Monday, January 31, 2005

January Picture Gallery

If I can work out how to do it there could one day be a gallery of allotment pictures taken in January 2005 here.

January 2005 Reflections

Altogether this month has been positive in as much as I've been doing a lot of 'planning' even though there might not yet be a lot to show for it on site.

Looking at my notebook list of things to do this month it now looks hopelessly optimistic (and it didn't even include starting a blog!).

I haven't sorted out paths or begun to mend the beds yet. I have cleared the Artichokes, and I have pampered the broad beans a bit. I realise I haven't even mentioned the onions & garlic which seem to be overwintering OK in readiness for a growth spurt in the spring.

I was disappointed not to have managed to repair the raised bed as planned yesterday, but relieved that I have made the decision to use heavy duty replacements for the mill board. They're 2" wide for sturdiness and to lean on etc more easily. Also tanelised. Should last for ages. B&Q do them in a range of widths and lengths. I'm using 9'11" long by 6" wide for the bed pictured on Saturday. They also do nearly 16' x 8.75" which could come in handy for some of the larger beds on the slope. B&Q's big woodsaw has broken down again so I won't get any really big bits until they can cut them up for me. They might as well be selling raised bed kits really.

I still have to decide what to do about the weeds on the central path. They should be easier to keep on top of if I'm getting down more often this year as intend to but I wonder about putting carpet on top. I really thought I'd had enough of dragging wet carpet around the plot but it is one possibility.

My main new year's resolution is to keep sowing and planting stuff, and to plan more about what to do when. The Gardener's Almanac site should help with this, but I am also going to look at Geoff hamilton, Laurence D. Hills and Jane

I must not forget about sorting netting on brassicas and fruit in

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Raised Bed Renovation (Planning)

I've got some timber to completely remake this bed, so watch this space! The original board for my beds was mill-board from demolished Lancashire cotton mills. These had been impregnated with grease and oil over the course of their lifetime, and are completely impervious to water. Posted by Hello

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Fiat Tempra - The Perfect Allotment Vehicle?

Further to my comments about Jerusalem Artichokes earlier, this photograph illustrates just why the Fiat Tempra is the perfect allotment vehicle. I can drop down the tailgate and stuff them in as they are, and then close the top portion of the hatch and trap them tightly between the two. There is also provision inside for lashing articles securely down when driving with the tailgate open. Posted by Hello

Jerusalem Artichokes (1)

This should be tidied up before the new shoots appear in the Spring. Posted by Hello

Jerusalem Artichokes (2)

That's better. I leave it 'til this time of year to tidy the Jerusalem Artichoke haulm as the stems become very brittle and I can just kick them off at ground level and gather them up.
I've heard it said that they can be used as light stakes but I can't think of a job for which they wouldn't be too light!

The stems contain a spongy pith which makes peeling them very satisfying. When I make the page you should find more information about Jerusalem Artichokes here.

Posted by Hello

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

New Pumpkin Bed

This lot should be sorted into a new pumpkin bed where the manure heap used to be if all goes according to plan.

The compost bin (to the left by the wheelbarrow) is falling to pieces so I should be doing something about that soon as well. I'm considering digging the whole of the remains of the compost heap into where the beans are going this year. Is this a good idea? Posted by Hello

I used a bell cloche instead of fleece

Why don't I just call it my Broad Bean Diary and be done with it? Only one bean was outgrowing its bottle cloche. Twisting the bottle didn't work (see earlier post here) so I had to gently replace the plant. Posted by Hello

Monday, January 24, 2005

Sheds on a nearby plot

I'm not doing much at the moment so I thought you might like to see this view of a nearby plot. As far as I can tell the shed is made of asbestos.Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Broad Beans & Bottle Cloches

(20.01.05) Soon the cloches will be too small. When I remove them I find that twisting sharply each way several times helps to avoid lifting the plant with the cloche. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Bottle Cloches (1)

Broad beans snug and warm and just as importantly protected from the fierce winds we have had to endure recently.

I find that bottle cloches are ideal for protecting over-wintering broad bean plants. If at all possible I use Robinson's bottles as they are satifyingly rigid. Sugar Free Pink Grapefruit bottles give the best results of all as they deter slugs.

When the plants get too large for the bottles I will replace them with fleece (probably). Posted by Hello

Bottle Cloches (2)

Bottle Cloches in Situ. The rest of the bed is covered in well-rotted chicken Manure. Posted by Hello

Monday, January 17, 2005

Ground Cover & Convolvulus

Ground cover helps "control" the convolvulus in the Autumn fruiting raspberries. ("Autumn Bliss" & "Allgold")Posted by Hello

Sunday, January 16, 2005

In the Bleak Midwinter ('Usual' View - ed)

Jan 2005: In the Bleak Midwinter.

As you can see things are looking a bit barren at the moment. The bed in the foreground covered in black groundcover was double-dug in the Autumn using some of the 10 tons of chicken manure delivered to the site for general use by the farmer friend of a plotholder. This bed is in readiness for pumpkins when the time comes.

The wooden box further into the plot is an old sandpit I'm filling with chicken manure and topsoil for an attempt on the carrot-growing front. It used to be a run for the Guinea Pigs but Bubbles has no further need of it and I'll have to find something else for Shadow when it gets warmer.

I try to keep as much as possible covered over in the winter to avoid weed growth and to keep the soil warm. In the growing season it keeps the plants weed-free (slight exageration) and prevents them from drying out.

I used it on a strawberry bed for years and thought the weeds had disappeared until I finally took it off and within a few weeks the bed was alive with convolvulus. Not a pleasant surprise! Posted by Hello

An Internet allotment discovery

I've seen a great site which has already sorted out my brassica netting problem. Have a look at it here:

What a wonderful project! The diary pages linked to from lower down the homepage are particularly interesting and full of good ideas. The whole site is very well illustrated with photographs and clear explanation/discussion.

Intrigued by the aforementioned "brassica netting problem"? This is it: I've never really bothered with netting brassicas. The plan is to pick the caterpillars off by hand on a regular basis. What generally happens is that the plants are gnawed to the bone each Autumn and only regrow once the caterpillars have disappeared. This year I have resolved to do something about this sorry state of affairs. I had a bit of trouble getting netting over the Purple Sprouting and January King in the Autumn, but the system used by the Saunders looks simple and effective.

15th Jan 2005

The main news today is I had a look at some photos of the allotment from 1998 having downloaded the picasa software from google. I must get the allotment going again this year last year was a disgrace.

Cabbages Flourishing in Sept 1998

Today's are tiny compared to these beauties! Posted by Hello

Saturday, January 15, 2005

My Plot in September 1998

Much better cabbages than recently! Posted by Hello
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