26 April 2012

South Island New Zealand photos

I now have lots of free space in my online album since upgrading to Google+ so I've been updating it with photos from my West Coast and top of South Island ,New Zealand trip in February and March.
I went there with one of my pals,Andrew.His first visit but about my twelfth.

Google+ album link

or Picasa web album link and then open up the slideshow

22 April 2012

First dig over completed

I've now dug over the whole plot!
The top half was forked over and then dug with the azada (twice )before Easter ready for sowing.This week between the showers I've forked right the way down to the bottom end. Each metre strip across has produced about a trug of roots and tub of stones. Found quite a mix between the fairly wet clay running down towards the corner with plot 2 and other more workable pockets of soil.Originally I'd planned to get three quarters of the way down the plot by mid May and then do the rest as and when, but my pace quicken the nearer I got to the finishing line.

Some photos of the newly dug over plot 1

The rain and slightly warmer temperatures have produced some shoots from the first sowings.

Garlic planted on Easter Saturday

Nabo rabe broccoli sown only a week ago

Here's a few more shots of the site.You can see that everyone has been busy.


I even got next door chickens to pose for a decent photo.

Kath told me that I'd had visitors to my plot yesterday.Turns out that it was my friends Philip and Patricia who took a photo of their visit as evidence (It's Philip's caption not mine)

Woman stealing wheelbarrow stopped in her tracks

17 April 2012

Cold frame and container potatoes

Too wet to do much digging on the plot today but I managed to make a cold frame and plant some potatoes at home between the April showers.

I've done a very simple conversion to one of my raised beds to make the cold frame,using glass panes left over from an old greenhouse (destroyed by gales in about 2005) with some new planking and pegs purchased from Dallam Timber today after checking measurements and working out a method.

As with the original raised beds I got the timber yard to cut the planks to the required size ,thereby saving me a lot of hassle.

Having removed the soil at the end of the bed I carefully lined up the insert plank (which proved to be a very neat fit),and then secured it in position with the pegs.After raking the earth floor level I covered it with some breathable membrane from a large roll bought recently.

Through a combination of luck and design the two glass panes overlap the frame slightly when butted side by side and this means that they can be picked up by their edges and handled fairly easily.Hopefully they'll be kept in place by their own weight.

I even gave the glass a rinse

The cold frame now houses trays of sweetcorn, globe artichokes,spring onions and mixed chards sown today.
I'll gradually adapt more beds using the other inserts,as raising under glass for transplanting seems to be a better option than planting out direct at this time of year in these Northern climes.

I've used some of the soil liberated from the cold frame area to plant up the spare potatoes left over from the allotment. Based on last year's experience the container method seems to give good results and earthing up is simple. 

Only need to put a small amount of soil in the container before planting up.

Then cover them with a shallow depth of soil ,gradually topping this up as the shoots grow.

14 April 2012


Visited the site this afternoon after being away for a week and could see that my fellow allotmenteers have been very busy on their plots and with the site in general .

We've now got a rain water supply via the neighbouring garage roofs.

2 x 1000 litre IBC tanks in their locally sourced frame
Temporary lash up
Smaller blue barrels fed from Mick's garage roof

According to Martin, the two concrete council garage roofs at the near end of the site have a combined roof area of 18.4 square metres and with average monthly rainfall of 70mm to 85mm in the spring, a pair of tanks will fill in about six weeks. In the winter they'll fill in less than a month.

Helen managed to get the unframed IBC tanks for free.Martin and his friend Stuart set them up this weekend, which involved quite a lot of work unblocking drains,clearing the rubbish and brambles,creating a flat base for the tanks and making a strong wooden frame for them to sit in.According to Martin it's a work in progress with further adaptions to come.

We are also grateful to our site neighbour Mick for reattaching the guttering to the back of his garage and providing blue barrels for extra water collection! These are nearly full.

The individual plots are beginning to develop their own character with paths and beds taking shape and rabbit proof fences starting to spring up.

  Iv'e now got feathered neighbours.Apparently the chicken sexer still needs to determine which ones are females.

I formed the fourth heaped wide row in the top section this evening ,ready for planting up with the others in the next couple of days.
As a contrast I'm trying out planting on the flat in the next quarter section down and have started off with a double row of potatoes here.

 I'm doing a deal on the spare chicken wire to start rabbit proofing my plot.Initially the fixings might be temporary as in the longer term I want to board the long boundary to form a weed barrier.

5 April 2012

From digging to planting

I managed to complete the third dig over of the top section this morning,having painstakingly forked over the first two metres yesterday ,uncovering lots more root,stone,glass etc.

Metal,glass,root,stone plus part of deck from Viking longship

 Today I whipped through the rest peasant style with my new medium heavy azada. Got into the swing of things letting the heavier azada do the work ,creating a shallow furrow at a slight angle away from me which meant that I didn't then tread the soil in.

Just like they do it on Madeira
Planted some potatoes side by side in a wide row and then practised on another wide row ready for my first sowing of onions,beetroot ,chard and salads tomorrow.

Almost looks like the video!

3 April 2012

Plots marked out and planting begun

Following our notice in the "Over Kellet View" we've found another person (Christine) from the village who's keen on taking a plot.So we are now settled on 7 plots and these were marked out on Sunday.

The running order from mine at the far end is:
Plot 1 - me
Plot 2 - Alison & Martin
Plot 3 - Helen
Plot 4 - Kath
Plot 5 - Christine
Plot 6 - Stephen
Plot 7 - Andy

There's been a lot of activity in the last couple of days since the actual plots were defined.
The first crop was planted out by Kath on Sunday 1st April.

Kath planting out some home started garlic
My plot neighbours Alison,Martin and son Thomas hard at work

Andy brings in the heavy machinery after much hand forking and raking

I took some more photos of my plot yesterday for the record.
I'll probably keep the builders tape round it while the initial digging takes place but will then upgrade to something a bit better looking.

Section of heavy clay doubling as a service area

My plot is nicely positioned next to the fields

1 April 2012

Work stops as Viking artefacts discovered

In a dramatic overnight move the Authorities slapped a banning order on the allotments site pending detailed research on objects dug up yesterday and thought to date from the reign of the Viking king Airdeconut around AD900.

Just a small part of the hoard.Given an initial clean in the bath before the experts take over.

Early predictions suggest that the value of the finds could exceed that of the 201 piece silver hoard discovered near Silverdale in September last year.
We understand that Time Team are being brought in to carry out a dig and we can only wish Tony,Phil,Mick and the rest of the team the best of luck in their exploits.

Who knows, it may all turn out to have been a fool's errand.
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