Monday, December 28, 2020

2020 Season Review and a New Platform

I really didn't realise it had been so long since I'd written anything here, but just because I didn't doesn't mean I'd given up on the farm, quite the opposite it turned out to be a very successful season.

The lockdown and restrictions gave me a lot of extra time to spend on the farm, but also had the affect that I really didn't do much reading and writing during that time, just wasn't in the mood.

I did manage to keep the plot nice and tidy this year and did a far better job of successional sowing and re-using the ground once the first crops had been cleared. I also finished off some projects like the strawberry bed, a new shed floor and rebuilding the brassica cage.

This year also had a more decorative angle with the salad bed having both edibles and flowers, it got a lot of compliments and hopefully inspired some of the many new plot holders that have joined our site this year.

While I didn't update the blog very much I did post some pictures on Instagram, I found being able to take the pics, edit and update on my phone whilst still on the plot a bit easier.

If you'd like to follow the farm on Instagram, apparently it's known as Insta or 'the gram' to the youngsters, then search for dickys_farm  to see pics from this year and see how I get on next season.

I seemed to struggle to sit down and write things on here this year, (I was still working full time, just from home) and Instagram seemed to work very well for me, so for the start of next year at least I'll be updating on there. 

I'll leave this blog up and I've put some pics from this season up to show how it went. 

Happy Gardening!!


 




 

 

 

 



 

 



Thursday, June 11, 2020

June Update

So with everything except the leeks and successional sowings in the ground the farm now looks pretty busy. So far it all seems to be taking nicely with only a few problems. Here's a bed by bed run down.

Bed 1
The asparagus is just about done for the year but has had a good season, a solid 6 weeks of cutting and 3 out of 4 of the newer crowns have put on some growth this year. I'll give it final cut and a covering of manure soon and let it grow out for the summer.

The cucumbers are up to 6 leaves now, 6 out of 7 plants have survived being planting out, and once they get to 7 leaves I'll nip out the tips to get the side shoots going to produce the fruit and secure them to my trellis.

Gherkins are nearly big enough to be secured to the tripod now, again I'll nip out the tips. The sweetcorn are getting taller and the pumpkin and butternut plants should cover the remaining ground to keep the weeds down. 

My spring onions are nearly big enough to start harvesting, I haven't managed to grow these in years so looking forward to those. There is a second sowing in and some beets and Asian radish just starting to come up.


Bed 2
My salad bed is getting some nice comments. I've started picking leaves off the Salad Bowl and Lolo Rosso and have now picked the first of the Amaze little gem style ones. As I pick them I have green Little Gem, more Amaze and Rocket ready to fill the gaps. The tomato plants are just starting to flower and I've put in a beetroot seeds at random for some visual variety.

The Oca is doing well and my 6 courgettes are just showing signs of the first fruit of the season.


Bed 3
Main crop spuds are well earthed up and just starting to flower, earlier than the early variety, wonder if I got the labels wrong.... The leeks will go in behind these soon.

There are 4 half rows of carrots inside the carrot fly netting, several staggered plantings, they are small but growing nicely. The parsnips however are putting up a fight this year, more than usual, I still only have about 50% up so far.

My onions, white from sets and red from seeds are doing well, unfortunately pickling onions are being a real pain this year, the first plantings in compost and direct have been a no show. I have a last desperate attempt on the kitchen windowsill at the moment, fingers crossed. Luckily they only need a short growing season to get to pickling size.


 Bed 4
The small cage has my summer cabbages, a cauli and a Romanesco broccoli and all seem to be doing ok despite a mealy aphid attack which was quickly despatched with the bug gun. Hopefully they make a full recovery.    

The big cage has Kalettes, sprouting broccoli, sprouts, all well supported against the recent winds, and kohl robi. The kohl robi are just starting to fatten up and I must remember to pick them a little earlier this year.

The early spuds are all looking healthy, one has gone missing after the earthing up against the late frosts though.

Bed 5
I'm doing my beans, yellow and purple bush and green climbing, in 2 sowings this year to try and avoid the glut which wouldn't be able to get rid of while I'm not going into the office.

The green Cobra beans all came up and will heading up the poles shortly, the bush ones are either being attacked when they come up, get dug up by wildlife or just aren't germinating well. I've had to sow them twice and still haven't got full rows!

The marrows have mini fruits on them but the flowers on them aren't fully open yet, and there aren't many male flowers about yet either

I've started picking broad beans early while they are still small, again to avoid a glut I won't be able to get rid of. They seem to have a decent crop on them despite the black fly which were again dispatched with the bug gun.

In the cage the pod peas are flowering now and the mange tout are about an inch or so high. Again they were stagger planted. The first of the beetroot are almost ready to harvest, being a bit bigger than  golf balls now,

Strawberrys
I've had 3 off of these so far and while there are plenty more they still seem a bit small and aren't ripening very quickly, but the birds aren't getting them this year! 

Hope your seasons are off to a good start.

Happy gardening folks!


Friday, May 22, 2020

Too much time on my hands

I'm still working during this little adventure, from home rather than commuting to London, and the 2 1/2 hours I'm saving each day does give me a lot more allotment time.

I've had time to uncover and prep all the beds ahead of planting out, which I've held off doing while quite a few of my fellow plot holders were caught by those late frosts. It looked a bit bare and sun baked but ready.


The weather is bit crazy this year, having waited for the usual late frost I am now waiting for the heat wave and the high winds to pass before putting out squashes and tomatoes.

I have bitten the bullet though and planted out bedding flowers, brassicas and some sweetcorn I ended up buying from a garden centre as mine were pretty much a no show this year.

I was doing some shopping in Aldi yesterday and picked up some willow trellis and 6ft plastic covered poles to make a cucumber trellis so that was a nice result.


I'm hoping to get everything else planted out on Monday when the weather returns to something a little more like what we would expect for this time of year.

It's certainly nice to see everything so tidy as I've had the time to put into it.

Happy gardening folks!

Monday, May 11, 2020

Short Supplies

This lockdown has bought  host of new growers to the game, whether it is something they always wanted to do and now have time for, or people concerned about the food supply chain in the current situation. 

While it's great to see the overgrown and unloved plots on our site being taken over and worked it appears it has bought about a new problem, lack of supplies. People trying to order seeds online have been quoted delivery dates of June, not a lot of use, compost supplies are slowly catching up but around here getting some things has been difficult. 

No doubt garden centres opening this week will help, but I wouldn't want to be in the fight in the seed isles!. I also suspect that the allotment'ers community spirit will help out anyone who is short with spare seeds and plants, I've already donated a few. Hopefully these newcomers enjoy their first year and carry on.   

I wanted some bark to top up the paths and managed to get some from a small local petrol station/shop, I didn't fancy risking B&Q. The plot looks good with its freshened up paths, if a little bare at the moment.
Asparagus season has started, slowly at first but the last couple of pickings have been like this. It's the first proper crop from the plot this year as the usual winner, the radish has been a bit lazy, they will be second though.
My peas are looking good so far, they seem to have appreciated a seaweed feed last week. These are a pod variety called Boogie. I will put the Shiraz mangetout seeds in at the end of the month, nicely staggered to avoid last years glut. This year I plan to replace the Boogie's with winter cabbages as I'm planting those later this year as well.
All but one of the lettuces has survived being planted out in the salad bed and the second sowing of radishes and beetroot have germinated nicely. 
Back home the greenhouse is doing a good job and a bit of tetris means everything can be accommodated. 
There have been some strange germination rates this year, out of 24 sweetcorn I only have 5, I suspect I won't get replacements anywhere, there are no pickling onions and I had to plant some donated white onion sets as my seed onions failed both times. I have enough tomato plants but only 3 of the 5 varieties came up. 

I'll need to recheck the dates on my seed packets but even allowing for some older seed this has been a strange year germination wise.

Happy Gardening Folks! 

 

Saturday, April 18, 2020

I need a Shower.....

No that doesn't mean I'm letting my personal hygiene slip while working from home in these strange times, it means the April showers we expect just aren't coming and the plot is looking a little dry and dusty.

I'm very thankful we are still allowed to carry on working on the allotments, it is certainly helping to maintain my sanity. As someone who usually pops into his local 4/5 times in a week it provides a welcome opportunity to see a real human, even if it is just from a distance.

In the last couple of weeks I've been fairly busy planting at home and filling up my new greenhouse as well as some direct planting, housekeeping and completing the strawberry bed project.

The strawberry plants are looking good and the final level of the cage and netted lid have been added.


 All my spuds are in now, Foremost for earlies and Carolus for Main. Plenty of soil available for earthing up.
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I planted out the broads and put a wind screen around them. They are supported with string as there can be a stiff breeze down there. This pic is a few days old, they are flowering nicely now.



Some direct planting. A half row of radishes, spring onions, lettuce and beetroot in one bed. Carrots and parsnips in the other.


Asparagus season is starting again. Only a couple so far but looking forward to it!!


Happy gardening folks!!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Mad March!!

Blimey what a lot has changed since the last post...  It feels like the world has gone mad. The biggest worry at the moment is what happens in terms of access to allotments if the lock down gets worse.

I made a start prepping a bed on the farm today. The covers are off the pea/broad bean bed now, I threw on some Growmore and worked it in with hoe before raking it smooth, it was dug over at the end of last year so that is all that's needed.

I need to redo the netting on the pea cage before moving it into place and planting out my broads which are hardening off in the garden. They are a bit leggy and needed staking. They got a bit warm in the house during the storms but putting out a pop up greenhouse for Derek to trash seemed a little silly. These will go out next week as we have a couple of cold nights coming.


At home I have a gone for a larger pop up green house. It's weighted and tied down so fingers crossed it stays in place. I might even set it up as a home office as it's pretty toasty in there!


Over the weekend I have planted my tomatoes, leeks, pickling onions, brussels, oca and broccoli. I've thinned my flower seedlings, (pansy, marigold and mimulus) and pepper plants. I've also re-sown my white oinons as they all died off. I suspect dampened off so I'll be more careful and try and water from the bottom this time. I've need had this before.

That's quite a few trays of plants to bring in on a cold night but hopefully I'll be able to leave them in the greenhouse overnight soon.


Happy gardening folks, stay safe



Sunday, February 09, 2020

Strawberry Fields Forever....

A little dramatic that title, more like strawberry beds until the decking rots away.

On a sunny Saturday morning  I fitted my painted raised strawberry beds to the bed frame. They are lined with plastic and filled with a mix of topsoil, manure and potting compost.


Once the plants are in and start to fruit I'll fill the gaps between the planters with weed control fabric and a layer of straw to keep the weeds down and reflect the sunlight, which is also the reason for the white paint.

Provided this weekends storm has left me something to work with I have to fit another layer of painted decking on top of the outside of the bed before making and fitting a hinged netting lid. It may seem like over kill but I like strawberry's and the critters usually get more than I do!

It's been a bonus to get on with such jobs in January thanks to the mild weather, although the ground is certainly too soggy to dig so it's limited to a hoeing the exposed areas.  

Also in the fruit bed it was good to see that the rhubarb crown I dug up, split and moved at the end of last season has survived, this new leaf has come through in the last week.


The next post could be a damage report, we'll see as soon as I can get down the farm in daylight.

Happy gardening folks!  

Friday, January 31, 2020

And We're of!!

Sowing season started here last Saturday with chilli's, leeks, white onions, peppers and dahlias.

And the winner is..... Dahlias, 6 out of 8 up already.

I'll start Broads of this weekend and get the just arrived seed spuds set up to chit.

I'm going to put a cloche or 2 up on the plot to warm the soil for radishes, lettuce and early carrots, if it stops raining!!

Happy gardening folks!