Thursday, April 29, 2010


Yes, I've slipped back into the old ways and failed to make proper records, at least for the past 3 weeks. So I suppose I'd better start with tonight's planting. With 5 weeks to go till the end of May, and supposedly 3 till the last frost date - at least for us, I've sown 4 rootrainers of Daniels Defiance - my heritage runner bean. I've also sown one of Bridgewater (climbing french bean), one of Brightstone (dwarf french bean), and one of Duke of Albany (heritage pea). I've also sown one tray of each of my open polinated sweetcorn, a red corn called "Strawberry", and a popping corn called "Blue Hopi".In addition last night I finally managed to get round to sowing the seeds I rescued from the supermarket pumpkin.
Now to attempt to catch up with what is where. I've got second batches of greyhound and all-year-round (cauliflower) on the legde in the greenhouse. I've also got what's left of the all-year-round (lettuce) after the mice got at them, in the same place, and a tray of Lanro (Kohl Rabi).
In the cold frame are trays of Brightstone, purple teepee, mangetout, and either purple podded or Duke of Albany peas. The trays of Hurst green shaft and ?????? I planted out on the plot the weekend before last. At the same time I put one row of rooster and one row of cara potatoes in. My memory is now confusing me because if I'm right the "Crimson" heritage broad beans were sown 3 weeks ago direct into the ground.
If I am right on these dates, then I also sowed carrots and parsnips in the garden. These are now about 3/4" tall seedlings, although if the weather forecast is anywhere close to right keeping these alive over the next week may be a challenge.
This also applies to my tub grown potatoes and the lilies, all of which are now outside and have been for most of the last 3 weeks.
Also outside are the remainder of the onion sets, sown in module trays about 10 days ago. These occupy the top shelf of my coverless mini-greenhouse frame. Beneath them are trays of brussels, one each of Early Half Tall and ????, one tray of greyhound, and one tray of calebrese. Hopefully after the weekend the Romanesco and All-year-round cauliflower I pricked out Monday night will have recovred enough to also go outside to harden off.
This just leaves the 3 short rows of Mayan Gold planted in the garden veg patch on Tuesday night.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hard Graft

After a rest at Easter, down at the Wychurst Project, laying 4m3 of concrete to try and secure the site gates and then helping to put down the first 30m2 of wooden floor - that's excavating the soil, putting down brick sleeper walls, then a timber deck, then the foor boards - I spent the weekend on the allotments digging (just for a change).
Friday and Sunday afternoon, after a visit to the Wokingham Beekeepers Assosication Apiary, saw me on the Bracknell plot. The first task on Friday was to clear enough space to transplant some of the self sown Salsify to the adjacent bed as it's in the way of this years potatoes. This meant diggin this section of the bed then leveling. It also enabled me to treat the remaining section of the bed with Armillatox so I can plant my remaining onions in about 3 weeks.
Sunday, saw me weeding last years french bean bed, the newly constructed one, to stop the weeds gaining to much of a hold, then transplanting some more of the salsify, before catching up with weeding the over-wintered onions. I estimate I've lost about 30% over the winter. It was then back to digging this years potatoe bed, before emptying the plasters trough, so I can use it as a composting space for couch grass and bind weed roots - it's my aim to be able to tackle the final strip down the edge of the plot where I've dumped all the couch and bind weed to date this year.
I've about 8 ft of the bed left to dig so with a fair wind this weekend I should get the Maris Piper and PFA planted.
Saturday (afternoon) saw me sweating heavily in the glorious sunshine on my Sunningdale plot. I managed to dig a strip about 4ft wide about 2/3 the way across to plot, so again with a fair wind I should be able to get a row of Cara or Estima and a row of Roosters in this weekend.
Saturday morning I'd actually spent emptying the green house so I could then spray the inside with a strong Armillatox solution. Hopefully this will kill off any malingering powdery mildew spores which did for all my cucumbers and melons last year. I also must make a greater effort and get and install a louvre window to imporve air circulation at the end of the greenhouse most badly affected.
On the record front I've now sown Black Russian, Green Nutmeg (heritage Melon), Marketmore, and Gardeners Delight in the propogator. The sowing of Tumbling Tom has been a disaster an I think I've 2 plants surviving - much like the previous sowings of Marketmore and assorted melons. All the previous sowings in the propogators, including the mint, have now been removed and the Super7 switched off.
Using this as a resevoir I've sown another batch of Greyhound and another batch of All-Year-Round (Cauliflower). This is not to be confused with the All-Year-Round (lettuce) also sown. In addition I've also sown Kohl Rabi (Lanro) and Sweet Basil.
What I now need to do is try and catch up with some of the pricking out, including getting the remaining onion sets into modules.
I should also not that I sowed French beans Brightstone and Purple teepee last Thursday, and have tonight moved both lots of peas (the first sown ones) to the cold frame.
All the lilies and tubs of potatoes are also now outside, and most of the potatoes have required earthing up. If nothing gets caught by a late frost I should have potatoes in about 6 weeks.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Frantically Paddling

No it's not a reference to the weather, but rather one to the serene swan gracefully sailing down the river, all the while it's feet going ten to the dozen frantically trying to keep it on course. So that's me the serene plot holder, frantically trying to find the time to get everything done.
My Sunningdale plot progressed a little further at the weekend with the installation of the wooden edging down 75% of the long edge, the digging of a 4ft wide strip down the entire length of the plot, and the planting of the first two rows of potatoes - one row of Maris Bard and one row of Charlotte. Only another 5ft strip and 2 more rows to go here then, that is of course ignoring the two rows on my father-in-law's plot and the two rows on the Bracknell plot.
I also managed to get about 2/3 of the onion main crop planted, 3 10' rows each of Sturon and Red Baron. Now all I've got to worry about are the brassicas and where to put the remainder, remembering I need 3 weeks between treating the Bracknell plot with Armillatox and any planting there.
In the greenhouse I'm faring almost as badly, a combination of lack of time, poor germination of old seed, and my little furry friends eating seed and digging up seedlings. As a result I've had to plant 2nd batches of Alicante, Moneymaker, Marketmore, World Beater, and Honey Dew melons. This is only possible due to the high temperature in the last week enabling me to clear the super-7 propagator. In addition I've planted the remainder of last years Sunflower seed and some more mint - maybe some of this will germinate and stay alive.
The Peas planted two? weeks ago are showing signs of germination, so I've sown 2 more lots, one of my heritage Duke of Albany, and the other of the new mangetout purchase Carouby De Mousanne. I'm now also going to have to start seriously thinking about sowing french and runner beans.
Lastly I've sown carrots, Early Nantes and Autumn King - one short 8' row of each, and 2 rows of parsnips in the garden veg plot. I can only hope I get some germination and the slugs don't eat them all. I don't have very much success with either of these crops.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

For the Record

Just a quick post in line with my new improved attempt at keeping better records.
Over the past week I've moved various things out of the propagator, last Monday (the 15th) the Veg Spaghetti cmae out with I think 100% germination, then on Saturday I removed the Sweet Heart (75% germination), Telegraph (75% germination), and Butternut (100%) germination although I think I may lose one of these.
In the available slots I've sown Turks Turban, Pepper (Nardelio - Heritage), and another variety of butternut squash. I must remember to find some space for the pumpkin seed I saved.
In root trainers I also sowed Purple Podded and Hurst Greenshaft peas. I was going to sow mangetout but discovered I'd run out then ran out of time today, after having to replace the nearside trackrod end ball joint on the car after it failed it's MOT. What is more interesting is that they apear to have chalked the draglink ball joint which has a split gater but there is nothing on the observation report about it. I'm now going to have to replace this before I submit the car for a retest.
With a fair wind and some decent weather I may be able to get the first of my potatoes in next weeked. I can't make up my mind whether to put my onions in or not at the same time.

Monday, March 08, 2010


Yes, this is a reference to the last post, and not recording what I've sown and when.
After the week of reasonably fine weather the plots have dried out but not to a substantial enough degree to consider serious digging. With all the immediate jobs sorted on the Sunningdale plot, I managed to get down the Bracknell plot on Saturday afternoon.
Expecting the over wintering onions to be buried under a sheet of weeds I pleasantly surprised to find the beds comfortably clean, although I recon I've lost about 30% over winter. Not having to weed the onions meant I was able to tackle a few other jobs, digging over the bottom corner bed and removing the couch grass and bind weed that had invaded it, pruning the raspberries, digging out the volounteer jerusalem artichokes, and stripping out the dead brassicas. I also managed to get about a third of this years potato bed dug over - all I've got to do now is coincide available time with the right weather and I can get the manure I need for the plot.
Sunday was principly taken up with a group craft day and battle practice, which at least proved I wasn't quite as unfit as I believed myself to be, or perhaps it just showed how unfit some of the rest of my group are...I'll leve you and them to make up your own minds.
What I did manage to find time to do was get in the greenhouse and fill the propagators, so here goes with the 11 varieites I managed to plant, melon: Honeydew and Sweet Heart, tomato: Super Roma, Alicante, Money Maker, and Tumbling Tom, squash: Butternut, pumpkin: Veg Spaghetti, courgette: Defender, cucumber: Telegraph and Marketmore.
I also rescued the brassica seedlings moving them from the propagating bench and onto the much cooler raised bed - it's getting surprisingly hot in their these days when the sun is out for any length of time; a fact that has not failed to escape the notice of my lilies which are doing their best to be in bloom by the end of April.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Must Try Harder

No this is not a reference to getting down to the plots, that's very much dictated by the weather at the moment, and as my Sunningdale plot currently looks like a small version of the Great Lakes, I'm not even going near the Bracknell one.
No the must try harder refers to maintaining propper records of sowing times and results. I was trying to work out when I sowed the onion sets in modules last year but can't find any reference to it. I might leave it another couple of weeks with the aim of planting out in late April - I must remember I need 3 weeks between treating the Bracknell plot with Armatilatox and planting out.
Despite all the rain, and it was last nights downpour that flooded the Sunningdale plot I have been able to get somethings done. I've managed to sort part of the top end of the Sunningdale plot out, allowing me to construct another compost bin. This means I've been able to move all the leaf mold to this one, and turn all the rest of the compost into the bay this freed up. The end result is I have 2 turned heaps and a completely spare bay.
I've also managed to complete all the weeding which has also revealed I can't remember what the middle row in the over-wintering onions bed is; other than it's an allium of some kind.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Once more unto the Allotment

The question is has the weather turned or is it just lulling us into a false sense of security? My asparagus at least seems to think spring is here which means I'm going to have to get something of a shift on in getting the bed weeded - I managed about 6 ft today, but then that wasn't today's primary job.
The job for today was to clear last year's brocolli bed, dig it through, and plant this years garlic and shallot crop. Rather than going fo 3 rows of each this year, I've only planted 2 rows of garlic, and therefore 4 rows of shallots. Whether any of them will actually get used is a different question entirely.
In the greenhouse, things are progressing slowly, but the signs so far are better than in previous years - I've actually managed to germinate my Mammoth Onions. If the weather were warmer I'd be able to prick out the Brocolli and Cabbage seedlings, but for the time being they're just going to have to stay in their tubs under a cloche cover. So far joining them are both onions and leeks, sown 3 weeks ago.
Now I have space in the propogator, I can sow Cauliflower, Radichio, my heritage onions, and brussle sprouts. That's a job for tomorrow, along with harvesting more of last years tub potato crop, and replacing them with a selection of the currently sprouting potato's I have. All these are last years harvest as this years seed potatos have just arrived and been put into trays to chit.
It doesn't seem possible that in 6 weeks I'll need to be planting them. Doesn't time fly?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's that time of year again....

When I specifically make time to write entries in my blog. If you've just discovered this blog then I use it mainly as an aid memoire for future reference, something I can look back on to know what I was sowing and planting out the previous year. The problem is I don't always record the outcome, and from the lack of posts last year higlights this problem.
Whilst on that subject I should make a few notes. The potato crop was good, and I had no problems with blight. Millipede, worm, and slug attack meant I completely lost about 5% of the crop, with another 30-35% requiring a good "Hack" to leave usable potato. I sort my crop after drying it for a few days, and we finished the "holed" potatos just before Christmas. At our current rate of consumption we should have enough potatoes to last until the end of April, requiring us to only buy those need for my son's cookery classes at school - apparently potatoes only come from supermarkets.
Other crops did equally as well, our heritage runner beans were superb, and I now have enough seed to grow only these this year. Equally my heritage dwarf and climbing french beans did really well, and I now have enough seed to grow this in "crop" volume this year. My normal sowing of frenchs beans were a mixed bag. The early crop of Purple Teepee did okay, not as well as the year before, but the harricot variety did better. The later crop of both was pretty dismal however. The Blue Lake sown around the rose arbour did really well, but the blauhilde sown under my sweetcorn did appallingly - about 5% germination from fresh Thompson & Morgan seed.
The sweetcorn itself was pretty poor, and most of it ripened whilst we were away in August. The courgette crop was poor but I did much better on the squashes, even if 4 of them went rotten before we could get to eat them.
My over winter onions did well on the Sunningdale plot, but really badly in Bracknell, and the lack of a decent hot spell to dry them in the summer, meant most went rotten before my wife could be bothered to use them. My main onion crop was pretty much a disaster everywhere, but the shallots and garlic did really well, resulting in my best crop todate - now all I've got to do is persuade my wife to actually use them.
Early and mid season cabbages were good, as were the cauliflowers and calabrese, but all the later ones either failed or got wiped by the "white cabbage" plague that appeared in late August.
And so onto this season and my pending appointment with the greenhouse to plant onions, leeks, and possibly early cabbages. This does remind me of the one outstanding job I need to do, which is to spray the place with Armilatox in an attempt to kill off all the powdery milldew spores which decimated the cucumbers and melons last year. The problem is I need it to be a nice 14 or 15 Centigrade before I can do this. It's a job that'll just have to wait.