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Showing posts from 2015

Rooko's Decembers Top 10 tips & Tryouts


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2015 In A Flash

Where's this year gone (and what the heck was I really doing) would sum up my allotment and gardening efforts for 2015. As my readers will already know, I put my house up for sale early this year and prior to that, from about November 2014 until the first week of February this year I was concentrating on preparing that house for sale. The rear garden was re-designed somewhat and various D.I.Y. and decorating jobs done, prior to its sale, so very little "Winter work" got done down my plots. I made the first visit to the plots during the first week of February just after several frosts had abated. One of the first jobs I remember doing was to replace my poly tunnel, damaged by high winds during January. After that a start was made on sowing various seeds into pots and getting them settled into the new poly tunnel. A period of early hot dry weather then did little to aid the germination of some of the seeds, especially 2 different types of tomato seeds. Several weeks later…

How Many Hours In A Day??

If things don't change they'll stay the same, well that's no surprise, so what's changed since my last post at the end of July. Well the weather has changed for a start, although its very mild for this time of the year and a little damp caused by recent, frequent early morning mists. I made the first visit to my plots (or should I say plot), today, for a few weeks. I sold my house at the beginning of October and having purchased a bungalow, (still in Taunton), with a rather large rear garden I decided it would be prudent to hand back N2 Plot and utilize my rear garden, turning part of it into a vegetable plot. Moving house, clearing N2 Plot and being involved with the planning of a family wedding for this coming Saturday, (or maybe not, seeing as the bride and groom have just contracted tonsilitis??), has kept me extremely busy over the past month or so. Hopefully things will settle down a little within the next week or so.

 N1 Plot now consists of 3 vegetable beds a…

Rooko's Novembers Top 10 Tips & Tryouts

Well after I missed last months top 10 (only the 2nd time since I started blogging), its about time I got back into some posting and allotment work.
1. Well I'm about to stick my neck right out with the first tip. 2 weeks is your deadline for getting out those protective fleeces, covers and any other plant protection items you can find. I'm predicting a cold snap across U.K. starting in approximately 2 weeks time, that will last into February 2016 with temperatures well below freezing day and night. Be prepared.

2. Deciduous and fruit trees can be planted this month but do not plant them on waterlogged areas of ground.

3. Many gardeners and allotment owners will be celebrating bonfire night soon. If you have built a bonfire, remember to check under/inside it for any hibernating animals such as hedgehogs, before lighting the fire.

4. Vacant patches of ground on your plot can be dug/rotavated if not too wet. Add compost/manure. Winter frosts should break down any heavy clumps o…

Rooko's September Top 10 Tips & Tryouts

1. After several wet days in the past fortnight and temperatures dropping quite noticeably, especially overnight, check the ventilation of greenhouses and poly tunnels if you still have fruit and veg ripening within them. My tomatoes have been very slow to ripen this year. It may be prudent to strip all the leaves and stems from the plants to aid ripening.

2. Lifting potatoes is best done when the soil is reasonably dry. About this time of year slugs/worms are more likely to attack tubers and blight can set in after being spread around after rain showers.

3. If your beds are clear of veggies, now is the time to dig or rotavate them, ready for next season, adding manure or compost as required. This will save time next Spring.

4. If you prefer to dig/rotavate in the Spring, try sowing a green manure such as mustard. Mustard (a biofumigant) not only keeps many weeds at bay but is also useful in deterring soil borne pests.

5. Now is a good time to plant out Autumn onion sets & garlic…

Rooko's August Top 10 Tips & Tryouts

1. August is probably a good month to spray weedkiller, (if you use it), onto those nasty perennial weeds, whilst they have a good covering of foliage to absorb it.

2. Pick veggies, such as runner beans, french beans, peas regularly, which will encourage the plants to produce more fruits.  Biggest is not always best, small and sweet is often the best.

3. If you have an abundance of veggies, why not invite some friends over for a B.B.Q. and utilize the extra fruit and veggies in a salad/meal.

4. August can be a fairly dry month, regular, consistent watering, particularly of seedlings, potted plants and hanging baskets may be required. Don't get dehydrated, have a drink yourself too.

5. Taking cutting from half hardy bedding plants is a good idea this month.

6. If the weather has been particularly dry add mulches around beds and borders to aid water retention.

7. Watch out for signs of late blight on tomatoes/potato plants. Remove any infected plants and burn or bag and bin them, d…

Tray Bien???

Another good harvest today, salute the kernal 2015.

There's Always Tomorrow!!


Some rainwater at long last pouring from the clouds, at least I think that's what it is, with weeks without any its difficult to remember what a good downpour of rainfall looks like. Although over the past couple of months we have experienced a couple of thunder storms and a little drizzly, muggy weather the allotments have been parched, up until last night when the rain started. My recent visits to the plots have been intermittent for a while now, mainly due to the fact that my house sale is still progressing and the priority has been, jumping through the various hoops associated with organizing completion of the sale. Watering the plots has been a pain lately with some varieties of veggies not liking the hot dry weather conditions at all. To compound problems it looks like the water fittings around our allotments will have to be updated, special underground tanks fitted and hose pipes and water meters banned in future. So far this year I have managed to use water from the drain…

Rooko's July Top 10 Tips & Tryouts

1. Temperatures in many parts of U.K. have been in the high 20's to mid 30 degrees C making some gardening tasks physically challenging. Grass cutting being one of them. Lawns and grass paths etc can usually be left to grow for a while longer, which will prevent the grass scorching/drying out and save you some time and energy??

2. If you have house plants on windowsills in hot weather the sunlight can be magnified through glass windows, ensure plants are not being scorched or frequently drying out due to the extra heat.

3. Many types of fruit will be ready, or almost ready for harvesting this month. Consistent watering is required for fruit to bulk out. Water around fruit bushes and trees and avoid splashing water onto the fruit.

4. This year has seen a rise in the number of asparagus beetles attacking my asparagus plants, (hot dry weather conditions). The common asparagus beetle is about 1 cm long with cream, red and blue/black markings. The adults generally appear first in Spri…

As Is (June 2015)

The annoying persistent stiff, cold breeze returned a few days ago with a change of direction, now blowing from an easterly direction rather than westerly across the allotments. So what difference has that made down my plots. Yellowing of my sweetcorn plants for a start, they don't like a fresh breeze. Direct seed sowing is frustrating, trying to ensure the seeds don't blow out of my hands before I get them safely into their drills. I don't use the plastic contraptions for sowing seeds as I have found them pretty hopeless in the past. Any tall plants such as peas and beans are being blown over but not to any great extent yet. Some time ago I began the task of putting up pea sticks to support (obviously) my pea plants. Having completed both outside ends of several rows I got distracted from this task at the time. Anyway I didn't complete the job, but what has become apparent is that the plants around the perimeter of the bed are supported with sticks and as such are sh…

Rooko's June Top 10 Tips & Tryouts

1.  Add some colour to your veggie patch (or planters/flower borders) this month by sowing some Chard. The leaves usually appear in varying shades of green with different plants having a wide variety of colours. A useful vegetable which is normally pest free and easy to grow.

2.  Believe it or not, but the E.U. (in their infinite wisdom) huh!! have deemed that the use of coffee grounds to enrich your garden soil is O.K. but using them to kill certain garden pests is NOT.

3.  O.K. so most people don't like wasps. They do cause some damage in the garden especially around fruit. They are probably of more use though, 1 worker wasp will take out around 100 aphids in a day. Being predators they will also take flies and caterpillars as food.

4. Along with Spring and Summer comes the vast armies of pests and diseases. Here's a link to some preventative measures, mainly organic. Click Here.

5.  Are you growing Ferns and/or Gardenia and like eating pickles, try pouring the pickle juic…

Remembering (A Look Back In Time)


Although the current overcast, grim looking, leaden sky and the first heavy downpour of rain for some time seems to be clearing somewhat, a visit to my plots is off for today. Although the rain is very welcome after several weeks of mainly dry weather the continual, cold north westerly wind isn't. So what's missing from the allotments recently, I thought?

1. Slugs and snails, a distinct lack of them on my plots for most of the year so far which is good news for the developing seedlings and plants. The topsoil has remained dry for some time now due to lack of rainwater, keeping these beasties at bay and in their hiding places. I expect they will be making an appearance shortly, after the rain today.

2. Wood pigeons, the normal (for our allotments anyway), batch of them, which nest yearly in the trees close to my plots seem to have moved away this year. This appears to be due to the fact that a pair of Jackdaws have built their nest in the trees normally used by the pigeons, ef…

Video Update Don't Lose The Plot (21st May 2015)!!!

The sun has got its hat on and the cold westerly wind has dropped its time for a video.

Rooko's May Top 10 Tryouts & Tips

1. If you have flower beds or veggie beds edged with raised wooden planks/battens to separate them from grass paths, try the following method to easily remove them to facilitate edging/mowing the grass. Sink plastic down pipe offcuts at various intervals along the edges of your borders. Screw supports to the wooden planks/battens to fit into the pipe. Ensure a correct level and insert the fixed supports into the pipes. Lift out the planks/battens as required.
2. Flea beetles can be a nuisance this month causing untold damage to small plants/seedlings. Try and keep the soil around plants/seedlings moist and disturbed (hoeing). Flea beetles don't like damp loose soil.

3. Asparagus is best cooked soon after picking it. It will keep fresh for about a week if the cut ends (bundled) are placed into about 1 inch of fresh water in a bowl.

4. If you are sowing cucumber seeds (or similar) into pots/trays, sow the seeds on their sides cover with approximately half an inch of compost or soi…

Frosty But On The Up

Busy but leisurely is how I would describe the past few weeks working down my plots. Frequent overnight frosts have put paid to planting out certain crops, which in previous years would have been hardened off and established by this time of year. My emerging main crop potato plants were affected by frost last Monday night, luckily not enough to cause any permanent damage to them. Our climates, cool weather crops, carrots, beetroot, swede, turnips, spring onions, lettuce, cabbage, broad beans, sown from seed are faring well despite the night time drops in temperature. Working down the plots recently has been pleasant enough in the warm sunshine, although its on with my jacket as soon as any clouds appear as temperatures tend to drop quickly, funny old game. 2 rows of sprout plants were planted out into the lower end of No 4 bed this afternoon, probably the coolest area of my plots. How they fare will be seen by next week after more frosts have been forecast here for this coming weeken…

Moving Along Nicely

Since my last allotment post on March the 16th work has been progressing nicely down my plots. Although the overcast cool weather in March didn't look like breaking, several sunny days since have allowed plenty of opportunities to get both my plots into good shape for this season. No 4 bed on N2 Plot is the only one still too claggy to allow any sowing or planting. This bed will be this seasons brassicas bed and although it has been rotavated twice in the past month and previously well limed. I estimate it will be about another week before it is dry enough to work on, provided the rain holds off.

 No 3 bed on N2 Plot has had several rows of peas, (Hurst greenshaft and Oregan sugar pods) sown into it recently, 5 rows of which are already showing shoots. This bed was kept covered over the Winter with black plastic sheeting, after being cleaned and rotavated. After the covers were removed the bed was completed devoid of weeds and needed little prep before sowing, even a patch of stub…