Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Seeds galore and an intruder.

I looked at the plan and looked at any seeds I still have from last year. I needed some new seeds. I've stuck to some old friends like White Lisbon spring onions, Sturon onion sets, Boltardy beetroot, Apollo spinach and Musselburgh leeks. I tried Bunyards Exhibition broad beans, Ferrari French beans, some unnamed autumn broccoli and Incredible F1 sweetcorn. For carrots I want some variety, but I bought some Autumn King 2 for now. This lot should get me started.

The ground is drying out a bit and the weeds are starting to stir, so it will soon be time to turn the top soil and prepare for planting out, but the early sowing is under way at home.

The rabbits seem to be under control for now at least.

Do you know who's boot matches this print?
Today, my shed door was open. I don't lock it - that just makes more of a problem if someone is determined to be in, but I do fasten it shut in a particular way. My subtlety was not needed, the door was swinging in the breeze. Inside the wooden box I keep hand tools and small bits in was open and I can't find my small hand-weeding tool and my big hammer. Other tools seem untouched. In the ground near the shed there were a couple of footprints, clearly not mine and the tread seems to match other prints I've seen before when things were disturbed. It seems we may have a regular visitor - I wish he would scare away the rabbits.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The plan

I have laid out a plan for this year's planting. As always it is probably only an idea and things may change, but having a plan helps focus the mind too.

The layout is a little different as the lines run along the length of the plot, rather than across the width. I'll see how this looks on the ground, as I plan to mark the plot with pegs. I will adjust this plan of course, I always do.

One consideration is that some parts of the fence are step-over while some are higher. It makes access to some areas easier and so I might move things around when I've looked at that.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Closing the gate

Repaired gate
The winds blew down one of my gates in the fence around the plot. I took a substantial wooden post that is tanalised and some tools up to repair it. The gate itself is fine. It is suspended above the ground by its hinges so it doesn't sit on the wet ground, and is, therefore, not likely to rot in a hurry. The old fence post, on the other hand, simply rotted off at ground level, as they tend to do eventually. The ground is wet and soft, so digging was very easy. I put a new post in, cut to length and screwed the gate hinges to it. I reinforced the post with a steel angle iron support and screwed the post to it. I hope it will last for a few years now.

The rabbit holes that I filled in are still filled in, so that seems to have been successful, but I found another one. This was carefully hidden in the hedge bottom and the pile of spoil that I thought had come from the hole I filled in, now looks more likely to have come from the newly found hole. I shovelled a good load of the spoil down the hole and we'll see if it gets dug out over the next few days. If not, them more cement will complete the job.

I took a quick look the hedge bottom along most of the north side of the allotment site and there are obviously other rabbit holes, only one of which has fresh-looking droppings outside of the hole. I don't know enough about the habits of rabbits to know if that is significant or not.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Cementing relations

Rabbits have been present around the plot all the time I've been there, and probably much, much longer. The previous tenant seemed to have buried old glass panes on their edge near the hedge, when we dug them out I couldn't understand how they got there, but not I suspect it was an attempt to stop the rabbits burrowing into the plot from the bank behind the hedge. It was a very unpleasant task to dig the glass out and it didn't stop the rabbits.

There are a couple of rabbit holes behind the compost bins and I've been watching them all week. The rabbits have dug up into the bins in the past, now they can't because I dug out the bins and lined the bottom of them with strong wire mesh, so now they surface just behind the bins. I've been watching the holes for over a week, putting dead sticks and leaves across the hole to see if it is being used and nothing has moved. Since I doubt they have stayed underground all week, I concluded that the holes are not being used at present, so today I fought back.

I dug up the pile of very sandy soil they have left as a spoil heap and mixed it with cement powder, one part cement to four parts spoil and tipped this dry mix down the hole where the spoil came from, followed by half a can of water. The holes are not quite filled flush to the surface - I'll do that later if all goes well. Tomorrow I hope to visit and find a solid fill where the hole was before. This does not mean the diggers can't just dig a new hole next to the old one, but if they do, I'll take that one on too.

In other news, the chairman's shed has been righted and the post supporting some fruit bushes that the shed blew onto has been replaced. In the lighter winds yesterday the gate next to my greenhouse has blown over, which does seem odd. Maybe the real damage was done in the earlier, stronger winds. I've put up a frame over the gap temporarily and I'll take some tools and a new gate post up to fix that properly in the week.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Wind damage

Wednesday's storm largely passed us by, I only have a broken fence post. The next storm is on its way, but so far so good. The chairman's shed didn't do quite so well: it blew over. It's much too heavy for me to right and the next storm might blow it over again anyway.

Monday, 10 February 2014

A quiet start

The mild, windy and wet winter is not yet over, but today felt like it might be. It was a calm, warm(ish), sunny afternoon so I went up to the plot to see what the winter has done. The ground is, of course, very wet and I don't want to destroy the structure of the soil by walking on it any more than I have to.

I hand-weeded the asparagus bed. It is easy to get at the weeds when there are no stems at this time and even though it is a small patch, just tidying that up makes the spring seem closer. I added some blood, fish and bone fertiliser which the rain forecast overnight will wash in nicely.

The ever present rabbits seem to have moved in to the bank behind the hedge, so a bit of work will be needed to encourage them to move on again.

The remaining leeks are now woody and need digging up. The purple sprouting broccoli has no flower buds yet but it looks strong and healthy. The rhubarb has some buds that are pushing through.

Now I need to draw up some plans and get a few seeds in pots.