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  • Penellype
    replied
    Pretty much nothing has been done for a week due to ongoing freezing cold weather and being busy at work. Most days have been sunny to some degree and sometimes windy, making decisions about when to open and shut covers very difficult. I don't want the spinach bolting due to being too hot, and I don't want to kill things by exposing them to freezing wind! The cold has meant that the PSB has stopped growing and despite having twice as many plants as usual (4) I am going to be short soon if it doesn't perk up!

    Another problem that is beginning to rear its head is lack of rain. I am having to water every day, particularly when it is windy, and I have already used almost a water butt full. We have had the odd snow shower, but not enough to collect any in the bucket that catches drips from the shed roof, let alone enough to do any good. There is no proper rain forecast for at least the next week.

    I rigged up covers over some of the strawberries before it went cold, using plastic sacks that the shavings come in draped over bits of blowaway greenhouse shelving. I have no idea whether this will protect the developing flowers but it was the best I could do.

    Other than that, really all I have been able to do is grab some lettuce, spinach, PSB, romanesco, rhubarb and the odd leek and go home before I froze solid.

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  • Penellype
    replied
    Thanks Ms-T

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  • Ms-T
    replied
    looking really good Pene.

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  • Penellype
    replied
    More photos from 1st April

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    Onions and parsnips under the green net, potatoes under the cover behind. The far green and white nets cover the cauliflowers.

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    The first lot of Meteor peas. the row has since been completed.

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    Spinach, lettuces and beetroot in the hotbed.

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    Recently potted up strawberry runners.


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    Leek Northern Lights is quite purple this year after more frost than in recent winters. I made some soup out of the big one today.
    Last edited by Penellype; 05-04-2021, 12:24 PM.

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  • Penellype
    replied
    Some progress is being made but everything feels very slow because I am holding back somewhat due to the forecast cold weather.

    The warm spell has caused a growth spurt and most of the winter veg are becoming desperate to be harvested to varying degrees. I keep cutting PSB and romanesco but it is growing faster than I can eat it. The parsnips are producing greenery and some of the leeks are showing signs of bolting so I am trying to get things eaten. Rhubarb is now producing plenty of stems, with the forced ones only slightly ahead of the ones in the open. I've also been able to harvest lettuce thinnings plus some leaves from the 2 overwintered lettuces, and some baby spinach in the form of thinnings. There are some leaves that are about big enough to cut for cooking soon. Buds are opening on raspberries, blueberries, blackcurrant, gooseberry and cherry and some of the strawberries have flower buds.

    At the other end of the scale I have sown parsnips, planted 4 buckets of Desiree potatoes (under cover) and 2 lots of Meteor peas, the 2nd of these yesterday. I was a bit dubious about planting them the day before it went cold, but they were climbing up each other and I thought leaving them for several more days would do more harm than good. I had some ridged iron bars (they have a name but I can't remember it) which I used as stakes to attach some netting to as a windbreak on the north side of the row in the hope that it would protect them a little from the cold and stop them blowing over. they look ok this morning. I also potted up some stray strawberry runners into another of the mushroom trays.

    Other than that I have cut some of the grass for the first time - the end that floods didn't need it. Getting the mower out required tidying the shed as several things had got dumped in front of it. I also trimmed some of the grass edges - more need doing. i was going to do some today but its far too cold out there!

    On 1st April I took some photos as usual.

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    Lettuces and a tray of strawberries in the growhouse and rhubarb growing rapidly. Not sure why this photo is so fuzzy.



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    Blackthorn flowering in the hedge. The plastic covers are doing a good job of keeping the cats off.


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    The little kiwiberry I planted in the hedge is showing signs of enthusiasm for its new home.


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    Rhubarb that I was going to take to the tip and dumped in a bucket is growing.

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    Blackcurrant (nearer) and gooseberry in their new homes.




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  • Penellype
    replied
    Originally posted by Snadger View Post

    Hi Pen. What sort of 'trays' do you have your strawberries in that you moved indoors?
    They are mushroom trays that I got via someone who works in one of the supermarkets.

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    I have put 6 plants in each, which may turn out to be too crowded - its all an experiment as I struggle to find a method of growing strawberries where they don't get dirty or sluggy or both.

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  • Snadger
    replied
    Originally posted by Penellype View Post
    Things are slowly starting to happen.

    I've had rather limited time as seems to be the case nowadays but I planted 4 buckets of Lady C potatoes on 15th March, 3 to a 30 litre bucket. These are under a plastic cover in case of frost. I am again using saved potatoes for all varieties, which makes it 2 years in a row and is probably pushing it, so it will be interesting to see how they compare with previous years.

    Back in the autumn I ordered 16 Maybach cauliflower plants and these arrived on Saturday. In the past I have potted them up to grow on in the growhouse, as the weather has been a bit cold, but this year they arrived in a warm spell so as I don't have huge amounts of compost I decided to plant 12 of them straight into the raised beds and pot up the other 4 as insurance. Each plant has a copper ring round it and I sprinkled slug gone round the plants so hopefully the slugs will leave them alone at least until they are big enough to survive.

    The romanesco has started to grow a bit again and I have finished one of the 2 plants. The other wants eating and will be finished soon. I've also harvested leeks, parsnips, PSB and a few stalks of forced rhubarb from under the green dalek. The lettuces in the hotbed need thinning and I may be able to do that today, work permitting.

    Other than that I have done a bit of weeding and trimmed some dead leaves off the strawberry plants. I moved one of the trays of strawberries that I planted up last year into the growhouse in the hope of an early crop.
    Hi Pen. What sort of 'trays' do you have your strawberries in that you moved indoors?

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  • Penellype
    replied
    Things are slowly starting to happen.

    I've had rather limited time as seems to be the case nowadays but I planted 4 buckets of Lady C potatoes on 15th March, 3 to a 30 litre bucket. These are under a plastic cover in case of frost. I am again using saved potatoes for all varieties, which makes it 2 years in a row and is probably pushing it, so it will be interesting to see how they compare with previous years.

    Back in the autumn I ordered 16 Maybach cauliflower plants and these arrived on Saturday. In the past I have potted them up to grow on in the growhouse, as the weather has been a bit cold, but this year they arrived in a warm spell so as I don't have huge amounts of compost I decided to plant 12 of them straight into the raised beds and pot up the other 4 as insurance. Each plant has a copper ring round it and I sprinkled slug gone round the plants so hopefully the slugs will leave them alone at least until they are big enough to survive.

    The romanesco has started to grow a bit again and I have finished one of the 2 plants. The other wants eating and will be finished soon. I've also harvested leeks, parsnips, PSB and a few stalks of forced rhubarb from under the green dalek. The lettuces in the hotbed need thinning and I may be able to do that today, work permitting.

    Other than that I have done a bit of weeding and trimmed some dead leaves off the strawberry plants. I moved one of the trays of strawberries that I planted up last year into the growhouse in the hope of an early crop.

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  • burnie
    replied
    We are still getting frosts and there's snow forecast this week, so I am only doing weeding and prepping outside just now.

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  • Penellype
    replied
    Apologies for the lack of updates, partly due to not having done much, and partly because my Mum is in hospital and I am spending a lot of time on the phone as a result.

    I took some photos as usual on March 1st. A lot of it looks much the same as it did in February, but a few things have changed:

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    Signs of spring with crocuses and some daffodils in flower.

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    The tunnel is looking emptier as the calabrese has gone, but the romanesco under the plastic is now producing edible shoots.

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    The PSB is recovering from being frozen, but the centre of the plant on the right has gone soft and brown. One of the plants out of shot on the right is worse. I have just started cutting the first sideshoots.

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    The onions have been planted in the nearest bed.

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    The gooseberry (nearer bucket) and blackcurrant bushes have been planted since this photo was taken - they are in the same positions as before. I also fed the raspberries with some tomato feed this morning. Buds on all 3 are just starting to break, a lot later than last year.

    Towards the end of February I noticed that the kiwiberry, which was still in a pot in the tunnel, was showing signs of growth. The leaves fell off this last June and I thought it was dead, but clearly not. This was a spur of the moment purchase from Harrogate flower show a couple of years ago and I have been struggling to find a position for it as it can grow very big. I had just been weeding under the hedge and noticed quite a big gap, so I had a poke about and managed to dig a hole in the hedge line. I planted the kiwiberry and it can either grow as part of the hedge or curl up and die, but it has more chance there than in a little pot, and will get more sun there than anywhere else I could put it on the plot.

    The lettuces in the growhouse germinated about a week later than those in the hotbed, despite being the same variety sown on the same day.

    I've also removed loads of slugs from the brassicas and under various plastic sheets and harvested leeks and romanesco as well as the PSB.
    Last edited by Penellype; 09-03-2021, 10:09 PM.

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  • Penellype
    replied
    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.

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  • Penellype
    replied
    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.

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  • Penellype
    replied
    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!).

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  • Penellype
    replied
    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.

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  • Snadger
    replied
    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.

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