Allotment Diary – Week 3 – 2017

It’s been very cold here over the past week and it’s snowing outside today, so not much happening on my allotment at the moment I’m afraid.

The chickens have to be kept indoors due to the avian flu warnings and I’m considering putting netting over the top of the chicken run. This will keep wild birds out and I’ll then be able to let my flock out. One advantage to keeping them indoors though is that they are very clean now. While outdoors, they do like to scratch about in the mud and the muck. The government order may be lifted at the end of February and that will be three months in total.

I have three small heated propagators and I’ve sown King of the North Sweet Peppers in one and Carolina Reaper Chilli Peppers in the second one. Carolina Reaper are officially the worlds hottest chilli, so I’ll have to be careful with those. I’ll probably sow some pumpkin seeds that I collected last year in the third propagator. I don’t sow directly into the propagators. I use six pack modules for larger plants and smaller modules for leeks, spring onion etc. I made a video when I sowed the Sweet Peppers which you can find here.

I’ve also ordered some melon seeds (from ebay), namely Melon Cantaloupe Di Charentais and Melon Honeydew Temptation. Hopefully, I’ll get these sown next week. To grow them on, I’ve set a table up in the window of my front bedroom which gets full sun and plenty of daylight. It’s much too cold here to consider growing on in the greenhouse, but I want to give these plants a good start as our season here is quite short.

I’m considering starting a gardening business shortly. I already have a petrol strimmer and a rotovator for the allotment, but I need a lawnmower so I’ve been researching heavily on the internet. There are many good reviews for Honda mowers and also I like the look of the Rover brand, but for now, I need a machine that will fit in the back of my small hatchback (with the back seats down of course). I eventually narrowed my search down to a Mountfield HP414. It’s a push mower, so no self propelled mechanisms to go wrong. It has a 15″ cutting blade and the cutting height can be adjusted by using a lever on each wheel. The best thing about it is the weight, which at 19kg means it’s easy to handle and lift in and out of the car. Also, it has very good reviews over several seasons, so it’s a proven quality machine. If my business takes off and I get a van, I’ll probably get something larger, maybe in addition to the Mountfield. I’ll also need a blower/vacuum mulcher and a hedge trimmer. I’m looking forward to having loads of grass cuttings to add to my compost and I’ve decided to add a grass patio to the allotment instead of the flagged area I have now.

My greenhouse is glass to the front and wooden walls and roof to the back, but the roofing felt is coming off and the wood is starting to rot. Rather than replace the wood though, I’m going to get polycarbonate on the back to get more light into the structure. You can get it cheaply enough on ebay and I may replace the polycarbonate sheet on my cold frame too this year.

I’m just recovering from a nasty sprained ankle that I suffered six weeks ago and I can thoroughly recommend comfrey to speed the healing process. I think another couple of weeks should see me right and I’ll then be able to get working on the allotment. I have many flagstones to move and a few structures to paint before spring and I also want to get serious with my composting. The area at the back of the allotment needs strimming and clearing too, but I think I may be too late to plant fruit trees before spring. We’ll see how it goes.

Thank you for reading this weeks newsletter.

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