Francis goes green

Francis king

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wah hey!!!

Fran today has signed up for an allotment... I have to go back soon and pick up my keys!! I'm all excited- I've been on the waiting list for... three years... in some parts of the country you can't give allotments away- where I live all the hippies want them so they can join the food co-op... !

the plot is so overgrown that the allotment man isn't going to charge me any rent! (is that a good or a bad thing..?)

I currently have... half a greenhouse, and half a shed... I can cobble together half a shed in no time... but I cannot fathom how to ressurect the greenhouse, as my glass making skills are, shall we say, limited...

the ground is atrocious- although, at least, flat-

the soil quality is poor- no humus, so dry it's like grey sand, there's so many brambles I thought I'd stumbled on the set of Sleeping Beauty, slap bang in the middle of the site are the remnants of an old man-made pond, and there is not quite enough fence to surround all sides of my plot, but I am, well.. pleased...

yes, I am easily pleased- a patch of mud and I'm away!

oh, I have such plans for my little piece of heaven- I have already created a neat little three field system on paper, where I rotate my crops, I have plans to grow herbs and berries for teas and jams and I hope to be able to grow enough lovely food to feed myself all year round- I'm even planning to experiment with bottling and pickling and freezing my surplus- should there be any...

I am currently visualising the piles of tomatoes, crisp rocket and basil on my late summer salad plate, my dessert strawberries and cream, and I am now considering investing in a chest freezer and greenhouse later in the year, should my green fingered interests be sustainable...

So, are there any other allotment ppl around here? If there is- how long have you been doing it? Any great tips for Fran? Remember I'm in the UK though, so if you live in California please don't tell me about your fabulous avacadoes as they will take the shine of my slug ridden lettuces and I shall grow despondent before I even begin!

I have roped in one of my strong brothers to help me clear the site... we start work tomorrow... I am curiously looking forward to it!
 

wil

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an allotment... from reading I guess you've been granted (by the gov?) a plot of land to till for free?

out here we've got a service where you send your soil and they provide an analysis...then tell you the nutrients you are lacking...and if you are lucky plants you can plant to till under which will provide some of those nurtients.

a compost pile is a must...no need hauling away anything..and create more fertile dirt for the future.

rotating cool...also look into plant symbiosis stuff, who likes to be put next to each other, who gives off gasses to repel others bugs etc.

obviously plant what is best for your area...but also look into espalier so you can get more in a smaller area and easier harvest...

greenhouse...trade skills with your other allotters...you scratch my back I'll till yours... cold frame is the best anyway..uses ground heat when needed and easily removed when weather warms up.
 

Tao_Equus

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Congratulations!!

Edinburgh has an even longer waiting list due to the vibrant middle classes who pave over their gardens to park their two or three cars and get an allotment to prove their 'green enlightenment'.

But I was lucky enough to have a friend offer me half of hers and whilst down working there a couple of weeks ago I managed to swing half of another plot too. So I have about 90 sq M on two nearby sites.

The first site was in reasonable condition and only needed a weed and dig, though I double dug the whole lot. I already have my early potatoes, lettuce, onions and shallots in. And in a verge around its perimeter I have planted gooseberry, thornless blackberry, raspberry and loganberry. In the coldframe I have two kinds of beans on the go.

The other site was more like how you described yours, though it is a rich earthy loam, and it has taken me about 75 hrs to dig out the bramble and nettle roots and get the beds prepared.

I have done quite a lot of veg growing in the past and it is an immense pleasure to return to it. I wish you a bountiful success on yours!!
 

shawn

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The greenhouse could be made serviceable (provided the frame is intact) with some thick poly sheeting (comes in a roll, used for house vapor barrier)
It is cheap and will last for at least one season, but you need to set up some means of catching all that rain that the plot under cover will not be getting.

There are these small blue slug pellets you can buy to ward away the unwanted beasties and they are non-toxic.

To save room you can plant things like strawberries vertical in tubes.
Makes picking easier and keeps the rot from getting to them.
You can use sewer/water pipe with small holes cut out for the plants and water them from the top.
Do some internet searching on it, there are lots of people around the world growing things that way.

Good luck with your garden.
Ours got hailed on twice last year, hard, and was wiped out.
Store bought veggies all winter.
 

path_of_one

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That's awesome if the govt gives you guys allotments. We occasionally have non-profit community gardens, but they tend to be small and only in urban areas. For whatever reasons, people in the suburbs here have giant houses with grass yards and though they could grow lots of food, they choose not to.

I'm afraid my advice won't work due to climate (my knowledge is based on California where we have the lovely avacados), but I'll toss out a few suggestions.

If you have enough sunlight for it, plant squash among your other plants. Intercropping rather than row-cropping can help a lot with pest issues in an organic way. Squash has natural pesticides, so if you can grow it among your other plants, it will keep them pest-free. In Mexico, they grow corn beans and squash together- the corn provides carbs and is a living stake for the beans to climb up, the beans are nitrogen-fixing so you can get by without fertilizers (though compost is always helpful) and the squash lives between corn/bean plants giving pesticide goodness.

I always had better luck with raised beds, too. It seemed to keep the weeds and pests at bay and I had to weed less often.

There are good books/pamphlets out there about the specifics on composting and caring for each plant.
 

greymare

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iagree with the raised beds. there is so much benefit,expecially if the ground is abit ordinary.
you can use the existing ground as a base, build your beds how you want them and space them out, and add all the fertilizer, (cow poo is best), and soil you need. also the higher you have your beds the less bending you have to do. lol. i havent grown veges in years but once upon a time, i did a pretty mean vege patch. I used to do a bit of "companion planting". a general rule of thumb is that what goes together when cooking usually goes together whenplanting.
for eg, tomatoes" plant basil between your tomatoe plants, and this will keep bugs away, etc. (its onthe net, im sure). Also, get a worm farm, put all your used veges scraps in it, and then you will have plenty of fertilizer both in lovely squishy worm castings, and the liquid is good for plants too.
Good luck, and i am looking forward to seeing pics of your bounty. lol.
 

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lucky you; l feel proximity is a bonus to successful gardening unless you are unemployed!

as l garden for a living l had to give up on my own, even cutting the grass in the summer seems unsurmountable after a day doing someone elses. l agree with the companion planting eg carrots with onions to deter carrot fly [or a 2 feet fleece barrier cos they only fly so high], horseradish with potatoes [you only need a tiny root at each corner- added bonus grated with lemon a cough chest buster]; sage with brassicas; peas and lettuce with strawberries, which benefit with borage [for joy] next to it. all mediterranean herbs prefer infertile soil [except basil in this country which likes mollycoddling at beginning].

the best flower to deter bugs is tagetes or african marigolds [not the french calendula which is great for macerating in oil for the skin btw]- line tagetes everywhere. soak tobacco and mix with washing up liquid to spray on aphids.

the major advice, for fertiliser [liquid 'manure], mulching and deep frying in batter - is comfrey, again you only need a little root, to make more, the merrier, you get several cuts. 2 varieties blue [russian] and the local smaller leafed yellow- both symphytum, or boneset [used in hompeopathy]. nettles soaked for a while like comfrey rich in potassium, for tomatoes.

have more than one compost heap to turn one into the other. the weeds that grow naturally there determines what the ground lacks in chemicals therefore a valuable indicator so can leave as a cropline, or soak and use as liquid manure else compost.

enjoy :]
 

Tao_Equus

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lucky you; l feel proximity is a bonus to successful gardening unless you are unemployed!

as l garden for a living l had to give up on my own, even cutting the grass in the summer seems unsurmountable after a day doing someone elses. l agree with the companion planting eg carrots with onions to deter carrot fly [or a 2 feet fleece barrier cos they only fly so high], horseradish with potatoes [you only need a tiny root at each corner- added bonus grated with lemon a cough chest buster]; sage with brassicas; peas and lettuce with strawberries, which benefit with borage [for joy] next to it. all mediterranean herbs prefer infertile soil [except basil in this country which likes mollycoddling at beginning].

the best flower to deter bugs is tagetes or african marigolds [not the french calendula which is great for macerating in oil for the skin btw]- line tagetes everywhere. soak tobacco and mix with washing up liquid to spray on aphids.

the major advice, for fertiliser [liquid 'manure], mulching and deep frying in batter - is comfrey, again you only need a little root, to make more, the merrier, you get several cuts. 2 varieties blue [russian] and the local smaller leafed yellow- both symphytum, or boneset [used in hompeopathy]. nettles soaked for a while like comfrey rich in potassium, for tomatoes.

have more than one compost heap to turn one into the other. the weeds that grow naturally there determines what the ground lacks in chemicals therefore a valuable indicator so can leave as a cropline, or soak and use as liquid manure else compost.

enjoy :]

What a wonderfully concise and sage bit of advice! I have already set on the course that uses all of it too. Just sowed the marigold into trays yesterday. Nasturtiums are also good close to courgette or any of the marrows. And I would add the warning to keep the comfrey well confined.... but still keep it, it is gold for the organic gardener.
 

nativeastral

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What a wonderfully concise and sage bit of advice! I have already set on the course that uses all of it too. Just sowed the marigold into trays yesterday. Nasturtiums are also good close to courgette or any of the marrows. And I would add the warning to keep the comfrey well confined.... but still keep it, it is gold for the organic gardener.

yeh always cheaper to sow than buy else gardening becomes a rather expensive venture. btw strawberry wine is delicious, raspberry difficult to get right, but a bit of port added to bottles mmm.. roll on da summer!
 

Tao_Equus

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yeh always cheaper to sow than buy else gardening becomes a rather expensive venture. btw strawberry wine is delicious, raspberry difficult to get right, but a bit of port added to bottles mmm.. roll on da summer!

Yeh roll on! Lets hope its a great one !

My favourite home brew is rowan berry wine. After mashing just add half a dozen cut up oranges and lemons to them and you get something akin to a vermouth, great with ice in the summer. I have two blackberries for wine. They are a very tasty, large and heavy fruiting variety that my mum n dad have been growing in their garden in Cornwall for the past 10 years. They got 75lbs of fruit off their small patch last year. I have tried the wine from them and its rich like a good Cabernet. Though my dad has been homebrewing for about 40 years and I do not expect to manage the quality he achieves. Which reminds me I need to shop tomorrow for tubing to tap birch sap!
 

nativeastral

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hi
never made rowan berry and they are so plentiful; l agree blackcurrant is the best, redcurrant more tart; l have to go 15 miles south to 'royal' deeside to get another fave, bramble, but its all timetimetime;;; gone are the days when the kids were wee and l could while away the hours picking buckets of daisies!!
birch yum and so easy straight off the tree..may try and find time for that. just bottled some, em hemp wine tonight actually for easter camping, made in august - added young oak leaves,parsley and lemon balm [for vit c!], tastes on the side of whiskey rather than wine lol but thats why fruit so different from erb, cant compare ; the worst [and last] was rosehip, so heavy and sweet [good for deserts] but the tiny wee thorns killed me for months.
still got broom and gorse to bottle but the gorse nae clearing [squeezed the muslin to much!], one of them is psychotropic [?] aparently. certainly remember a friends young army son going doolala one summer, but he had his thumb stuck in the the demi john handle so scoofed the lot, a bit dangerous perhaps!
 

juantoo3

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Excellent thread, so I won't bore with details (most is already covered anyway).

soak tobacco and mix with washing up liquid to spray on aphids.

Don't use tobacco on tomatoes, potatoes or eggplant. All of the nightshades are subject to tobacco mosaic virus. If you smoke or use tobacco products, be sure to wash very well before working with the nightshade crops.

There are these small blue slug pellets you can buy to ward away the unwanted beasties and they are non-toxic.

A bowl of stale beer works wonderfully to catch and kill snails and slugs, and I would guess even less toxic. Or use a piece of scrap plywood to gather the slugs: lay the board on the ground, in the morning the slugs will be on the underside, scrape them off into a bucket of water. They can't swim.

out here we've got a service where you send your soil and they provide an analysis...then tell you the nutrients you are lacking...and if you are lucky plants you can plant to till under which will provide some of those nurtients.
In the States: it is called the Agricultural Extention service, it is usually facilitated by a local university, and they are a wealth of information. Most any kind of edible beans can be grown and tilled under to add nitrogen to the soil, as can hairy vetch, and clovers. There is also one type of tree that puts nitrogen into the soil, but I don't recall the name just now.

Oh, about companion planting...an excellent little book if you can find it, "Carrots love Tomatoes" I think the author is Louise Riotte, or something like that. Strawberries also like onions. Important to remember though, do *not* plant onions with beans, they retard each other.

Another good flower for repellent properties is Nasturtium, which has the added benefit of being edible. You can also eat the marigolds and rose, among others, as long as they have not been chemically treated. Don't eat the flowers from the bouquet delivered by the flower shop.

Let's see: covered companion planting and raised beds. There is another book called "Square Foot Gardening," and then I have used principles of container gardening and bonzai (had five year old pomegranate trees before I finally put them in the ground last year) as well...Florida is just so darn hot in the summer. It's a lot to digest but a lot of really good info that will bring you up to speed in a hurry.

Oh, and resist the urge to work in the garden when it is wet. Working it while wet is the surest way to spread any disease organisms that may be present.

Best of wishes on the new garden!
 
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Tao_Equus

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There is also one type of tree that puts nitrogen into the soil, but I don't recall the name just now.
The alders (Alnus) species all fix nitrogen, (well technically they do not, it is the symbiotic rhizome that does the work), and work best in wet ground you would not really consider cultivating....unless you want to grow rice maybe! But if you do have a bit of adjacent land with a flush or excess water they can be useful in diverting it. It is not a prolific root spreader but it does release lots of tiny seeds from its cones that germinate easily in seed beds and can give you extra work weeding. There are some quite small shrubby species but my experience has only been with the full blown tree species of the common (european), the red and the black alder.
 

Tao_Equus

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hi
never made rowan berry and they are so plentiful; l agree blackcurrant is the best, redcurrant more tart; l have to go 15 miles south to 'royal' deeside to get another fave, bramble, but its all timetimetime;;; gone are the days when the kids were wee and l could while away the hours picking buckets of daisies!!
birch yum and so easy straight off the tree..may try and find time for that. just bottled some, em hemp wine tonight actually for easter camping, made in august - added young oak leaves,parsley and lemon balm [for vit c!], tastes on the side of whiskey rather than wine lol but thats why fruit so different from erb, cant compare ; the worst [and last] was rosehip, so heavy and sweet [good for deserts] but the tiny wee thorns killed me for months.
still got broom and gorse to bottle but the gorse nae clearing [squeezed the muslin to much!], one of them is psychotropic [?] aparently. certainly remember a friends young army son going doolala one summer, but he had his thumb stuck in the the demi john handle so scoofed the lot, a bit dangerous perhaps!

It is the "blackberry" I have, and they are thornless to boot!! They are tastier than the majority of wild bramble and the fruit can be 3x the size!

I have had hemp beer, (lager type), that was delicious but never made it myself. And never come across a hemp wine! Sounds lethal!! Neither gorse or broom!! Broom not so common in the Lothians as up by you but there is plenty of gorse.

It all comes down to personal taste but there is something about rowan wine that I cannot put my finger on that makes it different. Not psychotropic but another effect. Tho maybe its just I used to save it for sunny lazy afternoons and that always feels so good!!
 

juantoo3

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Thanks about the Alders, Tao, I didn't remember the name. And you're right, growing veggies near trees is counter-productive, the tree roots often put out certain chemicals that stunt or prevent other competing plants from using the same soil. Walnut trees are famous examples, not much of anything will grow near them.
 

Faithfulservant

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Congrats Francis. I wouldnt be as excited. We had a huge acre-sized garden when I was a kid with every freakin veggie you could imagine and my job was to weed it.. We also had an orchard with apples pears and cherry trees and I had to pick up the rotten fruit off the ground for composting.. which stinks to high heaven.. thats another horrible memory for me..

Needless to say I hate to garden and leave my gardens and gardening to my sims. I hire a landscaper to weed my flower beds. lol

Good luck though :)
 

shawn

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The plywood for slugs sounds like a better trick and cheaper by far.

When we lived on our acreage we had many saskatoon bushes and we would get about a 50 gal drum full or more every year, but it was a constant battle with the poplar saplings and rose bushes, although we did make lots of rosehip and rose petal goodies.

We found a variety of raspberry called prima-cane which the first year came in a box and were very dried out....I thought they were dead.
But I soaked them for a bit and set them in a bed I had been working for 2 years and they produced fruit that season, unlike every other variety of rasp I know of.
They were very reliable producers and bore fruit up until it got too cold to survive (we would cover them to get a few more weeks).
The fruit was very tasty.
 
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