May 2006

Harvested the first produce this month… radishes from Barry’s bed. They were really juicy & peppery. Virtually bursting out of the ground. I’ve got some growing as well, but they’re not as advanced since I haven’t thinned them out. Keep saying I really need to spend more time on the plants!

I’ve still been working away at non-plant things, most significant of which is getting my shed up. Had been ruminating on it for some while, but when I saw a 6’x4’ shed in Focus DIY for £99 I was hooked, & it turned out to be a really good choice. They delivered on Tue 23-May to as near my plot as they could. Having spent quite a bit of Mon putting down a slab base, I then spent most of that Tue & part of Wed putting McKinnie Towers up.

Of course I would pick two of the windiest days I could! On the Tue it was touch & go whether I was going to find myself hang gliding over St Ives as I carried the various sides up to the plot. The 6’x6’ side without openings was particularly interesting as I turned a corner & caught the full force of he wind.

My son John took a brief respite from his main hobby of chick chasing to hold various bits up while I drilled. Remarkably he didn’t moan once… not when mud splashed up his car as we drove onto the allotment site, not when more mud splashed onto his pure white trainers, & not even when, as he was holding the most difficult bits, the wind became even more fierce & the heavens opened. Couldn’t have done it without him though… thanks John!

On the final day of construction things didn’t get any easier. At one point I thought I just wasn’t going to get the roof felt on. As soon as I took a hand off to grab hammer or nails the wind blew the felt over my head & I had to start all over again. A few bits of strategically placed wood helped me muddle through. Here’s the final result (double click picture to enlarge).

Fruit bushes are going well, though I’ll need to move them. I was really impressed with the compost bin when heat started to build up. Even thought of turning the whole plot into compost production & to come to an arrangement with other plot holders… free compost traded for their excess produce. Decided I’d put 4 bins on the windward side of the shed, partly to protect the shed, partly to give me a continuous supply of compost next year. So I spent another Sunday’s & Bank Holiday Monday’s effort putting up the bins & moving the contents of the existing bin… of course the new bins are far too near the fruit bushes now!

The idea with the 4 compost bins is that after the first bin has been full for a few weeks I move it into the second, then move them all again once the first bin is full again, so that once the fourth bin has been full for a while it’ll really be ready for use, having been turned 3 times.

Disaster on the Brussels sprouts front. Having spent ages planting a full bed the birds had virtually the whole lot. The leeks didn’t do a lot better either. They were pretty difficult to see when I put them in; they were so small… now they’ve disappeared. Think part of the problem is I’ve not been hardening things off after taking them out of the greenhouse.

The poles for beans etc haven’t worked too well. Looks like something’s been nibbling them so I’ll have to stick to just planting in the raised beds until I’ve cleared all the plot of grass & weeds. I’ve put grapefruit skins at various points to see if I can capture whatever’s doing the nibbling.

And the rhubarb has disappeared having stuck up a single feeble leaf. Maybe I planted too late. The artichoke (note singular, I originally planted 3) is looking increasingly strong though.

I’ll be replacing the leek & sprouts disasters with a full bed of tomatoes & another of peas which are resting on the house patio at the moment ready for planting next weekend.

Must get more planting done & focus time on thinning out! Knew I’d probably have as many failures this first year as successes, so I’m still finding it really interesting. Will be great when the sun shines for longer than a few minutes!

More ‘photos below (double click to enlarge). Thanks for reading my blog site. John

Barry's bed with radishes as the bottom

One of my better beds, lots of different stuff in it

What a result with the spuds!

Garlic doing nicely

McKinnie Towers

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