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Penellype's Allotment

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  • Friday was a complete write-off thanks to yet again waiting in for the electrician. This time, thankfully, he managed to replace the broken bathroom fan, and that is one job (of several) off the long term "difficult" list!

    Saturday was a lovely sunny day, but I had no energy left after mucking out in the morning and I was busy all afternoon so nothing got done.

    Yesterday was another lovely day, but very cold. Having attempted some weeding at my friend's at lunchtime (still frozen solid, even in the sunny bits), I went down to the plot after lunch to put up the cover over the hotbed. Both covers now have a dodgy zip, with the plastic coming away from the zip material, and in one case the zip also pulling open above the fastener. I can't find any evidence of replacement covers being available so I will have to try to patch and mend.

    The plastic sheet over the hotbed was covered in ice despite the centre of the bed measuring 10 degrees with the soil thermometer. I picked off the big chunks of ice and peeled back the sheet, then put up the frame and attempted to put the cover over it. The cover, which had been folded up, was somewhat crinkled and very difficult to straighten out enough to make it big enough to fit over the frame, and after struggling with it for a while I decided it was best to shorten the frame a little using some slightly shorter poles from an old blowaway greenhouse. I clipped the broken zip opening to another pole stuck into the edge of the hotbed, but this needs some more attention as I don't think it will cope well with gales as it is. I went home to think about the problem.
    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's job was to fix the hotbed cover as the zip was causing all sorts of problems. An attempt to open it resulted in the bit that you hold coming off, and even more of the plastic pulled away from the zipper material. Last year I fixed this with greenhouse repair tape, but that also pulls away from the zip far too easily and in any case I can no longer close the zip.

      I have some velcro which I bought for the fruit cage, intending to sew it onto the netting, but the backing was so hard that it was impossible to get a needle through it once, let alone sew several feet of it. I wondered if I might be able to stick some to the plastic - I have some glue. However, I didn't like this idea much as it takes quite a lot of force to open velcro, and I could see myself pulling it off the plastic rather than opening it. I was also not sure the glue would stand getting wet or hold in a gale. There similarly seemed little point in attempting to glue the zipper back onto the plastic, which wouldn't mend the actual zip anyway. I needed something that would stay put in a gale and be reasonably easy to open, that would just cover that one end of the opening side of the cover. Maybe I could stick a piece of clear polythene to the opening flap and fasten it to the support with clips (I have clips the right size).

      I went home to see if I could find a suitable piece of plastic. Then I had a brainwave. The shavings that the horses are bedded on come in large clear plastic bags. There are always plenty at the yard, so I went and got one. Opened out and trimmed of jagged edges it was exactly the right size to clip to the top bar and the side and middle parts of the frame, covering the opening left by the broken zip and securing the front flap in the middle. Job done. The plastic will not be UV stable so it will probably disintegrate reasonably quickly, but there are plenty more bags where that came from.

      Encouraged by my attempt at DIY here, I decided to tackle another job that needs doing - paint the back garden fence. I normally have a man who comes and does it but I have put him off several times because the ground was too wet. He also usually makes a lot of mess (particularly last year when he used a sprayer and got bits of paint all over my utility room window and door), and he charges a lot of money, so I had decided to attempt the job myself.

      Bear in mind that I am not good at DIY. I (thought I) knew what sort and colour of paint he'd used, so I went and got some. Although the picture on the tin looked similar to the fence colour, when I opened it it was clearly paler and more orange than previously, but as I'd opened it I couldn't take it back, so I set about painting the fence. I got half of it (3 panels) done before I ran out of time, energy and daylight. Looking at it this morning its a bit streaky and not all the same colour, but I actually prefer that to the bits at the top and bottom where I painted more thickly because bare wood was showing, so I think I will finish the fence and leave it at one coat rather than trying to cover it up and making the whole thing more orange. A lot of it will be covered by plants in summer anyway and I can always revert to a darker colour next year!
      A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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      • Gardening time on Tuesday was spent finishing the fence painting. Its not great and I may have to get some of the darker colour and go over it again. Anyway at least I have covered up the bare wood (which was painted last year with paint that is supposed to last 5 years!). I nipped down to the plot in the afternoon and decided to harvest a parsnip since the ground was reasonably defrosted.

        Yesterday was another gorgeous sunny day and after waiting in for a phone call that never happened all morning I gave up and went to the allotment. I tidied up the dead leaves on the brassicas and trimmed more off the strawberries. Then I decided to bite the bullet and plant the biggest chunk of rhubarb in the corner near the woodshed.

        This piece had about a foot long thick piece of root, which was broken in places, but there are several buds that are sprouting and if it survives it should make a decent plant fairly quickly. There was a bit of soil on the roots and I inspected it carefully before planting as I don't want to introduce horsetail to an area that seems fairly clear. I dug down as far as I could and put the plant in the hole - it stuck up about 3 inches out of the soil, but I couldn't go any deeper because of tree roots. I made a mound with some compost that had grown potatoes to cover the remaining roots and then started making a mulch of shredded sticks around it to keep the weeds down. If it grows and isn't in the way too much, great, if its in the way I can try to remove it. If it dies, nothing lost as I was going to take it to the tip if I didn't plant it.
        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 on Thursday, but I did manage a quick visit to pick a few brokali spears.

          Unlike most of the rest of the country, Yorkshire was sunny again yesterday. I was busy in the morning and had an appointment at lunchtime, but it didn't take long and I was able to go down to the plot after lunch. The job I wanted to get done was sow the seeds in the hotbed.

          My DIY cover repair seems to be working well, although we haven't had much wind. I sowed 2 rows each of spinach (Amazon), lettuce (1 row Black Seeded Simpson, 1 row mixed leaves), carrot (Marion) and beetroot (Boldor) in rows 10 inches apart. This is very similar to last year except that I am doing 2 rows of carrots and lettuce instead of 1 carrot and 3 lettuce. Having watered them in I replaced the cover. The sun was still on it so hopefully it will stay nice and warm in there.

          I harvested some romanesco shoots from the tunnel and went home, having run out of things to do (!).
          A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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          • Absolutely nothing got done over the weekend as the weather was most unhelpful. I didn't even get a chance to visit the plot.

            Yesterday was much better. I went down late morning and walked round pulling out a few little weeds that had germinated. Then I went round the hedges picking out bits of sticks to shred to go around the rhubarb. Finally I removed some dead brassica leaves and cut some small calabrese florets and a couple of brokali spears. I also removed a green caterpillar (probably some sort of moth) from the calabrese.

            Having run out of things to do I went home.
            Last edited by Penellype; 28-01-2020, 12:32 PM.
            A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

            Comment


            • Nothing much going on at the allotment at the moment. A quick visit to harvest a leek on Tuesday and another this morning just to check everything is ok.

              The rhubarb is growing and hopefully will be ready for the first harvest soon.
              A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Penellype View Post
                Nothing much going on at the allotment at the moment. A quick visit to harvest a leek on Tuesday and another this morning just to check everything is ok.

                The rhubarb is growing and hopefully will be ready for the first harvest soon.
                Looking forward to my first crop of rhubarb I brought from my other plot, although I forgot to check how it was doing?

                Do you blanche yours P?
                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


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                • Originally posted by Snadger View Post
                  Looking forward to my first crop of rhubarb I brought from my other plot, although I forgot to check how it was doing?

                  Do you blanche yours P?
                  The 2 (well 1 + 1/2) plants that are still where they were when I got the plot are not forced, but I planted some in a 30 litre bucket and put it under a black dalek and I picked the first 2 stems today - they are still small though. I also chucked a load of bits of root into a compost sack to take to the tip, and when I looked today this is what I found:

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                  I was able to pick a stem from the bag as well so I had 3 to eat (along with a couple of leeks):

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                  The stem with the greener leaf came from the bag.

                  Clearly this is not a conventional way to grow rhubarb, but it seems to be quite effective!
                  A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

                  Comment


                  • Spent a bit longer at the plot yesterday afternoon, mainly shredding sticks to mulch the newly planted rhubarb. I also put a piece of wood across to contain the sticks to stop them from falling onto the grass, as my little mower won't cope with chunks of wood. I took a photo of it this morning:

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                    Now I just need to find some more sticks to shred.

                    Today I went down to the plot briefly at lunchtime, mainly to take photos and harvest leeks and rhubarb for tea (see previous post). Here are some of the photos:

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                    Leeks and brassicas in the tunnel.

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                    PSB should be ready to eat soon.

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                    Despite the scruffy plants, the brokali is producing a decent harvest.

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                    On the other hand the swedes are pathetic, and as I am not all that keen on them anyway, I think I will stop trying to grow them.
                    A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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                    • More photos:

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                      The original rhubarb is growing quite fast. Lettuces and spinach in the growhouse are rather disappointing.

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                      Nothing germinating yet in the hotbed.

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                      This is my attempt at fixing the cover.

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                      Parsnips just visible under the green net.

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                      Mizuna and namenia are bolting.
                      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 time for anything at the allotment on Sunday as there were a few little jobs I wanted to get done at home.

                        Yesterday I went down to check that everything was still in place after a windy night (it was) and harvested a few winter spinach leaves and a lettuce from the growhouse, some fennel fronds and a couple of the flower stalks from the namenia (which have nice soft leaves) for a lunchtime salad.

                        When I checked the hotbed I could see a few signs of the lettuces (Black Seeded Simpson) germinating.
                        A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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                        • Very little time during a busy week with appointments all over the place. All I managed to do before yesterday was check for wind damage and harvest a few brokali shoots.

                          Yesterday started with almost freezing fog and remained very cold and damp until after lunch. By mid afternoon the sun had come out and it had warmed up enough to be tolerable. I'd wanted to cut some of the longer bits of grass, but it was wet through from the fog so that was a non-starter. Instead I planted my onion sets, which I had originally planned for Sunday. As Sunday looks wet and stormy I won't be doing any gardening then so I decided to get on with the onions while I could. Like last year I have 50 each of Sturon (my usual favourite) and Stur BC which performed slightly better last year and seems from 1 year's trial to keep slightly longer. 100 onions fits nicely in one of my raised beds. They are growing in 100% rotted horse muck from last year's hotbed on top of a thick layer of cardboard to hopefully keep out the white rot. I added some bfb before planting. As always I covered the bed with a net to keep cats and birds off.

                          Once I'd done that I walked round checking that everything was secure as we are expecting upto 80mph gusts on Sunday and I may not have time to get down there today. I harvested some brokali for tea on my way round.
                          A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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                          • As expected absolutely nothing got done over the weekend. I was too busy on Saturday and the weather on Sunday was mostly appalling. There was a brief lull in the lashing rain and gale force winds at around 3pm and I legged it down to the plot to check everything was still in place. Apart from the bricks weighing down the tunnel, which had moved to release the net in places, and one of the clips having come off the hotbed cover so a corner of the plastic was flapping, everything looked fine. I replaced the bricks and reinforced the plastic with a few extra clips.

                            The spinach and mixed lettuce in the hotbed have germinated but there is no sign yet of the beetroot or carrots.

                            By the time I got home all of 15 minutes after setting off, the wind was howling again and it was threatening to rain.
                            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 was a bit better, although still windy and rather showery. I picked a drier slot and went down to check everything. The water level had gone down a bit in the bottom corner and everything was still in place.

                              Out of the wind it was fairly pleasant, so I spent a while picking up bits of fallen twigs from the trees and chopping them for mulch around the rhubarb. When it started to look like rain again I pulled out a couple of extremely muddy parsnips (at least the very wet soil meant they came out easily) and went home.

                              The GFS and higher resolution forecasts for last night and today were significantly different, with the GFS forecasting winds of around 25knots and gusts in the 40s, while the higher resolution model (I'm not sure which one they use) had base winds in the mid 30s with gusts in the 40s. Judging by the noise over night the higher resolution model was right and I got very little sleep. This went on much longer than the high winds on Sunday and the base wind is probably higher although the gusts aren't as bad. I therefore decided to walk down to the plot this morning in a slight lull to check that things hadn't blown away. All seems to be ok and I retreated home, battling my way back against the freezing wind and getting home just as it started to snow. I very probably won't be going back to the plot today.
                              A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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                              • Having given Tuesday a miss, yesterday was somewhat less windy and slightly warmer. I went down to the plot after lunch and checked that nothing had blown away. Some of the weed matting needed adjusting and weighing down better and I noticed a few leaves had blown off the strawberry plants in the towers - the wind must have been from a slightly different direction as this didn't happen at the weekend.

                                I picked up some twigs that had blown down and shredded them to add to the rhubarb mulch (which the blackbirds are doing a good job of scattering everywhere) then walked round the whole plot removing weed seedlings, mostly from under the roadside hedge, where it is warmest.

                                That done, I looked around for something else to do. The most obvious job was that the grass needed cutting in places, particularly at the edges of the paths where it hasn't been walked on. It was too wet for the mower but I got out the edging shears and chopped off a small trug full of long grass from the road end of the plot. It now looks rather better, although the rest of the grass paths could do with similar treatment.

                                The PSB looks as though it will be ready to cut the central heads in the next week or 2. I left everything where it was as I had calabrese at home that needed eating.
                                A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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