Sunday, 22 May 2016

Pretty poly

It's up!  How long it will stay up is an entirely different matter as I have the distinct impression that despite my best efforts to anchor it to a frame it'll blow away in the first puff of wind.  There's a bit more work to do burying the sides of the cover, but hopefully I can make some headway now getting the inside part sorted out and move the tomato and aubergine plants down to the allotment.

Base before the frame was screwed to it

You can't see them in the photo, probably because they're green, but the tunnel is also attached to the ground with guy ropes.  Whoever the idiot was who thought GREEN guy ropes and green ground pegs on a green poly-tunnel, in a green environment was a good idea, I don't know.  As soon as possible these will be changed for bright orange or shocking pink.  Anything that we can actually see!!

Looking back through plot neighbour's fence
The allotment now has a nice muddy path going down it as mid-way through putting the thing up yesterday, the heavens decided to open and pretty much stayed that way until I'd finished.  This morning the sun is out and shining brightly so will try and get some more done so it's ready to go!

Monday, 16 May 2016


Housemate and I took the kids to Woolsthorpe Manor yesterday.  I've been threatening/promising a return trip so HMS could see the place too, and I think they both enjoyed themselves.  Being that little bit older, Small appreciated the interactive science parts more than last time we went and he had great fun doing the "mouse hunt" around the house again, this time with HMS in tow.  The latter had fun doing the human sundial and also enjoyed the interactive discovery centre as he's covering some of the topics at school.

Small photographed photographing me!
The pollen count seems to be dreadfully high this year, with half the neighbourhood wandering around with puffy eyes, runny noses and gravelly throats.  Small has succumbed too and is feeling decidedly sorry for himself, not helped by the fact that he hates the noise of nose blowing.  As both hands are firmly clamped over his ears for that particular activity he can't hold the tissue, so guess who gets that job :-(   As we're surrounded by fields of flowering oil-seed rape, I guess it won't be getting better any time soon.

I spotted my first cabbage whites of the year today, so the Wheeler's Imperial cabbages were hastily covered with some enviromesh which will hopefully keep the damned things at bay as they're just starting to heart up nicely.  I was a little late getting them into the ground, so they won't be ready for a few more weeks.

I sowed some Tagates, Calendula and Echinacea in pots and tonight's trip to the allotment saw some more cabbage (Golden Acre), sprouts (Nelson) and calabrese (Beaumont) planted out under bottle cloches.  I also got in some sweetcorn plants I picked up at the garden centre the other day.  Variety unknown, the label just says "sweetcorn", but enough for 3/4 of a bed full that have gone at the end of the raspberry bed.

Sod's law, most of the "Incredible" sweetcorn that are in a propagator in one of the growhouses have decided to come up, but as they're a 'super-sweet' variety which apparently are a case of  'never the twain shall meet' when it comes to non super-sweet varieties, can stay up at the house in a bed that I have spare.  I'll have to find a spare patch down at Lottie for the "Sparrow" corn that have germinated, and heaven help me now if the Mirai I sowed the other day do germinate.  I'll have to dig out another bed for them!  Still, with a bit of luck we'll get some degree of succession with the sweetcorn which will suit me just fine.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Enable your label

I've tried all sorts of things for labels.  Wooden sticks were a complete failure as no matter what I wrote on them with, the words eventually either wore off or went mouldy and became illegible, so I gave up on them.

Next up was the plastic ones, written on in indelible ink.  The only trouble with that option is indelible does what it says on the tin.  Yes, I know there are various methods out there to remove the ink, but to be honest that's too much faff!

The best solution I've found to plant labelling is to use the plastic ones and write in pencil - I like the 4" ones from B&M which come in packs of 50 and have a neat little pencil in the packet.  It's a fairly soft pencil, probably a 2B or something like that, and I now write all my labels in pencil.  It doesn't wash off, no matter how muddy and mucky the labels get, so I always know what I've planted.

Once the label is surplus to requirements, I simply give it a wash and dry it on a micro-fiber cloth, then rub off the writing.  The trick to not making a smudgy mess is to make sure it's a plastic eraser, something like a Staedtler one - of which we have several thanks to homeschooling and they come up as good as new.

Et voila! Permanently reusable labels ready for next time.

Another tip I read recently was to make your own plant labels by cutting up those plastic cartons that milk comes in, and cutting the pieces into label-sized strips.  Might try that one if I ever run out.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Led into temptation

Some of the pak choi made it down onto the allotment today, with a few more plants put in one of the beds at home.  It seems I may have left it a little late as a couple of them look like they're trying to bolt.  I did a spot of weeding and trimming around some of the beds where the lawn mower doesn't quite reach, but it was rather warm so I retreated until later in the day.  Unlike my plot neighbour-but-one, who had his sun lounger out to soak up the rays!

The Maris Pipers have, all bar one, got their heads up, so they were earthed up a little more.  The onions and broad beans are looking well, and to be honest there's not a whole lot of difference between the beans I planted in the autumn and those planted in February.  They're all in flower, so hopefully beans will soon follow.

I've sown some more sweetcorn, as it doesn't look like any of the Earligold or Mirai sown previously are going to do anything.  The other eight Earligold seeds have gone into a propagator, along with 32 Mirai so hopefully some of them will come up!  After the delights of home grown sweetcorn last year I'd be mightily miffed if we didn't have any this year.

I was naughty today.  An email from T&M offering 10 packs of seeds for a fiver was too good not to at least click through on, just to see what was on offer you understand!  Well, out of 180 or so varieties of veg seeds that were part of the deal, I chose 20.  So hopefully soon winging my way will be:

Broad Bean, "Stereo"
Sweetcorn, "Butterscotch" F1
Squash, winter, "Autumn Crown"
Shallot, "Zebrune"
Onion, "Rosanna"
Pea, "Balmoral"
Pea, "Alexandra"
Melon, "Galia" F1
Radish, "Rougette"
Carrot, "White Satin" F1
Turnip, "Salad Delight"
Lemon Balm, Duchy Originals Organic
Leek, "King Richard"
Cabbage, "Wheelers Imperial"
Cabbage, "Jersey Wakefield"
Swede, "Helenor", Duchy Originals Organic
Dwarf Bean, "Borlotto"
Parsnip, "Pinnacle" F1
Tomato, "Vilma"
Pak Choi, "White" F1

Another quick visit to Lottie this evening, with some "Ambassador" peas that were in a length of guttering that had survived the slugs put in.  A few bits of wood moved revealed some nice fat slugs, so my plot neighbour's hens got a nice protein treat.


On our recent trip to visit the folks, my mum gave me a couple of rose arches that had been kicking around in her shed for several years.  I got the distinct impression she'd got fed up with waiting for my dad to put the things together, and they'd been gathering dust ever since.

One of them has now been assembled and much to my delight, is exactly the width of the gate from the first section of the allotment into the 'orchard' area.  I'm planning to tie some canes to the frame and use it for growing the runner beans up.  Small was happy to pose for a photo!

The second one can gather some dust in my shed until such time as the next section of fence is completed, and the next gate - which matches the one next to Small - is put in.  The arches should look quite nice with beans growing up them.

While I was down at the lottie, one of the fruit beds got weeded, and there's room for a couple of cabbage plants to go in there.  I seem to have quite a few of them!  Back up at the house I sowed some more pumpkin seeds as the ones I got free with a gardening magazine have had a spectacular 100% failure rate, as have the patty squashes that came with the same magazine.  I also sowed some butternut squash seeds as those sown previously have also failed to germinate, as have almost all the sweetcorn.  Out of eight seeds each of Earligold, Mirai, Sparrow and Incredible, only 6 of the Sparrow have germinated, rather a disappointment as we love the taste of freshly picked sweetcorn.  I'll have to try again.

Monday, 9 May 2016


It's hard to believe, after the thermometer said 27C today, that only a week or so back we had snow, hail and really heavy frosts!  A glorious day to be out in the garden/down at the allotment, and after a few days away down in Wales with the folks there was certainly plenty to catch up on.

Thankfully my very kind neighbour had watered all the plants in the back yard growhouses while I was gone, and apart from some celery which I'd forgotten to move from the front to the back, everything looks remarkably well.  I rescued the celery last night and stuck it in a tray of water and left it outside overnight, and by this morning it had perked up again so all is well.

After a load of potting on, sowing and transplanting up at the house, I finally got down to the allotment about 5pm and found the grass desperately needed cutting.  Everything else is looking good and enjoying the sunshine.  All three of the apple trees are in blossom, along with the cherry tree, and the fruit bushes are all about to burst into blossom as well.

The Maris Pipers which had suffered a bit in the frosts at the end of April have all pushed up some new growth, so they got earthed up and the bed weeded.  There's a lot more to do though, so hopefully it won't be too hot tomorrow and I can get on with more weeding.

Monday, 2 May 2016

The sun has come out

After several days of the most dismal, grey and unpredictable weather, it was dry and relatively warm this morning.  Laundry pegged out, wellies and gardening gloves on, time to do a bit of potting on.  Some of the tomato plants that have been languishing on the living room windowsill have been transferred into larger pots and put into one of the grow houses, next to the courgette plants (Green bush) which are looking reasonably healthy and some De Cayenne chillies which are going to stay on housemate's bedroom windowsill were also potted on into larger pots.
No sooner had I finished potting on the tomatoes to come in for a cuppa, and the heavens opened with another of those absolutely torrential downpours.  A mad dash to grab the almost dry washing and quick trip to Aldi followed, as while I like gardening, I'm not such an enthusiast that I like doing it in the rain!

By the time we got back the sun was out again, so another load of laundry quickly pegged out and down to the allotment to drop off some bits.  Most of what's been planted seems to be doing OK but it looks like the Maris Piper main crop spuds have been frost damaged.  They were only just starting to poke their leaves through, so hopefully they'll recover.  While there's always a risk of more frosts in early May, hopefully the new month will bring some more stable and warmer weather so we can all get growing full steam ahead!