Sunday 31 March 2024

Strawberries In 600mm x 600mm Bed


Kelly came with me after lunch to the allotment, and whilst she was strimming from the main path to my plot entrance and along the front of the boundary beds along the main path I was filling what was a Rhubarb bed with compost to bring it to the top of the bed and in the process found that something (fox or Squirrel) had buried an egg in it!.

The head of the Kent & Stowe long handled fork is under the egg and that's what I was using to dig the compost that was in the bed before filling it with another sack of compost. I have found these tools very useful as at the moment I can't get down on my knees to work on the beds. 

The bed is 600 x 600mm square and I have placed 6 strawberries in it. The white hoops are to put off the foxes from digging in the beds and next visit I will cut some chicken wire to go over the keep the squirrels out has they have eaten my strawberry plants in the past. 

Obviously Idverde didn't strim when they cut the grass in early March, but Kelly made a good job of clearing a narrow path along the boundary beds for me, and the grass from the main path to my plots entrance. Adi my plot neighbour at plot 2 has cut all the grass down on his plot and the path between mine and his plot bless him.  

Kelly also got in touch with her paramaniac tendencies and played with the weed burner attacking the weeds that were growing between the slabs that form the patio area in front of the plot 1 shed. 

I managed to tie back all the Spring Raspberries that were hanging over the Asparagus bed 

I need to build some timber framing around the four red Raspberry beds to hold in the canes as they grow, for the moment it appears the All Gold along the boundary beds are spreading nicely and I should hopefully have a nice supply of All Gold Raspberries this year 

The four strawberry plants that looked half dead and were over once I had filled the 600mm x 600mm bed with 6 plants, were planted by Kelly in the back of boundary bed to the left of the pebble pool. I have also planted a 9cm pot Rubus `Hararasp' (Raspberry 
tree) from Thompson & Morgan in the back of the bed in line with the pebble pool. Hopefully it will grow like the photo below, and will bear fruit next year. I may have to relocate the bird feeding station.

The Rubus `Hararasp' Flowers in April - May and the Fruits are harvested in May - June, so this little fellow is not likely to bear fruit this year. 

Saturday 30 March 2024

Thank You Storm Nelson

Storm Nelson brought gusts of 50mph, with a Met Office yellow weather warning for wind covering London and the South East, the South West and east of England on Friday 29th March.

Wally my plot neighbour rang on Friday to say that one of my windows on the potting shed had been sucked out and was cracked. He had tried to push it back in place rather than leave it flapping about. 

The photo above left doesn't really show the section of window that had broken off very well. The photo above right is the repair I made using some thin polycarbonate twin wall sheeting. 

I was lucky I had some thin twin wall sheeting and unscrewed the battens that hold the window panels in place and cut a sheet to fit into the hole.

I cut slots in the bottom so that the panel is held at the sides and middle behind the grove in the timber cladding, but have the sheeting projecting over the outer edge of the grove such that water drains off and down the front of the timber rather than into the grove. 

This is intended to be a temporary fix until I can get a replacement panel, as I don't want wildlife or rain getting into the potting shed. 

Bones my security guard had also been pulled off the scaffold pole he was fixed too, but Emma tied him back up. and she was cleaning up and weeding whilst I was fixing the potting shed. 

Storm Nelson also took the loft conversion off the plot 1A greenhouse and the louvers have come off and the fans are hanging inside, however it remained in one piece so was replaced in the opening and bricks put on to offer some resistance to uplift during the next storm, until I can make a better repair and put in some timber batten and straps so it can never happen again. 

Phot taken by Emma of the weeds removed along the main path 

Weeds removed along the secondary paths between the beds. 

Weeds removed from behind the Daleks on plot 1 

Friday 29 March 2024

Harvesting Climbing French Bean Seeds

Harvesting Lazy Housewife (Climbing French Bean) seeds from bean seed coats saved last year especially for seed beans to plant this year, as they were such a nice tasty bean.

The original beans were sourced from D.T.Brown in 2021 and were then being sold for £3.29 for 50 seeds, today they sell for £3.99. As I saved the seed coats & seed beans last year, this year they have cost me nothing, which is why its worth saving your own seeds once you find a variety you like. 

Thursday 28 March 2024

Envii - Maximato Tomato Feed

Envii Maximato featured at this years Garden Press Event is a concentrated liquid feed, that cost £8.99 for a litre a bottle that's capable of making up to 250 litres of feed that's certified organic and vegan-friendly. Enriched with calcium, magnesium and seaweed, Maximato maximises your harvests and builds resilience against disease,  Envii kindly sent me a bottle to trial this year, and it's got the same easy to use measuring system as their Seafeed Xtra that I trialed in 2020 

This feed is created from 100% natural ingredients including essential micro and macronutrients and minerals. These ingredients are crucial for strengthening plants whilst ensuring your growing is free from synthetic chemicals and harmful additives. 

Maximato is a high potash feed with a nitrogen- phosphorus- potassium (N-P-K) ratio of 4-2-6. These macronutrients ensure your plants develop robust roots, vibrant growth, and an abundant yield. The potassium found in Maximato is crucial during the fruiting stage as it leads to high-quality fruits, improving size and flavour. 

Seaweed is a plant superfood. The addition of seaweed in Maximato improves plant health by boosting their ability to resist external/ environmental factors that risk their development. Discover more about the benefits of seaweed fertilisers.

Calcium and Magnesium Deficiency in Tomato Plants

Tomato plants are susceptible to calcium and magnesium deficiencies. These deficiencies affect their growth and the quality of fruit.

Calcium deficiency in tomato plants may be caused by low calcium levels in the soil or fluctuations in soil moisture, otherwise known as irregular watering. The most common sign of calcium deficiency is blossom end rot, other symptoms include stunted growth and leaf tip burn.

Magnesium deficiency may be caused by naturally low magnesium levels in the soil. Alternatively, magnesium may have leached from the soil during heavy rainfall. The most common signs of magnesium deficiency include yellowing leaves, leaf curling and wilting and reduction in fruit size and quality.

Maximato contains sufficient levels of calcium and magnesium that will reduce the risk of your plants suffering from these deficiencies.

What makes Envii Maximato special?

  • Certified organic and vegan-friendly
  • Natural ingredients
  • Safe for children, pets and all wildlife
  • Safe for greenhouse crops
  • High potassium level to encourage crop development
  • Contains added calcium, magnesium and seaweed

  • Maximise your tomato harvest with Maximato.

Click Here to see other products from envii 

Tuesday 26 March 2024

Time To Sow Melons

Today I have sown 4 seeds of each of the above melons, Amarillo Oro, Mangomel, Magia Negra, Budgie and Little Darling. The aim is to grow two of each outside under glass against the wall and to also grow 2 of each in the greenhouse.  

Monday 25 March 2024

It's Now Or Never ......

I can't resist anymore, Emma took me to get some seed and sowing compost on the weekend and it's now or never. I'm not quite ready for driving myself around again but the way my legs are healing it will hopefully not be long. So with time marching on and real spring coming, I'm biting the bullet and starting sowing at home and starting with tomatoes. 

The potting tray fits nicely on top of the oven and I get to play with the seed sowing items Pauline (Sister-In-Law) bought me for my birthday. I love the little cell tamper.

One half tray 4 cells each of the Crimson Collection, Crimson Cocktail, Crimson Crimson Cherry, Crimson Crush, Crimson Bush and  Crimson Plum 

The other half tray has 4 cells of Red Pear, Arielle (Cherry), Merrygold F1, Crokini F1 and  Burlesque F1.

Sunday 24 March 2024

T&M Strawberry (Fragaria) Elsanta

New to Thompson & Morgan for 2024 Strawberry (Fragaria) Elsanta
an excellent mid-season Dutch variety, producing heavy crops of glossy, orange-red fruit with a delicious sweet flavour. 

A supermarket favourite, Elsanta strawberries have a good storage life and are less prone to bruising than many varieties. 

The juicy berries can be picked from mid-June through to mid-July and are perfect for making your own jams or for freezing to enjoy when out of season. 

Height: 20cm (8"). Spread: 30cm (12").

New Mid Season Variety 
Heavy crops of Delicious Sweet Fruit
Less Prone to bruising than many Varieties 

Available Pack Sizes

  £5.99 -   1 x 9cm Peat Free Potted Plant  
  £9.99 -   1 x 9cm Potted Plant 
£17.99 -   5 x 9cm Potted Plants  
£27.99 - 10 x 9cm Potted Plants
£19.99 -   6 x 9cm Peat-Free Potted Plants 
£34.99 - 12 x 9cm Peat-Free Potted Plants  
  £8.99 -   6 x Bear Root Plants
£11.99 - 12 x Bear Root Plants

The web site states "Plant height and spread is seasonal therefore we list by pot size rather than a defined plant size. The height and spread of the plant delivered will vary depending on the season, meaning arrival images are an indication only." however there are no photographs of what you receive on the web site, below is what arrived from Thompson & Morgan. 

Now I have no idea what the difference is between a 9cm Peat Free Potted Plant & a 9cm Potted Plant that warrants an additional £4. I've emailed and asked T&M Customer Services and will let you know if and when I get a reply. 

Update via email received 25th March 2024 3:45pm 
The only difference between the two plants is the soil in this instance, and the price difference is due to the peat-free and non-peat free coming from different suppliers and stock.


How To Grow

Plant strawberry plants in autumn or late spring in a sheltered, sunny position in well manured, free draining soil. Plant strawberry runners every 45cm (18”) in rows spaced at 75cm (30”) apart. Spread out their roots and place them in the soil at a level where the crown of the plant is just poking above the surface. Avoid planting them too deeply as this may cause them to rot. Alternatively try growing strawberry plants in hanging baskets or in specially designed strawberry planters for the patio.

More Information 

Water strawberries frequently throughout the growing season and weed regularly between rows. When growing strawberry plants in baskets and containers, they will also need feeding every two weeks. From early summer, remove any runners that are produced as these will weaken the plants vigour. Protect the developing fruit from slugs and snails by spreading straw around each plant. Positioning a net over the plants will also prevent crop damage by birds. The netting and straw can be removed after cropping to allow better air flow around the crown of the plant. Mulch strawberry plants with well rotted manure in spring. Although strawberry plants will continue to fruit in successive years, the crop will become considerably reduced and it is advisable to completely replace strawberry plants every 3 years.

Friday 22 March 2024

Mill Green Allotment's History


This is a Google map image saved in 2024, but the containers at the end of Parchment Close means that the images are actually from 2021 - 2022 as the Parchment Close development is completed, but the site huts are still in place. 

I have outlined in Red the area that was to become Mill Green Allotment so you might better identify it on the earlier historic Ordinance Survey Maps.  

The earliest map I could find above is dated 1896 and one can see the Watercress beds clearly shown on the map along with a Peppermint and Lavender Distillery. The footprint of what was later to become Mill Green allotment is surrounded by drainage / river channels that connect to the watercress beds and to and from the river Wandle that also had Flour and Drug and Dye Mills on it.

The next map is from 1913 and there appears to have been some housing development along Wood Street but very little has changed since the 1896 OS Map. This map shows the state of play just before World War I or the First World War (28th July 1914 - 11 November 1918) 

The map above is from 1935 and is thus four years before the start of World War II or the Second World War which started for the United Kingdom on the 1st September 1939 and lasted six years and one day with the Japanese surrender on 2nd September 1945. 

The OS Map above is dated 1941 - 1952 and the area is still shown as a Peppermint and Lavender Distillery however it is known that 
Jakson & Co grew peppermint and lavender in big farms near Mitcham.

Their essential oils were extracted in a distillery situated in Philpot Lane, Mitcham Road & near West Croydon. The company was started by a Frenchman called Philip Lelasseur.  Monsieur Lelasseur wanted the company to have a very English name. Unfortunately he spelt it wrongly, but it didn’t stop the company having worldwide success.

Jakson’s & Co essential oil business continued to flourish until the outbreak of the Second World War when the export of oil to all European countries was stopped. How long it continued to operate could not be found.

Some time between the 1941 - 1952 map and 1957 map shown above the area within the water course became Allotment Gardens, and the Engineering Works appears to have been constructed. If this happened during or after the Second World War is unclear.  

I've not been able to find OS Maps after 1957 on the historical maps sites, which is a real shame. So the next jump in time is via Google Earth Pro to 2003 

Google Earth Pro Image dated 2003 and as can be seen there are very few plots that appear to be being worked. The industrial workshop units to the left of the allotment have replaced the Peppermint & Lavender Distillery  shown in the 1957 OS map.  

This is the CAD drawing of Mill Green Allotment dated 1993 revised 1995 that was created in a CAD Package called Cadvance using DXF Ordinance Survey data and was supplied to me when I applied for Plot 1A in October 2012. 

It shows that the Works were still operating in 1993 however by the time I took over my plot they had been demolished and industrial units had been erected on the site, with the wall of the works forming the boundary of the north of the site and to my plot which was the smallest on the site at the time Plot 1A. 

I had previously worked for the London Borough of Sutton for 18 years and knew the allotment officer, who I contacted about deliveries of manure and woodchip and it was she who asked me if I would become the site rep for the allotment as no one on the site wanted to take the role on. 

I checked with the other plot holders to see if any of them were interested and as they weren't, I accepted the role as I have always found it's easier to get things done if you are on the inside rather than the outside of any organised social gathering or club. The first things I did was to source funding for a new notice board for the allotment, and to show new prospective tenants plots.   

Google map image July 2013

14th August 2014 I visited the council offices to get the planning application for the Parchment Close development on the West boundary of the allotment.

I had already found the application for the conversion of the Business Park on the the North elevation into residential flats. This meant that there would be 
nowhere to park once both of these schemes started. There was a Volvo scrap dealer and car mechanic operating in the industrial unit that was to become the site complex for the Parchment Close development. 

Google map image July 2013

Google map image June 2015 

In August 2015 I took on another half plot 23B on the Spencer Road Allotment down the road because there was adequate parking outside the site and one could also get your car to your plot to drop off and pick up resources, and for a couple of years I worked both half plots on the two allotments. 
As the site rep in 2016 I liaised between the Contracts Manager and Site Agent for the Contractor and the Council, enticing the contractor to do something for the local community and getting the council to give permission for them to do the works for free. 

Mill Green Allotment in 2016 whilst the Parchment Close Estate was being constructed 

26 August 2017 I was on site early in the morning as I had arranged a meeting with Redrow and the Allotments Council Officer regarding the formation of the drop off and pick up area in the overgrown area of the allotment.

It looks like we were not only back on track but in fact we ended up with a better specification of works than we originally had agreed, largely due by the generosity of Natta Building Company Limited the groundworks subcontractor on the Redrow scheme, who I thanked for their generosity, as it was so much appreciated by all the plot holders especially the special needs allotmenteers who work plots 13, 13A & 14 and come to their plots via minivan and car with their carers and who will now be able to be dropped off in the entrance to the allotment. 

The growth and debris in the drop off and pick up area was removed and arising's from the demolition were laid and compacted and a new timber fence to match that erected between the development was agreed to be erected between the bees on plot 14A and the new area.

1st September 2017 A small work party of allotment plot holder was arranged to cut a way into the overgrown area and to create a path and define a line for the contractor to work too when using earth moving equipment to clear and level the area before laying and compacting the risings.  

Now knowing that we were going to get somewhere to park and that we had no one on the waiting list for Mill Green I put my name down to take over plot 1 which I had been fighting from trying to invade plot 1A for a year, should it become vacant. The tenant of Plot 1 & 8 gave his two plots up and thus I gave up my plot at Spencer Road which was a nice plot, lots of gravel in the soil, but suffered from a lot of break-ins and criminal damage by kids because it was next to the playground.    

View of the Drop Off and Pick Up Area (we were not allowed to call it a car park) from the new gates installed. Plot 14A The bees are behind the fence at the rear of the photograph.   

20th October 2017 I took over the vacant plot 1 on the left of the photo above and started Planning My New Kingdom clearing the debris, the hawthorns along the wall, the brambles, mares tail couch grass and bindweed. 

Mill Green Allotment in 2018 Parchment Close Estate development significantly completed, the last few houses towards the entrance of the development are still under construction. The site road that was labeled as Parchment Close in the 2016 photo has now been constructed over and the fencing to the gardens can be seen as just being erected. 

The industrial units on the other side of the wall to the north boundary, are in the process of being converted into flats and the steel framework can be seen in the photo. 

Image July 2021 from Google Earth Pro and the containers used as site accommodation for the Parchment Close development have now been removed and turned into pavement and road for parking. The industrial to residential conversion renamed "Greenside Views" on the north boundary is now complete.

There are no Google Map or Earth images later than 2021.  

2023 Panorama of my plots from the 4th floor balcony of one of the flats next to the Allotment in 
Greenside Views curtesy of a fellow plot holder on the site.

2023 Panorama of the whole of Mill Green Allotments from the 4th floor balcony of one of the flats next to the Allotment in 
Greenside Views curtesy of a fellow plot holder on the site. 

My planting plan for 2024 produced using a CAD package. Makes it easy working out my crop rotation and what's going to be grown where. 

Finally two years ago plots 3A and 11A became vacant. These plots had been used as a dumping ground by its tenant with plot 3A having 22 trees on it they were in no state to be offered to anyone to take on.  Enthusiastic plot holders John & Wally adjacent to both plots cut down the trees, cut back the brambles and exposed all the debris that had been piled there. idverde dragged their feet and missed the opportunity and the plots once again got taken over be weeds and brambles.  

Metal was put to one side and a scrap metal mad called to remove and idverde (allotment Managing Company) dropped the first of a number of skips, so that the plots 11, 11A & 3A can be cleared and hopefully let to one of the 36 people we have on the waiting list for an allotment at Mill Green.

Plot 9 has been vacant since 2015 because it has Japanese knotweed but has never been treated properly and effectively thus that's why its still out of action.