Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Thank you to the Boss

...before we start.....it's a bit like 'Where's Wally?'...only 'Where's the plot?' !!

It takes an understanding wife when you spend every spare minute you have at the weekend down at the allotment and thankfully that's what I have. As we're away over Easter, I knew I'd miss 2 weekends and therefore, needed to get a few things sorted so between football, jobs around the house and church I was down at the plot trying to make as much headway as I could.

Here's what I wanted to get done;-

1. Nail/screw all the wooden slats I'd managed to saw to size during the week, in the evenings. As the clocks went forward in the US 3 weeks ago, I was finishing work at 8pm and had some spare time.

2. Fix the new latch and padlock to the door, which Karen found in Wilko's for under £3.

3. Clear the area outside the shed with the mattock and dig it over to get rid of the roots and weeds, etc.

4. Saw all the lengths of wood I had to make a raised bed area and also get some more if I needed it from Ali's plot, as she had some left over.

5. Nail/screw all these together and level it off.

6. Board up the side of the path leading to the plot and level this off so there is a proper path to walk on.

7. Plant a load of the potatoes, cover with fleece and sow some carrot seeds under the cloches.

Now it doesn't seem too bad, but it's amazing just how long these things take, with all the sawing, etc and of course the hail we had on Saturday afternoon, didn't really help matters. It took me back to the times I was there over the winter digging in the rain and freezing cold.

I spent all Saturday afternoon on the plot working away and although the weather forecast was supposed to be good in the afternoon, the hail proved that wrong and curtailed my efforts. So, after church on Sunday morning, I dashed back down to finish off the raised bed and there was even more urgency as the council had deposited a huge pile of wood shavings on the site and I knew this would be perfect for the area around the shed and the path. The huge pile was getting steadily demolished and I had to get in there fast!

Here's the rear of the shed all done.

Thankfully, I completed all of this and was back home for 1pm in time for a great Sunday lunch, before collecting up the potatoes and carrot seeds and heading back down for some planting. For the first time, I met my other neighbour, David, who was working up a sweat digging some of his plot over.

Here's the raised bed, path and area sorted by the shed, with the wood shavings on the ground.

I'd taken about half of the potatoes, partly because they were ready, but also as we needed the space in the spare room to get everything ready for our holiday. The rest have been moved to the garage until I get back. Now, not really knowing how much room they would take up, I took my new book, The Essential Allotment Guide by John Harrison, which Ali very kindly bought me as a gift and is really useful. His website is on the links on the blog. I followed his instructions on the spacing, etc, used my hoe to make the trench and then put in 2 rows each of my First Earlies(Accent), Second Earlies (Charlotte) and Maincrop (Cara)....and this took up the whole bed I had set aside for ALL of the potatoes...ooops. So I'll need to squeeze the rest in elsewhere. Ahhhh, also, bit of a problem, maybe, as I forgot to label the different potatoes when they were chitting and may have got a bit confused with the First and Second Earlies, so could be a bit of trial and error when I dig up the first one to see if they are ready. Silly me, but with luck I'll get away with it and have learnt that lesson for next year.

I was reading in the book all about the wireworm and apparently it's pretty prevalent in grassland, so with all the roots, grass and brambles that were on the plot, I'm just hoping these pesky little monkeys don't eat through all of the spuds before I get a chance to dig them up, but fingers crossed, as there isn't a lot I can do about it now.

Here's all the potatoes, nice and cosy under the fleece (thanks to my Dad for that).

Finally, under the cloches I sowed a row of Early Nantes 5 carrots, so we'll see if they do anything when we get back from our trip. A finishing touch was Ellie's rabbit plaster caste mould she had painted which nicely marked the row. Hopefully, that will be the only rabbit that gets near them!

Here's one final photo looking West down the plot. I took all of the photo's on the way home from work on Monday, as I forgot to take the camera with me on Sunday.

Well that's it until mid April when I plan to sort out the bed for the legumes, get some strawberry plants, stain the shed, make a table from an old pallet I have, fill the raised bed ready for some plants and most important of all get a chair to sit on and enjoy the sunshine with Radio 5 live on, hopefully listening to Swindon avoiding relegation......

Monday, 23 March 2009

Rome wasn't built in a day, but.......

....the shed almost was!

What a lucky boy I am. Nice sunny day to erect the shed. After dropping Tom off at his football, I stopped off at a house on the way home to recycle some of the wood they had in their skips from the roof extension they are having done. I then dropped this off at the allotment and drove home to let Karen have the car and pick Tom up later.

So with my trusty Ikea bag full of all the tools I thought I'd need I set off down to 94a and began the Grand Design. The base was quite rotten, so having replaced some of it and used some of the wood to reinforce it, I then repaired some of the panels and then man handled it all up. As you can see from the photo below, I ended up with 2 ends with space for doors!

Then it was a case of screwing the roof panels on, using the felt Michael gave me to cover it and then use all the bits of wood I had to fix that on. Thankfully, I had just enough of the felt and pieces to finish it off. Also, I did have one door and screwed this into place...

Almost looks like new from this side! Ellie was making us all lunch today, so I had to dash off to make sure I wasn't late. In the afternoon, Ellie and Tom decided to come down and have an explore about as it was such a lovely day. I carried on with the fixing and also sawing and screwing into place some supports to fill in the other door space...and so this is how I left it on Saturday.

Just in time for the 'Inspectors' arriving on Sunday afternoon after our Mother's Day lunch!!

So, quite a productive Saturday and now I need to finish that end of the shed off next week, stain the wood and then set to putting the raised bed in by the shed too. I think I'll have to revisit those skips to get some more wood first! Also, I think I'll try sowing some carrots and maybe some of the potatoes that have been happily chitting away, before we go away for Easter. Plenty to do, but oh what fun!!!! Happy Springtime.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Sheds and bases

Just a short update today after a great British Spring weekend of weather, with some of it spent down at the allotments, including the official opening of the Trading Hut by the mayor on Sunday afternoon in the warm sunshine.

I mentioned last time about the shed and the base, well Ali, my neighbour had a double shed she managed to get from that brilliant website,'freecycle' and decided to only use half and have a greenhouse as well, so she very kindly offered all the other bits she wouldn't need, to me. As a result, her good friend Jo agreed to come with his mixer and do both of the shed bases and also construct Ali's shed and greenhouse, with some help from everyone on the allotments.

I offered my limited services for some of the time, but Jo was an absolute trooper and with his two boys sorted out the shed bases on the Saturday and then on Sunday got Ali's shed up in no time and then started with the many pieces of the greenhouse. I was on hand in the morning, but had to leave him with lots of labelled pieces and plenty of nuts and bolts. What a job that is going to be. Ali's plot is really starting to take shape now as you can see from the photo's.

Please click on the link on the side of the blog, where you see Ali's allotment blog for Plot 144 and she has lots of photo's of the two days with all the activity.

Here's a photo of Karen, Ellie and Tom on Sunday afternoon at the 'official' opening with the shed parts piled up at the back....oh and my homemade cloches warming the soil before some early carrot planting.

..and here's the base with the bottom of the shed drying out on it....PPHHHEWWW..it fits!

So you can guess what the next job is going to be! I'm hoping to sort this all out soon , get the shed up and put a raised bed area next to it, as well as planting the potatoes sometime in April as they are happily chitting in the spare room at the moment...a few more beautiful weekends like this and we'll be sorted.

Monday, 2 March 2009


Well this weekend saw the completion of the digging, so after a full 4 months since my first visit to the plot, I have managed to clear it, mark it out and double dig it (with help from Mike of course). HOOOORRRRAAAAYYY. Here's the way 94a looks now.

I also found an old photo I took on the first visit and you can see how much it has changed from the next 2 photo's.



It was a final push this weekend, with Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, just to get it done and also make some preparations for the shed too. I now have a clear plot and can look forward to the next test...the plants and seeds!

I've got a pretty good idea what I'm going to grow, but now need to get all the information together, to make sure I'm clear on when, how and where to sow, plant, etc each vegetable. So that's my next job.

In the meantime, with a little bit of luck, I'll be able to get rid of all the bags of rubbish and old carpet I don't need, down to the local recycle centre and then see about the shed, but more on that later. Here's the base for it anyway.