Wednesday 31 March 2021

Hydrating Coco Peat or Coir Blocks


Using the square flower buckets, I opened another four Pound Shop packs of Coco Peat or Coir and cut the top of the bags ready to add the warm water to rehydrate them at home as it's faster using the electric kettle that holds up to 1.5 litres.

To give you some idea how the coir expands as its rehydrated 

Top left box to be hydrated 
Bottom left box has had its full 3 litres of water 
Bottom right box hydrated before top right box but only with 1.5 litres of water 

To assist in holding these buckets down in the boot of the car to prevent them falling over and spilling the coir, the bag was folded over and paving blocks placed on top. 

The paving blocks need to be taken from home to the plot anyway so a win win on that one.  

Tuesday 30 March 2021

Coir Dustbin


The coir blocks I have from the Pound Shop need 3 litres of warm/hot water per block to rehydrate them to 10 litres of coir and I only have a small 1 litre kettle and gas ring on the plot so have decided to re hydrate them at home and then take them to the plot.

I will need somewhere to store the coir on the allotment before I use it mixed with the compost for my potatoes in buckets. 

So following a little desk study/ surf on the internet, I decided on buying a Wicks Heavy Duty Black Dustbin 90L

Diameter 480mm, Height 700mm, made of Black Polypropylene, Lid Locking and Cost £14

Heavy-duty reinforced base and easy-lift lid.

The coir blocks are in plastic bags, and I put one block in each of four square flower buckets and boiled 12 litres of water and ended up with 40 litres of Coir to take to the allotment. 

I placed two paving blocks on each bucket, loaded them in the car and took them to the allotment together with the additional three 40L Wicks general purpose compost for £12 that I also bought this morning.    

On arriving at the plot it was nice to see that idverde had cut the grass on the main path and from the looks of it made a great job of it. 24C and Sunny.  I placed the Bin near to the shed and the paving blocks went to the next bed that needed them. 

I thought I would take a quick whizz around the plot 1 greenhouse now it clear of all the bags of rubbish again. 

The tulips are really enjoying the late March sun and warm temperatures 

Monday 29 March 2021

Plot Clearance Plus

Up at the crack of dawn and down on the allotment around 7:30 . I took 6 paving blocks per flower bucket with me and placed 6 around 3 beds for holding the weed and planting membrane in place.

The back seats were slid forward and by the time Emma arrived on the site I had filled the car and had started filling more sacks with rubbish. In no time at all we had also filled up Emma's little car and we made our way for your appointment at the dump.

All the blow-a-way frames and miscellaneous debris I had inherited and stacked on the edges of the plot is now gone!

On our return to the plot in the afternoon I located my brother-in-laws post hammer that had been borrowed without asking and managed to drive four of the six posts. The bees and wasps were drinking water on the tarp at the other two locations so I've left those for another day when the bees and wasps are not so active.

Emma Wooldridge and her ruggedly handsome father working on the plot.

All work undertaken whilst social distancing. 

The post with and the post behind the owl to be driven another day.

The compost coir mix from 2020's tomatoes grown at home used as a soil conditioner on the bed that was covered with the timber joist a few days ago.

Emma discovered how much work is involved removing mares tail from the plot whilst digging and weeding Square Foot Garden Bed 2.

Sunday 28 March 2021

Hose Trenching & Bed Frame Cutting


I used the two foot long 3" diameter power planter to drill a number of holes in the ground from the corner of the water tank and tap cutting across the main path at an angle to the corner of my plot.

I fixed the hose and then cable tied the hose to the pipe supplying the water to the tank and tap so that when it's unattached it will not flop down and get lost in the long grass that grows around the tank . The trench was cleaned out . bottomed out with a trowel and the hose dropped inside the trench.

The hose was pressurised so that it didn't get squashed during the backfilling process and gradually the hose was buried in the bottom of the 75mm shallow trench.

My trusty Ryobi drill and 75mm (3") by 600mm or 2 foot long Power Planter auger which made light work of doing this and saved me having to bed down or get down using the shorter bit that I also have. If you ever get a Power Planter make sure you have a drill with the stabilising handle.

The soil was brushed back into the trench and then I used the hose to wash the remainder of the excavated soil back into the trench. The water will assist in reconsolidating the soil around the hose, which was still pressurised. I will scatter some grass seed and some compost over the trench to heal the scar I have made in the main path and within a few months no one will know the hose is there.

Tulips giving a flash of colour and a source of pollen for the bees that are now awake and out and about. Many of the daffs have come up blind and I have no idea why?

I moved the painted timbers for SFG Bed 2 and placed on SFG Bed 1 and then proceeded to cut the timbers for SFG Bed 3. There are nail plates that need removing and the timbers need de nailing and then painting but at least they are now cut to size. The timbers stacked at the rear left are for the solar tunnel/ Superdome bed.

Yep one timber is deeper than the rest but I will just loose that in the ground when I assemble and install. The timber stacked up to the side of SFG Bed 1 is mainly scaffold boards and are thus 38mm and not 50mm thick but will do for small beds in the corner of the plot.

Malling Juno (early) Raspberries from D.T. Brown showing signs of growth and life.

View looking down plot 1 the timber that was over the beds on the left has now been sorted into those required for the solar tent bed which will be 3.2m the length of my longest timbers x 0.9m. Its amazing how much growth the green manure has made in the last week. I really need to cut and drop within the next 7 - 10 days before it goes to seed.

It's nice seeing the vision in my mind gradually becoming a reality. many bees and wasps drinking from the water held by the yellow tarps as it was quite warm on the plot today.

Saturday 27 March 2021

Greenhouse Plot 1A

The photo above shows all the debris and rubbish that myself and my girls have been bagging up ready for the Monday tip run. 

I hit the allotment early and set about clearing the Greenhouse on Plot 1A which was full of milk bottles that I have been collecting and sand that I have been drying ion order to make milk bottle soft brick, basically milk bottles full of sand. 

The problem is that all of the bottles are degrading and need replacing and actually it's a right royal pain in the rear end doing this and it just makes a mess everywhere. I have a couple of stacks of paving blocks that I made into a dry bonded BBQ in the back garden and as the wife can no longer go out into the direct sun for fear of cancer because of her medication we have not really used the BBQ for some time. 

So the decision was made to collect all the sand and bag up all the degrading milk bottles and replace them with the paving blocks to hold down the weed membrane and the planting membrane and netting. 

I ended up cutting these bottles down and staking them in each other just to reduce the volume and in the end managed to get them all in the cardboard box on the handle bars of the wheel barrow. I bagged up many other items of detritus ready for Monday and spent all morning on the plot.

Friday 26 March 2021

My Awesome Daughters

My daughters have been gathering all the debris primarily biodegradable milk bottles and other rubbish and helping me tidy up the allotment. 

The cunning plan for Friday was that Emma would help me in the morning as she had booked leave and Kelly would help me in the afternoon as she had booked the afternoon off. The objective being to sort and bag as much rubbish as possible as they have booked my car and kellys car for a dump run for Monday mid morning.

I've been antibiotics for cellulitis that has flared up in my leg and foot and my stomach decided that it wanted to play up which meant not going too far away from a loo, so Emma tidied up the Potting area around the greenhouse on plot 1A on her own and sent me photos when she was not sure what was and was not rubbish. 

The potting area without the grape vine and bind weed and all the detritus bagged up and placed in the greenhouse in sacks ready for taking to the tip on Monday.

Kelly helped me clear up the back garden in the afternoon and we have placed all the bags of rubbish in the utility shed ready for the tip run on Monday. I have to say I'm really blessed with two awesome Daughters who have lifted my spirits so much and have made me feel like I have the possibility of getting the plot ready for the 2021 summer growing season. They are both truly inspirational.  

Thursday 25 March 2021

New Miracle-Gro Compost

Following the Gardening Press event the nice people from Miracle-Gro have sent me 5 sacks of their new Miracle-Gro Peat Free Premium Fruit & Vegetable Compost to trial. 

Why so many sacks of compost you may ask, well I was discussing the square foot gardening beds and the experiments I wanted to try this year and they saw how much compost I would need for the beds and have sent me ample for that and to also to trial on other growing projects.    

This new product is part of the high-performing Miracle-Gro peat-free range. With its unique 3-part patented formulation, this peat-free compost caters for the needs of fruit and veg plants and will feed for 3 months. This unique compost provides the optimum structure for roots to grow strong and controls water availability according to their needs.

How to use

Use as special compost for containers: Cut the top of your Miracle-Gro Peat Free Premium Fruit & Vegetable Compost and use as a special compost for your fruit and vegetables in containers. Place a layer of compost in the base of the pot. Tap out the plant from the old pot, loosen the root ball and place in the centre of the pot. Fill the space around the root ball, ensuring the compost level covers all the roots. Firm lightly, water thoroughly and let drain.

Use as a regular planter: Cut three panels from the back of your Miracle-Gro Peat Free Premium Fruit & Vegetable Compost and use as a planter for tomatoes, strawberries and courgettes, etc. Place in a sunny frost-free position. Shake bag to distribute contents evenly. Cut out three panels on the back of the planter where shown.

Use as an extra deep planter: Cut down the side of your Miracle-Gro Peat Free Premium Fruit & Vegetable Compost and use as a deep planter for root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots. Place in a sunny frost-free position. Shake bag to distribute contents evenly. Cut along the side of the bag, following the indicated lines. Plant potatoes in the bottom of the bag or plant seedlings. Water thoroughly after planting.

Where to use

Ideal for fruits and vegetables.

Works well for young plants and established plants.

Perfect to plant directly in the bag or used as special compost for fruits and vegetables.


  • Fills 8 medium pots 22cm (9").
  • Fills 4 large pots 25cm (10").
  • Fills 1 large container 42cm (17").
  • Fills 4 hanging baskets 30cm (12").


Use in a well ventilated place and avoid breathing in dust.

Always wear gloves when gardening. Wash hands after use.

Store in a cool place, away from sun.

Open bag carefully and reseal after use.

Always read the label and product information before use.

Where to Buy

Use this link to enter your post code and find local stockist of Miracle Grow products 

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Padlock Problems

I get a phone call from our Bee lady at the allotment that Nigel (name changed to protect the innocent) has broken his key in the padlock and that they are locked inside and didn't know what to do, so phoning the site rep (me) was their answer. I phone the maintenance company idverde who I find out finish at 4pm.

At 3 minutes to 5, I manage to get through to the council before they also close for the day and security will arrange for someone to come and meet me at the allotment site
Both plot holders were hoping for hunky fireman to arrive, In fact Nigel was quite excited and looked somewhat hopeful of an encounter of some kind, but sadly for him we avoided that one.
A guy from idverde arrives with his 5 year old daughter in tow, no tools. Long story short we end up unstitching a previous repair to the chain link fencing from when the site was broken into, to get out two plot holders out. Which was a sight to behold the Bee lady coming out the hole in the fence bum first as the slit was in the bottom of the door frame.
Today idverde arrive change the padlock BUT no ones key can actually open it, and as site rep I starts getting phone calls again.
idverde go out check and say it's fine it just needs someone with force their key to make it work! Now keys breaking off in padlocks is what got us in this situation in the first place.
It did make me get everyone's approval to add them to a Site Specific WhatsApp Group. So one message inform all
Idverde's answer was to change the lock and get new keys cut for all the plot holders which would take a couple of days.
In the evening I visit the site to drop off some compost and flower buckets and used a Master Key to undo the padlock they had fitted and replace it with a spare one that I had in the shed. They just need to come and fix it properly to the chain as I just pulled the other one off with my hands.
I've asked them to get some replacement locks in stock that are compatible to the original lock, I've also asked for my spare to be replaced so I can get them out of the shit next time they can't perform and find the right lock.

Sunday 21 March 2021

Polka Raspberry Canes Arrive

The missing Polka Raspberries from D.T.Brown were shipped and arrived Saturday  

They were unpacked and stood in some water whilst I got on with getting their bed clear and ready for them. Nice to see the new growth and the raspberries looking healthy. I will keep an eye on them and make sure they survive the transplanting.  

I moved all of the flower buckets and potato 30Litre buckets of woodchips and topsoil from the 4th Raspberry bed to along the wall in the un-dug area of plot 1 next too the wall for the moment. 

I was surprised when my eldest daughter Emma turned up to spend some socially distanced time to help her old Dad by weeding plot 1A's paths for me. The photo was taken when we took a short drink break. Thanks for the company and the assistance babe, still can't wait until I can give her a cuddle. She is tested twice a week and has had her second vaccine, but still wanted to maintain 2m distance. 

I pinched this photo from Emma's Facebook, proof that we socially distanced during her visit. 

As Emma worked on Plot 1A I pulled the tarp around the Raspberry beds and placed the four 600x600 bed frames in the locations they will ultimately be installed in to weigh down the tarp. It also gives me a look at how the finished arrangement will look like.  

So with the bed now cleared, I gave it a dressing of acidic compost, planted the raspberries watered them in and added a mulch dressing.  

Emma cleared most of the paths up the top end of plot 1A. The weed chip paths up there are now supporting weed growth and need to be added to compost piles and replaced with new woodchips.  

The shed floor was cleared of boxes and the gardening items put in the drawers that were added a few weeks ago, allowing for the fold out seat to be placed inside and once again I have somewhere to shelter if caught in the rain. 

The Lidl growing trough on legs was assembled and placed beside the greenhouse. 

Panorama from the corner of plot 1 looking up to plot 1A 

Friday 19 March 2021

Greenhouse Paving Slabs

Up early and to the allotment for a couple of hours between 7:50 - 10:00 am.

Cutting the two paving slabs in the corners on the entrance face of the greenhouse. I adjusted the shield on the blade and I'm now better at getting a straight cut and repeating it to cut to depth. Transferring the line of cut to the back of the slab and cutting so that with a small simple tap what I want to trim off comes off easily and cleanly. I gave a mental "thank you mate" to my Brother-In-Law in heaven, as it was his Ryobi angle grinder that I was using that was gifted to me by my Sister-in-law just before she moved to be nearer her daughter.   
I bought a couple of the Wilko Mini Greenhouses (blowaways) in the Wilko end of season sale a couple of years ago so that I could use them as staging in the new greenhouse. I've ended up making up a frame that has an additional mesh shelf on the bottom and the top, so I have five high shelving and the cover will still go over if I want added protection against frost early on for any seedlings. 

I took the Greenhouse Sensations bases to the Quadgrows that I used at home last year to the allotment with me this morning to see how they would fit in the greenhouse with the new quadgrow and above is the layout I ultimately decided upon. 

The I and 2 base until will be connected to 3 & 4 Base unit and I may have a header tank on the Mini Greenhouse & I may use the automatic top up feature on those units. 

The Bases for 5&6 and 7&8 will remain independent. At the moment I'm a little undecided if all 8 will be tomatoes as I do plant to grow some at home and out in one or both of the narrow beds, so perhaps I will use 5 to 8 for Aubergine especially as I may be a little late getting the solar tunnel ready for the season, and I need to grow some for my mucker Arif. 

I looked at how I Gerry rigged the vent opener in the first green house and it looks like I need to search the shed for a selection of nuts bolts and perhaps some PK screws so that I can fix the vent opener in this greenhouse. 

50 number mini 15mm bulldog clips ordered to fix the debris netting to the outside of the greenhouse and then we should be ready to rock 'n' roll in there.  

Note to selfTake some AA Batteries to site for the greenhouse thermometers 

For those that enquired the Silicone I used was Wickes All Purpose Sealant Silicone Clear to fix and waterproof the panels that would not fix back with the fixing strips.