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First Real crops of the year

July 5, 2013 by dave   Comments (4)

Picked first strawberries of season, dug up first tattys and pulled a few onions.

And finaly any idea what these are G Dad got em growing in his garden.

Update on site progress

June 30, 2013 by dave   Comments (1)

G your beans are at the top of the sticks and flowering to

Strawberries looking good

Potatoes looking good to

Had to remove soil from garlic as it was too deep in ground

Finally my Lupins looking good to

Typical Spanish Lottie and shed

June 28, 2013 by dave   Comments (1)

And finaly I hope my Fig tree produces like this one

From My Allotment Diary (Sat. June 22nd, 2013)

June 22, 2013 by BigGee   Comments (2)

It's always a special occasion when you lift your very first new potatoes of the season. That day arrived on the 21st of June this year. I could probably have lifted them a week or so earlier, as they've been in flower for a while, but yesterday I couldn't resist it any longer.

imageSo on the day of the summer solstice two haulms were lifted. VERY impressed! Not just with the size & quantity but the taste was first class.

They're Vales Emerald. I had hoped to plant them last year, but didn't manage to get the seed tubers in time. This year I managed it - thanks to Josie who found them in Wrexham on one of her trips up north to visit her family in Birkenhead.

imageVales Emerald are a cross between Charlotte (my all time favourite early) & Maris Peer. Charlotte along with Pink Fir Apple are the two varieties I grow every year because they're both my favourite potatoes. So logic would have it that a potato with one of those two for a parent should turn out OK. I'm not disappointed. "Her Indoors" asked what they were - after boiling them - and then declared that she wanted ALL Vales Emerald next year! I'm not sure about that.

This is the row the Vale Emeralds were picked from:

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This year I've also got Salad Blue (first time trial for me - they actually have blue coloured tubers - quite a novelty in a salad!).  As for the Charlotte; my guess is the "cook" might be in a quandary when she tastes those again this year - she's probably forgotten how good they are. I wonder if she'll still want ALL Vales Emerald next year when I start on the Charlottes in a few weeks' time? Then there's Pink Fir Apple - as usual - and the two maincrop varieties this year are Pentland Hawk, which I did grow years ago but I've forgotten what they were like & then another new trial for me - Ulster Classic. If that one is as good as Ian Barbour of JBA Seed Potatoes reckons (he says it's the best flavoured spud he's ever tasted and he should know, he's eaten a few tons in his time I guess) then we're in for a treat.

Here's the rest of my potato 'patch':

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The rest of the plot is coming along slowly I say that because it IS slow this year in our part of the world. At a guess I would say we're between 4 & 6 weeks behind.

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The lettuce did well up to a point, but for some reason they suddenly slowed down, why is a mystery.

The spring onions are coming on fine. It seems to be quite a good year for the onions & the rest of the allium family.

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The shallots and onions on the right are thriving. The runner beans in the background are struggling a little. However, the dry weather we've had hasn't helped and before that it was cold. So with a bit more rain & warmth I guess they'll do OK - they usually do, even if it takes a bit longer.

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The peas are now starting to get into their stride, but again very slow, considering we're into our last week of June. The cabbage (in  the background in the green mini net tunnel) are thriving. It's always the same, what some plants struggle with, others thrive on. The cooler weather this year seems to suit the cabbage, onions & spuds.

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Courgettes, pumpkins & cucumbers are starting to move in the tyre towers, but BOY they've been a nightmare to get started this year, fluctuating heat & cold they hate, and guess what? Temperature fluctuations have been the order of the day this spring!

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And finally in the polytunnel, the last dregs of the seedlings are queuing up to go outside. I'll have to make that a priority in the next week or so, in order to get the toms, cucs, melons, capsicums & aubergines into their permanent spots in the polytunnel borders that are still loaded up with plant trays & pots at the moment.

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These are a tray of Sweet peas (not peas) that are waiting to go in a border along the perimeter fence of my lottie. Trouble is it needs digging & preparing. Because it's been so hectic on the veg. front the poor flowers have not been able to climb up the priority list, let alone climb up any fences!

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Mysterious disappearances, court hearing and lunatics in an asylum!

June 11, 2013 by BigGee   Comments (2)

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As many who read my blog will have heard me relate in the past, we have a situation here on our allotment site where

THE LUNATICS HAVE TAKEN OVER THE ASYLUM!

There are 17 plots on our allotments site, seven are occupied by decent gardeners from a variety of backgrounds, who form a very friendly group who help each other and understand what allotment gardening is all about - not least the social & community minded aspect of things. It includes sensible & traditional allotmenteers. Six of the seven have won the annual Aberaeron in Bloom competition or have been runners up in the best vegetable growing plot category over the last few years (myself included). Three of us are the past chair, secretary & treasurer of the association (when things were run properly) until we got turfed off at an AGM in 2011 by the others whose main problem is fuelled by envy, jealousy and a reluctance to put any effort into their plots or be governed by standard plot rules. By removing us they felt that they could have a "do as you please" culture on the site. A few actually just use their plots for picnicking or lazing in the sun - that's fine - as long as you realise that vegetable growing plots are first & foremost a place to grow vegetables. The problem is compounded by the fact that the land, whilst council owned, is only licensed for use to our allotment association, who then rents individual plots to the members & manages the site privately. Consequently the council do not have a say in the day to day running of the site. So there is no one who can mediate or sort problems out when a situation like this arises.

The ruling lunatics in the asylum now include five members of the local Yacht Club plus their partners. This is a "tap room" clique that only have a plot so that they can boast at the bar that they are part of the modern trend. We then have three who are New Age anarchists who abhor rules and spend their time in a tree hugging haze amongst their weeds. Their other trait is that they believe that anything brought on site is communal for them to dip into or "borrow" as they please without asking (strangely they never bring anything to the site themselves). This "communal" policy includes taking other members' tools, manure, top soil, wood chips etc. without asking. Even shared crops that they can forage before anyone else has a chance to share them are gobbled up in an opportunist frenzy - often before things are ripe. The remaining three or four members are fence sitters who haven't a clue about gardening and even less interest in the allotment movement. So this unholy alliance now makes up the majority who run the show.

Last year they tried to unsuccessfully have me evicted from the site (because my presence there made them fel "uncomfortable" they said), I was seen as the main thorn in their side. Only by engaging a solicitor have I been able to hang on to my plot. Now the ploy is to try and harass me off the site. That has triggered involvement of the police who have warned certain individuals about their actions. The latest thing is to award plots to friends and like-minded ones who are not on our waiting list. We're not even sure if these new faces have tenancy agreements, or whether they have paid anything for their plots. At least one is known to have been offered a full plot at half price! It's all a very sad and stressful state of affairs.

In December 2011 I had some chipped softwood delivered to the site for use on my plot paths. We have an area set aside for all deliveries to the site. I intended using the chips in the spring after the weather had got better. In March 2012 all the chippings had been nabbed by a Jon Tuson - the tenant who occupies plot 1. He did not ask who they belonged to and ignored the sign that had been put in the heap showing that they were my property. I'd originally put the sign on there, and on my other deliveries like manure etc. because of the unsavoury habit of dipping into other people's materials that some plot holders had developed. The "tree hugging Glastonbury rejects" who make up the hippy section had started doing this from day one. The current secretary & his partner on their first visit to the site after he got his plot a couple of years back had, as their very first task, "borrowed"  another member's barrow and started wheeling off compost that belonged to me to put on his plot - until someone politely pointed out to them that the compost belonged to someone else!

Jon Tuson the culprit who took my load of wood chips without permission had a track record of similar behaviour. In the past I lost a rake. Two months later I discovered in a chance conversation that Tuson had used it and then took it home with him without telling anyone. On that occasion he returned it to me. Some time afterwards I again mysteriously lost a new stainless steel spade. A few months later I discovered this guy using my spade on his plot. When confronted about it he lamely proclaimed that it was not mine, but a similar spade  that he had been given as a present by his family, It was obvious to me that it was mine (no one on site had a similar one), but not being in a position to prove my ownership (with a receipt or similar documentation) he got away with it and never did return the spade that was worth over thirty pounds - neither has he used it again on his plot (on the rare occasion that he visits his allotment). Finally he took my lorry load of wood chips and spread them all on his own plot. He was told about this and asked to replace what he took. He confirmed that he had taken them (undeniable as the evidence was obviously spread all over the place). He agreed to replace what he took. For months he was periodically asked when he intended to replace what he took, but he just ignored those requests. Finally he turned round, (when asked if he had actually ordered a new load), and simply said he "could not remember"! He was told that unless they were replaced I would bill him for them. He responded that he had no intention of paying any bills. He was then told that if he failed to pay I would take him to the County Court Small Claims section to get my money. Seven months later he was billed, he failed to pay. He was sent a notice that a claim was being lodged in the local County Court.

This brings us up to last Friday the 7th of June 2013, when the hearing took place at the Aberystwyth County Courtroom. Tuson provided a "cock and bull" story in his own defence that everything delivered to the site is for communal use, unless indicated otherwise. He also took three witnesses with him to court (the current chair, the current treasurer & a past chair) to try and validate his defence and in the process to basically lie on his behalf. Suffice to say, the judge was not impressed and although he was prepared to accept the plea that Tuson took the material in ignorance - rather than as a premeditated act of theft - he was not impressed with his account of the matter or those of his cronies in court, who managed to shoot each other in the feet when they gave evidence under questioning. I represented myself with no witnesses with just my wife sitting silently behind me providing a bit of moral support!

The outcome was that J. C. Tuson, the defendant in the case, was found guilty and I was awarded a judgement in the sum of £180.00 with all costs. The defendant now has to pay that sum into the court within 14 days - so that they can pay me. Someone will now have to keep an eye on the association's funds, for fear that someone else with access to those funds may be tempted to make a donation to Mr Tuson's cause. An independant audit of our funds is overdue by eighteen months in any case. perhaps this is the time to ask for it.

A success whichever way you look at it, but more importantly a victory for principle, basic rights and decency. Under the circumstances you would think that a lesson would be learnt and the whole matter should serve as a lesson that legal threats should be taken seriously and in the correct context. HOWEVER, two days later whilst I was tending to my plot, one of the "lunatics that have taken over the asylum" approached me and declared that I should be ashamed of myself for taking that "poor man" to court, and did I realise that he could not now afford birthday presents for his little deprived children! I quietly told her that he should have thought of that a year earlier and that if she had a grievance she should tell it to the District judge not me - as he was the one who passed judgement. I then said that I didn't really want to engage in conversation with her and therefore could she please go away. I heard a shout of "coward" as she walked back to her friends from the Yacht Club - to which I responded with a loud belly laugh!

The old Cockney saying jumped to my mind "where it ain't you can't put it". So true, people like this just never learn - that's why it's the sane ones in white coats that usually run asylums and not the inmates!

 

Getting Raised bed filled to put cabbage&sprouts in B4 Hols

June 10, 2013 by dave   Comments (2)

Some before and after photo's of the soil heap full of rubbish.

The raised bed before and now still needs more soil 3or4 barrows

From My Allotment Diary (Thurs. June 6th, 2013)

June 8, 2013 by BigGee   Comments (2)

 

A busy little period on the lottie this week. Having leapt from early spring to midsummer weather in one leap, it's a bit strange looking at the plot. You feel it's the middle of a nice summer (all the soil looks dry & desert-like, you look hot & sweaty!!). But the plants & seedlings look as if they're stuck in the end of April! NOT WORRIED - I remember a similar scenario back in 1976 when I had my first season in my very own garden (where has the time flown to?). Anyway, in 1976 the weather turned nice & sunny at the end of May/ beginning of June. Everyone expected the rain, and it sometimes got promised in the weather forecasts - but it never came! It was the most memorable summer that I've ever experienced. It just went on and on until September - the whole landscape started looking distinctly Mediterranean - brown - but nobody complained. In fact as long as you could water, and that became a REAL chore with hose-pipe bans & the water being turned off by the supplier for hours to conserve the levels in the dams. However the crops thrived & the melons in my greenhouse just grew & grew in that first year - little wonder my gardening bug bit me in that year. 2013, to me seems to be following a similar pattern. I may be TOTALLY wrong and it may turn into a spectacularly miserable summer - but a little voice inside says that it might, just might, be earmarked as a special one. We'll see, for now I'm watering every night and it's only the first week in June. Bring it on I say!

Last year I had ONE apple on my apple tree & that rotted in the rain before I could eat it. Here's a picture of what's developed so far this year - the whole tree is covered in embryo fruit. Makes you glow doesn't it?

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The plum tree is following suite, it's also pinging with embryonic fruit. It's called 'Jubilee' an improved Victoria with earlier cropping and sweeter fruit - although I was a bit sceptical about that at first. But having tasted THREE plums last year (that's all it produced) I can vouch for the taste, it really does beat the famous Victoria and that really takes some doing. A funny one this, I actually missed it flowering! I was talking with Tig (Brenda) one of the other plot holders who has a Victoria plum tree, & she was proudly showing off the tiny fruit she had on her tree. I miserably commented that I didn't think I'd get any fruit on mine this year, because my tree hadn't flowered. When we went over to check the Jubilee tree on my plot, imagine my surprise when I was confronted with hundreds of little fruit. I swear it must have flowered at night! Or I'm losing it!

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The tyre towers are filled with 3 year old kitchen waste compost. The bottom tyre is full of farm yard manure (horse s_ _ _ to commoners like us!). These are the homes of the pumpkins, courgettes & squashes. In fact at the time of writing they've been planted. The big one is home to a pumpkin called Atlantic Giant. A real biggie - we'll have to judge the success of that one in the autumn. if you don't see any more pics of it in my blog, you'll know the reason!

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The three sister sisters! The pyramid supports are for the French beans. Blue Lake (a green climbing pencil pod variety), Kentucky Waxhorn (a yellow pencil pod type) & the old favourite the Borlotti bean. There should be another for my flat-podded "Barry" beans - so named because the whole stock of those flat podded French beans on our allotment site have come from a handful of a dozen or so beans from a passing visitor who hailed from Barry Island. He'd been growing them for years but didn't know the variety name. I therefore christened them "Barry" beans when I got them off him - an excellent strain whatever their written pedigree! It matters not - they live on under an adopted name. Sadly I've not seen the kind gentleman since. Perhaps he's been holidaying in better climes these last couple of years.

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It's never ending. the weeds are fighting for survival & the spuds need earthing up, that's before the concentration focuses on what will grow in the polytunnel this year. Thoughts of the heavenly aroma of ripe melons as you open the doors of the tunnel in the morning & the taste of cold home grown melon on a summer evening during a long summer . . . . does it get any better?

 

Beans Trying to reach the stars.

June 7, 2013 by dave   Comments (1)

Your beans are very viralent climbing like mad up the sticks

Are you sure it is WINTER

June 7, 2013 by Star   Comments (3)

 

Are you sure it is WINTER??? from Star's blog

Someone forget to tell the weather Gods it was winter today!!!!!!!!!!!

It was beautiful sunshine and a temperature of 21ºC. I spent most of the day out side pottering, a little bit of weeding, a little bit of cutting off dead leaves, a little bit of sweeping up and a lot of sitting in the warm sun and admiring the garden

 

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I could hear the garden calling to me.

 

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It was like a Spring day. As I walked around there was so much colour still in the garden...all the Hibiscus.

 

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Orange ones.

 

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Pink ones.

 

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Cerise Pink ones.

Then there was a Canna Tropicana

 

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My Iceberg roses are still giving me some buds.

 

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Then there is the red carpet rose too.

 

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Though we have had some nights down to 3ºC they still carry on.

There is the colour of the red Cordyline in the fern garden too.

 

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I nearly forgot the Navel oranges, I only had 5 this year. The leaves always look ill but the fruit is OK

 

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Then as you look across the patio towards the house there are the Impatiens

 

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The Frangipanis are losing there leaves, some are still damaged from the hail storm a few weeks ago........but one bud is still trying to open in the warm sun.

 

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I have my tomatoes and Frangipani seedlings in the sun to warm them up a bit.

 

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I even have flowers on the tomatoes,hope they don't mind the cold nights....still they were self seeded so cost me nothing.

 

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I then I tidied up a bit by the Budha water feature. Moved a few pot and swept up.

 

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The sun was sinking in the west and coming in under the patio........time to go indoors before it starts to get cold.

 

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With a bit of luck I will be able to do it all again tomorrow, the forcast is for an occasional shower and a top of 21ºC....................it's a hard life but someone has to do it.

 

I LOVE MY GARDEN.

 

From My Allotment Diary (Tues. June. 4th, 2013)

June 4, 2013 by BigGee   Comments (3)

There's something that feels decidedly natural when you get the right weather in it's proper season. It's supposed to have been the coldest spring since the 70s - I'd agree with that, but although it's been cold, the weather has generally been in the right place at the right time & in the right proportions! Now that it's June it's turned sunny, warm & dry, that's exactly how it should be in June. The plants are actually reacting by starting to show signs of proper growth at last.

Last night I watered the plot for the first time this season, well the seedlings & newly planted out stuff anyway. It's surprising how it's dried up.

At last It's starting to take shape. All the beds are now prepared and either have things growing in them or are waiting for things to be planted in them.

imageThe first batch of 38 runner beans, (the ones that got 'cooked' in the polytunnel one day whilst my back was turned & the doors were closed,) are in the ground, but after nearly two weeks in the ground outside, their perk up rate is too slow, so with a heavy heart, imageI'm going to dig them back up and put in a new fresh batch. The old ones, after meticulous nurture and one slip of attention are now compost fodder. Alas that's gardening! You have to take the rough with the smooth dry your eyes and move on.

imageThe summer cabbage are now planted out. They have a new home in the mini green mesh tunnel that I always use for brassicas. It seems to do the trick. Not too much heat, protection from wind and more importantly full protection from cabbage white butterflies & the dreaded cabbage root fly. imageThe mesh is discarded scaffolding net that builders use for the public's protection. they have to renew it - regardless of it's condition - after every job (I know it's silly Health & Safety law madness, but it suits me fine!). It's identical stuff to that used in commercial horticultural net tunnels. There's another one to go by the side of the one above for the cauliflowers, sprouts and winter cabbage. That's a job in the next week or two. A simple construction made with 25mm alkathene water pipe off-cuts, a few bamboo canes for a ridge and some spring clips and a handful of tent pegs. Simples!

This morning I went down to my lottie to open the doors on both ends of the polytunnel. When I got there the temperature had already reached 105ºF that's just over 40ºC & it felt like a Turkish Bath. As usual, not being content with one job and away, I started to water a few seedlings that looked thirsty in the toilet roll inserts & then started weeding. When I got uncomfortably hot I left it all to go home & come back this evening when it's cooler. Before leaving I glanced at the thermometer in the polytunnel & it showed 32ºC even with the doors open. I wonder how I'd cope if I lived in Oz?!!

 

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