Friday, November 09, 2018

Lettuce in the rooftop garden

Heather here, giving Dicky a week off from writing. :)

Whilst most of our crops come from the farm, I am lucky to have a sunny rooftop terrace where I do container gardening. As I'm four flights off the ground I get around six extra weeks of growing time due to the sheltered nature of the rooftop. Also it catches the morning sun which warms up the concrete under my containers.

As Dicky was busy getting the farm ready for winter, I've been planting and getting things sorted up here.

Here is my lettuce as of today, November 8, 2019! On the left is 'salad bowl' and just next to it is 'lamb's lettuce'. They are both hardier varieties. Salad bowl can be sowed into August for harvesting in October, but I'll probably get a few more weeks out of this one.

We just had some of the left one last night; it was tasty with no hint of bitterness.

Here is one of the two remaining chilli peppers that I still have going. The variety is called 'Razzamataz.' This one was a late bloomer compared to the more easy going jalapenos and habaneros.

Then it took ages for them to start to turn red.

I'd like to bring it in to try and overwinter it but I'm seeing mixed research online about chilli plants being potentially toxic to cats. For now I'll leave it as is and take my chances that it will survive the winter.

While we've had a few nights of overnight freezing in our corner of Essex, I haven't had any frost up here yet. It needs to get consistently cold, like a few days in a row where it gets below freezing and not above 5 C during the day.

The eagle-eyed among us may notice a fern-like plant to the right of the chilli, it's dill.

It came in a multi-pack of herb seeds. I don't actually use dill in cooking but I planted the seeds to see what it looked like in plant form.

Apparently it's quite happy up here. It went to seed and I composted it and magically it appeared again....and again....and again.
One more plant to show you today, my avocado! I eat a lot of avocados and put the stones into my compost bin. It gets so stinking hot up here in mid-summer (even when we don't have a 'super summer' like this year) that they sprout.

I hate to see a plant unappreciated so I sold a few on ebay. Then I freecycled some. I took them to my gym as a freebie for members. Dicky put them in the 'free' area of our allotment and thankfully our fellow gardeners took them off our hands. My final avocado plant tally was over 30!

Here is one of the last ones. They do not tolerate frost but it's another one that I am hesitant to bring indoors due to possible toxicity to the cat.

 I hope you enjoyed this little autumn tour of some of the things that are still growing on my rooftop.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Getting Mucky

I couldn't face a full week in the office, how I long for retirement!! So as I still have a good few days holiday left I booked off what looks like the last warm day for a while to go muck hunting and get the plot manured and covered.

Our local stables has a HUGE pile of muck they are happy for people to help themselves to and it's only 5 minutes from the plot. I moved a total of 25 bags like this, that works out to about 3 bags per half bed square. I used rubble sacks to protect the car, as well as covering the interior in plastic dust sheets. . This is the point I wish I'd bought a car with a tow hook and a trailer!!

One advantage of evening up all the bed sizes is that I can now cut my covers to a standard size which means less folding, flapping in the wind and acting like a giant sail to catch the wind and pull the covers off. I like a large roll of he black covering material but that's about £65 and there are other projects in the queue first.

So apart from bits where there are still some crops growing which I'll come back to once they are finished, we are done.

Just this fruit bed to tackle now but I'm still deciding exactly what to do with it.

Happy gardening folks!!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Cross Paths

Don't worry, the allotment paths aren't angry, but I  have finally put in the cross paths that divide the 5 beds into 10. The extra growing space I gained from adding the bed edges meant these paths didn't cost me any growing space but do improve both access to the beds and the look of the plot.

A total of 15 x 6ft lengths of decking were required along with the corner blocks, weed control fabric, 1 1/2 water butts of wood chippings and a total of 140 screws! The generator earnt its money running the power tools for this challenge.

First I had to dig out the 2 channels either side of the path

Then fit the first 2 full lengths of decking 18 inches part, cut the remaining length required for each side and join them.

Once they were all screwed in place, the soil raked back and tamped down the path was covered with weed control fabric and a 2 inch layer of wood chippings. These had been donated to the site by a local tree surgeon, so free.

All sounds very simple, now do it 5 times!

The final result is a lovely a cross path across all the front 4 beds that line up nicely, and 1 across the back bed. The spring onions had to go to fit it in the back bed, but no other veggies were harmed in the making of these paths 

I actually got a full 8 hour day in on Saturday so I weeded, raked, cut raspberries down, strimmed and used soil to try and level and even out the grass paths, the grass should grow through and hold it all in

So while it looks bare the plot looks tidy and in good shape for the start of next season. Just manure it and cover. That will hopefully be next weekend as the temps are dropping now.

Happy gardening folks!!


Monday, October 15, 2018

And so to bed...

A lovely sunny Saturday down here in Essex, a pity about the Sunday though. I finally got the last bed frame put it and the new compost bin area finished.

This was a tricky one as the ground slopes differently on each side, but I'm not displeased with the results. Just the grass path at one end to sort out when I do the adjoining fruit bed. I still have the cross paths to do. Hopefully I'll get to those next week if the weather holds.

One compost bin is in its new home, the others can wait until I empty them again in the spring. I've only just moved them so I know there is nothing usable in them, seems like work for works sake to do it again now. Once they are all in place I'll mulch round them to keep the weeds down and let them do there thing for the year.

There are still a few things to pick, another rather nice Greyhound cabbage and a few chilli's. These are some slightly deformed Habanero and some Orange Wonder.

This may be the new shorter format for future posts, I'm still thinking about it though.

Happy gardening folks !!