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  • A gorgeous day today so I spent as much time as possible gardening. Did 2 sessions of digging horsetail in the tunnel and also shredded a bit of the pile of leylandii. Brought home a big bag of lettuce for lunch and another of spinach for tea.

    Last night was around freezing here, but as I had covered all the potatoes I though they would be ok. The Maris Bard and lady C under the cloche in the tunnel were getting a bit big for their cloche, and I removed the plastic cover this morning:

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    However the Nicola, which were under a plastic tunnel but otherwise outside didn't fare so well:

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    The foliage has gone black where it was pressing against the plastic - I can only think that this was because the leaves were wet from condensation. I've taken the plastic cover off these as well. We are not currently forecast frost, although it could get quite chilly tomorrow night.

    The Maris Bard have been in for 8 weeks (planted 6th March), the Nicola were planted 4 days later.

    A few more photos of progress:

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    Peas - Meteor at the back and Douce Provence at the front are coping well with the slugs.

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    The slug barriers I made from the strips of plastic and copper tape appear to be doing their job.

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    About 3/4 of the tunnel has now been dug over and as much horsetail as possible removed.
    Last edited by Penellype; 01-05-2018, 07:36 PM.
    A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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    • Looking good Pen', as for the Nicola,I'm pretty sure that given a couple of days af warmer temps (plus a bucketful of your TLC) they will be back to their happy, healthy selves in no time.
      Gp
      Never Let the BAD be the Enemy of the GOOD

      Conservation and Preservation for the Future Generation

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      • A couple of days of nothing much happening - rain on Wednesday meant all I did was collect the water and cover the plants to protect them from frost, and meetings yesterday meant all I had time to do was uncover everything and grab some lettuce and spinach from the hotbed.

        More time today and a cloudy morning meant it wasn't too hot to dig and I could do so without a hat falling over my eyes all the time (I get sunstroke very easily if I don't wear a hat in the sun, which is irritating as I hate wearing hats). I made some reasonable progress in 2 sessions in the tunnel, before and after lunch, including digging the horsetail out of the door area, which will have time to get trodden down again before it rains and turns into a muddy mess.

        I also hung some of the bubble wrap up to dry as there are several sheets of it which are still wet. It all needs drying and folding up so I can store it in a sensible manner without it taking up the whole of the shed.

        The Albana leeks have germinated under the fleece and I now have to try to keep the cat and slugs off them - that's a job for tomorrow. Not such good news about the Sweet Candle carrots, 3 of which had survived the slug onslaught between the pieces of plastic and copper tape. Today when I checked there were only 2. I may have to admit defeat with carrots in the raised beds (I've already done that at home in soil and always grow them in buckets).

        I decided it was time to move the gooseberry bush into the tunnel in an attempt to protect it from sawflies. I have no idea if debris netting will be fine enough as sawfly adults are very small, but it is worth a try. The blackcurrant bush will follow shortly, when I decide where to put it as it is too tall for the side part of the tunnel. Eventually both of these bushes will be planted in the ground, but I want to clear the area of horsetail first.

        The 2nd lot of Douce Provence peas were taken down to the plot and put on the shelf in the tunnel. I took the obligatory lettuces home for lunch - I have more lettuce than I can eat at the moment, but the slugs are starting to eat it now so I doubt that situation will last long!

        I was back in the evening to water everything as the place is drying out fast. It will be interesting to see how my water storage copes with potatoes and fruit bushes in pots and everything else in raised beds.
        A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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        • Trying to fit a quart into a pint pot today, as my friends at the stables informed me it is Badminton Horse Trials this weekend. I recorded today's cross country phase, giving myself just another 5 hours of TV to watch, preferably today...!

          Having mucked out the horses I went down to the plot but quickly decided it was too hot to do any digging. I cut the grass and trimmed back some of the nettles in the hedge, put some more bubble wrap out to dry and then pulled as much horsetail as possible out of the hotbed and other raised beds. My Sweet Candle carrots are now down to one survivor, but the Flyaway I sowed later have just germinated.

          I peeled the fleece back off the leeks and removed a slug, then put some sticks in which will hopefully deter the cat. Then I picked a large bagful of spinach (just starting to show signs of bolting) and went home as I was getting far too hot.

          I went back in the evening to water the hotbed and potatoes and fed the blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes, which are in pots and are just finishing flowering.
          A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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          • What news of your frost bitten potatoes Pen',,???
            Never Let the BAD be the Enemy of the GOOD

            Conservation and Preservation for the Future Generation

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            • Originally posted by geepee View Post
              What news of your frost bitten potatoes Pen',,???
              The bits that went black have now gone dry and crispy, but the majority of the foliage is fine. Its really only where the leaves were touching the plastic cover.
              A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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              • Yesterday reminded me of the doubts I'd had that I could cope with an allotment as well as everything else. It was a blazing hot day, and I am not good at hot weather. I mucked out the horses and spent about half an hour weeding my friend's garden. The plan was then to go to the allotment and get on with clearing horsetail. I was too hot and I couldn't face the walk, let alone doing anything else! I caught up with watching Badminton Horse Trials instead.

                I did need to go down in the evening to water, so after pottering around doing not a lot at home in the afternoon, I spent an hour digging horsetail out of the tunnel until it started to get dark. The leylandii hedge provided shade so it was no longer too hot.

                It is difficult not to feel completely overwhelmed by the horsetail, but at least the raised beds and weed matting do seem to be cramping its style a bit. The next door plot, which was clear of surface horsetail last weekend, is now almost completely green with it.

                Everything is starting to look really dry. I'm already onto the 2nd bin of water and some of the thirsty plants (beans, courgettes and tomatoes) have yet to be planted. With a fairly dry May forecast I could soon be having to bring water from home.
                A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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                • 2 sessions down at the plot today, one early morning and the other late afternoon. On both occasions I had to stop after about half an hour because I was simply too hot.

                  Nothing very exciting today - just digging horsetail (and bindweed), pulling out horsetail, collecting slugs and snails and watering.

                  Looking round the plot its hard not to feel a bit down. The numbers of slugs and snails I'm catching has dropped, but the lace-effect rhubarb leaves tell the tale - I haven't made much impression, the snails are just hiding. The strawberries are flowering but the bed is thick with horsetail and weeds and some of the early flowers have gone black in the middle (frost).

                  The lettuces in the hotbed are getting chewed too, and when I cut one it comes out complete with several slugs, but I can never find them if I look in amongst the plants. The spinach is starting to bolt in the heat, the carrots in the hotbed are disappearing (presumably slugs) and the beetroot was wilting today.

                  The cauliflowers are not looking at all happy, and I don't know why. The 2 at home have been protected by a cloche and are in buckets, and they are romping away, twice the size of the plants at the plot. Maybe the ones at the plot have just been cold. The turnips are slowly disappearing. The parsnips haven't germinated, the carrots and leeks, which have, are disappearing. Some of the potatoes have frost damage. The cat is digging in the onion bed and also the area near the rhubarb which is not covered.

                  The onions (sets) are not looking happy and neither are the peas. Both look yellowish and sort of unenthusiastic. I'm beginning to wonder if the combination of rotted horse muck, leaf mould and coffee grounds topped with used compost is somehow unbalanced and causing some nutrition problems. The things that are growing well are fruit bushes (in buckets), rhubarb and strawberries (in soil), raspberries (in soil) and potatoes (in buckets), plus the hotbed, which is just horse manure and new compost. I did test the horse manure for weedkiller before I used it (peas and beans grew fine in the house), but I didn't test the leaf mould (which has some grass cuttings in). However, the raspberries are mulched with the leaf mould, and they are growing fine. I think I will take down a bottle of made up general purpose liquid feed for the cauliflowers, onions and peas, just in case something is missing.

                  Perhaps things have just first got a bit cold and are now a bit dry. Maybe I am just fed up because I can't get on as fast as I would like to because of the heat, which is very frustrating. Hopefully things will seem better tomorrow, although it is likely to be another hot and sunny day here.

                  Never happy, am I?
                  A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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                  • Went back down to the plot last night with a bottle of feed for the peas. Removed the cover from the hotbed - It has been wide open but the wilted beetroot was near the edge on the sunny side so I thought removing it completely might help. Pulled out all the horsetail from the hotbed, which was easier to get at without the cover.
                    A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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                    • Horsetail is highly annoying, just pulled out two large handfuls myself from among my onions and shallots. Think this year is bad for it for whatever reason - wet then hot?

                      Think you are getting yourself down unnecessarily, look at how much you have achieved already. Iím in year two and havenít got much apart from onions and potatoes planted in the ground yet. Excepting fruit bushes, raspberries and the fruit trees planted last year.

                      Iíve had slugs in my grow house taking a nibble (never had that before) so easy to get demoralised but I try to think that eventually Iíll get there rather than worry about the problems. The allotment is my escape from the stresses of work so if I get stressed about it then it rather defeats the object (although Iím still working on that as Iím a perfectionist).

                      Having a potter on mine to catch up with jobs today having spent the bank holiday weekend working on the garden - as have a day off - and enjoying the bees buzzing and the flowers on my strawberries together with the late tulips reminding myself why I have an allotment.

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                      • Originally posted by Penellype View Post
                        The onions (sets) are not looking happy and neither are the peas. Both look yellowish and sort of unenthusiastic. I'm beginning to wonder if the combination of rotted horse muck, leaf mould and coffee grounds topped with used compost is somehow unbalanced and causing some nutrition problems. :
                        Are you using your coffee grounds straight without composting?, as this may be worth a read if you are https://www.theguardian.com/lifeands...nts-its-a-myth

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                        • I had a think about why I felt so down yesterday and decided that the main reason was that a lot of what I was doing was effectively running to stand still. The horsetail in the raised beds is very much in this category as there is so much of it lurking below the surface that clearing a bed of it only lasts about a day before its back. Therefore I decided it was time to do something that would make a difference and see if that helped.

                          It was slightly less hot today but still quite sunny, meaning that it was easier to work in it but I still had to be careful not to get sunburned.

                          I went down to the plot early and did half an hour or so digging in the tunnel, and put away all of the bits of wood and stakes that have been sitting in a pile in there since I got it. I also took down the piece of plastic sheet that has been pegged to the bottom of the tunnel, the main purpose of which appeared to be as a snail hotel. I made sure that I also removed all the bits of horsetail that were regrowing in there. I also gave the onions a liquid feed.

                          At lunchtime there was quite a bit of cloud around so I went back with a roll of mesh for peas and pulled all the horsetail out of the bed that I am going to use for beans and sugar peas and some of it out from in amongst the strawberries, which are next to that bed. I then spent some time experimenting with creating pea supports with the bits of wood that I salvaged from next door's plot. The sun came back out and it got too hot so I went home with a bag of spinach for tea.

                          It was clear from the radar picture that the cold front that brought the end of the hot spell was approaching York at about 5pm. I reckoned I had about half an hour between the time the sun went in and when the rain would start, so I went back to the plot and finished off my supports for both the peas and beans. It took about an hour, and it did start to rain, but only lightly at first.

                          After I'd been to feed the horses I went back to the plot to collect the water (not much, but worth having) and also put some of the water that has collected in the big water butt into the dustbin that I have been using to water the plants, so that it is full again and there is some space in the water butt. Then I walked round the whole plot collecting slugs and snails. It was still raining and there were loads of snails on the rhubarb and both slugs and snails climbing the tunnel. I filled one and a half jam jars with them.

                          I feel much better about things today, which has been much less frustrating. There is visible progress and I've got quite a lot done including some tidying up of things that were lying about. I must also have made some sort of dent in the snail population this evening.
                          A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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                          • Sounds like you made good progress. Glad you feel a bit happier.

                            Always a good plan to do something that ‘makes a difference’ to lift the spirits.

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                            • Also always very positive to be able to work out why we feel down about things. Valuable skill, that.

                              You've achieved so much in such a short time! Re the snails/slugs - I take it the nematodes don't seem to be working? Would you consider using the ferrous sulphate type pellets?

                              The horsetail is coming into its peak growing season, but then it really does seem to slow down and the occasional hoeing keeps it out of the way.

                              Perhaps you could do less direct sowing and grow some things on in modules if you think slugs are getting all your seedlings?

                              In any case, you've done so much in such a short time - it's astounding!

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                              • Originally posted by purplekat View Post
                                Are you using your coffee grounds straight without composting?, as this may be worth a read if you are https://www.theguardian.com/lifeands...nts-its-a-myth
                                Thanks for that - very informative. Yes, I have been adding the coffee grounds uncomposted, and that could well be the cause. After reading that I won't be doing it again!
                                A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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