Sunday, 11 April 2021

A matter of Life or Death

 Last weekend, the Bank Holiday weekend, was pretty sunny. This weekend was... well not sunny but not overly miserable either. But between then and now there was some downright miserable weather. Not rain, but temperature wise. It got cold. So cold in fact that we had a frost.

So I have the new sweetcorns growing in a row of plug tray on a shelf at the end of the greenhouse. And sprout they have done. Pretty much all of them have sprouted. Of the 54 planted (2 trays of 3x9) all but about 4 had started. But that frost must have hit them quite bad, because the ones nearest the eaves of the greenhouse got some severe frost damage.

Really though, it doesn't matter too much. It's still early in the season, we still have plenty of sweetcorn seeds from last year's kernels, and we already have a load of extra plants anyway. So a few here or there is nothing. 

But even though it's been cold, that hasn't stopped some of the other seeds from galloping away.

This is the Snowball Turnips and the Pak Choi. They're going great guns. Soon I'll have to consider transplanting them. The Pak Choi will be put into the green trays for the other greenhouse, whilst the turnips will be put into one of the beds outside. Yes, I know the seeds say "sow outdoors" but really when you have foxes walking over the beds and cats scratching them up as well, I'd much rather give them a bit of an indoor start before raking the beds flat and planting them in.

But one set which will definitely be remaining in the greenhouse will be the cucumbers. Unlike last year when mousie had a good rummage into them and we were only left with two, this year we have at leats 4. There are two other packs of 4, but I've yet to see signs of them.

Here's hoping.

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Seeds, Seeds and more Seeds

 With a break from regular English tradition, it's a Bank Holiday... and it's not raining. Despite a cold wind blowing, it's blue skies and sunshine, so time to keep warm and sit in the greenhouse planting up loads of seeds. This time it's Edamame, Soya Beans, Peas, and Crown Prince.

The Beans and Peas were done with the old toilet roll trick. Well not quite, I had run out of actual toilet rolls, and used old coffee cup holders. These had been sitting in the shed for the past three years, but were still perfectly viable.

And of course, the old milk bottle were cut up for label and as temporary use as a water holder and support for the odd number of left overs for the Beans. The packet said there were on "average 50 seeds". So I'm guessing somebody ended up with 25 seeds if the average is anything to go by.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

3D Printing for the Plot

I've had a 3D printer for a while now. I'm a big table-top board gamer and got the printer so I could make additions and improvements to the various games I own. I also made the mistake of printing specialist Lego parts for my neighbours children and they now keep peering into my window asking me "What have you printed?" At least I managed to give them some custom printed stuff for their respective birthdays.

Now Prusa is currently running a competition for Gardening Tools, which got me thinking about prints for the Allotment. There are definitely some needs here. First off, we have just had new gate locks fitted at the site to make it a little more secure. The old locks were simple padlocks wielded to a metal chain attached to the gates. Well the padlocks saw quite a bit of abuse over the years and the new locks are much better. As a result we have new keys, so I need something to distinguish the allotment key from my house key. Here's a simple keyring. (Placed along side one of my warning signs of course). I couldn't choose which colour combination I liked best. The Orange/White combo is good if you happen to drop your keys at dusk. But pretty much any combination of colours works.

But that begs the question what else could be made for the Plot?

Plant Labels? Yes there are numerous types there. It's dead easy for me to create labels of all shapes and sizes with OpenSCAD. There are also loads of clips, hooks, fittings and fasteners for Greenhouses.

I suppose I could also make some warning signs.

So what would you want making for your plot? Leave a comment below, or if you want me to make something for you, then get in touch.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Police Action!

OK, I apologise for the click-baity title. But life was pretty noisy on the plot today. There were a lot of sirens on the roads around the allotment and a Police Helicopter overhead. Guess they think I was planting something dodgy.

In fact I was planting a whole load of seeds. Courgettes, Pak Choi, Tomatoes, Beetroot, Turnips, and a selection of flowers from old seeds. Not sure if the flowers will germinate, but if they do it'll keep The Wife happy.

We have a new seeds rack in the greenhouse. Somebody was throwing out an old shoe rack (or something) so I swiped it. After all one mans rubbish is another man's treasure. Not the first time I've done this. So now we have a seed rack.

But of course we still have the benches and the shelf at the very back of the greenhouse.

And those old milk bottles are doing well as plant labels. I came across a potful of old labels that were under the shelves and the were somewhat fragile. The UV has obviously got to the plastic and made them very brittle, so much so that any slight bending of the label and they shatter into multiple pieces. Those old things ended up in the bin and the trusty scissors made a whole load more labels. It's not like the old labels cost anything anyway. A lot of seed companies give them away when you buy your seeds. But of course it's the pens which are needed. Still haven't got that chinagraph pencil that I wanted. But at least the Police can't accuse me of wasting resources.

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Time for Compost

 Like last year, there is a supply of compost available for a limited time only. So there I was bright and early to stand in line (masks at the ready) to get a few bags of compost on my rickety barrow.

It would seem that I wasn't alone. As this is effectively the start of the growing season, and we're severely lacking in manure and woodchips (just like last year) everybody wants a bit of compost.

So, yes we started some of our early seeds today. There are still a lot more to come, but we may as well get some of them on the go. Although we're very likely to get other batches going in a few weeks time.

A lot of these are old seeds, so it doesn't really matter if they don't germinate. It's no great loss. We've been digging through our back catalogue of seeds and found a lot of old ones. Some had an expiry date of last year, but I'm guessing they will still be viable.

Now one thing I saw on a Youtube channel a while back was converting 2litre milk cartons into "self watering" plant pots. Well I tried cutting one up so the specifications and... I don't know. It just doesn't look viable to me. There are are so many issues with how it looks.

You're supposed to put the soil and plants in the middle section and then the water gets added through the gaps in the side. not sure of you can make them out in the photo above, but to me it just doesn't look right. I'd much rather stand my pots in a tray and fill the tray with water. Yes it might be a good way of recycling the plastic, but I'd much rather chop up the bottle into plant labels. Which reminds me, I need to get a better pen to write on the labels. Look at the Nasturtium and Okra labels above. Somewhat blurry and faded. But they give you an indication of what's planted.

But I need better labels for when we really get started. Maybe I should invest in a Chinagraph pencil?