Sunday, 28 April 2013

Come on Kermit! (update)

After sending in the Lego builders and the family, the frog pond has been finished.

Planted a sage plant on the left and sown basil, coriander, thyme and rosemary all along the ridge at the back.  Behind that I have put about 15 sweetcorn plants and 15 sweetcorn seeds so as to provide shade to the pond and give us lots of sweetcorn.  Funny what a difference a day makes as all jobs are now done.  Peas are in and by the end of the day were already reaching and curling round the netting.  I found an old avery cage that someone threw out and is going to be perfect at housing my brassicas.  

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Come on Kermit.

 I am so determined not to use any chemicals on my plot and that includes the slug pellet.  As some who have read my blog I am using Nematodes to combat slugs underground but am relying on the slugs natural predators on the ground.  With a lot of slow worms and common lizards to do the job I thought i'd give them an extra hand as there seems to be an abundance of frog spawn and tadpoles around the place.
  Why there were so many baths behind the main allotment shed I don't know but I was determined to recycle one of them.

Drag to plot.

Dig hole and place.

Fill with water and add a bush

And learn to take decent pictures.

Chuck in some tadpoles.

And two hours later look who came to visit.

Now we have an instant slug catcher and some still to be born.  Slugs?...Not on my plot!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Common Lizards

Hey guys. I am writing a piece on the health of peoples allotments and wondered if you may be able to help me out. In the winter I found these guys hibernating in my shed and while they are common lizards their numbers along with the slow worm are dwindling.  So I was wondering are people seeing these on their plots and for any long term plot holders have they seen a difference in there numbers?  Also, I know a lot of councils have banned allotments from using carpets and I am not asking you to grass any one up (get it!) are people still using them?  Any replies will be appreciated. Thanks.


Can you see?

 What kind of beginner sows leeks in with his parsnips?  This one does.  I still don't know how I did it.  I have also sowed some pumpkins of which I will be choosing the best to hopefully grow the biggest in the land.  If any one is up for a competition with progress reports let me know.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Things you shouldn't find in the top soil you ordered!

I know top soil is sold by weight but putting these old tools in there to make it up..Come on! Still got some good tools now and as you can see already got a broom handle on one, the others ill clean up and get sharpened  later.  But still...Come on! Naughty garden center.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The slugs are coming!

 The battle-lines have been drawn. I hadn't realized that, being my first plot, I would be making plans for an invasion.  Speaking again with veteran plot holders, last year was very bad for slugs in the UK and I had better make some sort of defense. So deciding on my options I thought I'd better do some digging (every pun intended).
  Wishing to stay organic, my first option isn't really an option.  Those little blue pellets that are available absolutely everywhere on further inspection seem to do more harm than good.  Whilst they maybe very good at killing slugs their effect on wildlife that feeds on slugs and who should be friends of the gardener  is devastating. I cant find any direct evidence confirming this but when I read  'That recent studies have already shown that over the past ten years there have been dramatic falls in toad, frog, hedgehog and thrush populations all whom feed on slugs and snails, I think the evidence is there.  Of course not all slug treatments contain the toxic chemical 'metaldehyde' that is responsible for this devastation.  There are others for sale, some of which even claim to be organic.  I have even found one that advertises as 'not harmful to other animals only kills slugs and snails', only to read the back of the bottle that clearly says 'may harm other animals'.  It is only my opinion but I think ill stay away from any chemical treatments concluding that in the long term killing of the slugs natural predators only leads to more slugs leading to more chemicals and so on.
  Option two is what I would call the ground war.  Taking the fight to them.  This it seems is consisted of four things.

  • Hand picking.
  • Baits
  • Traps
  • Barriers
Hand picking speaks for itself and as for the other three there are so many products available that it goes to show what big business gardening has become.  I cant help love the ideas and history behind them though.  From human hair and egg shell barriers to beer baited traps, for decades the gardener has been fighting this fight.  Tried and tested methods passed down through generations since anyone had a small holding.  Yet  still there are slugs, there will always be slugs and while I love the idea of these time consuming efforts no one has handed down to me some sure fire winner and in the knowledge I would also drink the beer before giving it to any slug, I've already chosen option three.
  Option three excites me. Being somewhat of  a sci fi geek and imagining a little war underneath the soil I am choosing Nematodes.  Now while this seems to be a little pricey as a prevention and your not going to find it in any 'everything a pound' store, it ticks all the boxes for me. Nematodes are a microscopic species that kill slugs and can already be found in soil, just not in enough numbers.  You buy them contained in a piece of clay then when watered down is applied by watering can.  Nematodes are most effective in a new garden or on a allotment plot, of which mine is and in spring before planting out of which it is.  With over 95% of slugs in a garden or on a plot underground eating seedlings, laying eggs and feeding on roots Nematodes are the ground troops for me.
  That being said while the Nematodes are doing the work underground some hand picking is going to be inevitable and I am prepared for that just as much as I am turning soil.  Although if I could find a way of building a hedgehog army and train them to act out commands, all the better. 

Monday, 22 April 2013

The allotment gardeners tale: The garden shed

The allotment gardeners tale: The garden shed:     Now getting my kids to pose for a decent photo may be the hardest job I've had so far on the allotment.  Believe it or not th...

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Carrots away!

I think I will be saying this a lot on this blog, but speaking to the people that have plots around you many of whom have probably been there for years, for tips, tricks and any general advice is a must for any beginner. Although this advice should be listened too and respected doesn't mean you have to adhere to it.  A certain floor in my character after being told that no one has any real luck with carrots or cauliflower on the site,  sees this as a challenge to grow some.  While some of the plot holders have moaned about carrot fly ruining their crop and others about stunted carrots never really growing to their full potential and after a  bit of research came up with  a plan. 
   As to the carrot fly and wishing to stay organic and not use any pesticide the only solution is to grow onions and garlic on either side of the crop.  As to stunted carrots I can only assume that the soil has not been loose enough for their growth.  And as luck would have it, left in the shed by the previous owners was a very rusty, but still usable, round metal sieve.
I then built a little raised bed, about the size of a standard skirting board height, out of some pallets left lying around.
I sifted the soil, taking out all stones and lumps, over the bed until it was full.  I think  I put four rows of  'Sutton seeds Autumn king 2' carrot seeds in.  This variety seems to be the most available in the shops so I hoping I cant go wrong with them.  If this works out I did see some very colourful purple carrots that I may try next year.
Carrot's away!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Nearly There!

After a few days of reasonable weather and many hours of back breaking digging, I am almost there.    Getting to know some of the people on the surrounding plots a bit better now and after weeks of watching them poised and ready to strike finally the frosts have gone and the potatoes are in.  Not for me though. A day or two of turning, weeding and levelling out  and then I'm there. 
   I hadn't realised the amount of work its taken me just to get here and the only saving grace is, should in stay on this plot, ill never have to do it again.  Still I know the family and I will reap the rewards of my labours come harvest as does the robin who watches me all day and feasts like a king every time I turn the ground on all manner of creatures.  He certainly is braver from when I first introduced myself in January and has refined his diet to suit the days.  No longer are the worms I threw him deemed worthy anymore he now dines on the bugs of the spring.

                                                                  From this..........

to this!