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  • Oh dear - to be honest the lack of updates is not entirely my fault. I have limited time slots and they seem to have a habit of coinciding with times when the website/forum is down, like yesterday (when I got a server error message). Quite a lot of the time I haven't been doing much at the allotment anyway as it has been either too wet or too cold or both.

    Most of the time at the plot has been spent picking up leaves including yellow leaves from the brassicas, and weeding. In addition I pruned the blueberries as there was quite a bit of dead wood. The bushes are leaning badly towards the sunny side, so I turned the pots round in the hope of evening things out a bit.

    As I have done for the past 2 years, I dug up some rhubarb and planted it in a bucket for forcing. I also trimmed dead leaves off the strawberries and mulched the raspberries (yesterday) with the remains of the chopped leylandii from the green dalek. This made room for the bucket of rhubarb as the black bin is at present full of a sack of sheep's wool that my sister gave me.

    Harvests have been a bit restricted, mainly carrots - the carrot fly damage is getting worse but there is still quite a bit of edible carrot. I've also harvested some leeks, romanesco sprigs and the central head of the last calabrese (yesterday). There are some parsnips ready, which I intend to start harvesting tomorrow, and some of the PSB is showing signs of producing some heads soon.

    As usual I took some photos on 1st December. Very bright low sun made some of the photos difficult.

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    Everything looking very empty.

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    There are some beetroot left under the green net.

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    The newly planted minarette cherry with the leaning blueberry behind. The pink blueberry still has most of its leaves and is much less one-sided.

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    More empty beds.

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    Parsnips under the nearest net.

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

    Comment




    • Strawberries, beetroot, carrots and leeks.

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      Romanesco, calabrese and PSB

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      The brassicas from the other end of the tunnel

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      Leeks are growing nicely and you can see how few carrots are left now.

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      Kale and PSB at the dark end of the tunnel.

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      I have re-posted the pictures in this post as they were behaving very strangely.
      Last edited by Penellype; 02-01-2021, 12:45 PM.
      A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

      Comment


      • Click image for larger version

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        Strawberries, chilean guava, blackcurrant and gooseberry along the fence side.


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        Red fruit on some of the strawberries in the growhouse.


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        One of the rhubarb plants thinks it is spring!


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        Part harvested romanesco.
        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 remainder of December gave very little opportunity for much activity at the allotment and most of it has been preparations for the cold weather.

          As I usually fill the hotbed in January and it was threatening to freeze the old hotbed solid, possibly for several weeks, at the beginning of Christmas week emptying it suddenly became an urgent job. I managed to do it in one session, dividing the contents between all the unoccupied raised beds.

          On Christmas eve I wrapped all the water bins in bubble wrap to protect them a bit from frost. While I was doing this it started to snow so I removed the most fragile net and replaced it with a plastic cover to keep the cat off, and dropped the nets down on the tunnel roof to stop it collapsing under the weight of snow. By this time we ahd had quite a bit of rain and the bottom corner of the allotment was under about an inch of water.

          When the ground started to freeze at the beginning of this week I decided to dig up 3 leeks and plant them in one of the 30 litre buckets that had grown potatoes. I put the bucket in the growhouse in the hope that it would stay relatively defrosted. I'm not sure how well this will work, as the buckets of carrots I put in the garage at home have managed to freeze over. The water on the allotment turned into a sheet of ice.

          During these 2 weeks I harvested the rest of the carrots, some parsnps, leeks, beetroot, romanesco and calabrese.

          Yesterday I took the usual beginning of the month photos:

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          Leeks have replaced strawberries in the growhouse. The top net has bee taken off the tunnel and everywhere is frozen solid.

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          One of the nets had blown off its hoops. I usually trap these between the layers of the raised bed sides, but they were frozen together so I couldn't. As this bed is hard as rock, if it blows off again I doubt the cat will bother with it for now.

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          The pink blueberry still has its leaves. I've done my best with the bubble wrap round the water butt.

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          Net has been replaced with plastic on the nearest bed as neither the net nor the hoops are likely to survive a covering of snow.

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          No idea when I will next be able to get a parsnip out, but at least the water level has gone down. There are just a few tell-tale bits of ice on the grass showing where the waterline was.

          More photos to follow.
          Last edited by Penellype; 19-01-2021, 09:29 AM.
          A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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          • In the tunnel:

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            Calabrese and romanesco are being harvested.

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            All the carrots have now been eaten.

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            PSB is coming along nicely.

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            The unripe strawberries really don't like the cold and need removing.

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            Some interesting fungi growing in one of the old cucumber pots.
            A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

            Comment


            • Click image for larger version  Name:	017.JPG Views:	0 Size:	1.16 MB ID:	2514579

              Plastic mesh doing a good job of keeping the new raspberry mulch in place. More bubble wrap round the water bins.

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              The remains of the flooding between the raised beds

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              A close up of the bucket of leeks in the growhouse.
              Last edited by Penellype; 02-01-2021, 01:27 PM.
              A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

              Comment


              • There hasn't been a great deal happening at the allotment so far this year, due to the combination of wet and cold weather.

                The romanesco hates the wet and I noticed that the head on the 2nd plant, which had started to form around new year, was going brown. I rigged up some covers over it and the plant near the door by putting shelves over and covering them with split shavings bags from the stables. The plant nearest the tunnel door, which spent last year looking like a cabbage, has decided it is romanesco after all and is forming a head. So far this is still encased in leaves and has not gone brown, but I am not hopeful that the other one will ever be edible. I removed the remains of the plant that has already been harvested yesterday, while the ground was not frozen.

                The other main job I have done is fill the hotbed, which I'd emptied over Christmas. I had a sheep's fleece which my sister gave me over the summer to compost (farmers were burning them last year as they couldn't sell them for some reason). I'd heard that sheep's wool was good for composting but I had no idea how big a fleece was until it arrived! It spent the remainder of last year in a bag in the black dalek while I tried to decide what to do with it, and eventually I came to the conclusion that probably the only solution was to spread it out in a layer at the bottom of the hotbed. I have no idea if it will rot down there, but it was far too big for me to contemplate digging a hole and burying it, which had been the original idea!

                The next stage was acquiring compost to top off the hotbed with. I like to get this before I start carting horse muck about as with houses so near to the allotment I don't want an uncovered, smelly muckheap there for any longer than absolutely necessary. The local garden centre usually sells 3x 40l bags of Westland mpc for £10 so I rang to see if they would deliver it. 40 litre bags are easy for me to carry. They didn't have any - the nearest they could do was 2x 60 litre bags of Jack's Magic for £12. I didn't know if I could easily lift a 60 litre bag, so I had to go to the garden centre (which I was trying very hard to avoid) in order to find out. I decided I could manage, and that sorted out what I was going to do with the hotbed, but it probably means that getting in my usual supplies of compost is going to be more difficult and/or more expensive than usual.

                I then needed a weekend (fewer buses), tolerable weather and a full muck trailer at the stables, and Saturday fitted the bill perfectly, although there was still a fair amount of ice around in places. It took 3 journeys from the stables and 24 tubs of horse muck, which I put on top of the fleece. By the time I had done that (as well as mucking out my horse) I was exhausted, so I covered the hotbed with weed matting and left topping it up with compost until Sunday. I put the weed matting back on top of the compost to keep the heat in and it now needs leaving for a couple of weeks before I sow some seeds. With the weather and lockdowns making things difficult at the moment it is a relief to have got that job done.

                The weather hasn't made harvesting easy and there have been quite a few days when I haven't visited the allotment at all as there seemed to be little point. On milder days I have pulled the odd leek and I harvested some kale for a stir fry - not my favourite vegetable but it produces fresh greens when everything else looks miserable. My mainstay is the buckets of carrots in the garage, without which I would probably have to consider buying some veg
                Last edited by Penellype; 19-01-2021, 09:32 AM.
                A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

                Comment


                • The weather continues to make gardening difficult, although at least we escaped yesterday's snow. Storm Christoph dumped huge amounts of rain and nearly half the allotment was under water when I went down to check mid week. Now of course everything is frozen solid. It is very frustrating as it is a glorious sunny day, but there is nothing I can do.

                  One thing I have got done (on Friday) is put up the plastic cover over the new hotbed. It should be ok to plant in at some point this week. I stuck the thermometer into it and it was reading about 10 degrees on Friday. This morning it has dropped to 5, which is remarkably toasty since the cover is covered in a thick layer of frost, the ground is hard as rock and the leeks are frozen into their bucket inside the growhouse.

                  Hopefully things will warm up a bit later in the week, and providing it isn't too wet again I might be able to get something done!
                  A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

                  Comment


                  • Its frustrating as my allotment is either under water, frozen solid or covered in snow, and has been since Christmas. There is very little to be done. I am planning a major change this year so I am itching to get started.

                    I can't recall in the last ten years or so when the ground has been so unworkable for such a long time.

                    Never mind the show must go on and all I can do at present is drop off kitchen waste to be composted and woodash from the woodburner which will help 'sweeten' my acid soil. I have most of my seeds now, some are sown and in the propagator, I have my onion sets as well so once I can get on the land, I am ready to go.
                    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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                    • Yes, very frustrating, but nothing to be done. I was aware when I got it that my allotment was likely to flood when there was a lot of rain - the land is low-lying and slopes towards where the hedge used to be and the water table is always high. That is why almost the first thing I did was investigate raised beds, and why I planted the raspberries on a ridge.

                      This winter always looked to have a higher than average possibility of being cold - the ten years is not a coincidence as one of the drivers of cold winters is the 11 year solar cycle. Next winter has a higher than average chance of being cold too (although nothing is ever certain). The combination of cold and wet is somewhat unusual as cold weather often tends to be fairly dry.

                      The signs for February are not currently encouraging for milder weather so I am going to crack on with sowing the lettuce, spinach and beetroot in the hotbed in the hope that the heat from the horse muck is enough to get them started. If it doesn't work I can always sow some more later.
                      A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

                      Comment


                      • A brief mild spell last week enabled me to get on and sow the spinach, lettuce and beetroot in the hotbed. I normally sow carrots too but they tend not to do very well and I still have a lot of overwintered carrots to get through so I gave them a miss.

                        The hotbed thermometer was showing 10C, which is reasonable. I sowed 2 rows of lettuce, one a crispy mix and the other Black Seeded Simpson. The spinach was, as usual, Amazon, which I find produces nice big leaves. I sowed 2 rows of that and 2 of the yellow beetroot Boldor. As some of the winter lettuces in the growhouse never germinated, I chucked some Black Seeded Simpson in there too. it will be interesting to see how the plastic covered hotbed compares with a glass growhouse over an old, cooled hotbed. They are next door to each other so should get similar amounts of sun.

                        On the same day (Wednesday) I managed to extract a large parsnip from the ice encrusted slop that is the raised bed in the wettest corner of the plot. The parsnips don't appear to have suffered at all, and this one did me 3 meals plus 3 lots of parsnip puree for the freezer.

                        Other than that, really all I have been able to do is check everything and take some photos this morning. Most of them are very much the same as last month's, but here are a few that are different:

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                        The new hotbed, with its cover.

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                        The frozen and often almost submerged parsnip bed, with the other side of the hotbed behind.

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                        Some extremely frozen PSB

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                        Romanesco protected from the rain.

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                        The sunny end of the plot, with bluebells doing their best to remind me that spring isn't really that far away (honest!).
                        A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

                        Comment


                        • Nothing much happening at the moment - the plot has gone from being under water after incessant rain to being frozen and now covered in about 1/2 an inch of snow.

                          Just been down to check everything and shake some of the snow off the plastic cover over the hotbed. No sign of germination from any of the seeds yet (they were starting to germinate this time last year) but they probably have more sense this time! The hotbed felt quite warm - I couldn't see the thermometer because of the snow and didn't want to pull the cover up to look.

                          The romanesco is starting to look as though it is going to go brown even under its cover. I haven't anything sensible to eat it with today but I may have to cut it tomorrow even though it is still small. I really don't think it likes the cold at all, and it is only going to get colder.

                          I managed to extract a parsnip from its muddy lake of a raised bed in the middle of last week (being planted in water at least makes them easier to pull out!) and pulled a leek on Friday. I thought the leeks would be frozen in by now (-1 last night) but I actually managed to get another one out today.

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

                          Comment


                          • Finally the weather has relented, at least a bit, although the ground is still very wet.

                            The seeds in the hotbed have germinated over the past week - spinach first, then lettuce and finally beetroot (yesterday). The lettuces sown in the growhouse at the same time (glass rather than plastic cover but no bottom heat from fresh manure) have not yet germinated.

                            On Friday I planted 50 onion sets in the raised bed nearest the raspberries and tunnel. This bed has been covered with clear plastic sheet during the cold spell which has kept the worst of the cold off and also some of the rain. I put the plastic back temporarily as I hadn't much time, and replaced it with a net cover yesterday. Normally I plant 100 onions which uses a whole raised bed, but having had problems with white rot for the past 2 years I decided to plant half of them at the allotment and the other 50 (plus the 50 I usually plant) at my friend's.

                            Other jobs have included cutting back the buddleia in the west hedge, which had got left because of the bad weather, a bit of weeding (especially speedwell seedlings along the roadside hedge, where it is sunny) and removing dead brassica leaves.

                            My poor brassicas are really suffering this winter. The leaves on the romanesco are going brown, although the head still looks ok on one of them and there are a couple of reasonable looking sideshoots on the other. The calabrese has completely died and has been removed, and the PSB shoots are rotting due to being too wet. Yesterday I picked off at least 50 slugs from the various plants without really trying - I need to make a habit of this now that the cold weather has gone.

                            There hasn't been much to harvest, although I have pulled a couple of leeks, including one from the bucket that I moved into the growhouse - this managed to freeze during the cold spell. I still haven't bought any veg though - I am eating my way through a huge crop of carrots in the buckets at home and using up a freezer full of tomatoes, onions, spinach, peas and soup.
                            Last edited by Penellype; 23-02-2021, 09:40 AM.
                            A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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