Constructions Galore

We’re only getting alternate weekends down on the plot at the moment, so it’s a great blessing when we manage to coincide with the good weather, although after 5 hours of meddling in the mud and sun this Saturday I was fit to drop. Good job we had an extended weekend to recover.

I spent most of those hours pottering in the greenhouse we resurrected on our last visit. It’s just about hanging on in there but looks like a very well worn teddy, complete with stitching and bandages – I don’t think I’ll manage to squeeze another season out of the plastic covering.

Tomato Contraptions

I banked all the sides up (inside and out) with old and new grow bags to try and protect it from the ravages of the wind and then set to, planting 15 assorted tomato plants and experimenting with an array of self-watering gadgetry and fancy supports.

The first watering system I tried out was the “Growtube” but my bottle reservoir just evacuated its contents within the space of about 45 seconds and resulted in most of the contents of the grow bag spewing over the sides. I was reasonably happy with the alternative bottle attachment you can see in the right hand side of this photo. It at least held the water for the 5 hours I was watching it. So long as it hasn’t got a permanent blockage I shall be happy.

Bean Support

While I was sweltering under the polythene, Lynn was out in the open, constructing stuff that actually has some sturdiness about it.

The plot won’t know what hit it.

We now have a bean support system that doesn’t look as though it will crack under the weight of the first two pods, a peculiarly creative broad bean “thingy” and a stretch of wind break that will offer further protection to the rapidly decaying greenhouse.

Cat's Cradle

I’m feeling quite happy with the plot at the moment. We seem to have got on top of the situation and set ourselves up for a good growing season.

The challenge now will be to keep on top of the watering and find enough space, that hasn’t already been colonised by the ubiquitous onion sets, to grow actual food. I’ve got 12 squash seedlings in the greenhouse but have no clue of where to put them, perhaps I need to get myself on the waiting list for a second, dedicated, squash plot.

Post to Twitter

Month in Pictures – April Blitz

Most of this months pictures were the result of one weekend’s endeavours.

A two pronged assault during a sunny break in the middle of the month proved to be an excellent opportunity for pulling the plot together.

Weeds were pulled, beans were planted and my resident constructionist re-built last years rather poorly looking greenhouse. The plot looks like a growing environment once again!
Month in Pictures - April 2009

Post to Twitter

Month in Pictures – December

Month in Pictures - December 2008 

Life dried off a little for December and I managed to get down to the plot quite a few times.

The grotty dark nights resulted in a couple of torchlit digging sessions but I also found myself shamed into a day of weeding after passing by on the train and noticing the big blocks off lush green weeds where the onions were supposed to be thriving.

The chard is still dazzling passers by with its jazzy, party coloured, stems. I think the pink is particularly fetching but the orange doesn’t seem to withstand the frost as well as the other shades.

There’s been quite a lot of frost already which has probably sweetened up my swedes and done wonders for the brussels. The bracing wind doesn’t have a lot going for it though, it has shredded my polythene greenhouse and although I’ve patched it up and folded it away in the shed, I don’t hold out much hope for it lasting another season. I hope Wilkinsons survive the economic downturn at least until the summer, so that I can buy another one.

The wind also lifted a big patch of felt off my shed roof but fortunately Lynn is a roofer par excellence and shimmied up on top and sorted the job out with style. Given the number of nails used, there is not a chance that it will be shifting again, it’ll stand up to hurricane Katrina should it need to.

Post to Twitter

Month in Pictures – July

Blimey, July is a busy month.

I’ve been on the plot almost every day and yet don’t seem to have done anything constructive. The time is taken up by watering and picking crops (not that I’m complaining), with precious little time for making any last minute sowings.

Month in Pictures - July 2008

I haven’t had much time for blogging recently so there are a few new photos in the montage.

The greenhouse has worked wonders and I’m now pulling out bucket loads of the most delicious tomatoes, a handful of chillies each week and the promise of some juicy aubergines.

Outside the courgettes have just, in the final days of July, started to put on a little growth spurt and I’m reassured that there will soon be a glut. The cabbages are so tasty but my labeling discipline has been slack and I don’t know what variety they are. The runner beans are cropping so well now that the bean construction is threatening to collapse and I’m delighted to announce the appearance of two micro-caullis.

Post to Twitter

Greenhouse or Kite?

Well the “greenhouse” is still in one piece but is arousing amused glances on the plot. Quite a number of people have let me know that they won’t be at all surprised to see it floating above their patch like a tomato laden hot air balloon.

I got a few really helpful comments to my last post, it seems both Easygardener and Kethry have learnt hard lessons with similar contraptions. Just to confirm, the frame is slightly submerged under the soil as is the excess polythene and I have now weighted this down further with a grow bag on each side. There are also 4 guy ropes attempting to hold the whole thing together and a number of clips holding the polythene to the frame.

Tomato House

Although it sounds super secure, I spent a bit of time in there today rearranging all the young plants from the front room nursery and gave myself one hell of a fright everytime one of the high speed trains whizzed past. The whole contraption feels as though it rises a couple of inches from the ground and then slams back down again. All the clips seem to pop off the frame as this happens and I’ve already retrieved 6 from the pond. If I had a bit more space I’d be tempted to go around the outside and bank the sides with growbags as well.

I’ve made the mental note to dismantle it before winter and if its still usable come next year I’ll locate it away from the railway line.

It is going to be much more of a hassle to deal with the opening and closing of the door. I’ve left it closed for now as I want to ease the plants gently into life outside, I’m thinking to nip to the plot tomorrow though and open it. From then on in I’m hoping it will be ok to leave the door permanently open. I’ve clearly got a lot to learn about undercover gardening.

Post to Twitter

What a Scorcher

I reckon this is going to end up being a picture post, I’m far too shattered to string words together. The day was glorious but after about 6 hours on the plot my skin is tightly shriveling with the sunburn and I need to spend the next month in a vat of E45 cream.


My seedlings have been going crazy in Shakti’s front room nursery, the beans are threatening to smother everything in sight and the tomatoes need staking. None of these things go well with toddler sized birthday parties so they need to go. Not wanting to shock them into submission with an immediate relocation to the outside world, I’ve been hunting down one of those mini greenhouse affairs to act as a coldframe. I spotted something even better from Wilkinsons though, a full on walk-in greenhouse complete with staging for £40.

Experimental Peas

Considerable rearranging was required to squeeze it onto the plot. The compost bins were pushed to the corner shaded by the hideous ivy which seems like the best spot for them considering nothing else will grow there except for slugs. More problematic was the wigwam I planted up last weekend with some 7 year old experimental peas. It’s quite a palaver trying to retrieve ungerminated green orbs from a patch of soggy soil.

Given my unchallenged bodging tendencies, I’m quite surprised but pleased to say, the greenhouse went up relatively well. It only has one little tear in the polythene and I’m sure that existed before I took it out of the box. I’ve piled the edges up with soil, staked, pegged, clipped and tied down anything threatening to flap and if it’s still there tomorrow morning I may well do a little jig.

New Greenhouse

I’m going to plant the tomatoes in grow bags around the base – anything to try and keep the structure anchored, and I think the chilli peppers and aubergines will be overjoyed.

Summer Cabbage

Before the construction started we (I had Shakti’s help today) transplanted the greyhound cabbages from the seed bed and sowed a row of yellow french beans. We also managed to acquire a load of broken paving slabs from the site skip and have a veritable highway laid out between beds. Unfortunately the new compost bin and greenhouse layout, blocks all access to the bottom of the plot. I haven’t a cat in hells chance of accessing the peas if they decide to crop.

We left with a sack of multi-coloured delights for tea – Ruby Chard, Broad Bean tips and some of the overwintered onions.

Hungry Gap?

Post to Twitter