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by FloBear 3rd May 2020, 8:50 am

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by Dandelion 19th April 2020, 11:10 pm

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default Exercise in the April garden

Post by Chilli-head on 1st April 2020, 8:25 pm

Thankfully Michael Gove confirmed that allotment gardening most definitely counts as permitted exercise ! Who would have thought that we'd be thankful for anything he said ? We live in strange times!

Happily my scouring of Amazon turned up some beetroot seeds, so Ukranian FIL can still have his borscht next winter.

I had to go into work today to collect some stuff, but plan to work flexible hoursfrom home tomorrow to fit in some potato planting exercise at the lotty.  How's your germinations going ?


Last edited by Chilli-head on 2nd May 2020, 8:23 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Post by freebird on 1st April 2020, 8:35 pm

Considering I'm using seed that is 2 years + old, my germination is going pretty well. The only thing that hasn't shown at all is peppers - all three varieties (two from seed swap). But I'm not too bothered - I have two types of chilli and three types of tomato, which will be plenty in the greenhouse.

Just done a lot more sowing yesterday and today, now I know I have the allotment to put excess plants.
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Post by Chilli-head on 1st April 2020, 9:21 pm

The mulatos are quite big, and very mild so may do for some uses. Have you grown them before, and how did you use them ? I like the rusty colour they give to a beef chilli. They are good dried too, but I have to half them then dehydrate over a radiator to dry them without mould setting in.

I've got a few sweet peppers - an orange bell pepper, Goccia d'oro, and dulce di Espana. Some at the other end of the spectrum too.

Might have my first harvest soon - Greek cress.
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Post by freebird on 1st April 2020, 9:26 pm

Ah, Dulce de Espana is one of those I sowed - presumably from you then in the seed swap. I have grown Mulato once before, from the same batch of seed as I've sown this year. I haven't used them extensively, but dried well enough in the dehydrator - still have some of the dried ones. I sowed lots of the seed knowing it was old, and have 14 plants up!
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Post by Ploshkin on 2nd April 2020, 9:49 pm

My germination is going pretty well but everything seems slow. Actualky, i don't think it is slow. I think it's because so much has happened in the last couple of weeks that it seems a long time. Im chrrently waiting for sweetcorn which is new seed this year so should be ok.
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Post by Dandelion on 4th April 2020, 6:28 pm

Chilli-head wrote:Thankfully Michael Gove confirmed that allotment gardening most definitely counts as permitted exercise ! Who would have thought that we'd be thankful for anything he said ? We live in strange times!


Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil

I notice today that Mr Gove has tried to be more specific about how long we are allowed out on our walks or riding our bikes. Let's hope that he doesn't also try to limit how long you're allowed to be on the allotment!

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by Ploshkin on 4th April 2020, 6:49 pm

I feel very fortunate to be able to be out and about all day on the farm without any restriction. I'm trying to fit in some gardening. My fruit cage is up (minus netting at the moment) and i got some blueberries planted in it today.
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Post by Chilli-head on 4th April 2020, 10:39 pm

It was getting quite busy at the allotments today. A fair few new starters. I will try to go at less busy times - even in the current circumstances, I prefer allotmenteering in peace Very Happy

I did get plenty of exercise though planting tha potatoes that wouldn't fit in the garden plot. I think I'll stay home and sow salads and herbs tomorrow.
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Post by freebird on 5th April 2020, 8:30 am

Well done on the fruit cage, Ploshkin. Going to be working on getting mine up in the coming days.

I found the same at the allotment yesterday CH. Fairly busy - appropriate distancing wasn't difficult to maintain, but I prefer more peace, especially as one person was using a petrol rotovator.
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Post by FloBear on 6th April 2020, 5:51 pm

Well, I've certainly given my garden a lot more attention since being confined to barracks, as it were.

I lost my motivation when my gardener left me and anyway it's rained most of the winter. I know very well that I can't keep up with what needs doing but I'm concentrating on the fruit and veggies and trying to keep the more rampant plants at bay.

The current period of sunny weather has been a joy.
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Post by freebird on 6th April 2020, 10:41 pm

Fruit cage up today, with netting on too. No lid on it yet - not necessary, and I would prefer the birds to go in and clear up any emerging aphids.

There is plenty of exercise ahead for me - as well as the allotment, I now need to start clearing and levelling the space alongside my fruit cage, which is where the eventual new greenhouse will be. There is a 6' x 8' further down the garden, right in the line of sight from the living room, with totally inadequate ventilation and none at all on the side facing the prevailing wind. Yesterday was a fine, warm but breezy spring day - the temperature in the greenhouse, with everything open (including a missing pane of glass!) was 45°C. No good for trying to raise seedlings.
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Post by Dandelion on 6th April 2020, 10:48 pm

Sawing exercise has been the order of the day, removing several hazel bushes?trees? I'm not sure what you would call them - I had the idea of having one hazel which I could coppice for some poles, but a kind friend whose partner is a forester gave me two more hazels which I squeezed into a space which was much too small. I had started to coppice them all, but realised that it was all a bit pointess, as due to lack of space/light the poles were not growing very straight. So I've started to cut them down and kill the stumps so that next year I can plant a dogwood to bring some winter colour to that corner.

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by Chilli-head on 7th April 2020, 12:18 am

I would have expected them to grow straighter if packed in closely ? For green woodworking, ash grown more densely usually grows straighter with fewer side branches (therefore knots) as they compete to reach the light. I should squeeze in a hazel or too in the rough bit at the bottom of my lotty.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon painting my greenhouse with linseed oil to protect the cedar. I have enough felt left from doing the lotty shed to redo the roof of shed part - the greenhouse I have is part greenhouse, part shed. I left the gardem bench standing in four yoghurt pots filled with the dregs of a can of cuprinol wood preservative I found in the garage - that should be ok for a few more years.

I also sowed some lettuce in the open ground - I was going to use cloches but it seems too warm for that.

Shredded some bags of garden waste fior a neighbour who had bagged it up and put it out to discover the collections have been abruptly cancelled - we split the shreddings 50:50 for our compost heaps. Mived in with the kitchen waste and cardboard and wateted well I hope it will be useable quickly !
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Post by Dandelion on 7th April 2020, 9:26 pm

The hazel I've cut down has provided Mr D with some fairly straight bits for various projects, so nothing is wasted, but for some reason the branches had forked and twisted quite a bit, so not as straight as I would have liked for using in the garden. They were stuck in a corner by the side of our 100+ foot Western Red Cedar and were blocking the light from a small apple tree, so I'm pleased that I've cleared them as it makes the corner of the garden lighter.

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by freebird on 11th April 2020, 6:14 pm

Well I'm certainly getting plenty of exercise in the garden. Phase 2 of the 'major works' is now underway - clearing and preparing the space where the new greenhouse will eventually go. The last of the shrubbery that I cleared in the autumn has finally been shredded, and I have been lifting paving slabs today. I can't use them as a base as there aren't enough and anyway the whole level has to be dropped by a couple of feet.

Got a bit sidetracked as I didn't want to double handle the slabs, so cleared all the winter salads out the greenhouse and have laid the slabs in that area to provide a firm base for my auto pots. Then decided to drop a pane of glass each side of the greenhouse down by about 5", providing makeshift ventilation on all sides now. Not really closeable, but will find something to cover the holes if the weather gets really bad. Starting to get my automatic watering sorted for the greenhouse - hopefully all be done in a week or so as the tomatoes are really starting to take off now.
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Post by Dandelion on 11th April 2020, 10:56 pm

That all sounds like very hot work in the weather we're having at the moment, Freebird!
I decided to do something about the greenhouse water butt - it has been leaning drunkenly on its four totally useless plastic supports which I bought it with. The design is probably OK on a rigid flat surface, but doesn't work on grass. I found some bricks, levelled it all up, built two little brick piles and added some wood to make a little table-type thing. I've had to alter the way the water goes in to the butt as it's now higher, but it all seems to work fine. Our garden may not be the sort of garden you could charge an entrance fee to, but at least it's the kind of garden you can find old bricks and wood in when you have an idea!! My OH ran an extention lead 100ft down the garden so we could use the hot glue gun to finish things off: one of the hens was very interested in it, but managed not to get glue on herself!

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by Dandelion on 13th April 2020, 3:18 pm

Weeding. That's what I'm mainly doing; weeding. As I previously mentioned, I have a long border running down one side of the garden which hasn't had an awful lot done to it since we've lived here (17 years), apart from some perennials and shrubs planted in it, some of which have been removed since. The soil is heavy clay, which as suggested I'm gradually working on, adding spent compost so that I can capitalise on the soil's poor quality to grow some annuals. Eventually I want to really work on the soil and add fresh compost and get it back into some sort of shape, but it's the work of years rather than weeks! The border was left to its own devices when my knees were bad, as it needed a lot of heavy work. The bed is mainly filled with snowdrops, Spanish bluebells and violets (none of which I planted; they were all there when we moved in). In addition there is Enchanter's Nightshade which is a bit of a pain, as well as various annual weeds. It's the violets which are causing me backache - you think of the phrase 'shy violet' and it makes you think submissive, quiet, easy to overcome. But not as far as the plants go. They are so difficult to dig up (especially with clay soil which is now hardening) - wiry tough stems, and very productive seed heads as I'm dealing with clumps of seedlings as well as mature plants. I feel a real heel for saying I don't like violets - it's one of those things you're meant to like (like snowdrops Evil or Very Mad Twisted Evil !!)

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by Chilli-head on 14th April 2020, 7:15 pm

My cumin has germinated ! Reading online it looks like I will need a good long summer to get useable seed, but worth a go.

Our harvest so far has been the Greek cress and rocket, which springs up all over the garden. We also have parsley and oregano which I think we'll never be without now, and the mint I bought at the pre CV shutdown sale at the English Heritage shop at work - made some nice flavouring for kebabs !
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Post by Ploshkin on 14th April 2020, 9:02 pm

Dandelion, your border sounds like my main flower patch. I've been weeding that for the last couple of weeks. I tend to concentrate on clearing round the plants as each one comes up (until i get overtaken by events) otherwise i wouldn't know where to start. I cant drop my guard for a season or I'm back to where I started. I emptied a compost bin today, on to the raised beds, and found a missing vegetable knife about 2 years down the bin.
I'm struggling a bit trying to keep young plants going in the greenhouse with the cold nights and hot days. Its some time before any will get planted out even in the polytunnel.
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Post by Dandelion on 14th April 2020, 10:21 pm

I can see that your policy of not dropping your guard for a season will be something I will also have to do. As I've worked on it I've realised that I'm going to have to be even more draconian that I thought, and I'm having to remove clumps of perennials as they're full of weeds. So a big clump of Sisyrinchiums got removed today along with a bucket full of bluebells and snowdrops - I'm going right back to basics and leaving only the shrubs in place. But it's strangely therapeutic, and I love the fact that I have the time to spend on it. There are some silver linings in the midst of this horrible situation.

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by freebird on 15th April 2020, 11:27 am

Dandelion and Ploshkin - is it feasible to put down a weed suppressing layer that you can leave in place for a year or so. It's not really something that works with plants that behave like raspberries as you never know where the new stems are going to emerge. But around established shrubs and perennials, I would be putting down thick cardboard or newspaper, then covering that with soil, compost, bark chippings or whatever (to weigh it down and make it look a bit nicer). It would need replacing every, say, three months as it degrades, to keep the light from any potential weed growth, but after a year or so, the surrounding soil should then be relatively clear and be hoe-able.

You could use a permanent weed-suppressing barrier, but personally I think they are a pain. The temptation is to just leave it forever, and weeds grow into it making a harder job to deal with than if there was nothing at all. I also think they do nothing for the soil, rendering it, over time, quite dead below the barrier.

Either way, pernicious perennial stuff needs to come out first, such as bindweed, bramble, couch etc, but light-excluding mulches cut down the aftercare hugely.
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Post by Ploshkin on 15th April 2020, 11:45 am

My area (semi circle about 5m radius) is densly planted with snowdrops and spring bulbs as well as small shrubs and perennials. Trying to work between the obvious plants usually ends up with me trampling on something yet ti emerge that I've forgotten is there. I have,over the years, managed to pretty much eradicate the nettles and couch grass and most of the bindweed. Its mainly dandelions, creeping buttercup and thistles now but as we're surrounded by acres of wild there's not a lot I can do about wind blown seeds.
Last year I managed to establish a couple of paths between the plants which makes it a lot more manageable.
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Post by Dandelion on 15th April 2020, 7:53 pm

I was thinking about the cardboard and mulch method as I toiled over the bed yesterday, haviong used it to clear a patch elsewhere in the garden. The problem is that at the moment I would have difficulty sourcing any cardboard, and I can't get any commercial potting compost so I'll be using homemade compost to pot all my tomatoes into, so it's a bit precious. But the one thing I do have is time, so just this once I'll keep at it the old fashioned way. I've been lobbing bluebell and snowdrop bulbs into the compost heap with their foliage - normally I would bash the bulbs with a lump of wood to help them decompose better, but I'm hoping that as I'm filling the compost bin at a fair rate, it will heat up nicely and they won't reappear in the finished compost.

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by FloBear on 16th April 2020, 8:40 am

Flippin'eck, I need a sit-down after reading about all that collective effort!
I have similar problems to those described by others including damaging or digging up plants I'd forgotten were there. It's only in recent years that I've started to grow perennials and I just forget about them!

This week I have been making a new area for the chickens to forage in as they have comprehensively trashed NICHE extra and NICHE extra mk ii. It's an area where I put down carpet many years ago and never quite got back to so am now having to remove it from under the ivy and other wild plants. I'm hoping that the girls will help to expose the carpet layer where it still exists and make my job a little easier!

I am also having to water seedlings, pots and new plantings on a regular basis.
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Post by Ploshkin on 16th April 2020, 9:05 am

Oh heck Flobear, i curse the day i laid old (nylon) carpet in the plot that was destined for my beehives. It got left (not the original intention) and now acts a perfect root run for nettles.

I am deeply disappointed that I have virtually no blossom on my crab apple tree this year. Usually it's so covered that I can't see the leaves and is beautiful. I was delighted, in February, to regularly see a pair of female bullfinches in the tree (pecking at the branches). I now think their motives were sinister! I didn't think that there were any buds on the tree then for them to damage but if that is the reason for lack of blossom they've done a good job.
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