Thursday, 29 May 2008

There's a catch

I got some doors from freecycle. I took off the hinges and handles and I've fitted a handle and catch to the greenhouse door. It was a long time coming, but the door feels complete now. We have used the greenhouse so much and it has worked so well that I think I'll extend it this autumn. If I make it twice as big it will be just about right. It should be easy to do, much of the frame can still be used, it will need a bit more plastic covering and an extension to the base. We'll see how easy it turns out to be. I'll be using the doors for cold frames, compost bins and storage bins, but first we need to continue clearing up the legacy of the awful weed bed near the hedge.

We had a general tidy up, hoeing and the like. I topped up the water tanks since the rain was not much and there is none forecast for days. Everything is doing well, with more beans growing in the greenhouse. Jean

Monday, 26 May 2008

Rain, what rain?

Rain was forecast for today. It's rained heavily in the south for a couple of days, but not a drop here. There's a promise for tomorrow, but each forecast shows less and less. Our water tanks are running dry, which, as it happens, has been useful. I emptied one tank completely and disconnected it from the pipes that join them all together. The frame it sits on had settled a bit so I raised it on a couple of bricks to level things up. In the process I found a little leak where the pipe joins the tank, so a rubber washer made from an old inner tube seems to have fixed the problem.

Now all we need is rain to fill the tanks again.

Thursday, 22 May 2008


The extra water has encouraged the last asparagus crown to send up a spear, so now we have a full house.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Get out

The plot looked very dry, so today I watered it from end to end. I also topped up the water butts since its about a month since we had any decent rain. I will try to use one first to empty it because I want to raise its stand a little to match its mate and level the base which has settled under the weight. It holds 210 litres which is a fifth of a tonne.

We took the plunge and planted out all sorts today. We looked through the greenhouse and made our choice. The biggest leeks went out into deep holes which were simply filled with water. The surrounding very fine earth was washed back in, but there is still a hollow which will love some more water over the next few days. The little spring onions were pricked out directly into the plot and watered in. The beetroot seedlings were just showing their first true leaves, so they went out too. The runner beans were bursting out of their pots, so they went into the plot already prepared with a net for them to climb. I soaked everything that was planted and I'll do it again tomorrow.

We have already sown some extra runner beans, though I'm not sure we'll need them, and some extra broad beans which we certainly have space set aside for. We will sow some more spring onions, some more beetroot and start our first fennel. We moved our pots with chilli seeds in to the greenhouse were they will be warmer and so might sprout.

All of the tiny tree saplings we planted have sprung into leaf. So now we have rowan, whitebeam, oak and hazel trees in the margins. I'd like a lot more.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Stawberry fields forever

The strawberry beds are both covered with netting, supported with stakes. I really am looking forward to these berries, I've only ever managed a couple of tiny strawberries before. The nets should keep the birds off, but the slugs might have a party yet.

We get mains water from two sources, both have tanks with float valves, but one also has a screw fitting that a hosepipe can be fitted to. Both tanks are about the same distance from our plot - so we are the furthest from water. I tried to set up a siphon from the tank without the hose fitting which is scarcely used. It just about worked but the fall is so low the flow was no more than a trickle. A pump would make it work well, but for now I'll stick to the hose fitting. So far this year we have only used rain water gathered from the shed roof, but if the lack of rain continues we may need a top up.

Thursday, 15 May 2008


I built the frame for the runner beans to climb. A couple of wooden poles, with a wire across the top and some wire guys. A plastic net hung from the wire and fastened to the sides completes the space for the beans to grow. I then knocked in some stakes to support the flourishing asparagus plants. This took longer than I expected so I didn't cover the strawberries. They are smothered with flowers so I must cover them before the berries ripen, but there's time yet. The odd little bit of bindweed was pulled out - we really must keep on top of the stuff.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Tidy up

We went to tidy up - some hoeing and trimming the edges of the path around the plot. Runner beans are sprouting so we will need the frame up for them to climb. The asparagus is growing fast and it needs some support, so a frame is needed there too. The strawberries are covered in flowers so they need covering to keep the birds off before the berries ripen. The parsnips and cabbages are growing well. In the greenhouse the spring onions are sprouting and beetroot are coming along too, so they will be ready to put out in a few weeks.

The auto watering system for greenhouse tomatoes and peppers now has an outline design and some bits tested. I helped a neighbour to remove some spyware from her computer and give it a general tidy up, so she is getting me a car battery from the garage she runs (the old battery I had is kaput). I bought a windscreen washer pump from a scrap yard for £5 which works well, so I think I have everything I need, so no excuses. I'll build two boards, one with the 12v stuff on it and the rest with the 5v stuff on.

Thursday, 8 May 2008


We've been up to water in the greenhouse - things were ready for water it's been warm and sunny. I watered the asparagus and checked how it's getting on - there are now eleven out of the twelve plants showing, with the first shoots about 30cm long. Some are a bit spindly but they've got a year to fatten up. I watered the parsnips in the bed. They're a bit puny, but they are growing.

I've done a bit of work on the auto watering system, my embryonic timing system seems to work, so now I need to test the motor switching, the timing control system and the indicators, then it needs testing, then ruggedising and installing. Then it might work.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Rhubarb for tea

We popped up to water the stuff in the greenhouse and decided some of the parsnips were ready to go out. Two more trays were put out, with one more tray still in the greenhouse. The bed looks as though it will just be the right size for the job.

We sowed spring onions in a tray, beetroot two in a pot and runner beans one to a pot and put them all in the greenhouse. I measured up the netting for the beans to grow up. I've got some wooden posts to support it and, like the sweet peas posts, I'm going to knock in some older posts and screw the new ones to them so the new posts don't rot too quickly. The netting looks a good size. We have grown runner beans at home before, with about four plants producing loads of beans. We've planted twelve beans so if they all grow we should be able to pick them small before they get woody and still have lots of extra beans to give away.

We picked our first rhubarb. We cooked some and gave some to my parents. I've offered Jack next door some and he is keen. It's just as well people like it, there is loads. This autumn we should dig up the crowns and split them to renew it.

We had a good weeding session. As I expected the bindweed from last year is making a comeback. I have carefully followed the roots to dig it out, but some breaks off to fight another day. There are a few nettles too, but they're easy to dig out. The planting beds look quite weed-free now.

I have seen in the Parish Council agenda that the report on the state of the allotments is due to be delivered on Tuesday. We'll see if anything comes out of that. Almost all of the plots are in a good state now and there is a waiting list.