Subscribe with Bloglines At last I've got my plot!: November 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

Kitchen garden tidy up

Today I felt a bit too fragile to work on the plot as it catches the cold winds on a breezy day. So I worked in the Kitchen Garden instead. It was long overdue.Firstly a few pics of the state of play before I started. This photo shows the rh beds before the sun got to them. The far right one has brussels and broccoli in. The one one the left has gladioli bulbs just beginning to die back. In front of them some winter radish. Black and very hot!The left front bed has field beans as a green manure. It was heavily mulched with mowings last time we cut the grass....this has all but disappeared!The front right bed has a few salad leaves in it....the rest is bare.
Here are the next 4 beds. The far left one appears in the next photo so I'll mention it later. The far right one has spinach, under cloche to stop the cats "manuring it. I sowed these a while ago and I haven't looked lately to see how they are getting on. There is also a couple of brussels sprout plants....still quite small so they'll possibly follow on from the others. The marigolds at the front of the bed are still strong looking but I don't suppose there will be any more Flowers. In the front garden they flower all winter but the back garden is shaded by the house so is not so warm.The front bed has what's left of my leeks. The rest of the bed now has a deep layer of compost.The one behind, with the green netting on, is completely sown with onion sets. They seem to be coming up.

This is the back bed. The cloches cover some more sets...shallots this time. On their left is the garlic, which looks pretty good. This now has a heavy compost mulch too.Behind the garlic are a few broad bean [plants...the end of a packet, just filling a small square. The main lot of these are at the allotment.Front left is my little bed of salsify. What do I do with them then? I grew them as an experiment. I have no idea if they are ready, or what to do with them if they are...!

The asparagus (started Spring 2006 from seed and in this bed since May I think) was at last turning yellow so I have cut the tops off, weeded the bed, and put a 2 inch layer of compost on the crowns.The strawberries were trimmed back some weeks ago now. I weeded them again today and put a good mulch of compost around these too.

But the main job of the day was sorting out the compost bins. See next post!



I have three compost "daleks" in the back garden, and they all needed turning today. The picture shows the lovely compost at the bottom of one of them. This is now all spread. The next "dalek" had a goodly amount in it too, which is also now spread.

I brought a composter from the plot to home when I built my pallet compost bays at the plot. So now I have 4 "daleks" at home.
I managed to turn two of them completely and have started on the third...I'll finish it tomorrow.

When I lifted one of the "daleks" off the pile a huge rat ran for cover. He'd made quite a hollow in the pile.

So, now I am tired and can justify an evening sitting. But I will be hemming some huge no peace for me then!
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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Allotment Autumn update

What a boring picture I hear you saying!!! You're right. But I took it to show that the field beans green manure crop has come through well as promised by Melanie on the 3rd November. They look healthy. The ones in the garden at home are smaller but they don't get the sun like the plot does.

The bed behind is where I sowed broad beans on the 1st November. I think they are coming up, but so are dozens of nasturtiums!

I dug some spuds this morning and the last of the carrots. The spuds were very good still, although one was heavily scabbed. Another had sprouted and had quite a good plant on top. I pulled it out, but Malcolm thinks I should have left it to produce a second crop. I will if another does it too.

The carrots had all got the fly....the "Flyaway" to a lesser extent than the "Red Chantenay". My earlier carrots didn't get it at all so I thought perhaps it wasn't worth doing a screen. I know better now! I've ordered some environmesh for next year's crop.

When I did my seed order for next year I didn't go to the extra expense of getting "Flyaway" again as they were more than three times the price of the others. As they don't seem to be totally resistant to the fly then I think they are a waste of money, and a barrier will be the best remedy in future.

I spent an hour this afternoon weeding the paths and then hoeing them. I don't like weeds to get a hold on the paths as they are a pig to remove from the hard-trodden soil, whereas the weeds that come up in the untrodden beds are a breeze to pull out. There were lots of baby docks, which I am happy to have caught young.

There is still an awful lot to do before I am winter ready at the plot, but I have an operation pending so small trips to do not very onerous jobs will be all I can manage for a while. The big jobs will be in limbo during the winter anyway......weeds don't come back in profusion now until spring, when I should be fit and well again. (It is not a big op. I have a stone in my salivary gland which has now blocked the duct. It is very swollen and tender. I am scheduled for the op in January, but I hope I don't have to wait that long as I hate taking painkillers!)
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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"Grow Your Own" ...the film

When will it stop raining? I haven't been to the plot for so long now. I must go tomorrow because we need carrots and potatoes. I'd also like to do some more clearing, but I fear it will rain again.

I bought the "Grow Your Own "DVD of the film made this year. It is a gentle little story of an allotment site that experiences turmoil when some immigrants are given plots ahead of the waiting list, and a mobile phone company wants to erect a mast at the site.
Not the best film I've ever seen, but I enjoyed it and it will be nice to put on to help speed up the ironing!


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Back garden shrub bed...continued

I finished planting up the new shrub bed this afternoon.
First I spread a bag of bought farmyard manure (not fresh but processed), then I planted the shrubs. They look very small at the moment...and frail.
I planted lots of bulbs...all the ones from yesterday's list , and some additional bluebells, fritillaries and irises.
I mulched the whole thing with Levingtons bark. I have a corner not yet done, so it'll have to wait until Monday.
I used some thin bamboo stakes and lots of white string around the bed in an effort to stop the dogs tearing over it all when they are running.


Friday, November 09, 2007

Back garden shrub bed

These arrived from J. Parkers yesterday whilst I was in London. They are shrubs for a bed I'm replanting in our back garden.
They are Philadelphus,
Vibernum Bodnantense Dawn,
Jasmine Nudiflorum,
Daphne Mezereum,
Sarcococca (Christmas Box) 3 plants , and
Ceonothus Puget's Blue.
A few weeks ago my bulb order for the same bed came, and these can now be planted...when I put the shrubs in. They are
Daffs Yellow Cheerfulness 30,
Cyclamen Neapolitanum 5,
Allium Karatav Ivory Queen 10,
Muscarii Mount Hood 50,
Allium Purple Sensation 15 (free gift!!!) , and
Angelique Tulip 30 (another Free Gift!!!!)

So....I spent a long morning and an hour this afternoon clearing this bed (it's about 17ft by 7ft at its deepest). There were 5 buckets of white bindweed roots, and lots of vinca. I've left the vinca that was at the back as I know it'll spread all over again when my back is turned and act as ground cover . I still have to add some goodness (I'll probably get some pelleted manure tomorrow as I haven't the energy to sift compost...!), but it is now ready for planting up. The only problem is that I'm now dead beat! I walked the dogs which helped me straighten up, but honestly...I started with a very bad back anyway from all my walking in London yesterday. I had a really good day and got lots of things I need desperately, but our train home was cancelled (tree down on the line at Petersfield!) , so we were shunted (standing seats available) all over the south east trying to get to Portsmouth Harbour. Then when we got there the Seacat was cancelled twice because they couldn't tie up at Ryde Pier because it was too rough. When we did eventually go we had to practically run and jump to shore because the gangplank was bucking about all over the place!!!!!! So I was very stiff and rather tired this morning. But I had two ibuprofen (then two more later) and managed to do what was needed.

The tree on the right is the pear, which needs it's annual pruning soon. There is a red climbing rose behind that. On the left is a rather unhappy camellia. I'll give that some TLC and see if it helps. The bush against the fence in the middle is a mystery plant. It has white seedheads like mistletoe, but I have no idea of its name. In the soil in front I have heeled in a whole lot of pink geraniums which I rescued as I weeded. These'll be spread about when I've replanted.

Hope tomorrow is fine so that I can finish this job.

I need also to go and get some bark chippings to topdress the bed because I don't relish weeding this too often. I prefer veg gardening to flower gardening so this has been designed to be minimum maintenance.
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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

See how far I've come! It's nearly the anniversary of the plot

I seem to have lost the really awful pictures of how it looked when I first saw it. This one was taken after I'd started digging at the far end of the bank, but it gives a good idea of how it was 11 months ago!
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Plot update

Eleven months ago today I was told that I could have plot 58 if I wanted it. So I thought I should take some pictures of the state of the plot as at today.
This first picture shows the far end of the plot. The posts on the left are jut on Chris plot, and you can see where I have been digging today. I am trying to clear the "path" between my plot and his so that I can pin down some black garden fabric stuff to stop weeds.

Deep Bed 1 had spuds in this year, followed by carrots at this end (still a few there) and green manure (white clover) at the other...also still you can see.

Deep Bed 2 was beetroots and carrots this year. It has now been cleaned (not dug as it is a no-dig bed) and the last of the manure spread about 2 inches deep.

Deep Bed 3 was onions this year. Then I sowed phacelia as a green manure. This was dug in and cabbage plants went in, all within a few days. This was a mistake.....the cabbage plants have all shrivelled up and died, except for 2. I am not sure what to do with this bed now.....! I expect I'll take up the net and move the two healthy cabbages to the broccoli bed at the other end of the plot.

The next picture shows Deep Bed 3 again. Then Deep Bed 4. This has the remains of our maincrop potatoes in...Desiree. These are being left in the ground until wanted.

Deep Bed 5 was courgettes this year, as was Deep Bed 6. These have been cleaned.

Deep Beds 7 and 8 were squashes this year at the far end, and broccoli and kale at the path end (under the net in the next picture). Next year they will be made into proper deep beds separated by little paths. The far end of bed 7 has the broad beans in which I sowed recently These are now peeping through the soil. And the far end of bed 8 has the field beans in....these seem to be up and flourishing as at this morning.
The compost bins which I installed last month are now tidied for the winter. I turned the compost this morning from one bay to the other, pulling out all the white roots (which had already colonised the plant matter) and putting them into the ex wormery you see here, hopefully they will rot away without "infecting" all my compost. I'm sure there will still be roots all through the compost when it is done, but I have made an effort.

In the background you can see the efforts I have made with the bank. I don't think I am going to go on with my "incinerator" plan. The fire made in the stone enclosure works very well. I must have another fire soon. Then I can finish tidying the bank. I think I'll lay cardboard all over the area, with manure over it, and use this spot for the courgettes and pumpkins next year. I'll have to give them lots of water as the tree sucks it all up from this spot.

All in all I am quite satisfied with my 11 months work. I have plans to finish the bank clearance, and to finish all the burning. I hope to do it all by the 8th December as that will be the First Anniversary of starting to dig.
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Saturday, November 03, 2007

State of play at the plot today

The weather was fine.....windless and very I went to the plot for two hours this afternoon. I spent the time cleaning the bed that had been beetroots and carrots this summer. Then I barrowed all the manure from the compost bays and dumped it on the deep bed. It needs a little raking now to make all tidy then leaving until next spring. This will be for spuds next season.

Now the manure bay is empty the next job is to turn the compost into it. It seems three of us will share a load of manure very soon, so the empty bay will have to house the manure until I get a chance to spread it. If I need any more I'll have it delivered in bags so it doesn't hog the compost bays all summer.

Later in the afternoon the dogs and I walked through all the plots. I found the couple who are now doing the plot I had last year. The poor souls are now "helping" the plot holder....! I'm afraid I had to warn them how fickle she is. They have done so much work, and it looks beautiful. I suggested they get themselves on the list asap, as there is no real hope of getting that one permanently.

I keep looking to see if the field beans on the plot and here at home (a green manure crop sown weeks ago) are coming up, but there is no sign at either garden. A bit disappointing!
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Friday, November 02, 2007

A not much happening at the plot day!

No show at the plot today because I had neighbours in for lunch then I had the dogs to walk.

The day was so very beautiful here on the Isle of Wight. The autumn colours are spectacular here this year, and the sea was a symphony of blue, pink and grey today. There were people swimming in the sea (in wetsuits but still....!) and it was calm, calm, calm. There was no wind and the air was warm. Truly lovely.

Hopefully tomorrow afternoon I'll get an opportunity to do a bit more autumn clear up at the plot.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bonfire fun and games!

I went early to the plot....9am...because I wanted to start the fire and have a long day burning the rubbish. I noticed though when I arrived at the plot that the people were still there in the bottom flat. Blow! Then I spoke to the lady and she said they would be going later in the I gave up the idea and got on with some gardening instead.

After lunch I went back to carry on with the gardening and saw that all the stuff on their balcony was put away, washing taken in, bathroom window shut...all quiet.... it looked like they'd gone. So I lit the fire. 20 minutes later I saw the lady on her patio! I apologised, but said that I had satisfied myself that they were gone before lighting it. She said not to worry as the smoke was going away from the flats anyway. (I sort of wondered if they were playing a bit of a game with me!) So I left it....and piled it right up again when it died down a bit. I have been waiting for this opportunity for months and needed to get the stuff burnt before it goes rainy again.
In this picture you can get a better idea of how high the bank is. About 2 1/2 foot higher at the back than the front. But I have abandoned the idea of shifting all the soil back to the flat part of the plot. It took me two days to recover from the last day's efforts, and I am getting to where the roots are tree roots. They seem to have colonised all the bank and I don't feel like fighting them. I'll just give it all a very good weeding and then use it for pumpkins next year. And I'll build a permanent "incinerator" from the slabs that are already at the plot. Then I will be able to leave fires without worrying about them.

At 4 when I left it was quite small and compact but still smouldering. We are not supposed to leave fires unattended, but it honestly was nearly finished.
This morning I decided to clean up the area behind the raspberries, alongside the fence. The sunflowers were all dried up and the seeds all gone, so I uprooted them and added them to the fire pile. I weeded where they were then decided that this would be the perfect spot for the comfrey. A long row of it will be very useful as I find it really good for adding to the compost heap, as well as making stinky liquid for plant feeding.
I also weeded all the fruit area and manured all the fruit bushes and rhubarb. And I ate all the raspberries. Not enough there to take home..!

I also sowed the broad bean seeds "Sutton" in the very neat looking bed on the left of the first photo. I chose these because they only reach a foot high and won't need staking. We get a lot of wind across the allotments and not staking is a bonus. I do prefer "Aquadulce Claudia", which I have sowed here at home, but the "Sutton" one is a test.
Then I turned my attention to the "path" between my plot and Chris's. This bit hasn't been touched since I took the plot on. I have started to weed out the big perennial weeds. Tomorrow I'll give it all a thorough dig and weed and then stamp it firm and cover it with black "terram" type fabric to keep the weeds down. I'll peg it down firmly.

A "new" couple have taken over one of the plots near the back hedge against the tennis courts. Their plot wasn't too overgrown, but they feel it'll take years to get it straight....! I showed them that mine has only taken 11 months and they were much encouraged. With two of them it shouldn't take long.

All in all I had a very productive, satisfying day. But I am so stiff now. I had a shower when I got in because I stunk of bonfire, but I think it should have been a bath. I could have one now, but DH is out and I don't want to risk not being able to get out again....I'm that stiff. I'll just get comfy with cushions instead.

Now I hope this posts. I did a long one this morning that didn't take....!
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