Slabs And Planning For Next Year

My poor old allotment shed has been sitting on a bit of a slope for the last eight or nine years and unfortunately this has caused my shed to lean to one side, like a crooked house.  So this week I have been preparing a much better base for it to sit on, by laying slabs that I have recycled from a path I don’t use anymore.  Mr Thrift helped me to dig up the grass to prepare for the slabs and he helped me to lay four slabs, I managed to lay six more on my own the next day and on Wednesday my brother in law (who has the plot next to me) helped me to lay the final six and I was very grateful for their help.

Unfortunately, as I was laying the slabs on a slope, I needed to keep digging the soil from underneath each slab to ensure they were straight.   I must admit I did find it so hard at one stage that I started to wonder why I do things like laying slabs, instead of staying at home painting my nails and watching day time TV….but I suppose that just isn’t me.  I am now very proud of my square of slabs.

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Tomorrow I will attempt to move my shed over to the new slabs, again with help from Mr Thrift and my brother-in-law.  I pray it won’t collapse in the process.

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Between slabbing I have been preparing for next year by planting my overwintering onions and spring cabbage.

The overwintering onions that I planted in 2011 were not very good at all.  This was due to a fairly new pest called the Allium Leaf Miner (you can find details of it here).

In 2012 I planted seed sowed onions instead of sets, as I had read that they produce slightly stronger growth and after planting them I covered them with environmesh.  These onions were much better and I was very pleased with my crop:

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I’m not sure if the seed sown onions made a difference, but the environmesh definately stopped the Allium Leaf Miner, so this year I have planted them in exactly the same way:

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I also planted my spring cabbages this week:

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I prepared the beds for the spring cabbage and the overwintering onions by just raking in some blood, fish and bone a week or so before.

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I have also been clearing away the old plants in  ‘Calendula Alley’ next to my polytunnel.  The plants gave a beautiful display of flowers that all self seeded from the previous years plants.

I grow Calendula as they are great for attacting beneficial insects to my allotment, such as hoverflies, bees and butterflies and as an extra bonus, the petals are edible and look really pretty scattered into salads.

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It’s quite sad when the plants have finished flowering and it’s time to clear them all away for another year, but at least I can add them all to the compost heap.

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I covered the area with weed suppressant to prevent any weeds from growing:

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I am amazed to say that my outdoor tomatoes are still producing lovely, juicy fruit.  I am unable to freeze or preserve any more of them due to our building work, so I am giving bags of them away to anyone that wants them.  I have never managed to go this late in the season without them succumbing to the dreaded tomato blight, but this has been an exceptional year.  You can read about tomato blight here.

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The variety of tomato I grew was ‘Outdoor Girl’.  This week I have saved some of the seeds ready for next year.  There are different ways to save tomato seeds but I find this way easiest:

 All I do is chop the tomato in half and scrape out the seeds and spread them on a piece of kitchen towel.

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Allow the kitchen towel to completely dry out for a few days and then roll it up and pop it into an envelope ready to store it in a cool, dark and dry place.  Next year I just rip off a few seeds and plant them into compost with the kitchen towel still attached and it works a treat.

Please note:  Do NOT save seed from ‘F1’ varieties as they will not come ‘true to type’, which means you can’t guarantee what you will actually be growing.

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My allotment is still producing, but things are definately slowing down.

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One lovely thing I harvested this week was my first melon from my polytunnel.  I have never grown melons before and thought I would give it a try this year and I am very pleased with the results.  I have seven melons from two plants.  The melons are actually an outdoor variety called ‘Outdoor Wonder’, but I thought I may have better results planting them in my polytunnel.

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The melon was delicious and my daughters loved it, so I will definately grow melons again.

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I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday at my usual time.

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17 thoughts on “Slabs And Planning For Next Year

  1. I had an outdoor girl tomato plant this year and its produced a lot of tomatoes. I’m just hoping they all ripen. I did however end up with some having most peculiar shapes. I’m going to post a photo next week on my blog but did you have this problem too? They still tasted great!

    • I do get the odd one or two funny shapes but most were just round, however, ‘Outdoor Girl’ is an old heirloom variety and it’s heirloom varieties that are most prone to being different shapes, probably because the old gardeners bred for ‘taste’ rather than size /how long they last etc.

      If it gets too cold, rather than lose your tomatoes, bring them in and put them on your windowsill to ripen. I’ve done this for the last few years and they have ripened eveytime (I don’t like green tomato chutney). This way you can eat them as and when they ripen.

      Looking forward to seeing your photo.

  2. I hate laying slabs, or tiles, or anything like that! I never get them even and it drives me NUTS!! Your square looks perfect! My hat comes off to you.
    You know, I have just worked out what I like best about vegetable garden’s. They are messy. Even when they are neat and tidy they are still messy! The leaves are never all in a line, and even when you stake the plants they twice and do their own thing. The varies plants are never the same size, and often the colours are creatively their own, The ground is always lumpy, especially when you’ve raked it, or put straw down, and you always know that your not going to break anything just by touching! Wow! I am so deep today 😀
    Congrat’s on the melon.It looks lovely!

    • I am very pleased with the melons and I will definately grow them again.
      You are right about the vegetanle garden. It caters for everyones needs too i.e. if you like things all over the place you can do this here or if you like straight lines you can also do this. A vegetable garden says a lot about the person tending to it doesn’t. By the way, the slabs certainly aren’t perfect lol, they look better on the photo than they actually are.

      • It is indeed a very good photo 🙂 I don’t believe you’ve seen my blog about it yet, but My husband and I moved the shed that the children had as a play house over about 12 feet so it could be reused as a chook house. This shed is as old as the house, so lets say about 60 years old, and it is well built, man! The only rotten bits in it were the ones near the open part, and it looks as good as ever, having been rolled head over turkey about three times to take up its new position (it was too heavy for us to carry, and too bendy to push, so our philosophy was, if it fell apart, so be it! But it didn’t!).

  3. I did the slab laying “penance” i laid a patio those i then lifted for the goat area, then they were relifted and i laid a path with them, they are now staying where they are lol
    Sue

    • Hi Christine. Some bottles last longer than others. I have found that the cheap white ‘handwash’ bottles have softer plastic so they last a lot longer than the drinks bottles which go brittle after a year or so. It’s a good way to reuse the bottles and it’s far cheaper than buying those ‘ball’ things to support your canes.

  4. How about drying the petals of your Calendular? You can use them to make lip balms and tinctures. I’m just getting into this at the moment and will be blogging about it 🙂

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