Friday, October 13, 2006

Seasons End

I've been meaning to write an end of season update for several weeks now but never seem to have the time. I've published the draft I wrote in July without changes, purely because I've forgotten what else I wanted to say.
For me this entry is really a what went right what went wrong memory jogger for next year. I think I'll start on the subject of beans. Its not been a good year and in the end mine turned out better than my mother-in-laws and went on producing well into September. Looking back I don't think the early start benifitted them and starting them three weeks later next year shouldn't do any harm.
Whilst we had some peas, we didn't have many. Judging by this years planting, not necessarily a good thing to do starting them in root trainers and planting out may be the way to go next year.
Picking up on the July update the one thing that went right this year were my potatoes. Other than the Red Duke of York everything went well, an I'm really impressed with the Charlotte so I shal be definately planting these next year. I had wanted to plant these as a second crop, but D.T.Browns had run out and sent Nicola instead. I can't specifically tell but the germination of these seems bad and I guess I've lost about 50% whilst I think I only lost one of the Carlingford. The problem I now have is blight I've lost two bins and a couple of plants in the rows in the garden. Last time I checked on the ones in the allotment - a couple of weeks ago - several of these were also suffering. They've all been earthed up now for about 4 weeks so I shall see what sort of crop I end up with.
The other successes of the year have been the milk carton carrots and the courgettes - if I ignore the Orelia. The carrots, all varieties have cropped faily well, and unlike the ground sown ones did actully germinate. Whilst the carton carrots have now all been harvested we still have the wheel barrow to harvest and the additional tub carrots.
Based on this years performance if anybody is thinking of growing courgettes I would recommend defender, they are still flowering and producing both in the garden and on the allotment. The allotment ones did go through a bad patch with mildrew about 4 weeks ago but a concerted hack with the knife and the removal of most of the affected leaves seems to have spurred them back into life.
Things have not all been rosy though. The lettuce has been something of a hit and miss, and the cabbage whites/moths did for most of my winter cabbage, sprouting broccoli, and turnips (again). I suspect they also did for 90% of my spring cabbage seedlings.
The dry weather and my soil have again stunted my leeks and produced a feeble sweetcorn crop, certainly compared to last year. The ones in my garden did considerably better than the ones on the allotment where we managed 6 decent cobs from 18 plants.
The other success from the garden plot has been the celery - my judicous application of water and the rains arrived at the right time to give me a viable crop. As this is the first year I've tried celery I'm more than happy with the results.
Things in the green house have been rather mixed. The tomatoe crop has been rather poor given the size of the plants, and about 70% of the tomatoes have split, this despite providing a gallon of water per day per growbag. I'm beginning to suspect that the splitting has more to do with temperature and humidity fluctuation than water provision.
The Cucumbers suffered badly in the hot spell in August, two of them nearly succumbing to wilt (I think). They recovered briefly, but have faded badly in the last few days - I suspect they are also being affected by something else but can't determine what.
The other greenhouse crop, hasn't been a crop that is. Having initially had a disaster with germination, the peppers have done nothing except grow leaves. The one's I gave my mother-in-law that she stuck in the border flowered in early September and produced a few pitiful fruits. The ones in the greenhouse have until the last week refused to flower at all. Yes they are now flowering but I suspect its too late for any sort of crop, let alone ripening one.
The other failure in the greenhouse, to date, has been anything sown in the raised beds. I haven't worked out why. Even the late lettuce, all-year-round, has refused to grow and yet its doing ok in the cold-frame. If I can get a load of leaf mould I'll try adding that to get some moisture retention and see if it help any. I'm also going to add a heavy dose of lime and see if I can lift the ph closer to 7.
Think thats about it for now. The tomatoes are going out the greenhouse this weekend, and possibly whats left of the cucumbers. I shall also have to think about bringing the cacti indoors and moving the potatoe bins into the greenhouse, just so I can ensure their survival to provide my christmas new potatoe crop.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Mixed Harvest

A mixed harvest, says it all really. As we approach the end of July and crops begin to ripen what has worked this year and what hasn't becomes apparent.
The Red Duke of York (first earlies) did really badly both in the ground, at two golf ball sized potatoes per plant, and in the potatoe bin, where they did slightly better. The Charlotte did considerably better. From the potatoe bin I got nearly 3lb of slightly larger than golf ball sized potatoes, but up on the allotment, the two plants I've so far dug have yield about 4 lbs of potatoes each ranging in size from golf balls to double tennis ball size (ie put two tennis balls side by side).
The single main crop maris which I stuck at the end of the row yielded fewer but larger potatoes, about the same weight though.
My first early Maris Peer have also yielded about 3lb per plant of slightly larger than tennis ball size, not bad considering this is the first year this ground has been productive. A testament to how hungry my soil is, is that the Maris were trench planted into a mix of horse manure and sawdust covered with newspaper, 70% of which has gone in the 16 weeks since I planted.
My peas have been disappointing, and my runner beans are yet to do anything substantial, despite the ones I grew for my mother-in-law having now virtually finished, ever though they went in over 6 weeks later.
My chinese cabbage was a sort of success although most of it bolted, which is what is happening to my lettuce, at the allotment, currently. The lettuce in the milk cartons is doing far batter and I'm very pleased with the results. Of the three varieties I'm currently growing the Webbs do best followed by the little gem, and lastly the rusty. Also after a poor start the carrots have picked up and are a match for the ones in the "Carrot Barrow" and the pots.
The tomatoes have all reached the greenhouse roof and I have a number of trusses set but no ripe fruit as yet from these, although I've had a couple of handfuls from the tumbler in the hanging baskets. The cucumbers continue to produce in batches, so we get 5 or six ripe over a period of two days then have to wait a week for the next batch. The peppers continue to grow but there's no sign of either flowers or fruit.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Ups and Downs

Another photo update really although hopefully it won' turn into another essay like last time.
First up the potatoe saga. I planted these early in bins in the greenhouse hoping to steal a March and get nice new potatoes. Unfortunately I'm still learning on this one. As you can see the foliage had gone yellow, so I thought they were ready. There were sort of. They could have done with more water or another week or both. So I have 1lb 6oz of mixed Anya (we think) and the odd Maris Bard.
Next a quick run around the other bigs of the garden plot. First in the greenhouse. I've still got potatoes in the bins in the foreground, although they're getting to the "need to be harvested stage". After the first bin I've been watering them alot to try and swell the tubers so I get a decent crop.
In the right hand foreground corner are the tomatoes - all Alicante I think - we had a little problem with mixing up labels. If I'm lucky the Tumbler ended up in the hanging baskets. Next we have the six peppers, although I've only got 3 in at present. The others aren't big enough yet.
Lastly at the back and intent on taking over are the cucumbers, two per grow bag. We've had one cucumber off them already, and should get a load more this weekend.
Next the plot outside. The section upto the Pea enclosure is the new bit this year, and actually seems to be doing better than the piece I've been working for 5 years. Ho-Hum.Anyway, in the foreground we have sweetcorn interplanted with leeks. Next we have three rows of self-blanching celery. It should be planted more in a block, but thats the space I had left after the sweetcorn went in.
Normally in this sort of dry weather I'd be watering but with a hose pipe ban I'm saving all the water for the greenhouse and containers. Next we have the potatoes, Two rows of Maris Bard with a middle row of Red Duke of York.
One the container front, things are progressing. Starting with the 4 litre milk cartons, which I've had to secure with screws, the lettuce are going great guns, whilst the carrots are plodding a bit. I've a mixed planting in alternate containers of "White Carrots" and Early Nantes. It would appear that cutting the timber to exactly fit the handle space is critical. Whilst it's thick enough with the 4-litre bottles its not wide enough and they sag - hence the screw fixings.

On the 2-litre front I'm much happier.
The timber is both thick enough and wide enough and supports the bottles better. The lower row, with the established lettuces went in two weeks ago, 3 days after the 4-litre row, whilst the upper row only went in last Friday.

Elsewhere I'm giving containers a go for various things. I'm still trying to work out what works in window boxes, apart form lettuce which seems to grow anywhere. I've got beetroot in in at the moment - sorry no photo - but am not overly happy with it. Time will tell. In the mean time I've pressed all my large pots into service. The 3 deep 10" pots all have carrots in as does the big blue planter. The shallower 15" pots have beetroot, baby turnips, and something else. When it comes up I might know what it is.

Thats's about it for this time. I'll leave you with the first Lily flower of this year. Not bad for a 50p end-of-season pack at Wyevale 3 years ago.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Too little time

It's been a while since I've had time to write much. We're into show season and the last few weeks have seen a lot of Regia activity, something that will occupy the next two weekends.
I'm trying to keep up with things in the greenhouse, veg patch, and lottie, and just about succeeding - the cold weather slowing things down is helping. I should make it down the lottie tonight (Thursday) after work to get some more lettuce and chinease cabbage in - One Kilo as opposed to the China Blue already in.
This update is really about pictures of progress.

We'll start in the greenhouse with the potatoes. The photo on the left is the two big bins which were planted first with a mix of Anya and a few odd Maris Bard. The one on the right is the mixed Maris Bard/Anya bin planted about 3 weeks later and the Red Duke of York. By the looks of things these two will be ready first.

The potatoe bins are actually taking up most of the centre aisle in the greenhouse and as a result a couple of them have suffered a little as my wife and I go in and out. At the back of the greenhouse are the four cucumbers, this should be the hottest and most humid part. Next round will be the peppers - these will go in their bags next week.
Finally in the stretch to the door are the Tomatoes. I managed to get these in tonight so should now push on. I've also got a few tumbler which I'm going to try in the hanging baskets - all in an attempt to maximize growing space. The ones in the bags should all be Alicante - due to a mix up in labling they may not be.
Moving outside we have the sweetcorn which I interplant with leeks. You'll also notice my experiment with milk containers after seeing John's site dedicated to growing in this fashion. If I could remember the web address I'd link it in but I can't at the moment and I'm pushed for time. These have just been put up and are planted with a mix of lettuce (in the 2 litre containers) and carrots ( in the 4 litre containers).Next are the potatoes, three rows, the outer two being Maris Peer - 1st Early - and the middle Red Duke of York - another 1st Early. These all went in at the end of April so should be ready in about another 4 weeks.
Then its onto the pea cage. I had very poor germination so started a second batch in rootrainers in the greenhouse. I managed to get these planted Tuesday evening. You may also notice a block of China Blue in the foreground.

Lastly for the veg patch is the onions - which are doing ok and the miserable failure that is the rest of it - there's half a half row of parsnips, no scozenoza, a few spring onions, the odd bit of perpetual spinach, a dismal row of second sowing carrots, and 5 garlic out of 30 cloves planted.

Away from the plot propper is my carrot barrow. Its an old builders barrow that doesn't function as a barrow any longer. Last year I was successfull in growing carrots in it so am repeating this year again. Like last year I've sown Autumn King. The seedlings are about three weeks old.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Foiled by the weather - Almost

It's certainly been a busy weekend, although when I got up this moring things were looking rather bleak in respect of completing the tasks I'd set myself this weekend. Saturday started with me killing time waiting for a phone call to arrange a pickup of the galvanised water tank that had been offered on freecycle ( I used the time to earth up the potatoe bins in the greenhouse as they're now growing out the top (see photo below right).
Then it was off to collect the tank and do a little shopping. I needed some nylon string to build the bean frame. A quick run round the cheapshops, market and Woolworths, yielded a suitable candidate, although not what I actually wanted. It also yielded another 4 packets of flower seeds (Cloeus, Lavender, Penstamens, and Sweetpeas) and two packs of Lilies, and a planter to put them in. Woolworths have all their seeds/bulbs/plants on buy 1 get 1 free at the moment.
Back home I set about the bean frame, as you can see frome the photo (left), and planting the runnerbeans out - they're all 12-16" tall so I couldn't keep them inside any longer. My mother-in-law has given me 10m of fleece so I can cover them if it looks like we'll get a frost.
After lunch I mixed up some more compost, I add 1 shovel of washed sharp sand to a barrow of peat free compost when sowing or potting on as it improves the drainage. This enabled me to get on with sowing the Frnechbeans, Lettuce, Chinease Cabbage, and Broccoli. Since I only sowed 16 french beans I sowed half the Sweet peas in the other half of the rootrainer tray.
My wife then joined me to prick out her Mesmeranthiums, Nicotiana, Cornflowers, and Lupins, as well as to sow the Lavender, Coleus, Penstamens, and Holyhocks. We also gave the kids a seed tray each in which to sow French Marigolds, from seed we collected last year.
All this activity in the greenhouse meant we ran out of space, so I was forced to adjourn to the workshop to try and put together a second set of staging. I haven't forgotten that I was going to put some plans together of how to make one - I just haven't had time to do it yet.
By this time the sun was fast disappering, and the temperature was dropping rapidly. Having not checked the weather forecast I feared a frost and duely got the fleece out :-(
So dawned Sunday morning, with my wife racing off to the cancelled car boot - yup it was raining saturating the fleece if nothing else. It also looked like my well laid plans would be well and truely sunk. With nothing else for it I proceeded to the workshop to complete the staging - digging through my store for suitable material.
Staging completed we reorganized the greenhouse, finding room for at least another 3 seed trays, before adjoruning for lunch. By this time the weather was showing signs of significant improvement.
Duely fed and with overcast skies but no rain I proceeded to the allotment determined to get the potatoes in.
If you remember I'm working part of my parents-in-law allotment. I've been given the bed in the left half of what used to be the fruit cage - which I shall fill with Brassicas of various descriptions, and the short bed on the otherside between the Asparagus and the path (see photo below right). The gent gamely digging away in the background is my father-in-law who's trying to catch up after spending the last 4 months building his garage and shed/workshop. He's currently digging the area where his Broard beans, Beetroot, French beans, and carrots will go.
Having managed to get down to the allotment on Friday evening I only had about 5 feet of the potatoe bed to dig, which I achieved in just over an hour. My father-in-law had managed about 7 feet of the bed he was working, but then that bed has been worked for the last 5 years and had potatoes in last year - the bit I was digging hadn't.
Digging completed I got out the rake and levelled it off, whilst my father-in-law got out, line and measure to set the rows out for me. At 7'6" wide the bed in only just large enough for 3 rows, and I managed to shoe horn my remaining stock of pototoes, which had got muddled up when I dropped the box I was carrying them in, into the 17' of usable bed. You'll note the scoflding plank depressions I use to avoid walking on the bed.
Potatoes planted I retired home to sort out a couple of those odd jobs that needed doing, amongst them digging up the rasperry runners from where they escape the bed into the grass patch - one day it may become a lawn- and moving some of them into spaces in the bed itself.
In the fading light of eveing I then set about sorting out the tank I'd collected. One of the taps had been bent down, enlarging its mounting hole and creasing the tank, and the galvanised header tank was also still attached. A few taps with the sledge hammer sorted the tap out, so I could remove it cleanly with the angle grinder, and 10 minutes of careful work, again with the angle grinder saw the removal of the header tank. 20 minutes of work with a large ball pein hammer and a suitable timber block has repaired the creased area of the tank, so now all I need to do is find two suitable blanking fillets, and the tank will hold water again.
So that's it for this week. In parting for this week I thought I'd show you what the veg patch currently looks like. Not much to see really, although there are definate signs of peas coming through in the pea cage. So until next time, Waes Hael.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Its the weekend after Easter

With a fair wind this will be the first of a double update this weekend - hopefully the second will be mostly pictures so you can see what I've been upto.
No update last week because I was away on my other project - if you're curious.
Anyway things are now progressing. The potatoes I planted in Feb in the bins are now growing out the top - that's nearly 18" of growth in 2 weeks. I'm now desperately trying to get them earthed up. I moved the runnerbeans outside to harden off on Tuesday and since they're now nearly 12" tall I need to get them in the ground this weekend. I'll keep an eye on the weather and cover them with a fleece if it looks like we'll get a frost.
From the other plantings, all the sweetcorn is up with about 85% germination, I've had 90% on the sunflower seeds, and 80% on the rye. The second batch of lettuce and brussels are growing nicely, and the strawberry's that went in in early March are at last showing signs of doing something. I've still not got any peppers, and the second batch of Alicante are doing as badly as the first - although I've had three more from the first batch come up. I'll get a couple of Roma, a plum tomato, from the garden center in a couple of weeks.
The beetroot sown in the window boxes is putting on good growth, but why when you sow in neat rows do they come up all over the shop - I'm going to have to re-organize them over the weekend. I've also got good growth from the rocket, but the American Salad is refusing to do anything.
Outdoors, the onions are growing although a little slow compared to others at my mother-in-laws allotment. The first batch of peas are also starting to show through although its a little early to tell how good a germination I've got. As to the other outdoor sowings - still no sign of anything.
On the allotment front I'm 2/3 of the way through the potatoe bed. I need to get that finished this weekend so that I can get the rest of the potatoes in. It's going to be a bit of a squash but I need to get three rows in, so I may end up trenching them rather than digging holes and dropping them in.
Apart from that I want to get some more sowing done. I'm going to sow Purple Teepee (French Beans) in the rootrainers released by planting the runner beans, and split a seed tray, sowing One Kilo (Chinease Cabbage), Purple Sprouting, and Webbs Wonderful, each to a third of the tray. If I can find room I'd like to get in another couple of rows of carrots, and of course I've still to sow the old wheel barrow that worked so well last year.
I think thats about it - if all goes to plan I'll see you Sunday for another update.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Winter's Back and Seed Muncher's Revenge

Yes its been an 0dd week. 88 in the greenhouse yesterday and a short snow shower today - lasted all of two minutes. Forecast is for frost tonight but as it's still raining I'm not putting the fleece out; just hope the onions survive.
No sign of much else outside although there may be a hint that the peas'll be through in the week - hopefully later rather than early with the cold snap projected.
What ever is getting into the greenhouse, god only knows how, is really beginning to bug me. It's had over 40 runner beans, the same quantity of sweetcorn and sweet peas, and to cap it all it chopped off one of the cucumbers, after I'd potted them on, at soil level last night and then ate the leaves off every one of the pepper seedlings. I really can't afford to keep having to resow, especally the cucumber.
Anyway, my potates in their bins go from strength to strength. I've had to add 8" of soil to one bin as the potatoes in it reached nerly 14". Those in the second bin are an inch or so behind so I can get away with leaving those till mid week. It has however been a potatoe planting weekend. The trial Red Duke of York, first early, I planted both in another bin and in a row outside. I've also put in two rows of Maris Bard (remember my rows are only 8' long - the width of the veg patch), and two rows of garlic - my first attempt so we shall see what we get.
In the green house, apart from sealing every hole I could find, it's been pricking out time. I've done the chinease cabbage (primarily for the tortoise), lettuce (both Little Gem and Rusty), Cabbage (Greyhound), and the first batch of Brussels - I only had 9 germinate and three of those are rather weak. I want 16 so I can try the "block" planting technique which seems to be favoured at the allotments where my parents-in-law's allotment is - of which I'm working about a third this year. The wisdom seems to be, throw out the book and plant them 12" apart with a 24" wooden fence about them and a net over the top to keep the pigeons off. We'll see if it works. I've also repotted the courgettes, very carefully, into 6" pots - they'll go directly into the ground once the temperatures rise sufficiently.
With the day time highs, most of what was sown last weekend has germinated. I'm leaving the covers on though until I determine if I've cured the seed/seedling muncher problem.
Down on the allotment I've finished digging over what will be the Brassica bed, and raked two thirds of in into a fine tilth. It'll now have 3-4 weeks to settle before I need to plant anything. My next priority is going to be the potatoe bed. I'm away over Easter so nothing further will get done until the weekend after - I shall try and do what I did this week, get down on the Friday night after work for an hour or so and then, with no birthday party to interupt the weekend, I stand a chance of getting it dug over by Sunday evening - weather, wife, and kids permitting of course.
I almost forgot, as I'm using this as a diary I need to record this weeks sowings. So apart from the replacement cucumber (Prima), Runner Beans (Prizewinner), and Peppers (World Beater), there was also a second batch of Brussels, Little Gem, and Rusty, and 4 of the outdoor bush cucumber Marketmore.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Spring is Sprung

Hasn't the weather been good, intermitant showers and bright sunshine during the day and much needed heavier rain at night.
Apart from the weather other things are moving on. The onion sets put in two weeks ago are starting to sprout although there's no sign of carrot seedlings yet - put in at the same time.
I've now added another three rows of seeds, 1 row parsnips, 1 half row spring onions, 1 half row Scorzonera (Salsify), 1 half row perpetual spinach, and one half row swiss chard.
I'm still waiting for the potatoes to chit but what ever happens most will go in next weekend - I'm not waiting much longer.
Things are progressing in the greenhouse now I've fixed the broken lower panes to keep Albert (the mouse who ate the sweet pea and sweetcorn seeds) out. It means I've had to resow both. I've also sown Beetroot, Rocket, American Salad into the window boxes I had spare - these are sitting on top of the wall round the raised bed in the greenhouse.
As far as previous sowings go, the first batch of runner beans (sown early Feb) are now aout 3" tall with 4 goodsize leaves. One tray of the second batch are through, with about 80% germination - the second tray with a different variety are just starting to show signs of coming through.
My 4 cucumbers have germinated, but I've nothing yet from the peppers, tomatoes (Alicante and Tumbler), Strawberies, or Celery. The Brussel sprouts have had a poor showing so I've sown another batch. The Chinease cabbage, Greyhound, Lettuce (Little Gem and Rusty), and Onions (Brunswick) are all through so I'll be pricking out next week (I suspect). The Courgets only went in last week so I won't expect anything from them till next week.
Oh the other things that went in this week were Melons (first try this year), Sunflowers (mainly for the birds), Rye (again for the birds), French Marigolds (from last years seed), and Sovoys.
I've also made a start on the beds I'm taking over on my Father-in-Law's plot. With a bit of luck I'll finish the first bed (8'x18') next Sunday, Saturday's out - a "must attend" birthday party. This bed's actually for the Brassica's. Then I need to push on and dig the other bed which is for the potatoe overflow from home - probably the Maris Peer main crop.
Think that's about it for now - see you all next week.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Much needed rain

Why do we always complain about the weather? When its dry as it has been we always complainwe haven't any rain and when it rains we complain because it's not dry and it stops us getting on.
So it's been this weekend.
Saturday I managed to get one side of the pea cage assembled, then down came the rain and forced a halt to proceedings. I was then fored back into my workshop to resaw enough timber to create the rest of the cage.
Sunday morning was again dry and I started it the same way as I had done on Saturday, by sifting another 3 builders barrows of soil nto the raised bed in the greenhouse - I guess I'm about half done now. Then it was back to the pea cage.
With this completed I put in the row of peas and assembled the cage about them. I also managed to sow a row of carrots next to the onions.
After lunch, and my wife has had enough of the kids squabbing so I'm forced to take my son with me down to my father-in-law's allotment - they're turning about half of it over to me this year so I've got some digging to do. Of couse as I pull up there's to first sign of the arriving rain on my windscreen. Still press on. I managed about 40 minutes before the rain drove me back to my mother-in-laws for a cup of coffee.
Here's hoping next weekend is dryer - it can rain at night.
Oh and a name check for my wife, Elisabeth, since she complain I'd named the kids and not her good self. Happy Now?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Another day out of the office

As March draws to a close I'm being forced to use up the last of the current years leave - shame :-)
The plan for today was fairly simple, drop my son off at school, go down to my mother-in-laws, take a look at her allotment and discuss which areas I could use for my veg, then off down the garden center to get the compost for the raised bed in the greenhouse and the growbags for this years tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers.
It was then a case of deciding which job to do next. Prior to the greenhouse being where it is and it being a veg patch the area to the rear I had used as a dumping ground for all my grass sods and other rooty rubbish. I hadn't bothered to clear this when it was a veg patch and had only cleared some of it when I'd put down the footings for the greenhouse. This left the ground at the rear left hand corner a little high.

Now one of the jobs I needed to do was to install one of my unused water butts to save the water runoff from the greenhouse. Now I put all of my water butts on homemade wooden stands about 16" high - it makes filling watering cans easier if I don't want to dunk them. The stands sit on a paving slab laid on the ground. So to fit the butt I needed a stand, and to have room for the stand and butt I had some digging to do. I also have that raised bed in the green house to three quarters fill with soil before I add a mixed layer of soil and compost.
So four and a half builders barrows of sieved soil later, and an hour in the workshop the water butt is installed. Onto the next task, to finish the seed tray staging, or at least as much as I've spare timber for. That's another two hours gone - well I'm entitled to a lunch break arn't I?

Next on the list is the net frames to cover the peas. Back to my wood stack to see what I've still got left from the Ebay lot I brought last year. Then its time to start cutting, well until the table saw shuts down because it's getting too hot - I'm going to have to strip and clean it at some point, when I've got time.
I've still got and hour or so of daylight left so I think I'll get some onion sets in. They're going at the far end of the patch closest to the fence. I've not dug that area this year so hopefully I'll get a better crop this year. First I've got to move the anti-pigeon frame I constructed last year to keep the B****rs off the cabages, then extract the support I put up for the french beans, do a little weeding, apply rake, apply feet, apply rake lightly, form shallow drill with hoe along edge of board, place onions, lighty replace soil with fingers ensuring sets remain up right. Repeat with second row.
All in all a good day's gardening.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Trials and Tribulations

Its been a couple of interesting days. Yes a couple of those Chinese Curses sort of days. I duly rang the parish council on Monday morning - first question where do you live; Ah so you're not in the parish then - simple answer no chance unless hell freezes over.
So strike one. I then set about further researching the allotments managed by Bracknell council. There are some about as close to me as the Winkfield ones - the waiting list according to the web site two years. I'll have to see if I get a reply to my email as to what happens next.
My wife meanwhile had been taking to her mother - they have and have had an allotment in Sunningdale for more years than I've known my wife - and its our 15th Wedding Aniversary this year.
So this morning when I dropped my daughter off, I spoke to her on the subject of allotments. Now they're not working their allotment to its full potential and can offer me some space - at least enough to cope with the potatoes, brussels, and cabbages for this year - all I need to do is protect them from the badger(s), flock of Pigeons, and the more than occasional Muntjac or Sika Deer.
She's also spoken to the parish clerk and got me on the waiting list for a plot - which is interesting since up until last year there were at least 5 overgrown plots on the site. We'll see what happens.
Anyway I promised some pictures of the completed veg patch So here they are. The first one is taken looking across the gap between the end of the fence and the compost bin, which if you look at the second will give some explanation If you're wondering why the patch is fenced and sleepered then there are three reasons. The first is furry, weighs 22Kg and is named Remus. The second is smooth coated, stands 6'6" on his hind legs and is called Merlin, and the third is currently in her vivarium, can beat any hare you care to choose in a race and also the most dangerous as far as vegetables go - she's a tortoise if you haven't worked it out yet.
So now all I've got to do is wait for the weather to warm a little, the potatoes that are chitting to sprout, and build a couple of net cages to protect the peas from the local pigeons, doves, and sparrows and we'll be away.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Done Digging

It's been a loverly day, bright sunshine until well into the evening - a day when digging in a tee-shirt was a necessity.
Anyway the digging is over now for this year - apart from possibly trenching the potatoes ; that's if I the grass grows so I can cut it and bung it into the trench.
I've also completed the edging and fencing which means it should now be tortoise proof. That's how my brother got her in the first place 26 years ago. For the third year in a row she'd broken into her former owners vegetable patch and cleared it of nice young juicy seedlings. She's only broken into mine once during high summer and the only damage was to flatten the marigolds and leeks.
I'll try and get out with the camera first thing in the morning and take a couple of photo's. Taking pictures directly into the setting sun is never a good idea which is why I didn't do it this evening. It maybe Tuesday before I get to edit this post and add them though.
I also managed to get into the workshop and start on the additional staging for the green house. The design should carry 13 seed trays and with a bit of luck I'll have it assembled and installed next weekend.
I also managed to get out and take a look at that water tank in the skip - unfortunately they'd cut it up when getting it out so no use to man nor beast. Whilst out I also dropped into the Winkfield allotments which are the closest to me. Had a chat with a couple of the allotment holders. Seem like a nice bunch. Unfortunately there are currently no vacent plots, in fact the parish council have been asking if any of the holders would give up half their plots because of the waiting list. It's a nice site so all I can do is add my name to the waiting list on Monday and hope it's not a 5 year wait.
The other thing to come out of today's good weather is that I now know both the automatic window openers on the greenhouse work so that's one expense I won't be incurring. I'd like to be able to grow through the winter but that means incurring the expense of a biogreen heater, change-over regulator, and a couple of gas bottles. Come October I'll have to see whether we can afford it this year. Since the green house is 10'x12' I'll need a 4KW heater, even with insulation.

Nearly Done Digging

Perhaps an odd title for a first post but then I've nearly finished digging the new veg patch.

As the blog description says this is just a diary of what I've been doing. At some point I'll update my main web page "Vortex's Veg Patch" with stuff I've posted here.

As tomorrow (today) looks like its going to be another fine dry day I should get the digging finished.

I also need to think about additional shelving for the green house. With 3 additional trays planeted with Runner beans and sweet corn in tubes, 4 trays for the mix of lettuce, cabbage, onions, plus the trays of lupins, mezmaranthiums, and others that my wife planted we're going to rapidly run out of bench space. And before I forget there's the 6 6" pots of marigolds and the previous half dozen trays of stuff planted 3 weeks ago.

We also repotted a number of the bay trees. This particular variety is a prolific root sprouter and one of the young trees yielded an additional 3 cuttings. Hopefully with them in the green house this year whatever took the shoots out last year won't this and the main tree will put on some growth - its still got some way to go to reach the 6ft tree on my father-in-laws allotment.

I've also been looking around for bins for the potatoe crop - I'm not going to have space on the patch for all that are chitting. The local cheap shop has dustbins at £8 a pop which should do the trick. I must also try and get out to see if I can rescue that water tank off the skip. If its ok that'll give me another 40 gallons of water storage.

As I've just noticed the time I suppose I should get some sleep ;-)