Sunday, 5 June 2011

Fear of frosts over - a busy week on the allotment and in the greenhouse

Thanks to my carpenter Dad I now have a shed.  Most of the materials were recycled leaving me to buy just the boards and felt for the roof.  Having been made by what we could lay our hands on it's proportions are a bit unusual (6'X3' and very tall) but it has a heavy frame and is anchored down well.  It'll serve my purposes; holding a few second hand tools of little intrinsic value and keeping other odds and ends dry and in one place. It's appearance has stimulated some good natured jibes from my plot neighbours including it being likened to an outside loo or ticket office!  Overall I'm very pleased with it and think it's quirky design lends it a certain charm.  I'm now on the lookout for some hard standing to complete the seating area next to the shed but have covered the ground with some horticultural membrane in the meantime to suppress any weeds.

Over the last few weeks I've been planting out dwarf broad beans (Sutton Dwarf), peas (Sugar Snap & Kelvedon Wonder) and since the risk of frost has passed, runner beans (Scarlett Emperor), french beans and climbing french beans (Blue Lake).  Also, assorted brassica seedlings - cabbages, brussel sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli and cauliflowers. 
 However, during the last week the brassicas have come under attack from 'cabbage flea beetle' which has resulted in leaf damage to differing degrees on each plant.  I initially tried spraying with soapy water to no avail but have since been advised to use Milton sterilising fluid which I will try - if successful I will replace any plants which are no longer viable. 

As June arrived I was able to plant out my pumpkins (2) and Butternut Squash (3) plants.  Having watched my neighbours dig large holes, fill with compost and then plant their squashes over the top, I did the same. I have been surprised at the amount of wind our plots are subjected to and this seems most often from the West or South Westerly direction following the course of the valley.  To give the pumpkins and squashes with their broad leaves some initial shelter I raised a semi-circular bank around each planting hole and also mulched with some of the dead grass I cleared from my plot earlier.
At around six/seven weeks after planting my potatoes and onions are beginning to catch up after their late start.  I'll soon add some fertiliser (Blood, Fish & Bone) around these plants to give them a boost - I'll try to do this prior to a confident rain forecast so it'll wash in.  There is no water on our allotments other than what we can bring or collect from our shed roofs so it is a scarce commodity reserved for watering in and establishing seeds and seedlings. Another reason I'm pleased to have my shed up and running.

Planting out seedlings has left me room in the greenhouse at home to pot up my chilli plants - 4 Habanero, 6 Razzmatazz (all raised from seed) and one Dorset Naga bought as a plug plant from the 'Edible Garden' show at Stoneleigh earlier in the year.  Three tomato plants (Gardener's Delight) have taken their place in the border joining the various salad leaves we've been harvesting during the past month or so. The other border houses a courgette plant, some beetroot, radishes and salad leaves which will soon make way for three more assorted tomato plants which are 'self sets' so the variety will be a surprise.

Thanks for reading.