Thursday, 29 November 2012

Lo! There was land...

And the waters receded and lo....

I thought I might be going to have a skating rink....

Amazingly, there are still some battered-looking daisies flowering in the wild flower patch which has just emerged from the flood, some plants never know when to give up.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Rain again

Definitely looks as if raised beds are the way to go.

I thought my plot was bad, but most of it is above the water line, not like the one pictured below.

A pretty rural scene.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

overwintering peppers

My peppers were nice this year but not very prolific.  Because there is such a short growing season when starting them from seed, I'm going to try to overwinter the plants.

I cut my two sweet pepper and one cayenne pepper down to about 6 inches (15cms), took them out of their pots and trimmed the rootball a bit.  I then put them in smaller pots with fresh compost, a quick water to wash the compost around the roots, and put them on an upstairs, south-facing window sill.  Except for the odd splash of water, I can probably forget about them until spring.  Instructions for the above were got from a chilli website, but I don't see why it wouldn't apply to sweet peppers too. We will find out come spring.
Hopefully they should overwinter successfully and get going sooner next year.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

tidy shed - pics!

Well, one pic.

This may not look tidy to anybody else, but compared to what it was....

Too cold and wet to do anything, but I haven't visited since last Saturday and I was suffering from withdrawal, so took photograph, wandered about a bit and went home.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

tidy-up time

When I found myself standing outside the shed trying to reach something inside, I realised that it was Time to Tidy.
It was the rolls of plastic netting and the tunnel cloches that were causing trouble.
I wrestled them into submission, found an old recycling box which exactly fitted the cloches and left them with no room to escape.  The net rolls are tied up and confined to the back of the shed - outside.  That'll teach them!
Netting, weed fabric and fleeces, folded and sorted into boxes or bags.
I even swept the floor, well, bits of it. My ph tester didn't turn up though.

Weeded the raspberry bed of perennial weeds and sprinkled on some blood, fish and bone.  I will put some of the ashes from the bonfire on the bed in the spring to give them boost before fruiting.

Dug out the last of the potatoes from the last grow sack.  Enough for the dinner tomorrow. We'll have them with the fattest of the leeks.  I'm giving up on the rest, too thin with the flower stalks occupying most of the girth.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

hedge clipping

Its another lovely gardening day.  I don't think it has rained for almost a week!

Went to the plot to plant some daffodil bulbs, but got distracted by the perfect bonfire day.

So instead I clipped the spirea hedge down by about a third and burnt the clippings as I went.
Which was good because I love pruning things down but get fed up with disposing of the big pile of clippings which is the end result.
So three good things all rolled up together:  pruning, bonfire, no pile of clippings to be disposed of. The downside was a blister on my palm.

Now the hedge is cut back I must have an extra 16 sq ft of garden, but the spirea is so invasive, I know it is only temporary, so I think I will leave it for the wildlife.

Acquired some more planks from my nextgate neighbour so I will be able to continue the bed and path system further down the plot.

I think I will leave the "wild flower bed" alone and plant some of the daffs there.  That's the first bit of the plot to disappear under the water table when it rises. But if it doesn't rise we might see some pretty flowers.  At the moment there are daisies coming up, which is surprising and nice. Once the soil was dry enough to step on, I weeded out the dock and sow thistle, buttercups and dandelion to let the other more unusual plants have a chance. There is some milkwort (I think), marigold, love-in-a-mist, nipplewort, forget-me-not and hopefully lots of other things I know not of. I'll be interested to see what survives the winter. There is usually a big show of speedwell, which I have always previously weeded out .

I have given up on the sweet potatoes.  Three bags of compost and no roots bigger than my finger.  So I don't think I will bother with that again, it is just not warm enough.

I used the compost to fill pots for the various bulbs I bought a couple of weeks back.  Some bulbs have gone in the front garden, some I have put into pots so I can move them to places that need brightening up.  A couple of pots are for inside, hopefully for Christmas, and the rest are going in the allotment to cheer me up.
The rest of the compost went to fill the raised beds.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

leaf mould

Lots of leaves in the front garden, so I spent 10 minutes filling 4 bags to make leaf compost. Very cold, it felt a lot colder than the 4C it said on my thermometer. Apparently beech leaves are the best, but I've only got sycamore, so they will have to do.
I will take the full bags to the allotment to rot down, as they always end up as unidentified, slimy, unsavoury, plastic-bagged lumps at home.  And they always end up in the rubbish bin.

Took a bag down to the plot when I went out for the Sunday paper.  Bought some more firelighters while I was there (at the paper shop, not the plot).  I think I use more firelighters than wood.

For the first time, really, I managed to get a proper fire going today, clouds of acrid smoke everywhere and, wouldn't you know it, I had nothing left to burn!

Covered over the bean trench.  (I must make a note to check next year's harvest of runners to see if it is worth the effort of making a trench.)The wet night had softened the cardboard somewhat, but it still showed through.  I'm hoping it will subside over time.

For some reason, I decided to fork over the next bed down (I think I'm going to have to give them names or numbers for the purposes of this diary, although now I think of it, that's what the plotplan is for) and was interested to see a whole load of sprouting seeds just under the soil surface.  That's when I remembered, too late,  the vetch and winter tares I sowed about a month ago. I really didn't think they would have germinated this late in the year.

Used my onion hoe to go around the winter onions.  The hoe is good in that it is very sharp and cuts the weed seedlings off at root level, and because it has a short handle, you have to get right down and have a chance for a really good look at the onions.  I noticed some had been moved, presumably by birds, and a lot had been chewed, presumably by slugs.  And some had been planted upside down, presumably by me!

I also had a good look at the leeks and they look very sad.  They really suffered with all that water,  they don't seem to have grown at all over the last few weeks. And they don't grow much once it gets really cold, so that is probably it for the year.
This is just a picture of my plot on a sunny autumn morning.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

bean trench started

Had to go back to the plot today to water the new trees, (I woke up in the middle of the night, remembering that I hadn't watered them in, oops!) They looked okay, but how can you tell with bare overgrown twigs?

While I was on with apple trees, (I've got five trees now, almost an orchard!) I scraped back the chippings from around the bases of the old apple trees, chucked on some growmore, raked and weeded it a bit and put the chippings back.
Just thought...perhaps I should do the pear tree too.

Made a start on the bean trench by roughly digging over one of the beds, making a trench, lining it with some of the cardboard. (It might have been easier with newspaper, but the tidy person in the household had put all the papers out in the recycling last week, hmph!) I put in raw kitchen waste, phacelia, bean and nasturtiums stalks, any old organic matter which wouldn't re-grow.
I haven't closed the trench yet as the cardboard is very rigid and will probably stick out of the soil, it might be softer after a night on the soil.


Friday, 9 November 2012

New apple trees planted

Planted the apple trees, a Kidd's orange red (a dessert apple)and a Howgate Wonder (a cooker), both M26 cordons, which means they will grow one stem, no side branches.  They stay quite small, especially if they are pruned correctly, and don't take up much space.  According to the labels they can be planted as close as 0.5m.
I was going to put them in pots, but I discovered at the last minute that I didn't have enough of the right sort of compost to fill the big pots I had for them. I guessed a wheelbarrow full would have been enough, wrong!
They had to be planted as soon as possible, so I dug two holes, square ones because that apparently discourages the tendency of the roots to go round the hole (why this is a bad thing, I'm not altogether sure).  I sprinkled some Rootgrow on the roots and used the compost I had, a mix of mp and garden compost, to three-quarter fill the holes and then topped them up with garden soil mixed with dried chicken manure.
(I have since remembered that I have another bag of compost at the back of the shed, which I could've used. Doh!)
The hardest task was figuring out how the tree tie worked! But I was right about the stake and the pot, it just wasn't going to stay firmly upright especially if it is planted in loose compost rather than compact soil.


Thursday, 8 November 2012

planting shallots

My new apple trees came today!  Yey! I love getting things in the post! (And with them came a free huge piece of cardboard, which will do nicely for the bean trench I'm going to start when I get the time and weather. The cardboard is about 10 feet long so will do the whole bed in one go.) I haven't got the pots ready for the trees so I dunked them in a bucket of water and went to the plot to survey the plant pot scene, now I know what size roots I'm dealing with.
The instructions say that they need a stake 1.8m above the ground, but I don't think that will work very well with a pot because there won't be enough soil to anchor the stake firmly. So I might have to put them in the ground eventually as they get bigger and need a longer support. But I might just be worrying unnecessarily, I sometimes tend to over-think things (other times I don't think at all).

Planted the red onion sets and the "red sun" shallot sets. So now yesterday's plotplan is up to date.
Prepared the bed as follows:  Dug over, forked over, raked over, tried to get as level as possible, growmore added (no onion fertilizer left), raked again until it was as fine as I could get the damp, clay soil.
Shallots: made shallow drills, made biggish holes at 6-8 inch intervals in them with the fat dibber (sharpened broom handle), filled the hole with a mix of mp and garden compost, sat the set ontop. Then pushed the sides of the drill together, covering the shallot sets. 20 sets
Red onions: Similar to shallots, but because they were very small, didn't make holes, just filled the drills with compost, sat the sets in the compost about 6 inches apart, then covered the drill over, same as shallots. 50 sets

Cut the phacelia, the peas and the field beans down and I will put them in my bean trench.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


(Onions sets not really there yet, I was just checking I could still remember how to do my new style plotplan )

rubbish burner

I acquired an unused incinerator from the next-door neighbour, one of those old-fashioned galvanised iron dustbins with a chimney in the lid...
like that above, but not so rusty. So I lugged it down to the plot and had a little burn up, now that the bonfire ban is ended.  It was much more successful than my previous attempts at a bonfire.  It crackled away for about an hour while I got on with preparing one of the the beds to receive the red onion and shallot sets.
The soil is still pretty damp and quite lumpy, no way would I call it friable, but it will probably have to do.  I got the soil ready but didn't have time to plant the sets before it got too dark (4 o'clock!).
I get a bit spooked out by the allotments in the dark, so I don't like to stay too late.  I'll probably have time to get them in either tomorrow or Friday.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

pony manure

I acquired 4 bags of pony manure somehow. It consists of lots of straw and is quite fresh.  So I think I will create a bean trench and put the manure in over winter, and it hopefully will have rotted down by the time comes to put beans in.

Friday, 2 November 2012

shallots, onions and other bulbs

Wilko's are doing 3 for 2 on bulbs, and shallots and onions are included!  So I got some red sun shallots, which were the first and most successful variety I ever grew and some red onions, which I will try yet again to grow successfully. Also got some daffs and dwarf irises and tulips for the front garden.
MGG had been there the day before and he bought the shop up. They were making space for Christmas stuff, and selling garden gear at 99% discount! None left by the time I got there.

new style plotplan

Roughly dug over the compacted bed, top dressed and covered over the next bed east. See latest new style plotplan.  Let me know if it doesn't work properly.