Tag Archive | Allotment in the snow

Seedlings, Snow and Painting

The snow has been beautiful to look at this week and it’s been so much fun for children, even though it has caused a lot of traffic disruption.

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Both my daughters’ schools were closed on Monday, so it was lovely to have them around.   I took my youngest daughter sledging and I’ve got to say we had a wonderful time.  My girls also built a snow man in the garden and they had a snowball fight with their dad, so they really took advantage of the heavy snow.

On Monday, I was worried about the heavy snow affecting my polytunnel at my allotment, so I went to check it.  There really was a lot of snow on it, so I knocked it all off with my brush.  Unfortunately, it had done a bit of damage, as the plastic was beginning to pull away from the door frame.  I will have to fix this on a dry day.

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My allotment visit was at 3.30pm, which was fine to get into the gate at the allotment site, but unfortunately by the time I left, the locks on both the allotment gates had frozen up as the temperature must have dropped.

I must admit I was beginning to panic a bit, having visions of being stuck all night in a cold dark allotment, but luckily someone came out of a house next to the gate so I was able to shout him.  He poured hot water over the lock and at last I was free!  I certainly won’t be going to my allotment in the snow at that time of day again!

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Remember the nineteen packets of unopened seeds I put on EBay…well I managed to sell them for £8.44, plus postage.  I know it isn’t loads of money but ‘every little helps’ as Tesco says in it’s well know advert.

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My seedlings are doing well on my window sill.  The coriander is looking a bit ‘leggy’, due to the low light level and the seedlings lean towards the light.  I take all of my seedlings off the window sill at night (so they don’t get too cold) and turn them around the next day, when I put them back on again.

To help with the light, I have covered some old cardboard in foil and put it at the back of all of my seedlings, this will allow the light to  reflect back onto them, to stop them leaning so much.

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My leeks are coming up nicely too.  I had wanted to move them quite quickly into my cold greenhouse, but the temperatures have been so low, even in the day time, that I haven’t been able to do this yet.  This means I will have to ‘harden them off’ first (which means gradually leaving them outside for a longer period each day, so it’s not such a shock for the plants).  I will wait until the weather warms up a little in the day time.

My onions are also doing well.  I used a pinch of seed in each individual module and they have germinated.  I then ‘thinned them out’ so there is now just one onion in each module.

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The onions will stay on my window sill for quite some time now.  I do have an electric greenhouse heater, but it does cost quite a lot to run, so I use my window sills until they are at bursting point.

Finally, my basil is also peeping through now, but my peppers are still in my propagator with no sign of germination.

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As it has been so cold and a thick layer of snow has covered everything outside, I haven’t been able to get to my allotment to actually do anything.  So I decided it was time I did the long overdue painting job on my hallway and landing.

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Over a year ago, my dad had some dated B&Q vouchers given to him (compensation from his housing association), which he knew he wouldn’t use, so he bought me some paint for my hallway.  I was really grateful to him as paint is expensive.

As my daughter had problems with her asthma for months last year, I daren’t start to paint just in case the smell from the paint upset her even more.  So that’s why it took so long to start.

I started by sanding down all the woodwork

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and then I painted the ceiling with a roller.

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I used a paint pad to put the paint onto the walls, which quickly coated it well.

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I only needed to use one coat of paint on the walls as it is a Dulux paint which is good quality and I’m actually painting it the same colour.  I think the colour looks ‘homely’ with the good quality carpet that we inherited ten years ago, when we moved in.

I am not the best painter around, so I used masking tape to cover the woodwork while I painted the walls.

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Afterwards I started on the woodwork.  In the past I have always used gloss, but it really does smell, so I’ve used a B&Q ‘Anywhere’ paint which is waterbased.  I used it in my both my daughters bedrooms and it has been fine, I so I thought I’d give it a try in the hall.

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I’ve still got to finish the woodwork, but I quite enjoy doing it when I’m listening to our local radio station.  I find painting very therapeutic and it will be so rewarding when it’s finished.

The ceiling after I painted it

The ceiling after I painted it

Painting your house yourself, is far cheaper than paying for a professional to paint it.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

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Seed Sorting, First Sowings and Seed Potatoes

It’s been snowing all day here.

Earlier, I walked down to my allotment to check it over and it looked beautiful:

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Unfortunately my nets have taken a battering!  I cleared the snow off them but I will have to sort them out properly another day:

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Over the last two weeks I have been sorting all of my seeds out.

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As I have four allotments, I do need a lot of seeds.  I have a spreadsheet with all the seed packets listed on it, this way I know every single packet of seed that I have and the date they need to be used by (though some seeds I keep an awful lot longer than the date on the packet e.g. brassicas, as I know they will be ok to use a long time after the ‘sow by’ date).

 I do have a weakness with seeds and I find it hard to resist a free packet or a bargain, so after sorting them out I found I had quite a few duplicates.  I have never sold seeds on EBay before, but as there were so many I decided to give it a try.  I’m not sure if they will sell or not, but I will let you know.

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During the next week I will be sitting down and working out exactly what vegetables and salads I want to grow on my allotment this year.  After this I will work out a month by month plan, showing exactly when to sow my seeds and whether the seeds need heat or not.  I will show you the end results after I have completed this.

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Over the last two weeks I have sowed my first seeds for 2013.  Before I did this I made some more seed labels and in Mrs Thrift fashion, I made them for free.

All I use is an old plastic milk bottle that has been washed out.

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I cut it up into labels, with a point at one end and write the plant type on the label in permanent ink.

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The seeds I sowed were sweet peppers, coriander, basil, leeks and onions.  I have put these in a propagator on my window sill until they germinate, at which time the propagator lids will come off.  The leeks will then go into my unheated greenhouse,  while the others will be grown inside my house, where it is warmer.

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I also planted some more garlic.  Previously I planted some garlic at my allotment, but it has been so wet that hardly any have grown and I suspect they have actually rotted in the ground.  As a back up, I have planted some more in pots, which I will keep in my cold greenhouse for now.

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The broadbeans that I planted in December are just poking there heads through the compost, so I am really pleased with this.  These were planted into cardboard toilet roll tubes.

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Unfortunately, the broad beans I planted in pots at the end of October are really very leggy and probably won’t make very good plants now.  Unfortunately they are the result of mild weather and the fact that I haven’t been able to plant them into my allotment, due to the ridiculous amount of wet weather we have had for weeks on end.   I may just plant them in my polytunnel to see what happens.

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My two free strawberry plants from Spalding bulbs are still sitting nicely in my cold greenhouse.  I will plant them in the spring.

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Last week I brought my seed potatoes.  I usually buy them from a place called ‘Hawgrips’ which is in Enderby, Leicester.  I like to buy them early as I get a bigger choice of varieties to choose from and I make sure I get the ones I want.  I also like the fact that you buy them loose, rather than in bags, as I work out exactly how many I need and just count them into bags.

I have chosen my usual two favourites:

Marfona (A second early) and

Picasso (an early maincrop so this helps to miss the blight).

This year I have decided to also grow ‘Desiree’ potatoes, after much discussion with one of my fellow allotment friends.  I had such a big problem with slugs last year and my friends’ Desiree potatoes didn’t seem to have a problem, so I thought I’d try them.  I let you know how I get on.

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When I bought the potatoes home, I put them into trays to ‘chit’ them.  ‘Chitting’ just means that you are encouraging the seed potatoes to sprout before you plant them outside.  All you need to do is stand the tubers with the eyes facing upwards, in trays or old egg boxes.

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Contrary to popular belief, chitting potatoes is not essential, except for early varieties, to produce an earlier maturing crop.  However, if you buy your main crop early like I do, then you may as well ‘chit’ them as well.

Place the potatoes in a cool, light place.  I leave mine in our bedroom, as it’s the coolest room in the house…so romantic!

I hope we have a better crop of potatoes to harvest this year, as they were full of slug holes in 2012.

Last years potato crop

Last years potato crop

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.