Monday 29 November 2021

Storm Arwen

Days after Storm Arwen first caused major disruption across the UK, the impacts of the severe  weather continued to be keenly felt today, as around 66,000 homes remained without power and the bodies of dead seal pups continued to wash up on Scottish shores.

With parts of the country experiencing the coldest night of the season so far — including in Cumbria, which saw a temperature of -8.7C — charities and health authorities urged people to look out for neighbours and elderly relatives.

Meanwhile, thousands of engineers toiled – in some cases hampered by snow – to repair what the Energy Networks Association (ENA) described as the worst destruction of electricity lines seen in Britain for 16 years.

Some 870,000 homes have had their power restored so far. But the ENA said engineers were still uncovering “snapped electricity poles, downed wires and other complex faults” this afternoon, at which point 155,000 properties across the UK were still said to be without power.

All but two of 61 customers who became trapped at a North Yorkshire pub cut off by snow were finally able to leave on today after being stranded for three nights by snowdrifts. Temperatures at the Tan Hill Inn dropped to -7.6C as the group became trapped late on Friday.

Boris Johnson issued an apparent offer of help to people in northeast Scotland, where thousands faced a fourth night without electricity despite Holyrood’s deputy first minister John Swinney chairing an emergency meeting to oversee efforts to restore power, reconnect water supplies and re-establish telecommunications across the country.

And further down the coast in Tynemouth, it emerged that lifeboat crews had been battling 6m waves for 18 hours to rescue six fishermen whose vessel suffered an engine failure 70 miles out to sea.

Several RNLI lifeboats faced “some of the worst conditions” they have ever encountered over the weekend, the charity said.

Meanwhile, Transport for Wales warned that rail services would be affected this week as trains that ran over debris-littered tracks are repaired.

The north of England also saw continued rail disruption today, as London North Eastern Railway closed its East Coast mainline between Newcastle and Edinburgh throughout the day.

It came after Bridlington in East Yorkshire recorded high levels of rainfall, with 14.6mm of rain overnight on Sunday.

“The whole of the UK will turn milder. The places that will hold on to the cold air the longest will be in the southeast of the UK,” Mr Claydon said.

Another dip in temperatures would follow on Wednesday night, but likely not as low as over the weekend, he said, adding: “It will still be below zero, but more like -4C or -5C.”

Allotment Facebook groups have had the usual photos of blown away polytunnels and greenhouses utterly destroyed. Tony C Smith who is based on the North East Coast of the UK and one of my favourite YouTubers went up to his plot to check on his polytunnel recording those greenhouses that had lost glass panels and those that had been completely destroyed.

In the South East we got away thing very lightly, I had anticipated a frost covered car and very cold temperatures Sunday morning, and told Emma not to bother coming over, but as it happened it was sunny in the morning and there was no frost. 

Sunday night and Monday morning locally however was a completely different story, with a heavy frost on the cars and the roofs of the surrounding houses, and a real bitterness in the temperatures.

Wednesday 24 November 2021

I Wonder....?

I wonder if Dr Organic would like to come and collect all my snails on the plot?

They could also take the homeless snails (i.e. Slugs) as well if they like!

Sunday 21 November 2021

New Plot Holders

A good morning on the plot, a little cooler than last week with warnings of sub zero temperatures next weekend. I was up bright and early and down on the plot by about 8:14. Today I originally had two prospective plot holders coming to view the two now vacant plots on the site. I sent a message to the first couple that I had arrived and then got on with the task of gathering leaves from the drop off and pick up area (aka the car park, but we are not allowed to call it that) and filling the leaf cage to the brim.

I watered and damped down as I gradually emptied each wheel barrow load and then finally placed the metal mesh trays on top to stop them from blowing out of the cage.

Magda and her husband arrived a little after 9:00 and we proceeded to look at both of the vacant plots 14 & 7, both have their pro and cons and they quickly decided on taking over plot 7&7A as they were looking for a full plot and one half is already an established orchard with trees and fruit.

I saw the lonely green Dalek offered on Freecycle Saturday night and asked the poster if I could have it, and he said come and get it. Turned out he was in Wallington where my daughter and son-in-law live, so I messaged Andy and asked him if he could collect in his van on his way to the plot this morning.

So I now have two additional Daleks standing behind Dalek Army 1, waiting to get in line with the rest of the other Green Daleks. One will replace the rotating Dalek and the other a black one that has gone brittle and seen better days.

Andy and I sawed a broken Water butt down that is going to be filled with sand and used to grow bugs bunny type long carrots. Its standing under the lighter Dalek which will be it's home once the Dalek is moved into its final location.

The second person on the waiting list Rachael could not come as she has caught Covid, but have said they will just take the plot as they have been on the list a long time. They asked me to take photos which I did and sent them over to her.

Andy worked on weeding and putting beds 8-11 to sleep for Winter. The planting membrane has been folded up and stored but as we have no running water at the moment to clean them, I may take the Worx hydroshot down and connect it to a water butt and jetwash the planting membrane.

I attacked the comfrey bed and cut up a number of plastic trug loads that went into three Daleks on plot 1A and two Daleks on Plot 1. I also brought down a 10 litre bucket of shredded paper with me this morning that was deposited in a Dalek on plot 1. 

Over the Winter I will be gathering as much brown material as possible so that when the green starts flowing again I have browns to add as well.

I took the Ryobi strimmer with a 4Ah battery to the path between plots 1&2 which should now be it's last cut until spring. I managed to cut the full length of the plot and the battery lasted about 20 - 25minutes.

Now the grass has been cut, it will allow me to transplant the Tulips and Daffs from the bed on the plot and put in the 100 Daffs I bought a little while ago when they were on offer down the path for some spring colour and some early food for the bees should the venture out on a warm Spring day next year.

View from the top of Plot 1A looking down to the main path and Dalek Army 1A

Andy and I moved the the mesh panels from on top of the timber up against the scaffold tubes on the Raspberries, so that I can now get at the section of ground between the Square Foot Gardening Beds and the stacked timber, to weed, membrane and lay the paving slabs behind.

We moved the two greenhouse frames from beside bed 11 and placed them just behind the Dalek Army on plot 1. I started cutting down the self seeder, tall tree down that was growing in front of my first apple tree on plot 1A.

John as always was looking for materials for his oil drum fire and told me to stack any timber I want to dispose off at the end of my plot.

In the photograph above the items stacked on the beds on the right of the path need to be sorted, thrown or repurposed so that the beds are clear ready for next year. The bed that has all the buckets and milk bottles of sand on will go to the cut down water butt once I have melted or drilled a few drainage hole in it. I did remove the tap so I know that along with the crack in the bottom of the water butt there is a way out for the water.

I want to make up some cold frames over the Winter months to fit the secondary glazing panels I have to use on the beds and help warm up the soil and get a faster start sowing and growing next year.

Friday 19 November 2021

Snow Fear Of Snow On The Plot


My newsfeed has been warning me for some time about an artic wind and the possibility of snow over the UK, first it was anticipated and reported to take place on the weekend of the 13th & 14th of November, which didn’t happen and in fact, I was on the plot on Sunday the 14th November in a tee shirt with a fleece tied around my waist to keep my back warm as we worked, it was quite sunny and warmish for the time of year.

Now the warnings to Brits of freezing temperatures and heavy snow to fall across swathes of the country from next week keep popping up but they are other news media just regurgitating the Express post.

The Met Office has updated its forecast for next week and warned “snow likely across higher ground and possibly falling to low levels at times"., telling the Express newspaper that temperatures could fall by 10 degrees after 7C-10C highs at the weekend.

This information is based on WXCharts maps are showing snow first hitting the north of the UK and then moving south over the following couple of days.

After a largely mild November, the cold weather is set to come from Arctic winds which will bring freezing temperatures and has slashed odds on it becoming the coldest November on record and the betting odds have been slashed.

Temperatures could be around zero or 1C in parts of the country Monday 1st December, WXCharts maps suggest. 

I had not heard of WXCharts but have heard of and my go to app is Ventusky so I've taken a look at the snow possibility on that, and this is what I have found. 

Looks like snow is going to hit Scotland on Sunday 28th November 

Getting thick in the highlands of Scotland, moving into Ireland and Mid West UK on Monday.

 Sweeping down into Wales Tuesday 30th November 

1st Dec looking like the worst of the snow may be over and receding in England. 

Looking at the Weather based on the Allotment Postcode looks like coldest days will be Saturday 27th & Sunday 28th November. Ventusky is showing some really cold weather in Scotland and the rest of the UK 

The Perceived Temperatures with the wind chill factor don't look good at all !

At the end of the day we will just have to wait and see, and use Dads Weather Stone.

Thursday 18 November 2021

Equigrow Black Friday Offer

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Remember to use code ‘BLACKFRIDAY20’ when you check out
Visit WWW.EQUIGROW.CO.UK now to claim your 20% OFF

Tuesday 16 November 2021

Comfort Fit Leather Gloves

As those of you that follow this blog will know I won the Equigrow Halloween Giveaway competition and one of the prizes was an XL pair of Town & Country Comfort Fit Leather Gloves

You would also know that last week I shifted a number of paving slabs found on Freecycle from a back garden in Banstead to my Allotment on the borders of Carshalton & Mitcham via wheelbarrow car and then wheelbarrow again. I used these gloves to do that work as they have reinforced fingers and palms for protection. They were ideal for the task and don't look too bad for their ordeal.

These gloves are also going to be ideal for me dealing with brambles and the hawthorne bushes on my allotment. I have to say with the fitted wrist with secure strap these gloves are really comfortable to use, the spandex back allows freedom of movement and gives the gloves breathability.

Their RRP is £17.99. Use this link and pop your post code in the search engine to find your local Town & Country Stockist.

Monday 15 November 2021

In My Seed Box for 2022 - Pumpkin

Thanks to winning the Equigrow Halloween Competition I have two packs of Suttons F1 Becky Pumpkin seeds. 20 seeds per pack costing £2.79 a pack with a sow by date of 2023 and a packed year ending 2021.

With good storage Pumpkin seeds can last 6 - 10 years.

Sow April/ June in a propagator on a windowsill or one seed per 75mm (3") pot in a greenhouse at approx 20-25C (68-78F) using a good quality compost. Cover seeds with 19mm (3/4") compost. 

Germination 5 - 8 days. 

Grow on, planting out when frost risk has passed, 91cm (3') between plants each way. Alternatively sow outside May/June when frost risk has passed, 2 seeds per station 25mm (1") deep. Thin to strongest seedling. Restrict fruits to 3 - 4 per plant. 

grows best in rich soil sowing to Cropping 18 - 20 weeks. 

Sunday 14 November 2021

Then Rain Stopped Play!

Andy came to help me again this morning which was most appreciated as I get twice as much done, and we get to chat over a coffee  & cake after a couple of hours of work.  

View Up plot 1A, the two beds in the middle of the photo were worked on today Andy cleared the Sweetcorn and cut it all up and added it to a Dalek then weeded, raked added a little slug pellets and covered the bed for Winter.

I managed to harvest the beetroots on the bed next door, but rain stopped play and I didn't manage to remove and clean the planting membrane and cover the bed for Winter. The rest of the beds on Plot 1A need to be closed down for Winter and the debris from the boundary wall works needs to be dealt with and a general tidy up ready for next Spring.

2nd and last beetroot harvest today and another two beds tucked up for winter, so I have some processing and pickling to get on with tomorrow.

Saturday 13 November 2021

Paving Slabs Taken to Plot

Busy morning, took the paving slabs picked up yesterday afternoon down to the allotment. Laid two paths and distributed the rest around the Square Foot Gardening Beds to go in over the Winter during the "Infrastructure works period" of the year.

Came home cut up two Pallets and took them down to the allotment.

Cut half slabs in the front footwell, three 450x450mm slabs on each of the rear passengers seats which are covered to protect them and 3 layers of four paving slabs in the boot. Well she is a 7 seater and the springs should take the load OK!

First slabs taken up the plot and used to bridge from one main path to the other just past the TARDIS Greenhouse.

Weeded in front of the Square Foot Gardening Bed 2 and laid cardboard, weed membrane, woodchip and thumped flat with the rake then laid the next 3 paving slabs. 

The others have been distributed around the first two Square Foot Gardening Beds, ready for me to do the infrastructure works over the Winter months. Slabs and half slabs sitting on the Battenberg slabs I picked up last time from Freecycle, and slabs on SFG Bed 1

I went home and cut the two Pallets in half, loaded them up and took them to the plot.

1) because it makes it possible to get them in the back of the car and

2) Because I'm going to make something with them, not quite sure what at the moment but something will come to mind, even if its a Fox proof enclosure for sacks of compost or perhaps another onion drying rack, I also fancy a site sink and washing area if I find a stainless sink with single or double drainer.

Forgot to photograph this last week when it looked fuller but the leaf collection for 2021 is looking good.

Friday 12 November 2021

Freecycle Paving Slabs

I saw this advert on Freecycle for 18 number 450x450mm paving slabs and sent my reply to Susan the person offering them, requesting them for my allotment. She has had a rear extension built on her home, and these are now surplus to requirement.

Luckily I was the first to respond and arrangements were made for me to collect them from her rear garden last today. She had a wheelbarrow I could use that made moving them easier. 

I was lucky in that I had not yet put the wheelchair and other items back in the boot. I managed to get four laid flat on plan x 3 deep in the boot. Three either side of the rear seats and the half ad cut slabs in the footwell. 

By the time I got home it was dark and my daughter was going out so they will wait until the morning to be taken down to the plot.   

Thursday 11 November 2021

Mayan Rose V Wire Worm

My Maincrop potatoes this year were Mayan Rose A new variety and an offspring between the well know Phurejas varieties, Mayan Twilight and Mayan Gold.

The DTBrown web site says "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!"

And try I did and this is half of what I got out of a 2.4 x 12m bed on the plot, after discarding the worse of them, so they were right in that the yield may not be the best, as for the taste I still have to try them.

These potatoes Originate 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.  My harvesting was a little later that should have been, as these were harvested last weekend.

“Mayan Rose has a striking and unique coloured skin,” Granted they are like a Friesian cow of potatoes, and very attractive to look at on the web sites and the catalogues. “cooking quickly when boiled and also ideal for mashing, roasting and wedges”Noted on the cooking quickly. 

Good disease resistance in particular to blight, potato cyst nematode and splitting.

What they didn’t mention was that they appear to have little or no wire worm resistance at all!


Wireworms are the larvae of the click beetle. The larvae grow up to 25 mm in length and are orangey/brown in colour with a narrow, segmented body, biting jaws and 3 pairs of short legs behind the head. ... It has been estimated that there are more than 60 species of click beetles in the UK.

Wireworms take from 2 to 6 years to mature, and larvae will live and overwinter in the soil to depths of 24 inches (60 cm.). When temperatures reach around 50 F. (10 C.), larvae will move closer to the soil surface and return to deep soil again when the temperatures soar above 80 F. (27 C.).

Wireworm attack is annoying, but it's not a disaster and there's no point over-reacting when you see it. In larger potatoes the holes are small enough to cut out, and normally the pests that created the holes have long since vanished.

A few of the larger holes may had been occupied by homeless millipedes. Most of the potatoes will be fine to eat with a bit of careful peeling. The problems will arise when it comes to storage. Those tiny holes will make the potatoes vulnerable to spoiling when they're stashed away in their large paper bags in the shed over the next few months.

If Mayan Rose are as vulnerable to wireworm as they appear, I'm going to have to look for an alternative maincrop next year no matter how nice they taste. I’ve also come to the conclusion that growing all the potatoes is the way to go for me next year.

Some words of wisdom from John Nicholson  on the Mind Your Peas & Cues Facebook group

There's not much resistance against wireworm to be had.

"Some potato cultivars are less prone to damage than others, but it should be noted that there are no potato cultivars resistant to wireworm damage; damage is less in some cultivars than others. Cultivars least susceptible to damage include Pentland Dell, Maris Piper, Nadine and Harmony. Cultivars most susceptible to damage include Maris Peer, Marfona, Cara and Rooster."