Don't Lose the Plot

Friday, 17 October 2014

Been & Gone

With a general lack of my blog posts for a while now, I thought it may be a good time to re-cap on the past 12 months down my plots. I've been busy doing D.I.Y. tasks at home for several days now, mainly due to the murky, damp and rainy weather and lack of major gardening tasks at this time of the year. Pumpkins and squashes are still growing and developing in No 1 bed on N1 Plot and I have plenty of well developed brassicas and lettuce growing to last me for a few months yet. Leeks are currently of a good size growing on N2 Plot. With late sown carrots doing well, along with over wintering onions, Winter hardy spring onions and lambs lettuce producing a good crop and even a few strawberries in evidence, the next round of sowing and planting will be for next season. I ventured down to my plots this afternoon, not expecting to achieve much, after torrential rain for most of last night. Although the soil was quite sticky, I managed to fork over the final patch of ground on No 4 bed on N2 Plot, surprisingly the soil crumbled down nicely as I forked it over. After the bed had been forked I completed the broadcasting  of mustard seeds across this bed. All in all a pleasant warm afternoon, quite different to the moment, with rain lashing down and a massive thunder storm in progress, well it is Autumn after all.

THE PAST 12 MONTHS DOWN THE PLOT UPDATE (well most of it anyway)

October 2013
14th - Bed 3 N1 weeded and composted.
16th - Poly tunnel, ground prepped and mixed lettuce sown.
17th - N1 Plot No2 bed prepped and onion sets sown/planted.
18th - Summer raspberry plants being removed from N1 Plot.
19th - ----------------------"--------------------------------  Rubbish taken to re-cycling centre.
20th - Raining
21st - After overnight rain worked in shed, rotavator repairs.
24th - Shed roof repair N1 Plot. Shelling runner beans, Removing more raspberry canes.
25th - Rotavator repairs. (heavy overnight rain with standing water on bed 2 N2.
26th - Rhubarb manured along with bed 2 N2.
27th - Potting up blackcurrants.
28th - L-shaped bed N1 Plot weeded after heavy overnight rain.
29th - Removing raspberry plants from N1 Plot. (rain and hail).
30th - Last of raspberry plants lifted N1. Final pumpkins harvested.
November 2013
2nd - Weeding and clearing leaves on drainage ditch bank.
3rd - Rain.
4th - Rain.
5th - Cleaning canes and tools.
6th - 7th - 8th - 9th - Rain.
10th - Runner beans and canes removed N1 Plot.
11th - Rain.
12th - Tidied plots, 2nd batch of onion sets sown/planted, shelling beans.
13th - Topping up raised beds with soil.
15th - Installing water barrels, cleaning canes.
16th - Broad beans sown.
17th to 28th Rained.
30th - Digging L-shaped bed N1 Plot.
December 2013
3rd - Digging L-shaped bed N1 Plot.
5th - L-shaped bed finished, clearing fallen leaves.
18th - Checked plots for flooding.
27th - Checked plots for flooding.
28th - Tidied plots checked for damage.
January 2014
1st - Rain
2nd - Checked plots, composted this years brassica bed.
February 2014
7th - Checked plots for flooding.
15th - Checked plots for flooding.
19th - After 2 dry sunny days, dug runner bean trenches and turned compost heaps.
22nd - Worked in poly tunnel, runner beans potted up.
March 2014 
1st - Potting up.
2nd - Potting up.
5th - 6th - 7th - 8th Digging roots bed N1 Plot.
10th - Thinned onions/leeks N1 Plot.
11th - Some poly tunnel repairs.
12th - Main bed N2 Plot weed clearing.
13th - Main bed N2 Plot weed clearing.
14th - Weeding N1 Plot.
15th - Strimming grass, rotavating, weeding, potting.
16th - Rotavating, sowing peas.
17th - Forking over top bed N1 Plot.
18th - Potting, lettuce and tomatoes sown.
19th - Potting, sowing.
20th - Forking over top bed N1 Plot.
21st - ------------"------------------
22nd - -----------"------------------
23rd - -----------"------------------
24th - ------------"-----------------
25th - Top bed N1 Plot finished.
26th - Digging small beds N2 Plot.
27th - -----------"----------------
28th - Working on raised beds, potting brassicas.
29th - Digging small beds N2 Plot.
31st - Removing grass paths N2 Plot.
April 2014
1st - Weeding raspberry bed N2 Plot. Removing grass paths N2.
2nd - Removing grass paths N2. Tidying another plot ready for renting out to new tennant.
3rd - Sowing peas a.m. rain p.m.
4th - Sowing peas, leeks lifted, roots bed prepped.
5th - Top 2 beds N1 Plot & L-shaped bed prepped.
6th - Strawberry bed weeded and hoed.
7th - Carrots & lettuce sown.
8th - Bed 3 N1 Plot digging.
9th - Bed 3 finished.
10th - Weeded potato bed N2 Plot & extended its length by 4 feet by removing turf from parking area.
11th - Digging potato bed N2.
12th - ----------"------------
13th - ----------"------------ beetroot sown.
14th - Peas, runner beans, cucumbers & marrows sown.
15th - Digging potato bed N2.
16th - Finished potato bed digging.
17th - Strimming grass, rotavated potato bed. 
18th - Potato planting.
22nd - Turned 4th bed N1 Plot.
23rd - Potting (rain)
24th - Grass mowing, Asparagus weeded, spare potato tubers planted N1 Plot.
25th - Seed sowing, potting.
26th - General weeding.
27th - More peas sown, shed tidied.
28th - Potting, weeding/hoeing poly tunnel.
29th - Potting.
30th - Seed sowing, thinned onions. (first birds ground feeding).
May 2014
1st - Seed sowing. Installing a salvaged water tank.
2nd - Runner bean canes installed. Lettuce, leeks sown.
6th - Watering, weeding, seed sowing.
7th -  Digging L-shaped bed, cabbage & parsnips sown. Rotavator obtained from re-cycling centre.
8th - Watering, installed more water butts.
9th - Rotavating, runner beans planted, marrows planted.
10th - Potting beans, edging beds, water butts maintenance.
11th - Peas filled in, more runner beans planted, more potato planting, earthing up potatoes.
12th - Leeks sown, sweetcorn sown.
13th - Watering, evening.
14th - Wigwams erected N2, lettuce sown.
15th - Squashes planted, poly tunnel weeded.
16th - Strawberry bed weeded.
24th - Squashes sown, courgettes sown.
25th - Old leeks removed, weeding.
26th - Marrows planted, weeding/digging small beds N2.
27th - Weeding/digging small beds N2 Plot.
29th - Weeding roots bed N1, thinned beetroots, earthed up carrots.
30th - Weeding & hoing various beds.
June 2014
1st - Potting, sowing peas, weeding.
3rd - Sowing cucumber seeds into pots.
4th - Poly tunnel work. Digging 2 bed N2 removing creeping thistle roots.
5th - Removing creeping thistle roots N2.
6th - Pak-choi sown, removing creeping thistle roots N2.
7th - Digging, weeding fruit bed area N1.
8th - Potting fruit bushes.
10th - Clearing drainage ditch bank, edging beds N2 Plot.
11th - Clearing weeds under fruit bushes, edging N2.
12th - Hoed L-shaped bed, french beans planted N2.
16th - Roots bed N1 hoed, rotavator maintenance, tomatoes pinched out, watering (evening).
17th - Squash & Cucumbers planted out, more runner bean plants added.
18th - Removed 1 grass path from N1 Plot, watering, filled main water tank again with drainage ditch water.
19th - Brassica bed hoed, cabbage seed sown.
20th - Removed another grass path N2 Plot, rubbish to re-cycling centre, cleaned rotavator.
21st - Watering, more cucumbers sown, re-filled water butts with drainage ditch water.
22nd - Filling water tanks and butts with drainage ditch water.
23rd - Obtained some re-cycled fence post (for fruit cage), removed another grass path N2.
24th - Sowed carrots into raised bed, re-filled main water tank.
25th - Lifted Japanese onions, watering. Everything is very dry, peas struggling to grow.
27th - Weeding & spuddling.
28th - Started erecting the fruit cage N1 Plot. Prepping new strawberry bed. Some rain.
29th - Prepping and marking out the new strawberry bed and fruit cage measurements.
30th- Building fruit cage.
July 2014
1st - Building fruit cage, watering (evenings)
2nd - -------"---------
3rd - -------"---------
4th - -------"---------
5th - -------"---------, harvesting various, transplanting leeks.
6th - Thinning & weeding.
7th - Building fruit cage, lifting strawberry plants ready for moving into fruit cage, harvesting.
8th - --------"---------, harvesting. (light rain).
9th - --------"---------.
10th - Fruit cage finished.
11th - Removed grass path N1 Plot, harvesting, re-filled main water tank.
12th - Major harvesting session.
13th - General tidy up of plots.
14th - Hoeing N2.
15th - Removing wooden edging N2.
16th - Removing grass paths & turf N1.
17th - Lifted carrots, harvesting, removing grass path N1, prepping soil inside fruit cage.
18th - Applying preserver to fruit cage woodwork.
19th - Harvesting, laying ground cover inside fruit cage.
20th - Moving alpine strawberry plants into fruit cage.
21st - Cabbage plants thinned out, watering (evening).
22nd - More strawberry plants moved into fruit cage.
23rd -Thinned out more cabbage plants, more lettuce sown.
24th - First potatoes lifted, more strawberry plants moved into fruit cage, watering.
29th - Watering.
30th - Digging N2 Plot, harvesting.
31st - Finished digging N2, pea plants removed, harvesting.
August 2014
1st - Rubbish removal to re-cycling centre, sheds cleaned up, (overnight rain).
2nd - Rotavating N2, more potatoes lifted.
3rd - Marrows, courgettes, squashes harvested.
4th - Asparagus bed weeded and hoed, lifted more potatoes.
5th - More waste taken to re-cycling centre, working in poly tunnel, (some rain).
6th - Weeding and digging top area of N2, welsh onions split and re-planted.
7th - Leek growing area weeded, removed more wooden edging N2, digging over lower end of N2.
8th - Harvesting, lifting more potatoes.
10th - Lifting potatoes, (some rain).
11th - Lifting potatoes.
12th - Re- prepping and digging main potato bed N2 Plot.
13th - Finished prepping potato bed N2, old strawberry bed digging.
14th - Gooseberry bush pruning.
15th to 19th - Digging N2 bed.
20th - N2 bed finished digging, harvesting.
21st - Removing more wooden edging N2 Plot, lifting and moving corms, digging strawberry bed.
22nd - Corms re-planted, removing couch grass N2 Plot.
23rd - Removing grass path and wooden edging N1 Plot.
24th - Finishing off preserver on fruit cage.
26th - Re-designing edging @ top of N1 Plot by the allotment road, lifting potatoes.
27th - -------------------"------------------, harvesting.
28th - Lifted carrots, edging beds.
29th - Edging.
30th - Edging, rotavator maintenance.
31st - Edging finished, grass mowing.
September 2014
1st - Re-designing edging @ top of N1 Plot.
2nd - Covered potato bed N2, Brassica bed weeded, rotavating.
3rd - Harvesting, old strawberry bed rotavated.
4th - More potatoes lifted, digging L-shaped bed N1, removing brambles from drainage ditch bank.
5th - Weeding, hoeing, painting garden furniture.
6th - Shed painting, carrots sown N2.
7th - Rubbish to re-cycling centre, sowed lettuce & spring onions.
8th - Onion sets planted, daffs & tulip bulbs planted, shed tidied.
9th - Weeding, sweetcorn plants removed, 1 red currant bush removed from fruit cage.
10th - Weeding, lifting potatoes.
11th - More tulip bulbs planted, (lettuce showing within 5 days).
12th - Weeding, concrete blocks positioned inside fruit cage as edging along the ground covers.
13th - More daff bulbs planted, edging beds.
15th - Weeding, turning 2 bed N2.
16th - Shed painting.
18th - Edging, watering.
19th - Edging.
20th to 28th Clearing out the drainage ditch and its banks, mud from ditch spread on 1 bed N1 Plot.
29th - Weeding & watering.
30th - Edging beds, broad beans & onion seed sown.
October 2014
3rd - Top part of N2 (now bed 4) being forked over.
4th - ----------------------"------------------------, sown with mustard.
12th - Compost heaps turned, usable compost removed for spreading on various beds.
16th -  Remainder of bed 4 N2 forked over and mustard sown.

There's Always Tomorrow!!

Monday, 6 October 2014


With frequent mentions, in the media lately, of the driest September on record for the U.K. in general, it got me thinking of the weather in my area so far this year. If my memory serves me correctly, with approximately 3 and a half days of some patchy rain in Taunton, since the deluges and floods of last Winter, then that must be a record also. Although surrounding local areas here have had more rain and a few thunder storms since last Spring, in general they have bypassed Taunton. The recent t.v. weather forecasts have been correct and as predicted, last night saw the first heavy downpours of rain and high winds this Autumn. I liked the terminology in one forecast which mentioned persistent rain, rather than heavy or torrential. I was hoping to visit my plots this morning but the persistent overnight rain has put paid to that idea.

With only a handful of tasks to complete down the plots before Winter, such as some repairs to my poly tunnel and part of 1 growing bed plus the L-shaped bed on N1 Plot to prepare, things can be left until later this week. I expect that last nights high winds may have caused some damage, which will give me an indication of what needs battening down for the Winter. Another job I was hoping to do today, was to cover my late carrot plants and lettuces with cloches, but as the latest weather forecast mentioned air temperatures rising a little by the end of this week, there is no hurry to do that either. With 50% of the pruning done last week, to my fruit bushes, I expect the rest can be completed by the end of this week or before any frosts are forecast. Once the remaining marrows and squashes have been harvested, that just leaves any odd jobs and keeping the plots tidy for the rest of the year to do. This season seems to have flown by but has been more leisurely than past seasons and the plots are now in the condition and layout that I want for the foreseeable future.

Just thought I would add a couple of photographs I missed in earlier posts. Its persisting down again outside, so its time for a cuppa.

Strawberry Tree
1st 2 Strawberries of Any Appreciable Size on One of My Strawberry Trees N2 Plot

Strawberry Plants
Strawberry Plants Moved & Re-planted Into Fruit Cage Earlier This Year

There's Always Tomorrow!!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Rooko's October Top 10 Tips & Tryouts

1. Many squashes and pumpkins should be mature enough to harvest this month. If the skins cannot be punctured using your finger nail they should be ready to harvest. Cut the vine/stalk (away from yourself) about an inch or two above the pumpkin/squash.

2. Keep your lawns, borders and growing areas free from falling leaves to alleviate the spread of diseases. Leaves could be left in heaps in sheltered places as a place for hibernating animals to use, during the Winter.

3. Cuttings can be taken from Currant, Blueberry and Gooseberry bushes this month.

4. Check and maintain any equipment you may need to use over the Winter months such as greenhouse heaters. Remember, if you have petrol driven machinery stored away for the Winter, such as a rotorvator, unleaded petrol will start to "go off" after about 3 months, possibly giving starting problems later.

5. Although the weather here in U.K. is still sunny and warm at the end of September this year, it may well change to wet and colder in October. Now would be a good time to bring, tender/half hardy plants, inside, to protect them from frosts/cold winds.

6. October is usually a good month to plant out strawberry runners and also to split rhubarb crowns for re-planting.

7. Plan your garden/allotment sowing/planting areas for next season as well as ordering seeds, plants and seed catalogues.

8. Although asparagus fronds can be cut off after they have started to die back they can also be cut back this month. Add a good amount of compost/manure around the plants after cutting back the fronds from them.

9. Just a few plants that can be pruned in October but beware of hard frosts when pruning. Blackcurrant, Birch, California Lilac, Common beech, Dogwwod, Evergreen clematis, Firethorn, Hydrangea, Lilac, Nectarine, Roses, Rowan, Tamarisk.

1. Japanese onion sets can be planted in October.
2. Broad Beans can also be planted as well as Garlic and Shallots.
3. Hardy Lettuce can still be sown.
1. Pull and store Carrots.
2.  Lift any remaining potatoes.
3. Manure empty areas of the plot as required.
4. Clear away dead/decaying foliage.
5. Tidy fruit beds removing dead leaves from Strawberries. Re-plant runners.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Plot Thickens

With most of my Summer crops harvested, used, languishing in my freezer or better still in their final stages of development, it was time, last week, to take on the mammoth task of clearing the drainage ditch bank of vegetation before the Winter rains?? set in. The drainage ditch runs past the lower end of my plots with a large hedgerow well established on the opposite bank. This area behind my fruit trees gets overgrown with many wild plants and weeds. Some of the annoying ones being, brambles, bindweed, couch grass, dandelions, creeping clover, docks and nettles. Left to their own devices a combination of these "weeds" would quickly invade the lower reaches of my plots. Although the drainage ditch is almost devoid of water at present, when it is flowing it runs from west to east along the ditch. At present another invasive plant is making its way towards my plots, following the same direction as the water would, and will soon become a problem if not kept in check, (the dreaded mares tail).

Drainage Ditch Vegetation
Drainage Ditch Lower End of N2 Looking East (Uncleared) Sept 2014
Starting last weekend I began by pruning back the larger bushes, trees and brambles on the far bank, using a telescopic pruner to reach across the ditch. The ground level vegetation on both banks was then raked loose and bagged off into potato sacks and other containers for disposal. The mainly larger wild plants/flowers were left intact apart for trimming their foliage back somewhat, using garden shears. After 3 days work, the banks and bottom of the ditch were clear of weeds, cuttings and debris. A couple of years ago consignments of animal manure to our allotments was found to be contaminated with pesticides. Since then, finding a regular source of manure has been hit and miss. Taking this into consideration I decided to clear out the humus rich mud from the bottom of the drainage ditch and deposit it onto my vegetable beds, in lieu of manure, as well as keeping the ditch clear for water to run off from. Using a walking board on top of the thick black mud I began to dig it out, starting work last Monday.

Digging Out the Mud
Vegetation Cleared Mud Digging Started Below N1 Plot Sept 2014

Digging Out the Mud Sept 2014

Walking Board Sinking in the Mud Sept 2014

Mud Dug Out
Mud Removed Lower End of N1 Plot Sept 2014

Mud Spread on Vegetable Beds
1st 4 Barrow Loads of Mud on No1 Bed N1 Plot Sept 2014
 Once the vegetation had been removed the full width of the ditch was about 1 and a half meters with the useable mud being about half a meter deep, thick black and very smelly due to its high nitrogen content from rotting vegetation. Each spadeful had to be wrenched out and thrown up the bank into my wheelbarrow. With the mud sticking to just about everything it came into contact with, progress was slow but to date I have completed approximately 10 meters along the length of the ditch.
Its now Sunday afternoon 28th September 2014 and clearing of the drainage ditch has finally been achieved.

Ditch Cleared
Drainage Ditch Clearing Finished 28 Sept 14 Photographed East to West From Lower End of N2 Plot
The Marrows Kept On Growing Whilst I Worked In The Ditch Sept 2014

 There's always tomorrow!!

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!!

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