Thursday, 27 February 2014

onions planted out

For the last three days the onion and shallot sets have been going outside during the day because it has been so sunny in the greenhouse,

 and I have been bringing them in overnight.

 It is only a matter of time before I forget to bring them in and I think they will be better off in the cold frame at the plot.

So out came the pram.

The shallots have really good roots even though there is very little showing on the top, as do the onions.

The weather forecast of a possible frost tonight made me think it might be best to put them in the soil rather than the cold frame.  So throwing all caution to the winds I planted them out.

I covered them with fleece and as they are below the level of the wood frame, they should be a bit protected from any frost.

Monday, 24 February 2014

onion haircut

 Most of the onion seedlings have got second leaves now and are looking pretty straggly.
 We tolerate no sloppy lounging about in our greenhouse, so they have had a haircut.

 I'm reliably informed that it doesn't do them any harm and stops them getting entangled with each other.

 The tomatoes have germinated!
All of a sudden they are two inches long when there was nothing there yesterday.

You really have to keep a very close eye on things in the propagator!

No sign of the pepper seeds yet, but they usually do take a bit longer to germinate.
Correction; the first pepper appeared, in the afternoon followed by the rest by bed time..

The onion sets are sprouting away nicely.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

First broad bean

 That white spot in the middle of the module is the first shoot on the first broad bean this year.  Yey!

[own red epicure sown 16th Feb, no heat]
The sweet peas are getting bigger.  It seems so unkind to nip the tops off just as they are making a go of it.

But that's gardening for you - cruel to be kind!
[sprouted, potted up 21st Jan, no heat]
 More onion seedlings have their second leaves, but otherwise look not a lot different to the last update.
[Beds Champion, sown 28th Dec in a cold greenhouse] 
 The orchid has grown another flower stalk while I wasn't looking.
One for the album, the parsnip discovered in the raised bed excavations.

Friday, 21 February 2014

raised beds continued

Up to the plot bright and early, no overnight rain, to continue the works.

Lots of fiddling about, inserting bottles in appropriate places to support and fill gaps.

I dug out paths in between and totally forgot my plan of lining the bottom of the beds until I had shovelled a load of wet, heavy soil into them.  So they are not going to be lined after all.  Truthfully, I always had my doubts about how useful lining the bed would be, I can't see it deterring any of the pernicious weeds, or the roots of the hedge for long.

I levelled them as best I could and they are as level as anything else is on the plot.

Just got to fill them now.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

raised beds in progress

It is a fine day so I judged it an appropriate time to start the raised bed excavations. So wellies on I girded loins and plodged.

The ground nearest up to the plank is the rhubarb bed.  From there to the end is where the raised beds will be (I hope)

 Under construction, but rain forced a pause. 
I found a giant parsnip in my excavations, which is interesting because I didn't put any in that spot, not this year anyway, so it must be left over from the year before, or it was a odd seed that got dropped.

Its a whopper, but I think it might be a bit woody.

Nearly finished, but it is getting dark so time to go home.

The tricky part of levelling begins on the next fine day.

moving rhubarb

Did I say lightly that I could move the rhubarb?  Ha ha!  I'll not do that again in a hurry!  Great big thick yellow roots in soild black glutinous soil. It was blimmin' heavy!

However, I managed to take out a lot of rhubarb root, which is surprisingly easy to cut through with the spade, kept a few pieces which had shoots on and reburied them in the new place along with a pot full of GrowOrganic. So now I have a more compact rhubarb patch and more room for the beds.

I've got to take out a lot of spirea roots before I can put the raised beds down and the soil level is very uneven so that will have to be raked and levelled.  No way can that be done until it dries out more.

Did some light weeding while my shoulder recovered from the unaccustomed exercise.  That hairy bittercress is all over the place, there hasn't been any frosts this winter so far to discourage it. The slugs are having a ball!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

sowing tomatoes and peppers

I succumbed to the lure of the tomato seeds...
Tomatoes: Black Cherry, Gardener's Delight, Marmande, Sungold.
Sweet peppers: California Wonder, F1 Mohawk.

In the propagator on the bedroom windowsill.
Update:  Tomatoes Sungold, Gardener's Delight - germinated 23rd Feb
              Black Cherry, Marmande - germinated 24th Feb
              Peppers Mohawk - 25th Feb
                             California Wonder - 26th Feb

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


Sowed some broad beans (36 x The Sutton) for the plant scheme and put them in the newly refurbished greenhouse on plot 86.  Snug as a bug...

The waters have receded considerably but it is still too claggy to work, so the new raised beds will have to wait a while longer.
I measured the space where I am planning to put the raised beds and it is a bit smaller than I thought, so I have two options:
1] saw a foot off each long plank and put up with less growing room, or
2] move the rain pond a little further down the plot and lay the new beds lengthways. Just need to decide which one's easiest and best.

 I've just had a brilliant idea!  I could move the rhubarb, which currently runs lengthways along the fence, to a transverse row running from path to fence.  That would give me more room for the raised beds and it would also be growing something that won't be affected by the onion white rot.  And the other soil that had some white rot will be safely (hopefully) tucked away under the raised beds. I'm planning to lay the wooden frames on the existing surface with a lining across the bottom, with new soil on top, rather than dig them in, as I need the height to lift the beds out of the floodwaters.

Just planning/thinking aloud, it will probably be something completely different by the time it gets done, but it looks like it could be a neat solution to the problem.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

sunny day, snowdrops and a cloche

The sun is shining and the snowdrops are flowering beautifully

The plot is still very muddy, there is standing water for the first time since the summer of 2012.  So all I did was a bit of tidying, managed to get a respectable little fire going, and pulled some leeks for dinner.
Oh, and I seem to have acquired a plastic cloche which presumably has blown in from somewhere.
In the greenhouse: I sowed some modules with my own saved broad bean seed (red epicure) for domestic use only,

and will be sowing some proper seed for the allotment's plant scheme. I'm never quite sure what is going to come up when it is my own seed, grown and saved in less than ideal conditions.  I will have to do a bit of tidying in the greenhouse to find some more space.

 The sweet peas are showing at last, and the frisee lettuce (Mazur, sown 7th Feb) has germinated already

The onion sets that I put in a tray of compost don't look as if anything is happening, but when you look closely (note perfect focus! I am learning) where the set has pushed itself out there some nice healthy roots.

I can feel the pull of the tomato seeds, but I'm trying to resist as I had them in far too early last year and they sat around looking pale and wan for months before the weather was warm enough for them to grow away.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

onion/potato fertilizer confusion

Taking advice from my fave gardening website, I applied a dose of potash to the beds in which I am going to sow my seed potatoes.
 I also sprinkled some GrowOrganic around the winter onions as they were looking a bit peely-wally.

So that I remember which beds I have decided upon I have done the first plotplan for 2014.

On looking at the fine display of fertilizers in our newly (and magnificently) re-organised allotment trading hut, I realize that the onion fertilizer I applied to the planned onon bed last week, is probably potato fertilizer with the label missing. I guess (and hope) it won't make too much difference, but the question is now, should I buy and apply some proper onion fertilizer? (Update: apparently the NPK of both are very similar to each other, so no worries)

It is a fine afternoon now so I think I will go and make a start on the new raised beds.

I got the holes drilled in the planks, but there is no point in assembling the frames until the ground has dried out a bit and I can put them in place without getting mud up to the eyebrows.
I'm considering putting some lining in the bottom of the beds as there is a very active spirea hedge close by which sends roots out a long way, and I'm hoping some weed membrane might stop that, or at least slow it down.

Friday, 7 February 2014

spring-like already!

Another nice day, but didn't go to the plot as the soil will still be too wet and cold to do anything.

So at home in the greenhouse, I planted the onion and shallot sets into trays of compost

The onion seedlings have grown after all, some starting a second leaf, but sadly some of them have also died [remember the tiny snapping noises while pricking out?], so I popped a new seed in any empty cells, you never know...
Some of the sweet peas in the pots have appeared at last and the ones left chitting on the tray are so big I felt sorry for them and potted them up in some module trays. I have chucked the fuzzy ones out, there is a limit to how many sweet peas I have room for.

The Desiree are sprouting nicely...
But the Wilja are still just thinking about it.

While I was in sowing mode I sowed some Early Nantes carrot seeds in the box.  I brought it inside the green house thinking I might get an earlier crop. We'll see whether it is worth putting up with barking my shins on the edge of the box to get some early carrots.
I left last year's compost in, mixed a handfull or two of GrowOrganic and a bucketful of spent compost to increase the volume.

Outside, it has been such a mild winter so far that the tete-a-tete daffodils in the old barrow wheel are coming along well...

 and the wallflowers have flowered all the way through the winter so far...

This is the pot with the allium christophii seeds from the front garden, I left them outside all winter and they are coming up too! I'm not sure how long I will have to wait to get bulbs big enough to flower.

 And the amaryllis is showing off as usual.  If there was a race between the two pots, then the silver one is streets ahead!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

A rare fine day

It was a lovely day today, (10C at midday)the first for a while where I haven't had my head drawn into my coat and scarf like a tortoise!
However, even though there is no standing water, it was still to wet to do anything.  I hacked at it a bit with the right-angled fork and broke up a few clods of earth, but it is still pretty squishy underneath.

So I righted the cane tub, trimmed a few gooseberry branches that were poking at me as I went around the hut, tidied up a bit, had a failed attempt at a fire and came home.

I've got some shallots (Golden something-or-other), some onions (turbo), potatoes (Desiree [main] and Wilja [2nd early]) ready to go in when the soil dries up a bit.  I'm thinking I might put the onion sets in trays of compost like last year to give them a start.

The onion seedlings haven't changed that I can observe, but at least they haven't died.

The sweet peas are just starting to peep out from the compost.  They are very slow, but they have had no heat on them except what little sun there has been.