year.  


Dalek Army II looking a little congested at the moment. The lumber that was all stood up so that it could dry off, if we ever get a few continuous dry days, was either blown over and did the domino thing or a fox pushed them over.   


Having seen the Daffs and Bluebells coming up in the comfrey bed I thought I better remove the weed membrane from the Tulips and Daffs that I put into the corner bed of plot 1A. My plan is to move these in the green to along the path between plot 1 and Plot 2 on my side next too the kerb stones I have installed for a flash of colour in front of Dalek Army II and as some food the the bees that live in plot 14A opposite the end of plot 1 on the other side of the main path.   


Looking down the allotment at the area where the square foot gardening beds are to be installed. The very end is currently full of the debris and rubbish I inherited when I took on plot 1. I really want to get the frames painted and screwed together and the beds dug over and weeded. I'm hoping for some dryer weather in February so that I can make that happen. 

The Battenberg paving slabs that I was using as a path, before the main woodchip path was installed are to go around the back of the new greenhouse. 

The green manure is not at a point where it needs to be cut and dug in just yet. The fencing needs to be cut into panels for the back of the square foot gardening beds.

It's hard to explain but time goes slow and fast at the same time when I'm on the allotment. I've learnt not to push myself and to plod along taking micro breaks and mix up the heavy duty and light duty tasks.  

There never seem enough time to get done what my mind has promised me I can, that's the 23:63 mind to body ratio, but the when 1pm arrives and I pack up and leave to get home by 1:30 for Sunday lunch those 5 hours feel like only 2 or 3 at the most!             

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Re-Purpose Chest of Drawers

My youngest daughter Kelly has moved out of the box room and into the second bedroom and the master bedroom is having a major re-vamp. We had a three draw chest of drawers that's no longer needed in the house, so Kelly and I dropped it off at the allotment and made room for it in the shed to better organise all the weed membrane and planting membrane that so far has been in fold up crates. 
  

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Gardening Hits TESCO


As I have been shielding my wife, I tend to go shopping very early in the morning normally between 6 - 7am and on this trip I found that the Unwins Seeds had arrived along with bulbs or various types and the first lot of compost. I could not see what size the sacks were but they were £4 a sack or two for £6. 

Thing is I have never tried Levington and have no idea what their MPC is like. I'm worried it may be the crappy MPC that Tony C Smith had problems with I will have to go back and watch the YouTube Video and see if it was.

Fruit trees at £6 each or two for £10  




Who can resist a £2 bag of 80 Stuttgarter Giant Onion sets. I have Red Baron and Pink Panther already so just a top up purchase really.  

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Snow Stops Play

I did want to visit the allotment today and I even checked all my apps to see if the predicted snow was going to come down as far as the plot. They all said tr wouldn't. I got dressed to go and looked outside and it was snowing and settling!

It only lasted a day and was completely gone by Tuesday morning 

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Even More Re Thinking Parsnips



I'm working on my Sowing and Planting Plant and with the huge parsnips I grow this year I'm thinking more about sequential sowing and harvesting  so I have decided to look at the back of each pack or the websites for the sow dates and harvest dates for each variety as I have  7 different varieties of parsnips plus one pack that is past its sell by date I've decided on two rows of everything in date and 1 row of the out of date seeds which gives me 14 of each new in date variety and 1 row of 7 Gladiator F1 if they germinate. This rethink means Swede and Turnips will need to go into another bed.  

So I thought I had bottomed out what I was going to grow Parsnip wise and D.T.Brown send me a Free pack of Sabre F1 seeds with an order to trial which leads to a rethink re Parsnips  

Parsnips 
2 rows (14) x Student                  - 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
2 rows (14) x White Gem            - 300 Seeds - £1.00 - Wilko               - Sow By 2022 
2 rows (14) x New! Picador F1  - 200 Seeds - £2.10 - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By Dec 2023
2 rows (14) x New! TZ 9045 F1 - 200 Seeds - £1.99 - D.T.Brown       - Sow By Dec 2022
2 rows (14) x New! Sabre F1     - 100 Seeds - £1.89 - D.T.Brown       - Sow By Dec 2024
1 row   (  7) x Gladiator F1 old seeds if they germinate.  
           [105]

Sowing and Harvesting Dates 

Variety                     Sow                   Harvest  

New! TZ 9045 F1   Feb - Apr          Oct - Mar
New! Picador F1    Feb - May         Oct - Feb    
Tender and True     Feb - May        Sep - Mar 
Palace F1               Feb - May         Oct - Feb 
White Gem          mid Feb - April     Oct - mid Feb
Student                  Apr - May          Sep - Feb     (Heritage Variety)
Sabre F1                Feb - May         Oct - Feb 
Gladiator F1           Apr - May          Sep - Feb    (sow by Dec 2019 try and germinate)           

Sowing and Harvesting schedule 

Feb
Tender and True        Harvest - September
New! TZ 9045 F1      Harvest - October
New! Sabre F1          Harvest - October

March 
New! Picador F1       Harvest - October  
Tender and True        Harvest - November  
Palace F1                  Harvest - January 2022

April 
New! TZ 9045 F1       Harvest - December - After frost 
New! Picador F1        Harvest - December - After frost 
New! Sabre F1           Harvest - January 2022
Palace F1                   Harvest - February 2022
 
May 
Student                      Harvest - January 2022
Tender and True        Harvest - January 2022
Gladiator F1               Harvest - February 2022
White Gem                 Harvest - February 2022
   

Friday, 22 January 2021

Storm Christoph


Three days of rain has brought flooding across large parts of Wales The Met Office said over the past two days Wales had the highest rainfall of the four UK nations.

Between 19 and 21 January, Aberllefenni in Gwynedd saw 188mm (7.5in) of rain, more than average rainfall for Wales for the whole of January, which is 156.89mm (63in).


That was followed by 180mm (7in) in Crai reservoir, Powys, 169.8mm (6.6in) in Treherbert, Rhondda Cynon Taf, and 166mm (6.5in) in both Maerdy, RCT, and Capel Curig, Conwy.

About 2,000 homes in the Didsbury and Northendean areas of Manchester, Ruthin and Bangor-on-Dee, North Wales and Maghull, Merseyside, were also affected overnight.

People have been told Covid rules let them leave their homes in an emergency.

One hundred homes are also being evacuated in Skewen, near Neath in West Glamorgan, because of flooding related to mine works, authorities say.


Severe flood warnings remain in place, and further rain is expected next week.


There have been many photos of plots that have been flooded and the normal questions of what can be done about it. The usual suggestions of adding drainage or using raised beds depending on the severity shown in the photo, or the suggestion of growing rice.  


Locally London Borough of Sutton its been high winds, rain and a very hard frost overnight but there is this big yellow ball in the sky this morning, that we have not seen for a while. 

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Potatoes from D.T.Brown Arrive


 New! Mayan Rose - Main Crop - D.T.Brown 

A new variety and an offspring between the well know Phurejas varieties, Mayan Twilight and Mayan Gold.

All Phureja's potatoes have an excellent flavour and cook in a third less time than standard varieties - flavour and economy! The yield may not be the best, but the taste more than compensates and we certainly recommend you give them a try! Originating from the Andean valleys in South America, Phurejas potatoes benefit from a longer growing period than other varieties, ideally planted in warm soil at the end of March and harvested in September. Mayan Rose has a striking and unique coloured skin, cooking quickly when boiled and also ideal for mashing, roasting and wedges. Good disease resistance in particular to blight, potato cyst nematode and splitting.

Potatoes are one of the most rewarding vegetables to grow. There’s the nurturing process of chitting, planting and earthing-up, the anticipation of a good harvest as you dig through the soil and, of course, the unbeatable taste of fresh, home-grown, potatoes.

Potatoes are delivered in 1.5kg bags, each pack containing approx. 15-20 tubers.



New! Sarpo Kifli - Main Crop - D.T.Brown

Most Sarpo varieties are maincrop varieties, but Kifli is different – it produces delicious, creamy fleshed and waxy salad potatoes which have that wonderful ‘new’ potato flavour -perfect for boiling and enjoying hot or cold. What’s more, it will crop all summer long, is high yielding and can be kept until the following spring, if kept in a cool, dark and frost free place. Superb late blight resistance and ideal for container growing.

The Sarpo varieties have all been bred and developed for their great taste and unique blight resistance. Whether for the veg garden at home or larger scale plantings in the allotment, we know you’ll enjoy harvesting these delicious, freshly dug spuds.

Potatoes are one of the most rewarding vegetables to grow. There’s the nurturing process of chitting, planting and earthing-up, the anticipation of a good harvest as you dig through the soil and, of course, the unbeatable taste of fresh, home-grown, potatoes.

Potatoes are delivered in 1.5kg bags, each pack containing approx. 15-20 tubers.


Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Suttons - Onion Sets Arrive

Pink Panther sets arrived on the 12th January and the Red Baron sets arrived on the 18th and a second pack on the 19th January.  


Suttons Onion Sets - Red Baron 

Glossy, deep red skins and a strong flavour make Red Baron a popular gardeners choice, as they are normally uniform, bulbous and coppery. Hardy when planted in early spring, Red Baron have a strong pungent home-grown flavour and I have grown these in the past from seed.

Suttons Onion Sets - Pink Panther


A traditional French market variety a truly great looking onion variety. Producing amazing rosy coloured onions that look as good as they taste. With a sweet, almost fruity taste, accompanied by a slight sharpness. These onions will certainly enhance any meal they are added to. Once cooked the Onion Sets - Pink Panther become very tender and the sharpness gives way to a much sweeter taste!


Looking after your onions

Onions like a sunny, sheltered site in well-drained soil. Plant Onion Sets - Pink Panther 10cm apart in rows 30cm apart. Gently push the Onion Sets - Pink Panther into soft, well-worked soil so that the tip is just showing, and firm the soil around them.

In My Seed Box For 2021 - Index 

Monday, 18 January 2021

Gift In Retro Seed Catalogue

Now it has to be said I like most allotmenteers love receiving seed catalogues during the Winter months to flick through and a couple or years ago during my daily treatments when I was put on an antibiotics drip for Cellulitis they gave me something to read and look at in depth whilst you wait for the magic to happen and the antibiotics to get into your veins each day.

I love the way the seed companies appear to be upping their game in 2021 with better and more interesting catalogues and the D.T.Brown full Spring 2021 Premium Seed and Plants catalogue with its 274 pages does not disappoint. 

The retro look of the cover and the period images internally reinforce that this is a company Established in 1908 some six years before the first World War and Edward the VII was King of Britain.

In the middle of the Catalogue you will find a 12 page Growing Record which you can if really careful remove from the catalogue. 


There is also a guild as to how to use the Growing Record, but should you wish to keep your catalogue in pristine condition you can download the 
download an adobe pdf copy of the Growing Record (dtbrownseeds.co.uk) and print out. There are also links files for additional pages. 

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Plot 1 and Plot 1A - Aerial View

 

Sandra kindly took another aerial view of my plot but for some reason it's not as clear as the one she took for me last year, hopefully she will have another bash next dry sunny day. perhaps I need to get the drone out and have a bash. You can see the additional beds that have gone in and the growing Dalek Army II.  


 

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Frozen Padlocks

Last Sunday the padlock on the outer gate was frozen solid, a plot holder who lives behind the site got me in by pouring some hot water on the side of the padlock to warm it up. My sister in law could not get in yesterday morning the key would go in but not turn. I have reported it to the boroughs allotments maintenance company as they have a silicone based WD40 type stuff specifically for locks and will treat it. In the mean time here is a suggestion if you you have frozen padlocks on your plot or shed.

Buy a gel handwarmers that you click the disk and can boil to use again. They are ideal for activating and holding against the padlock to warm it up and melt the ice inside so the key can go in and rotate freely.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Processing Parsnips

 


Yesterday I spent some time washing and brushing up and then attacking with a couple of different knifes freezing on trays and then ultimately decanting into family portion sized bags.

There will be enough for sharing with my daughters, my sister and my neighbour, to keep us all going for a little while, but if you are a regular reader you will see I have bigger parsnip plans for 2021. 

I have sorted out how I'm going to sow and transplant six or possibly seven varieties of parsnips over four months for harvesting over six months, I should have a good selection of varieties to eat fresh and to freeze for later consumption, that should hopefully last me and those that I extend the gardening love too for a year from September 2021.


Thursday, 14 January 2021

Gardening Porn Arrives

It's been raining for days and from the looks of the weather forecast it's not going to change for some time so two items of gardening porn arriving in my mailbox this morning was most welcome.   

Click here to go to the D.T.Brown web site then click on the request a FREE Catalogue 

Click Here to Request the Mr Fothergill's Spring 2021 Big Green Book 

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Potatoes from Mr Fothergill's Arrive

Knock at the door this morning and it's the postie with a box of New! First and Second Early Potatoes from Mr Fothergill's. I was a little surprised as the dispatched & delivered date was supposed to be from the 29th January 2021.

Inside the box with the very informative four page A5 leaflet entitled Growing Instructions for Seed Potatoes, Onions and Shallot Sets and Garlic was a note which may explain the early delivery.

Dear Customer 
Thank you for placing your seed potato order with us this year. 

Please note a few of our varieties of seed potatoes are already starting to chit (shoot). Please rest assured this is totally fine, whilst it is unusual for this to happen this early in the season. 
We have noted quite a bit of this happening this season, the issue has been the warm temperatures at harvest time and then the mild autumn that followed. Several varieties are also notorious for early sprouting, so despite our best efforts and that of our growers, they are off to a very quick start. These shoots are easily knocked off when handles and packed. The tubers will benefit when that early shoot is knocked off, so please do so once you receive them as it encourages all the eyes to open, many strong chits to form and makes for a better crop when planted. 

Many thanks for your order once more and we wish you every success with your garden in 2021
 

They will not go in the seed boxes, but will be chitted in the Space Saver greenhouse in the back garden or one of the greenhouses on the allotment plots.  

New! Potato Premiere - First Early - Mr Fothergill's 

The perfect early variety for making chips and roast potatoes, and one that is endorsed and used by McCain; the famous chip company so don't just take our word for it! An appropriate name for this delicious variety with a waxy, creamy texture. Expect a huge yield of oval, pale gold and thin-skinned potatoes which have a yellow flesh. Good disease resistance to many of the common potato diseases including blight.

Potatoes are one of the most rewarding vegetables to grow. There’s the nurturing process of chitting, planting and earthing-up, the anticipation of a good harvest as you dig through the soil and, of course, the unbeatable taste of fresh, home-grown, potatoes.

All potatoes (except for maincrops) will benefit from ‘chitting’ prior to planting out. The chitting process encourages the seed to sprout, which then when planted, helps them to establish more readily, leading to bigger crops. Simply place them, blunt end up, in an old egg box until the shoots are approximately 1½ to 2½cm (½ to 1in).

Potatoes are delivered in 1.5kg bags, each pack containing approx. 15-20 tubers.

Sowing/Planting and Flowering/Harvesting Guide

JANFEBMARAPRMAYJUNJULAUGSEPOCTNOVDEC

Key       Sow Indoors       Sow/Plant Outside       Flowers/Harvest

I'm thinking these will go into Buckets but in a bed to they can take up water when I can't get down there to water. I have not worked out exactly where on the two plots they will go as it's like starting from scratch now I have some additional infrastructure in place. 

 

New! Acoustic - Second Early - Mr Fothergill's

This new variety has shown to have a very strong resistance to blight – a problem many of us gardeners will have experienced over the years. Lifted as a second early, its texture is a bit waxier and perfect for salads and boiling. It becomes a little flourier if left to mature and lifted later in the season, making it suitable for chips, baking, mashing and roasting. Expect high yields of round potatoes with a pale-yellow flesh and a superb taste. With good disease resistance we’ve found Acoustic to be a superb all-rounder.

All potatoes (except for maincrops) will benefit from ‘chitting’ prior to planting out. The chitting process encourages the seed to sprout, which then when planted, helps them to establish more readily, leading to bigger crops. Simply place them, blunt end up, in an old egg box until the shoots are approximately 1½ to 2½cm (½ to 1in).

Potatoes are delivered in 1.5kg bags, each pack containing approx. 15-20 tubers

Sowing/Planting and Flowering/Harvesting Guide

JANFEBMARAPRMAYJUNJULAUGSEPOCTNOVDEC

Key       Sow Indoors       Sow/Plant Outside       Flowers/Harvest


So in the ground the same time, but harvested a month later than the Premier First Early, Now I'm not sure if I will put these in the ground or in Buckets. I'm leaning towards into the ground.  

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

More Thinking Re Parsnips


I'm working on my Sowing and Planting Plant and with the huge parsnips I grow this year I'm thinking more about sequential sowing and harvesting  so I have decided to look at the back of each pack or the websites for the sow dates and harvest dates for each variety as I have  6 different varieties of parsnips and I was looking at growing 9 rows of 7 plants. 



Swede
2 rows  (14) x Best Of All            - 750 Seeds - Mag - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2021
1 row    ( 7) x Invitation              - 100 Seeds - 25p - Carters (Poundland) - Sow by 7/2021
            ((21))
Turnips
2 rows (14) x Purple Top Milan  - 1750 Seeds - Magazine Free - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2021
1 row   ( 7) x Snowball               -    50 Seeds - Some multipack in the past - Sow by Christ knows!
           ((21))  
Parsnips 
1 row   ( 7) x Student                  - 200 Seeds - Mag    - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2021 
1 row   ( 7) 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
1 row    ( 7) x White Gem            - 300 Seeds - £1.00 - Wilko               - Sow By 2022 
2 rows (14) x New! Picador F1  - 200 Seeds - £2.10 - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By Dec 2023
2 rows (14) x New! TZ 9045 F1 - 200 Seeds - £1.99 - D.T.Brown       - Sow By Dec 2022
           ((63))
           [105]

Sowing and Harvesting Dates 

Variety                     Sow                   Harvest  

New! TZ 9045 F1   Feb - Apr          Oct - Mar
New! Picador F1    Feb - May         Oct - Feb    
Tender and True     Feb - May        Sep - Mar 
Palace F1               Feb - May         Oct - Feb 
White Gem          mid Feb - April     Oct - mid Feb
Student                  Apr - May          Sep - Feb     (Heritage Variety)
Gladiator F1           Apr - May          Sep - Feb    (sow by Dec 2019 try and germinate)           

Sowing and Harvesting schedule 

Feb
Tender and True        Harvest - September
New! TZ 9045 F1      Harvest - October 

March 
New! Picador F1       Harvest - October  
Tender and True        Harvest - November  
Palace F1                  Harvest - February

April 
New! TZ 9045 F1       Harvest - December - After frost 
New! Picador F1        Harvest - December - After frost 
White Gem                 Harvest - January 
 
May 
Student                    Harvest - January 2022
Gladiator F1             Harvest - February