Friday, September 30, 2016

Allotment chore wants crazy gin chaser after Home Office drug. (6)

Also yesterday, I got that area of hedgerow hoed, running North and then East from the ash tree up and along to the central path. As I hoed away, cutting off ground elder, grasses, and clover, uprooting a comfrey volunteer and some small docks by hand, it occurred that it's going to be several years before the hedgerow shades out most of its competitors. That's a lot of weeding.

The boundary is 70m long.  April to October, 5m a day means it would all be done every fortnight, which would be enough to stop it running away with weeds, as it did this Summer. That's in addition to hoeing all the beds. But, keep at it and it gets easier, mostly because hoeing 30mins to an hour every day for six months gives you forearms like Popeye.

This from Cornell is good on hoeing, as it is on weed management generally. All of which I'm taking careful note of: next year, I manage the weeds rather than they manage me.

Carcassonne Wight

Hardneck garlic arrived just now. Long time since I've grown garlic, so I've done a bit of googling. This was helpful. Garlic doesn't like waterlogging, either, apparently, so let's hope the new drainage, right by next year's onion and roots rotation bed, does the business. I was going to dig in 2 barrowfulls of oomska, but I think I'll dig in 2 more, now.

This area - well, every area of the plot - wants riddling, but I'll wait now until the garlic's harvested late Spring, and riddle it all when it's less claggy, and then sow carrots or parsnips.

Carcassone, we're told, has been occupied since the neolithic, and was the site of an important Roman fort, so maybe legionaries planted the first garlic there.

I like the virtues of hoeing being extolled on that quickcrop link. S/he's right there. But that's another post...

Enjoying rejects was a job for Poor Paddy. (7, 7)

Weather forecast notwithstanding I took the dogs to the plot yesterday and between showers dug a spade-wide trench down part of the Western boundary, and then across the NW bed to the central path where it should flow down into the pond. I had the pleasing sight of it actually working, the trench filling with water, which followed me as I dug in the direction of the pond.

Gorse, apparently, doesn't like wet, boggy ground. It's planned to be the staple plant of the hedgerow at the central area of the Western boundary, so the drainage needs to work well if it's going to thrive. It might be that along this section of the hedgerow, I'll need to plant pyracantha. I've bought 100 seeds, but have a feeling in my bones that it's going to become the mainstay, and I'll likely want more.

Man's political pet looks back. (7)

Thanks to Therese for pointing out the historical possibilities with Google Earth. There's a 1945 image, which is so unclear as to be meaningless. Apart from that, the earliest is this one from 2002. The chief interest is that the double plot next door, to the West, was paved over even then. I suspect this is what has led to the waterlogging - all the water falling onto that area running down into my plot.

It also suggests that nothing much changed between 2002 and 2015. The fruit bushes to the East were taking up a lot of room, but the beds were being cultivated in the northern 2/3 of the plot. The absurd old shed is there, and there's something else in the midden area.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

First up green hill's reaction to unpleasantness (3)

BBC, from:
If I was in Jeremy Corbyn's shoes, I'd be a bit ticked off today, having to make a speech whilst, in Islington, the weather's not bad, and he could have had a couple of hours at his allotment.

No such luck here. Glasgow's right on the edge of that big lump of rain that's over the NW of Scotland, so it's been stop-started raining all day since about 10am; no allotment today. Nor for the rest of the week, it looks like.

Bah. But that's it, we're bound by the weather, it's allotmenteering, not stamp collecting. The knock on effect of this rain is that, even when we get a break in the rain, the earth at the old greenhouse foundation is too wet to riddle.  Which means the supply of gravel and small stones to the new shed foundation's hardcore layer has stopped.

Also, I've got to take my eyes off the new shed for a bit, I suspect, and get back to trench digging, where the rubble path's going to go in a near T shape. Just make them ditches for now, and then I can see which way the water's going.

But before I do that, I have to weed the hedgerow/boundary area, going anti-clockwise from the central path along the north west and west boundaries, almost to the ash tree. I did this a few weeks ago, but weeds are showing again, should be it's last do this year. Regarding which, throughout the plot, I'm going to have to keep well on top of the weeding next year, after being away in the summer and getting weed infestations.

Lot's of them went to seed. So i'm going to get lots of annuals. And the docks, oh my god. I've been digging them whenever I've encountered them, but there are a lot. And like comfrey, they keep coming back, I assume from a fragment of their roots?  Anyway, I'm sincerely hoping I can have most of the infrastructure (drainage, shed, poly-tunnel, skinny paths) done by May, so that I can actually just do some gardening. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Cow's cry turned tail with Jamaican music for shit. (6)

2 barrow-fulls of oomska, ready to dig in to the NW bed for the garlic. Whilst I was down that way, I weeded the two rows of neeps, planted about a month apart. The first row is looking very good indeed: most of them bigger than the 'largish apple' suggested here. What I've noticed about our neeps is, they're significantly easier to peel and to chop than supermarket ones, which have skin a centimetre thick, and need a very heavy duty, sharp carving knife to get through them. Homegrown are more like potatoes to deal with.

Dull, give H2O the elbow. (10)

After I moved some of the skinny brick path from the West to the East bed yesterday, I dug a wee hole where the brick path had been. And this is how it looked this afternoon. So my concern was justified: thanks to the phacelia for tipping me off that all was still not well in the Mid and North West beds. And this is very early autumn, mind, it's only going to get worse in the weeks ahead.

So here's the plan:

Along the course of the skinny paths separating the hedge area from the beds, and dividing the Mid and North West beds, I'll dig a ditch about 1ft deep, and fill it with rubble. That will still serve as a path, of course, and should guide the excess water down to the main rubble drain under the central path, and thence into the pond.

Bulgar licked plate middle for this Mediterranean foodstuff. (6)

I was grateful to the brother-in-law who reminded me over dinner the other night to plant garlic. If the rains pass, as they're forecast to do, I'll clear a patch and manure it this afternoon, next to the neeps. The NW bed is for carrots and onions. Most of the ground there is from the heaps of earth I used for levelling, that is, far from the The Predecessor's mania for planting onions, and therefore, hopefully, less likely to be having any onion pests.

First of all, I researched the difference between hard and softnecked garlic. This gives an explanation. All of the garlic you can get in supermarkets is hardneck, and I want some of that - it does better in cold climates, apparently. And it's said to have more complex flavours though it doesn't store so well.  But I want softneck, too, for the very reason that you can't get it in supermarkets. Flavour is less appealing when it's not fresh.

I could of course get lots of varieties, but I'm beginning to think it's best to get only 2 of each species of vegetable each year. Otherwise it gets confusing. So, I'm looking this year at Picardy Wight as my softneck. And Carcassonne Wight for the hardneck. Best deals, I've found on eBay, rather than the seed merchants or specialist garlic suppliers.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Berries and Currants in the Hedgerow

The whole middle and northern part of the eastern boundary was all fruit bushes - berries and currants. I did a lot of work there when I got started last summer, first getting rid of the tall, mature nettles which infested the bushes, then pruning the bushes, then coppicing them, and eventually digging them up to relocated them elsewhere.

I did think of incorporating them into the hedgerow where they were, but they'd gone absolutely crazy, after what seemed like years of not being pruned, nor even having the dead leaves cleared out from beneath them in autumn, which meant a build up of leaf mold and led to plants having several sets of root systems along their trunks. Which made dealing with them bloody hard work last Winter.

There were brambles in that area too, whether by chance or design I can't say, and several gooseberries. But mostly it was blackcurrants. Not that I saw much fruit, but I've grown blackcurrants before and know their leaves. I also know how easy they are to propagate from cuttings, and thought that the uprooted plants would take easily on the other side of the plot.

Not a bit of it. Most of them were planted, and seemed healthy enough, but didn't quicken come the Spring. This morning for the first time I did a check of how many did pull through and... 2 of them have, that's from dozens of plants. The gooseberries, on the other hand, everyone of them is growing vigorously this year, and with their thorns are a welcome additon to the hedgerow.

And the two currants that have survived, I can propagate them from cuttings and distribute around the hedgerow as it grows, filling any gaps.