Stourport 2010

Stourport 2010
Winning vase 5x 'Sarah Louise'

Friday, 28 February 2014

Leeks- collar 'em!

Making a new bed on the new plot yesterday. As i'm gardening no-dig as much as I can I haven't dug this narrow bed at all. The bed ground is full of couch grass and all I have done is placed a thick layer of cardboard or newspaper directly on top of the couch grass and then covered this with a 3-4" layer of garden compost. Into this bed i'm going to plant a row of sunflowers not only for the bees but the seedheads will go towards feeding the poultry in the autumn and into winter.
As you can see on the photo below the bed looks nice and tidy now and the thick layer of mulch on top will eventually weaken the couch grass and kill it off- without having to even pick up the spade!

Today I decided to put the first collars on the pendle leeks im growing for Malvern. As you can see the leeks are looking nice and healthy and growing away strongly. They are currently getting 12 hours artificial light supplemented by whatever daylight we are getting. These leeks are in John innes No2 with added vermiculite and Antagon.


The first collar. About 6" long threaded onto a split cane with a support ring of wire near the top to support the flags (leaves).

The collar is slipped over the leek and the cane is pushed into the compost to stop the collar from moving. We want a straight leek so it is vital that this collar doesn't get knocked so it's leaning!

Looks like we'll be repotting again next week!

All collars now on and the leeks are returned to the heated bench under the lights. On the right you can see the onions (nothing special just Bedfordshire Champion'.

Pricked out 36 'Tasco' onions yesterday. These are a nice 8oz onion which i'm hoping also to stage at Malvern this year.

Here's a natty little idea I read in the garden news I think! Cracking don't you think!

I'm organising our annual allotment open day again this year. This year the charity is going to be diabetes uk. A charity close to my heart as I've suffered with type 1 since the age of 7 and now do 5 injections a day.

The open day is 19th July 11am-3pm. Opening by Margot James MP. Grand raffle with prizes from Dudley zoo, black country museum, Geoff Hill electricals and much more. Tombola. Refreshment stall. Homemade preserve stall etc.
Charles Rd Allotments Stourbridge
(Behind Alderman Tye scout hut)

Saturday, 22 February 2014

A bit of this and a bit of that....

First of all here is the photo of the trial im doing this year that I promised id post on here. For anyone who didn't read about it this is what its all about: Last year I mulched a lot of things with straw to good effect and I wondered if shredded paper would have the same effect. (I have an endless supply from a friend). So this year in the top tunnel where I have planted all my garlic I am mulching one half with straw and the other half with shredded paper to see if there is any difference.
You can just about see the garlic coming through. On the right (paper) side is 'Cristo' and on the left is 'Carcasonne Wight' with some elephant garlic at the back.
On the new plot I managed to get half of the car park covered with wood chip. What I've done is to put a layer of either cardboard or four sheets of newspaper straight on the couch grass below and then piled the chippings on top. Hopefully this will eventually kill off the couch grass and any that pops up around the edges can either be pulled or sprayed.
On the photo below you can see the back of the new compost bins which I have covered with heavy duty plastic which I luckily found in a skip the other day. This will not only protect the wood but also help insulate the compost inside.
Back on plot 1 the rhubarb is going for gold. I reckon it wont be long before we are picking...

Spent yesterday afternoon mulching the squash and dahlia bed with partially rotted leaves. They are mostly oak leaves and are what the council drop off outside the allotment gates. This bed did accommodate just dahlias last year but I have applied some old lime and it will host a mixture of squashes and any dahlia tubers which have survived the winter unprotected.

The girls are looking fine and healthy even though they have stopped laying! We have one duck laying at the moment with the other two on strike. The geese have started this year yet but i'm hoping anytime soon they will...

Yesterday was a lovely day here despite it trying to rain late afternoon. We almost had a sharp shower but it left this brilliant rainbow:

Back over to the new plot and the first compost bin is completely finished and has had its removable boards inserted at the front. All the wood has come from old pallets which our friend John the Baptist dropped off for us. We have already started adding to this first bin so it shouldn't be long before its full.

Dug a couple of comfrey roots up from plot 1 and planted them on the new plot, adding to the existing row I planted last week. The one clump had been heavily mulched with woodchip and you can see how much further forward it is compared to the others due to the extra protection and heat of the chippings. This row of comfrey will be for cutting to add to the compost bins and also to make a liquid feed for tomatoes.

Last but not least we had a presentation night to go to last night at Stourport. Here I am collecting the trophy for the winning collection of 6 kinds of veg. I also won a silver salver for the best two vases of flowers in the show.

That's all for now folks- i'm tired and my shoulders are aching like nothing on earth. So have a good day and keep looking forward to the next post...

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The leeks have arrived...

When I know i'm going to be potting on any exhibition leeks or onions I like to warm the compost up by leaving on the heated bench overnight:-
This year i'm using John Innes compost rather than a 'lighter' peat compost. I think this will slow the growth down but the end result will be a better quality plant. Hopefully!
Potting on from plugs to 3 1/2" pots I shall use this:

To which I add vermiculite. 3 parts compost to 1 part vermiculite. At this stage i'm not going to add any fertiliser as there should be enough in the compost for the young plants.

These are the 9 blanch leeks 'Pendle Imp'. These have come from Bob Carr.
I normally have my leeks delivered before Christmas and they are at least twice the size of these by now. However, with these being a little later i'm hoping they will make it to either Shrewsbury or Malvern. Only having 9 to play with who knows....

At this stage of potting on I add a pinch of mycchorhizal fungi to help establish a secondary root system.

Then finally I add a wire support ring to hold the plant straight and upright.- Nobody likes a bendy leek!

Along with the blanch leeks came these two Yorkshire giant pot leeks. I am going to grow these in mind of entering them into the heavy weight side of Malvern.
I'm told they will not be suitable for the showbench as they are prone to holes/splitting on the rootplate.

The plants are then returned to the heated bench under the lights that are on for 12 hours 7am-7pm. They were then watered with a maxicrop solution made with TEPID water!
Popped down the plot this afternoon. (not the new plot). Watered the garlic and elephant garlic in the top tunnel. Doing a trial in there this year. One half has been mulched with straw (which I used last year to good effect) and the other half I have mulched with shredded paper (I have a contact with an endless supply!) The paper didn't sit on the soil as well as the straw so I watered overhead again to 'wet' it down.
I hadn't got my camera with me so I took the pictures on my iphone but I've got to figure out how to get them on the laptop. Will post them at a later date if I can figure it out!
Planted a dozen lambs lettuce to go with the others in the big tunnel which were sown 11th November.
Came away with another two duck eggs... Thanks girls!

Monday, 17 February 2014

Progress on Plot 'X'...

Another plot morning today. It was spitting with rain but nothing drastic. Its all rather mundane at the moment- its all digging and removing couch and bindweed. However I have started to put down some edges and managed to move the established clump of rhubarb we found on the front of the plot. To be fair there isn't too much left to dig and weed now and hopefully you can see the progress on the photo below...
The rhubarb we managed to split into two decent chunks and I have replanted them further up the plot and given it a mulch with hoss muck. On the picture below you can also see the comfrey I planted this morning. There was one huge clump growing in the middle of this plot when we took it on so I dug it up today and split it into four plants that now reside next to the rhubarb. They are at hand here for the new compost bins so I can just cut it to ground level and chuck the leaves into the compost heap. I should get three good cuts each year, one of which I shall use to make a liquid comfrey feed for the tomatoes and sweet peas.

Had to go and fetch some leeks this morning aswell. I was at my mates house just before nine and he presented me with a tray of pendle blanch and a couple of Yorkshire giant pot leeks (destined for the heavy weights at Malvern autumn show).
These are now under the growlights with 12 hours of light. They are ready to pot on so I'll probably cover this in my next post- Stay tuned...

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Bin today and going tommorrow...

Actually managed to get a dry morning today to go down the allotments. Despite all the rain we've had the ground is very workable on the new plot as it lies on almost pure sand- good now, probably not so good in the summer- if we get one!
The plan today was to get some compost bins built with all the pallets we had lying around. This is what I came up with:

Obviously they are not finished yet but they do look good don't they...
I have got to put posts on the front of each bin so I can add a slatted removable front. As you can see there are three bins/bays- two 4ft ones each end and a bigger 6-7ft one in the centre which might be useful for holding materials (spent hops, hoss muck etc...)
The only other job then is to line the back of the bins with black plastic or weed fabric to give a uniform look and help insulate the bins.
On the right of the second photo yo can just make out a clump of rhubarb- this is  half of the clump which was fond growing on the front of this plot when we took it on. It was hidden by a sea of couch and bindweed. Needless to say I have got to search through the rootball and extract as much root as I can and then replant further up the plot.
It was nice this morning- the gentleman from the rear plot arrived on his cycle and we met each other for the first time and he said how well I was doing and how eager I must be- its nice to receive a bit of encouragement now and again!
Hoping to get down tomorrow morning to do a bit more. Got some edging to put down on the plot and perhaps set up another weed tea bin- we'll see what tomorrow brings...
Hope you all have a great day and try not to get blown away!!!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Books and things that go quack!

Not a lot happening at the moment due to the weather. Its rain, rain and more rain... Thoughts go out to all those who have lost homes and possessions through the flooding across the country.
Last night we had very strong gales on top of everything but luckily we came off light. There is a smallish tear in the big polytunnel which will have to be patched and taped and some of the polycarbonate had flown out of the cucumber house but apart from that everything is still firmly attached to terra firma.
Had a ride into town today and got some gardening books out of the library to browse over:
Then from town we popped to the allotments just to check on the poultry. The ducks are slowly starting to come into lay but the hens must be on strike...
No sooner were these six laid they were sold!
Hoping to get down to the new plot tomorrow- got to build some compost bays and check the polythene is still down after the strong winds we've had.
More on this to follow. Have a good day one and all!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Looking back...

BREAKING NEWS...Last week we were offered our third allotment to which we said yes after taking a look at it the following day. It is rough with quite a bit of couch grass and bindweed. However I have forked over a third of it, covered a third where I intend to grow potatoes no dig and a third left to fork over. However this last third is mainly annual weed growth so I shall just turn them in and they will act as a good green manure crop.- photos to follow...

Not a lot happening at the moment so thought i'd take a look back at last years shows. The following pics are from Chaddersley show, Belbroughton and Stourport.

These were my 'Cornell'

My collection (the wrong way round!)

My hative di niort at the front

Nice display of dahlias

My mate John the Baptist- teaching him everything I know- he hasn't beat me yet. He will soon though...

Have to have my snapshot with the winning collection. Its always a well-contested class so its good competition...

My mate Boswell's pot plant display...

My veg display- gotta pick the cups up the end of this month....