Archive for March, 2007

Mushroom log (shiitake)

Shittake mushroom log

 

 

 

Today I’ve prepared the mushroom log. I got a set of shiitake mushroom infected dowels which I did my best to get into the 8mm holes I’d made in my 1metre log.

Unfortunately the dowels have been sitting around in the kitchen for a while now where they should have been refrigerated apparently – I’ve still loaded them up and we’ll see how they progress. They did ‘smoosh’ very easily. This meant my holes are slightly bigger than the 8mm recommended because everytime I tried to gently persuade them in with the mallet, they just smeared on the log.

The idea is to mount the log into a pile of tyres (having dug it into a small well of sorts). The soil is very clay like round my area and quite wet – so fingers crossed it won’t dry out quickly. The tyes will catch rain as tyres always do in the rim. During the summer it will evaporate keeping the area nice, damp and cool (or so goes the theory). It’ll probably also go stagnant and make horrible smells, but who knows, I might be breaking new ground in intensive mushroom farming!

So off we go! Huzzah for nice looking april weather (lol – shower time I suspect when I get down there!)

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Councils…

Gah, parish councils!

On wednesday night I spoke to my good friend and fellow scout leader who I believed to be on the parish council, to find out how it went. Unfortunately he left because the parish council did more than make petty squabbles.

So I was unsuprised when I rang up the parish council to find out that whilst my greenhouse was mentioned, it was not properly discussed because it was not on the agenda (there was me thinking it came under ‘any other business’ but I didn’t feel the need to press the point…) and it has been put back to the 25th of april.

I’m in a mind to just go down and put the blinking thing up now…

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Greenhouses

After much deliberation (ie do I just stick the damn thing up or do I ask the council and get the obvious ‘no’) I decided to go down the route of asking council permission on the allotment today. Fortunately it seems there is a parish meeting tomorrow – therefore I’ll get the answer on thursday, then if I _do_ get permission then I can go over to Ernies house (the donator of the greenhouse) and take it down. Then of course I’ll have to make the obligitory gesture of helping him put up a replacement shed (as most the stuff in the greenhouse is shed material hence why he wants to replace it…) Of course it won’t be as much use as it would have been in January, but it’ll make a nice shelter for some of my plants (though it’ll probably fry everything else) I’ll be counting down the days till the vandals break the first window though! On the other hand of course, I probably won’t get permission from health and safety concerns and/or insurance…

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Donations

Whilst we didn’t get much of a chance to get out this weekend to deal with any pressing issues at the allotment, I was donated three new plastic compost bins! So we dropped them off and did a quick inspection. We were also offered a greenhouse – but I’ve got to check with the allotment as it’d be the first on the allotments. Pond – check (still there & full) still awaiting frog spawn waterbutt – still standing proud… compost heap – check Wooden boxes & straw – check (none has made a run for freedom) asparagus bed – check! AND ASPARAGUS!

w00h00 Didn’t know what to expect when asparagus started to shoot. It’s not growing up straight but quite curly… We watered the parched and cracked ground (don’t know how, it’s been raining constantly) and checked on the onions which are sprouting nicely. I was convinced I’d killed it when I planted it, so at least I have four living plants out of thirty! Is there any good companion planter I can fit in around the rows? Even my french beans are going at a rate of knots… I’ll be planting them around the main compost bin (which is a slatted afair so should give them something to climb up!

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Reduce, reuse and recycle

Following the reduce, reuse and recyle method I did a bit of late afternoon scrounging today. On the way back from a London with the full intention of working from home I walked past a fairly full skip of which on far off speculation was a half wooden barrel. Not stopping to probe further, I walked upto the house nearest, knocked and asked if I could pinch from her skip. The answer was ‘yes but the skip pickup people are on the way’

So I ran

And ran

And ran (yes my house is a long way from the station when you’ve got a potential skip pickup looming…)

So still clad in my best suit I manically drove up the road and started throwing things into the back of my car whilst it snowed and rained on me in a way that suggested the term ‘cats and dogs’

Whilst a bit damp I managed to pinch:

2x old but serviceable sprung folding chairs
lots x old garden pots
1x plastic half wood effect barrel (broken but that’s drainage isn’t it???)
1x long tray
1x reel of garden wire
several x miscllaneous vessels
1x plastic dog basket (will use as potting shelf)
1x folding wallpaper table
1x rake (rusty but good handles)

And plenty of short bamboo canes.

Woop! Unfortunately she’d thrown away her greenhouse a week beforehand (something I’ve been searching for a while now!) but this haul easily filled my little fiesta. I popped home to change out of my lovely wet/dirty suit and took the stuff down the allotment – as I went past the skip was gone! close call or what?!

Getting to the allotment I discovered someone has been at my tool store. Not only were the tools all dug into the ground standing to attention but the plastic sheeting was in general disarray and all the wood had been moved. Wind may have ripped the sheeting away but I suspect it didn’t put the tools in a row and free standing.

I removed a lot of the plastic manure bags and took them back to the stables (something they encourage but I was too lazy weeks ago to do – and paid for, my car is full of wet manure water) so now everything looks bizarrely tidy.

This weekend I hope to find someone ripping out their windows to build cold frames.

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Composting

This weekend we got the compost heap sides up. Was thinking of just using the few pallets that were dumped on my site by neighbours – but on the way round I realised I didn’t have a saw. We stopped off at the girlfriends and I noticed several slabs of exterior polystyrene (the type they clad houses with). It had apparently been knocked off and broken by british gas last week and was off to the tip! So I decided to liberate this to use as a side of my heap. Then I noticed lots of 2×1 (pressure treated) sitting in the skip next door.

Being a sunday I didn’t expect anyone to be around but was suprised to hear music coming from the 2nd story. I shouted a bit and a sparky shouted I could take what I wanted. I left with a couple of reels of electrical cable and loads and loads of offcuts. I used the offcuts and plastic to build a nice solid compost heap (and noticed growing potatoes from those I dugg up earlier in the year).

I got the scrounged waterbutt on some rammed earth tyres. That was a quest in itself – I moved six wheelbarrows of earth to fill two 16″ tyres! Job done (it was quite windy) I secured the barrel with the electrical wire against the compost heap (which I intend to roof and gather water off. This barrel will be filled with comfrey later in the year to provide extremely smelly fertiliser for the plot. My girlfriend finished bed one of her salad crops bed and will start planting out as soon as the frosts are over this week (fingers crossed…)

I also sunk my old chicken poop container filled with wood chippings for beetles and the like. I was visited by another allotment holder who is providing me with frog spawn and some foremost seed potatoes. This is when I made a shocking discovery… I found eggs (chicken) laid in the straw beds of my allotment. I know they are chicken eggs because they have the lion mark. Someone is paying tricks on me… I know shells are good for the compost heap but are full eggs OK too?

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Overall update

nothing green is growing through (so at least I’ve eliminated the couch grass…)

Bed 3:
Under construction between bed 1 and 2 – will be two rows of dug soil for herbs.

Raised beds – these are manure (mainly fresh) covered over with straw (in the no digg method)

Bed 1: Empty
Bed 2: Three varieties of spuds, leftover onions and a small rubarb crown.
Bed 3: Empty
Bed 4: No manure or straw – Considering turning this into a plain soil bed for my three sisters planting.

We also have four straw tyres for potatoes (yes will be inundated with spuds…)

I’ve dug a small pond (not sure if I’m allowed it) and planted with watercress and some normal weed which I’m hoping will shelter some life to entice frogs… It is close to the compost heap and I’ve heaped some branches and cardboard to make a shelter nearby. I’ve also found an old connifer log, drilled it with size 8-16mm holes for beasties such as bees, ladybirds & spiders etc.

I’ve got three oak logs I’m hoping to drill this coming week and infect with shiitake mushroom pegs which I’ll probably plant inside a rack of tyes (this’ll ensure that no animals get at them, they get shade and tyres tend to catch rainwater and produce a moist atmosphere – this is entirely new, unresearched tip from myself. We’ll see if it works!)

First set of scouts came down this weekend and helped me unload the ton of manure from the back of the fiesta – muchly appreciated. I told them about the fundraising plans I intend for them to participate in (we’re looking at growing pumpkins this year to raise money for the group)

I’m stealing my water butt I was donated at my last job which I intend to rig to water my plants and run a solar water cress plant from (see my details later in the summer about this!)

We still have over half the plot left for digging. So far we have 18m2 of planting area, which doesn’t sound much but when you’re having to shift the whole lot to remove couch grass it feels like we’re always digging!

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