22. FEBRUARY

Another day, another upcycling done. I was offered some blue rubber chippings, the kind used in playgrounds; of course I accepted. It took just the two of us, Frank and myself, filling a few large sacks and a wheelie bin, then taking it to the allotment and the result is…

I didn’t mix this with the wood chip, these two paths are small and to the side but important to cover all the same, it stops the ground getting muddy.

That was the other day. Today was the day of harvesting the last of the leeks and as it wasn’t too wet I decided to dig the patch over. Good job done, it was quite easy and by getting this done all my digging is finished. I hope the leeks will do as well this year, they were tasty and lasted the whole winter.

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SALVAGE/RECYCLING

Quite a lot of houses in the neighbourhood are in process of being either renovated or, more the pity, turned into houses of multiple occupancy, eg. student accommodation. That means the workmen are removing a lot of fitted cupboards and such like and this is where I come in. My motto – if you don’t ask you don’t get – works every time. Rather than putting the planks etc in the skip, the builders usually keep it to one side for me and I take it to the allotment.

All this will be used in renovating the paths – not all of them, some are fine with grass surface but some are too narrow or uneven to maintain well. Having the wood chip on will keep them tidy and mud free.

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Waste not, want not!

MAINTENANCE

We managed to win third place in the Coventry Allotment competition, our site looked fine but we are determined to do better this year. We shall hold a trophy for a year and also get some money for our troubles.

I contacted the tree surgeon again and he gave us a truckload of wood chip with the promise that as soon as he’ll have more we shall get it. Amazing how much was needed just to fill these paths – all the wood chip has gone there. We shall store the next lot and use it as and when and where we need it.

Happy days!

RASPBERRIES…

….are ready. As I have just about finished my digging on the rest of the plot I can do jobs that I neglected in the past, like weeding the raspberry patch and spreading some horse muck there. Today was just the right day for it. I managed a half-day there yesterday, started the weeding and soon realised that there are many more weeds  than I thought. A lot of bindweed roots, they go on for ever and break as soon as you touch them – every new bit could potentially grow into another plant. I had to call a halt to it yesterday, it was getting dark but all the same, the days are getting longer, I came home at 4.45 pm so I was happy.

The plan was to finish the weeding today and then spread the manure. The whole area swallowed 7 sacks of the stuff – I had it ready. That means that next week I will be driving to the place in Corley and hope they have a lot of it bagged ready for me. Amazing how many sacks I can fit in my little Polo.

ANOTHER STEP

It was another reasonable day, I knew I wanted to do a lot so I started – after breakfast and a nice strong cup of coffee – by going to my local B&Q to get some potting compost. Us oldies get 10% off on Tuesday, only on gardening things though. I got two huge 125 l bags and took them to the allotment.

When I got home there was the small matter of cutting down the rushes in the pond. I have been putting it off but today was the day. Job done, I’m happy.

I have got two greenhouses on the allotment and the work was done in the older one of the two. I put two of the grow bags on the bench there and started filling them up with the compost. To make sure I have got enough I also used a bag of horse muck in each grow bag, to enrich it. These will be used for growing tomatoes – the whole greenhouse will be just tomatoes, the peppers will be in the half of the poly tunnel I am sharing with Simon.

In order to give each tomato plant the best conditions I put some flowerpots with the bottoms cut off in the bed and filled them with the compost too, just to give the tomatoes exactly what they like – deep soil to develop healthy roots.

Also the greenhouse in the back garden is ready, the same arrangement is there.

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If everything grows this year like it did last year I’ll be happy….

THIS AND THAT

At last, Saturday was a nice day and so was today. A bit colder but dry!

On Saturday I made my little enclosure for the leaf mould – very simple, four long pieces of wood for the corners and a piece of chicken mesh all around. Pinned to the ground and fixed to the posts, then filled with the leaves I collected from the allotment and the back garden. I will just keep filling it up and leave it for as long as I can.

Today, on Sunday, I was spending some time in the kitchen. First of all I had to cook the beetroot so I could pickle it and then, as an afterthought, made some pickled eggs. I love pickled eggs but always forget to make them. All is well now.

AUTUMN JOBS

The weather forecast for today wasn’t particularly good but I decided to go down the farm anyway. There was a job to be finished and I managed to do that just as the rain started.

All in all I had countless wheelbarrows full of lovely crumbly soil. That got distributed all over the raspberry patch and on the other pieced of land next to them as that is the only part of my plots where I have some clay. This should improve it.

At the same time I have rebuilt the whole enclosure, also the one next to it and thus widened the little path. I can now fit the wheelbarrow to go through and it is looking much better.

To finish the job I emptied four sacks of horse muck on the new heap and also some of the stuff from the top of two of my composter bins. They were all full but I decided to put some of the freshest greenery on the heap and that’ll give me more space in the bins for smaller stuff.

All is done on this front so all I have to do now is to take the roll of the carpet and store it in the large communal shed and have it ready for future use.

Waste not want not….

PATIENCE

I have a number of compost heaps on the allotment – and as I have three plots I have one at the end of each plot. So far I have turned two of these into new growing areas, because the soil there was just amazing, after 10 years in one case and about five in the other.

The latest project started yesterday when I uncovered the last heap – it was covered with an old carpet, just to stop nettles and suchlike growing on top. I was amazed – after five years the whole lot turned into a large pile of crumbly brown soil.

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As it is right at the end of the plot, behind the raspberry patch, that was the easiest solution – use the new soil as a mulch because this patch hasn’t been fertilised recently.

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I have cut them down and started emptying the heap. It was quite easy because when I constructed it I knew I would have to do this one day so I made my life easier. It worked. Surrounding wood taken off and a barrow after barrow was spread on the raspberries. Haven’t finished as yet – rain stopped play. Everything rotted down very well, all I found were some bindweed roots occasionally.

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All the same, I managed to start a bit of rebuilding, I needed to tidy it and also to widen the little path. There is a bit more to do with the last pile of compost, that one will stay as it is for quite a while, there is too much wood on top for it to be useful. But the side will need to be straightened.

Another day then.

POLYTUNNEL

I had an idea that I’d like to have another greenhouse – more room to grow peppers and tomatoes. One day I was talking to Simon who has a large polytunnel on his plot. Due to circumstances he found it difficult to keep it in order and to cut a long story short he offered me a chance to use one half of it. Of course I said yes! We shall have peppers there and that way I shall have my two greenhouses to grow more tomatoes.

I went down my farm today in the afternoon and as it started raining I was able to dig the soil inside, water it and spread some horse muck in. Another job done!

Now I just hope for good weather so I can finish all my other jobs.

JOB FINISHED

Today was another lovely day, there was work to be done so I had an early start.Yesterday I managed to pollard the ancient willow – well, three of the stumps and there were another three waiting. Also I had a very useful find in the very back of the plot where it just looked like another compost heap. The two guys who had the plot before me were equally untidy and instead of taking their plastic pots and bits of netting home to throw away they just dumped it there and covered with soil. Amongst all this lot I discovered a ladder – one of the old-fashioned ones, a wooden one and that came very handy yesterday and especially today. I was able to climb high up and trim one more of the stumps and then Frank came to help and finished it all.

Not only the tree is done but also I gained another growing area. There was so much good soil along the fence that I took a number of wheelbarrows off and put in on another part of the plot where the soil is a bit heavy. This has left a nice border, one end has got a palette to keep the soil in and along the path is a low fence. I shall grow squashes and a pumpkin there next year, they’ll have enough room to run.

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I shall dig it over to find more rubbish and some unwanted nettle roots but otherwise it is ready.