Sunday, 30 June 2013

Gro-more, hoe more

Weather: very humid after all the rain, very warm even in the early morning. Light wind, getting fresher by about 9am.

An early Sunday morning on the allotment. The usual hoe of the weed seedlings, and taking out some dandelions lurking under the woodchip path.

Picked the gooseberries, getting a good heavy bag's worth of them. They're all on the one large bush at present, though I hold out some hope for the others as they get their roots in.

Everything generally looking good... and Gareth kindly gave me some pelleted fertiliser and an old box of Gro-more to give the strawberries a boost.

I also cut down most of the tall grass at the 'wild' top of the plot. My large compost bin getting is rather full, already!

Some nice flowers: a purple lobelia-like wall plant, and my rose is coming into bud.

The courgettes establishing themselves very nicely. Still no slug attacks.

My onions have probably got onion-fly, but it's apparently very common on the allotments. Not much to do about it other than haul the bulbs out and probe'em for bugs, apparently.

Picked the first of the perpetual spinach. Yum!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Dig up Hanley Park, duck

Call for wildlife garden helpers at Stoke-on-Trent's Hanley Park...
24th-26th July ... help transform an area in Hanley Park into a wildlife garden with indigenous planting for all to enjoy! The 3-day intensive project will take place from July 24th to 26th and will include park staff as well as volunteers of all ages from various groups around the city.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Hoe n' chop

Weather: a fine day, very warm, and slightly humid into the evening. A light breeze. A week of rain forecast from now on.

I haven't been up to the allotment for ten days, due to working on a project which was delivered Monday. So today was the day, if I was going to do some allotmenteering before the week-of-rain that's forecast to arrive from tomorrow.

It wasn't in quite as bad a state as I thought it might be. There were certainly a great many tiny weeds to hoe out, though. I sharpened up the hoe with a metal file, and gave it a thorough going over.

I have gooseberries on two bushes, with an excellent crop on the big one! Still a trifle small, but I picked a small bagful to stew up with the rhubarb. Still no sign of sawfly stripping the gooseberry leaves.

The rhubarb at the top not doing quite so well, with it and the currants being swamped by the long grass at the top and shadowed by the apple tree. Still, I chopped out the tall docks in the long grass, hoed out a little patch of young nettles, and pulled all the young blackberry suckers I could see — so hopefully that's retarded the worst of the long-patch for a week or so. But the next job will be to cut the top grass back properly. Then, once some new growth comes up on it, I might weedkiller another big chunk.

Neighbour Lawrence has his new shed neatly tucked in the corner, and the handy fence fully built. He's also kindly run the woodchip path right up to the top.

My potatoes are doing well, Too close together, I'd say, but that's a lesson learned for next year. The broad beans are also fine and growing taller, and have not been munched by the pigeons as feared...

Even the newly planted courgettes are fine, and free of slug damage and are starting to establish themselves. Strawberries are also bedding in nicely, and starting to send out runners.

The Perpetual Spinach is starting to move towards where it can stand a picking...

Topsoil very dry, but the coming week of rain should cure that.

Bed down at the old bus station

Mike Wolfe suggests today making the old Hanley bus station into a temporary garden...

"fund some railway sleepers, with which local apprentices from PM Training could build raised beds and features to define spaces and create beauty among the concrete. Allotment holders and amateur gardeners could be asked to volunteer to plant these beds and be on hand occasionally to spread their love of the soil to the rest of us."

Not the best place for it, and the article is not one of his best sets of ideas. But he might be on to something with the possibility of offering free parking on the site, for those genuinely doing shopping in the city-centre. It would be great if a city-centre spend could be easily proven. For instance, if the general electronic payment systems used by shops could register a spend (of say, over £10?) in a particular location on a particular day — and then instantly ping that information through to your parking space, so as to refund the charge that you paid to park the car there.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Allan Robinson's garden houses

Need an alt.shed? Here's an idea, one of the hand-built timber garden houses made by Allan Robinson, who seems to be based in Huddersfield...

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

"Went to mow a meadow..."

In The Sentinel...

"[Stoke-on-Trent City Council] and Staffordshire Wildlife Trust have secured nearly £60,000 of external funding for the Blooming Stoke project, to revert 50 acres of land in the city to create new tallgrass meadows. Each location will be mown twice a year... Funding for the project has come from the Sita Trust, Natural England and the People's Postcode Lottery."

The article doesn't say if all the cuttings will be removed to reduce soil fertility, which is what wildflower meadows need.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Weed n' water

Weather: very warm and sunny. Light wind. Sunny weather forecast for right through to Monday.

Up to the allotments. A big light hoe-ing, and then a watering with the hose and with a new watering-can.

The new watering can was just £3 in Sainsbury's, on sale. And it was reduced further because I had a £1-off coupon in my wallet from my last groceries shop. So a fairly decent watering can for just £2, not bad. I'm glad I waited a bit...

I took the mesh off the broad beans. No-one else seems to keep the mesh on after their broad beans have come up a bit.

One of the courgettes has been nibbled by a slug, but it looks like it might survive and the rest are ok.

The lower two plots are now just about full up, and things might actually get a bit tight once the plants fill out. Time now to start on the third one, and also to start sorting out the shed interior a bit more. It's a bit jumbled and I haven't done much in there since I took over the plot in September and found it in that state.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Strawberry Sunday

Weather: another fine day, in a run of fine days. 21 degrees on the outside of the shed in the afternoon. Rather windy, the wind cool and fresh.

Up to the allotment to get some strawberries in. I was passing the Etruria Canal Festival yesterday, with all its many stalls, and got some cheap Elsanta strawberries there. Nine strawberry plants went into my raised bed today...

Handy tip for putting strawberries in at the end of May / start of June... nip out all the flowers, so the plants bulk up with leaves and runners and so give you a much bigger crop of fruit later in the year.

Elsanta are the supermarket variety, which many people think are tasteless. But that's apparently because they're grown in a forced manner and pumped up with water. If grown properly they apparently taste fine.

I don't usually do weekends at the allotment but I timed the visit rather well, since I met my new neighbour, a nice bloke who's recently moved up from London for his job. He's handily strimmed his half of the "wild patch" at the top, and there's a fence going up which will give the top third of my plot another useful wind-break.

Looking at the weather forecast I might need to get up there again on Friday afternoon, before the huge free Staffordshire University art & design graduation show exhibitions open at 6pm, and give the plot a jolly good watering.