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default Garden therapy in May

Post by Chilli-head on 2nd May 2020, 8:34 pm

Hello, and welcome to the May garden thread !

I've spent most of the day gardening.  Morning at the lotty, sowing carrots - Fitzroy purple and Tournon., and beans - Jacob's cattle drying beans and dwarf French bean safari.

Then afternoon in the garden at home re-potting peppers and chillies. Again in my homemade compost - I seem to be giving away the stock of New Horizons to my Dad and Sister, so I've had to mix up more homebrew compost.

Tomorrow's job is making a planter for our blueberry, which is destined for the allotment, having been deemed by Mrs C-H to be not prety enough for the patio.  I'm going to fashion thd planter from pallet wood; it won't last for long, but it's free.


Last edited by Chilli-head on 1st June 2020, 7:05 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Post by Chilli-head on 2nd May 2020, 8:35 pm

Forgot to say - precious good news - I have chillies swelling on my overwintered Prarie fire plants !
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Post by freebird on 2nd May 2020, 10:34 pm

Shame about the blueberry - they turn the most glorious crimson in autumn. Well, mine do anyway.

Not been down to the allotment for a few days now. Been a bit poorly - not the sort that sends you to bed, but the sort that makes absolutely everything feel like a chore, and you need a sit down after every little job. Taken me the entire day to get six tomatoes planted into the auto pots in the greenhouse. Each pot needs 2" stones in the base, so scratching around in the garden for those, and had to mix multipurpose compost with garden soil to eke it out. Finding any half decent soil is something of a challenge here.

It really is so frustrating not having any homemade garden compost - really wish I had found the time before we moved to bag it up and bring it.

Do have a new toy to play with though. A bright yellow two-wheeled pull barrow. The slope in the garden, gravel in awkward places and various steps and level changes make using a regular wheelbarrow quite difficult and liable to tip, especially with a heavy load. The new barrow is incredibly light, very low slung, and is easy to pull over uneven ground. Its downside is that is has a wide wheelbase, so no good for narrow paths, but overall its advantages outweigh that for me.
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Post by Ploshkin on 4th May 2020, 10:48 pm

Freebird, have you not got a hardware shop or pet shop nearby that might sell compost. They are about the only shops open in our nearest town but are both selling it. I've managed to get some bags from the farmers' co op (I do have an account there for animal feed but they happen to sell compost too).
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Post by freebird on 5th May 2020, 8:14 am

I bought loads of compost before lockdown, Ploshkin. 4 bags multipurpose, 9 growbags, 9 bags composted farmyard manure and a bag of seed compost. Trouble is I thought I just needed it for pots and containers, but hadn't reckoned on needing quite a bit to add to the soil at planting time, and hadn't known I was getting an allotment either. I think I can make it last by mixing with soil.

I probably could source some more, but tbh it's costing a fortune. Last time I filled my autopots (at previous house) every one was filled with homemade compost, and I would have used homemade to add at planting out time prior to doing no-dig.

Was talking (at a distance) to the only other no-digger on the allotments yesterday. He has been out down the main road, where there are trees both sides, and been digging up leaf mould by the sackful. Think I'll have to investigate.
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Post by Ploshkin on 5th May 2020, 9:27 am

I really must investigate leaf mould. We are surrounded by hundreds of mature trees so I could probably collect plenty of ready to use stuff without even thinking about the piles of leaves that gather round the house every autumn. We live in the bottom of a hollow so the rain brings everything down here.
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default Re: Garden therapy in May

Post by Chilli-head on 7th May 2020, 10:16 pm

Having had a pretty rubbish week, I coudn't face work this morning so sneaked off to the lotty.

I've planted out some multi-sown onions in modules - maybe about 50 long red Florence and 50 Bedfordshire Champion. I know this is our local onion, but it is also such a good keeper, we are still using last years. A bit of an exploratory dibble to see if the ground is still damp around the beans I sowed last week showed they are germinating and will be up in a couple of days - the ground at the level of the beans was still moist enough not to need to water.

I'm going to have to plant out the tomatoes in the greenhouse this weekend I think. Which means I have to move a lot out to make space ! I have grown too many chillies again ...
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Post by Dandelion on 7th May 2020, 10:28 pm

Chilli-head wrote:  I have grown too many chillies again ...
Razz

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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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default Re: Garden therapy in May

Post by Ploshkin on 8th May 2020, 2:06 pm

I've been meaning to ask this question so many times. What do you do about eggshells and compost? Do you put them in? Both my bin compost and worm compost are well rotted but there are loads of bits of shell. Its ok if I'm sieving it but where I've used it directly as a mulch all the bits of shell end up just sitting on the surface.
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Post by freebird on 8th May 2020, 5:23 pm

I save mine and they sit in the bottom of the oven in a tray until I need to have the oven on - initially to bake them. Started doing this when I used to crush them for chicken grit, so the birds wouldn't get a taste for eggshell and start pecking at their own eggs.

Now, I still bake them to discourage rats (don't know if it works) but then grind them up as fine as I can in a little electric grinder and add to the worm bin to stop the wormery becoming too acid. I keep the ground shell in a pot and add some with each batch of food waste - could do the same with the compost heap.

If you didn't want to do all that, maybe just crush them a bit finer (between two tea towels with a rolling pin) so they are not so obvious sitting on the surface.
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Post by Ploshkin on 8th May 2020, 5:29 pm

Well, i have started cutting up stuff for the worms and when I emptied one of my compost bins I increased the population in my wormery considerably. I usually just crush the eggshells by hand, it sounds as if I need to be a bit more thorough. They usually get chucked in the compost bin without being crushed - I'm obviously idle.
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Post by Chilli-head on 8th May 2020, 6:17 pm

I just chuck them in. They look like they are not degrading, but they gradually get thinner as the acids from decompsition erode them. I don't worry about bits of shell on the garden.

Planted out my tomatoes om the greenhouse today ! Always a happy sight. I took 10 spare up to Dad last week, who has also got them potted up. I think it is a happy sight for him too.

Also planted the Blueberry into a planter made from pallet wood. It looks pretty reasonable, and is the cheapest option by far ! I've made a nice sunny space for it at the lotty next to the blackcurrants.

My overwintered chilli plant has loads of green chillies on it already. Another cheering sight.

Now enjoying the last pint of homemade cider in the sun. Nice.
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Post by Chilli-head on 16th May 2020, 10:43 pm

I went to the lotty today, and finished all the digging.  It now looks tidier than ever. I also had a play with my new toy, a DeWalt cordless strimmer. I know, I don't like the idea of he strimmer line adding microplastics to the soil. And I proceed with huge caution for frogs and hedgehogs.  But it is so hugely easier and quicker than shears.

The comfrey/nettle feed maker is still producing ooze.  It doesn't seem to have killed anything yet, actually the tomatoes look to be doing well on it so far.

My sister's lovely allotmenteer neighbours, having heard about our Dad's predicament, is growing cucumbers and leeks for her to take him to plant out. How thoughtful biglove  So nice in difficult times to be reminded that there are a lot of good sorts out there.
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Post by Ploshkin on 17th May 2020, 7:02 pm

I've planted out a bed of brassicas today - psb, romanesco and cabbages courtesy of Dandelion and Freebird who sent me seed and some transplants of self seeded kale. I also sowed a couple of rows of kohl rabi seed. I've never grown or eaten it but had some free seed so thought I'd give it a go.
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Post by freebird on 17th May 2020, 7:52 pm

How interesting. I sowed my psb and Romanesco before you. The seeds germinated well and quickly - then stayed at the seed leaf stage. Those plants that have managed to survive have only a single true leaf, though many just died. I suspect they became overheated during that gorgeous April, as the plants were in the conservatory. I've pricked out the survivors into modules, really just to see if they will develop any further. However, I will sow some more - fortunately being autumn/winter veg it's not too late.
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Post by Ploshkin on 17th May 2020, 8:20 pm

My greenhouse, where the plants were raised did get hot during the day but because we are down in a hollow and surrounded by large trees we don't get early morning or late evening sun. I put brassicas on the lower deck of the greenhouse staging so they are quite well protected from the sun. The plants were nice and strong and about 5" tall.
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Post by Dandelion on 18th May 2020, 10:50 pm

Thanks for the heads-up about the seedlings Freebird. I had some kale and cabbage seeds germinating which I had put into the greenhouse when the weather turned a bit colder, and I had left them there. So they are now in a cooler place and looking happier!

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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 freebird on 18th May 2020, 11:47 pm

I've now put mine into a cold frame that is open throughout the day and in a shady place. I'm working on the premise of where there's life there's hope, but in some cases it's a very tenuous hold on life. Probably ought to get some more sown.
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Post by Dandelion on 22nd May 2020, 5:07 pm

Is anyone else struggling with the dry weather? We did have a shower early this morning but the strong winds which have started to blow have had a very drying effect to add to the hot sun from earlier in the week. I'm trying to keep annuals sown from seed alive in a sun-baked flowerbed as well as plant out veg from flowerpots into the soil. It's so hard and dry that it needs a bucket of washing up water poured on to it first to be able to get a trowel into the soil. The waterbuts are practically empty (I'm saving the last waterbut water for the blueberries) so I'm relying on grey water. It seems a bit early in the year for this kind of thing.

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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 22nd May 2020, 5:39 pm

My water butts are also empty, except for the one reserved for the cacti & citrus. Water butts are great, but very limited - you only need them in dry weather when they don't get replenished, so you need huge capacity and a big roof to make a big difference. At the allotment, with just a 3x6' shed roof, it won't refill easily. And some thieving *** has stolen all the hose connectors off the mains water taps. Whether this is just someone nicking them, or the anti-hosepipe zealots who were on the committee and tried to get the council to ban hoses have hidden them I don't know, but carrying 10+ cans of water from the tap is not much fun. Or really enough.

A local farmer we work with is concerned, they have their own reservoirs, but would not expect to be doing so much irrigation now. But freshly emerged seedlings are quite vulnerable.

I'll be digging out my spare hose connectors to go and water at the allotment sometime over the weekend ...
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Post by Ploshkin on 22nd May 2020, 5:55 pm

After 7 months of continuous rain it's a bit ironic that we've been desperate for water. There was enough rain last night to give things a reasonable wetting. I think we must have used it up before it got to you Dandelion.
I'm very fortunate in having the river which never runs dry. I can easy fill watering cans for the fruit cage and veg beds which are is only 10m away. I water the polytunnel from a 1000 litre IBC which fills from 6000 sq feet of shed roof or, if it doesnt rain, we have a pump and fill it from the river. It had just run out yesterday but is now 3/4 full again. Being on clay really helps too.
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Post by Dandelion on 22nd May 2020, 10:30 pm

Oh I would love to be near a river which never runs dry!! I do have six water butts, but as you say CH they don't get replenished in very dry weather. I agree with what you say about clay, Ploshkin - once the soil here gets wet the moisture does stay in it. I think I need to probably be less anxious about the plants I've spent the last three months raising, and make sure that the seedlings get the attention. It's just that after my potatoes-in-the-greenhouse disappointment, I'm trying to give the potatoes in the raised bed regular watering so I get a decent crop, and the strawberries and broad beans are also producing a crop so I'm trying to look after them.

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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 Ploshkin on 23rd May 2020, 7:01 am

Mental fart there! The shed roof is 1500 square feet, there must be a lot of water pouring off it this morning.
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Post by freebird on 23rd May 2020, 7:28 am

Reckon Ploshkin's rain ran out before it got here, let alone to Dandelion. Just looked at the forecast and apart from maybe 35% chance of some showers today, absolutely nothing in prospect for the next 10 days. I have only one water butt at the moment and masses of new planting - plants that I've moved, small cordon fruit trees, all my fruit cage, new asparagus, plus some crops that I don't want on the allotment.

I'm currently hosepipe watering the shorter rooted stuff twice weekly, with the slightly more established things getting a weekly Sunday soaking. First time on a water meter too .....
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Post by Chilli-head on 23rd May 2020, 11:48 am

Sheltering in my shed, at the allotment, with the sound of water trickling into the water butt...
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