Monday 31 March 2008


At last, a warm and dry day! After a day of torrential rain on Saturday our hopes for some plot time this weekend looked to be dwindling, however, we woke up Sunday morning to bright sunshine so we took the chance and spent some time at the allotment.

While there's still beds to be dug and paths to be weeded it seems wise to take this opportunity to get some stuff planted. Most important to get started were the early potatoes and the onion sets. So, while I took charge of the spuds Melanie get started with the onions.

With plenty of space left in the bed that’s got our garlic in she first raked in some general fertilizer, then got on her hands and knees and planted three long rows of Centurion and two smaller rows of red onions (the variety of which completely escapes me).

Over the other side of the plot I was happily digging a trench for the potatoes. I was planning one row of first earlies (Red Duke of York) and one of second earlies (Saxon), leaving the main crop to go in a separate larger bed in a couple of weeks time.

Once dug I took a leaf out of Gloucester Wombles (from the excellent Fork it... a Gloucester allotment) book and followed his idea of lining the trench with manure covered in shredded paper. Then I spaced the potatoes (in this instance the Red Duke of York) roughly 12 inches apart on top of the paper.

Next all that was left to do was fill the trench back in with soil and start on the next one. We actually had far too many of the Saxon so we've decided to intrude onto the main crop bed with a second row to save wasting them. That was a job for another day though and after a quick blitz of some of the path weeds we packed up and went home for lunch content that things were moving on again.

After lunch it was time to move some of the seedlings into the greenhouse to free up some space so in went the sugar snap peas and mange tout (you can just about see them from here) along with the red cabbage. The plan is to keep the door rolled up during the day and shut it at night just in case it gets a bit nippy. With any luck we'll get the peas planted out on the plot one night this week as they're big enough to go in now I think.

We also did some more sowing, including more tomatoes and Tatsy Grill peppers after hardly any germinated last time and we've started off some lettuce too. There a lot more ready to sow in the next couple of weeks but I think we're now up to date pretty much which means it was a good weekend all in all.

Saturday 29 March 2008

Fluffy pots...

Quick question for a Saturday morning, does anyone know why this happens? A lot of my seedlings have developed a distinctly fluffy covering to the compost. It doesn't seem to be harming the plants themselves but I'd like to know why it happens none the less... Any ideas?

Wednesday 26 March 2008

Back to the plot

It's been a hectic week or so since our last post, although not much of it has been allotment related. A combination of decorating, house guests, the weather and Easter has kept things pretty quiet on the vegetable front recently. Now all of that’s over though we're focused back on the growing season and even though the weather for the next five days looks like it's going to be nothing but rain we're hoping to get stuff done in any dry gaps that may appear.

The plot survived the storms intact, and the garlic is growing away nicely as you can see. There's still no sign of any carrots in the fleece tunnel which is disappointing but I guess they'll take longer to germinate planted straight into the ground. I’ve managed to spend forty minutes or so up there the last two nights and got another half a bed dug but I'll be glad when the clocks go forward next week and we get a dry weekend as it'd be nice to spend a few hours in one block up there doing jobs.

The one thing we have found though, that we hadn’t really thought about, is that although the weeds on the beds are being contained by the black plastic the paths are becoming covered in rampant weeds. Since we can’t afford to buy either bark chippings or hardwearing fabric to cover them it looks like the paths could turn into a bit of a battleground as we try to keep on top of the weeds. I spent most of my time up there tonight removing the largest of the thistles and dandelions, something I’ll do more of tomorrow with any luck.

Back at home a lot of the seeds we planted a couple of weeks ago have come through, as you can see most of the peas are awake now (and look far healthier in real life I promise) and a couple of the tomatoes have finally graced us with their presence. No sign of the peppers (Tasty Grill Red F1) yet but hopefully they'll be along soon.

All being well we're going to try getting the spuds and onions in the ground at the weekend, in fact we were hoping for some advice when it comes to potatoes. We're going to plant them in trenches but we've seen various different ideas of what to put in the trench to help them grow. One idea seems to be to put manure at the bottom covered with damp newspaper; another was to simply put kitchen waste in there. We've also got some potato fertilizer for use in some tubs at home so we could add that on the plot as well if it helps. What do you think? Do you have a proven recipe for potato success?

Monday 17 March 2008

Some more sowing

We didn't get chance to visit the plot at all this weekend meaning we've still not been up since the worst of the storms hit last week. All being well though I'll get to spend half an hour or so up there tonight on the way home from work so that'll give me a chance to put things in order if there was much damage.

A weekend away from the plot didn't mean a weekend wasted however, while most of it was spent avoiding the rain by decorating our smallest bedroom there was time on Sunday to catch up with the sowing. The first planting of peas (Sugar Bon (snap) and Reuzensuiker Mangetout) went into some saved loo rolls while three varieties of tomato (Sub Arctic Plenty, Sungella and Suncherry Premium F1) were also started off in cells along with some lovely peppers (Tasty Grill Red F1). This spurt of activity pretty much filled the propagator as you can see (I can't wait to get all those spuds in the ground to free up some space!).

To make room for all that I planted out the red cabbage and bell peppers we'd started off a few weeks ago into their own pots so they can carry on doing their thing till it's time to start hardening them off in the greenhouse in a few weeks.

The weather is looking good this week so there should be plenty of chances to get some plot time in each evening gearing up to the weekend when things like onion sets and possibly some early potatoes should find their way into the ground.

Wednesday 12 March 2008

Storm damage...

Managed to get up to the allotment yesterday evening on the way home just to check how it had survived the storm. It was actually pretty much intact, see...

Only the one bit of plastic had really been moved around and even that was still tethered by one corner so hadn't got lost. My little fleece tunnel had also survived intact, impressive as I'm not known for my DIY skills. So, I straightened everything out again in the ever present drizzle and came home.

Then, we woke up this morning to the sound of gales blowing around the house and were greeted by this when we looked out the back window...


Rather than spend ages picking it up so that it can get blown over again we've left it where it is and simply thrown the contents inside it to keep it weighed down till the wind blows itself out.


Monday 10 March 2008

Not as wet as expected... Till now!

It seems like the BBC had everything a couple of days early in the end as we actually only got some drizzle on Saturday and one bout of rain on Sunday and this was after I'd gone to the effort of getting up extra early and made my way up to the plot for 9am Saturday morning.

In the end I managed to spend a couple of hours up there before the wind got up and it started to rain. At that point I figured it was time to come home before I got soaked, in hindsight I should have waited it out in the car as it didn't last too long but at least I got some things done. Along with a fair chunk of digging I managed to get some carrots (Early Nantes 2) sowed under a home made cloche.

After all the advice I got from my earlier post about all things cloche related I went for fleece as a cover which I stretched over three metal hoops. I also put another three hoops over the top pushing them through the fleece at ground level to help secure it and pegged the ends shut with bits of a broken twig. I thought it looked pretty good when I was done but I guess the proof will be in if it's still standing when I next get up there.

After wondering what all the fuss was about the weather over the weekend I've woken up to a Gloucester ravaged by wind and rain this morning so I'm a bit worried about what state the plot will be in now. I would put money on none of the black plastic still being on the plot much less still in place on the beds, I'm just hoping my little fleece tunnel survived. I think I'll pop and have a look on the way home, fingers crossed till then...

Friday 7 March 2008

Rain, rain, go away...

It's always the way, you have a week of nice weather when you're stuck in the office then come the weekend, just when you want to be outside, the forecast is for nothing but rain. It looks like next week isn't going to improve much either, here's hoping it dries out before the next weekend; two wet ones in a row would seem a little unfair.

Here's the BBC Weather sites view on the next few days, depressing eh!

With any luck it won't be raining first thing Saturday morning and I can pop up to the plot early and do a bit of work before the ground gets too wet. Of course whatever happens there are still jobs to be done even in bad weather, there's a load of seeds due to be sown at home for a start so I'm sure we'll keep nice and busy.

What we need is an allotment with a retractable roof!

Tuesday 4 March 2008

A quiet weekend

We spent the weekend at friends in London which was lovely, but did mean no plot time for the first weekend since we took control (Addicts? Us?). We did manage a quick trip up there on our way home though, just to reset the black plastic yet again and check things were as we left them, which they were. I also managed to get up there after work today for half an hour before the light went which was enough time to dig over another third of a bed and have a chat with a couple of the guys where were up there doing the same thing. I got more done than I expected to in such a short time so I think I'll start doing that most days now the evenings are lightening up.

What made the trip doubly worth while though was the very first sight of proper growing veg on the plot! The garlic we planted two and a half weeks ago has all magically appeared at once giving two lovely rows of short but healthy looking shoots. I felt like dancing around cheering but thought that may get a few odd looks so I settled for a picture of one of the larger offerings...

Back home we've seen all the daffodils burst into bloom in the last few days and although not strictly vegetables (ok, not even close...) I couldn't help sneaking a quick pic of some of them onto the end of this post. It is spring after all.