Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Vermicomposting 100-Day TIME-LAPSE - FAST

Each chamber was filled with a different type of bedding material: Chamber #1 had leaves, #2 had cardboard, and #3 had paper. Then in went the red wiggler composting worms. Periodically water and grit (pulverized eggshell) were added. Also, as needed, additional material was loaded in when the levels dropped low. ENJOY!

Monday, 17 May 2021

Sowing Cucumbers & Gherkins


In between rain showers in a sunny interval I have sown 6 of the following in self watering pop bottle propagators today:

Cucumber - Miniature White - Self saved 

Rain stopped play and Marrows and Courgettes will follow at the next sunny or dry period. 

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Rhubarb Rain God!

The Rhubarb Livingstone from D.T.Brown arrived a little earlier than expected, it's supposed to be dispatched week commencing this Monday, but it arrived Friday, in super condition and very well packed. The problem was I don't have the beds ready for the 3 plants!

So this morning between rain showers I visited the allotment dug and weeded the area where the first bed is going and got the first bed in place.

My sacks of manure still have not arrived, so Blood Fish and Bone, and a layer of freshly cut Comfrey before adding 60 litres of Clover compost to bring the level up in the 600x600mm square bed.

There are going to be 3 beds in a row but for now the other two plants have gone in the first bed and mini hoops and some debris netting has been added to protect the plants from the foxes. I just managed the one bed and three plants in before getting drenched in a heavy shower.
As I drove home I could see that it had not rained half way up the road from the allotment. I was dripping wet inside the car and the thought went through my head maybe I'm a Rain God!
It appears that after a very dry April, that May appears to think it's the new April and as much as I love the rain, I wish it would only happen over night.
All I know was that these last few days were miserable. All the clouds knew was that they loved me and wanted to be near me, to cherish me, and to water me.

Care and Cultivation of Rhubarb
(Guidance supplied with the plants by D.T.Brown)

What to do first

After unpacking, inspect your plants and crowns and water them if dry.

Plant as soon as possible but, if ground is not ready or is too wet or frosty, delay planting until the conditions are more suitable. Potted plants can be retained in their pots in a sheltered place for a while but check them regularly to ensure they do not dry out. Crowns can be temporarily `heeled' into a shallow trench on a spare patch of ground , covered entirely with moist soil,


Choose an open site in full sun or where there is no more than very light or partial shade .

Rhubarb will grow in almost any soil, provided it does nor become waterlogged in Winter, but best results will be obtained on fertile soils, so dig in plenty of well-rotted organic matter, like farmyard manure or green compost. Just before planting, rake in a dressing of balanced fertiliser, such as growmore, to help plants establish.

Set plants 900mm (3ft) apart each way and with the growing point 25mm (1 inch) below the soil surface. After refilling with moist soil, firm on each plant.

Rhubarb can also be grown in a large pot or container, splitting and repotting after several years. You will need to ensure the plants are kept well watered and feed more often than if grown in the garden.

Aftercare Tips

Keep plants free of weeds and water well in dry spells. Remove any flowering stems that may appear. Do Not pull any sticks in the first season and pull only lightly in the second year to allow the plants to establish and build up strong crowns.

harvest between April and early July, holding each stalk close to the ground and pulling upwards with a twisting motion. Never remove all the stalks; always leave at least four strong ones on each plant.

Rhubarb is a heavy feeder so apply a balanced fertiliser at the end of the harvesting period and mulch generously with rotted manure or compost during the winter.

For an early spring crop, strong plants ate easily forced by covering them in january with suitable containers, such as buckets, bins or large pots. Cover these, in turn with a thick layer of straw. Forcing has a weakening effect on crowns so do not force the same plants again for at least two years.

After several years of cropping, stems will tend to get thinner and yields will start to decline. When this happens, its best to lift plants, to divide crowns into pieces, each with at least one strong bud, and to replant these divisions, if possible, on a fresh site.

N.B. Rhubarb leaves are poisonous and must be removed completely from the stalks before they are cooked.

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Pollarding The Trees


With the showers Saturday I really did not think that the trees would be completed or that we would have cleared and bagged up the smaller diameter branches for the dump. 

My Daughters and Son-in-law have done this and saved me £400 in the process.  

My climbing trees days are well behind me being stout and having dodgy legs. I would have loved to be in that tree with the chain saw, when I saw how much Andy was enjoying himself.

I did cut up a lot of the larger branches into lengths that could be stacked in square flower buckets, and then a neighbour with a wood burner came and removed the larger logs and branches for their wood burner which saved up taking way too much to the dump. 

Tomatoes 10 Day Germination Rates

On the 5th May I sowed my Tomatoes for this year.  I recorded the germination rates per variety at 5 days. They tomatoes were taken these out of the kitchen and placed in the unheated greenhouse to get some sun and continue germination and the 7 day germination rates can be found here. The results below are the results at 10 Days and if better than 7 are shown in Blue. I will review germination rates again at 14 days. 

Sown 4 seeds of the following varieties

4 x Black Krim  100%
4 x Cherry Honeycomb 100% Less than 5 Days - Well done Mr Fothergill's !
3 x Crimson Crush 75%
2 x Crimson Plum F1 50%
3Gigantomo 75%
4 x Hundreds and Thousands 100%
4 x Principe Borghese 100%
4 x Rapunzel 100% 
4 x Reisetomate 100% @ Less than 5 Days Well done Suttons !
4 x Rotkappchen 100%

Sown 3 seeds of the following varieties

3 x Bloody Butcher 100%
3 x Gold Nugget Gelbei 100%
2 x Losetto 67%
2Micro Tom 67%
2 x Mountain Magic 67%
3 x Raspberry Oxheart 100%
3 x Veranda Red 100%

The tomatoes will be looked at again at 14 & 21 days and the germination rates updated. 

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Hello, I'm a dandelion.


A lot of people call me a weed but I'm a friend and come to help you!

When you see me, remember that I'm the ONLY one who wants and can grow in that particular spot. Because:

Either the soil is too compact / hard / stomped and I want to loosen it for you with my roots.

Or there is too little calcium in the soil - don't worry, I will replenish that for you with the dying of my leaves.

Or the soil is too acidic. But I will also improve that for you if you give me the chance.
Or a mixture of the above reasons, of course. ðŸ˜Š

I'm here because your soil needs my help so best you let me grow without disturbing me! When everything is fixed, I will disappear again, I promise!

Are you trying to remove me prematurely with my root? However meticulous you are, I will return 2x as strong! Just until your soil is improved.

You can even tell by my growth at which stage my help is at. If my leaves are flat on the ground then I'm far from ready but if they all reach up then I'm already a long way on my way.

Something completely different is that I am 1 of the first bloomers in spring so I will announce spring / summer for you.

During the day when it's hot, I open my flowers but in the evening when it cools off I close them again quickly. In fact, if it's not hot enough during the day I won't open them at all!

My flowers are the first food for insects after hibernation and unlike most other plants, I have pollen AND nectar, not merely one OR the other! And I am generous with them! ðŸĪŠðŸ˜‰

My flowers are even delicious for you people by the way, did you know? I used to be called ′′honey (or gold) of the poor′′ because my flowers are so sweet in e.g. jam, sauce or salad! The internet is full of recipes - check them out.

But wait until the end of May or later before you start picking and even then, don't pick everything yet! The biodiversity and bees will be very grateful!

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Tomatoes 7 Day Germination Rates

On the 5th May I sowed my Tomatoes for this year.  I recorded the germination rates per variety at 5 days. They tomatoes were taken these out of the kitchen and placed in the unheated greenhouse to get some sun and continue germination and here are the results at 7 Days, I will review germination rates again at 10 & 14 days. 

Sown 4 seeds of the following varieties

4 x Black Krim  100%
4Cherry Honeycomb 100% @ 5 Days - Well done Mr Fothergill's !
3 x Crimson Crush 75%
2 x Crimson Plum F1 50%
2 x Gigantomo 50%
4 x Hundreds and Thousands 100%
4Principe Borghese 100%
4Rapunzel 100% 
4Reisetomate 100% @ 5 Days Well done Suttons !
2 x Rotkappchen 50%

Sown 3 seeds of the following varieties

3Bloody Butcher 100%
2 x Losetto 67%
1 x Micro Tom 33%
2 x Mountain Magic 67%
3Veranda Red 100%

The tomatoes will be looked at again at 10 & 14 days and the germination rates updated. 

Monday, 10 May 2021

Tomato Germination Rates

On the 5th May I sowed my Tomatoes for this year, just 5 days later here are the germination rates per variety. I have now taken these out of the kitchen and placed in the unheated greenhouse to get some sun. 

Sown 4 seeds of the following varieties

2 x Black Krim  50%
4 x Cherry Honeycomb 100% - Well done Mr Fothergill's !
1 x Crimson Crush 25%
0 x Gigantomo 
3 x Hundreds and Thousands 75%
3 x Principe Borghese 75%
4 x Rapunzel 100% 
4 x Reisetomate 100% Well done Suttons !
0 x Rotkappchen 

Sown 3 seeds of the following varieties

1 x Losetto 33%
0 x Micro Tom 
1 x Mountain Magic 33%

The tomatoes will be looked at again at 7, 14 and 21 days and the germination rates recorded. 

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Paths & Rhubarb Beds

I went to the allotment this morning with the intention of getting the path in beside the Raspberries and clearing the triangle of land in the corner of the plot. 

Although it does not show up very well in the photo, I have placed broken paving slabs in front of the Dalek army and have laid out timber joist and cut roofing batten to support the middle and ends of other timbers such that when stacked there is air flow between the timbers and the ground. I still have beds and cold frames to get out of this timber. 

This cleared all the timber from in front of the Daleks internally and uses the margin on the path as a storage area. The two greenhouse frames I have in boxes between two beds on plot 1A will be moved to the area where I took the photo from below until I can get them erected and finally placed in the corner of the plot where the wood chip pile currently is. 

The next job was to move the spuds in buckets out from behind the Dalek army and into the two beds that were green manured, and have now been covered in weed membrane to assist in killing off the green manure and making a nice environment for the soil critters to work on it and take it into the soil. The "haulms" or the tops, stems, and foliage of the first early potatoes in buckets have started too show through the grass mulch. 

The area dug and weeded this morning looks very small, but when one sees the amount of mares-tail root, bind weed and couch grass roots that have come out of that area, it was a lot of work.  

If you have ever had to deal with a plot that was left to go wild with this stuff you will understand my pain and how long it takes to weed the soil as you turn it over. 

In my mind I was aiming for completion of about 50% of the path the reality was more like 30% but I did do a lot clearing the working area today as well.   

Soil bulks when dug and I have to say what is coming out of the path area once weeded is beautiful looking material. I raked and re weeded and then shoveled four large square flower buckets of topsoil for use in the raised Rhubarb beds. I will sieve and weed this top soil once again before using it in the Rhubarb beds. I really don't want bindweed, couch grass and mares tail taking over the new Rhubarb like it did with the one I inherited on plot 1.   

The paths were compacted using a short 800 mm length of scaffold board which was walked and jumped up and down on, the the weed membrane was located in place and covered in saved old woodchip from the other side of the plot. Then a layer from the pile out in the car park which is disappearing fast and is becoming very leafy, and then a layer of dry leaf free woodchip from the pile in the corner of plot 1A as shown in the photo above. 

A 600 x 600mm Rhubarb bed was placed at the end of the first 1.2m wide bed to see how it would look if I made another or I could possibly make it 1.2m wide x 0.6m wide. 

Placing it there helped me see how much more I will need to dig to get the rhubarb beds in and the paths between them. So it's looking like I need at least another 4 half days worth of digging and weeding to get the rhubarb beds in place, so they will have to stay in the pots for a little while when they arrive.


Saturday, 8 May 2021

Sowing Spring Onions

40 Cell heavy duty module sown with:-

3 Rows of Johnsons White Lisbon 9 seeds per cell = 135 Onions
2 Rows of T&M Kew Collation Purplette 9 seeds per cell = 90 Onions
3 Rows of Johnsons Long White Ishikura 9 seeds per cell = 135 Onions

Late with the first sowing of Spring Onions this year - give it 4 weeks and I shall do another 40 cell modules worth. Next varieties Gerda, North Holland Blood Red, Evergreen Bunching & Ram Rod

What varieties do you like to grow?

As it was raining I spent most of the morning sorting out the labels for vegetables that I will be growing that I don't currently have labels for

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Germination Rates

Here is a look at the germination rate of the Beetroots and sweetcorn sown 12 days ago on the 24th April. The propagator lids were taken off today and will only go back on if there are low night time temperatures. 

Left Sweetcorn Tray 14/28 and Right Sweetcorn Tray 17/28 so just over 50% germination at the moment. The Beetroots were multi-sown at four seed per cell module and there are not many cells that are not showing 3 or 4 seedlings so germination is quite high. 

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.


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