Wednesday, 30 January 2013

more apple trees

I got two more apple trees last week.  Blackmoor Nursery were having a bogoff so I succumbed to the lure of the 2fer. Jonagold and James Grieve.  This time they definitely going into pots, at first anyway. They arrived in the middle of all that snow so they are sitting in the greenhouse, poking passers-by, until the weather is a bit more congenial to planting.

Now most of the snow has melted, I have made a start by wheeling a barrow load of home-made compost to the plot (which is still under water) to part fill the pots.

The wheelbarrow tyre seems to be holding air okay now, I think the valve may have got misaligned when it got bashed and it just didn't occur to me to check that before I went through the rigmarole of checking for punctures. Always dangerous to assume....

Monday, 28 January 2013

pricking out onions part 2

I couldn't bear to throw the surplus onion seedlings away so I unearthed the big module tray, which I hardly ever use because I don't usually grow that many of the same species at once, to be able to use the whole tray. I managed to fill all 84 cells and I still had some seedlings left over, but just 4 or 5 so I didn't mind too much about losing those.
I thought the green modules were 16 cells per tray but they are 24!  So now I've got 132 baby Bedfordshire Champions! Plenty of insurance plants though!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

pricking out onions

I pricked out the onion seedlings into modules.  I've got two trays of onions now and still half a tray left to prick out.  I don't know whether I've got the space for 4 trays, and do I need 64 onions?
Only January and I'm complaining about lack of space already.
Maybe I could put them in the garage when they have got used to their modules, that's a thought.
Trouble is, that means tidying up the garage...

Saturday, 26 January 2013

sowing and blowing

Still lots of snow around, but it is melting now. Drip, drip, drip all over the place.  I haven't been to the plot because I know just what it will be like.  So I stayed home and pricked out a few of the bambino tomatoes, just a few to see how they survive, as they are quite drawn but don't have much root to keep them going.

Sowed some more tomatoes; 100s & 1000s, a small bush type and my fave, Gardeners Delight, cherry cordon type.

Sowed some broad beans in modules, Bunyards Exhibition (free from GYO) and Red Epicure (free from MGG). I have some Aquadulce and some Wikiem Manita which I will do later.

 My new max/min thermometer is working well. It told me that in less than 2 hours this morning, the temperature in the mini greenhouse went from 8.3C to 20.5C, and the tray with the onion seedlings in were getting far too hot. Which I wouldn't have known, and if I had them in a greenhouse down at the allotment I would quite likely have lost them. And that is in January, imagine what temperature could reach on the three sunny days we get in summer! I was dallying with the idea of getting a polytunnel or small greenhouse, but I don't think I will now, I'm lucky I can use the one at home, small though it is.

I took off the wheel of the barrow and when I held it under water, bubbles came out from where the valve tube goes through the rim. Aha! I thought, so I took it all apart, at great risk to the skin of my fingers and the two dessert spoons I was using as tyre levers. Blew up the inner tube again, tested it in the sink again to find the puncture, and guess what? It was as sound as a drum! No leaks, no nothing! So what's that all about? Conclusion: (which I didn't think of until afterwards, naturally) the bubbles must have been from air trapped between the inner and the tyre leaking out through the hole in the rim around the valve tube.
The valve had got a bit bent when the wind blew the barrow over a couple of months ago, so thinking that might be the source of the leak, I took out the valve and hawked it around the town shops, Poundland, Wilko's, Halford's, Start discover that they don't do them any more! Most inner tubes have fixed valves in now, so I would have to buy a new inner tube. The man in Halfords assured me that you can still get valves, but just not there. Mmm. So I bought a can of tyre sealant, charmingly named Slime, as a backup (£4.99 Wilko's), and gave up the search.

As it still wasn't leaking anywhere, I re-assembled the wheel, again risking digits and flatware, put the old valve back, inflated it and I have now left it to see if it goes down.

What a performance! Is that a smirk on it's face?

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Max/min thermometer

I splashed out and got a max and min thermometer for the greenhouse.  When it was 1C outside it was 3.5C in my mini greenhouse and 2.5C in the main greenhouse (I've got a blowaway inside the greenhouse to provide some extra protection).  I wondered if it actually made any difference because it always feels so cold, but it does!

Still lots of snow about, the side roads are churned up snow and slush making it hard work getting about. Snow on the roofs dripping and slipping at the moment.

Have brought my wheelbarrow home to see if I can fix the puncture.  May as well do it during the close season.

Monday, 21 January 2013

bambino seedlings

 The bambino seedlings and some pictures taken of Leazes Park in the snow.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

more snow

the bee garden

Lots of snow in the last few days, no gardeners, just animal tracks at the top end of the site.  A bird that hops feet together, blackbird perhaps, and one that walks one foot in front of the other, which might be a crow, but I am no expert.  There was small animal track which could be a cat and bigger ones that were probably the local fox.  It has a den nearby and I did think that this would be the ideal opportunity to find out where.  But then I thought a bit more and decided I didn't want come face-to-face with a frightened fox or foxes, so I left him/her in peace.
Too much snow and too cold to do anything constructive, so I pushed the snow off the top of the brassica netting.  I'm not quite sure why I am bothering as the brassicas inside look very moth-eaten and I wouldn't fancy eating them even if they were big enough. Old habits....

At least the plot isn't under water...yet.

I heard some news about the flooding on our site.  The council are looking at the feasibility of digging a drainage gully (the letter, which has a link on Moorside's website, calls it a cundy, that's a new word on me, I had to look it up) around the north and east side of the allotments to divert the water from the moor onto Fenham Hall Drive.  Don't know whether that will work though because FHD already has a struggle coping with floodwater as it is.  Its not that a ditch will add more water to whatever already goes there but it will probably arrive there sooner and all at once.  It would be good if something could be done about the flooding, though.

I'm on duty at the trading hut tomorrow morning, I hope it isn't too cold. Woolly tights under trousers day, I think.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

onion seeds, peppers, tomatoes

Now the first leaves have shown, I took the onions from the warm windowsill and put them back in the greenhouse - just in time for a below freezing spell of weather.  But they seem to be surviving okay.

The cold might stop them for a while, but I think onions are tough enough.

Overwintering peppers update - not good news, the cayenne looks sick and one of the sweet peppers has got curly leaves, but other one looks healthy.
cayenne pepper

curly one

healthy one
I think the windowsill they were on was a bit cold because the person whose bedroom it is, very selfishly, had opened the window overnight.  So I have moved them to the bathroom windowsill where they should be quite snug and they might recover.

The Bambino tomato seeds that I saved from last season have begun to pop through, I'm quite pleased because it was dead easy to do and actually worked, so far..

Friday, 11 January 2013

Been poorly

I've had a rotten cold all week so I haven't been to the plot since Monday.

The mushroom spawn has got fuzzier but still no threads.  I think it is just going mouldy.

Had a go at lighting my ghillie kettle that I got for Christmas  Took me half an hour to get a fire going, but once it was away it only took five minutes for the whistle to go. (And two days before that collecting twigs and letting them dry!) A thermos might be easier but nowhere near as much fun.

Moved the onion seeds (Bedfordshire Champion) in their tray inside to a windowsill and the little folded up stalks appeared in a couple of days.

 I have given them a reflector (foil wrapped cardboard)to help them not lean towards the light.

The sweet peas sown for the allotment shop are coming up nicely.  Looks like a pretty high success rate so far. I thought they looked a bit leggy already but MGG says the tops get pinched out when they've got four leaves, so it doesn't matter too much.
Back end of last year I scraped the seeds out of a couple of tomatoes (Bambino) onto a piece of kitchen paper and let it dry.  Today I tore off the bits with the seeds stuck on and put them on a pot of compost, covered it with more compost and put the pot on the windowsill (which is getting a bit crowded, what with the basil, and the peashoots and the onion seeds)

Did I say about the peashoots? In December I bought a bag full of dried peas from the shop in the Grainger market, 10p per 100g, and planted a handful of them very densely in a 5 inch pot of compost.  They came up in no time at all and I ended up with a forest of peashoots.  They work well in stir fries, or mixed salad but not good by themselves unless you like the taste of marrowfat peas.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Another raised bed border

Hauled 2 more scaffolding planks up the hill to the plot.  As I may have remarked previously,  blimmin' heavy!
I made another raised bed and it fits nicely beside the other.  They are not properly bedded in and levelled yet as the ground is still quite muddy underfoot.  I will wait until the ground is a bit firmer, but not too firm as to make it hard work levelling the wood frame.

Shifted some of the winter onions to a different bed as they were making the place look untidy.  I don't know whether they will survive but I kept as much of a root ball as I could. Time will tell.

It is a week since I spread the mushroom spawn but nothing obvious happening yet, they've gone a bit fuzzy, but no threads yet.
Reading further through the growing instructions, I discover that the spawn needs to be "cased"  i.e. covered with a layer of clean, pest and weed free garden soil, "best obtained from 1ft down" !!! I think if I dug that far down anywhere in plot or garden at the moment, I would strike mud! The other option is covering it with a mixture of peat and chalk, neither of which I have.  But I do have some home-made compost which I could sterilise in the microwave and some garden lime, so I'm going to go with that.  Growing mushrooms, how hard can it be?

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

onion seeds

Sowed a trayful of onion seeds (Bedfordshire Champion) in the greenhouse. I've not had a great record with onion seeds in the past, but the seeds came free with GYO, so I may as well give them a go.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

making a raised bed border

A scaffolding plank sawn into 4ft lengths, (129 inches to be precise) plus one I made earlier.
 Drilled holes through one end of each piece, butted up the undrilled end of another piece at right angles to the back of the drilled holes, knocked nails through the holes and into the end grain.
 The bed border is not in its final place yet, when (if) the ground dries a bit I can bed it in properly and make paths. (Don't know why the picture went fuzzy, excitement perhaps, because I made it all by myself)
 Three more to go. There are only enough planks there for two more, but two more planks have been paid for and just need hauling up the hill.

Notice the empty ditches for the first time in weeks.