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With May speeding along, and it being the busiest time for getting plants and seeds into the ground, I opted to stay at my own allotment for the day to get a few important jobs done.

I was reasonably unsuccessful with taking photos during the day as lot of the tasks were pretty boring but here’s the definitive list of what I got done:

  1. Weeding (all the beds)
  2. Clearing + weeding around the water butts
  3. Fixing up the Cold Frame (see photos)
  4. Adding supports to the beans
  5. Readying the tomato supports
  6. Planting; beans, salad, broccoli, cabbages, flowers

As you can tell from the title, it turned into a pretty long day at the plot, starting at 10am and not finishing until 9pm, with only a quick lunch stop and cycle to the garden centre in the middle! I have to say that I found it very hard to do much the day after, It’s surprising how much time you can spend on just a few metres squared of space!

Apart from the tidying up of the water butt area, which is part of my plan to keep the slugs and snails down this year (by removing all the cozy little hidy- holes) the other job that got completed was the cold frame build. I had previously put some very basic infrastructure together to keep some leek seedlings happy (see post: Allotment Day) but with the self watering bag only lasting about 24 hrs, and me needing to move some of the many tomato plants i’d raised into it, I needed a better solution.

Step by step of the cold frame build:

All the plants i've been moving in / out of the flat to harden off.

All the plants i’ve been moving in / out of the flat to harden off.

The area designated for the cold frame, now properly de-weeded and level.

The area designated for the cold frame, now properly de-weeded and level.

Using things that were lying around; cuttings from the council to surpress weeds, tiles for form a flat barrier so that plants don't get too attached to the ground, and a gravel / sand mix to make sure it's not that inviting a space for slugs and snails.

Using things that were lying around; cuttings from the council to surpress weeds, tiles to form a solid barrier so that plants don’t get too attached to the ground, and a gravel / sand mix to make sure it’s not that inviting a space for slugs and snails.

Laying out the reclaimed glass from the old greenhouse to see if a proper lid would be possible. (glass needs a clean!)

Laying out the reclaimed glass from the old greenhouse to see if a proper lid would be possible. (glass needs a clean!)

I called in my resident architect / builder, aka Mike, to help build the lid of the cold frame.

I called in my resident architect / builder, aka Mike, to help build the lid of the cold frame, once he had finished work.

Fixing hinges (which luckily were something we already had lying around the house) to the back board.

Fixing hinges (which luckily were something we already had lying around the house) to the back board.

Glass now clean, it was time to test the lid... all good so far!

Glass now clean, it was time to test the lid… all good so far!

With all the glass now clean and secured, the last thing to do was to use the old washing line to fashion a handy way to hold up the lid to gain access and keep the air circulating.

With all the glass now clean and secured, the last thing to do was to use the old washing line to fashion a handy way to hold up the lid to gain access and keep the air circulating.

The 'leaky' hose i'd bought needed to travel up (!) from the water butt at the entrance so some clever supporting tactics (see bent hazel poles above) had to be deployed to get the pressure right all the way along.

The ‘leaky’ hose i’d bought needed to travel up (!) from the water butt at the entrance so some clever supporting tactics (see bent hazel poles above) had to be deployed to get the pressure right all the way along.

After fiddling with the levels, the leaky hose now traveled around the plants in the cold frame and gave them all a gentle drip feed of water.

After fiddling with the levels, the leaky hose now traveled around the plants in the cold frame and gave them all a gentle drip feed of water.

This hose is porous so as the water travels through, it slowly leaks out, delivering water evening along the length.

This hose is porous so as the water travels through, it slowly leaks out, delivering water evening along the length.

I’m really happy with the cold frame (thanks Mike!) and I hope it works as well as I want it to, for keeping my plants happy until they are big enough to fend for themselves.

There’s isn’t a lot else to show for my 10 hour day but I do have a few more photos…

This is about a 6th of the total collection of snails I had at the end of the day... and don't worry, i'm not going to post the 'after' picture!

This is about a 6th of the total collection of snails I had at the end of the day… and don’t worry, i’m not going to post the ‘after’ picture!

This is what my fruit bushes would have to contend with if I didn't keep on top of the weeding of the this nasty plant!

This is what my fruit bushes would have to contend with if I didn’t keep on top of the weeding of the this nasty plant!

I don't think i'll be winning any design prizes for my broad bean supports. Next year i'll think about how to do this neater but as long as it works for now i'm happy.

I don’t think i’ll be winning any design prizes for my broad bean supports. Next year i’ll think about how to do this neater but as long as it works for now i’m happy.

One of the my local community gardens which I passed while cycling to buy the leaky hoses.

One of the my local community gardens which I passed while cycling to buy the leaky hoses.

Mostly raised beds with a central mound just beyond. They also have a pizza oven, poly tunnel and beehives among other things.

Mostly raised beds with a central mound just beyond. They also have a pizza oven, poly tunnel and beehives among other things.

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2 thoughts on “Mega Allotment Day

  1. Hi Al

    Great info & photos as usual (also caught up with your last visit to Organic Lea which I enjoyed too). It looks as if things are coming along really well. Got my eye on the flourishing spinach beet!

    A couple of questions (a) do you buy the leaky hoses with the holes or buy old, second-hand hoses & punch in your own holes? (b) are you going to rely on rainwater in the water butt or use a tap to top up? (c) do you have to suck the end to get the water flowing? It just needs an uphill start, I see.

    Looking forward to the next installment.

    Cath xx

    • Hi Aunty Cath,
      To answer your questions:
      a) I bought the hose (in fact I bout two kinds as i didn’t know which would work best, on normal hose with holes in it, one porous hose that leaked all the way). I don’t normally spend money on the allotment (apart form seeds!) but there wasn’t any extra hose I knew of to get my hand on so i splashed out ; )
      b) The rain water butt was the original plan, i’d hoped that it would keep going for at least 3-4 days if I got the pressure right. It’s then easy to fill top up the butt from the tap if no rain has come.
      c) The level of water in the butt when full is higher than the cold frame so no sucking was required to get the water moving.

      However, I’ve kept my eye on it this week and it’s not necessarily worked how I planned. Once the water in the butt got down to a certain level the pressure was no longer great enough to keep the water flowing the slight incline it has to the cold frame. So this reduces the amount of time I can leave the system in operation. Ideally i’d like to put the system on a timer so that it can just come on in the mornings and evenings and not stay on over night, because otherwise it just ends up being quite wasteful I think. There are gadgets you can get for this so i’m going to investigate. If I could get it to turn off for 70% of the time, then the butt will hold enough water for a good few days, if not, then it runs out pretty quickly and therefore doesn’t seem worth it. So in the end I just end up going do every morning before work to give the plants in the frame a good water for the day ahead.

      Next post is about volunteering on the Southbank!

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