Sunday, February 24, 2008

In the Greenhouse

These globe artichokes were sown last autumn and were then left outside quite by accident until last week when they were rediscovered amongst lots of soft fruit cuttings. They were then repotted to ber grown on till April when they will be planted out in their permanent position. Each artichoke plant should be productive for about 4 years before requiring replacing with new ones.
To ensure lots of mature plants which will provide plenty of fresh growth I module sowed flat leaf parsley in early February. No thining will be undertaken, each module clump will be sown as is to provide lots of leaf. Again these will be planted out after the worst of the weather in April after a good hardening off period in the cold frame.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A beast of burden

We are very fortunate in having a ex military "Sankey" trailer to use, carting stuff to the allotments. It really is our beast of burden, albeit, a modern take on one.
Today I collected a load of paving slabs with it. They are being used on plot 2 to make paths between our permanent beds. We use chipped bark between the raised beds which are on top of membrane, but they tend to disapear when used directly onto the ground making slabs a more enduring option. With loads like this the trailer comes into its own. During this set of rest days from work, it has carried over a ton of very well rotted manure, the slabs pictured and a load of fence posts for the new half plot. A worthwhile investment indeed.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tunnel Time

The new raised beds in the second tunnel need filling and today one of them was. It was filled with a mix of allotment compost and very well rotted manure which will make for a tremendous growing medium for the planed crop. Tomatoes!!!!

Two rows of staggered canes were tied to tension wires running the length of the tunnel. Eighteen canes fitted the bed. The three beds will give us room for about 60 plants. Hopefully the farmer will fill the trailer again this week so I can fill the next bed.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Wakey Wakey Mrs Tiggywinkle

Whilst moving some slabs on a fellow allotmenteers plot, a scurrying about the compost bin made me investigate further. Mrs Tiggywinkle herself was found and promptly rolled up when I got the camera out. I placed her carefully under some cover and left her too it.
A sign of spring if we didnt already need one!!!

Make hay they say

With the weather again being dry, my nephew came to the plots to rotovate the new half plot. It was cleared, cleaned and ploughed in the autumn and was very much weed free. The rotovator made light work of the soil which is very good indeed, leaving us with a blank canvas.

Once the rotovating was done it was time to make semi permanent bean frames. Ten foot lengths of scafolding were knocked into the ground using a home made post thumper (thanks Malc), a tool that does make it soo much easier, till 7' is left exposed.

A long length is then fitted making a goal shape. Eight foot canes can than be tied in to make a very sturdy frame for peas or beans.

If the bed is needed for other crops then the canes can be left out and the bed used as normal. The framework doesnt really get in the way and the system really gives you lots of flexibility for crop growing.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A good weeks work

The good thing about the rain stopping is that I have made great inroads in preping the plots for spring. The above picture shows another section of paving laid on plot 2. The paving not only gives the plots beds a structure but also make it suitable for normal footwear, even after wet weather. This is a boon if we just visit to harvest some produce for the kitchen. There are a few more slabs to lay but its all looking very neat.

Last year, our good friends Shelley and Paul gave us half a dozen box plants. Whilst on holiday in France last summer, a trip to a garden centre saw Kazzi buy the cat shape for the box to grow through to give it a topiary shape. Hopefully it will be big enough to trim this autumn.

The first Wednesday of every month is "Bonfire day" on our site. We generally only have one or two in a year and this one got rid of a load of old timber from our new half plot along with all of the raspberry prunings and brussels sprouts stalks.

Thirty minutes on the table saw converted some scrap 2 x 2 timber into wooden plant labels. As well as being green they look so much better than plastic labels in the beds. They are untreated but should still last a few seasons before succumbing to the bonfire.

I have made about 60 of them and they are just waiting for the crops to be sown or planted before being put into use.

Another pond and wildlife area

The pond dug last year on plot one has proved such a success that another has been dug on our new half plot. It has a lump of yellow flag iris in the pond along with some oxygenating weed and has been planted round with more flag iris, verbena, achilea, echinacea and michaelmas daisy. A pile of logs will be added as a hidey hole for beetles and amphibians.

It has been filled with rainwater from one of the 1ooo litre IBC's and it holds about 80 gallons. Hopefully it will attract frogs and toads to spawn.

Wind damage

We have been very fortunate in the recent high winds with the only damage being one of the greenhouse doors being blown off its rails and the glass broken. This was quickly refitted and the glass replaced with some spare panes that we had tucked away. Some greenhouses on site suffered far more damage than ours did.