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Planting Garlic, Chitting Potatoes

Tuesday was one of those days that makes me wonder why on earth we moved to Wales. When I got up, it was drizzling and the clouds came down and shrouded us in thick fog so I couldn’t see above 10 yards. In fact the wettest place in the UK on Tuesday was Porthmadog which is just a few miles down the road from us.

Come the afternoon and things brightened up a bit so I headed out to the shed. Still not exactly a good day to be out in, but I was feeling a bit stir crazy inside.

Chitting Potatoes

My Charlotte and Setanta potatoes had arrived so I set those out to chit in seed trays in the shed. I’ve also got some Solent Wight garlic and those have been potted up. I’d have preferred to have them start off in the greenhouse but the south facing shed windows will give them plenty of light so long as I don’t leave them too long to plant out.

Planting Garlic in Pots

I first started garlic off in pots one year when I was really late with them and had excellent results and if you’re not getting good results with directly planted garlic then give this method a go.

Whilst I was doing this my cat Lotty spotted me in the shed and came trotting over with a mouse in her mouth. I firmly told her not to bring that into the shed and, to my surprise, she obediently stopped outside the door. She waited until I wasn’t looking and then quickly ran in, dumping the mouse under the potting bench. I reckon we’d be overrun with mice if it wasn’t for the cats but I could do without rotting corpses in the shed.

Internet Shopping

Isn’t the net wonderful? – bet you take it for granted as I do now but it’s only been in the last few years that we’ve had it. A few clicks of the mouse and typing in of the credit card number over the weekend and come Tuesday there’s a delivery man knocking on the door.

Log Splitting Maul

I bought myself a Roughneck log splitting maul over the net and couldn’t wait to try it out. I’ve a ‘log grenade’ which works but is a bit of a faff to use. You need to knock it in a bit with a lump hammer and then whack it with the sledgehammer to break up the log. The maul is just a matter of bashing the log.

It’s heavy, 8 1/2 pounds, head does the work and all you need to do is let it swing down onto the log. It does take some practice to get your eye in and so far I’m missing the target too often. I’m a little scared of getting it wrong and very aware that if it hit my leg I’d probably break it (my leg, not the maul) or worse.

I’m beginning to get the hang of it and I’ve split quite a few logs up small so they’ll dry out faster. The ones stacked in the hearth near (but not too near) the stove are down to 15% moisture so we won’t need to buy any wood for a few years.

No Electricity!

Wednesday was a difficult day. We had a note that the electricity would be off between 8.30 am and 4.30 pm. They changed a leaning pole with a transformer on it further up the circuit. At 8 o’clock a gang of men with tractors and flashing lights arrived to start taking the new pole up the track although the power didn’t actually go off until 9.15am.

Now the problem of working on a computer is that you’re a bit stuck without electricity. The laptop will run for 3 hours or so but without the modem which needs power, no broadband and no net. Not to mention the heating and hot water depend on electricity and being as it was another miserable day couldn’t even read a book without a light on.. which depends on power.

So we went out to the market at Pwllheli where I picked up 6 pairs of gardening gloves for a fiver and hit the charity shop in Criccieth where I picked up three designer label shirts for a pound apiece. No reason not to look smart on the plot at that price!

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
8 comments on “Planting Garlic, Chitting Potatoes
  1. Andy Mahoney says:

    Hi John,

    Nothing worse than no power!

    One of my offerings is a autonomous 230V Power Supply for times like this. It is all well and good using the FIT scheme to get cheap solar panels from the government but when the power goes down from the grid so does your house power.

    The FIT scheme was designed to reduce the need for our government to have to build more power stations by reducing the load on the national grid. In essence your FIT panels are MCP (Micro Co-generating Power Plants) like minature power plants fitted to rooftops that feed power back into the grid. The trouble is without a supply from the grid, the ‘Grid tried inverter’ shuts down and isolates the power from your solar panels.

    Hope that makes sense….

    My solution is as below.
    http://www.homebrewpower.co.uk/html-energy-saving-tips/can-i-power-a-socket-outlet-from-solar-panels.html

    Andy Mahoney

  2. Mary says:

    John, this may be a dumb question, but how can you tell your firewood is down to 15% moisture? Do you have some kind of instrument that measures it or is it the way it looks, or what? I’m asking because I have access to free wood which I am going to start using . I’m very new to all this sustainable stuff which, by the way, I think is super-duper. At 81 years of age I find I still have so very much to learn. Thanks to your great website I am finding the help I need. I appreciate you and your work. Mary from New Orleans

    • John says:

      @Mary: Not a dumb question at all 🙂
      I’ve a moisture meter purchased for £8 from Ebay. It’s battery operated and has two pins that you push into the wood. It then measures the moisture via the electrical resistance (I think)
      Not only does it measure wood, it also tells me we have more damp in our solid stone walls than the modern half of the house with brick cavity construction (what a surprise!)
      Keep on learning Mary, it keeps your brain young.

  3. Michelle says:

    Hi John

    Very interesting site. Am going to try my hand at an allotment and been treading through everything I can get my hands on. I have a nice piece of garden in front, opposite a main road, and I want to transform it with different veg. Am dividing it in four sections so I can rotate every year. I would also like to plant some fruit trees on the borders.

    Can you please help me with your suggestions of what I should grow, being the fact that my allotment is slopping.

    Thank you

  4. Christopher Whitworth says:

    Hi John, I just got some 1st & second earlies (Lady Christl and Nadine) from a good local nursery, I have started chitting them, should I also be thinking about buying main crop and chitting those too? I sort of felt it was a bit early for them yet? Plus I’m running out of window sills! 🙂 thanks.

  5. jerry faulkner says:

    While learning about “allotment in UK” I ran across this site. I think that we
    here in the U.S. need some system similar to the one in the UK.
    In most large cities there community gardens located in vacant lots and
    empty plots around some church yards. There is a serious shortage of such
    places for anyone,poor or rich, to demonstrate some bit of self sufficiency.
    Every year for the past I have promised my self that I would make a garden
    on my 1/2 acre lot where my home is. There is a 1/4 acre where I could have a garden. It’s only laziness that prevents it but after reading some of the articles
    on this site I have resolved to “PLOW” forward with the garden this year.
    I have access to a tractor mounted tiller plus a walk behind Troybuilt one
    also. Traditionally the last frost is March 20 so I have a few weeks to get it ready.
    I live in California and am 69 years young.
    Many regards, Jerry

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