Saturday, 29 April 2017

First the blight... now the frost.

At some point during the last week our central heating kicked in. I mention this only because our CH temperature is set at 10°C. So probably that night down the allotment we must have had a frost.

So today after our monthly bread club meeting we popped to the allotment to check on things only find a dead mess. Our sweetcorn... dead.

Potatoes... dead.

Courgettes... dead.

Even our courgettes inside the greenhouse... dead.
(And our Tomatoes, top left... dead.)

Our only saving on this disheartening day is our strawberries. At least they're thriving.

We do have a couple of courgettes in our old greenhouse which were mixed in with the strawberries and seem to have managed to survive. And we have more sweetcorn seeds, so we can recover those. But on the whole today started off really well with a large variety of bread rolls that we all baked to try, but the day turned into a real downer after seeing all this.

We certainly down feel like doing anything at the allotment today. But maybe tomorrow we can start to re-build.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Blight? Already?

So today when I went to the plot I noticed that some of the rogue potatoes growing had black leaves. Tell tale signs of blight. :(
(Apologies for the blurry pictures.)

Needless to say, they got pulled immediately. Others in the bags seem to be OK though. I think it's because it's been so dry recently. We've had no rain for nearly a month which seems to have let the blight spores dry and get blown around.

And for more bad news, the Courgettes that I planted out two days ago are already suffering the effects of slugs.

On a more positive note though, the sweetcorn went out today.
But this should produce an interesting grow bed. Mr Mousie had been burying some of my courgette seeds in a cache. One of which seems to have been put in one of the sweetcorn pots and has sprouted. So it looks like we might have a rogue courgette growing in the middle of the sweetcorn bed. No big deal. It's similar to the infamous "three sisters" growing method.

Although the strawberries are going great guns, the Wife is starting out in another Empire. Last year she grew Cape Gooseberries. Well she kept some seeds from them just to see if they'd germinate. Yeah, they did. And now she has a "few" seedlings.

So I guess we're going to have to find a planting location for these once they grow up too.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Busy as the bees

It's a busy time down the plot at the moment. Not only for us, but the bees are seriously busy in the apple tree at the moment.

If you stand right next to the apple tree you get this light scent of the blossom and can hear humming all around you.

Elsewhere other plants are blooming, such as the Blueberries. Hopefully we should get a good crop off them.

And the greenhouse is beginning to get overcrowded so it's time to evict some residents. First to be ousted are the three largest courgettes into the new mound.

I checked back as to when we planted them out last year. It was the 15th of May. So we're about a month ahead of last year. It seems we've had a really mild start to the year. No decent rainfall (at least here in London) for about a month now. Just a few spatters enough to coat the dust. So the plants have had a really warm sunny start, albeit a dry one.

The Lilies are looking good.
But this year we're going to keep an eye out for those pesky beetles which we didn't know about last year. Already squished one. They're not going to get a second chance this year.

And the artichoke, which was seriously cut back when the new flower bed went in, is starting to thrive once again.

I suspect that tomorrow we will make a start in putting out some of the sweetcorn. Of course the only problem is that we'll have to protect it from the birds. Time to bring out the netting again. But as I say, that's a job for tomorrow. As to the rest of today... I suspect shopping and a cider. Not necessarily in that order.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Today was Shed Day 2 (too)

My plot neighbour has had a very trying time over the past few months due to ill health. Fortunately she is now recovering, but she has a shed which has seen better days... especially the roof.

So we decided to do something about it. This morning, with the help of another neighbour, we attacked said roof and replaced the rotten OSB roof with some nice new stuff courtesy of B&Q. We had to do some additional internal structure support just to make sure everything held together. But hopefully the shed will keep going for a few more years. It'll certainly keeps the contents a lot dryer.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Today was Shed Day

It's been threatening for a while. But the mess that was the insides of my shed looms to large in the eyes of She Who Must Be Obeyed. So it's time for a clearout.

If you recall a few weeks back, the shed looked like this.

Well the first thing I did was throw everything out... literally.

Secondly, I have a load of wall brackets to hang tools from. But first I cut some old estate agents sign posts down to length and mounted those to the walls.

Finally, after a sweep out, the remaining rubbish and tools can be hung and positioned properly.

At least now we're not tripping over tools on the floor trying to get to stuff at the back on the shelves.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Week off work

I have 5 days of holiday left over from last year that I have to use (or lose) before the end of April. So for the past couple of days I've spent it down the plot.

For starters I'm trying to get other beds into action. Although I have built the frames, the last time the new bed saw the sky was the failed attempt at trying to use a rotovator. Since then, it's been covered with weed membrane baking out the weeds.

I say baking, because the "soil" is like a brick. I've literally broken up chunks of sod. Whilst it looks very odd all stacked up, I need to get a load more organic material into it to make it suitable for planting. But that's the whole problem. How do you break up the chunks?

Mean while things are going great guns in the greenhouse. Plants are sprouting nicely (well some of them are).

Apart from the Pak Choi and beans chewed by Mr Mouse, there are definite signs of positive growth. We even have actual strawberries ripening.

Of course it can get a little hot in there. So I decided to get round to fitting the automatic opener.
Now I've had this since I first built the greenhouse. But never used it. It got thrown in the back of the shed and forgotten about. But I was having a shed clear out and came across it and decided to give it a try. It fitted quite easily to the window. Whether it'll work sufficiently remains to be seen.

On the subject of shed, I've been having a bit of a clear up in there. It's not finished yet (I still have the rest of the week remember), but things are vastly improved. I've cut some lengths of wood to act as supports for some hangers to get tools up off the floor. Hopefully by having them hanging up out of the way, things will be easier to work with in there.

On the subject of shed though, the Grape Vine that hangs around the shed is starting to show signs of life again.

Theres also a myriad of other odd jobs that have been done including sharpening Plot 30A's Billhook; making shelves for the Greenhouse #2; Building more of my stackable beds. Weeding (of course).

Tomorrow? Well I promised to fix the roof of a neighbour's shed. So if B&Q are open I'll be down there getting the stuff. Stupid Sunday Trading laws prevented me today. About time we got rid of antiquated stupidities like that.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Busy Weekend

It's been a bright sunny weekend. So much so that when the time came to actually write up the work to put it on this blog, I just fell asleep totally exhausted. And I also think that I need to take more photos, but then again, how many photos of dug over beds and pulled weeds do you want to see? I mean, I'm sure you have enough of your own.

Now I think I've been foul of the Allotment Regulations for a couple of years now. For one thing, I haven't been displaying my plot number. The last time I saw a plot number was back in 2014, but even that was small and insignificant. So this time I made one bigger and better.

It will definitely need a waterproof lacquer on it, so in the meantime it will have to hang inside the new greenhouse, which is not really the best spot. I used a luminous chalk pen for the letters, and then the same wood stain that I use for the shed to make it really stand out.

Of course whilst I had the wood stain out, I also painted the shed. Not the full blown paint job like last time, but just a touch up where it needed it the most, along drip points and on the south facing side.

Now I need to sort out my beds. I've built a couple more of my stackable frames but I need to clear the space to set them out. So at the moment they're stacked up on what will be the sweetcorn beds. I had a whole load of weed membrane down covering one of the new locations, which I duly pulled up to reveal nice black soil. But of source having been stood for so long and being walked on it's somewhat compacted so will need a good digging over before it gets put into use.

In the meantime the weed membrane is moving to a new home to cover the pestilential couch grass that's everywhere. As this is going to be a pathway, I'll throw a load of wood chip ontop to help suppress it.

But I have a rogue Leaf Beat that's sitting proud in one of my beds. Thought I'd try and move it back into my dedicated bed. Although I seemed to have removed it without damage to the roots, it's not really happy with the move and seems to be wilting. Whether it'll survive or not, I'm unsure. I gave it a shed load of water to help it settle, but I fear I might have killed it. But we did get some leaves off it last week for a pasta dish, and it was a rogue anyway, so not a great loss overall.

The strawberries however are going from strength to strength. I think the wife is very pleased with her Strawberry Empire.

(But don't tell her that I knocked over one of her stacks and had to re-plant them.) Need to find a more stable area for them.

And the apple tree has finally started to blossom.

I'll have to try some Codling Moth traps this year in an attempt to cut down on the number of maggot apples.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

The old nemesis returns.

Back to the plot again on a lovely sunny spring day. But wait... whats this I see? Lots of things sticking up everywhere.

Well the first sticky up thing is easy to deal with. It's a flower on the rhubarb. Well, like last time, it gets the chop.

But the other sticky up things are my old nemesis, BINDWEED. Yes, the warm soil has pushed the rhizomes into sprouting. So whilst the wife sat down to plant on some of our sproutings, I went weed hunting. Problem is, this stuff just doesn't want to die. "I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

But there are some sticky up bits missing in the greenhouse. Mr Mousie has been nibbling at my Pak Choi.

Fortunately I have some more on a higher shelf where he can't reach which is doing much better..

And my Yin Yang beans have finally made an appearance too.

Last week I was toying with ideas over the shelves in the new greenhouse. Whilst I was typing up the blog entry, an idea occurred to me. Why not simply cut the pallet right the way down the middle, then slide the offset slats into the gaps and re-nail closed. Well it works. OK, I had to sacrifice some of the slats due to them having extra large blocks underneath, but I can soon patch up the gaps.

Now I just need to make some legs for it to raise it a bit and do the same to the other pallet for the other side, and we should have some decent shelving. Ideal for tomatoes.

Meanwhile the wife was happily potting on the various plants. Oh, and she planted about another 10 strawberries.

And all this was overseen by our feathered overlord.

Who gleefully helped himself to the worms and grubs I uncovered whilst weeding all the grass and bindweed. Guess I'll have more of the same next week. And the week after... and the week after that...