Sunday 21 April 2024

Sunday Morning Just Me

Sunday morning, my sister popped in and helped me with socks and medical boots over my dressings on my legs and feet first thing in the morning, and then I visited the allotment for the morning.

I cleared the scaffold tube drop bolt holes on the timber gates of vegetation so they were once again visible and removed the debris that had accumulated inside the scaffold tubes to the drop bolts have a void to actually drop into.

Trimmed the grass with my Ryobi strimmer from the main path to the Plot 1 entrance to Avalon (Plots 1 & 1A). Thus on a morning with a heavy dew or after rain my feet remain dry getting to my plot.

View from the plot 1 entrance along the main path looking down the allotment site. as can be seen Idverde need to come and cut the main path and actually use their trimmers. I've given them an idea how low they should go this end of the path, and in fact one can see that Kelly trimmed along the boundary beds a couple of weeks ago, but with all the rain and mild weather we had before this latest drop in temperature the grass and weeds have been growing very well.

Adi my plot neighbour at Plot 2 had once again strimmed the path and his plot but had not edged along plots 1 & 1A I managed to trim up to the entrance between plots 1 & 1A and then the line ran out and quite frankly so had my walking and stability.

A retreat to the potting shed where I can prop myself up in the tipping stool and I sorted out some Self Watering Pop Bottle Propagators with five varieties of Cucumbers sown Burpless Tasty Green & Lunch Box ,Suprina, Party Time & Esmarald Cucumbers. 

Lazy Housewife French climbing beans in root trainers.

Moved the paving slabs that had shifted during last year to neaten up the path in front and to the side of the potting shed. Andy my plot neighbour came to close the gate to the allotment to save me from dragging myself back out and into the car. There is a great sense of community on the allotment we are quite blessed with the neighbours we have.

Saturday 20 April 2024

Saturday Morning Just Me & My Girl

Emma & I had a productive morning on the allotment, getting in another bed with the last of the Red Baron Onion Sets, The Charlotte Second Early spuds and Emma did a grand job of weeding the SFG Bed and the bindweed along the wall.

Blueberry 'Trio Collection' comprises the following varieties arrived yesterday: 

Blueberry ‘Bluegold’ - Mid to late season (late July- August). High-yielding, vigorous, upright bush bearing large clusters of dark blue, medium-sized berries. Very sweet flavour and a good shelf life. Golden autumn foliage and yellow stems.

Blueberry ‘Osorno’ - Early to mid-season variety (July). Vigorous, highly productive variety that is popular with commercial growers. Medium-sized, light blue fruit with good flavour and firmness. Very heat tolerant.

Blueberry ‘Draper’ – Mid to late season (late July to mid-August). Another popular commercial variety. Very large, medium-blue, firm fruit with a longer shelf life. Upright, branching growth. Good winter hardiness and late to flower, so buds are less susceptible to frost damage.

For the moment they are living in the Potting Shed Until I can pot them on and the cold snap tomorrow morning is done

SFG Bed weeded by Emma so I can remove the Mels Mix, raise the bed frame higher and infill the bottom with hedge and tree cuttings plus weathered woodchip before replacing the Mels Mix on top of the raised bed. 

1st Early and 2nd Early Spuds in square flower buckets along the Boundary Bed

Bindweed Before the Emma attack 

Walking Onion Bed and Sapling Apple Tree cleared of Bindweed by Emma. I had treated the bindweed on the cantilevered bean support a few days ago so we are waiting to see how effective that's going to be. 

Grapevine after the bindweed was removed

What was the decimated Board Beans bed, now holds the excess Red Baron Sets.

Friday 19 April 2024

Blueberry 'Trio Collection'

Dobies Blueberry 'Trio Collection' contains three high-yielding varieties that will supply your garden with delicious berries and good looks! Both ornamental and productive, they will be equally at home in your shrub borders, veggie plot or allotment. The Duo Collection was on offer for £10 and when I went to buy it suggested upgrading for another £5 and this collection normally sells for £44.97 so to get it for £15 was a no brainer, I've bought enough £1 shop ones that are dead before you plant them. 

Dobies Trio Collection includes both early and late varieties, so you can feast on a succession of sweet, juicy berries from July to August. Blueberries are packed with health-boosting compounds and are especially delicious in pies, muffins and jams. These sturdy shrubs not only produce high crops of berries, but make attractive features for acidic borders or large patio containers filled with ericaceous compost. In spring they bear masses of sweetly scented creamy white flowers, followed by fiery foliage in the autumn. 

Blueberry 'Trio Collection' comprises the following varieties: 

Blueberry ‘Bluegold’ - Mid to late season (late July- August). High-yielding, vigorous, upright bush bearing large clusters of dark blue, medium-sized berries. Very sweet flavour and a good shelf life. Golden autumn foliage and yellow stems.

Blueberry ‘Osorno’ - Early to mid-season variety (July). Vigorous, highly productive variety that is popular with commercial growers. Medium-sized, light blue fruit with good flavour and firmness. Very heat tolerant.

Blueberry ‘Draper’ – Mid to late season (late July to mid-August). Another popular commercial variety. Very large, medium-blue, firm fruit with a longer shelf life. Upright, branching growth. Good winter hardiness and late to flower, so buds are less susceptible to frost damage.

Self-fertile, but like all Blueberries they will produce their best crops if grown with another Blueberry to increase pollination.

Height: 1.8m (6ft). Spread 1.5m (5ft).

Estimated time to best yields: 28-32 months (16-20 months for 3l potted plant).

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.

Blueberry 'Trio Collection' contains three high-yielding varieties that will supply your garden with delicious berries and good looks! Blueberries require a well drained, acid soil in a sunny or semi shaded position. In areas where acid soil does not naturally occur, grow blueberry plants in patio containers using a mix of ericaceous compost and John Innes No. 3.

Monday 15 April 2024

T&M - Goji Berry 'No.1 Lifeberry'

Thompson & Morgan have added Goji Berry 'No.1 Lifeberry' to their catalogue this year and have very kindly sent me a 9cm Plant to trial. 

A high-performing variety favoured by Chinese commercial growers, Goji Berry ‘No.1 Lifeberry’ bears heavy crops of large, shiny, orange-red fruits, 2-3cm in diameter, with a very sweet flavour. 

The Goji Berry has been revered in China as a ‘Super Food’ for centuries. Packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, Goji berries can be eaten fresh, dried like raisins or used for jam. 

As well as being edible, the Goji berry makes an attractive shrub for the border, with purple flowers in late spring/early summer followed by bright red berries that are reading for harvesting in August. Goji ‘No.1 Lifeberry’ can be grown in the open border or in a large container. Its arching branches can also be trained against a sunny wall or trellis, showing the attractive fruit to advantage and making it easy to harvest. 

Flowers in June 
Harvest in August 
Height and spread: 2m (6.5ft).

How To Grow

Pot up plants and grow them on in frost free conditions until large enough to plant outside in their final positions. Prior to transplanting them, acclimatise goji berry plants to outdoor conditions over a period of 7 to 10 days. Plant goji berries in any well drained soil in full sun. When growing goji berries in patio containers use a soil based compost such as John Innes No.3.

Water goji berry plants regularly until they are fully established. Once established, they are drought tolerant and cope well in poor soils conditions. Goji plants benefit from some winter protection during their first two years; however with maturity they become increasingly hardy, tolerating temperatures down to -15°C (5°F). Prune goji berries in winter or early spring by removing any damaged or crowded growth and pruning the stems to fit the available space.

Friday 12 April 2024

Clean Up & Coffee Grounds

This afternoon, it was nice and sunny and thanks to my sister popping in I managed to get to the allotment and hit the potting shed and the plot 1 shed and had a good tidy up.

Sorted out the compost into buckets in the potting shed. Starbucks free coffee grounds chopped up and placed in aluminium trays. My little sister picks it up for me when she gets her coffee in the mornings a couple of times a week.

Trays placed in the Plot 1A Greenhouse it was over 30C in there this afternoon when I opened the door. I love the smell of drying coffee grounds

Bindweed in the climbing frame greenhouse sprayed with weed killer, I don't normally like using it but at the moment I can't get down on the ground to just weed it.

Bindweed on the Cantilever Runner Beam sprayed, but I'm going to have to get down and weed around the young tree and the grape vine manually, or find someone who can weed it for me.

Dry Coffee grounds spread on Bed 5 as the snails and slugs hate coffee grounds and it also act as a fertiliser.

Thursday 11 April 2024

3rd Bed Of Red Baron Onions

A swift visit to the allotment late this afternoon with Emma to get the next onion bed ready and 105 more Red Baron Onion Sets planted, watered them in and gave the other two beds of onions a drink.

Again I've leaned the inner hoops in opposing directions so when the wind blows one hoop goes into Tension and the other in Compression and hopefully the structure remains upright and does not start leaning or falling over one way or the other.

Hoops & Debris netting fixed to keep the birds and mice out. The mice have been pulling Andy's sets up and gathering them in a pile on his plot. The pile of hoops needs to be distributed four to a bed ready for when whatever goes into the bed can be covered over. The aim at the end of this year, is to have all the beds covered for the winter months with the hoops and lateral bracing members there ready for action for next year.    

I need to get some weed killer for the bind weed that is making its way up my cantilever runner bean or French climbing bean frame. Bind weed is also making its way up my grapevine, that needs to be dealt with my hand, however the problem is at the moment I can't get down that low to deal with it. 

Third bed on right is what is left of a bed load of broad beans that were over Wintered, I will not be making that mistake again, Next visit loads of beer traps, and blue pellets of death to be put out all around the plot. 

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Daleks on Bed 5

The idea last year was to compost on the bed and then this year just empty the contents and bring the level of the soil inside the bed frame up, and feed the bed. I was up at the crack of dawn (lucky Dawn) and got dressed and ready so I had assistance getting the medical boots on, from Kelly before she went to work. Shame I don't have long arms like a gorilla or better mobility to be able to do this myself.

The Daleks had been continuously topped up with alternating layers of Greens and Browns including Comfrey and coffee grounds. The last layer was shredded paper to act as insulation as we went into winter, and that's what remains un-composted, the rest of it looked adequately composted to feed the soil and full up the bed a little because the beds are not really raised more framed to separate and delineate the beds from the paths. With my current mobility issues I will be looking at making the beds higher in the future. 

The Kent & Stowe long handled fork and trowel and plastic shovel worked well getting the spoil that fell on the weed membrane as I lifted the Daleks up and off the Compost. With my current mobility issues I can't get down on my knees at the moment and these long handled tools are proving very useful. 

I skimmed the un-composed layers off the top of the two piles and put that material into the Hotbin.

I cut some more of the brassicas up from last years bed that I had not cleared to give my worms in my Hotbin some spring food, and then added another layer of un composed material from these Daleks. I have two square flower buckets with the un-composted material nearby to add when I gat another green layer of kitchen vegetable offcuts. 

Removal of the Heavy Duty weed membrane after cleaning up the top of the weed membrane.

Then I took a fork to both heaps and broke them up and spread them around the beds timber frame.

The Comfrey is now growing and giving the bluebells a run for their money.

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Potting On Germinated Parsnip Seeds

Parsnips have started to germinate in the three Chinese takeaway containers on damp kitchen roll, so its time to fill those toilet roll cardboard tubes and get transplanting the seeds with little roots showing. This will now be a daily exercise until I have 210 of them. Then I may do another 105 and have a third bed of parsnips this year.

The Lidl trays with modules are an ideal size for the cardboard toilet rolls

I stuck the small coke bottle in a loo roll marked the bottle with a Sharpe and then cut just below the line so the bottle sits nice and snug on top of the roll. I then made another cut further up the bottle. It works so well as a funnel to get the compost into the toilet roll. 

And with an appropriate sized scoop we are off

The coke bottle funnel is a game changer and makes filling the cardboard tubes nice and easy

Lets play a game of spot the roots

The arrowed seeds are what we are ideally looking for to transplant into the top of the cardboard toilet rolls filled with compost. The circled seed the root is just about acceptable, but way too long really. Now I have spotted germination I will be looking for short roots on the seeds and transplanting them on a daily basis.  

I made a depression (hole) in the middle of each tube ready to transplant the seed with root down into the compost.

What you couldn't see them in the last picture? Here is a better view 

And after transplanting 16 seeds with roots into the toilet rolls it was time to water using another small coke bottle with five small holes drilled in the cap. The water shows in the cardboard tube.

Here is what's left to keep an eye on daily for the next transplanting sessions

The 16 cardboard tubes on the right of the tray are now nicely damp and indicating they have been adequately watered in. Another tray of toilet rolls is ready for the next couple of days of transplanting.

Monday 8 April 2024

National Frog Month

April is National Frog Month? Frogs are amazing amphibians, and they should be celebrated! Also, keep your eye out for frogspawn - there are loads about at the moment - you're bound to spot some if you or a family member have a pond or if you go for a nature walk near any body of water.

To celebrate Frogs, here are some Fantastic Frog Facts for National Frog Month;
  1. Not all frogs have webbed feet
  2. A group of frogs is called an ‘army’ or a ‘knot’
  3. Frogs can live up to 10 years in the wild
  4. Frogs have sticky tongues
  5. Frogs sleep with their eyes open
  6. Frogs don’t have to drink – they can absorb water through their skin
  7. A frog’s call can be heard up to a mile away
  8. Female frogs are mainly silent – it’s the male that mainly croaks
  9. Frogs can breathe through their skin and live up to several months underwater
  10. Tadpoles have teeth
  11. One clump of frogspawn can contain up to 4000 eggs
  12. Some frogs eat their babies.

Sunday 7 April 2024

First Early Potatoes In Buckets


My sister popped in to help me get my socks and medical boots on and I took myself to my allotment for a couple of hours, I worked on getting some nice two year old compost out of one of my Daleks and into buckets and planting my 8 first earlies.

The plan was to ring and let my Daughters know I had arrived safe and sound, problem was I forgot to take my phone and I didn't find that out until I was in the potting shed. 

I thought, I'm only going to be here a couple of hours, and my Plot Neighbour is on site so I'm not alone should I fall or need help. I will let them know when I'm back home.

As advised by the Royal Marsden I cover myself with sun cream and have taken to wearing a hat on the plot which is something I've never really done in the past. 

Unfortunately the mares tail had made its way into the composer bin, but had gone around and around the inside of the Dalek so the middle was basically free of the mares tail.  

I used the the long Power Planter and the Ryobi drill to break up the compost so I could empty with a large trowel it into buckets. 

The face of my daughter in this photo, looks just like my late wife when I was in trouble.  She sent her sister this photo with a message that I had arrived safe and sound.

She had phoned me 12 times and funnily enough I had not answered because my phone was at home! 

My plot neighbour Andy was on site so I was comfortable not having a phone with me and I had arranged to leave the same time as Andy so I didn't have to get in and out of the car to deal with the gates. 

Now she knows how a Dad worries when his daughters are going somewhere and why I ask them to let me know when they leave and arrive at their destination. 

I heard the gate go, and the thought "I do hope that's not Emma." 

It was, and I got a good dressing down for not obeying my own rules, on letting people know you have reached your destination in one piece. 

This was another photo she sent to her sister. With a message she had found me playing with the dirt. 

The two square flower buckets with lids are my first early spuds 

Four large buckets of 50% New compost and 50% old compost ready to go into square flower buckets for the second earlies to be planted at a future visit. 

Andy gave me a five minute warning that he was going so I could gather the last of the tools and put them away in the shed and we left about 12:15pm