Thursday, 27 November 2014

Allotment Update - November

This is just a mini update really as I havent had a great deal of opportunities to get down to the allotment recently but I did make it down about two weeks ago to plant three apple trees that I picked up from Asda for £5 each

From left to right the trees in the middle picture are: Discovery,  James Grieve and Jonagold. I wasnt really spoilt for choice with what was available but at £5 a tree I couldnt turn them down, all the local garden centres seem to usually be more like £30 per tree.

The trees are planted quite close together as the plan is to put a fence of some kind behind them and grow them in an espalier style. To be perfectly honest I have pretty much no knowledge on how to do this so some frantic googling will probably need to happen next year so that I can learn a bit more about how to do this properly.

I also made it down to the allotment a few days ago to simply have a quick look around and to see how well the drainage trenches have been coping recently. The short answer is that they are coping well so far but they are starting to get very full and the rain still keeps coming

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Allotment Update - November 9th

When I arrived at the plot on sunday morning I was greeted by rather a lot of standing water in the drainage ditches that I have dug over the last few months and more worryingly the main ditch at the bottom of the site was also very full.

I think the digging of the ditches and the use of raised beds has been fairly vindicated in light of the amount of water seen above. Hopefully this will be as bad as the flooding ever gets but Im not very optimistic.

I was also down at the plot the previous weekend but I didnt have the time to take any pictures or blog about any updates as I was too busy building my new shed (with the assistance of my wife and my Dad)

This particular shed will be used as more of a potting/tea shed rather than for tool storage. My main goal for this particular day's work was to get it painted so that it was weather proofed, at some stage soon I also want to come back and brace up the internal supports for the roof as quite frankly the roof of this particular shed is utter crap. Luckily my Dad was on hand again to do a lot of the painting work as the local farmer had delivered me some manure (thanks to Percy, George and Roy for sorting that) but had dropped it off quite a few plots away so I had to shovel and wheel barrow it all to the right place.

And here is the manure in all its glory:

And my Dad working hard on painting:

By the end of the day the shed was fully painted, but it will probably need a second coat at some point soon, and the manure was all shifted so I then started work on tidying up the metal storage shed and this was the end result:

I also found some time to spread some manure over some of the beds and will probably cut down the green manure Im growing at the moment and spread those beds with it as well I think

Here is the shed finished and with a seat in it that Kirsty managed to pickup from a local facebook selling page

Rather a big update this time really as quite a lot has been done in the last couple of weeks. My future plans include, but are most certainly not limited to, the following:
  • Brace the shed roof to support it better
  • Paint the inside of the shed and install a potting table and other shelving and storage
  • Dig over the rest of the plot and start to install more raised beds
  • Buy and plant some apple trees
  • Start planning what Im growing next year and where it will all be going
  • Build patio area in front of the potting shed, including a couple of small raised beds that hopefully Mia (daughter) can play with over the coming years

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Allotment Update - October 19th

My primary focus for this sunday's session at the allotment was do some digging to help re-define a path between my allotment and the one further up the hill as none of the allotments around me have been worked for at least a year or so and the paths have just disappeared. Im hoping that the three surrounding allotments will all be given new owners next year so I wanted to get this bit of work done long before anyone new turns up so that there are no potential issues over the definition of it.

Here are the before pictures:

And here is the newly re-discovered path (set to the same width as all the other paths between the other allotments):

Admittedly not the most exciting bit of work Ive ever done but was still quite pleased with the outcome.

I had a bit of help from my Dad again and he was carrying on his work with fitting out the metal shed with some storage. Im not 100% sure what his plans are, and he has taken away some of the wood to chop up and build at home, but here are a couple of work in progress pictures:

Earlier on in the week I finished off building a couple of planters to go in front of this shed that will each have a blueberry bush in them. I managed to get them both in position but I ran out of ericaceous compost so I only got one of the blueberry bushes planted this time

My garlic and winter onions are starting to come through nicely now, they all have a few weeds coming through as well though so I'll have to take care of that in the near future

The green manure I have planted in several of the beds is looking quite impressive at the moment:

My potatoes are not looking so good though :-( 

Finally, the base I laid for the new shed has turned out pretty well and the shed is now on order and due for delivery at the end of October, right about the time of my birthday so its basically a birthday present to mysel :-)

Monday, 13 October 2014

Allotment Update - October 11th/12th

This weekend I decided I really had to get stuck in to getting all the paving slabs down to the plot and finally laying a nice solid base for my main shed to go on in a few weeks.

The first job was to actually get all the 600x600mm slabs wheelbarrowed from my back garden, I managed to get the last of these done on saturday evening and was pretty shattered after 6 trips with the bloody things (Im lead to believe they weigh over 40kgs each!). Here is how the stack of slabs looked on saturday morning, by this point Id also carried down 4 long bits of wood to make a frame to contain the slabs:

It may not look all that impressive but getting this stack in place at the plot was probably the single most tiring bit of work Id done here so far.

This is how the site looked before work commenced:

The next step was to screw the frame together, Id pre built some of it back at the house, and then to dig some holes for the posts:

Yet more wheelbarrowing ensued after this to bring down the following: 6 bags of sand, 2 bags of concrete and 2 bags of postcrete. I was getting very tired by this point and rather bored of the walk to and from my house, I was very keen to get it finished though so I pressed on.

All four corner posts fixed in with postcrete and starting to level the surface with sand:

I wasnt really taking too many pictures by this point, but its not the most exciting thing to photograph anyway. After the picture above I mixed in the cement and the laid and levelled each slab, I wasnt particularly bothered about doing the most amazing job ever as most of this is just going to sit underneath a shed. 

For the final step I brushed some ready mixed mortar that I had kicking around into the gaps between the slabs and the I watered the whole thing to hopefully let the dry mix of mortar that I had made underneath bond to the slabs and then start to harden. This probably isnt the correct way to do something like this but it seems to work for me and I thought that adding in the cement, rather than just simply using sand, should help with the longevity of the whole base and help to make it more rigid (particularly in damp conditions).

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Potato Problem - Looking for some advice please

I've never actually grown potatoes so if anyone out there can assist with my current issue then please comment below as it would be much appreciated. Basically, I spotted a bit of a problem last night with a couple of leaves not looking very healthy (it was raining heavily at the time so I didnt stay for long) and when I went back tonight for another look they seem to be in a much worse state. It has been suggested to me that it could be potato blight but I really dont have any idea what the looks like so if anyone can see from the photos below what the problem is, if indeed there is a problem, then please let me.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Allotment Update - October 4th

I didnt have much time to spare for this particular allotment session so I opted for tidying up a few of the beds, rather than getting in to any of the more ambitious jobs that currently need doing (of which a rather long list is starting to pile up)

This is the state of the plot at the start of the session

The bed with the leeks in was in desparate need of some weeding, unfortunately my weeding companion Kirsty hasnt been able to spare the time to come down and help for quite a few weeks now

After a spot of weeding, this is what it looked like

I decided it was time to clear out all the tomato plants as they were getting a bit out of control and had never really produced much due to how late I put them in. I also decided to pull up the beetroot and carrots as well so that I could start again with the bed they were in

And after a clearout and a bit of weeding this is what they looked like

I dont think I got time to blog about it just before I went on holiday but my garlic and winter onion sets arrived so I got all of those planted, unfortunately though they seem to have attracted the attention of some local wildlife (I suspect birds) and the onions keep getting pulled up. To try and help with the situation I have placed some netting over the beds and even stolen a couple of my daughter's windmill things to hopefully act as bird scarers

Thats about it for now really, Im hoping to get on over the next week or two with ferrying all my remaining paving slabs down to the plot so that I can start laying the base for the main shed. The 600mm x 600mm paving slabs are bloody heavy though so its slow going wheel barrowing them all the way from the house. I also want to look at building some storage in the metal shed as its kind of been a bit abandoned recently and is already very messy, might see if I can get my Dad to come down and assist with that at some point soon. Id also like to do some work defining the path between myself and the allotment slightly higher up the hill as its never been worked in the time Ive been there and the path has pretty much disappeared, ideally Id like to get that sorted before a new tennant ever takes it over so there are no issues with it. Oh yeah, and the main path at the side of the allotment needs all the dead nettle roots digging out so thats going to be another big job that needs sorting soon.

Lots and lots still to do, watch this space....

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Allotment Update - 21st August

The wife kindly allowed me to spend a good bit of time down at the allotment this sunday as we are going away on holiday next week so this would be my last chance for a couple of weeks to make much progress.

Im hoping that Suttons Seeds will be delivering my winter garlic and onions at some point very soon so the main job was to get the last few beds ready so that I can pop down one evening after work and stick the bulbs in nice and easily. So here are the beds after they have been filled with compost and all the paths around them sorted

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Allotment Update - 13th/14th August

I managed to get a bit of time in at the allotment this weekend and I had some assistance from my Dad as well so quite a bit of progress was made.

My Dad fitted a wooden framework for me inside the metal shed, this will allow me to build shelves, attach hooks, etc so that things can be stored in there in a more orderly fashion

Whilst my Dad was doing that bit of work I also fitted a solar powered light for inside the shed and got on with a bit of digging that needed doing as well