I was hoping to finish clearing the polytunnel today and I think the job is just about done.
The only job left for tomorrow will be to pull out the remaining roots, fork it all over again, spread some horse manure on it and wait for the cucumber seedlings to get a bit bigger before I can plant them there.
It was a beautiful day today, just like a summer’s day so I decided to make a day of it. I made myself a flask of coffee, took a couple of slices of the bread I made yesterday, bottle of water and a banana and went to the allotment. I wanted to do a lot there and I think I managed. I finished sowing parsnips and carrots and also planted four rows of second early potatoes.
2 kinds of potatoes
All this took quite a while, the ground was really dry and hard. I never thought I would be wishing for rain.
After a short break I continued with parsnip sowing – we shall have six lines of them. This year I took my time and sowed the seeds very slowly, fairly thinly so I wouldn’t need to thin the seedlings out. It worked and I made one packet of seeds go rather far. Then I did three more rows of carrots so all in all we shall have plenty of vegetables.
As the last job in the afternoon I decided to tackle the newly erected polytunnel.
This was the sight that opened before me. Not very encouraging but everything is manageable.
This is the better look, after turning the lawn-like surface over. The plan is to get to it tomorrow and clean out all the roots and clumps of grass, then spread a couple of sacks of horse muck, dig it in and wait for the right time to plant some cucumbers there.
A couple of years we had a new guy on the allotment, young-ish, with a lovely wife and two children. We were pleased because our little community needed more people. He started well, clearing his plot and then one day he got a polytunnel. Quite a large one, 14 ft long, with a number of net windows on each side. He even got a group of his friends to put it up for him – he was standing and giving orders, they worked like Trojans! Next we knew he took the plastic cover off and just flung it into the tree at the end of his plot. He didn’t actually grow anything in it. And that was the last any of us saw of him.
Forward a few months – the above mentioned plastic cover was now scrunched up inside the metal structure, it was in the way of another guy’s work, as the wind blew it in his land. I decided to take matter into my hands, straightened it up, placed the zip entrance in the correct position and started pulling it over the frame. Of course, I chose a breezy day, I was in danger of being lifted up, cover and all. But after a few attempts I managed. I dug a little trench all around and buried the bottom of the cover, compressed it and even hammered in a few large pegs at intervals for extra security. It will be ideal for growing cucumbers.
That done I started planting the seedlings I brought from home. First of all some lettuce and broad beans, in one of my net tunnels. I did sow broad beans as usual in the autumn, they grew well and all of a sudden something ate them. Never mind, they can be started in the spring too.
Next came carlin peas. I started growing them a few years ago, not for eating fresh but for drying them – they are excellent in soups and stews. They are planted in my biggest net cage, all along the sides as they like to climb up. That way it will keep them protected from birds and they will cling to the net. I did it this way last year and it worked very well.
Today would have been the first day of our holidays – we were going to go to London and in the nest few days would have been in Prague. Hey ho, perhaps next year.
Instead of that I have been filling my days with work on the allotment. The weather is dry, reasonably mild with the promise of a lovely weekend.
It was back to digging today. There is not much left to do so I decided to tackle the biggest piece.
Two hours later and this was finished. Time for a coffee break and then on to the next piece, this time it is between some fruit trees. This land got quite compacted because I had to walk on it as I was building the sides of the paths. All is well, ready for growing.
There is one more area left to dig and that will be done tomorrow.
I started working on this plot yesterday, did quite a lot and knew that the hard graft will have to continue. I was secretly hoping that I’d be able to finish digging this patch today.
I had to construct one more bean wigwam, that finished the line very neatly.
climbing bean structures
After doing this, some hard digging was due. I already had a strip of land ready for planting leeks – there was used to be a line of raspberries (altogether in the wrong place but I inherited it like that). They were getting past their best so I didn’t mind getting rid of them. I put loads of horse manure there, the soil was a bit starved and the leeks will do well in there.
Everything else is done on this patch, it will be parsnips and perhaps carrots, if I have some space left. I have got some land earmarked for carrots already but you can’t have too many…
plot for parsnips/carrots
plot for parsnips/carrots
I was glad I started nice and early today – soon after 9am – it was 12.20 when I finished and I allowed myself only a short coffee break.
To be continued tomorrow, there is more land to be got ready – after all, I have got three and half plots…..
It keeps me sane
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.
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.
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.
I said it in the past and I say it now – going to the allotment is better than any therapy for me. I can self isolate, even on my way there and back, it is only about five minutes from my house and when I’m there I am in my little paradise.
Yesterday and today were devoted to digging and getting the land ready for sowing. I did my winter digging everywhere on my plots during the autumn and winter but this was to incorporate the horse muck and refresh the land where I had to walk on it (getting the top net for the fruit cage all square etc)
This piece of land was quite compacted but all is well now, ready for planting my potatoes.
Today’s effort was slightly bigger, it also helped that we had a shower of rain last night. This will be for carrots
and the final piece is ready for leeks. My leeks did very well last year, it was the Mammoth variety and they were very tasty.
There will be perfect looking gardens and allotments as the gardeners can’t do much else but do the jobs that they tried to ignore. Mine is the case in point.
my storage greenhouse tidied
shared drive between our house and next door
The drive between our houses was rather full of weeds and it was one of the jobs that I thought – next time when I’m not too busy….
Well, yesterday and the day before were the time I decided to tackle it. There was an amazing load of weeds but I cleared it as best as I could. It looks great, until the next rain and then it will start sprouting. Well, if this situation here is to last a while, I will see to it again.
Under the heading ‘hedging my bets’ came the next task – clearing my little plastic greenhouse that is just behind the big one. It wasn’t meant for growing anything there, just for storing pots, trays etc, to avoid clattering the main greenhouse. It worked but lately it was getting quite difficult to get it. I just about managed to put the trays in and leave it. It was rather cathartic, the space is ready to be used and I did just that. I have got all my first early potatoes there in growing bags and as we’re not going away any time soon I will be here to keep an eye on them, top them up with more soil and water them.
Cutting down the bamboo is the next job….
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.
It is the time of year again, my mason bee cocoons have arrived.
I had them last year already, they filled just one tube but there were eight cocoons in there. Let us hope for more this year.