Sunday, 2 December 2018

Very wet and miserable

They've been saying for years that Winter is coming. Winter is here and it looks very wet and miserable down the plot.

We're not overwintering anything in the ground*, and we only have a few strawberry plants in the green house. Other than that there is no real reason to visit the plot on a wet Sunday.

Except of course to drop off our collection of peelings, coffee grinds, orange rinds and other assorted detritus that accumulates when you're veggies who usually make their own meals. Since we can't get down there during the week, we have to amass everything for a single trip to dump in the compost bins. So by the end of the week things are starting to get a little smelly. We could just throw it all in the food bins here at the flats, but why waste useful goodness? Everybody should be composting, no matter what time of year it is.

* OK, we have Chard, but that grows in the bed irrespective of what is happening to the rest of the world. And there is the Strawberry bed. And I suppose you could count the fact that there are onions growing as well.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Old woodchips and manure

We've had a welcome delivery of composted manure to the allotments. Just in time for setting the beds to sleep over winter with a nice healthy dose of nutrients.

Obviously we're keeping a couple of beds free for our root crops of carrots, beetroots, and attempting turnips again. But the sweetcorn beds from this year have received about 3 wheelbarrow loads and will end up as courgette beds next year. They'll love that.

But also the Wife insisted on dumping some of the manure into her flowerbed ready for next yeah. No harm in that. But what really intrigued me was the floor.

When I built the flower bed, I put down weed membrane underneath to keep out the brambles and bind weed. This worked. (Sort of. A few incursions but they were easily dealt with.) But it also meant that I could dump a shed load of woodchips down as the walkway. Well underneath the top layer, they have all started to compost down into a decent humus. And if the number of earthworms buried down there is anything to go by, then that's some decent stuff.

Time to start digging.

I raked the old woodchips to the front. Making sure to use the back of the rake to stop the tines from digging into the weed fabric. Then sieved them to extract the soil. Apart from a shed load of sunflower seed husks (can't think where they could have come from), I ended up with a barrowful of good soil. Just right for topping up some of the beds.

I guess I'll have to get more woodchips though to ensure that my paths are nicely topped up. All around the plot at the moment there are small mushrooms popping up, which shows that there is a lot of fungal action going on breaking down the woodchips and returning the nutrients to the soil.

It's a matter of debate as to whether digging up the paths is the right thing to do. Some say that you should leave the woodchips in place the breakdown and then let the rain wash the nutrients down into the soil naturally. Some say that it should be dug up and used directly. I don't know which is the better choice. But in the flower beds, the roots of the flowers don't get down far enough to benefit from leave the stuff in place. So digging here doesn't matter so much. Around the veg beds, I think I'll leave the stuff there.

Good. Because my back is killing me.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Dead, dead, dead

We had a heavy frost last week. We were hoping the Cape Gooseberries would survive enough to ripen. But no, they took it pretty hard.

The flower bed has also finished.

And finally the grapevine. It didn't really succumb to the frost, it just the end of the line for this year. So it's time to give it a drastic haircut.

Now whilst digging out the root stumps of the Cape Gooseberries, something else died. Alas my poor old trusty fork took one leverage too many.

Good job it's end of the season. But I'll need to get a new fork before next season starts. Wonder if they'll have new year sales on garden tools.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Know your onions

Parts of the UK are having some terrible weather. But here in London it's been nice a sunny and warm. Albeit a bit breezy.

We've never really had much luck with onions. But we keep on trying. Either because of stubbornness or stupidity, not sure which. So here we go again with a different variety of onion to see if will fare any better.

These were being sold off cheap at the local garden centre so I thought I'd give them a go and see how well they do. After all, it's not likely to get much worse that our previous attempts.

Other than that, there's not a lot doing down the plot at the moment. We've cleared out most of the beds, leaving just carrots, beetroot, strawberries and Cape Gooseberries in place. We've got some grass that's made itself at home in the various paths, so it needs to come out. But of course, it's couch grass which is the perennial nightmare of allotmenteers.

But I'm sure there will be plenty of other jobs over the winter time. There always are.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Clearing beds

End of the season, and time to clear up the mess. We wanted to get stuff done yesterday (Sat) but the weather put paid to that. So instead we worked today to get things cleared up.

The outside tomato beds need to be cleared and cleaned. They're definitely a mess.

After a couple of hours, and more than a few of them actually deciding what to do with the squashed tomatoes, they were looking a lot clearer.

Now the biggest issue is that there were a few weeds in these, but we didn't want the tomato seeds in the beds. So that means we have to dig out the squashed ones, which means losing top soil which we really didn't want to do. After all, it's damn good soil. In the end we decided not to bother and we'll make sure we pull any rogues next year. The whole lot, including a few spadefuls of soil went into a strategically placed compost dalek. Hopefully the worms can do their job over winter and we can just dig and sieve the soil straight out again next spring.

Mean while whilst digging through that lot, I found a few more courgettes and marrows.

I thought we'd finished with the all last week. But no, it seems they're still coming thick and fast. However that it the definite last of them... apart from the ones we're keeping for seeds next year.

On the subject of surprises. We had a couple in the strawberry bed. Late bloomers anyone?

We had to be extra quiet down the plot today, so as to not disturb the Vulpine Overlord who decided that the afternoon sunshine was just right for a nap.

Sweet dreams Frankie.