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From My Allotment Diary (Mon. Jul. 16th, 2012)

July 16, 2012 by BigGee   Comments (1)

It's been over a week since I wrote my last Blog. My problem is finding new topics to write about when it comes to the allotment. Blog readers soon get fed up of reading "it's another wet day - can't get on my plot" or "another rainy day - if it stops for a week and starts to dry perhaps I'll be able to do some planting" , followed by, "it still hasn't stopped". "Had another flood today"! Not the stuff excitement is built on! No one gets riveted talking about how wet the weather is.

However, SOME excitement happens - even in the rain! One of our allotment members has taken it upon herself to enter certain plots in the annual "Aberaeron in Bloom" competition (they have a section for vegetable plots). In fact the judges are coming around this evening, (in wellies I presume)!

With the season we've had I find it's an embarrassment to be associated with any plot - even the best ones. So I'm keeping well away.

imageMy mate Stephen Parry (Plot 14) has had a brush with the Police. Not for armed robbery or anything exciting like that, but for strimming weeds!!! It may sound odd, but I kid you not!

Plot 4 - which was shared by two women has been virtually abandoned for about a year. One of them was the plot tenancy holder, the other was a "helper". The "helper" disappeared off the scene last autumn (husband problems the gossip vine informs us - i.e. he buggered off). She hadn't actually DONE anything throughout last summer leading up to the autumn. The official plot holder had come on site and scratched around in a little corner of the plot occupied by some overgrown raised beds earlier this spring, but then disappeared altogether - not to be seen again.

This season, as usual, the membership fee and plot rents were due on May the first. The tenancy agreement stipulates that anyone who is more than 40 days in arrears is no longer the plot tenant and their allotment plot should be offered to the next person on the waiting list.

By the end of June, nothing had been paid for Plot 4, and the plot holder was about 50 days in arrears and not making any appearances on site. The plot - as you can imagine - was infested with overgrown weeds (6' high docks etc.) and it was totally uncultivated, although again, the tenancy agreement stipulates that one of the conditions of let is that plots should be at least threequarters cultivated and relatively weed free. So she was in breach of her agreement on three counts.

In the absence of a General Management Committee that could not be mistaken for three zombies, Stephen decided that he would do us all a favour and Strim the plot in readiness for it to be let out to someone else. ALL the SANE inmates were pleased at this development.

Next day he was contacted by the local Plod Force. Our local Bobby had received a complaint that Stephen had attacked a plot without permission and in the process, damaged some plants (weeds one presumes, because it was impossible to see anything else!). He explained the situation to the guardian of peace and order in our frontier town, and escaped deportation to Australia!

The moral of the story? NEVER allow the lunatics to take over your asylum. ALWAYS engage serious gardeners and not psychotics to tend the plots at your asylum!

From My Allotment Diary (Fri. Jul. 6th, 2012)

July 6, 2012 by BigGee   Comments (0)

I'm seriously wondering whether I'm suffering from Narcolepsy! A whole week has gone by and I must have been asleep and missed it! At least that's how it feels.

My friend and yours (a founder member and one of the assistant administrators in our Gardeners Chat-Shed) - Dave Amphlett came to visit Josie & I last weekend, with his partner Samantha (in a flash, we're on the doorstep of ANOTHER weekend before I have had time to record it all on my blog!).

They'd travelled all the way from King's Norton in the Midlands to sunny (not) west Wales. Pity about the weather, BUT a good time was had by all! We thoroughly enjoyed each other's company and contrary to what some of the readers of this blog might think, the weekend was NOT all about talk of veg growing and allotment life! Strangely enough, apart from Dave & Sam's tour of my plot, most of our time was taken up talking about everything BUT allotment veg. growing. Being keen hikers they also had long periods of walking around the local attractions, including our coastal walks in this part of the world.

imageHere's a little memorabilia snap for the album:

It's been a "touch 'n go" week on the plot (more touch than go!). Although I have managed a few hours down there. Yesterday was a good one. I managed to do a lot of weeding (that never ending chore at this time of the year). I was musing to myself what a wonderful tool a very sharp Dutch hoe is. The emphasis is on the sharp, because apart from things like a sickle or a pen-knife (for obvious reasons) the next most important tool to keep sharp, I think, is a Dutch hoe. I have a Wilko ash handled and stainless steel headed one that's a favourite. It wasn't very expensive, as new tools go. Most of my gardening tools are second-hand. Old, well designed, properly crafted tools are far superior to new cheap and nasty offerings, plus the fact that many of the very practical tools of  yore are becoming scarce, giving way to limited modern "midget's tools" that break your back. Why modern gardeners use those short handled spades & forks is a total mystery to me! I've now managed to convert quite a large swathe of my fellow allotmenteers to the joys of long handled mattocks, hoes & azadas. In fact the ONLY tools in many new gardeners kit is a short handled digging fork, the same kind of spade and occasionally a rake - as if there are no other tools for the garden! I'm digressing again here & I can feel myself feeling around for my soap box!

! Another well used tool on my garage work-bench is a little electric grindstone.  It's pressed into service on a regular basis to keep the stainless steel hoe in sharpness, because it's just too hard to sharpen it with a stone or even a file, which is, of course, a good thing. Sharp hoe - dead weeds, with such a small amount of energy that you can keep it up for hours. It can be a different story if you go out and use a blunt hoe, and surprisingly when bought new hoes never are sharp enough to do the job properly.

I've also (at last) got my swede, kohl rabi & turnip seeds in. It's late, but not too late for those winterish crops, especially the turnips - I expect them to fly out of the blocks at this time of the year - assuming they don't get drowned! Judging by the way the wet stuff is coming down again today, it could well be a case of another flood on my plot. I'm so pleased I worked late last night to get as much done as I could before the rain that was forecast again for today came. Is there no end to it?

At least the ploy-tunnel is looking the apart, now that the cucurbits have stopped sulking! It's been a nightmare to get things going this year, not only is there a distinct lack of sunlight to provide food for the plants, it's been cold, miserable & wet. PLUS a very bad experience with a low peat compost that should have gone into a land-fill site rather than into a Levington compost bag, has meant an almost disaster when it comes to germination. I've just about scraped enough plants to do the job. In other years you have so many young plants on your hands that you're always giving stuff away to others. Ironically this year, when I've had nothing much spare to give away, everyone else is LOOKING for stuff, because everyone seem to have the same problem.

The one BIG problem that remains for me is when and how to put my brassica plants in. The patch earmarked for the cabbage family this year has been under well over 18" of water for long periods over the last month or so. Consequently the plants are starting to get very root-bound in their pots and look extremely sorry for themselves. If this weather keeps up I'm going to have to give up on them - that'll be a first in forty years - to have absolutely no brassicas on my veg. patch. Not surprising though. Mike, a friend who comes up from south Wales to stay in his static caravan here in Aberaeron and then frequently pops around for a chat over the allotment fence, tells me he has actually failed to get his runners sorted this year - again for the first time in forty years. 

Harvest Time.

July 5, 2012 by dave   Comments (2)

Had a good day today all crops planted are doing well a few failures and slow starters overall not to bad. Some photos of crops.

1 My garlic

2 &3: My onions drying in shed

4: My potatos doing well the winston's

My Trip to Wales to meet up with Gwilym after 2years of chatting.

July 2, 2012 by dave   Comments (1)

l cannot thank Gwilym and Josie enough for their kind hospitality and excellent food we had. Here are a few photos of our get together.

An overall view of plot from the road.

My First Strawberries Very Poor Show

June 25, 2012 by dave   Comments (2)

My first picked Strawberries A poor first pick

From My Allotment Diary (Sun. June 24th, 2012)

June 24, 2012 by BigGee   Comments (1)

I'm home alone this weekend. No 4 son who's still at home has gone to London for a week to stay with his Thai friend Kriss' family. Kriss' mother's partner Paul has a gardening & landscaping business. Teifion & Kriss are supposed to be working with him over the summer. Kriss is in a Military Academy - during term time- in North Carolina. Apparently Paul does gardening for a few of the stars down there in the London area - including Jonathan Ross apparently (not that I'd consider Jonathan Ross to be a star - he's definitely NOT my cup of tea - but that's another story).

Josie is over in County Wicklow in the Irish Republic. She's been over there since last Wednesday, helping Jan, an old friend of hers, to move house & decorate. She's coming home tomorrow. Woo-Hoo - I'm glad - can't stand housework or cooking! And if the truth be known I DO miss her

 

As for me, I've done NOTHING on the lottie today, even though the weather has been quite kind. I seem to have a nasty muscle strain that's like a cross between a bad stitch and a cracked rib! It's hard to breathe without pain so any physical work was out of the question today. I hope it will have eased off by tomorrow, because according to the weather forecast it's supposed to be a nice sunny day. Just my luck to go "crook" (as they say in Oz) when the weather changes!

So I went to visit my mother today, and whilst I was there I popped in on Ian - an old friend of mine who lives down the road from my mother. He'd done a little job of drilling holes in an old stainless steel hoe that I've adapted as a hand hoe for weeding onions etc. It's a little tool I cooked up that is about 18" long with a half width sharpened hoe at the one end and a 4" wide rake on the other. I used to have a similar tool but somehow I lost it - the funny thing is I never found it. Having given up looking for a new one to buy, I decided to make my own. Here's the result:

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So if I feel up to it, some weeds in my onion beds might meet their maker tomorrow!

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From My Allotment Diary (Fri. June 22nd, 2012)

June 22, 2012 by BigGee   Comments (1)

What a week this has been. Rain, rain & then when you thought there was no more left in the sky we had MORE rain!

It's very serious here because we haven't fully recovered from the first two floods, this is now our third major flood in a fortnight. So we're supposed to be preparing for sub tropical weather with annual water shortages and the ability to grow coconuts in Wales? Yeah right! (These apocalyptical global warming freaks have to be humoured, otherwise they'll join up with the posh empty-heads in the Government and convince them that they have to legislate to stop us doing this or that for our own good!)

Sure, the weather is a bit muddled, but I'm sure it's been more muddled over the billions of years our earth has been in existence and WAY before man appeared. My theory is, there's only so much water on earth and as matter cannot be created or destroyed (by man at least) then roughly the same amount is permanently in circulation and will turn up sooner or later - the H2O that didn't appear last winter has turned up - a bit late, but better late than never eh?

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There ARE changing weather patterns across the globe (as there always has been) with an expanding desert here, or a shrinking ice cap there. It's NATURE folks! Live with it!

I'm being philosophical because otherwise I'd be crying! I went down to close my poly-tunnel doors yesterday evening at around 8.30. As some of you know, John, the 82 year old ex Paratrooper Sergeant, opens my poly-tunnel doors for me every morning. I give him bits for his garden at home - like pelleted chicken manure, plants, runner beans for sowing etc. Now he takes his dog for a walk past my allotment at the crack of dawn (50+ years ago he would have been drilling his men on the parade ground every morning at 6.00 a.m. Old habits die hard and he now gets his dog up for exercise at the crack of dawn!) Anyway John, being a stickler for carrying out orders, opens my doors EVERY morning - regardless of the weather! So I have to go down to close them every day - whether I intended going down there or not, hence the reason I was down yesterday evening in my weather-proofs! But I don't mind, I don't want to confuse the old gent by making things too complicated for him! As it happens, yesterday I also had my camera in the van so I took some pics. This is what greeted me on my lottie:

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Today I'm tempted not to leave my desk - I've got loads to do, including putting the finishing touches to the latest news-letter, but the lottie (as usual) is always beckoning. I've actually got a really nasty pain from what I think is a pulled muscle in my side & chest - it feels like a cross between a bad stitch and a cracked rib! On the other hand I have plenty I could get on with in the p/tunnel. We'll see how it goes. It's not particularly inviting out there. It's stopped raining now but the wind has picked up. It's a woolly jumper day. If I didn't have a calendar in front of me I could swear it was autumn! It really IS that cold here on the west coast.

Another good day at plot got garlic up.

June 20, 2012 by dave   Comments (2)

A good day at the plot the last one for a few days now due to bad weather coming our way over the next 4or5 days heavy rain forecast.

A few photos 1- the garlic lying in sun to dry. 2-hanging up in shed to dry. 3&4 The strawberries coming on fine soon be ready to pick.

Had a full Day at Plot Bed 6 slowly getting filled

June 19, 2012 by dave   Comments (0)

Had a good day at the plot today nice and dry not tooo warm for working. Did more soil sorting and riddleing managed 7 barrow loads of soil in bed 6.

First heap of soil nearly gone now.

From My Allotment Diary (Thurs. June 14th, 2012)

June 14, 2012 by BigGee   Comments (2)

Playing at home today! Can't go out to play with my friends because Mam says it's too wet! :(

Actually I WILL have to go out in a minute (between showers) to close my polytunnel doors. I expect they're open, as my good ol' 82 year old ex-paratroop sergeant friend has probably opened them as he went past for his early doggy walk (old habits die hard - parade ground at 6.00 hours sharp and all that)! It was sunny first thing this morning when John would have been around, but dead on 1.00 pm the first shower came - EXACTLY as predicted  by the weatherman this morning - not often does that happen.

In fact we'[ve had a yellow alert warning for heavy rain here over the next few days. Someone said that they've forecast three months rain over three days - if that IS true then it's flood time for us again.

So it's a quick dash to the lottie to close the doors and back again. I could get side-tracked to do some work inside the polytunnel, but I've actually got some kind of tummy bug & feel quite nauseous and out of sorts - Josie seems to be starting with something similar. Under the circumstances the heart is willing but the body has other ideas! Not to worry. I can actually do with the rest and I have stacks of other things to do that have been stuck on the back-burner for a month or so. In fact, if we ARE to have a deluge from now to next week, it might be a good time to think about publishing another edition of the newsletter - hmm that sounds quite a civilised plan . . . .

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