Thursday, 13 March 2014

13 Mar 2014 - The boring tidy-up session

Since there's not much planting going on, I've been popping down to the allotment to do some tidying between work shifts.  Apparently my shifts are annoying, but you gotta play the system!

I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do, but all the fun stuff was either a WIP, or waiting for timber, so I was just pottering.  Luckily, two guys I know were also there, we'll call it a hot date, cos the sun was out and we had lunch together!

Also joined by the resident ducks, who were trying to nick the nails from one guy.  I helped hold the wood down so he could saw (on his knees!) a bit faster, without it moving around like a spinning wheel!  He thought it was taking up my own allotment time, but I turned it into a coffee break!

My own work was a little less interesting - you could tell, the ducks weren't being nosey.  But I did manage to weed 4 beds (well, nearly finished the last one, but had to go and get ready for work).

The first bed did have Red Popping Corn, Onions & Garlic in, now just Onions and Garlic.
The second bed had Potatoes, Leeks and a tray of unplanted Leeks (which have been transplanted into spaces in the first bed).
The third bed had Brussel Sprouts, Sprouting Brocolli and Leeks (or Onions & Garlic).  I kinda ordered too many Onions and Garlic last year!
3rd bed nearest you!
1st bed nearest you (can't see it)

Tidied up - 1st nearest you!
In the before photo of the 4th bed I got to, which is my failed Munty's Bean's contraption, it's across the path from the tyres bed, with all the bottles stored in it.  There isn't a closer pic, but I can tell you there was a fair bit of nettle and dock in there!

I know it seems a waste to leave just that little bit not done, but I really do need to get to work clean and tidy, and I'd pushed it far enough doing the 3.5 hours work! 

I'll be back another day (soon as I get my rota) and weed that bit, turn it over to make sure I got the dock out properly and I've got some mushroom compost to go in there.  One guy has got donkey manure, so we're doing a bit of a study of that one (as you do!).

Sunday, 9 March 2014

9 Mar 2014 - Wormery update

Exciting times, introducing the significant other to the Wormery.  Honestly, his life was not complete till then!  (It was on the same day as the fruitcage work, I'm not that bad!)

excitedly pointing a worms!
I've been very diligently keeping our food scraps and wondering what a worm might like best, so if you've got one, please let me know how it's going.  I don't even know when to put the next layer tub on, but will research that too.

life's never dull round here, another worm!

some worm-wee!

9 Mar 2014 - The Fruit Cage Continues!

I had tried really, really, really, really, really hard to do this on my own.  I had bought the 6ft posts and sledgehammered them all in only to be beaten by two staplers!  Go figure!  Could I get them to work?  Could I buggery.

I called on my faithful assistant who suggested we buy new netting for the job, so it wasn't patchy and we could do it in one go - he's not just a pretty face!  Because I had been trying to do this myself, he said he'd just hold the netting for me and be the third hand (after he tried fixing the staplers, threw one away & found the correct staples for the other one DOH!).

Well I still couldn't manage to press down the stapler with it above my head (which isn't fair, cos I can sledgehammer higher above my head!!!), so in true allotment fashion....I delegated!

After 2 hours of us both working (the netting was doubled over on the roll), we both had to admit that anyone with less than 3 arms would have struggled on their own!  We decided on the doorway and I need to get one more post for that.  Then we sort out the doorway, but at least the netting is up before the raspberries get too big!  I've still got half a bed to play with, not sure what's going in there yet, and the pathway down the middle to tidy up.  We ripped up the edging for the second bed because it's changing shape slightly and I need to nail the boards to the outside of the netting to stop longtails coming in.

I know I would have come home a baldycoot if I'd not had help, either tearing my hair out, or having it stuck in the netting!!!

Anyway, in my last fruitcage blog, I'd mentioned that I moved the canes that had appeared in the pathway because basically, they were in the way and if they lived that was fab, and if they didn't, then they weren't any use to us where they were!  All 8 have survived and got new growth on already!

There will be a further update - need to finish doorway and then put a roof on!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

We have inherited a Wormery!

At our local seed swap the main raffle prize has been a Wormery and we've always lucked out on winning it.  Luckily for us, some friends decided that they didn't use theirs enough (and beekeeping is much more fun!) so they donated it to us! 
How cool is that?!?!?! (You have permission to be a little less excited than me)

I picked it up in the evening of 2 March and in between work shifts  on Monday (I had a spare 1.5 hours) I quickly drove to the allotment, tied my trousers up in a really classy fashion, set it up, made sure there were some worms in there and gave them a few of their treats, before legging it back to work!  

They are safely tucked away next to the tool boxes and a nice sturdy tyre on top, making sure they aren't being blown away!  There's another two levels I can put on, but need to read the instructions first, just really wanted to get them "home" instead of leaving them in the back of the car! 
I've even sorted out their very own feed bucket, aren't they lucky! (it's one of those green one's all cleaned up nicely - will have to find something else for the nettle compost/fertilizer to go into now!)

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

26 Feb 2014 - Raspberries & Fruit Cage

We've had a bumper crop of raspberries a couple of years ago, and then last year a plank (or two) of wood fell on some of them and we didn't do quite so well last year (obviously!), so I decided to spoil them and build a fruit cage for them.  This was planned last year some time, but the weather's not been so good and we couldn't do anything while there were fruit on them, so it had to wait until after December.

The "weather v my time off" has been less than hospitable, but I finally started getting down to the allotment in the last couple of weeks.  I enjoyed my time with the sledgehammer, although I've been doing a lot of swimming this week, so my arms are about to drop off, but I did get the 6 posts I bought put up. 

I failed miserably with both staplers when I tried to put the netting up, but maybe that's a good thing, cos we think the netting is not quite right.  Now that I think about it, I *may* have used the office stapler on my last project, but we'll just keep that to ourselves!! haha!

Here's a few pics, it's 2.5 hours work - I cleared some of the weeds (until the stinging nettles got me), bashed in 6 posts, turned over a new bit of bed (basically, the fruit cage will cover both beds, and there's a new bit of bed at the end, making it a U shape), dug up about 8 new canes that had appeared in the pathway and transplanted them in the spaces and new bit.  I'm quite pleased with myself!




Proof that I'm not theonly mad one!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

23 Feb 2014 - Seed Swap

The 3rd annual seed swap was today and this time, I'm determined not to lose my goodies!

Bumped into some old friends I hadn't seen for a few years, had a catch up with people from other allotments, and even from our allotment, which is odd, but I work shifts and sometimes have the whole place to myself!

I remember the first Seed Swap, it was very "Island-ish and Traa de loor", some signed in, everyone just threw their packets of seeds in a heap on the table and went to catch up with people they haven't seen for years/ages/days, grabbed a drink and finally got round to looking at the seeds!  These days, it's a bit more organised, althought last year I did notice that we may not have paid much attention to whether we'd put our seeds in the right boxes, because I remember someone checking the goodies and announcing that something wasn't a brassica and then sorting out all the'll notice that the unknowns either go into a "Random" box, or just put on the table to sort themselves out!  It's laid back and works well for us!

my friends ran away from the camera!
a runaway, still hiding!

Me & Jan, hadn't seen her for about 3 years!

This year I was organised ......... I even had a mental list of things wanted/needed, told my significant other to make sure I didn't come back with too much, a bag that I wasn't going to lose and raffle prizes brought along!

It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to work out that my plan went out the window!   To start with, there were no strawberries and I think I got the only bag of potatoes.  But there were some herbs and tomatoes, but then I got carried away with the exotics!
I'm not sure all these herbs were on the list....

Only the potatoes & tomatoes on my list!

I got carried away with "interesting"

and these were just plain bizarre!

splashed out on some new gloves too!
I'm fascinated with what a brussel sprout/kale plant looks like & then what it tastes like too!  Then there's the other thing which "tastes like Cumin or Salty Roast Beef" ..... fair enough, but what does it look like!!!

Well, as they say, curiousity kills the cat!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

19 Feb 2014 - Checking out the storm damage!

You may or may not have heard about the recent storms we've had......  here's some pics of the wave damage!

5min walk from my home
5 min walk from my home

And this was from the second high tide, we had worse in January!  So you can imagine what I was thinking when I finally got the combination of time off + nice weather and was able to get to the allotment.  I decided that I would accept whatever happened and just fix one thing at a time.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that my fence (I put that up myself, made from my mate's old shed & a lot of sledgehammer work!) survived quite well.  One panel down (now held up with the help of net curtain wire!) and one panel on a bit of a lean (now supported by a tyre).

Apart from that, we did quite well, so I could get on with just weeding!  This is the Three Sisters bed, which I think I'll keep as that.  I've decided that as there are 3 different crops working together, crop rotation doesn't really make sense.
after, with compost

I also got a nice surprise of goodies growing and ready to take away.  The potatoes (you won't be surprised to hear) were all taken from a bed that didn't have potatoes planted in last year!  If you're interested in the apple tree, I got it at our local farmer's market, but here's the website.  I very proudly dug out a 3 litre bottle's worth of mares tail roots (hahaha, prehistoric monster.....take that!)
garlic & onions growing
Manx Codlin tree

As usual, wildlife just rushes up to greet me, or in one case, I got chased to the car by a herd of chickens & a cockerel shouting at me!

I've got a bit of work to do, but most of the beds are covered up, the wind has had a field-day with the bottles I hadn't managed to tie to the tree out the back and there's a bit of pruning of fruit trees to do.  I'd forgotten how happy I am at the allotment, so I'm looking forward to it!
Main plot, back section
Main plot, front section

Second plot, from the back
Second plot, from the front

And here's some rubbish - one's a pile of compost (doing quite well) and the other what survived from a 2012 Christmas present (obviously a gardeners glove, not allotmenteer!)

Happier than a pig in poo!