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Spud Grubber's Blog

Guy Barter

  • Date Joined: 15 Jan 2007

Recent Comments

  • Two weeks

    Guy Barter on 30 Apr 2007 at 11:58 AM

    When you work for the RHS it is very difficult to take holidays in summer, but this year I am going to take two weeks off after Chelsea flower show; my first summer holiday for several years. 

    So not only have I got to get my work in order but the allotment will need to be in state that can be left for two weeks without needing bird protection, watering, weeding, spraying or gathering.  Fortunately the remarkably warm weather means that I can shift much work back into May.  This has the bonus that if it continues dry crops will get their roots out in May while the nights are longish and dewy and there is still much moisture deep in the soil. 


  • First salads

    Guy Barter on 25 Apr 2007 at 10:41 PM

    The first salads from the garden are reaching my plate now, but from the herb patch rather than the salad crops.  Sorrel and chives are abundant and tasty, and these are supplemented with lettuce ‘thinnings' and divine, crunchy mild radishes.  Sorrel in particular is a most valuable crop for early spring.  Sorrel is a perennial and grows anywhere, although my acid soil probably suits it better than most.  In fact it is a common weed in my back garden, although it seems well behaved in the herb garden.  

    Disease almost always ruins my onions if grown on the allotment, so I grow these elsewhere. Allotments are rife with downy mildew spores spewed out from onions inadvertently left in the soil from last year by careless plotholders.  This disease is very damaging in such a low lying boggy site.  


  • Potato planting

    Guy Barter on 17 Apr 2007 at 05:56 PM

    Potatoes were planted on Saturday - 11 cultivars, six of which I have not grown before.  Conditions were perfect with moist warm friable soil. 

    A shallow trench was drawn out, fertiliser mixed into the soil in the bottom of the trench (chicken manure pellets at 150g per square metre and sulphate of potash at 15g per square metre).  The seed tubers were planted into this and then growmore at 100g per square metre was sprinkled alongside the rows and then raked with soil to make a slight ridge over the original trench.  The spuds will send up shoots through the enriched soil.  The whole surface of the plot was worked in the course of planting, killing all weeds. 


  • Marauding mice

    Guy Barter on 13 Apr 2007 at 10:51 AM

    Marauding mice have invaded my coldframe and scoffed my cos lettuce ‘Parris Island' seedlings and most of the tomato ‘Ferline' seedlings.  The former is the new commercial standard large cos lettuce which I was looking forward to trying and ‘Ferline' is remarkably slow to get potato blight and indeed usually free of the disease if treated with fungicides in late summer.  I rely on it to fill the freezer with tomato sauce.  Their mousey capers have been brought to a swift end and, after an emergency visit to Wisley plant centre, seeds resown.   I am particularly aggrieved as my wild flower meadow is next to my plant raising area and I rather hoped hedgehogs and slowworms would keep down the pests, rather than it serve as reservoir of trouble. 

    I am now ready to start sowing peas again as the preceding crop is 5cm high.  Weeds are a major problem in late sown peas.  The weed seeds have germinated nicely and a good raking of the dry soil surface has polished these off - this will greatly reduce ‘weed pressure' on the subsequent pea crop.  To help with hoeing they are sown in twin rows 30cm apart to allow easy weed elimination.  


  • Growing weather at last

    Guy Barter on 07 Apr 2007 at 03:40 PM

    Wisley is a dangerous place to work - the plant centre is so tempting.  Enthused by the 'growing weather' of recent days I succumbed enough to buy some lettuce plants and after raking in 100g per square metre of growmore, these have been planted under fleece, followed by watering and the merest scattering of slug pellets. 

    Then the carrots, lettuces, parsnips and radishes sown in late February/early March were thinned to one every 5cm - they will be thinned later to their final spacing and given more fertiliser. 


  • Seizing the moment

    Guy Barter on 02 Apr 2007 at 10:47 AM

    Timeliness is everything in allotment gardening, and, I am ashamed to say, early April is sometimes, in wet years, the last chance I have to be timely before things, especially weeds, start to run away with me.

    Fortunately the flooded area has dried out, helped by inserting a fork every 30cm and levering the sodden soil upwards.  After spreading 100g per square metre of dried poultry manure pellets and 20g per square metre of sulphate of potash the area was rotovated.  Unfortunately the driest part was too dry and the machine dug itself in and wettest part was too wet and I dared not cultivate too deep for fear of bringing up raw soil.  The result is that the soil is not in the best condition and crops will suffer in summer.  I should have dug it over in autumn, but I waited too long for a dry spell. Timeliness is sometimes not easy to achieve