Don't Lose the Plot

Friday, 12 September 2014

Cheap Bulbs

Just a quick message for my U.K. readers. My local Lidl store was selling (U.K.) daffodil bulbs today @ £5 for a 5Kg bag. Maybe yours is too.

There's Always Tomorrow!!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Septembers Spuddling

A relatively slow, quiet and relaxing month so far down my plots, apart from harvesting a variety of different vegetables, some for immediate use, with others prepped and crammed into my freezer. Due to potato blight still rearing its ugly head around the allotments, the mountain of potatoes stored in plastic trays in my garage have been checked regularly for it. Any potatoes showing signs of blight have been disposed of because if they were to come into contact with other tubers they would quickly pass the blight on, another reason the potatoes are stored in trays this year rather than in bags or sacks, less contact between tubers and the ease of being able to spot any disease at a glance. My early sowing of runner beans this year were not up to their usual standard but a second later sowing is now producing an excellent crop due to the much improved weather conditions of the past fortnight or so. With temperatures just short of 30 degrees C in my poly tunnel today, tomatoes and cucumbers are in abundance, although my water melons (sugar babe) are dire. Over the past couple of days more spring onions, along with lambs lettuce and senshu onion sets have been sown/planted at the upper end of N2 Plot into No. 2 bed. Daffodil bulbs have been added to the upper end of No 1 bed on N2 Plot with tulip bulbs being added to 1 of my raised beds, which will eventually be filled with more bulbs.
Harvest Sept 2014
Another Good Harvest (Sept 2014)
 The re-designing work I have been doing to both plots this year is almost finished and a high percentage of the beds are, or soon will be ready for next years sowing/planting, after some compost or manure has been added to them. 2 areas from 3 where potatoes were grown this year will need the soil cleaning before they are used again, to guard against any blight spores that may remain. A relaxing afternoons painting last Sunday saw a new coat of paint/preserver mix applied to the shed on N2 Plot and at the same time to the adjacent water storage tank, which is now darkish brown rather than a light grey colour, (along with the t-shirt I was wearing at the time). The idea being for the tank to soak up more sunlight rather than reflecting it. If so, when the rainwater is applied to plants/seedlings it may be slightly warmer giving less "shock" to the plants. With a couple of days of pruning and general clearing up of rubbish and vegetation that cannot be composted the plots are looking in a reasonably tidy condition prior to the onset of Winter. I expect the Autumn leaf fall will alter that somewhat.

Grilled Cucumber??
"Grilled" Cucumber September 2014
Common Frog
Keeping The Bugs Down in My Poly Tunnel Sept 2014
Potato Bed Covered Sept 2014
This Years Main Potato Bed Cleaned & Covered N2 Plot Sept 2014
Rotavating Strawberry Bed Sept 2014
Old Strawberry Bed N1 Plot Rotavated Sept 2014
Cabbage Sept 2014
Most Brassicas Looking Good Sept 2014
Painting Sept 2014
Water Tank Painting Sept 2014

Re-Designed N2 Plot September 2014

Re-Designed N1 Plot September 2014

There's Always Tomorrow!!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Rooko's September Top 10 Tips & Tryouts

1. With Septembers weather forecast to be warm and sunny here in U.K., don't forget to keep watering veggies that are not yet ready to be harvested (other plants too). Give plants a good watering, perhaps once a week, rather than little and often.

2. If you are short on animal manure for your allotment, think about sowing a green manure such as mustard which can be dug or rotavated into the soil later in the year or next Spring.

3. Make "a re-cycled items list" of useful gardening items you ran out of this year. Examples, plastic bottles and other containers, bits of string for plant ties, jam jars, egg boxes for chitting potatoes. Etc etc.

4. September is probably the prime month to be stung by wasps. At this time of year wasps start to feed on fermenting/over ripe fruit so be wary of drunken wasps.

5. Sow some of the following crops in September. Spring onions, radish, Winter hardy onion white lisbon, Spring cabbages, Japanese onions. Autumn onion sets, garlic.

6. When lifting potatoes, spread them out on dry soil, to allow them to dry out before storing them.

7. If you are left with any diseased plant foliage don't compost it, burn it or dispose of it responsibly by other methods.

8. Strawberry runners should be ready for potting up at this time of the year.

9. New trees and shrubs can be planted in September helping them to become established.

1. Winter hardy lettuce can be sown in September as well as hardy Spring Onions.
2. Spring Cabbages can be planted out now.
3. Parsnips will taste better if left in the ground until after a frost.
1. Prune Summer fruiting Raspberries.
2.  Runners from Strawberries can be planted now.
3. Add manure, lime or green manures to your soil, depending on each beds condition and your crop rotation.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Not Exactly Buried Treasure

I thought the inscription on the bottle lid was rather unusual. Made from aluminium I uncovered it whilst edging one of the vegetable beds on N1 Plot this afternoon. The grass areas where a was working have been uncultivated for over 50 years except for the grass being mowed. The inscription on the lid reads:

"KIA-ORA Ltd Suppliers of Fruit Beverages By Appointment to the late King George VI

Well There's Always Tomorrow??

Friday, 22 August 2014

Ad Libbing Into Next Season

Well, when all is said and done, planning ahead for a successful years allotment harvest can usually be thrown into chaos at the drop of a hat by the great, unfathomable British weather. After last winters deluges of rain and the associated flooding many allotments which were prepared for planting in Autumn 2013 needed preparing again when the rains finally abated. Was there a Spring? as I remember it here in Somerset, we were more or less straight into hot summery weather, giving us high temperatures and parched ground to work with, for several months, until about 2 weeks ago, when temperatures tumbled and the sun struggled to find a gap in the clouds to shine through. With only approximately 4 days with any appreciable rain here since the Winter monsoons abated, surprisingly, the majority of my crops have been good or very good, although I have sown less crops overall than I have done in previous years. Due to the hot dry Summer I decided to re-design large areas of both my plots, working on different areas of the plots as each crop was picked, or lifted from a given area, at the same time, prepping the ground ready for next year, as I think that this coming Winter will start very early and will be harsh.

Lifting Potatoes (Desiree)
The Last 5 Ranks of Potatoes Being Lifted From N2 Plot August 2014
Potatoes Desiree
More Potatoes N2 Plot August 2014
 As I mentioned in an earlier post,  the construction of a large fruit cage on N1 Plot to protect my currant bushes was completed several weeks ago. The previously unused ground within the cage has now been planted up with strawberry plants, which were lifted from their old bed and positioned in rows alongside the currant bushes after weed suppressing fabric had been placed over the soil.
This should save me time in the future as I will no longer have to place netting directly over the strawberries, to protect them from hungry birds, lifting and replacing the netting each time strawberries were ready to be picked. My alpine strawberries have also been lifted from the old strawberry bed. Some of them being re-planted within the fruit cage and the remainder planted into a raised bed at the lower end of N2 Plot. Both batches of plants have produced many good berries since being re-planted. My main crop potatoes were lifted a couple of weeks ago, from No 2 bed on N2 plot, despite the dry ground an excellent crop was dug up. With blight appearing on several allotments in mid August, (including mine) only a few of my tubers suffered with it, from 2 badly affected plants out of over 200. No 2 bed has been rotavated, weeded and limed and the edging tidied and will remain fallow over the Winter. N2 plot now contains only 3 large planting areas (beds), with the majority of wooden edging, surrounding the beds having been removed and disposed of. Several grass paths which were situated between the beds have been dug up, enlarging the beds and thus the growing areas ready for next year. Runner beans have been less than perfect this year and have just about finished cropping. The long hot dry weather didn't do them any favours with many beans over-ripening too quickly despite adequate watering with rain water from my water butts and earlier this year more than adequate preparation of trenches for them to grow above.

Potato Bed N2 Plot Cleared & Cultivated. Strawberry Bed N1 Plot (Right of Picture) Emptied (August 2014)
N2 Plot 1 Bed
The 4 Beds on N2 Plot Amalgamated Into 1 August 2014

 A third rank of runner beans sown at the top end of N1 Plot is flowering at the moment. If the weather doesn't get any worse I should have a reasonable late cropping of runner beans. Again with climbing french beans several early picks of beans were of excellent quality and abundance, until cross pollination set in about 3 weeks ago. Parsnips sown on N1 Plot failed to germinate this year but a third sowing in one of my raised beds is looking in excellent condition at the moment. Just 1 problem harvesting them though. A wasps nest is situated immediately below the plants with its entrance through the side of a wooden pallet which forms part of the raised beds' side wall. When the hot dry weather took hold this year it gave rise to a persistent outbreak of flea beetle which damaged the foliage and slowed the growth of turnips, beetroot, cavolo nero, radish and some cabbages. Although most of the plants eventually recovered, some of the damage to their foliage is still apparent. 4 or 5 early sowings of spring onions also failed to germinate this year but another sowing last month, just prior to a rare downpour of rain, finally germinated, giving a good crop of onions.

Earlier Harvesting August 2014
Toad N2 Plot August 2014

  A few advantages of the hot dry weather have been the lack of white and black fly this year. Although the slug and snail populations seem to have been on the increase for some time, remarkably I have had no damage whatsoever to any lettuce this year with some excellent quality plants. Sweetcorn, carrots and tomatoes have been beyond excellent. Courgettes and marrows are growing almost faster than they can be picked along with a prolific crop of very large cucumbers both inside my poly tunnel and outside on open ground. Fruit, apart from less cherries than expected, has been excellent all round, in particular, apples and a good cropping of blackberries. If many more grapes develop on the vines growing over my sheds, I think I will have to strengthen the sheds' roof structures to stop them collapsing under the weight of the grapes, amazing. All in all not a bad seasons harvest in general and only 2 remaining growing areas (beds) to prepare before the Winter weather sets in. The only other task I have to do, which has been neglected all year, is repair my poly tunnel which was torn in several places during last Winters' storms. Some time ago I mentioned in one of my posts that a family of great tits had set up home in the bird box, positioned on the side of N1's shed, and that I would try and take some photographs of the birds. I managed to take 2 photographs of the last chick on its first flight from the box. It darted from the box's entrance, flying across N2 Plot and attempted to land on a adjacent shed roof. It didn't gain enough height and flew into the side of the shed stunning itself and flopped down behind some timber getting stuck there. I moved the wood out of the way and after a couple of minutes the bird flew off, when its mother appeared with some food. It may be advisable to enlarge the pictures by clicking on them, to enable full detail.

First Flight & Landing July 2014 (Great tit)
First Flight & Landing (Great Tit) July 2014
Dead Hedgehog
Not a Pretty Sight of A Dead Hedgehog Skinned by a Badger (1 More Reason Badgers Should Be Culled) August 2014 (L-Shaped Bed N1 Plot)

There's Always Tomorrow!!

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