Green Garden Gate Waddesdon

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Day 20 on the allotment!

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Despite the lovely sunshine and few hours off work yesterday, I didn’t actually get to do much at the allotment other than deliver some plants and water them. I was far too busy trying to find somewhere that sold garden lime for my newly acquired cauliflowers (thanks to a wonderful Freecycler) and find some courgette seeds as I have none.

I have to thank everyone who has helped me out so far with the allotment, I won’t name names, but I have the aforementioned cauliflowers, a handful of tools and a garden bench on which to sit and admire the view after a hard day (it’ll be a few years yet before HS2 goes past the allotment), some globe artichoke tubers and help rotorvating the beds.  I have had a few plants swaps and seed swaps so I’m so close to getting on track! Thank you!

Yesterday afternoon in the main spent shopping; both Homebase and B&Q didn’t sell lime and as I was in town rather than near as one staff member called it ‘a proper garden centre’ I tried QD and Wilko – both of which sell lime! I went for a smaller box from Wilko and on my way there popped into Poundland and spotted a variety pack of seeds, 8 types including courgette for £1 – bargain! Of course, I also checked out the price of a few things whilst in Homebase (blummin expensive) but I did find they were selling off strawberry plants 3 for 20p – so I picked the best 9 I could, along with a reduced price rosemary looking a little sorry for itself but most likely rescuable. I also picked up some organic slug pellets and 2 mouse traps. There are a few red kites that could do with a fast food joint on my shed roof.

Today started leisurely in the garden; watering and general pottering in the garden before the sun got too hot for it followed by a trip to the allotment. Firstly I sprinkled the organic slug pellets around the perimeter of the beds. I then started on adding the lime to the Brassica bed and raking it in (I’m not sure if I should water it, I must read up), then I added in the frame I found on the allotment with chicken wire round it. Later on I covered this with netting and left the plants still in their pots within for protection after a watering.

After a quick trip home to pick up the trug to transport compost (and a cup of tea!) later, I started fishing out the lovely compost left for me by the previous plot holder (this is where I don’t know if it’s organic, so any corn, legumes or squash I give to friends will have this proviso). I found the bins too heavy to lift off and really awkward to get to the good stuff so not an easy job. Finally after a disturbance of an ant’s nest, I had gathered enough compost for 5 mounds (I had worked out how many corn needed per mound in advance).

The mounds are the foundation of the ‘3 sisters’ technique developed by native Americans over thousands of years. Now, our temperate climate may not yield the same results so it’s more of an experiment than an expectation of success. The idea is to plant a few sweetcorn per mound, the beans (and peas) use these to climb up as well as fix nitrogen in the soil which benefits the corn. The third sister is squash (I’ll be trying butternut squash, cucumbers and courgettes) which acts as a mulch conserving water and protecting roots from scorching, as well as suppressing weeds and deterring pests with their prickly vines. Oh and they also love the nitrogen fixed in the soil by the legumes. I like the principle because I like to companion plant, but I also like to keep a plant diversity there, mono crops are not good – for the plants themselves or the ecology of the area.

So after a busy day, I gave everything a water, said goodbye to my fellow allotmenteers, packed away, set my mousetraps inside the shed and headed home.

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Day 1 at the allotment!

I was at the allotment for about 6 hours today, lots of digging and weeding and getting to know other plot-holders. One bed was manured last year and may have had potatoes as their last crop so I shall probably put peas and beans there, the other had bolted brassica remaining on it so I think that will be good for my potatoes.

Another allotment holder offered to rotate a bed or two for me once I had dug the weeds out, probably tomorrow, it will be lovely if he does, I’m back there on Wednesday so we will see. He also gave me some spare onion sets, so I have promised him tomatoes in return!

My allotment came with a shed, a couple of water butts a couple of compost bins, a couple of chairs, a couple of rhubarb plants, assorted bamboo, pallets, frames, an old incinerator and paving slabs. After digging two beds clear I pulled up some old beetroot crop on another bed and added them to the compost bins, moved a few of the slabs to the other end to create a little patio and piled the weeds up neatly before I packed up to go home. I have no idea what I am going to do with them, possibly make a green water feed with one of the water butts, I shall have to read up!

Whilst I was there I saw red kites in the air, robins & wagtails spending time finding food in the soil and swifts flying rather slowly over the freshly dug earth. I also saw big black slugs twice the size of my thumb. I have never seen slugs that big before.

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Sunshine and seedlings!

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propagators

On sunny days I have been taking my seedlings outside, partially to let them make the most of the sun and partially to start the hardening off process. There was another visitor to the garden today; a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly, unfortunately by the time I’d popped into the house to find my phone to take a picture, it had gone.

I’ve started to get rather low on potting compost, so yesterday went to 4 or 5 different places in Aylesbury to find some organic compost and tomato feed, I was really surprised to not find any. The last place I bought some (Waddesdon Plant Centre) has since closed. In the end a trip to Haddenham Garden Centre did the job, finding 50 litre bags of multipurpose at £5.99 or on offer; 3 for 2 – bargain! It’s peat free too, even better, peat should be left in its natural habitat supporting our native wildlife.

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organic compost

We picked up some grow bags for the mini greenhouse too, which meant I had a perfect reason to get the greenhouse ship-shape and stop using it as storage!

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items previously stored in the greenhouse

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Grow bags in greenhouse

It’s a bit of a squeeze for the grow bags on the side, but I figure the tomato roots won’t mind what shape they grow into.

It gave me an opportunity to water everything and reorganise the pots that had been in the beds and inspect everything.

Here the pea and chard seedlings are starting to sprout:

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various pea varieties on left, centre to right, swiss chard, bright lights

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compostapots

The pots in the beds are going much slower than I hoped so I have decided to bring them into the greenhouse for now. The catnep is showing a couple of germinated seeds and the mallow is germinating. The wild primrose isn’t doing anything as yet.

This is how I have laid everything out until the tomatoes and cucumbers need to go in:

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full greenhouse

The broad beans aren’t doing anything, so hopefully some greenhouse time will give them a chance to get going. The coriander is just sprouting, the time in the greenhouse appears to have done it some good.

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These are the cucumber seedlings, just starting to get their first pair of true leaves, it’ll be time to pot them up soon! I tried leaving the lid off them the other day, they didn’t much like it, I think the small amount of wind we had was stripping them of their water as they went papery thin and a little droopy, fortunately another watering and quick replacement of the lid had them recovering in 20 minutes.IMG_9840

The same with tomato maskotka, the first true leaves are starting to grow so they’ll need potting in the next few days.IMG_9841

The Hungarian wax chilli plants are coming up nicely, they’ll stay in the propagator a while yet tho.IMG_9843

My mutant marigolds are doing as well as the regular ones, nothing to report there.IMG_9844

Lavendar seedlings are just starting to sprout – if you look ever so closely!IMG_9845I read the labels of some cat repellant in the garden centre the other day (not organic) but the active ingredient in quite a few was garlic… so that and the persistent acrobatics of the local felines has swung my decision to grow garlic! This bag has 3 massive bulbs in it, each clove of which should result in a bulb. These were 25% off too and they have a lovely pink skin which I rather like. I’m going to have to do a little research as they don’t actually tell you when to plant them.

IMG_9849Green Garden Gate Waddesdon