Saturday, 2 April 2016

At Last

I was spurred into some gardening action down my plot the weekend before Easter, when the sunshine finaly made it through the clouds for approximately 3 and a half days. The soil on 1, 2 and the L-shaped beds was too wet and sticky to work but I managed to get a few minor tasks completed. First was the compost heap which was turned and tidied up again, followed by 2 years old compost being spread across the surface of No 2 bed on (N1 Plot). A start was made, weeding the flower bed, underneath the fruit trees situated on the drainage ditch bank at the lower end of N1 Plot, removing several strawberry plants a the same time. 3 large bags were filled with bluebell plants, lifted from this bed, which have since been re-planted into one of the flower borders, around the base of a recently planted buddleia tree, to the front of my bungalow. The strawberry plants were re-planted in their new, recently prepared bed in my back garden. So far this season, mainly due to regular overnight frosts, I have not bothered to do any planting or sowing to date.

No 2 Bed 19 March 16
No 2 Bed Rotavated But Still Too Sticky For Sowing/Planting 19 March 2016

No 1 Bed 19 March 2016
No 1 Bed Dry & Just Needs Forking Over Before Sowing Takes Place 19 March 2016

Gooseberry Bushes No2 Bed Starting to "Green Up" 19 March 201
 By the end of the week and over Easter weekend the torrential rain, high winds and hail returned so there was little chance of any further gardening. My plot has taken second place to my garden, for several months now, with any breaks in the weather allowing me to re-design the back and front gardens at home, salvaging what I could, after they had unfortunately been neglected for many years. The main idea with the very large back garden is to add various paths and walkways which will eventually cut down on the amount of ground which has to be cultivated. The neglected borders will be re-vitalised and more plants and shrubs added. 2 areas of neglected lawn also need a lot of attention especially the removal of masses of moss at present embedded in them, so much so it's like walking across very thick sponges. The third area of lawn will eventually be turned into a vegetable patch. The final job after the patio is re-laid will be to build a fish pond opposite the kitchen window.

Walkway Installed Across Centre Of Back Garden Splitting Area In Half 19 March 2016
Walkway From Eastern Side Of Garden 19 March 2016
Pathways Being Constructed Around The Garden Perimeters Using Welsh Slate With Weed Suppressing Fabric Underneath It 19 March 2016
Western End of Walkway A Fish Pond Will Be Built In Front of The Banked Up Soil 19 March 2016
Remember "Dolly Tubs" I Had to Use One Every Week. They Make Good Planters 19 March 2016

Another warm sunny day today and with no rain since Easter Monday I decided to spuddle off down to my plot early this morning to do some rotavating, wondering if my rotavator would start after the long Winter lay off. After checking the oil and adding some fuel, the old machine roared into life at the second attempt to start it, not bad I thought, after being stored outside, with only a canvas cover to protect it from the weather all winter. 45 minutes later No 2 bed was well turned over and although the soil was rather damp it was drying out quickly in the warm sunlight. Can't beat the old machines, not a bad hours work for a 50 years old rotavator.

After tidying up and trimming a couple of grass edgings around No 1 bed I headed off home for a cuppa.

There's Always Tomorrow If The Ominously Changing Climatic Conditions Allow!!!  

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Rooko's April Top 10 Tips & Tryouts

1. Clear away spent flower heads from spring flowering bulbs such as hyacinth & daffs. Don't cut away or discard the foliage as it will replace the bulbs energy for its next flowering.

2. If the weather in your area has been dry enough lately and your soil is not wet and heavy, now is the time for some rotavating/digging, adding compost/manure as required to the soil.

3. Air temperatures are still relatively unpredictable in my neck of the woods at present, it may be worth checking the germination temperatures of various seeds before sowing takes place.

4. Easter weekend was the traditional time for getting your potato tubers into the ground. Don't put them into wet soil and remember Easter weekend is early this year so another couple of weeks wait isn't a problem.

5. More overnight frosts have been happening in this part of the country recently, compared to the past few years. So if you are sowing planting this month keep cloches or other plant protection equipment at hand as a precaution.

6. Mulch can be added around the base of trees and shrubs this month.

7. This month is a good time to add a lawn fertiliser to your lawns. If you have moss/weeds in the lawn use a fertiliser which has moss/weed killer mixed into it.

8. The tools of the trade are often taken for granted in and around the garden. So, remove soil from your gardening tools after use. Don't put wet tools away, allow them to dry first. Wipe the metalparts of secateurs, shears etc with an oily rag after use. Keep cutting tools sharpened along with spade blades.

9. Air fresheners inside your home?? Aloe vera, Spider plant, Snake plant, Peace lily, Dragon tree, Areca palm, Boston fern, Rubber plant, Weeping fig, Scindapsus.

10.                                                SOWING/PLANTING IN APRIL
1. Sow the following: Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chard, Kale, Kohl-Rabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Peas, Radish, Rocket, Spinach. Potatoes, Onion and shallot sets.
2.  Artichokes and Asparagus can be planted.
3. Outdoor cucumbers & tomatoes can be sown & kept in the warm.
4. Plant French Beans, Lettuce & Sweetcorn under cloches.
5.  This is a good time to plant Strawberries.
1. Keep an eye on the weather as ground frost is still likely this month.
2. Keep areas of ground warmer with fleece/polythene to aid later planting.
3. Weeds are starting to appear, so hoe them off before they set seed.
4. Now is the time to erect barriers around your carrots 2 to 3ft high to combat the dreaded Carrot fly. Alternatively cover your Carrots with fleece but ensure all edges are well covered with soil. Keep Carrots earthed up.
5. Plant Onions between rows of Carrots or other plants that might repel the Carrot fly.
6. Slugs & snails will be coming out now. Combat them by: Keep the soil hoed and loose, use beer traps, spread coarse grit, pine needles, straw, sawdust around your plants. 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

It's Got To Be A First

This little skipper flew into my kitchen today (25th Feb 2016)



There's Always Tomorrow!!

Friday, 5 February 2016

Rooko's February Top 10 Tips & Tryouts

1. If like me you haven't visited your plot for a while during the Winter it may be prudent to check things out there, to ensure this Winters weather hasn't caused any damage.

2. If you have any large perennial plants in your flower garden this month is a good time to divide/split and replant them, weather permitting.

3. Start chitting your seed potatoes this month.

4. Snip side shoots back to 1 or 2 buds and remove the tips of mature red and white currants this month, but beware if frost is likely.

5. Keep feeding the birds and in cold areas make sure they have un-frozen water to drink.

6. Check over your garden tools and repair any damaged ones. Ensure cutting tools are correctly sharpened. Any petrol left in petrol driven machinery is likely to have gone "stale" over Winter, making starting the machinery difficult or impossible.

7.  Ventilate greenhouses on warm February days?

8.  Put cloches/fleece over strawberry plants to aid earlier fruiting?

9.  Grapevines can be pruned in February.

1. Sow winter greens (under cloches or tunnels).
2. Sow round seeded peas (probably best in pots or trays).
3.  Sow tomatoes seeds early Feb (heated greenhouse) late Feb (unheated greenhouse).
4. Depending on conditions, sow broadbeans, early peas for harvesting in May/June.
5. Parsnips can be sown in Feb but sowing in March may give better germination.
6. Try planting shallots under cloches.
7. Lettuce, radish and rocket can be started early under cloches or in the greenhouse.
8. Spinach, turnips and Summer cabbbage can be sown under cover.
9. Sow onion seeds indoors (15degC).
10. Cane fruits can still be planted in Feb.
1. Cover over unused areas of the plot with cloches or black plastic sheeting to warm the soil earlier.
2. Clean out pots and trays.
3. Repair or replace any broken/damaged tools.
4. Feed the birds.


I made the first visit to my plot this morning for about the past 2 months expecting it to be in a derelict state, after the wet and windy Winter weather conditions since November last. Surprisingly my plot was relatively tidy, mostly weed free and showing no signs of damage from the continuing high winds we've been experiencing here for many weeks now. Although the grass lawns around my bungalow have continued to grow considerably, over the Winter, due to the mainly mild temperatures, the grass paths & borders around my plot appeared to have died back, saving me the job of mowing them, which I had expected to have to do today.

My old runner bean plants were still entwined around their supporting canes on the L-shaped bed so I set about removing the dead foliage from the canes, dispatching it onto my nearby compost heap. Despite the deluges of rain since last Autumn No 1 bed was relatively dry with little stickiness of the soil. No 2 bed was wetter and the soil/clay claggy to walk on.

After I had finished removing the runner bean plants I lifted a few parsnips and carrots from No 1 bed. I expected these to be rotting down by now, due to the very wet Winter weather but they were still in good condition, ideal for freezing.

I then removed a few weeds from various areas of the plot, the usual ones making a head start at this time of year, like creeping buttercups, shepherds purse and clover, when the drizzly rain returned, drifting in across the allotments, so I loaded a few items of gardening equipment into my trusty old Astra and spuddled off home, mid afternoon. With no other allotment holders to be seen around the plots it was a quiet, drab afternoon. The only real highlight being the masses of bluebells, currently well established along the lower end of my plot on top of the drainage ditch bank.

Harvest 5/2/16
Todays Harvest 05/02/16

There's Always Tomorrow!!