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Penellype's Allotment


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  • Another warm and sunny day digging out horsetail. This time I did the area between the peas and the rhubarb, where I intend to plant runner beans. This has been used as a path so it was hard going. I also finished off the area between the rhubarb and the new hotbed and pulled a few bits of horsetail out from the pea bed.

    I put away some of the bricks and bits of wood that have been holding down the covers over the potatoes and weighing down the tarpaulin, and replaced the tarpaulin with weed matting as I'd rather not use the tarpaulin as a permanent path (I will need it when harvesting potatoes).

    Then I dug up 2 of the leeks from the tunnel- these were ones that I rescued when I dug up the leek bed last year, the plants having been razored off at ground level by slugs. There were 5 in all and 3 of them have made half decent plants. I removed some horsetail from in amongst.

    I also harvested lettuce and spinach, and gave everything a good drink of water, then went home to spend some time mowing lawns and trimming edges.
    A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy


    • No time for gardening yesterday.

      First job today was to collect up the small amount of rain water from overnight rain. There was about 1/2 a watering can full in total.

      I then went round the tunnel checking carefully for horsetail shoots and digging out the few I found. I also dug the area near the door, which means that the only part of the tunnel not recently dug is Mr Toad's corner. I have no idea if he is still in residence.

      A quick visit to the garden centre for some bedding plants meant I had some marigolds to take to the plot after lunch. I also took a packet of carrot seeds (Autumn King) and sowed them in the tunnel inside the little plastic edging with copper tape round that I made for the purpose last year. It didn't really work last year, but this time I have added some "slug gone" in the hope that they will survive. I also planted out the beetroot seedlings from the growhouse in the tunnel.

      After that little interlude it was back to the horsetail and I dug some more of the path near the tunnel before it was time to pick some spinach and head home.
      Last edited by Penellype; 17-05-2019, 08:19 PM.
      A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy


      • Saturday was really busy and I had no time to do anything except go down first thing to check for water (none) and collect the jar of slugs for my friend's chickens.

        Yesterday was better and I spent a decent chunk of time at the plot around lunchtime. The main job was to finish digging the path next to the tunnel - there was just the awkward bit between the hotbed and tunnel to do. This is tricky because the high sides of the hotbed mean that there is not much room to use the fork as a lever except in the direction of the path. This area is also full of tiny horsetail shoots, some not much thicker than a hair, which are nearly impossible to see and completely impossible not to break. I did the best I could, by which time I was getting far too hot in the sunshine.

        I wandered round for a bit pulling a few bits of horsetail and weeds and picking up the odd snail, then harvested some spinach and rhubarb for the freezer and went home to sow the runner beans.

        I was back in the evening to water. I'd left everything except the plants in the growhouse on Saturday, anticipating heavy showers both days, but it was clear that nothing was going to happen, so I gave everything a good drink. 4 of my dustbins are now empty. If the promised rain doesn't appear I reckon I have about 10 days water left.
        A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy


        • Today's main job was to get the bedding plants out (or at least some of them) at home, and this required a trip to the garden centre for a few more plants and some strulch to mulch the bed with. Preparing the soil and planting out took much of the rest of the time available, but I did manage a trip to the plot at lunchtime, when I deadheaded the bluebells along the roadside hedge and removed horsetail, nettles and grass that were growing behind them.

          The lettuces and spinach in the hotbed are now getting a bit tall for the net, which means I will soon have to remove it. I'm not sure if this will allow carrot fly in, so I decided to investigate the state of the carrots, and harvested 2. They were a reasonable size considering they were only sown in February - about 3/4 inch across and 4 inches long. I also harvested the usual lettuce and spinach.

          The rain was again a tease. A huge shower approached from the west, clipped the north of the village then once it was clear of me moved south so that looking at the radar you would have sworn it rained here. It rained hard at the stables 2 miles away, but not a drop at the allotment.
          A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy


          • No time at all at the plot on Tuesday, but I intended to make up for that yesterday.

            I went down in the morning and sowed some parsnips from a new packet, as the ones I put to chit from the previous (also new) packet were showing no signs of life. With hindsight it was stupid of me to buy them from where I did - the garden centre concerned is basically a huge greenhouse, and it gets very hot at times. I suspect the seeds (which did not have a foil inner packet) have not liked the storage conditions. The new packet is from somewhere else.

            Having done that I went round the tunnel and dug up all the bits of horsetail that were starting to appear. Almost all of these were shoots from tiny pieces of root and the whole thing came out, but I am under no illusions that I have got it all!

            The next job was to clear the horsetail from the road side of the hawthorn hedge. The council have been along with weedkiller and everything else is dead, giving the horsetail free run to take over, which it is doing very rapidly. I spent about half an hour pulling out everything I could reach, and there are only a few shoots that are entangled in nettles in the middle of the hedge left. While I was doing this an old lady came to wait for the bus and told me she had been friends with the person who used to have my allotment, who has now died. She said she was glad to see that I was keeping it so well, which was nice.

            Once I had finished I had had enough of bending down, so I harvested a lettuce and a beetroot and went home.

            I'd intended to do more in the afternoon, but events rather took charge and I ended up waiting in for phone calls and only had time to water in the evening.
            A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy


            • Just wondered Penellype, is the amount of horsetail you seem to be pulling out on a daily basis really helping or are you not just root pruning and making it flourish? Luckily I have never had to deal with this pernicious weed so wil plead ignorance on the subject.
              My Majesty made for him a garden anew in order
              to present to him vegetables and all beautiful flowers.- Offerings of Thutmose III to Amon-Ra (1500 BCE)

              Diversify & prosper


              • I think it is really helping. When I first got the plot there was a network of horsetail roots about 8 inches below the surface throughout the whole area. Left to itself, as the next door plot holder did with half his plot last spring, this results in something that looks like a meadow, except that the "grass" is 100% horsetail. I think you would struggle to grow much at all in this without attacking it somehow.

                My approach is a 2-pronged attack. Where I can dig, I have dug out all the root I can, digging it over several times with a fork rather than a spade, to avoid chopping it up as much as possible. If I find a long root I try to tease it out if possible, although sometimes it breaks off. I then watch for any regrowth, and dig out individual pieces as they grow, again trying to get the whole thing out. This continues until I plant something, and then I can't dig so I pull out whatever comes up, which often breaks off. Many of the shoots coming up now (but not all) are smaller and thinner, coming from small pieces of root that I am gradually completely removing.

                Where I can't dig I pull out or break off anything that appears above the surface as soon as I can after I see it. I have less evidence that this is working in the hedges and grass paths, but in my mind it must be better than leaving it to grow. It is interesting that on the next door plot, where he hasn't pulled it, there were loads of fruiting bodies, but the only ones I found on my plot were along the boundary with his, whereas there were several in and around the tunnel last year. This implies to me that the plant has been weakened so that it hasn't the energy to produce spores.

                I won't ever completely get rid of it as the whole area is infested, but I'm determined to keep it well under control.
                A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy


                • No time for gardening on Thursday and yesterday was rather busy too, but I was determined to get plenty done as the weather looks likely to deteriorate.

                  I went down early, taking with me my 5l can of water, which will go with me every time I visit the plot until further notice, as my dustbins are rapidly emptying. Despite the forecast for a showery week we haven't had a drop of rain. I spent a while digging out emerging horsetail shoots in the tunnel and pulling out weed seedlings. I then deadheaded the bluebells at the end of the tunnel as they had finished flowering. I then took the horsetail to the tip as my trugs were full.

                  After a break, as I had things to see to at home, I was back and went round the grass pulling all the horsetail I could see, before mowing it. I then went home to mow the lawns while everything is dry.

                  I was back later in the afternoon and went round the raised beds pulling out horsetail. I took the net off the hotbed as the spinach is now too tall and the net was damaging the leaves. I harvested some spinach and 3 carrots for tea. As last year, the spinach leaves are huge - this is one of them, which was 15 inches long!

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


                  • Yesterday was busy and it was a case of squeezing in time at the plot as best I could. I went down early to pick up the jar of slugs for the chickens and also took down 2 cucumbers and a melon as they were getting too big for the lights.

                    The first job was to get the peas and courgettes planted out as they were getting a bit big and hopefully they will get rained in nicely. The peas filled up the bed next to the rhubarb - there was quite a bit of horsetail poking up under the weed matting that I had covered the bed with, so I dug this out first. The Meteor peas nearer the road are flowering nicely.

                    The courgettes were going to follow the cauliflowers, but as these are showing no sign of producing heads yet (they are supposed to be eaten in May), I decided to use the empty bed next to the potatoes, which I have been digging horsetail out of. I dug the bed over and removed quite a few pieces of horsetail, then planted the 2 courgettes, sprinkling slug gone around them. They should give me all I need, so the 3 smaller plants at home can go to my friend's.

                    The melon plant was about 6 inches tall so I decided the best thing to do with it was to plant it in the hotbed straight away, as if it gets much bigger I will be in danger of breaking it. It will also (possibly) be a bit warmer near the surface of the bed if we get a cold night. The plant got a copper ring (the courgettes should have had one but were too big to fit it over them) and slug gone, and hopefully won't get eaten. Watering in all of these new plantings used a frightening amount of water, and my bins are emptying fast.

                    I picked a beetroot and some lettuce and rhubarb and went home for lunch.

                    From the radar picture I could see that rain was approaching and I probably only had about another hour after lunch before it got here. I wanted to trim the long bits of grass, as there were quite a few thick flower stems which my little mower won't cope with. I went round doing this and picked out any horsetail I saw. By the time I'd finished the rain was clearly approaching and I put out some more trays I'd brought down with me to collect water, gave the potatoes a drink and picked some spinach for tea.

                    It has rained on and off since about half way through yesterday afternoon, and I went down first thing to see how much water I'd collected. My bin lids, trays and wheelbarrow probably accumulated about a watering can full between them, but its better than nothing and its raining slightly again now. The main thing though is that the ground is no longer completely bone dry on top, although how far in the rain has got is anyone's guess. There should be more water to collect later.
                    Last edited by Penellype; 26-05-2019, 07:44 AM.
                    A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy


                    • It rained on and off for much of yesterday morning and I stopped on the way home from the stables to collect the water - surprisingly little (about 1/2 a bucketful) probably because it was also warm and quite windy. I was already late for lunch so I didn't hang about.

                      The sun came out in the afternoon and it was really quite warm. I spent about an hour pulling out raspberry suckers, putting back the mulch that the birds had pulled off the raspberries and pulling out some weeds. I also put some butterfly netting over the courgettes that I planted on Saturday as the birds had already half dug one of them up. Hopefully the holes in the net will be big enough to let the bees in, if not, by the time they flower they will at least have had some chance to get established.

                      Finally I harvested the inevitable spinach, a couple of carrots and a small turnip (the first of the year), watered the newly planted peas and courgettes and the plants in the growhouse, and went home to do a few jobs in my garden.
                      A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy


                      • A good session at the plot yesterday morning, weeding the tunnel and digging out bits of horsetail that were already appearing again, plus the bits that were growing where the leeks had been (I forgot to mention that I harvested the last of these on Sunday). The carrots I sowed in there about 10 days ago are already germinating (fast for carrots) - hopefully the slugs will leave some for me this time!

                        I also tied some string across the bigger peas to hold them back against the netting - this will hopefully allow me to get between the rows to pick them (they always take up more space than you think) and stop them getting blown over as it is windy.

                        The forecast was for showers in the afternoon and by lunchtime it was already looking threatening, so I harvested a beetroot and some lettuce and went home.

                        The showers managed to work their way around the village again, so I went back in the afternoon and dug a bit more horsetail out of the paths near the tunnel and between the hotbeds. By the time I'd done this it was starting to rain so I harvested spinach for tea and went home. I was glad I did as there was a brief but heavy shower with some hail in the mix.

                        I was back when the rain stopped and collected about 1/2 a bucketful of water. The radar showed a much bigger showers heading this way, and as often happens, it began throwing it down when I was out seeing to the horses. This time there was about 1/2 an hour of really quite heavy rain and I collected a useful amount of water from my bin lids etc on the way home. There were further showers in the evening and this morning another decent amount means that one of the previously empty dustbins is now nearly full. I'm still carrying my 5l can of water down every time I go though - I'm well aware how quickly a bin full of water will disappear when it is warm and dry again.
                        A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy


                        • Another day dodging showers yesterday. There was some more water in the trays from overnight rain, and a bit more to collect later in the day.

                          I took the french beans down with me - these have been hardening off in the growhouse at home and are now ready to plant out in the hotbed. As the night was forecast to be cold they can have one more night under cover and then they are going along the back of the growhouse.

                          I spent some time in the morning digging horsetail out of the path between the hotbed and the peas. There is no shortage of places to dig horsetail out of yet! I harvested some lettuce for lunch - the ones in the hotbed are really bolting now and are also starting to get attacked by the odd aphid and snail.

                          I went back in the afternoon and pulled out all the horsetail I could find along the roadside hedge and into the wildlife corner. I also cut back the nettles. I was making my way down the west hedge when rain stopped play. I harvested a bag of spinach and went home.
                          A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy


                          • I was hoping for a dry day yesterday to get plenty done.

                            The first job was to plant out the french beans and lettuces in the hotbed, along the back of the growhouse. I added a couple of french marigolds between the beans to try to deter blackfly. I find that nasturtiums seem to attract blackfly so I am hoping the marigolds will be better.

                            Next I wandered round pulling horsetail from the raised beds and along the west hedge where I hadn't finished on Monday. I noticed that the hawthorn, ash and elder in the hedges was growing again, so I went along and nipped off all the long bits. I've had a letter from the council saying that they are going to let the roadside hedge grow another 2-3ft higher so we are not to cut the top of it (my plot neighbour has just cut his). That's going to make life more difficult for me as I am not going to be able to reach to top of my side from the ground .

                            By the time I'd finished the hedge and associated brambles and nettles it was lunchtime so I harvested a lettuce and a beetroot and went home. The sunny morning had clouded over and there were already some spots of drizzle falling.

                            In the afternoon I wanted to get the potatoes and fruit bushes fed I carried down my trusty 5l can of feed ready made up and fed the potatoes, currant, gooseberry and raspberries. I need some more feed for the strawberries and some ericaceous feed for the blueberries, so I will need to do that another time.

                            Next job was to put up the support netting for the cucumbers - these are going down the centre of the tunnel between the 2 posts, which should make them a lot easier to harvest than they were last year against the side of the tunnel. I wasn't going to plant them out originally, but I noticed they were wilting in the growhouse, clearly getting too hot. I decided out was better. I therefore went home and collected a half empty bag of compost as I like to plant cucumbers in fresh compost. I use bottomless MFBs half buried in the soil, so I filled these and planted the 2 plants. They have copper tape round the MFBs and a copper ring each, as well as a sprinkling of slug gone.

                            I then planted out 24 leeks in the tunnel, mulching them with compost that grew lettuces and spinach over the winter. These also got a sprinkling of slug gone.

                            Throughout all of this is was intermittently drizzling, and I decided I'd had enough, so I picked some spinach for tea and went home. This sort of rain is annoying as it makes you wet but never accumulates enough to collect any water.
                            A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy


                            • After no gardening on Thursday I was hoping for a nice day, but it was a bit disappointing and drizzly at times. Enough to be a nuisance without doing any good at all.

                              The day's job was to get the runner beans planted out as they are growing fast. I had 2 pots with 2 seedlings and 2 pots with 1 each, and I'd thought to make a 4-pole construction, but as I only had 3 8ft poles I decided on a simple 3 pole wigwam with 2 plants at each pole. This went between the rhubarb and the peas and the plants were protected (hopefully) from slugs with slug gone.

                              That done I spent a bit of time digging out horsetail shoots that were emerging in the tunnel again. The cherry tree is growing and was nearly touching the tunnel net, so I decided it was time for it to go outside. The plan was to put it near the entrance where the blueberries are at the moment, and the blueberries will go in the centre of the tunnel to keep the birds off, but as the blueberries have not yet finished flowering I left them where they were and swopped the cherry with some of the strawberries which will be ripening very soon. The rest of the strawberries will also come into the tunnel as they finish flowering.

                              As it was raining by this point I picked some spinach for the freezer and went home.

                              After lunch I took down some feed and fed the strawberries, then did a bit of general weeding and tidying up. I then picked more spinach and some carrots and a turnip for tea.

                              Everything needed watering in the evening and I have already used up all the water collected from the week's rain. If the forecast is correct I should be able to replenish the stocks next week. In the meantime I keep filling my 5l can and carrying it down whenever I have a free hand.
                              A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy


                              • A busy weekend as usual, with the weather not very helpful, particularly on Sunday.

                                On Saturday really all I had time to do was feed the blueberries, pull out a few bits of horsetail that were poking up in the raised beds and water the plants in pots.

                                I had a little more time on Sunday, but by the time I had finished at the stables it was already becoming showery. This was a pain as it meant I couldn't cut the grass, which I wanted to do both at the allotment and at home. I did manage to get a little weeding done and harvest spinach and carrots before it got too wet to continue and I resorted to dodging showers by potting things up in the garage.

                                Later in the afternoon I checked the radar and decided I had time to go and water the potatoes and collect any rain water before the next shower arrived. The radar was completely misleading. I opened my back door, stepped outside and immediately retreated as the rain started to lash down. There was no sign of it at all on the radar, although it appeared on there 5 minutes later.

                                The showers cleared away in the evening and I got the watering done and collected about 1/2 a bucketful of water from the trays. I also pruned the minarette cherry which is now growing fast.
                                A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy


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