Sunday, 16 February 2014

Sow it begins.

Not much has happened on the plot since my post, it has only been three day, but I was told by a friend that potatoes like a bit of potash in the soil, it helps in crease the crop. They also told me the best place to get it was at the poundshop (trift store). Well for a quid it's worth a try. You only get a kilo, but I was plenty to scatter on the beds that need it. It just needed to be forked it lightly and while doing so I pulled out a few weeds I had missed. That in itself was worth £1. While I was there I needed to check on my cold frame. The night before we had gale force winds and I wanted to make sure it was OK. I'm happy to report everything is fine and dandy.

Today I went to fetch the potatoes from 'The Hut'. First early which are Rocket and my main crop of Maris Piper. They have both gone in my cold frame at home in old seed trays for chitting. They are in separate trays and raised off the ground.

While my hand were dirty, I sowed a few seeds in modules using my own compost made in my dalek bin. The metal bin is for the overflow and the yellow bucket just makes it easier to handle. So what did I sow? Leeks, Savoy cabbage, cauliflower and cucumber. I always put at least two seeds in each module. I also tried a few more parsnips using the same trial as last week. The reason is that I used some old parsnip seeds,  I have since found out that they don't last as long as others. 

Friday, 14 February 2014

Crystal Palace.

The Victorians had the famouse botanical greenhouse called the Crystal Palace, now I have my own version of it. Although to look at it, you would think it was a cheep 'Snow Whites' glass coffin. This is how it came to be.

Even before I put the big Perspex sheet over my 6x2 Garden Connect plot last Sunday, I was told there was a good chance that it would be blown away and end up on someone else's plot. The author of 'The gardening adventures of Suffikboi' was one of the people who warned me and is also taking part in 'Garden Connect'. So to start with, I weighed it down with tubs of pebbles and stones hoping the would be enough. The next available day I had to make a more permanent solution was Thursday. For the next three days I had been making plans, thinking and rethinking ideas. I had bought from another plot holder some two metre lengths wood that had been pretreated. Each length cost me £1, a bargin. Wednesday night saw the worst storms to hit the Midlands in years, so I didn't hold out much hope for my Perspex. But I was in luck, not only had it stayed in place, the soil wasn't as waterlogged as the rest of my plot, even though there were no sides. Thursday morning I gathered all the tools I needed to build a basic cold frame. It didn't take too long to build and I am surprised how sturdy the frame is. The feet of the frame are also wedged into the soil at least six inches deep, so its not going anywhere soon. So here it is, along with the tools I use cordless drill and all. No electricity was used, the only power was me. The total cost was a staggering £2. Even the screws I used were reclaimed when I ripped out my old kitchen. I'm not trying to be all Eco friendly, I'm just cheap.

This is my cordless drill

On Sunday I will be fetching my potato seeds. As I've said in the past, I've never planted early potatoes, so I'll be asking lots of questions. Till next time and thanks for reading

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Busy doing nothing.

If there were CCTV cameras around my allotment site, it would look like I haven't been doing anything at all on my plot. But like the proverbial duck on the water, I've been busy at home and out 'n' about getting ready for the new growing season.

What a mess

Beyond repair?

So where do I begin? I started by trying to sort out my greenhouse issues. My current greenhouse, with it's ill fitting cover, had been blown over by the wind again even though I had tried to weigh it down. I was wondering how I would get any seeds started this year at all. But on a shopping trip for seeds, my wife saw a bargain of a small greenhouse and just had to get it for me. She never liked the look of the old one. Next was to sort out my cold frame, a piece of perspex was to be thrown away at work, but I managed to save it from the skip. I only had enough for one side of the cold frame, but it's done the trick for now. I must say it all looks a whole lot better now.

That's better

Next on my 'To do' list was to get some posts for the fence I need to replace. I have already got the fence, broken pallets from work, but I can't use the existing posts. Firstly, they are too far apart. Secondly, they are all rotten. While walking to the local shops, I saw some large fence posts in a skip. So today I went and asked if I could have them. Walking back home on one of my trips, a neighbour saw me, asked what the wood was for and gave me another post he had that was in his way. After measuring up, I managed to get 15 good 40" fence posts.

My scavenged post.

The Garden Connect planting scheme

I now have all the seeds, bar one, for the Garden Connect project. The only one missing is the lemon cucumber. But that has been ordered for me via the internet. I have made a start planting. The tomatoes and peppers are in the new greenhouse. It does say 'Grow indoors', but I don't have the room or want the mess that goes with it either. I have plenty more seeds if it is too early. I also read a tip on starting parsnips off. Put the seeds on a wet kitchen paper, then place it in a Tupperware tub. When the shoots start showing, they should be OK to sow. Anything's worth a try.

To the left are some Early Peas

I did manage to get to the allotment for a moment today. I had an idea that if I could warm the soil somehow, it would help the seeds and seedlings get going. I have inherited a large sheet of corrugated plastic, resting on bricks and that over my 6x2 plot with something to stop it blowing away then with any luck it should keep the frost away. I also made use of all the stones I dig up.

Well that's it for today. Sorry for all the photos. The most I've ever had in one post. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Garden Connect.

At last, it's February 1st and it's announcement day for 'Garden Connect' planting scheme. This is the idea of Matt Hiemstra, he's the man with the plan, click on his name to find out the full details and all the gardeners involved.

So here it is, the diagram above is the layout. It's not all set in stone, if you wanted to get involved but can't find, or would rather plant, a certain variety then feel free. You could leave comments on my blog regarding what you've done and how, your progress, good or bad and by comparing with others, you can give other gardeners ideas to improve their crop or get ideas for yourself. That's one thing I've found out by writing this blog, people can leave comments and the gardening community around the world seem all to happy to give advice that might help.

Tomorrow I will be looking to buy some seeds. I have got some on the list and I'll try my best to stick to the plan, but I may have to swap some things, because to be honest, I've never heard of lemon cucumber and I've only just found out about nasturtiums. I'm off now to see what I actually do have and make a list of what I need to buy. Till next time and thanks for reading.

I've finally made the beds.

This is how much of a novice I am, I've been referring to my six, crop rotating BEDS as SQUARES. I feel such a fool. I do know what beds are in gardening terms, it's just never occurred to me to call them BEDS. When I talk to beginners at the allotment, I often hear 'I've learnt a new skill today' and proceed in telling me about it. With me, I seem to find more ways of being incompitant. If it wasn't for 'Spell Check' then I don't think I would ever have started a blog.

So, to my main point, I have finally made ready all of my crop rotation beds. Yes I do need a few more slabs and there is every chance that a few weeds will have been missed and will grow back. But at this moment, compared to last year, I am way ahead. All the netting and wire arches have been removed from the brassica bed, as too have the weeds and clumps of grass. I even took the foot pump with me to put more air in the wheelbarrow tyre. That made it easier wheeling barrow loads around corners and up steps, only one step, but I did do it a few times. Most of today work was done in the rain. It started off as a few spots and finished as a downpour. But I really am determined to have something to show for by the end of summer. The photo above is taken from the path and planted on the left are my onions and to the right I'll have sweet corn, peas and squashes. The middle two beds are where the brassicas will be and finally, the root vegetables will go in the last two beds. I've always tried to stick to this plan, but one year, the weeds had got the better of me and things got planted where there was space. As you can see, I'm back on track.

Last weekend, the family and I went to both Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon. Both places we have been to before many times, so no souvenirs were needed, just a nice day out. I did come back with something, a bag of onion sets and some seeds, peas and beans. I know I can get them back home, but when I saw the onions, 100 for only £2.50 and the variety that I want, sturon, the peas and beans where only £1. I've never grow either peas or beans before so that will be interesting. I do feel like I don't switch off from the allotment, but in a good and excited way.

I'm hoping to find out what the planting scheme for Garden Connect will be tomorrow. As soon as I know, it will be up on my blog. I'm just hoping that I can get and grow everything listed. Hopefully till tomorrow and thanks for reading.