Sunday, 30 June 2013

What's in the bucket?

I was reminded the other day about a certain bucket I have sitting underneath the shed. Once which was last seen filled with stinging nettles and water. That was a few months back. So... what's in the bucket?

Answer: a hole.

Yes it seems that some of the water has drained out and a mould of some sort has taken over.

This was my attempt to make a nettle plant food for the plants in the greenhouse. They always need a little extra nutrients. Especially as a couple of the plants (mostly the Yellow Courgettes) are looking a littleyellow in the leaves. There is a couple of inches of green liquid in the bottom of the bucket which is probably the remains of the nettles compost tea. Mind you, it is pretty smelly. But it does seem that this has done the job.

Mind you, there are other things around here which are turning yellow. Such as my Nasturtiums. But I don't think that is because of the lack of nutrients, more likely it is because of the huge amount of black fly that is infesting the leaves.
They can have some of the nettle tea too. Diluted in a watering can with rain water from the butt and it should give them all a little extra boost.

Remind me to keep the greenhouse door and windows open. Did I tell you how smelly it was?

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Bind the Vine

The Grape Vine is struggling. Not so much with growth, because that has really taken off, but with support.

Over the years it has basically been neglected, so it's strong growth has gone off in allsorts of directions, none of which are good. So trying to nurse it back into a decent shape and growth pattern is kind of hard. But one thing it does need is support.

And that is why I positioned my shed right there. The shed will become it's support. So I basically wrapped the shed in two lines of wire. Fully around the bottom half, and only half of the top. I left out the part where the top wire would cross the windows.

The wire is supported by eye bolts screwed into all corners and the wire wrapped around those. This should give it support and also has the added benefit of holding the shed together... my handy work was not the best when I put it up. I blame the fact that I was trying to erect it in almost sub zero temperatures.

Meanwhile the artichoke has rocketed since I took care of the blackfly problem. It stands nearly 6ft tall now. It's hard to see the scale in the picture, but I am almost eye-to-eye with those nicely forming flower heads.

Some thing else has taken off like a shot. That damned bindweed. In the spot between the beds and the "mound" it has gone rampant.

But there may be a solution. A new toy came into my hands in the form of a brushcutter. It doesn't really belong to me, as I bought it on behalf of the allotment committee. But since they haven't yet paid me back for it. I'm going to let rip.

It's really needed to sort out the paths and walkways. But if we ever do another plot clearance then we're definitely going to need it. Especially if we have to clear this one.

Much fun to be had by all.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Peas grow faster than sweetcorn

So my thought was that I would try a "three sisters" planting method, but instead of beans, use peas. When I planted out the sweetcorn I dropped a couple of peas into the rootball so that they could grow up the sweetcorn as it grows.

Nice idea. Just one problem. The peas grow faster.

So now my corn is being swamped  Which means I need something to support the peas. Fortunately I loads of wood left over from when the silver birch was cut down outside my house, and I have jute string. So I built a framework to support the peas.

Meanwhile the raspberry bush that I have sort of ignored has managed to grow and produce a nice crop of flowers. Unfortunately it is right next to the path and makes walking past a little difficult. So I pulled out my trusty Stanley knife and whittled the ends of a couple of sticks into a nice sharp point and jammed them deep into the ground. Again with the jute string and now it's not so floppy. It probably won't survive a really windy day, but it'll do the trick for now.

And finally the apple tree seems to be coming along nicely. There are loads of apples growing of the branches. Hopefully a few of them will make it to full ripeness.

If they do all survive, I guess I'm going to have to supply the office with fresh apples as there is no way I can eat them all.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

A horrible miserable day

Well it wasn't first thing this morning (8am) it was nice and sunny. But the clouds rolled in as the day progressed. Fortunately I have work to do inside as well as out. But lets start at the beginning.

First thing I started on the weeds. The bindweed is trying to take over, so every little piece that I find peeking up through the mulch has to be pulled. It's not a nice job but it's got to be done. And on the subject of pests, I now have a new source or irritation. My artichoke has been growing well since I cleared and mulched around it. It's started putting out the artichoke flowers. But there is a problem. The green fly seem to have made their home in it.

I guess that tomorrow they are going to get a severe dose of washing up liquid spray.

I also managed to start trimming some of the borders that surrounds my plot. As well as doing the entranceway into the allotments. We have ordered a strimmer for the allotment and I am awaiting delivery. However in the meantime, those long grasses need culling.

And now comes the rain. So I head into the greenhouse to shelter and stick the kettle on. I have to plant out the chillis....

and courgettes (which are looking a little sorry for themselves) into bigger pots.

I meant to do this a week ago, but didn't manage to get round to it. But at least the basil has survived it's transplant and has taken off like a shot.

Now here's a strangeness. I planted some mint into seed trays ages ago, but only half of it grew. Something else grew in the other half of the seedtray, but I have no idea what it is. So that also got transplanted into it's own pot. I don't think it's edible, but does anybody know what it is?

Kettle's boiled. Time for coffee. Does the cup give things away?

And now as I sip my coffee I look out over the plot. Will the rain stop?

Saturday, 1 June 2013

A multitude of creatures.

And I'm not just talking about the ones clearing the plot.
We have a number of plots that have been handed back. So we really need to get them cleared of their weeds and such to be handed to new owners (I wish they had done this to my plot). So we organised a work party to get clearing.

The first plot we tackled had layers of weeds. Layers? Yes, at the bottom was weed proof membrane. Then came a few layers of carpet. Topped off with black polyethylene. Whilst clearing this mass of matted weed roots, we disturbed a few creatures which had made their homes there. Apart from the normal ants, wood louses, spiders and frogs. We came across a few others which are not so well known. Firstly a very sprightly Stag Beetle (who didn't want to sit still to have his photo taken, so excuse the blurry photo.).

Followed by a family of voles evicted from their chewed up carpet remains. There were three babies in all (two shown). We actually moved the whole nest to a sheltered spot. Eventually we saw a couple of bigger voles - we assume parents - and guided them to the general area of the new home.

And finally a lot (and I do mean a lot) of slow worms.

Meanwhile, over on my own plot, it seems that those rats with wings (aka Pigeons) have been at my peas. They've nibble the leaves somewhat. Hopefully they should recover and give me a nice selection of goodies to grow up and over the adjacent sweet corn.