ANOTHER FIRST

The situation is not going to get much better any time soon so I might just as well pamper myself with some nice things for the allotment. I have been thinking of a propagator for quite a while but always found an excuse not to get one.

I don’t think we shall be getting our COVID 19 vaccination very soon – we’re over 70 but quite well so we’ll have to wait. At least I will have a new toy to play with.

After talking to some people and some online search I decided to get as good one as I could afford and also where I could fit it.

This is the best, and it came today. It didn’t take very long to put it together and sow the seeds in. It is in the spare bedroom and I shall watch with interest.

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NEW TOOLS

Right at the end of last year I read an article in one of the broadsheet newspapers about a different range of gardening tools. This new company is called Implementations and I had a good read, looked through the catalogue and ordered a couple of hand tools. They arrived today and I am delighted. Even better than I imagined. They would make great present for a keen gardener.

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TRANSFORMATION

This time I was working in the back garden, in a corner that I neglected for some time. There were two fig trees in this place, only because I had two cuttings and nowhere else to put them. I remember doing the planting correctly, the holes were lined with a thick membrane, that actually helped when I was digging them up. It contained the roots but all the same, it was a lot of hard work. It all happened in stages, first they were cut down, then cut down even more and yesterday the stumps were dug out. I’m glad to have an old pickaxe (it was in the garden when we moved here, all 47 years ago). After a whole morning of hard labour the two stumps were out and another small one of a conifer that was half dead anyway.

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From this dark corner the next stage was a bit brighter20201005_141942

The roots tried to resist but didn’t manage…..20201016_114945

….so it is no surprise that I’m happy with the result

I had a lot of different pots round the garden and a lot of bulbs – tulips and daffodils. All are planted, pots are in place, even the fence panel behind them is painted. The great thing about this way of doing it that I can re-arrange the pots, replant them, the possibilities are endless.

AUTUMN

Here we go again – another autumn, another clear out operation. My plan is quite simple – I aim to complete one task each time I go to the allotment. Yesterday it was clearing out one net cage and weeding (again) a bed after garlic has been harvested some time ago.

Today was the turn of the orchard. Managed to weed, hoe and re-do the stepping stone path in front of the shed, I’m happy with the result.

Another job I finished today was weeding and digging inside one small net cage. I had some broad beans there, they did very well, no sign of any blackfly, then I put some tomatoes and celery in. The tomatoes have finished, just the celery remains.

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Yesterday was quite difficult. I have decided to put a scaffolding plank as an edge to a narrow strip of soil beside this net cage, to keep the soil in, and making it deeper. I knew the planks are heavy, but I didn’t think they were this heavy! Too late to change my mind when I was half way down the main path dragging it behind me. Never mind, it all ended well.

1. APRIL

My self isolating continues on the allotment, doing jobs that I knew should be done but  unfortunately I always had something more urgent to do. Today was the day to tackle the next task – moving a composter bin. This one has been in place since I acquired this plot, never been emptied so I had high hopes for some rich soil there. I wasn’t disappointed, about half was rich and crumbly soil, that got distributed around a few fruit trees as a mulch.

Mulch from composter bin

The rest of the stuff wasn’t sufficiently decayed so that got moved into the bin after I placed it in the new position. I have had three bins at the end of one plot, beside a water butt and a compost and there was a convenient space, just for one more bin. It is there now and the uncomposted matter is the base layer, a starter in the old bin in the new place.

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new place for the bin

An empty place well filled.

In the old , now empty, part of the plot I erected some bean sticks. The thinking was  – the soil there was quite rich, it wouldn’t do for either carrots or parsnips so beans will be happy there.

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bean structures

Tomorrow’s activities are therefore sorted – finish digging this part and make it ready for sowing – it’ll be fine for parsnips. Carrots will be on the part dug over yesterday and I have got one area to do later, that’ll do for beetroot.

Almost sorted out.

 

DIFFICULT TIMES

After worrying about not being able to go to the allotment I’m happy now. As part of the new regime us oldies – anybody over 70 – I can go to the allotment every day and keep my distance of two metres from the next gardener, that would be my one exercise per day. I live only about five minutes away from the site, never meet anybody on my way and when I’m there, I am very often the only one. I have no underlying health issues so, if the situation stays the same, I’ll be fine. My sanity will be preserved.

I was there today working in the last net cage, getting rid of the weeds and putting down some of that fragrant wood chip. Beautiful, and very useful – it stops the weeds growing and the path doesn’t get slippery. Win win.

A few days ago, again before the new way of surviving started, one of my friends told me about a pile of some black sacks with some large black flowerpots that were dumped in the new car park close to the old Charterhouse nearby. It is just behind our boundary fence and Frank managed to heave a couple of them over. I emptied the pots, saved the compost, gave the pots to my friends and started planning the next step. The following day I took the wheelbarrow to the car park and in three goes brought all the sacks – all 12 of them – to my back garden. An amazing haul – about 25 pots and three big sacks of very rich compost. I have also discovered that it was used for growing cannabis – the root balls were still in the soil. We shall draw a veil over the origin, it was my gain and I did put it to very good use.

As I wasn’t then quite sure if I would be able to work on the ‘farm’ I decided to hedge my bets. I filled on of my large grow bags with the new compost, placed it on a little table, put it in the veranda and a large tray with four of those pots beside it. The plan is to grow as many of tomatoes, peppers and chilies as I can, I am sure we are going to live through some difficult times.

FRONT GARDEN

This afternoon was earmarked for some serious digging in the front garden.

The job started on Sunday, between the showers. There was a large yucca in my front garden, I got it as a small cutting about 20 years ago. It was flowering well but last year it started showing signs that all was not well. In a way I didn’t mind digging it out, it was taking valuable space from my other large specimen there, a loquat. That is grown from a seed – some years ago we went to Istanbul and had loquat fruit in a restaurant. Of course I had to save the seeds and on return home I planted them in a pot and they germinated. I can’t imagine ever having the fruit here but it is a handsome tree.

The roots of the yucca went down for ever but they and the whole trunk were really fibrous, difficult to cut with a saw but much easier to hack with my favourite tool, the azada. Much easier to use than pick axe, much lighter. I have already mentioned it in another post, from January 2015. One of my very favourite Christmas presents.

Now the square of soil is cleared of all weeds, it is ready for new plants. I have decided on Hellebores, they should do well, it is slightly shaded by the hedge, and as they are not tall, they will not compete with the loquat.

 

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….

GROW BAGS

I have had these grow bags in the garden greenhouse for about 8 years. They are much better than the standard plastic tomato grow bags – much deeper and very environment-friendly. I just add some fresh compost at the end of the growing year and on it continues. I couldn’t remember where I got them from so I just randomly put a name of a seed company in and – bingo! Found them and ordered some more. Marshalls seed company has them. All I have to do now is wait. The growing rings I have bought years ago at a garden show and they work very well, they sit in the soil and have a ring around the main part, a water reservoir so the water goes directly to the roots.

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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.