Headfullofbees Allotment


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headfullofbees submitted a new Showcase Item:

Headfullofbees Allotment

A little (relevant) personal history first.
My wife's declining health meant that, 10 years ago, I had to give up employment, and I was looking for a hobby to keep me active.
I'd enjoyed cooking, and had kept a herb garden, but was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of produce available, and unhappy about the high chemical, unnatural production methods.
We decided that I could use the front garden as a veg plot.
When my wife's kidneys eventually did give up, she started renal dialysis at home in 2011.
This lead to other conditions stabilising, and I was able to join the waiting list for a council allotment garden.
One became available for me in Jan 2014 and I jumped at the opportunity, even though it was a right mess.
I enjoyed growing more of our own food immensely, but felt I had to dedicate the whole plot to staples, as they were the means to most effectively lowering our intake of agrochemicals, but I love to play and experiment, so I asked, if it became available when the waiting list was served, for a little more ground.
The plot next to mine became available in January this year, and was in such a state that no-one else would have it, so it was offered to me!
A fellow allotmenteer mentioned, on the day after I'd got the allotment, that he'd wished he'd got a bit more ground, as he has a big family to feed.
Since it had been the case that I'd only really been looking for a bit of ground for my amusement, and since he is a friendly, personable chap, I decided that I could be more than content with half the extra plot, and offered to share it with him. An offer which was eagerly accepted.

So I have a plot and a half, and, if it's not too boring, I'd like to share with you my experiences, what I'm trying to grow, my successes and failures, in words and pictures.

I welcome questions and comments at any time (I can learn from both) and will try to split my posts into reasonably manageable chunks.
Read more about this showcase item here...
 
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Ian

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Brilliant! I'm really looking forward to seeing how your allotment grows :). Pretty handy how the neighbouring plot was available (and nice of you to share!).

What have you got in for the coming year?
 
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The polytunnel.
It's 6mx3m (just under 20ftx10ft) and I have three growing beds in it.

It's aligned North to South with the door at the northern end, because our prevalent winds are from the South to the West.
On the western side is a 16ft long by3ft wide bed, bounded, on 3 sides by path and a little work area.
The eastern side is path, 8ftx5ft bed, path, 8ftx5ft bed path.
So the main path is offset, and the reason for this is simple; the tunnel is at its highest in the middle, and I want that height available for climbing plants.
In it just now are the following:

Over-wintered onions.
Senshyu is the variety, and they would normally be ready for use around mid-June in the UK.
My aim is, hopefully, to have them by end May, for re-stocking purposes.


Little Gem lettuce and Boltardy beetroot.
In the middle of the picture, you can see my soil temperature probe.
It shows a soil temperature of 18C (approx. 64F), at 150mm, which is 5C (9F) warmer than outside.


A "Webb's Wonderful" lettuce, a seedling "All Green Bush" courgette and a "Delistar" cucumber (which I put in the ground because it was showing signs of stress in a pot) complete the planting in the 3ft wide bed.
 
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In the 8ftx5ft beds:

Potato "Casablanca" with radish "French Breakfast 3" intercropped, fills the northerly bed.


The southerly bed has two woven plastic sq ft gardening beds which contain broad bean "Di Monica", which, as you can see, is in flower, and snap pea "Delikett" which is progressing nicely.
Around those beds, in an L shape, I have some more potatoes (I LOOOOOOOVE potatoes!!!), "Concorde" which are no longer available, but which I received from another member, who kindly gave me a few after I'd said how much I'd enjoyed the ones he let me sample last year.
They are under bubble wrap, with crosses cut to allow the shoots through, just to hurry them on a little. (Give me POTATOES!!!)

In the pot in the foreground is garlic "Solent Wight" and in the ones in the background is parsley "Italian Giant Flatleaf".

ALL GROWN ORGANICALLY!!!
 

zigs

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Great stuff Bees :)

Do we know why they withdrew Concord?
 
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zigs

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Looked it up, couldn't find out why other than it's got low late season blight resistance.
 
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What a great project. I'll watch and try to learn. I'm not good at the veggies. Okay with tomatoes but even they don't ripen all that well, Green tomato pickles are great though. Deb
 
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The dwarf French beans are up, as is the sweetcorn:





All in "Rootrainers Deep" which I think are a smashing way to bring on seedlings.
 
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looks like it will be great eating with the Bees, later this summer.

The green house looks awesome too, we had a small one when we were first married and lived in the country. I still miss it.
 
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I bought this from the previous plotholder when I took over his plot, for £40 ($60), as I felt that the polytunnel was not the ideal environment for tomatoes or aubergines. It is 8'x6' and was constructed of ultra-clear polycarbonate. It wasn't in a good state of repair, and I have had to fashion repairs to the roof vent, and had to replace a number of the panels with 4mm twinwall polycarbonate.
You have to remember that I'm dealing with UK light levels, and that I'm mid-way up the country.
It's also been very handy for hardening off plants prior to planting, and I'm using it to, hopefully, bring forward the strawberry season.
Once again, I have a gravity fed watering system, with a raised, 210 litre water butt, the tap connected to a timer via 1/2" hose and relevant connections, leading to two adjustable sprinklers on each of 6 "gro-beds".
I have also fitted an "autovent" vent opener, which I've set, at the moment, to open at ~ 23 C (73 F).
The ambition is, if all goes well, to have 2 tomatoes in four of these beds and 3 aubergines (eggplants) in each of the other two.
Tomatoes like ventilation so they'll be closer to the door, whilst the aubergines, which like a little more humidity, would be in the two back beds.

The Greenhouse:





 

zigs

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Cor, doing well there Bees (y)

No flowers on my Tomatoes yet.
 
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Cor, doing well there Bees (y)

No flowers on my Tomatoes yet.
COR, lol.
The two very advanced tomatoes are from a trial pack, given away with any seed orders from D T Brown's, and are called Nimbus (F1)
Four of the five seeds germinated, and each plant has been very vigorous.
I gave one plant to a very nice old man that I know, but the most vigorous plant I have kept for my greenhouse at home.
We have called it "Animal" because it really is a beast.
D T Brown has had two further small seed orders from me, so now I have two packs of 5 seeds for next year, if the tomatoes are good.
 
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Other bits and bobs:
If you remember, my new allotment was a right state when I got it:

so much so, that none of the people shown it would take it.
Well, as you can see from the header photo, that has changed, and here's a recent photo from inside the greenhouse:

The first bed is divided into three smaller beds, where onions have been planted (1/2 the closest bed still to do), then there is a proper path, and the rest is turned over to potatoes.
Beside the long path, which separates the old plot from the new, you can see three 8ft canes, and stretched along them is this:
I have found that this really works to keep the bigger birds (mainly pigeons and magpies) away, and seems to be repelling sparrows too!

Plants out of doors, nearly ready to go in the ground:
Brussels sprouts "Montgomery"

Leek, "Below Zero"


Brocolli, "Tendergreen" with Pak Choi (Bok Choy) behind:

Celery, "Victoria"
Celery, "Victoria"
 
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Perennials, mostly fruit:

Blackcurrants, redcurrants, whitecurrants, rhubarb, and apple tree (Egremont Russet).

That, for the moment, concludes the tour of my allotment, although I hope to update throughout the growing season.
 
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Now I know why you guys out there are so successful in whatever you lay your hands on. Its work and only work can give returns. Also your scientific approach is the key. I have learnt something here. :(y)
 

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