Thursday 14 December 2023

Loo Roll Tubes

I wonder how many other allotment holders have been saving these ready for sowing germinated parsnip seeds in ?

Do you sow parsnips in them? If not what do you sow in them?

Monday 11 December 2023

Plot Layout For 2024

Bearing in mind that at the moment because of the ulcers on my legs I'm house bound, but adamant that I will be better to get back on the allotment in 2024 here are my plans for the layout of "Avalon" for 2024 as of the 11th December. As always its subject to change but its my starter for 10.

Full Plan Layout for Plots 1 & 1A aka "Avalon" for 2024

Plan Layout for Plot 1

Plan Layout for Plot 1A

Friday 1 December 2023

Planning and Reviewing December in Previous Years

Reviewing the diary over the last Eleven years for December 

There is not a whole lot of growing that happens in December, its normally blustery, cold, rainy, and overcast. It's the only time of the year with no sowing programme, though some enthusiasts and trophy hunters will ignore convention. I can't shut my plot down completely because there is too much tidying and maintenance to do on plot 1A and I have infrastructure works to undertake on plot 1. I also need to go there for some Allotment Therapy and get out of the house. 

2012 - My First December and third month of owning an allotment was mainly spent cutting down the weeds and exposing what lay underneath and discovering all manor or debris to dispose off. There was a lot of burning of weeds in the two incinerators 

2013 - Mainly clearing up the plot, Growing and cut and drop green manure, installing an infrastructure of paths and beds. Harvesting Sprouts 

2014 - Mainly clearing up the plot, Growing and cut and drop green manure, installing an infrastructure of paths and beds. Harvesting Sprouts 

2015 - Mainly clearing up the 2nd plot on Spencer Road, Growing and cut and drop green manure, installing an infrastructure of paths and beds. Harvesting Sprouts, carrots and parsnips  

2016 - Two plots on two different allotment sites Mill Green and Spencer Road, installing more infrastructure, collecting leafs, Walking Onions in greenhouse, harvesting sprouts, manure and leafs on beds, making planting membrane sheets, High winds blow over Keith's shed. Shed Break-ins and meeting the police on Spencer Road.
2017 - Family health matters mean very little achieved on the plot. Leaf collection and sprout harvest.

2018 - Lots of rain and not a great deal of work possible this month. Grow Your Own Tomato Seed Circle package arrives. 30th December and I was clearing the sweetcorn from the beds and putting to sleep for winter.  

2019 - Lots of rain, but I did manage to audit and catalogue What's In My Seed Box 

Jools Holland in Brighton with Kelly and John Barrowman A Fabulous Christmas and weekend away with my good lady wife meant I lost two weekends of working on the plots.

Christmas Eve my good lady wife and I were in the Royal Brompton Hospital as she was undergoing a night study to recalibrate her BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airways Pressure) machine that she has to go on each night.

2020 - Lots of rain, but I did manage to audit and catalogue What's In My Seed Box 

Raspberry infrastructure created. Weather watching and rain stops play. Plot Tour Video produced. New varieties of seeds from Suttons reviewed, In My Seed Box reviewed and published throughout the month, Seed catalogues reviewed. Before You Buy Seeds article updated. 

2021 - Lots of rain, but I did manage to audit and catalogue What's In My Seed Box for 2022 

After storm Arwen in November, Storm Barra hits the UK at the start of December. Leaf Bin and Carrot barrel set up. Rhubarb Bed 3 created; Rhubarb moved into it. So many bulbs planted by Andy and then stolen by the rats with fluffy tails.  21st December Winter Solstice and we start making our way to longer daylight. Sorted out the plot arrangement for 2022 and published it on the blog. Managed a site visit on the last day of December after so much rain. 

2022 - Not so many visits in December as my wife Jenny was very ill and the weather was not good Snow on the 12th December we had snow, Lots of post on the blog looking at what was in my seed boxes for 2023

Monday 27 November 2023

Forest Garden Top Fan

I just got recognised as one of Forest Garden top fans on Facebook!

I love my Forest Garden potting shed, for me it's a game changer and a sanctuary and such an asset on my allotment plot, and mental well being.

Saturday 11 November 2023

Harvesting Parsnips

Thanks again to a most awesome sister coming and sorting me out this morning so I could go and met Emma on the allotment for a little Allotment Therapy.

Worms fed with vegetation from the runner beans and butternut squash. 300ml of worm fertiliser from the worm farm today.
Thanks to John our on plot paramaniac for taking my cut raspberry canes and a broken timber stool to burn.

Emma planted the Broad Beans into Bed3

We covered the Broad Beans with hoops and debris netting.

One bucket of main crop spuds that look more like first early spuds but that's OK. Another 3 buckets yet to harvest.

Two lines of Parsnips harvested as we are running out and there was a frost last night.

Parsnips after a clean before processing

Tuesday 7 November 2023

"Thing" Helps

With Halloween having just gone, "Thing" came to give me a hand on the allotment today.

Thing harvested more butternut squash foliage and as I cant stand and walk for long at the moment, I took to my walker seat up against the shed and cut them up nice and small for the worms in my worm farm.
Time fly's when your having fun or working on the allotment, and then it was time to come home for lunch.

I started cutting back the winter raspberries.

Thing worked on clearing the Greenhouse climbing frame of weeds in the beds, and I attacked the Winter Raspberry Bed and the Late Summer Raspberry Bed for as long as my legs and back would allow.

Small amount of November tomato harvest from the Plot 1 Greenhouse, It's been an exceptional year for tomatoes.

Monday 6 November 2023

Moving Mulch

I managed to get to the allotment this morning thanks to my sister Elaine coming early and sorting out my legs and socks for me.

My daughter Emma had previously removed all the mares tail and other weeds from the All Gold Raspberry Boundary beds and the level below the top of the frame was about 50mm.
With the pile of very rotten wood chip/mulch reducing in the car park I though I would see how much I could barrow in and place.

I got a little over half way and then told myself I had to keep going until I had done the lot.

It knackered me completely, and after returning home for lunch I slept most of the afternoon but it was worth it to actually achieve a completed job on the plot.

It knackered me completely but it looks so good

I used the last of the mulch worthy woodchip and hopefully we can get some more path worthy woodchip delivered soon
Working on the plot this morning was the most alive I have felt in recent weeks, until I got home and flumped. I'm looking forward to sleeping less and recovering from the Radiotherapy side effects more in the coming weeks.
Factor 50+ sun cream applied as that's what has been advised for me in the future.

Wednesday 1 November 2023

Planning and Reviewing November in Previous Years

Reviewing the diary over the last Eleven years for November

2012 - My second month of ownership of an allotment. I found out where Benhill Crescent Horticultural Society was located and actually a plot on their site would have been ideal as I could walk to it and the entrance was more or less opposite my sisters house, but at the time I got my plot the waiting list was 24 people.

Cutting, clearing and stacking material to be burnt on pallets and covering with a tarp to dry them off took place during November. My wife at the time was in good health and came with me and helped me. 

By mid month all the clearing had been done and we had many stacks of drying weeds, to burn  We enjoyed getting the allotment clear and going down late in the evening as it was getting dark and having the fires in the two incinerators. 

The plan layout I did on the 13th November later got modified, and I started looking at standard beds and bed layouts for various types of vegetables.

Saturday 17th November the shed arrived and on Sunday 18th my wife and I erected the shed and felted the roof. I love that photo of her in her pink boots standing proud next to the shed. She is short and makes the 6x4 foot shed look massive!   

2013 - A year on and I have infrastructure in place, a central concrete path made of the paving slabs that I had been using as a drive for my car, six beds between the path and the wall, a patio area at the top around the shed, and two beds installed on the other side of the path and I was working my way down the plot digging clearing weeds and installing beds and paths. 

A racking and storage area was in place, I was harvesting spring onions and attempting my first overwintering of spring onions in a pop bottle Borg cube I had made, was still harvesting tomatoes and peppers in the blow away greenhouse next to the shed.

First Frost was the 13th of November this year. First time I had planted Green Manure and rescued a box of leaves and added to my leaf bins for the first time.       

2014 - In this year the infrastructure of beds and paths were all in and I had a lot more varieties of vegetables growing on the plot. I harvested Peppers of all colours from the greenhouse which I had erected on Bed 6 earlier in the year.

Most of the work this month consisted of clearing and covering beds for winter, I still had Brussel Sprouts in a large hoop enclosure. Open trench compost for the runner beans bed. By now my Dalek army was 6 strong and I was getting into the art of making compost. Limited success with Parsnips this year we had the magnificent five and the rest, well they were parsnips Jim but not as we know it!

In all I had six beds covered in hoops and debris netting as I had been growing a lot of brassicas this year. I left the netting in place as defence against the foxes. This year we also had problems with mice and rats and traps were deployed. So many slugs and pop bottle traps were made and deployed against them as well. Six bags of manure used on the beds.

2015 - Damp foggy and site tour video made Sunday 1st November, Harvesting Beetroots, Carrots, Onions, the last of the French beans, Sowing Japanese Onions grown from seed. Overwintering Cabbage, still weeding beds and covering up for Winter, Harvesting Carrots, Onions and Parsnips. Digging in Green Manure Mustard. Finished clearing Comfrey and placing in Daleks as an accelerator. 

Woodchip paths that are now 3 years old have broken down and are turning into soil and needed replacing and the old went into the Daleks as browns. I also had plot 23B on Spencer Road this year and was building up the Dalek army on that plot. 

I found that splitting your time on two different plot on two different sites was not really viable and maintainable. I put my name down so that if my neighbour gave up his plot I was next in line for it on Mill Green. Snow at the end of the month but didn't settle for very long. Parsnips thinned out a little to allow the remainder to bulk up ready for Christmas. Rain stops weekend play at the end of the month. 


2016 - Sixth of November was our first frost. Ten bags of leaves and the two leaf bins on Mill Green were full to the brim, I started to sort out my seed boxes and cataloging what I have and what I needed for next year. Over half of the infrastructure was in on Spencer Road and I had acquired many concrete paving slabs and was in the process of building the patio next to the shed during this month. More vandalism on Spencer Road they melted my blow away and tried to se fire to my Daleks and set light to one chaps polytunnel and basically broke into sheds and nicked what they could or just threw it out onto the plots.

Modifications to the shed and another lock installed to the top of the door as well as the side of the door. break-ins continued and meeting took place between the Committee and the police on Spencer Road Allotment, To be honest the problem with the vandalism and the break-ins is what ultimately made me decide to give up Spencer Road Allotment, after I managed to arrange for a drop off and pick up area to be formed at Mill Green.   

2017 -  Having just taken over Plot 1 on Mill Green in October this year most of my time in November was spent clearing the weeds on it, As it was so dark at night and I could not get down to the allotment it was weekend working only when dry. 

I decided that I would create post and started doing my seed storage box audit and catalogue and producing lists called "In My Seed Box" here on the blog so that I could gain access to my catalogue using my smart phone when I may need the urge to buy seed.

I met with the inventor of Kikka Digga and it's an amazing tool for the allotment holder.   

I took advantage of a Lucky Dip offer on trees and got 6 for £19.99, they went into buckets as I had not cleared Plot 1 yet and Hawthorn Bushes were where they were intended to finally be placed.  

The plan layout for my new kingdom was more given more though and detail in AutoCAD 

2018 -  Not a lot on the allotment front actually happened in November this year, apart from me nearly setting fire to the shed with the mini stove I had.  Keith my brother-in- law who was more like a Brother to me died and was brought back twice, he bounced around the hospital from one intensive care set up to another, finally got a diagnosis that he had Amyloidosis which is an abnormal protein called amyloid that builds up in the tissues and organs. 

When it does, it affects their shape and how they work. There was a hope for a transfer to a hospital that specialises in it's treatment in North London, which involved steroids and chemotherapy, the problem was that due to low blood pressure, Keith had died twice and been resuscitated, and his body just would not survive the treatment, and finally they told him there was no more that they could do for him to actually stabilise his blood pressure, before starting Chemotherapy and that he would not survive the treatment. 

He shaved and cleaned himself up and basically told us what he had been told and that he had asked not to be resuscitated the next time his heart gave out with low blood pressure. I have never met or known a man so strong, and apart from my father, there has never been another man that I have loved. We visited and stayed with him on a rota system as only so many people can be around a bed in an intensive care unit and ironically all the family that mattered managed to see him and say their goodbyes before he passed away on the 19th of November.      

2019 -  Woodchips for the paths dropped off, Daughters Wedding stopped allotment play followed by bad and wet weather meant that sorting out seeds and planning next year took place for a week and a half during the middle of the month.  

Harvesting Potatoes three beds worth, Three oil drums of leaves dropped off from Andy, I cleared and woodchipped behind the shed and the greenhouse area.  

This was the year that I injured my leg and had cellulitis which meant that I could not really do a lot for some months, but in November I was fit enough to work on the plot once more and Emma and Andy (Daughter & my New Son-In-Law) came and helped me catch up and to get some additional infrastructure in place on plot 1 in the form of the first two narrow beds on the boundary with Plot 1A.

2020 - Wasp nest clearance plot 1A, Shed Questions and Advice, Upgraded my seed storage system, Harvested Squash, Won the Waltons Garden Chest Competition resulting in moving coldframe and reduction in Home Tomato plots,  Raspberry bed infrastructure started as D.T.Browns Raspberry Collection came early!  

2021 - The first week of November was so mild and sunny Andy and I worked in tee shirts and planted the overwintering onions. I won a mixed pallet of  Equigrow compost, soil improver, and mulch which was dropped off at home and shipped down to the plot in the back of the car. Wire worm in spuds in the ground, that's why I decided to grow all in buckets in 2022. Leaf Collection and Bin increasing. Picked up paving slabs from Freecycle. Harvested the last of the beetroots before wind stopped play. Artic Winds and Snow in Scotland and Wales, but only rain in SE England. Showed two new plot holders & their partners vacant plots. Weeding and putting beds to sleep for the Winter. Storm Arwen caused major disruption across the UK.

2022 - More Paving slabs collected and laid as paths thanks to Freecycle. Making winter blankets for the 2.4m x 1.2m beds on the allotment. A great beetroot harvest. Sutton Allotment Group meeting. Collecting free paving slabs off Freecycle and laying paths. Looking at what's in my seed box for 2023,  Many seeds purchase from Seed To Suit, Warnings of another beast from the east and snow on the way at the end of the month, beginning of December. 

2023 - November is normally the month for very last harvesting, bonfires to clear the blighted foliage and if the weather holds infrastructure works and closing down beds for the Winter months.  

Sunday 22 October 2023

I Saw A Mouse. Where?

A visit to the allotment this morning with my daughters Emma & Kelly. Kelly came with me and we had problems with the padlock so I gave it the WD40 treatment and eased them both.

I harvested vegetation and frost damage plants and cut them up for my worm farm whilst Emma and Kelly worked on clearing the parsnip bed of the weeds and tops of the parsnips.

Kelly found a mouse and I was surprised didn't freak out finding him cute and took photos and video of the little chap. Thing is if he is around he more than likely has 15 - 20 siblings around somewhere !

4 Broad Beans are showing in the seed trays in the potting shed and the temperature in there was around 16 - 17C

Emma harvested more tomatoes from the plot 1 green house to take home.

Finally after 3 years of trying, I've grown an Aubergine ! Yep only one

Tuesday 17 October 2023

Afternoon On The Plot

17th October the day was dry and around 16C and as I was having a reasonable day with regards to fatigue and knowing that I still have potatoes in buckets to harvest before the frost comes and gets them, I went to the allotment after lunch and Emma being on an early came down to help me on the plot.

The temperatures in the potting shed were nice and cosy in the late 20's nearly 30C at the warm end.

Emma made an awesome job of clearing all the weeds from the All Gold boundary raspberry beds.

In total I harvested four buckets of 2nd early potatoes and the size and quantity per bucket varied enormously.

I also did some tomato seed saving.

Sunday 15 October 2023

Half Way Through My Radiation Treatment

Emma informed me that she likes Broad Beans so with space free on the plot it was a no brainer to get some sown. Emma took me to the allotment for a short visit.

I need to get another root trainer kit for next year as they are easier to get the small plants out when potting on.

I have the right sized trowel for every task.

I found my two frames of root trainers in the Plot 1 Greenhouse and the filling and sowing took place in the potting shed.

The three water melons now yellow came home with me today.

A few spuds from a bucket
With my mobility issues at the moment everything takes longer to do than it used too, plus being half way through my radiation treatment I've only got impulse power and no warp capability.
I loved sitting in the direct sunlight with the sun warming my body in addition to the fleece I was wearing and having a natter and a rest from standing with Wally (my plot neighbour) He is a good lad and arranged to leave when I was ready so I didn't have to get out of the car twice to lock the gate behind me.