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Crop Protection
The plot
Carl's Allotment Blog
Tuesday, 4 September 2012
The wettest summer since 1912

So as we guessed, it's been the wettest summer since 1912. I was only menioning to a neighbouring plot holder yesterday that we haven't watered once this year.. not once! But that's only one positive, especially with the hosepipe ban. Potatoes are trayed up, but one night in as friend's garage and they were attacked by mice with varacious appetites, which was a bit sad, but it was a goodish crop, Cara outshining the other varieties (Desiree, Nadine, Romano and Charlotte) both in terms of yield. Runner beans came in bucket loads, lasted for a few weeks then went tough much quicker than usual. Our tomatoes got blight again, so will experiment with a polytunnel next year. And despite well covered insect netting against the old Cabbage Whites, caterpillars have appeared (time for squashology!)

A couple of nearby plots have been left to go to rack and ruin, and we've suffered the consequence, with dreadful slug and snail problems this year, not to mention the breeze thick with weed seed which has meant a doubling of efforts in the weeding department.

I suppose no matter how long you've been growing, there's always something new to encounter, every year is different, and well.. you can't win them all. So for next year, a bit of refocus on what,when and how is probably what is called for.

Posted by Carl at 11:33 BST
Updated: Tuesday, 4 September 2012 11:34 BST
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Wednesday, 4 May 2011
New plot
Mood:  happy
Topic: The plot

A new plot!? Are you mad? Haven't you got enough to do? All responses from older members of the family to the news that we have taken on another plot on a different field. It's only 8 rods of a 10 rod plot though! Well, we had come to the conclusion that there was nowhere near enough space on the currenty plot to grow everything we wanted to grow this year, and we'd be on the waiting list of the field for over two years, and just at the 'right' time the Field Secretary calls! A couple of weeks later and the bulk of the plot is weeded and the soil turned, well,  good enough for this year anyway. We intend to grow a lot of the 'space gobbling' plants such as courgettes, marrows, squashes, pumpkins etc on this new plot this year, and will worry more about layout and rotation next season!

Posted by Carl at 13:44 BST
Updated: Wednesday, 4 May 2011 14:27 BST
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Sunday, 1 May 2011
Wierd weather and thinning out
Topic: Weather

Well it's official, the warmest and driest April on record. Whilst it's great to be able to work on the plot in a t-shirt, it's easy to forget that this time last year we were all moaning about being a month or so behind with the weather. So it's all topsy turvey again, and the last few nights have been quite a reminder that frost is still close at hand, my hands were 'blue' after watering on our windy site. And watering we need to do lets be honest, the plants are parched, and right at a time when those developing roots want a really good soak. The wind has not only been cold, but really quite strong, the broad beans bending over almost in two. The salad poly tunnel flew off across neighbouring plots, and the hose spray constantly blew back in my face as the dreadful water pressure on the website couldn't even push it's way through the windy onslaught. And still the sun shines. Wierd weather indeed. The wind was giving the freshly emerged carrot and parsnip seedlings a hard time too, but it may have helped disipate the smell of carrot thinning, so those pesky carrot flies might not get a hold this year. Throwing out all those healthy little parsnip seedlings seems very wrong, but of course it's the only way to get any kind of decent size crop, and a rough count still gives us 150 - 200 parsnips at the end of the day!

Posted by Carl at 13:26 BST
Updated: Wednesday, 4 May 2011 14:28 BST
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Tuesday, 8 March 2011
Allotment Rent Rises
Topic: Politics

I fear these times of cutbacks and hard gazing at the public purse will soon be adding again to the misery of us allotment folk. It obvious that money has to be saved, but some councils are taking the opportunity to increase allotment rents by as much as 300%, which must rate as near extortion. Allotments are available to all, people of every walk of life and of every means. Young, old, rich or poor, of every race and religion.  But the land is only the start. We have to purchase seeds and plants, fertilisers and crop protection, it all has to be paid for, to get our crops to grow successfully. Physical and mental health is improved, and green spaces protected. I work on a so called ‘protected’ field which officially should always remain as allotments and not be sold off to put under concrete, but who knows. Just remember the words of Joni Mitchell ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.’ Lord protect us from that... and the money grabbers!

Posted by Carl at 14:03 GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 8 March 2011 14:06 GMT
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Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Frozen Brussel Sprouts
Topic: Weather
So the snows have come with a vengeance  and in November too! Liz suggested that we had some sprouts for Sunday lunch, a snowy frosty Sunday lunch. So off I trotted wrapped in far too few clothes... will I never learn? The sprouts were standing there, last of the white fly frozen to the leaves in a state of what seemed suspended animation! And so to the knife to cut the stalk. Ah I'd forgotten it. I'd have to dig them up. Ah the shed keys, well I'd grabbed the wrong keys on the way out of the house, and so I thought a show of brute force and a big hearty tug would free the stalks, but no such luck... the ground was rock hard. Eventually with a good deal of wiggling and bending (the stalk too) two delightful stalks of delicious sprouts for lunch. Liz was pleased, although the whole operation had taken far longer than it should. As did cutting the sprouts off the stalk, they were frozen and by the end of it all so were my hands. If the knife had slipped, I don't think I would have noticed, so numb were the old digits. Lunch was very delicious by the way.

Posted by Carl at 16:17 GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 1 December 2010 16:18 GMT
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Monday, 1 November 2010
How much money do you have to spend on net?!
Mood:  mischievious
Topic: Crop Protection

It's became very plain mid season that 'the standard' netting protecting the brassicas just wouldn't hack it. Yes it's fine to keep the pigeons off, but then the Pieris Brassicae, the dreaded Cabbage White butterfly were another problem. Those little buggers fold their wings and squeeze through the mesh. So we bit our lip and purchased 7mm butterfly net, at a horrendous price despite a lengthy online search for the lowest! Stretched over a wooden frame we were quite pleased with it, albeit we didn't buy 'quite' enough first time so we have an overlap, which then gave the butterflies a miniscule chance of a route in, every time the wind blew!  A chance, of course, they inevitably took, and then we ended up with having to crawl under the net to do some squashology on the caterpillars. Of course some remained, and turned to winged terrors, now trapped under the nets with our beloved cabbages and cauliflowers. But then overall, the 7 mil net wasn't bad, although it didn't stop all the other bugs, (earwigs and white fly were really pesky this year) Even now, shake the brussels and a huge cloud of white fly take to the air. So insect mesh for next season? Have you seen the price?! We've always believed that the allotment should be done on the cheap, skip raiding for wood and wire, that wartime 'make do and mend' spirit that means your veg comes at not too high a price. That's not to say that there are not some lovely high tech fancy cloches, and for that matter crop netting, out there that would be wonderful, but it doesn't 'arf make your vegetables expensive. So I'm hoping the butterfly netting purchased this season will last many more!

Please feel free to comment or contribute to this blog. Tips and tricks are very welcome. The 'post comment' link is below to the right!

Posted by Carl at 06:36 BST
Updated: Monday, 1 November 2010 13:17 BST
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Friday, 22 October 2010
Thoughts turn to next season
Mood:  happy
Topic: Seed
It was an exciting evening. Two and a half hours spent perusing the potato and seed catalogue that arrived from the Allotment Holders Association. It's very tempting to want to grow everything isn't it? We're certainly going to give quite a bit of new stuff a 'go' next season. Included in the new tastes on the Allotment will be Pak Choi, Turks Turban squashes, beefsteak tomatoes, celery, turnips, chillis, cucumbers and a whole bundle more. Adding up the number of seed packets we've ordered came to 78!! But that is for both allotment and garden, and does include quite a few flower seeds! It's been a long held wish to have a cut fower area on the allotment, and we've just created a space where next season we hope for a riot of colour. Having had a lousy maincrop King Edward harvest, we've decided to try small amounts of 5 varieties of potato next year. Unfortunately we won't be growing a variety of potato called Gala that we fell in love with on holiday in Germany.  I emailed the growers in Germany, and the marketing chap was on the phone to me, explaining that despite being sold in various countries including the United States, trying to get their spuds into the UK with all our regulations, (and I suspect stout protection of our own seed potato industry), is a very difficult business. Which is a great shame as Gala is a particularly delicious eat. But we'll trial a few in each part of the year and see what gives us the best yield and taste. Now back to those seed packets... I reckon we're going to need a pretty good written sowing and planting plan. Best get on with it.

Posted by Carl at 08:10 BST
Updated: Monday, 1 November 2010 12:30 BST
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Thursday, 21 October 2010
What every allotment needs
Mood:  happy
Topic: Weather
The weather turns colder, the days get shorter, there's no too much to do on the allotment, so what else does it need? You're right... a blog! So here goes.

Posted by Carl at 18:01 BST
Updated: Monday, 1 November 2010 12:30 BST
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