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Friday, 30 November 2012

Frosty start today but the sun is shining

Early on the allotment as the sun is shining. Despite the quite hard frost to start with, I managed to work up a sweat and advance the cause by another yard or so. I reckon I am about a third of the way now.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

It's slow going

I am advancing slowly down the new plot. I am having to go down to the red clay sub-soil, 2ft under the surface and the bramble roots still go down! 

The work consists of hacking away a chunk of earth from the "cliff-face" I am creating with the Azada and then working through each chunk with my fingers to pull out the twisting bramble roots. It takes about an hour to go across the plot, 2ft deep and about 1 ft forward. With 75 feet to go it will take some time....

I decided to take a break from the grind by starting to clear back the huge brambles from the boundary under the trees. It has made a huge difference to the daylight striking the plot. It has also left me with a massive bonfire to light if the rain ever stops to let it dry out.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Nice weather, barrow will have to wait

At last a bit of dry sunny weather so I am attacking the new overgrown allotment. It's very hard going with quite heavy wet soil and loads of bramble roots. However a couple of days has seen a fair start underway. And anothe huge pile of roots to burn when they dry out. I am having to use the azada to go down 18 inches to get all the root out. A very slow heavy job.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Barrow progress

Cut and rough shaped handles..

and form the axle end....

Put it all together and it's starting to look like a wheelbarrow...

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

A Victorian Style Wheelbarrow

I have been very kindly given a large amount of dismantled pallet wood which is in excellent condition.  This has whetted my appetite to build something of use. I will be using some of it to extend my composter but I thought I would tackle a bigger challenge.

I have no wheelbarrow at the allotment and was considering buying one but the arrival of the timber prompted me to consider MAKING ONE!

So I am building my take on a traditional Victorian Wooden Wheelbarrow. 

I have not yet decided whether I will try to fabricate the wooden wheel as I have bought some very nice pneumatic wheels on eBay which would fit. 


This is where the idea was born... a rough sketch...

I then mapped out the side shape on thick card plotting the widths of the pallet planks.

Using this as a template I cut the 3 side planks for each side with a hand saw and electric jigsaw.

Then screwed supports around the edges.


after more timber cutting, drilling and screwing I have ended up with a fairly reasonable facsimile of the tub of the wheelbarrow, I will be smoothing and sanding the whole thing before treating the wood....

That's it for this afternoon. The next stage will be to construct and fit the handles and side rails. Then it will be time to decide on the type of wheel I am going with and to fabricate the axle mechanism. I have all the parts waiting to be cut and drilled etc.

Watch this space....

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Tidying up

I made an exploratory start on the new allotment, albeit you could hardly call it an allotment yet! As I suspected it is even more choked with bramble roots and will be very slow going.

I have decided that the best approach will be to start a deep trench at one end, taking out all the roots I find, then gradually moving the trench along the plot until the whole lot is cleared.

Meantime I have trenched all along the path that separates the 2 plots to try to stop the roots making their way onto the good plot.

We are allowed to have bonfires from next month so at least I will have a way of getting rid of the mass of roots I will end up with.

Plus a little time spent making the original plot tidy...

Friday, 31 August 2012

Back from hols

Returned from 2 weeks in France to find much to be done. In addition to the weeding and removal of the tomato plants which had succumbed to blight while we were away there is the new overgrown piece to be tackled, acquired just before we left for our hols.

Today I went down with the petrol brush cutter to make a start, the brambles were 3-4 feet high over the entire ground, like deja vu of 8 months ago!

About an hour and I was well into chopping the brambles off, about 75 percent done however I ran out of petrol so will be returning to the task shortly. Then the laborious task of uprooting the bramble roots will begin..... ha...memories!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

A bit of tidying up before we go away.

Slaving away this morning getting the plot to look as good as possible before we go on our hols at the weekend. 

A new 30cc Qualcast brush cutter/strimmer from Argos has proved brilliant. The blade attachment quickly deals with overgrown brambles on the adjacent plots and the line attachment keeps the grass and paths under control. I can go round the entire plot in about 20 minutes, I would thoroughly recommend the model, It starts easily and is well balanced to use with the harness and very powerful and effective on almost anything.

We have just heard that the council have agreed to let us take over the very overgrown odd-shaped plot alongside ours which means we can deal with the brambles and stop them encroaching on our plot. They grow at a fantastic pace left unattended.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Smug Soup

Things are growing thick and fast and today we harvested veg to make spicy soup, Frances is calling it "smug soup" as every single thing in it comes from the allotment and garden!

Meanwhile, this morning was spent weeding and clearing up before our hols in France at the weekend.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Blight it is!

The disease affecting the potatoes rapidly spread to the entire crop and the allotment next door. Every plant lost it's leaves and within a few days all that remained were sad looking spiky brown stems. The attack now appears to be spreading to other plots on the allotment and will mean a very poor year for potatoes. 

I have been in contact with the Potato Council and had advice. I removed and bagged all the tops down to ground level, then 3 days later lifted the entire crop and left to air dry before putting into hessian sacks. We ended up with around 50Kg of quite small but fairly nice looking potatoes of various varieties. I reckon this would have been more like 200Kg if they gad fully matured. I am now monitoring these the check for signs of rot in storage. 

The Blight is apparently largely down to the climate we have had over the past few weeks. Frequent rain so the leaves rarely dry out combined with humid and warmish conditions. The perfect combination for Late Blight.

I have enrolled as a monitor for for the Potato Council Blight Watch Scheme and have submitted samples of the foliage and stems for lab analysis. They keep interactive online maps of where attacks are occurring: http://www.potato.org.uk/node/910

The service provides SMS alerts when there is an elevated chance of blight in members area and enables them to take preventative measures including spraying with Copper Sulphate based fungicide. This is only effective if applied before attack and is not a cure unfortunately.

Information can be had from the Councils Website: http://www.potato.org.uk/gardenblight 

A few pictures of the plots after clearance and the crop below:

However happily all the other crops on the allotment continue to flourish!