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  • After a blank day yesterday I was keen to get some horsetail roots dug out before it got too hot. I walked down to the plot at about 8am and spent about a couple of hours digging before I got too tired to do any more. I went home for a coffee then took the 4 full trugs of horsetail to the tip.

    After lunch the sun went in for a bit and I decided to go back and do some more. I managed another hour or so, which got the path alongside the tunnel dug to about half way, by which time I had had enough.

    I then cut a carrier bag full of bolting spinach and took it home to make soup. This has not made a huge impression on the amount of spinach still at the allotment (and I have loads at home too!).

    The next door plot holder was there this afternoon, and says he has ordered a powerful weedkiller that kills horsetail including the roots. He is going to spray the green half of his plot with it when it arrives. I don't like weedkiller, but I also don't like falling out with people I hardly know, so I didn't mention that I don't use chemicals. Its his plot and I suppose he is free to do what he wants with it. It will be interesting to see if it works, but I will be sticking with the digging. He was talking about spraying the bottoms of the hedges as well, and I did advise him to be careful. I've no idea what this stuff is, but if its that powerful he could well kill the hedges too.
    A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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    • This weekend I decided that Saturday would be a digging day and today I would get some other jobs done.

      Saturday was sunny, but the sun was hazy so it was not too hot. There was some horsetail growing back in the bed next to the rhubarb, so I dug that over first, removing quite a lot of horsetail roots, then covered it with a piece of fleece as the cat has been using it as a toilet. I then dug the bit of path between that bed and the tunnel, which had not been dug previously, removing a delightful mixture of horsetail, couch grass, bindweed and geranium.

      Today I started with pulling horsetail out of the raised beds, but it was very sunny and far too hot, so I spent a good hour tidying the shed, folding and putting away the bubble wrap and cloche covers and then raking up the bits of leylandii near the bottom hedge, which was also in the shade. Having done this I trimmed the long grass there.

      This evening I went back to do the watering and planted out the 2 kohlrabi plants in the tunnel (with copper rings to keep the slugs off), then set about weeding the strawberries - this is another job that has got stopped several times due to it being in the sunny part of the plot. These were thick with little weeds, mostly willowherb and horsetail. I managed to remove a fair amount of them and scratched at the soil surface with a hand fork to disturb the ones I'd missed. No doubt it will all grow back very quickly.
      Last edited by Penellype; 20-05-2018, 09:16 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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      • Monday was very hot and sunny, and not at all conducive to digging. I spent some time pulling horsetail out of the roadside hedge, where it had grown to about a foot high. As the hedge is a mixture of hawthorn and blackthorn, this wasn't a particularly pleasant job! I also tidied up some of the grass edges that the mower doesn't get to, but I'd soon had enough.

        Yesterday morning was cooler and I spent about 2 hours digging over part of the road end of the tunnel for the 2nd time and removing all the horsetail I could find. I also cut down 2 large geranium plants that were in the tunnel harbouring slugs, snails and horsetail. While I was doing this I noticed some snails inside the rolled up piece of weed matting. I moved the edge to get the snails out and found a small brown toad. I left him where he was for now - he is welcome to eat as many slugs as he can find.

        I was going to go back in the afternoon, but I thought I'd better go to Wyevale and get some sweet potatoes and tomato Megabyte, as I had some vouchers that expired yesterday. Irritatingly they didn't have either (I got both there last year), so that was rather a waste of time.

        This morning was cloudy so I went down as early as I could and did some more digging in the tunnel, including some of the part that has not been dug before. This leaves 2 square areas in the corners at the shed end, which are currently not accessible because of the bins of water, and the bit under the roll of matting that is housing Mr Toad, plus the roots of the geraniums. There is also about 1/3 of the road half that needs re-digging, which shouldn't take too long. I may or may not get a chance to do more this afternoon. I've also pulled some horsetail out of the parsnip, onion and pea beds this morning.
        A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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        • Busy,Busy, as always...!!
          Do you Ever RELAX ..???
          Never Let the BAD be the Enemy of the GOOD

          Conservation and Preservation for the Future Generation

          Comment


          • Originally posted by geepee View Post
            Busy,Busy, as always...!!
            Do you Ever RELAX ..???
            Sometimes

            Went back briefly yesterday to water and adjust the bean frame slightly (and pulled the horsetail out of that raised bed). I was going to pot up the pink blueberry into a 30 litre pot and had bought a 25 litre bag of ericaceous compost for the job. The plant is in a 3 litre pot. I was expecting a gap at the top of the bucket, but when I put the compost in, even after fluffing it up with a fork it was barely 3/4 full. I'm going to have to get some more before I plant the blueberry.
            A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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            • Up early this morning and dug some more horsetail out of the tunnel before the sun came out. Planted some yellow beetroot that I grew in plugs at home - these have gone where the carrots were that were eaten by slugs, so I'm hoping the beetroot will fare rather better as they are bigger.

              Went to the garden centre and got another bag of ericaceous compost and some plants for the front garden. Back to the allotment later to pot up the blueberry and pick some spinach for tea and to freeze. Even though it is bolting the spinach is still producing some very decent sized leaves and I picked a carrier bag full without making much impression on the plants.

              No watering today (apart from the newly planted plants) as it is forecast to rain heavily tomorrow.
              A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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              • Friday was a write-off although I did manage a quick visit in the evening to collect about 1/2 a dustbin full of water from my various upturned lids, wheelbarrow etc. I also picked up all the slugs and snails I could find.

                Yesterday I went down early expecting more slugs and snails to be enjoying the damp, but found surprisingly few. I'm not daft enough to think that I have somehow managed to catch them all, I've probably just weeded out the ones that don't know how to hide. While I was there I pulled the horsetail out of the cauliflower bed which is one of the worst infested. The cauliflowers (Maybach) are showing no sign of flowering - maybe they are Junebach this year. The turnips in the same bed are now the size of marbles. I'm hoping the debris netting cover is fine enough to keep off the cabbage root fly, which is always a problem with turnips at home.

                As it was still cloudy I went back at lunchtime and finished digging the horsetail out from the road end of the tunnel, apart from under the roll of matting where I saw Mr Toad before. Loads of little weeds are beginning to show at the shed end, so I may attack them with a hoe soon. I brought home another carrier bag full of spinach leaves for the freezer.

                In the evening I went back an pulled out more horsetail from the edges of the plot and then mowed the grass paths. The mower is not good at cutting the flowering stalks or up against the edges so I need to go round with the edging shears and nip them off, but at least I have got part of the job done.
                A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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                • Much sunnier today, so at lunchtime I trimmed the long bits of grass round the edges that were in the shade and pulled out a load of horsetail. I then tidied the wood shed so that I could fit some more bits in that I am no longer using for now. I also cut back some branches of the ash tree that is growing in the hedge, as it kept hitting me in the face. The hedges could all do with a quick trim of soft shoots before the whole thing gets out of hand.

                  After tea I went back to do some watering and hoed the shed end of the tunnel to remove annual weed seedlings. There were a couple of bits of horsetail showing, which I dug out. The whole thing took me about 10 minutes, and hopefully this will be how it is from now on. The road end will need further digging as some of it has only been dug once.

                  I then spent some time pulling horsetail out from under the roadside hedge before attempting to dig bits out of the bed next to the rhubarb. Once again I found that the evening sun made it very hard to see the horsetail roots here and I soon gave up - I will have to do it at a different time of day. I want to get this dug over again as I'm going to plant tomatoes and courgettes in it soon.

                  By the time I had watered everything (it has been very warm and quite windy today so things were already looking dry) I had used up all of the water I collected on Friday. That didn't last long, and we currently have negligible rain forecast here for the foreseeable future.

                  The crops are growing better - there are pods forming on the early peas, the raspberries are flowering and fruits are swelling on the strawberries. I have at least a dozen gooseberries (total crop from past 2 years combined was 3) and the blackcurrant has loads of fruit. The spinach is bolting but still edible and the beetroot is growing at an amazing rate in the hotbed. There are a few carrots too, which I thought had got buried under the lettuce and spinach in the hotbed - from the tops they look about finger thick. One of the plants in the bucket of Lady C potatoes is going a bit yellow and looking as though it might be ready to harvest. I will have a look tomorrow - that could be one bucket less to water...
                  A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

                  Comment


                  • Not too hot and sunny this morning so I got a chance to trim the roadside hedge and dig the horsetail out of the bed next to the rhubarb again. I then moved the plastic tunnel that was over the potatoes onto this bed ready for the tomatoes. Picked some lettuce, beetroot and rhubarb for lunch.

                    This afternoon I took 4 tomato plants and 3 runner bean plants to the plot. The beans were planted near the bean frame after I'd pulled out all the visible horsetail. The tomatoes went under the plastic tunnel, planted deep so that they take a while to get too tall. There are 2 varieties, both of which are supposed to be resistant to blight - 2 Crimson Crush, which I grew at home last year, and 2 Oh Happy Day, which is a new variety supposedly more resistant to blight than Mountain Magic (which I am not particularly keen on).

                    I went back in the evening to shut the cover over the tomatoes and water everything, and noticed that the bluebells near the tunnel had finished flowering so I deadheaded them and also pulled a load of horsetail out of the rhubarb bed (there is loads more, but I was out of time).
                    A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

                    Comment


                    • Yesterday's main job was to take the full trugs of horsetail to the tip so that I had some space for more. That done, I pulled the horsetail out of the 4 beds nearest the leylandii hedge (potatoes, parsnips, leeks and onions).

                      One of the things I did when I made the raised beds was to do things slightly differently in each of the 4 beds next to the grass path, to see what happened. The bean bed was simply hoed, and the cardboard and raised bed put down on top of the weeds. The pea bed wasn't even hoed, the cardboard was put on top of the weeds as they were. The horsetail in these 2 beds is horrific, coming up everywhere. The onion bed was dug over but none of the weeds were removed. This also has loads of horsetail, but possibly slightly less than the other 2 beds. The leek bed was dug over and as much horsetail as possible was removed. There is still some horsetail, but noticeably much less than in any of the other beds. I suppose this was predictable, really. In all of the beds the other weeds were completely suppressed - I have had to remove one dandelion, 2 raspberry suckers and a couple of sprouted acorns that came in the leaf mould, plus a very few seedlings of annual weeds that probably came with the used compost I topped the beds with, and that's all.

                      The other job I really wanted to get done yesterday was trimming the west side hedge. This is much harder than the roadside one as it is a mixture of different trees and shrubs as well as the hawthorn and blackthorn. It also contains a number of nettles. I got it done, but it took most of the afternoon. Some of the elder branches had about 3ft of new growth to cut back. 2 trug fulls of chopped trimmings went into the compost bin - having an empty trug available was important which is why I wanted to get this done now, before the trugs get filled with yet more horsetail.

                      So, mostly a "maintenance" day yesterday.

                      Today I wanted to get on with something more like "progress" and I had my eye on digging more of the path between the raised beds and tunnel. I'd hoped to finish up to the edge of the cauliflower bed (a total of about 4ft of path), but it was soon clear that this was not going to happen. The soil has been walked on and compressed for the last 5 months and is really hard. It takes all my weight on the fork to push it into the soil and quite an effort to lever the soil out, then I have to start carefully breaking it up without chopping the roots into tiny pieces. It can't be done quickly, and by the time I had got half way up the cauliflower bed it was lunchtime and I had had quite enough. I'd half filled a trug with roots.

                      This afternoon I wanted to harvest the bucket of Lady C potatoes. One of the plants had gone very yellow and was clearly not going to do anything other than die back, and new potatoes for tea seemed a great idea. The compost was very dry when I turned the bucket out, which could be why the foliage was dying (although it hadn't wilted). I harvested 0.8kg of reasonably sized new potatoes:

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                      This is not as good as comparable buckets at home this time last year, which yielded about 1kg, but last year the potatoes were planted nearly a month earlier.

                      I'd taken the white beetroot with me intending to plant them, but having dug a few bits of horsetail out of the tunnel I decided to leave them in their modules on the shelf for a bit longer. I picked a bag of spinach and went home for tea.

                      This evening I went back to water and pulled the horsetail out of the bean bed, then sowed a half row of florence fennel, which I have been meaning to do for a while. If this survives the slugs I will sow some more. The birds have been ferreting in the pea and bean beds today, presumably after the worms. I need to get some black cotton to deter them. In the meantime I covered the newly sown seeds with fleece to stop them from being dug up.
                      A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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                      • No gardening time yesterday, but when I went down to water the plants, 2 of the runner beans were on their sides, having clearly been dug up by birds looking for worms. An emergency shopping trip was necessary to get some cotton, which I put round the beans and also some of the peas which were also being targeted.

                        Today was hot and sticky. I went down to the plot early and did about an hour digging horsetail roots. The cotton seems to have done its job and the beans were still in place.

                        Later I went back and dug part of the tunnel again to remove any horsetail roots I could find before planting some white beetroot that I'd grown in modules. Then I brought home a carrier bag full of spinach to freeze, and some lettuce and a beetroot the size of a tennis ball for lunch .

                        When I went back to water everything I pulled some horsetail out of the raised beds again. Then I took some photos of the plot as it is exactly 5 months since I got it. This is what it looks like now:

                        From the plot entrance

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                        Inside the tunnel

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                        From the shed end

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                        The same area from the road end

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                        The bottom end

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                        (To be continued...)
                        Last edited by Penellype; 01-06-2018, 09:05 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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                        • The bean bed

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                          Runner bean Stardust, purple sugar snap peas Sugar Magnolia. The fleece is there to keep the cat off - there are recently sown fennel seeds under it this side.

                          The pea bed

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                          Peas Meteor at the back, about ready, Douce Provence, 2 rows in front, also nearly ready. On the right are Hurst Greenshaft, not looking very happy. The area under the fleece will be planted with late peas (Geisha).

                          The onion bed

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                          Onion Sturon, not growing very well. I don't think they like having their roots disturbed every other day when remove the horsetail. On the left are 2 rows of summer leeks, which have all but disappeared.

                          The leek bed

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                          There are 2 rows of leeks on the left, but again these are very small. I was going to plant more leeks in this bed, but there seems little point as they are doing so badly. I will therefore plant the rest of the leeks in the tunnel. This bed is the one that has had some of the horsetail dug out already, so I will take the opportunity to clear the rest of it when I have finished digging the path next to the tunnel.

                          The raspberry bed

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                          Last edited by Penellype; 01-06-2018, 09:01 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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                          • The potato bed

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                            Sarpo Axona nearest, Nicola and one bucket of Desiree (left) behind.

                            The parsnip bed

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                            2 rows of small parsnip seedlings (Hollow Crown) and 2 rows of rather bigger yellow beetroot. I've left plenty of space in between as I know how big these parsnip plants can get!

                            The cauliflower bed

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                            4 cauliflower Maybach and some turnip Oasis. The 2 cauliflower plants at home are starting to form cauliflowers. Hopefully these won't be far behind, and the 2 turnips on the right are about ready to eat.

                            The hotbed

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                            Spinach Amazon continues to defy belief. The leaves are smaller now but are fine to eat if the central vein is removed and are still bigger than anything I can grow at home. It is still growing much faster than I can pick it - the photo was taken after I harvested a carrier bag full of leaves today. Between the 2 rows of spinach I have finished harvesting the lettuces. There are a few surviving carrots, although whether the carrot flies have got at them remains to be seen. The beetroot (Boltardy and Boldor) is growing very fast too and there is a row of lettuces between them which is rapidly disappearing under the beetroot leaves.

                            The tomato bed

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                            2 of each of Crimson Crush (back) and Oh Happy Days (front), both of which are supposed to be blight resistant. The space on the right is waiting for courgettes.
                            A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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                            • The strawberries

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                              Loads of plants with fruit forming, but nothing ripe yet. Like everything else these are infested with horsetail, so I am experimenting with growing 4 plants in a MFB. If this works I may end up with a row of them which might solve the horsetail issue but create a different problem with watering.

                              The shed end of the tunnel

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                              Cabbage Duncan at the far end and kohlrabi very hard to see on the right. The white bed with copper round is carrots, which have survived so far (touch wood). This side of the carrot bed is the beetroot I planted today. Behind the post is the blackcurrant bush (Ben Sarek) and the Maris Bard potatoes are in the foreground.

                              The road end of the tunnel

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                              Another view of the potatoes with the blueberry Pink Lemonade and Gooseberry Captivator in pots behind. The area out of picture to the left is bare at the moment and will be planted with winter brassicas.

                              The path next to the tunnel

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                              You can just about see that I have cleared as far as the far side of the cauliflower bed, with just the bit next to the path this side of the hotbed, the end of the hotbed and the bit next to the strawberries to do.

                              Pleased with progress so far
                              A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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                              • Looks fantastic Pen, you must be really pleased to have achieved that in five months

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