Thursday, 29 April 2010

A Little More Done

Went to the plot last night to dig over a bit more of the potato bed, we’ve not had a lot of rain lately so I decided to give the onions a water. I’d steeped some of the last batch of seaweed collected in an 18l water drum; you know the ones that sit on those water machines in offices. So I also gave the 2nd earlies a seaweed drink.

At work we’ve changed drinking water suppliers and there are about 30 of those bottles sat doing nothing, so with a little bit of grovelling, hey presto, I was told I could take as many as needed, you don’t get if you don’t ask right! So I’m going to use these to make up some garden ‘potions’ as they have a nice tight cap which will hopefully keep in the stench. Thought I’d try a few different ‘potions’, I’m thinking of a nettle potion, a comfrey potion and a seaweed potion. I can just keep making up a couple of bottles at a time and they are small enough to sit behind the shed out the way till needed. I’ll also use some of them to make some cloches for putting over my squash plants, in order to try to keep them a little warmer and see if they develop fruit, as I didn’t have any luck with the one I’d planted in the back yard plot last year. I’ll also use some for a ring system on the tomatoes that get planted in the bottle house.

Once my maincrop beds are finished and dug over I’m going to run a test (previously touched on this idea earlier in the blog) - Comfrey ‘v’ Seaweed. Now that I’ve found my four extra comfrey plants this will be a lot more realistic. Each variety of potato; I have Blue Danube & Rudolph (early maincrop) and Golden Wonder & Pink Fir Apple (late maincrop) will each be separated into two rows, one row will be planted on top of a bed of comfrey leaves and watered with a comfrey liquid feed. The other row will be planted on a bed of seaweed and watered with a seaweed liquid feed. I’ll weigh and compare each variety at the end when digging them up to see which faired better, the comfrey potatoes or the seaweed potatoes.

Planning to get to the plot this evening to do some more digging, and tomorrow afternoon/evening, some (hopefully most) of the bank holiday weekend also, though its forecast rain over the next couple of days, we’ll have to dodge the showers I think. I must remember to take a little pad and pen and start to jot down all those jobs that you walk past and say, ‘I must do ….’

Tuesday, 27 April 2010


Aaargh! Who invented cars? Somebody out there is totally messing with my sanity and has decided it’s my turn to have a big dose of bad luck. My little banger, the one I’ve only had for a week, decided it would pack up on me. Everything was going swimmingly; I finished work on Friday, got home, picked up Samson and headed off to the beach to collect some seaweed. Saturday morning, got lots of seeds sown and potting on done, lunch time we went off to get the washing done at the laundrette; my washer broke a few weeks back and I haven’t been able to get another one sorted yet. Took the seaweed to the plot, picked the washing up and went back home to do some more potting on. Needed a few groceries from the shop so Saturday evening I jumped into the car and nothing, it just didn’t spark, not a sound. I couldn’t believe it, the garage assured me I’d get a year out of this little banger, and here I am ONE WEEK later and its not working. One mobile mechanic, second hand starter motor and another chunk of cash later I have a rust bucket that goes again, till the next time….

I’d wanted to get to the allotment on Sunday and try to get some more of the potato bed sorted for the maincrop potatoes, ADVICE NEEDED: am I running out of time or will I still be able to plant out my maincrop potatoes within the next couple of weeks? Nothing further to report on any other happenings on the plot due to not getting there but Sunday was put to use doing some more sowing seeds and potting on. Oh yes, my bad luck reared it head again, had a lovely soak in the bath, out I get, goes to dry my hair and the hairdryer won’t work. Now is it me or have I had my fair share for a while?

Weather permitting, I’ll be going to the plot for a couple of hours on Wednesday and Thursday evening, I’ve got a half day holiday booked in for Friday which will be dedicated to the lottie, and as much time as possible from Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday Monday will be given over to getting some more of it sorted.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Happy St. George’s Day

It’s England’s national day but for most people in England St George's Day is just another ordinary working day. The national emblem and national flower of England is a red rose. The flower has been adopted as England’s emblem since the time of the civil wars (1455-1485) between the royal house of Lancaster (whose emblem was a red rose) and the royal house of York (whose emblem was a white rose). Some more interesting facts:
· Despite the fact that St. George has been the patron saint of England since the 14th century, only one in five people know that St. George’s Day falls on 23 April.
· More than a quarter of people living in England do not even know who their patron saint is!
· Shakespeare was born on 23 April 1564 and he died on the same day in 1616.

Now for some gardening info, went to the allotment last night to dig some more where the early maincrop bed is going to be and we’re off to the beach again tonight to collect some more seaweed for it. Hopefully I’ll be able to sort out the ‘entrance’ frame for the bottle house and get that screwed to the posts. Then I’ll get some of the canes filled with the bottles. Other than that, it’ll be potting on and sowing seeds.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Caught off Guard

Oh dear, I was caught off guard last night, we had a frost and a few of my 1st earlies have had their leaves blackened. I’m hoping it won’t do them too much damage. I’m annoyed with myself as I usually check the weather forecast just to keep an eye on it but with the last couple of days being nice, it’s gone out of my mind. They say you only learn by your mistakes.

Bottle count is coming along nicely, plenty of people are bringing them in for me, but the only downside is they are being stored in every nook and cranny until put into use. I’ve got bottles in the spare bedroom, in the hallway, in the boot of the car and in the back yard. Job for the weekend; start to get them onto the canes and onto the frames!

Off to the plot tonight to get on with the early maincrop potato bed, hopefully this should be just about done and dusted by the weekend. Then I’ll sort out the late maincrop bed. Does it ever end?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Find of the Month

So there I was out walking with Samson last night along the walkway/woodland area near to where I live and out of the corner of my eye I spotted them. FOUR comfrey plants, just there growing at the side of the lane. I have an establish comfrey plant on my allotment, but hey an extra four plants that I’ll be able to visit and take some cuttings from as and when I like (providing nobody else knows about them and beats me to it).

I’m informed that you can cut the comfrey plant four or five times a year, the first cut is recommended to be used by layering the trench for your potatoes. The remaining cuts; if you steep them in some water for several weeks it becomes a lovely (stinky) potion which the tomatoes and potatoes absolutely thrive on. If that wasn’t good enough, if you wilt the leaves these are good for the chucks to eat, FREE FOOD, it can’t be bad.

Don’t forget Alys Fowler and The Edible Garden on BBC2 tonight.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Is It Monday Again Already!

Sorry there haven’t been any posts lately, where did the week go, I can’t believe its Monday again already. Ah that’ll be it, the days have passed me by whilst I’ve been in my tranquil world on the allotment, yes folks I’ve been very productive. Monday and Tuesday were spent as normal, at work, boo boo. Wednesday my car went in for its MOT, remember a few weeks ago it was supposed to be done; well they wouldn’t or couldn’t do it as the doors had jammed, and they aren’t allowed to carry out an MOT if all the doors don’t open and close! So it had to be booked in again. As I was without transport, I started on the frames for the bottle house. Things were going well, I sowed some flower seeds, broad beans, peas and borlotti beans. Weather was lovely, then came the phone call - “you’re car has failed its MOT”, these were words I had already prepared myself for, what I hadn’t been prepared for was the cost to get it fixed £1000. Well after I’d picked myself up off the floor, I told the garage it was a no goer, the car wasn’t worth £1000 for one thing and secondly I don’t have a spare £1000 to throw away. So off to the scrap yard it went and I’ve got myself a little run around until I can save up for a new-ish car.

With the nice weather, I spent Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday down on the allotment. 2nd earlies (Yukon Gold & Anya) were planted up; I finished planting up the onion bed with 4 rows of Turbo. I weeded and dug over one of the ‘root’ beds; hope to get some Carrot and Parsnip seeds in here shortly, along with Sweetcorn, Lettuce, Celeriac, Beetroot, Radicchio and Spinach. I dug over part of the ‘legume’ bed and put out some canes and string for the Peas to grow against. First ‘doorway’ frame was attached to the end posts for the bottle house and the small path built for the exit. Plenty of volunteers are now saving plastic bottles for me, I should hopefully get all 2000+ needed in no time, she says lol. I started on the early maincrop potato bed and also the first fruit bed as I’ve got strawberries and raspberries which need to be planted out ASAP.

We’ve a new lady on our community patch at the allotment, she’s got a young family so should fit in very nicely. There are 8 of us in the community patch, 4 of us have children between the ages 10 and 18mths and one elderly gentleman brings his grandkids along sometimes, so it’s nice for the kids when we’re all there to be able to play with each other. There is a small amount of ground that isn’t fenced into a plot at the moment, as we have some spare wood we’ve decided that we are going to build a flower garden for the kids to potter about and plant and dig here to their hearts content, and there is a little old lady who likes to come along to help out.

So plans for the forthcoming week, second ‘doorway’ frame to be built and lots of sowing and potting on to be done. Promise some photos soon, I’ve taken them, just have to figure out how to download them onto the computer.

Monday, 12 April 2010

What a Lovely Weekend

I hope the weather over the weekend was as glorious for all you gardeners out there as it had been for us here in Middlesbrough. An action packed fun filled gardening weekend was had by me and I even took Caleb along on Saturday and not a whinge or moan was heard. A few of the other children on the site had come along so he had plenty of kids to run about with.

Saturday - I put in some ‘Paris Market’ carrots in the back yard bed between the rows of parsnips, as these are only little bite sized carrots, they’ll be grown and lifted before the parsnips require the space. I also sowed some Early Nantes 2 in the 4x4 carrot bed. All 6 fence posts are now in for the bottle house, time to start working on the frames to insert the canes & bottles into. I’ve now sent an e-mail to all contacts (approx 300) at work asking them to donate their 2 litre pop bottles. Hopefully it won’t take too long to get the amount that I need.

Sunday - The bed for the 2nd earlies was established and dug over; I’ll be planting a row of Yukon Gold and a row of Anya in this bed at the back end of this week. The few Yukon Gold that are left over will be potted up into patio containers. I also planted up some Red Barron sets (3 rows) and some Santero sets (3 rows) in the newly built onion bed. I’ve still got some Turbo to go in and if any of my Bedfordshire Champion seeds amount to anything, I’ll make room for them somewhere.

Lots of the seedlings are coming along, will have to do some potting-up into bigger pots over the next couple of days, as a lot of the brassica’s have now started to develop their true leaves.

Friday, 9 April 2010

The Weather Man Promises a Warm Weekend

How lovely it would be to have two complete (weekend) days uninterrupted by rain or hail or snow. Now the weather forecast has said it’s going to be dry with some good sunny spells, highs of 15 on Saturday and 11 on Sunday. It’s looking a bit overcast at the moment, but time will tell.

Plans over the weekend include first and foremost, collect the hen shed this evening! Definitely a must and a can do no matter what the weather brings for us. Next job, 3 more posts to be dug into the ground for the bottle house, fairly confident this will be a goer. Finally, dig and complete the raised bed for the 2nd earlies to be planted.

I might be able to collect some bricks and some wood from a friend, he’s not sure if he’ll have the keys for the store, but hopefully he will and I can get some 2”x2” wood off him to start making the frames for the bottle house. I’m using bricks to edge the main path on the allotment, I’ll lay some cardboard down and cover with small stones which have been taken out of the ground as I’ve been digging it over.

I’ve got a few days off work towards the back end of next week and the longer (10 day) weather forecast says it going to be nice and sunny, so hopefully I’ll be able to get some peas and beans in, possibly some carrots and the onions still need to be put in, time is running out for them.

Have a nice weekend everyone and hopefully you can all get some productive gardening done.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

The Edible Garden

So did you see the new gardening programme last night, Alys Fowler's "The Edible Garden", i watched it, and quite enjoyed it, its on BBC2 at 8pm and has another 5 programmes to go, so if you missed the first one, try and catch up with it next week.

I'm off to try and get another of the fence posts in the ground tonight for the bottle house, i'll take some snaps and post them so you can all see how it's coming along.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

TWO Posts and My Shed!

Well the holiday weekend was mixed weather wise, there was sun, rain and on occasion hail! I bought the fence posts on Thursday evening, 4 @ 3”x3” x 8ft and 2 @ 4”x4” x 8ft. The wood man asked what I was doing with them as he was loading them into my car for me, his face said it all when I tried to explain, probably thought I was another eco-warrior, environmentally friendly loony.

Friday/Saturday I managed to plant up all my 1st earlies - Pentland Javelin into patio potato tubs, the 1st earlies - Rocket which I’ve had stood in the greenhouse over the last couple of weeks are coming along very nicely. I’m hoping a couple of nice days over this coming weekend will allow me to get the 2nd earlies in the ground at the allotment, a few will have to go in the remaining tubs, this will be a good test on whether soil or tubs are better for 2nd’s. I’ve put in some parsnips and radishes in one of the back yard beds. Carrots are coming through nicely. Plenty of tomatoes, kohl rabi, cauliflower, and lettuce seedlings are geminating. Cabbages and peppers are just beginning to peek through. I’ve been given a load of strawberry plants so these will be planted up in the fruit area ASAP.

On Sunday I drove to the allotment, Caleb in tow. I’d asked him to give me a hand building the bottle house, “I like building things” he says, good I thought I’m going to need your help. First job was to cut down some growth from the bushes hanging over from the neighbouring plot, and clear away some of the leaves and overgrown grass from the ground. Caleb watched. Then I started to measure, AGAIN, just to be safe, no point in getting it wrong and being unhappy once the posts have gone in. Again, Caleb watched. When I started to measure out I changed my mind where the house was going to be sited AGAIN. I wasn’t happy with the amount of growth (from next plots bushes) at one end so now its going to run 10ft flower bed, 10ft fruit (raspberry & strawberry) bed, then the bottle house (16ft), then another 10ft fruit bed and then what’s left (approx 12ft I think) I’ll decide what to do with later, possibly plant some fruit trees (apple, plum or pear). I also changed my mind on its dimensions, its now going to be 5ft wide instead of 4ft; I don’t do things by half!

I started to dig my first hole, Caleb watched, I turned my back for one minute, Caleb had gone, I found him chatting to Sid who has the plot opposite mine “he’s ok with me” Sid said, so back to the digging, ALONE. Next thing I know Brian (from further down the lane) had come over to have a chat with Sid and so Caleb then decided he wanted to go to see Brian’s hens and ducks, so that was it Caleb was off. So back to the digging of holes, ALONE, I sawed the bottom off the posts, making sure they stood in the holes straight and were both at a level height, all done and two posts in the ground, nice and secure. What a happy chappie I was with myself. I went back to check on them last night and to my amazement they were still standing, I must have done something right! I’m hoping to get another post in tomorrow night, and maybe the rest all in by Sunday, then I can start to work on the frames and creating the sides (this is where the bottles come into play).

Yesterday I received a phone call from the DIY store saying that they had mistakenly sold my shed and that the only one they had left was the store display model, so with some haggling (another 15% off the price), and them agreeing to dismantle it for me, I’m off to collect the shed for the chicken coop on Friday night. More building, ALONE no doubt!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Fence Posts, Plastic Bottles and the WEATHER!

So the big question is.... will the weather hold off this weekend so that I can start on one of the two big projects i'm so eagerly waiting to get off the ground. Well I'm off to buy the fence posts this evening for my bottle house, it's a mammoth project, somewhere in my dreams this bottle house will measure 16 ft long by 4 ft wide. Its going to be home to my Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Peppers (Chilli and Sweet) and also i'm going to have a go at growing a Melon. I've got several large black plastic bags in my spare room full of 2 litre bottles and Mrs C has kindly got another 2 bags waiting for me, so with 4 days off work, I think the time is right to start.

I still haven't figured out how i'm going to secure the posts into the ground, I have 2 of those metal square block things that fence posts fit into, these will be for the middle 2 posts, but the 4 corner posts, well i'm going to wing it.

Wish me luck!
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