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 ;-)