Monday, 30 March 2009

Tarting it up!

Yes, it's a fold away shelf.
It took me about 35 hours to assemble (slight exaggeration but that's what it felt like), because the instructions, like that of the main GH are written in a totally different language to English, and although it is spelt in English and looks like the English language, it reads like Japanese!

However I am proud of the final result as I had to practically disengage the roof from the walls twice - why don't they tell you this when you are putting the main frame together e.g. "just in case you are going to be adding some accessories, please remember to add a few extra slip bolts, before bolting the roof to the walls." Simple eh!

Now this is Nigel & Arthur's handy work. Nigel has created the frame and will kindly angle grind some paving slabs in half to fit the gaps and Arthur - my new best mate - carted a few wheel barrow loads of wood chip up from the other end of the plot for me. I say, I think it looks rather jolly!

I can't take all the credit for this FAB sign. Well I can for the painting but not for the wording. You see it's a copy. Not a fake, but a copy. My lovely co allotmenteer Mo gave me the idea, so for the original go to her site - Allotment Heaven & she kindly gave me her permission to use her idea too!
Mine is not finished yet. It needs some added je ne sais quoi. Watch this space!

Last but not least is my milk urn. My lovely Uncle Johnny Sporle painted this for me when I lived in Wales, and despite it's weight, I have always kept it close to home, from Carmarthen (well New Inn, Pencader) to Sutton to Chipstead to Streatham and now to Carshalton.
I think it makes a FAB and ORIGINAL plot marker - don't you?
Ta ta for now everyone - check back soon as I have done more digging today!!

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Greenhouse News!

Thanks to my
(now that's a phrase you don't hear being used very often, but I say my words with total love, gratitude and thanks)
my greenhouse has progressed from just being a frame with polycarbonate sheets to a

Not only did she offer me her greenhouse staging which was a perfect fit for my 6'4" x 6'4" GH but she took it apart, baged all the nuts and bolts AND transported it from Ferring on the South Coast to my home in Carshalton on the Hill in Surrey! Oh and I forgot to mention that she even took pictures of it for me, so that I would know how to nut and bolt it all together again. How brilliant is that. Good thinking Mrs C!

And here it is, in all it's glory in my lovely new GH.

Another thanks today, goes to my good friend Lotty from Notty (you know who you are!) who has 3, yes 3 GH's

Via a chat on MSN yesterday he advised that I should membrane the ground first, so that I wouldn't get any weeds through, so that's what I did - and totally unaided too, yes, shock horror, all by myself, oh apart from the pair of scissors - they helped me.

Before laying the weed suppressing material, I laid the paving slabs (please notice they are PINK as PINK is the new GREEN) on the bare earth to make sure they would be nice and level. A bit of adjustment here, and a bit of extra earth under the other bit and I was happy that they weren't going to rock around (like restaurant tables often do - how annoying is that now ladies and gentlemen??? Its about as irritating as someone driving a car with no road tax - another pet hate of mine)

Now the plan is to get 2 pieces of wood down either side and across the top end of the slabs to form a "lip" which Nigel (lotty angel) has kindly offered to do for me tomorrow, and as the council has just unloaded another batch of free wood chip by the main gate, I am going to fill the base with that (in the hope there is pine chippings as I love that smell!) Again, I have been offered help in the form of Arthur (the same Arthur that bought me the thermometers and chopped up my brussel stalks) who said he would "barrow some up for me."

I am a spoilt rotten plot holder!

Lucky old me!!

Now to the hard work.

Just in case you didn't get my FINE TILTH mentioned in yesterdays' blog posting I thought I would give you a before and after example, so pay attention now.....

To the left of the picture is the one I prepared earlier and in true Blue Peter style - the fine tilth
To the right of the picture is newly dug (today) and yet to be de-stoned, de-rooted, de- weeded & raked to a fine tilth.
At this rate I won't need Mr Rotavator! There's no stopping me now!

And finally - this is my new GH thermometer that Arthur bought me as a present in pride of place!

Sunshine is forecast for tomorrow, so no hail storms to dodge, so I'll be back down the lotty bright and early to put up my other staging, help Arthur with the wood chips and probably do some more digging!

This is Ali Campbell reporting from Plot 144 - Stanley Road Allotments and Garden Society

Friday, 27 March 2009

New Spade is purchased!!

I arrived at 144 bright and early and started forking over my previously dug row. I pulled out as many stones and roots as possible and raked it to a fine tilth. If you squint and put your nose right up against the screen you can just make out the fine tilth! Just in case you can't it's between the fruit trees to the left of your picture and the red trug on the right.

I couldn't do any serious digging, as I didn't have a spade. Well I do have one but the handle/shaft end is in the shed and the spade bit is in the compost - yes, it's broke (see previous post) Ok, so it's in the photo above I hear you thinking, but that picture was taken after what you are about to read below, so keep up now please!

However help was at hand! Yes one of the allotment HERO's aka Nigel appeared and told me that I could go to the Trading Hut to choose which spade would be best.

I decided on the more manly one of the two as the other one was a little twee, and the width of the spade's head itself was about 2/3rd the size - so my decision was made and my new spade was purchased. Ok so I still have to pay for it, but that's besides the point!
Now there's more!! More? Yes - more....
Whilst I was at the Trading Hut chosing spade, Arthur came in with a Wilkinsons bag. At the AGM the other night, he told me he was going there and also said that they sold Greenhouse thermometers, and said he would pick me up one!
Not only did he get me one - he got me TWO! A big one and small one.
He also said that they were a present for me.
Bless him.
He brought a tear to my eye with his kind gesture.

Here they both are - ready to go - just need hanging up.

And finally, this is one of my little Sunflower seedlings, that I planted yesterday morning, and below is a picture of the row of Hops plants and Sunflowers - I think it will look lovely when it's all in full growth!

This is one of the first buds that I found on the Plum Tree - phew - it's alive!

And finally, one more picture of my latest Greenhouse Accessory......

No wonder I was feeling a little chilly.

Thanks for reading and come back shortly - If you don't want to miss a post just click on the "follow me" on the left!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Digging merrily away.....

On a bright and crisp spring morning, I decide to use natures gym in exchange for the norm of the boxed in sweaty variety, and headed down to the lotty for some good old fashioned digging!
I started by the newly planted fruit trees, which are now all in infant stages of budding, which I am thrilled about, as I didn't know if they would "take" to their new home.
Anyway, back to the digging.
I started by the fruit trees and up against the fence and dug along the width of the plot heading towards the path. I dug about 3 spade widths along and was about 3/4's of the way done when disaster struck!!!

My spade, which I have had for many long, loyal & faith years, decided it had had enough. It snapped when it hit a root, I went backwards, fell straight onto my fortunately well cushion posterior and my legs flew over my head, involving me in an almost backwards somersault, which haven't attempted since PT in primary school!

Fortunately no one was around. None the less I gracefully picked myself up from my "heaped" position on the floor and stood there - spade handle in hand - and looked from that to the spade head, back and forth like you would in a tennis match, for what must have been 5 minutes.

I felt a Victor Meldrew moment coming on

"I cannot believe it!"

Determined to finish (I've started so I'll finish (Mastermind moment now)) my row, I grabbed my fork, which was fortunately in one piece due to it's metal/plastic shaft and not a bit of wood in sight, and continued to dig the ground.

The end result that morning, and just in the nick of time for me to get home in time to start my working day (just in case any of you thought that I was a lady of leisure or a lady that lunches) was a newly dug row ready for de rooting and de stoning another morning.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Green is the new Pink!

Saturday 21st March.....
After a long hard slog at the office, I heard the good news that my little Irish friend (and I say little because I am 5ft and he's probably only 5'2" so a nice height as far as my opinion goes) Joe is, in all his madness, returning to plot 144 for more greenhouse torture!

I say greenhosue torture, but it is more like poly carbonate torture!

I read the instructions fully, back to front, up, down and sideways as women tend to do and men don't, and established that last weeks efforts to get the polycarbonate panels in at the end of the day were totally fruitless - why - because the instructions had been read by not only my husbang but by the Mulligans junior!

After a week on my garage floor I had it all sussed, so back they came to 144 and up they went.

I arrived at my plot at around 8.30am. I started with a brew - well I put the kettle on anyway. As all you campers will already know - it take an absolute age to boil even the worlds smallest kettle on a calor camping stove, so you have to pre empt your thirst. I pulled out all my brussels sprouts which has now left the top end of raised 2 bed free, and proceeded to harvest my brussels. I did this quite unaided, until I was left with the thick and hardy stalks. A quick run down to the Trading Hut to purchase a gardeners knife, only to be told "do it with a spade."


Yes - you chop it all up with your spade - super - how?

I was jetisoned from the trading hut with Arthur on my heel. Bless his cotton socks. Not only did he "spade" my brussel sprout stalks, but he also told me that they would be no good to me on the compost as they were too thick, and to bin them. Thank you Arthur.

Joe arrived - with chips (good thinking that man) and a Dr. Pepper (my fav!) at around 1pm and we got to work.

My nails are ruined, by the way. Where's my manicurist?

However the end result is well worth it.

All panelling is in place including the automatic vent and the louvre's! However it's not anchored down so lets hope we don't get a heavy wind (better get those brussel sprouts home quick!)

Sunday 22nd March.....
The day was started by a visit from the lovely Mrs C Senior, who kindly offered me her very brilliant and far superior to what I have bought, greenhouse staging!
It's currently in a few bits and pieces but will be easy peasy to put together one sunny afternoon and walk down to the new greenhouse once it's finished.

Green is the new PINK
Yes, I wanted pink, but I felt that my newly acquired committee status could be swiftly revoked if I was to choose baby or fuschia (pink that is), so I settled for holly - that is holly green.

Here is the lovely hubby making the first efforts with his brush and testing out the colour ( I think he may have still believed I went for a pink)

And here is the first lick of paint going on. He quickly went home soon after to read the Sunday papers, and i was left to finish off the rest, but I was greatful for his "starting it off"

Look at the difference already!

However - help was at hand for the high bits! Good old Nigel, well not so much of the old, but great height! The advantages are endless.

He went home for his Sunday lunch soon afterwards, but brought me a glass of Red Wine to keep me going - how lovely is that!!

Here is a rare picture of me - I remembered in my old age, that my camera has a self timer thingy on it, so there we go - Hey Presto!

And finally - the finished article.I spent another hour clearing the rest of the plot a little in preparation for Mr Rotivator, but I have alot of work to do yet - burning the never end roots and finding a new home for a large pile of hardcore - any takers? I also have to sort all the wood that I have been collecting - some pieces I want to keep and some can be shared around for making compost bins or raised beds etc. and I also have to move the wood store that her from 142 threatened to burn! Still going strong Mrs K - haha

Phew - I reckon I spent around 15 hours there this weekend - I will sleep well tonight!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The Official Opening

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Up they go!!!!!!

Once again, thanks to the Mulligan boys, up the shed goes!

Piecing it together


The final inspection by Nigel......

.....whilst Joe & Chris (plot 94a) gets on with the greenhouse

MMMMMMmmm I think that that bit goes there and this bit goes......

Mmmmm is that bit right?

Yes of course it is - silly me.....

And there they stand side by side.......

Me and the lovely Mulligan boys who helped me again, along with their Dad.

Work started at 8am. Joe and I tirelessly worked through the day, me only stopping for the Mayors arrival at 2pm (see

Ian popped in here and there and went to Reigate to collect further workers aka the Mulligan boys!

The shed went up relatively easy, well it was compared to the Greenhouse which was a Krypton Factor special. Thanks to Chris & Joe's heads together the base was quickly put together and even "trenched" in - again with Chris's refined digging skills.

We eventually got the whole frame up and all the little rubber window bits fitted, but we gave up due to sheer exhaustion, before the polycarbonate glazing went on.

We have decided to leave that for another day.

All the galzing is now in my garage and I am slowly tackling the mensa style instructions. 2 days later and after numerous cups of tea and loads of head scratching I have finally solved it - it was the same feeling you get when you solve a rubiks cube - yes it was that thrilling. The end decision is that it all needs to get taken back to site and put together there and then. I have also read on the www that it's best to silicone all the panels in once in place as they can take take flight in a high wind.

That wouldn't do now would it!!


This is Chris from plot 94a. Chris is also my neighbour and is the lucky winner of
half my shed!
Here he is relocating some stones / hardcore for his shed base

And here is the shed base of 94a - well the start of it anyway!

Ah! The sand and cement has arrived. Nice and early - phew!

And is being off loaded - what good timing

Meet the Mulligans!
Here we have (from left to right) Joseph, Reuben & Joe

They arrived in the nick of time with their cement mixer, buckets and a spade!

Good thinking guys, and here they are in action!

This is the start of my base......

Nigel and Chris are making the necessary measurments & Derek dug the framework trench.

They were all helping out, whilst I covered the shop and made tea! I couldn't have done it without them all.

The cement mixer is churning away

The Framework gets filled up and .....

Abaracadabara we have a shed base!
Oh great going boys.....

The Mulligans working on Chris's base

I finally got home at around 4pm after our chip shop lunch (yummy) and immediately started to bake the fairy cakes that I had promised Mavis our Chairwoman that I would bake some for the mayors visit. By this time I was knackered and alot of them look like they have been in a road traffic accident, but after borrowing some more icing sugar from Karen (allotment widow of plot 94a) they looked alot better!

So, an early start for me on the morning of Sunday the 15th as Joe said he will be there at 8am. Who am I to complain? I have been up since 6am anyway.

He said that he is determined to get the shed and the greenhouse up today - and with the mayor arriving at 2pm that could be quite an achievement!!!

The end