Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Stormy shed

My allotment shed roof is leaking. It is a chipboard panel roof covered with roofing felt. The roofing felt has split and some has blown off. The rain has penetrated the chipboard, so that is probably a right off. Water is not running down the walls, but chipboard is not very resistant to any water.

Covering a roof with roofing felt needs a calm day and a warm day helps a lot. On a cold day the felt is prone to crack. I have decided to wait until the spring to repair the roof, so I've covered the dodgy felt with a tarpaulin. There are bound to be some winter storms; storm Barbara is already forecast for later this week. I hope the tarp survives until I'm ready to repair the roof. I suspect I will need some plywood to make the roof sound before the new felt goes on.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Leeks and Sweetcorn

It was warm, sunny and dry today. Two days ago it was very cold and windy but now June seems to have arrived.

I had leeks and sweetcorn in the greenhouse. Both looked ready to plant out.

The sweetcorn is the second batch. The first batch have suffered in the cold and with some pest damage, but still look a bit bigger than the second batch. I have  nice block of sweetcorn now, let's hope there's enough warm days to let it mature.

The leeks are my one and only batch - it's not worth staging leeks they stand so long in the ground that they can be taken when you're ready, unlike sweetcorn which needs to be taken when it's ripe.

I weeded the sweetcorn patch (again) and lightly dug the leek patch. The leeks are planted by making a hole and popping the leek without its soil from the pot into the hole. The hole is not back-filled, but filled with water. This washes fine soil into the some of the hole and covers the roots of the leek. I use an old handle to make the hole.

Gary is laid up at the moment. He uses an old petrol lawn mower to keep the paths around our end of the plot cut. He asked me to cut the grass, so I pushed his mower around in a few minutes. Then the wheel fell off. I need to fix it in the next few days before the mower is needed again.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Catching up

I've not been adding blog posts recently, but that doesn't mean the plot isn't thriving, it is.  The weather has been decidedly cold in April, with frosts at night and cold, wet days. May has had a warm, sunny spell, but now is back to cold and surprisingly windy for this time of year. The weather is a mess.

The broad beans are thriving, with flowers on many of them. They are where I grew potatoes last year and I must have missed a few as potatoes are springing up around them. I'm going to try leaving both plants where possible and see what I can harvest.

I have planted out cabbages and broccoli, covered with a net and with some slug pellets around it. The slugs and snails are quite bad this year. Yesterday I added some calendulas, or pot marigolds, under the netting as companion planting. I'm sceptical about this, but I had a few left over from planting at home so I thought I'd try it. They are supposed to repel slugs but even if they don't they will look good.

I've planted out three butter nut squashes and they have been attacked by slugs. I have just sown three more seeds at home in case the squashes succumb to the slugs, though they would be a bit late.

Parsnips are doing very well. My usual way of germinating them and growing them on in paper tubes has worked, though a few perished in the cold - I think I planted them out a touch early.

My first batch of sweetcorn is out and has also been attacked by slugs. The second batch is hardening off. I hope the staggered planting will give a longer harvest - let's see what happens.

Onions are looking strong, asparagus is quite good, but not prolific, maybe it's too cold for it. The fruit bushes are laden with flowers and embryonic fruit. It could be a great year again. I've taken plenty of rhubarb and more is growing again.

Climbing beans are through in pots and will be ready to harden off soon. I have the canes set aside to build a frame for them.

Leeks are almost big enough to plant out. They are looking particularly good this year.

It's not all good news. I sowed some beetroot and spring onions. Both showed small signs of sprouting but now there is nothing at all. I'm going to sow some more along with some carrots which I hope do better than last year.

I've been keeping the weeds down quite well this year. Last year, about now, it started to get away from me and then it is much harder to deal with weeds, especially if the ground dries out. Using a hoe in damp, soft ground is quick and pretty effective.

One area where the weeds are rampant is in the new hedge between the plots and the field. The young hedge is being swamped with cleavers. I've cleared it from behind my plot but it's spreading again. I can't spray it as that would risk killing the young hedge, I'll just have to try harder.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Potting and sowing

I planted four rows of onion sets a few days ago. Since then it has been warmish, with a couple of cold, but frost free nights and one day with a lot of rain.

I finished digging over the ground and pulled up some purple sprouting broccoli that were badly eaten and not producing any florets. The few remaining ones don't look good either.

The cabbage and broccoli sown at home are looking strong. The broad beans sown at home have all sprouted and I've taken them up to the plot to harden off in the cold greenhouse. The brassicas will follow as soon as they have their first proper leaves.

I sowed some leeks in a tray at home and the usual hairpins are pushing through the soil. A few have straightened up often with the seed case on the end of the green sprout which looks like a little hat. They will need potting on in a couple of weeks or so, as soon as they can be handled.

Today I've sown some sweetcorn, with some left as a backup, and some butter nut squash, again with some spares as a backup. I'll certainly sow more sweetcorn even if this batch all germinate but staggering it a bit might spread the crop a bit. I really like very fresh sweetcorn but when it all ripens at once it is too much to handle.

I have potted many of the flowers into small pots and today I sowed lobelia and asters which both need some heat to germinate.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Salads away

I decided to sow some spring onions and beetroot today. I sowed a short row of each with more room to sow another couple of rows of each to try to stagger when they will be ready to eat.

The parsnips look OK after being planted out. I watered them and watered the seeds I sowed too of course. I snapped a few pictures:
Parsnips are growing outside
Rhubarb is sprouting

Gooseberries are opening

A wren came for a look at plot 18

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Banking up

Another sunny day tempted me to plant out the parsnip plants. I hope it's not too early. They looked good in their paper tubes but in the ground they look very small and vulnerable. I turned some more of the soil so there's probably about a third of the plot still to go. While it was a nice day I decided to bank up the potatoes which should help them stay safe from frost.

I have some cabbage and broccoli sown at home in pots and I sowed some lupins and calendulas too.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Too early for earlies?

I dug some more of the ground over today and decided to bite the bullet and plant my early potatoes. I've planted a row of first earlies and a row of second earlies. I hope it's not too soon. They will be fine underground and as the ground dries and warms they should grow, but if they surface and there is a frost they could be badly set back. I haven't banked up the tubers yet so the moment a leaf appears I'll pile up soil on the row to help protect against frost and give more space to the new spuds to grow in.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Bean race

There has been a lot of rain (and some snow) in the last week and a half, but now the forecast is set fair. I decided to sow broad beans today. I had a discussion a few days ago where Dave asked what I do if things don't germinate. My answer about broad beans is that they are tough as old boots and always most of them grow. Today I had second thoughts. I decided to have a bean race, sowing two thirds of the beans direct on the plot and the remaining ones in pots at home. I think the ones sown in pots will probably germinate quickest, but the shock of planting them out later may hold them back, so which ones will win?

I also hand-weeded the asparagus plot, which should be showing shoots soon. One thing I quickly noticed is how much warmer the ground is from a couple of weeks ago. It must be time to get going now.

I have potatoes chitting at home, some first earlies and some second earlies. I want to get them planted in the next day or two, they are all ready.

It looks like spring is about here, it certainly felt like it in the sun on the plot today.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Gary Wins

I've started to turn over the ground on part of the plot. I want to sow some broad beans which will be about ready to grow now.

I have only turned a small patch so far to be ready for the beans. However the winner of the prize for most ready for the Spring goes to Gary Charles, as you can see below. 

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Parsnips pushing on

The parsnip tubes are flourishing as they usually do.

I've sown some spinach and radishes in pots to stay at home. I'll sow some more on the allotment plot in a few weeks.

There has been a frost most nights for the past week. This should have polished off a few pests. The ground is still wet and cold, so I'll wait before turning most of it, but I need to get on with sowing broad beans soon, so I'll be turning the patch for that in a day or two hopefully.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Flowers too

The parsnips sprouts have started, I've now got a dozen in paper tubes with little parsnips in them in compost with more seeds on damp paper to encourage them to sprout. I sowed some spinach in pots today to keep at home and hopefully produce enough young leaves for a treat in a few weeks. I'll sow some more after the first batch show for another early crop.

I also sowed some flower seeds. Some stripy gazanias, some pillar box red salvias and some yellow african marigolds to go with the antirhinums I sowed a few days ago. The flowers are for the garden which looks a bit better now snowdrops, hellebores and aconites are all in flower. There's lots of daffodils to come and few other bulbs like grape hyacinths growing too.

This is a great time of year.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Mini dig

The cabbages are finished. they have been small but very nice. A chunk of crisp cabbage has brightened up many of my winter meals.

I went up to the plot to dig over the space where the cabbages had been, which only took a few minutes. Weeds are beginning to grow and the lack of any really cold weather has left slugs and snails untouched - this year could be a another bad year for slug damage. The thermometer said 5°C, but with not much wind and a glimmer of sun it felt quite pleasant. The ground is still quite wet and easily becomes mud when it gets walked on. I'm glad I put some boards down where I usually walk. I need to hand-weed the asparagus patch and pick out a few of the worst weeds elsewhere, but most will wait until I turn the ground for planting, which won't be for a few weeks yet.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Wooden leeks

This morning the short cold spell broke, but the rain started again. By mid afternoon the rain had stopped and the sun was out so I popped up to the plot. I wanted some leeks and a cabbage. Digging a couple of large leeks was quick and easy now the frost has gone and the ground is very wet. I chopped off the very muddy roots and bagged them to take home. There are a few small savoy cabbages left. The hearts are small but very crisp and tasty.

When I got home I cleaned and trimmed the cabbage which was fine, but the first leek was woody and even a bit rotten. The second leek was fine, so I have some leeks for this evening. I'm going to have to examine the remaining leeks as I dig them on the plot and throw away any rotten ones, to avoid disappointment when I get them home.

The rest of the plot looks as I would hope at this time of year. It's much too wet to walk on - I have planks to walk to the leeks and cabbages. I wonder how much more rain we will get before the spring.

Monday, 18 January 2016

A few weeds

I finished digging over the plot two and a half months ago. The winter has been very mild and damp until the last week. I popped up today, as I was passing, to see that all is well, and it is. There are only a few weeds on most of the plot, though the asparagus badly needs weeding. It never gets dug over, like ground around the fruit bushes (which is also weedy), so weeds are still a problem. Hand weeding is the only answer, as always.

I'll begin sowing a few seeds at home for parsnips and leeks soon, but the plot will look after itself for a few more weeks.