Saturday, March 31, 2007

The big build

Well, I have finally started to build the second polytunnel and am able to in no small part to Malc (you know who you are) who kindly sourced and delivered the roll of recycled water pipe that makes the hoops. It not easy rolling pipe that has been laid flat for several years into a roll small enough to fit on a trailer but with a bit of blood, sweat and swearing we did it.
Not much to look at yet, just one hoop half finished but tommorow should see all of the poles driven into the ground and the hoops cut and one end fitted into position, some may be fitted complete.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Finally, some planting out

After yesterdays light rain it was good to be able to get onto the plot and actually get some plants out of the greenhouse and into the ground.
The module sown Red cabbage (rodeo F1) and cauliflower (lateman) went into raised beds with firmed soil and were covered with netting supported on 22mm blue water pipe to keep the pigeons off, they can look but not touch.
I use 2" pots, forty to a tray to bring on brassicas and as the root formation shows, they do really well and make good root growth ready for planting out. The pots are much better than the plastic module trays as I find that I just cannot release the plant without disturbing the rootball using them.

A recycled cold frame

Upon taking on our first plot 3 years ago, pretty much the only item we inherited that we kept was a hardwood window frame. Now that the plot is about where we want it, it was a case of either use it or skip it and as the greenhouse at home plus the tandem one on the plot are full of plants and seedlings I had a bit of an epiphany and realised it would make a rather cool cold frame.
Using off cuts of scaffold planks left over from making raised beds, two reclaimed hinges and left over polytunnel plastic I knocked up a rather pukka (even if I do say so myself) coldframe that will hold about a dozen standard seed trays this morning.
Total cost, nothing other than two hours of my time. Old pallets can be used just as easily to make something similar, but like greenhouses, make it twice as big as you think you need and then add a bit.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Success with parsnips

Parsnip seed on damp kitchen towel

A germinated parsnip seed ready to be
potted on into toilet roll inners

Pre-germinated seed growing on.

After a couple of years of trying to grow descent parsnips with little success, this year we have gone down the route of pre-germinating the seed on wet kitchen towel and then planting the germinated seeds into toilet roll inners until they are ready to be planted out. The planting out must happen before the root reaches the bottom of the toilet roll inner otherwise it will become distorted and fork. Some 70 seeds have been sown into toilet roll inners and will be planted out in about 10 days. The rest of the pre-germinated seeds will be planted directly into the soil and when harvested a comparison will be made as to size, quality and yield. It may be that the seed works just as well once pre-germinated being planted directly rather than messing about with the toilet roll inners. Time will tell. In either case, nothing will be planted out until the weather improves.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Gardening Friends

I popped down to the allotments yesterday to water the seedlings in the greenhouse when it became apparent we had made a new friend in bringing the worm laden manure onto the plots yesterday.
A fine figure of a robin indeed, he waited partiently for me to disturb some of the manure and expose some fresh worms for him. I will make a couple of robin boxes this week and place them low down under cover and hope he finds them suitable.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Now is a good time to mulch crops if you can.Weed growth hasn't started in earnest and the ground is niceand moist. The mulch will keep in the moisture and stop most of the weeds from growing through making it a win win thing to apply.
The pictures show one bed of young gooseberries mulched with grass clippings and the other a bed of Blueberries mulched with partly composted shreddings. Straw is another good mulch, used extensively by the late and much missed Sarah Jones. Whatever you use, pile it on thick, 4 or more inches at least for it to be effective.

Spring is on the way

A greenhouse full of young plants

Rhubarb shooting up
The allotments are starting to come alive with spring now. The rhubarb is shooting, the greenhouse is full of plants and the fruit bushes and trees are all in bud. It is still early spring though and the very mild days are tempered with sharp frosts at night. Monday is forcast with snow showers. It is easy to get carried away and plant things out and then get caught out by the weather.
We planted Lady Crystl and Foremost potatoes on Sunday and whilse the shoots are still buried there is no problem but I will need to keep an eye out for frosts when they break through the surface. Fleece will be needed to cover the beds over if frost is forecast then..

Water water everywhere

I have finally finished the rainwater storage system for the greenhouses and (soon to be) shed on plot 2. We can now save just over 45000 litres of rainwater in 3 IBC;s and 6 blue barrels. All are interlinked so overflow will not go to waste, but into the next recepticle. the final overflow will run into the wildlife pond to keep it topped up.
As hosepipe bans affected the South last year, they may creep up to us here in the midlands this year so having plenty of water on hand can only be a good thing. Especially with having greenhouses and tunnels.0

Ploughmans Lunch

Mowing plot 3 and ploughing it

Finally I can post updates again, my new camera arrived today just as I was leaving for the plots with a trailer load of manure. I arrived to find the ploughman mowing and ploughing our new plot. This was a suprise as he wasnt expected for a week or two as it had been so wet. This is good news though as the fruit trees are starting to bud up and can now be planted out.

As our soil is quite clayey, if we were to just dig a hole and plant a tree, the hole would fill up with water and drown the tree. So, now its a case of buying some posts and getting on with the job.

Some of this lovely crumbly 12 year old manure 12 year old vintage muck
will also go into the planting holes. The rest of it
went into two more raised beds along with the contents of a compost bin. As its so old its a fabulous planting medium in its own right and can be used as is. Our local farmer supplies it to me for free so I am quite spoilt where shit is concerned.