Monday, 29 May 2017

BBQ on a rainy Bank Holiday

Seems a contradiction of terms, having a BBQ in the rain? But then again it's a typical Bank Holiday and the rain was only a few spits, so why not?

It certainly didn't stop the bumble bees though. At one point I counted 12 of them buzzing around the flower bed.

All of them as busy as the proverbial.

Anyway, we did a little weeding, a little potting on and a lot of relaxing eating nice food.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Heat wave

It's been a bit warm recently. Today was forecast to reach 28°C, so with that in mine we elected to get to the plot early before it got too hot to do anything. Obviously first on the agenda was to water the plants as many appeared to be somewhat parched.

Nevertheless, many had been loving the additional warmth and had started to rocket off. Some of which were the remaining sweetcorn which had stayed in their growing trays in the greenhouse. Untangling their roots was a bit of a chore, but I did eventually get them out and put into the second sweetcorn bed. They are so much bigger than the ones that were put out last week.

The beans were also starting to get a little yellow. Possibly from the heat they were in, possibly because we'd been almost drowning them in water to ensure they stayed alive. So they also went out.

The grape vine has also recovered from the late frost and has started putting out a load of leaves. Better late than never, but I'm still not certain what impact this will have on grape production. Mind you, it's not like we get a lot of grapes of it anyway.

And we have our first courgette of the season. Only a few centimetres long and not ready yet. But it offers hope for the rest of the season.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Beetroot and Sweetcorn and Courgettes, Oh my.

Like wayward kids, it's time to kick some of the plants out of the house. Greenhouse that is.

The Beetroots have been put into the recently re-covered clay bed.

One bed of sweetcorn has been put out. Hopefully these will fare better than the last lot.

There are still a few more sweetcorn growing on as seedlings, so there will be a second bed. And the courgettes that have recovered from the frost have now been put out.

Meanwhile in the 2nd greenhouse, I've re-arranged the pallet shelves to lay things out a bit more. Everything is now up off the floor and hopefully out of reach of the snails.

It's getting a little strange in there these days. The strawberries are loving the heat though. Even the mutated Frankenberry.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Disappointment and Delight in Cobham

A while back a few allotmenteers got together to form a "Bread Club". That is to say, people who enjoy making bread. We have regular monthly meetings to showcase our productions of whatever that month's theme is. However today we were on a field trip to Cobham. We had a Water Mill to see.

Our appointment time was 14:30, so to make a full day of it we decided to visit the Medicine Garden in the morning. So being allotmenteers we though they might have a selection of plants grown for medical purposes.

Well was that a huge let down. Despite the place being built in a restored Victorian Walled Garden with a huge horticultural heritage, instead the have decided to abandon all that. No, instead they have decided to go the route of hippy-dippy, "Holistic", "Crystals and Auras" type "medicine".

It's now really a large grassy area with a circle of unlabelled plants, trees with Artsy Yoga/Meditation type plaque inscriptions and over priced arts shops. But at least their cafe's serve reasonable fresh food, even going so far as to ensure that their salads arrive so fresh that they come with their own weevils.

Needless to say, I was not impressed.

But of the Mill, yes, that I was impressed with.

Cobham Mill is a restored water mill on the River Mole. It has a long tradition of grinding flour that dates back many hundreds of years. The Mill last produced flour on a commercial basis in 1928. Nowadays it is a working heritage site. But at least it now works and grinds flour for bread again.

Considering the amount of rain we've had recently after the dearth in April, I'm sure I can probably install some kind of water wheel on the plot. Not sure if I'd manage to get the same rate of flow though.

Tomorrow will tell.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Making shelves

We've run out of room in the greenhouses. Hardly surprising given the amount of stuff we have on the go at the moment. But the 2nd greenhouse is hardly in a fit state at present. It only has a few pallets in there to act as temporary shelves.

So after the morning shop duty, today was all about building better shelves. I have a very long pallet that's the ideal length to fit down the long walls (8ft) but when you do that it sticks out way too much. So the best thing to do is to cut it in half length-ways. Then interlace the slats with each other to make a stronger shelf.

Of course doing this makes the long bar slightly offset (as shown in the picture) so you have to trim them afterwards, which is no big deal.

I didn't get round to finishing today. I really need to get some legs put on the shelf to lift it up somewhat. I'll need to start chopping some of the Estate Agent signs that I've accumulated over the years as those would be ideal. Certainly a better use for them than simply being thrown in the gutter which is what happens to most of them here.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Plant Sale and recovering plants.

Today was MAGA's annual Plant Sale.

We donated a load of Cape Gooseberry plants, and a small number of Foxgloves. The CG's we're pretty sure of because the seeds came from a couple of the fruits of last year. However we were repeatedly told that our Foxgloves weren't foxgloves because the shapes of the leaves are wrong, which has got us confused because there were also taken from previous plants. So unless our seeds have been contaminated in some way then they should be Foxgloves.

Anyway, things are looking a little better on the plot. The plants that were affected by that frost are on their way to recovery. The potatoes have started putting up new leaves...

... and the courgettes are doing the same...

Now if there was just some decent way of keeping the munching buggers off my Pak Choi.

Back to the plot tomorrow because I'm on shop duty. And maybe afterwards, I can finish building new shelves for the second greenhouse.

Friday, 12 May 2017

A midweek visit

Popped to the plot on Tuesday evening essentially just to water as it's been a bit dry recently. But the Rhubarb looked rather good. So I did a quick harvest.

Cleaned chopped and dropped into sugar overnight, the sugar pulled all the juice out of the rhubarb. Add a load of grated ginger and a few lemons boil for a couple of hours to reduce the moisture content and lo... the first batch of this years Rhubarb and Ginger Jam.

Meanwhile down the plot things are starting to look a little better. The replacement sweetcorn has sprouted.

With that and the slow recovery of the frost affected Courgettes, things are starting to look up.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Naked Gardening?

So apparently I and the Wife should have been naked down the allotment today.

The first Saturday of May is the World Naked Gardening Day. Yes, apparently that is a thing. But then again I really don't want to scare the chickens and put them off their lay, so maybe it's for the best that I found out about this after I got back from the allotment.

Today's challenge down the allotment is potting on. And boy have we had a lot to do. So much so that I didn't really take much photos.

The one photo I did take was of the result of me attacking that bed with all the clay sods. When we last saw it, it was heap of baked clay blocks that lay for a year under weed membranes and was as hard as rocks. It took some seriously bashing to break up those sods and liberal mixing with coconut coir and a dash of compost to turn it into a usable bed.

Meanwhile we've been potting on the Cape Gooseberries. Most will probably go to next week's Plant Sale.

I've also potted on my Chillies seedlings into suitable containers. After all these were the original reason why I got the second greenhouse.

Then there was all the wood work in trying to build a set of shelves into the second greenhouse. I've cannibalised a couple of pallets into potential table tops. Just need to get some sort of legs fitted onto them.

All-in-all, a very busy day down the plot, but not a lot of photos for the blog. Ah well, you can't have everything.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Doing odds and ends

After the discovery of the frost damage, there is not a lot to do, but plant more and wait for them to germinate. We have two courgette plants which have survived as they were mixed in with the strawberries in the greenhouse and the tough strawbs managed to protect them from the frost. The ones which were hit in the second greenhouse may recover somewhat because it seems that only the leaves may have caught the worst of it. The heart of the plants are still green and seem to be putting forth a few (admittedly very tiny) leaves. Only time will tell whether they recover.

So in the meantime, it's plant more sweetcorns and tomatoes and hope for the best.

Which leaves us with just small jobs to be got on with. Making a cane support...
(Yeah, I did have a cane storage underneath the shed, but it turned out to be a bit awkward.)

Plugging the gap in the No. 2 greenhouse with temporary polystyrene found in the rubbish.

Put carrots into the coir pots.

We tried planting carrots into soil (they forked), compost (they forked), sand (they forked) and now we're going to try coconut coir which basically have almost no nutritional value. We'll see how they go this time.

Whilst we were rootling around in the rubbish we came across a whole load of pots that somebody had thrown away. I've said before that one persons trash is another's treasure, so we grabbed them. But the Wife insisted on washing them all.

Anyway, we have pots to spare, and we have new seeds planted. Maybe we'll actually have something to plant after all.