Posts Tagged cold frame

Cages

Every year we’ve left our fruit out with no worries and to be honest, we’ve not had much in the way of bird damage.  But everyone else seems to, so to see whether we’ll increase our crop we’ve decided to cover over the majority of our raspberries and loganberries.  That’s why we’ve got cages! (Though the fruit one isn’t finished yet!)

Another item I’ve decided to cover is our brocoli.  Last year we were blighted by whitefly which inhibited our brassicas so much it pretty much dropped dead.  So what we’ve done (as you can see by the cobbled together white pic above) is stick four sticks in the ground and wrap liberally in netting which has such close weave whitefly just can’t get through it.

The next weekend innovation is our bean bed.  What I’ve done is dig a small trench and line it with pond liner.  This has a few holes in it and is back filled with sieved soil, fresh compost, blood fish and bone & poultry manure.  The pond liners purpose is to conserve water which beans love, but without water logging the roots.  My wife made the well built pole structure a few weeks ago and I had to be very careful not to destroy it…

Loads of stuff got potted up in the cold frame.  We got a frost last night, so we’re keeping stuff under for a few more days (but things are getting tall so not for much longer!)  The blossom is just starting to fall off the apple tree – so I’m hoping I get some better apples this year.

The gooseberries seem to be cropping heavily at the moment, last year I lost almost all of them after the sawfly got to them.  I’ve not netted them, I’m hoping that it won’t happen this year, but we’ll see.

Finally the potatoes – planted so late this year!  We’ve added grass to the furrows between the potato lines in a hope that it’ll conserve more water from the hot summer sun.  London clay sets hard as rock when wet and weeds grow where it’s moist, so why not stop both with a good layer of fresh mulch?

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Around the plot

Down the lottie today I was bitten to death.

However I did get some pics of the different sections so you can see an overview, and there’s a few more pics of the finished raised bed from yesterday which I also planted a bit in.

We now have cucumbers, another courgette, my applemint (restricted by a bottomless pot which is a long pot with the bottom knocked off – the roots don’t tend to go very deep in mint so it’ll restrict its spread for a bit), a left over tomato, last of my leeklings (that’s a bably leek to you), spagetti squash and some sown from seed brussel sprouts (yuk!!)

Pics in a gallery format below

First pic (top right) is of the strawberry bed which is somewhat infested with couch grass (twich) as well as strawberries!, next is the harlow carr 3×3 imitation and finally another pic of the three sisters bed

2nd row new bed with plants, next houses our mangetout, cabbages, a sorry looking cucumber and some more brussels, last pic on second row is our fruit area.

3rd row is of my other runner bean bed with more fruit, and lollo rosso, next pic has cold frame and asparagus bed, last pic on that row is our beans, additional strawberries and rhubarb bed.  I’ll be moving the rhubarb at the end of the season into trenches in front of the blue boxes – it’s unmanageable in the manure beds now.

Final pic is my pond and first line slug defence.  There’s often a frog in there now and I’ve noticed a definate reduction in slugs in the locality.  Good job mr frog!

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Shower door cold frame

shower door coldframeMade from scaffolding boards and an old shower door, I present the wonderful, the magnificent shower door cold frame!

I put it on a sheet of weed suppressant membrane I had lying around, coated it with 2″ of gravel to keep out the couch grass and mares tail (fat chance) and filled with potted plants.

So far only one slug has intruded.  There was also a nasty incident with a snail.

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A week in winter

Having admitted publically on the downsizer forums that I’ve been hiding through shame, I finally got back to the plot this week.  I’d been umming and arrring for the past couple of months and everythought of the allotment was down to guilt.

It wasn’t just me, my partner too was on the guilty streak – not that she’d admitted it to me and after I’d popped down for an hour I mentioned it to her and she said ‘I don’t want to think about the state it’s in!’

Fortunately for us before I last left it to the winter, I’d made a special effort to do a bit of tidying up and I mowed the grass just one last time.  The result of which is that the grass isn’t 4ft high like last time, which meant I could really get stuck in and get things sorted.

Monday.  Me: 1hr Her:0

First up was the manic weeding of the 3×3 ‘harlow carr’ beds.  I managed about 1/3 of the job before it got too dark (this is after work) but I did discover gold under those weeds – the carrots I’d planted and forgotten about were there – totally whole with no carrot fly.  I’m definitely more given to believing that they are attracted by the sweet smell of freshly pulled carrots.

Tuesday: Me: 2hrs Her:0 (this is a rolling count)

I got another hour in on Tuesday and just about finished the 3×3 bed.  Pleased with the progress but annoyed that I’ve basically reduced the basic soil level by 1ft.  Picked some Kale (the other thing to survive if not flourish over the cold months) and some purple sprouting broccoli.  Someone else seems to have been helping themselves though and there wasn’t much to pick.  I will have words this weekend!

Using the dug up grass and roots I started a pile which will become the next compost heap.

Wednesday Me: 4.5 hours, Her:0

I got home early thanks to a meeting in London, a missed lunch break and the inability to travel to my actual work place in back before my contracted hours were over.  Over the course of the afternoon I took down the old bamboo canes and stripped off the dead material.  I also got some of the mouse infested cardboard from the shed, some wood I’d scavenged on Tuesday and the remains of my tomato plantation and set fire to it.

I then made a concerted effort to dig up any remaining spuds from last years spud bed as well as handfuls upon handfuls of twich/couch grass.  Similarly I started the digging process in the old tomato bed.

I’ve also tidyed up the greenhouse and shed.  Late summer the shed was broken into, but since we had no power tools nothing went missing (which was fortunate) – even more surprising since the front entrance was almost entirely blocked with crates of beer.  Granted some had expired, but most was drinkable.  I guess beer just doesn’t have the best resale value.

The greenhouse was a bit of a mess – I emptied out the tomato grow bags and mixed it into the soil of the old spud bed and then, spade in hand I cut hung and quartered the giant rhubarb plant which is also in the spud bed.  The quarters of this alien beast were planted in the four corners of the spud bed to continue its conquest.  I wish I’d taken some pictures, it’s just so plain weird… especially chopped up into quarters.

I did a bit more digging and some partial repairs to various wooden structures on my patch and admired the first of the spring bulbs planted last year which had started to make their way up.

Dinner was complimented by yet more purple sprouting broccoli, a few more carrots & some kale.

Thursday  Me: 5.5 hours, Her:0

Thursday was a tough day – I was absolutely cream crackered but still made it down.  I did pick more broccoli, but this was given away the next day – there’s only so much you can eat.  The rest of the evening was spent doing some more tidying and breaking out the compost.  I filled the 3×3 “Harlow carr” bed, the future sweetcorn bed and some of the bean bed.  The compost stocks are almost out now, but I’ve got plenty more earth and organic material to start the next one!

Friday:

Megatokyo, one of the few webcomics I occasionally read (and hasn’t given up like Beaver and Steve) has days called ‘Dead Piro Days’ – DPD for short.  Piro being the writer.  Today was a DTD (Dead Tim Day) as I was out with the scout troop.  Whilst I wasn’t walking with them, I was preparing the ‘hot dogs’ at the end of the walk and also making sure everyone was rehydrated from their 1hr stumble from the carpark down the road.

There is a lot of pleasure to be had just simply watching a big fire and drinking beer.

Saturday

I did promise I’d be down every day this week.  I lied.  I got caught up with the scout hall clearup and one skip later we had one full skip and plenty of gear to be taken down the allotment.  So I did spend about 15 minutes down there.  Honest.  But it was mainly dropping off the scavenged goodies.

Sunday  Me: 13 hours, Her:0

ready to plant bedsBlimey.  Started at 9 but forgot all sorts, like lunch for instance.  And drinks etc.

Started off by removing several tubs of couch grass from the “to be potato” bed and gave it a good dig to turn over the rotted manure and straw into the soil.  It’s the only bed I’ve found worms in so far, so it’s a good start.

Next came a bit of tidying and plenty of the rubbish was taken away to be put in the scout hall skip before it gets taken away on Monday.

img_0371I rotovated a bed, first time I’ve used a rotovator, and I think digging is actually less effort.

Next I laid a new pond next to the fruit trees to encourage a few frogs and relocated the old nature bit to the new pond.  The pond was rescued from the skip the day before – one less bit of fiberglass in the landfill I suppose!

Built a new cold frame, it’s very spiffing, but because of the lack of screws already falling apart.  When I sink it into the ground, I’m going to screw it together properly.  I knew that rescued shower door would come in useful.

 

cold frame

Planted also started in earnest – I’ve planted in trays marigolds, autumn giant leeks and lettuce (losa rossa?) and a few little gem.  Also went in were broad beans, french beans, sweet peas, tomatoes and garlic.

I’m pleased the mini daffs are coming up – probably will flower sometime in the new few days.

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