Friday, 28 November 2008

Photo's from Thursday 27th November

The leaf compost bin
View from the East, in the middle of the plot, looking 'down' to the West
View from the NE corner, with the happy raspberry canes in the foreground
View from the SE corner looking 'down', with the bags of rubbish in the foreground

Before and After 1 month of work

'After 1 month'....view from NW corner of plot looking 'up' to the East

'Before' ...view from the same area

Tea and biscuits......

Well thanks to the US Thanksgiving holiday, I was given the opportunity to get a bit more work done on the plot. Karen very kindly gave me a lift down there for my morning's workout, as I had the kitchen waste and 2 hugs bags of leaves from Adrian. All pretty quiet down there, although Derek was working away and the Sun even managed to come out for a little while. It was so warm I had to take my fleece off, although it did make up for it and start raining too, but not for long.

As I was hoping, I used my mattock to good use once again and cleared the final two 'rotation' beds, in order that I could prepare each bed ready for double digging. I have to say it did feel good to finally get the grass/weeds/brambles/carpet, etc all cleared so I could actually see the plot and start to get an idea of where all the fruit and veg will grow.

Now for the most important bit. For the first time, I sat down and had a cup of tea (well a few by the end) from my flask and some biscuits. Now that was a nice feeling, my first rest whilst I've been at work on the plot. It certainly did taste good and gave me the encouragement to get the rest done...I'm looking forward to many more of them, that's for sure!

I then set to work on each bed, digging a 'spit' and moving the soil to the other end of each bed and then each time I go down, I shall move from one bed to another to make sure whatever digging I get done, I shall have each bed at least partially ready to go.

I also sorted out the mass of carpet, rolled up the bits I could use and put them in front of the compost bins out of the way. With the remainder, I filled some of my old bags to go to the tip at some point with the other rubbish I had collected.

Finally, I used some old compost bin parts, I found lying around and made up a container for the leaves to make leaf mould and emptied the leaves I had into it. Still plenty of room, so I shall have to get a few more, as that will come in handy next year.

Amazing to think it was just over a month ago I first came down to the plot and took the first photo's. I took some more to show what I'd been up to and now it's a lot of hard work digging and getting out all those pesky roots.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Autumn Bliss....

Amazing, it didn't rain, but boy was it cold. I'm sure you'd call it perfect digging weather, nice and cold but plenty of sunshine...Autumn Bliss indeed.

I set out on Saturday morning wrapped up and ready for action. I set to work on the first bed getting enough dug to be able to plant the Autumn Bliss raspberry canes, which I had soaked overnight. Having used some compost I put the canes in and they looked good and I also got an extra one free, so squeezed in 6 in the row. I still have a bit more digging to do there to finish it off.

However, having got the last of the raspberry canes in, I wanted to get as much of the plot cleared to be able to see the 4 'rotating beds', so set to work with the scythe and mattock and cleared 2 beds on the South side and then starting moving the bonfire pile onto the new bed ready for burning.

I also rolled up a lot of the carpet and piled that up in front of the compost bins, although there is another pile left to sort out, that you can see in one of the photo's. I think I shall use the carpet to cover the path down the middle, otherwise I shall have a few trips to the local recycle/rubbish centre to get rid of it.

Finally, I cut down a lot of the weeds and grass on the second bed on the North side of the plot. This leaves me that bed to clear with the mattock and then a final bed on the North side to clear. With luck I plan to do that this coming Thursday, as it's Thanksgiving, so I get a day off and we are busy this weekend, so not likely to get anything done. Let's hope it isn't pouring on Thursday morning.

Once I've got the beds sorted, I'm going to get each plot ready for double digging and then move from one to another as I dig, as I don't think I'll get it all done before the spring, but if I can get half of each bed done, then that should be enough to be able to grow lots of stuff next year.

Quick update this week as very, very busy.

Photo's from Saturday 22nd November

1. Looking West over raspberry canes, from the middle of the East of the plot.
2. Looking East over Compost Bins, with large pile of carpet and the 'bonfire' pile in foreground.
3. From SW corner, showing the 3 beds on the South side of the plot (one has the bonfire on it).
4. From SE corner showing the 1st permanent bed with the raspberry canes, almost all dug.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Roots and Raspberries.........

What a exciting weekend. The FIRST plants go in. Yipppeeeeeeeee.....

I wasn't expecting to be able to do much this weekend, but on Friday the Raspberry Canes had arrived from a nursery I found on ebay (total cost for 15 canes was £22.50 inc postage), for what I thought was pretty good value and also saved me a lot of time in visiting local garden centres and trying to find what I wanted for the right price.

While Tom was playing football, I set to work on more double digging and uncovering more and more of my now best friends, the ROOTS. Arrghhhh, they are everywhere and I have to get rid of them otherwise it will ruin my plot. Unfortunately, because there are so many I don't get to use the Rotovator, so it's all down to manual labour, sweat and tears. I worked out that it takes about an hour to dig and clear a length of the bed to 3 spades' width and get all the roots and stones/flint out. I had a quick tally as I was walking home and figured to dig the whole plot like that is going to take into March 2009, doing a couple of hours each weekend. That seems like a lot, so I need to put my mind to trying to move that along somehow....and it doesn't include time for me to build and shed and have lots of cups of tea.

That was it for Saturday, but as we weren't planning on doing too much on Sunday, I was fortunate enough to secure a short pass for an hour or two. Well, I thought it was more like two, but the issuer of the pass, figured one, so I wasn't Top of the Class when I got home before lunch. However, I dug another row (so that was the hour taken up), put plenty of manure on the areas where the canes were going to go and bashed in some posts to give me a 'line' and mark out where the proper poles will go.....hold on, back up a bit...

When I got down on Sunday, after Karen had given me a lift so I could take all the garden waste to the compost bins, I also bought 8 bags of Nigel's manure and he very kindly wheeled them down to my plot and we piled them up ready for use. So, that was another £22. I really hope that next year I am able to produce a lot of compost myself as at this rate and the quality of the soil, each bed is going to need 6 bags, so to do the lot is going to cost £99.

Right so now I have the compost and the bed is mostly ready. I was conscious of the time and wanted to get at least some of the raspberry canes in. I decided to plant the 2 types of Summer Fruiting types, Glen Ample and Glen Prosen and the soil was nice and crumbly with the manure, so I think they'll be quite happy where they are. As you can see from the last set of posts, I wasn't able to plant the Autumn Bliss, so that will have to wait until next week, when I complete another row of digging. I think there is only a couple more rows to do and then that bed will be finished. I'll also have a bit of the room left, so I'll have to think about what could go there.

The next few weeks are going to be very monotonous, with digging, picking out roots and stones as well as clearing the other beds and doing the same over and over again. BUT, it's all this hard work now that should pay dividends in the future, so I'll just put my head down and carry on. Oh and yes, it did rain again...pretty much started when I got there on Sunday, but then it always does when I go so no surprise there..I'm sure the raspberries like it though, so I'll just imagine their happy little faces and unbounded joy at their new home.

Photo's of the First Raspberry Canes all planted.

1. Freshly dug, manured bed with 10 Summer Fruiting Raspberry Canes....and pit for Autumn Fruiting.
2. View of the bed from the East looking West.

Monday, 10 November 2008

I'm keeping a lookout for Noah.....

Well surprise, surprise lots of rain again on Saturday, so soaked through to the skin once again. I took some photo's on Sunday morning and you can see these below.

Anyway, I had my usual list of stuff to be getting on with, so....

1. Get 4 bags of compost from local council recycle centre. Good idea from my brother who mentioned it!
2. Collect wood from skip in Crichton Road for compost bins/shed.
3. Pay Nigel for the mattock!

...all while Tom was at football.

Then in the 2-3 hours in the afternoon; -

1. Double digging in preparation for the raspberries.
2. Put new sign up.
3. Clear second permanent bed.
4. Strengthen the compost bins and cut up carpet to cover them.

All goes to plan in the morning and after dropping Tom off, drive over to the Kimpton recycle centre, but there isn't a lot of compost left and it's pretty wet, but I fill up my bags with as much as I can get in and on way to the allotment stop and get a few pieces of wood, some for the compost bins and some I think could be good for the raspberry supports. It's a bit wet by now and there isn't anyone at the allotment shop, so hope to see Nigel later on or on Sunday. I don't' want to get a black mark against my name! Drop all the stuff off and manage to get back to collect Tom....pheeewwwwww.

The rain doesn't hold off and by the time I get down there in the afternoon it's all quiet and I set to work clearing the other permanent bed, which is full of roots and I expect these to be my friends over the next few weeks as I dig the beds. In the breaks in the rain I carry on double digging and add the compost I collected to the bottom of the 'spits'.

When I need a rest I set to work on the compost bins as part of one of them has collapsed as it needs fixing in place. Cut up some of the masses of carpet to cover them and put up my new sign. Now that looks good and gives the plot a feel of permanency I think. I'm here to stay.

As the time ticks on and it begins to get a little gloomy I set off hoping it will dry up for the firework show we're going to tonight.

Sunday is a new day and after the Remembrance service I set off to the allotments in search of Nigel and thankfully he's there and I can settle up. Also, Derek is preparing his plot with manure and getting his new raspberries ready to go in. Note to me...hurry up. If Derek is putting them in now, I need to be. I check with Nigel on the bags of manure and sure enough the shop sells them, 4 for £11...seems cheapish to me...but rather than go storming in with a order, I decide to check how good this is. Certainly better quality stuff than at the council's recycle centre and would save a lot of time having to go over there and get it.

When I get back, our friends aren't able to make it so after lunch, with the rain holding off, I race back to the plot to try and get some more digging done and maybe clearing, as next week I know I wont have a lot of time. No sooner have I started digging when the heavens open and I'm cowering next to Derek's shed thinking, NOT AGAIN. The clouds look pretty dark and so I pack up and head off home early. I then have a bit of time to research the compost costs on the internet and once again see that Nigel has quite a nice deal going there. Now I know how he sold 400 bags of it last year.

Next week is going to be tricky, but with luck I'll be able to do a little bit of double digging, buy some raspberry canes and get them that will be something to see.

Photo's from the weekend of 8-9th November 2008

1. Double digging with compost.
2. Top 2 beds with some double digging going on. The area with the carpet on is where the shed is going to go.
3. Top 2 beds from the other side.
4. My sign on the compost bins

Monday, 3 November 2008

Driving rain wont stop me !


1. Collect pallet(s)/take garden waste for compost bins
2. Order potatoes

These two to be done while Tom is playing football.

3. Make up compost bins for the rubbish to go in. (because it can't go back in the garage now that's been sorted out, otherwise I fear there would be some complaints!)
4. Mark out boundary to the top (East) having checked with Derek on where his plot ends, then mark out where the shed will go and the first permanent bed.
5. Sickle/scythe down grass on first bed and dig up turf and deposit by compost bins.

...that was the list I made myself during the week and gave myself 3 hours to get it done in, as there is no way I could get away with staying out any longer than that. Now of course I'm keeping an eye on the weather hoping it will stay dry and after a hectic Halloween, Tom decides he's going to take it easy and not go to football in the morning. Even better I think as rain is not forecast until later in the afternoon.

By 10am I've filled the car with all my tools and the trusty Ikea blue bag with everything I might need, the garden waste and head off to collect the pallets. I can only get one in the car, so having done that, I'm at the allotment ready to unload and get to work. No sooner have I got my boots on, when it starts to rain and over the next 3 hours, gets worse and worse.

Thankfully, Derek and Ali are there and help me unload the car and I manage to get one thing on my list done by checking with Derek on his plot and all going to plan so far.

You can see from the photo what a mess the 'top' of the plot is and I soon get to work clearing this, leveling it off, marking the boundary and working out where the shed will go. That's the shed I'm planning to build, using my excellent woodworking skills, of course. Start to fill some old bags with the rubbish I can't compost from the plot and with the rain worsening, I see the Trading Hut is open and dive in there to sort out the potatoes.

Nigel on hand with the forms, so there I go ordering 3kg's each of Accent, Charlotte and well as some for my Dad, as at 80p a kilo, that is great value, so I'm told. So my first expenditure of £7.20. Thankfully, these wont come until Feb next year, so that's the deadline for the other beds.

Now it's the compost bins which need fixing together with the pallets I've collected and corrugated iron sheets left lying around. With a bit of trial and error I manage to cobble something together and empty all the garden waste into it and am ready to continue filling with what comes from clearing the first bed. I took the photo just before I left and couldn't find the energy to cut up some of the carpet lying around to go on the bins, so used the corrugated sheets...I just hope it's still standing next week, when I go back.

Now for the really hard work, plenty of time to go and still full of energy. I clear the grass as much as I can and this is emptied in the compost bins using my wheelbarrows, yes wheelbarrows, as 2 were left under all grass on the plot and seem to work so that's good news. You can see them in one of the photo's.

As I begin using the spade to get rid of the turf, John ventures out of his dry shed and having watched me for a while, comes over for a chat and impart some advice on me. '' You need a mattock for that'' he says. Now, being a novice I'm all ears. Derek's got one of those and one shout later and Derek is there demonstrating how easy it is to clear a plot with one. Then before you know it John and I are in the Trading Hut with Nigel and I'm now the proud owner of a mattock at a reasonable price of £19.75........and as for the credit crunch, well I only had enough for the potatoes, so was given it on 'credit'. Now you cant say fairer than that. I'm feeling a part of the Allotment family already. Must remember to have the money next time, Nigel is a big bloke. Number 1 on the list for next weekend.... so spending up to £26.95 now.

Let me tell you, in the pouring rain and mud it's not easy, especially for someone like me that spends all week sitting at a desk in the dry and warm (just like I am now). I set to it, swinging the mattock and with a determination set my eyes on the marker I set up for the end of the bed. Time is ticking away, I'm soaked through, yet I'm not going to give up. I feel encouraged when I look up, to see that Derek is still working away with his flat cap on, the door to the Trading Hut is open, so Nigel is in there somewhere and I can still hear John laughing away(so someone is in his shed enjoying a cup of tea and keeping dry), so I'm not alone!!!!

Anyway, with 1pm fast approaching, I finally get it done, pack all the tools away and take the 3 photo's just to prove I've done something, then off home to see everyone. Give them all a laugh when I emerge from the garage with only my pants and fleece on, as everything else is soaked and covered in mud.....

But, oh the achievement I feel. just 5 more beds to do, lots of double digging, planting, etc, etc.

I now have 5 days to get a new list for the next 2-3 hours stretch on Saturday and it will have to be Saturday, as we're meeting up with some friends on I'm really hoping it's going to be dry this time.

Photo's from Saturday 1st November

1. Top of plot, to the EAST, up to the back of Derek's shed
2. My first attempt at compost bins
3. The First permanent bed cleared of grass/turf/etc