28. SEPTEMBER

As I could actually get to the composter bin I wanted to empty it today and use the soil in two places. One had to be the latest little greenhouse I got because the borders were not deep enough. I have changed the wood on the edges and made them much higher so I could put much more soil there. It is only a small  area but I have used four large soft buckets. It looks much better and I’m  sure the peppers that I plan to grow there next year will do well.

There was an amazing amount of perfect soil in the bin, it took quite an effort to get it all out. Everything was perfect.

I even had two large sacks left after filling the greenhouse beds so they went in the raised bed. Now I have everything ready for planting the garlic. I have even ordered some more, we like garlic, I use it a lot in my cooking and home grown is certainly the best.

thumbnail (13)

4.JANUARY

Yesterday was a day of rest and a visit to a lovely National Trust place with our friends Lisa and John and children. Packwood House is lovely at any time of the year and yesterday was very enjoyable.

Well rested I started in the morning by taking  my kitchen waste to the allotment, to feed the worms in the composter bins. As I have five of them, it takes some filling but Lisa gives me her kitchen scraps so  my worms are well looked after.

The next task was a big improvement in my oldest greenhouse. When I was there last time I managed to dismantle the top of bench and the plan was to find my set of little spanners so I could detach the frame from the greenhouse structure. I was sure they would be in the shed – they were there and the bench didn’t take any time to undo. I’m delighted with the result, I have gained whole side of the greenhouse to grow tall plants, like tomatoes or peppers.

BROWN GOLD

Today was the turn of the composter bins. I have got five of them at the end of one of my plots and I’m filling them in turn. It always amazes me how quickly they rot down. Some of them were easier to empty and one yielded an amazing amount of this dark brown crumbly soil. I emptied one after another and using my wheelbarrow transferred it all to my other fruit trees and bushes.

There was only one more thing to do – planting my elephant garlic. I didn’t have much more strength anyway.20211108_125221

GIVING BACK

There is no such thing as waste on our site. We all have a number of composter bins and I have a corner of one plot dedicated to a large compost heap. I don’t put any weeds there but everything else that I can’t fit into my bins – courgette, tomato, cucumber and other plants after they’ve finished. My friend Dave shares this heap with me, he doesn’t have one.

Today was the day to see what was under the cover. I have got two pieces of carpet to speed the composting process and after I took them off today I was delighted. A large mound of crumbly brown soil, hardly any large pieces. In all I had two full wheelbarrows and seven large plastic sacks of this brown gold. I have started to distribute it around my fruit trees in the orchard it’ll be perfect.

After all this I started putting in more old foliage and the process will carry on. It shows that Mother Nature knows best, we just have to help it on the way. I don’t use any artificial fertilisers, just the liquid from my wormery and perhaps some organic chicken poo pellets. I have lost my horse muck source so it will be just everything we can get from our bins.

SPRING IS HERE

Finally it all came together. First of all I managed to harvest my very first spring rhubarb – I think it is the tastiest of all the pickings.20210318_111901

Last year in the autumn I have acquired another greenhouse, a very old one at that. It belonged to an elderly lady who lived in a house right next to our allotments. We were very friendly, she was used to come to see me quite often . She had a little gate in her fence as her husband was used to have a plot on our site quite a number of years ago. She died a few years ago and the people who bought her house didn’t want the greenhouse so I rescued it. The structure was sound but as we dismantled it quite a lot of the panes of glass broke – it was very old and brittle. Anyway, with help I moved it all to my plot and stored it very carefully. My friend Dave said he would help me to put it together. Soon after the New Year he surprised me by getting the structure up and in position. It formed a neat group of greenhouses. Next job was harder – sorting out the panes of glass. As so much of it broke I decided to do a bit of mix and match – I ordered eight polycarbonate sheets for the side panels and decided that the rest and the roof would be glass. Had to buy some more glass but it all started to take shape. I’m delighted to say that the only thing to do now is to fix new runner wheels on top of the door – on order – and all is done. Nevertheless I have constructed my raised beds inside, filled them with the contents of one composter bin and a number of sacks of Dalefoot compost. This way I can have one greenhouse for tomatoes, one for peppers and chillies and one for aubergines and the occasional cucumber will be placed where I will find space. I am very happy but all this was possible only with a huge lot of work by Dave. Thank you Dave. A friend in need is a friend indeed.

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.

20200401_123910

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.

20200401_123756

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.

 

UNDER A BLANKET

I was looking at my seed collection and grew more and more frustrated. It is all fine to see that parsnips could be sown from February onwards. Well, that would have been rather difficult as the weather was against me.

Never mind, yesterday was a lovely sunny day so I made sure the piece of ground where the parsnips are going to grow is weed – free (quite a challenge, they seem to grow at the rate of knots!) and covered it with a piece of horticultural fleece. I’m sure it will worm the soil and I shall be able to sow one of my favourite vegetables.

20180325_165723

20180326_112348

That done I turned my attention to the greenhouse. There are raised beds on both sides and a small one at the back. I added some more soil from my composter bins and now they are ready. Fortunately I have a large plastic cloche to cover one of the beds so I planted some lettuce seedlings there. That way we can have some early Icebergs.

20180325_165741

Last but not least I prepared another small raised bed that is beside the greenhouse, put a bag of old horse muck in and covered it with a thick layer of good soil, this is now ready for one pumpkin. I have high hopes for my latest acquisition, seeds from a Maltese pumpkin. I’ve seen them in Malta, now the challenge is to grow them as big as they were there.

In the past few years I had four raised beds with strawberries but one in particular is getting a bit old, they didn’t produce very much fruit. I have decided to dig them out, used some of the best runners to fill gaps in other strawberry beds and this one is now ready to be planted with broad beans. I have started them in the greenhouse in the back garden. They will be sheltered in this bed, I can plant them there a bit earlier.

20180325_170150

TOPSOIL

I knew all the lovely topsoil I managed to get from my two ‘forgotten’ composter bins would come handy. It was a bit too wet today to continue with digging so I had to concentrate on maintenance.

First was one path, rather the grass on it, that had to be cut. As it was so high it had to be done with the shears. Ideal job for a chilly morning. There was so much grass it almost filled one composter bin.

Talking of bins – some weeks ago I emptied a couple of them and bagged the contents – beautiful topsoil to be used to top up the raised beds in my lovely greenhouse.

I was late in the season getting the greenhouse but it is all going to be ready for an early start next spring. I know it is wishing my life away but I can’t wait. All my tomato, cucumber and pepper seeds are sorted out and I’m ready……………

 

TOO WET TO DIG….

…but good enough to do other work.

About three years ago I put two composter bins on one of my plots. I kept filling them with grass cutting, kitchen waste and all manner of things (but not weeds as i think it doesn’t ge hot enough to kill them).

I didn’t continue working this plot but the bins are still there and I was adding more material in.

A few days ago I managed to upend one of them and move it to the end of another plot, close to my shed. It was half empty and it looked brown and crumbly, just like the best potting compost you buy in a garden centre.

Today was the turn of the other bin – again upended and moved next to the other one near the shed. There was some dry stuff on top of both heaps and I took it to my bean trench, it helped to fill it up.

It is too good to waste so I decided to put it in bags and use it when I need to top up my raised beds in the greenhouse etc.

20171104_142402

The new spot for the bins, neat and tidy, in the corner of the plot, ready to be filled again.

20171104_150727

It was worth the wait – must do it more often – ‘forget’ to empty the bins regularly and that way will get beautiful potting compost.

AN UNLOVED PLOT

It was a neglected plot, right next to mine. I hated the idea of all that lovely soil not producing anything so a decision was made. I took on a half – there is a greenhouse on the first half and somebody else has got that. I didn’t want a greenhouse on the allotment – too much hassle with watering, ventilation etc.

First I moved a mountain of piled up wood and don’t know what  else, sorted out good pieces that could be used again and then started digging.

Cold or no cold – digging is a perfect remedy. It only took a few days and the job is done. I even managed to construct a little enclosure for a compost heap (for weeds and such like), moved the water-butt and a composter bin and now all is just lovely and ready to be planted.

Because I know the previous occupant grew potatoes I shall put some pumpkins, squashes and bush courgettes there this year.

You can’t have enough ground, there are always plants to grow…..