Monday, May 26, 2008


Sometimes things go right. With frost forecast last Monday I had two choices, do nothing and hope, or attempt to run round and try and cover everything up. I chose the later and thankfully fate smiled on me. Whilst various other plots on both the Bracknell and Sunningdale site suffered minor damage to potatoes to devastation of an entire row of runnerbeans I escaped with no damage to anything.

I had hoped to get more done this weekend but the weather had other ideas, especially today. On Saturday I did manage to get all bar one tray of onions in; I would have planted them as weel but found them lurking in the coldframe when I got home. I also managed to get all of my maincrop potatoes earthed up on both the Sunningdale and Bracknell plots. The one thing preventing me from having space available on the Sunningdale plot is not being able to earth up the International Kidney. Whilst the maincrop are all 12" out of the ground, the Internation Kidney are barely above it and they went in two weeks earlier.
I also managed to get various bits of digging done. On the Sunningdale plot I put in an hour and got another 6 feet of what will be the next raised bed done, then I went down the Bracknell plot and put in another couple of hours. I managed to get the top end of the 3rd raised bed in place, broke up the pile of sods I'd created at that end a month ago, then started in on the pile of couch, bind weed, and globe artichoke's I'd created last year when clearing the first bed. Having sprayed it last summer 90% of it's dead and composted nicely, its just the remaining 10% that is growing like crazy that's giving all the problems.

I hope I now have a solution, having taken my original square compost bin down to the plot, and installed a heavy duty wire mesh half way down, to turn it into a dryer. Everything coming off the moon pile is getting loaded in the top in the hope it gets cooked in the hot summer sunshine, assuming we get any.
So that was pretty much everything up until last night. I went out early this morning in the rain, picked up a few supplies, then returned to the workshop to cut timber for a pair of new protection fences for the Bracknell allotment. I can then shuffle the existing ones about and get another 20 of the sweetcorn in.
The rest of the day, up until about 4:30 was then spent twiddleing my thumbs and watching the rain run down the windows. By about that point it had eased off to a drizzle and I opted to get on with the big job of repotting the asparagus. It's all pretty much done noe having taken just over 140 litres of compost mix, 75 litres of fresh multipurpose, 5 litres of old compost as a bulker, 30 litres of topsoil, and 30 litres of my home compost - although this is more like topsoil than multipurpose.
Now I just need to get that digging finished and that raised bed done so I've got homes for my brussel sprouts and the rest of the sweetcorn. I must also get around to sowing some more lettuce and remember to get it out of the greenhouse before its gets too leggy to be usuable.
Last on the list is a quick run down on this weeks photos. From top to bottom, the Sunningdale plot from the bottom left - potatoes in foreground, bean frame behind, then the bean and pea framework - there are still a couple of nets missing, the plot from the bottom right - calabrese in the foreground, early cabbage and calabrese behind, and lastly a low shot of the shallot and garlic bed. I did have one of the asparagus and the liles but I took these tonight and in the low light the digital couldn't cope, so I'll have to wait until the weather improves.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Racing Against it - Again.

Yes I know its a bit of a recurring theme, but that just seems to be the way its is.
No matter how much of my weekends I spend, and for the past two its been about 11 am till 5pm on the plot then until about 9pm in the greenhouse both Saturday and Sunday, I don't seem to be able to keep up. It probably wouldn't be as bad if I already had frames and covers and raised beds already built or available but getting to that point seems to take forever.
Anyway I have managed to get some things done as you can see from the photos. I'll try and take some on the plots at the weekend so you can see how things are progressing there, rather than relying on my descriptions. I now have the runner beans in, the first batches at least both at home and on the Sunningdale plot, which means I've also got the frames up and the bean trench done. As things stand I've 30 of my home grown beans in alongside the greenhouse, planted 2 per pole. These are an Enorma derivative I think, saved year on year for the past 3 years. I've another 32 in the greenhouse if they all germinate that I sowed about 10 days ago. In the front garden I've a wigwam of the 10 Daniels Defiant that germinated. With the house between the two types they shouldn't cross pollinate. In an attempt to stop this on the allotment I'm putting peas in between the two varieties, Scarlet Emperor and Painted Lady, although I've only got the modern peas (Kelvadon Wonder) in at the moment. Can't remember what the heritage variety are but I must get around to sowing them. So far I've only got 9 Painted Lady in (I only had 10 seeds) and 12 Scarlet Emperor, although I've supposedly got another 32 in the greenhouse, although having sown them 3 weeks ago they're being very reluctant at the moment.
I've also earthed up my first earlies at home, filled most of the tubs to try and keep up, and done half of the second earlies on the Sunningdale plot. The main crop could have used it but I was just too shattered on Sunday to do it. I just hope the frost hasn't got at them too badly.
On the Bracknell plot I've put all of the French beans in, 50 in total a mix of Purple Teepee and an unnamed variety from B&Q (I think). I was supposed to put the Mangetout in as well but I don't have enough deer fences made so they've had to go in at home. I've also filled up the space quota available for onions, which means 90% of the sets are in. Now all I've got to do is find space for the 120 seed sown ones and the 160 leeks although once I've earthed up the potatoes on the Sunningdale plot I think I'll get a chunk of them in there.
Also on the Sunningdale plot I've got 18 of the Calabrese given to me by a friend in Wokingham in and 9 Kohl Rabi. I've also got 9 of the Brocoli(Olympia) grown from seed in, with the remaining space in that bed reserved for Cauliflower, when it arrives from Marshals. I'm actually disappointed with their early Calabrese and Cabbage, as mine are doing much better, especially the greyhound I sowed in early February.
Now if you think thats not enough, I've just completed planting up the greenhouse, with this years tomato, cucumber, and melon crops. From left to right, and back to front we have Tasty King and Telegraph, Black Russian, 2 Alicante, Sweetheart, 2 Telegraph, 2 Early Sweet, 2 Supa Roma, and 1 Black Russian. I've still to sort out the Marketmore and Moneymaker for outside, and the peppers desperately need potting on - along with a whole gamut of other stuff.
I've also put the first of the sweetcorn in for this years 3 sisters bed. This uses up 20 of my 100 seedlings. These were in the greenhouse and getting too big. The others have been outside and are slightly smaller. The race is now on not only to sort out space for these but also for the rest of the cabbage and brussel sprouts.

Anyway to end I'll just round up the remaining photos. At the very top we have the raspberry patch. As you can see I don't do anything to train them other than provide a wire to stop them falling over in the autumn when they're heavy with fruit. What you can't see from the photo is exactly how far they've escaped into what we laughingly call the lawn.
At the bottom is an update on the potatoes/lilies. The shot of the single bucket didn't come out as well as I'd hoped. I had wanted to show what a healthy bucket of, in this case Estima, looked like when a standard potatoe bucket is planted with 3 seed potatoes.