Weeding, Tomatoes & Cucumbers

Val came down to the plot with me for a couple of hours. We’ve had to have a new toilet fitted as the old one developed a crack and although it only took the plumber a bit over an hour to fit it, it took me 5 hours to re-box the pipes. So a deal was struck, I re-boxed the pipes and Val would help me weed the raised bed on plot 5.

We took a large sack of shredded clippings from the bushes in the garden. I’d love a petrol powered shredder for the allotment but they’re expensive and I’ve nowhere to keep one safely.

One of our plotholders has a petrol powered shredder at home and has suggested it be kept down at the site as a resource for the site. A great idea but there’s two problems. Firstly, keeping it secure. We have few problems with thieves but the law of sod dictates they’ll come when there is something of value to steal.

Secondly, who controls access? What about fuel and service costs? What if someone breaks it? Nothing is ever as simple as you’d hope.

One plotholder suggested a table on the carpark where we could put spare plants for others to use. Larry said to me that he thought it a good idea but then we have the situation where someone grabs the lot or takes a plant that someone else wants. I’m not sure if he is seeing problems that won’t happen but then again, maybe he is.

I’d got a spare pumpkin plant and a glut of butternut squash. Initially I was aiming for two squash plants but after the second sowing failed I sowed the entire packet and have ended up with 8 plants!

Donated the spare pumpkin and 2 squash plants to Jim on the site. He’s not grown squash before so I hope they do well for him and he enjoys eating them. I’ve planted my pumpkin in some compost by the potatoes in the raised bed coldframe. I figure the potatoes will be gone soon and thereby give the pumpkin the space it needs.

I’m not sure where the squash will end up. I think one can go by the sweetcorn on plot 29 but the second…

As Val weeded away for me, I got the plum Roma outdoor tomatoes in. I’d prepared the ground so it was a matter of laying down a mat to stop weeds and help in slug control then planting through that.

Eco Mats

I’d been sent a roll of a product called eco mat to try out at the back end of last year. It’s made from plant fibre (typically hemp or flax blended with straw). The production process, from planting to manufacture, has a carbon benefit, providing an environmentally friendly alternative to current products. Over time the product will start to naturally biodegrade, usually in a couple of years. (EDIT August 2010, they don’t seem to be around anymore)

So far I’ve used it as a weed suppressant mat for a path, a hanging basket liner and now to go under the tomatoes. It seems to be an excellent product – more info on their web site.

I’m also going to use it to make cabbage root fly collars for my brassicas. Normally this hasn’t been a pest on our site, but this year Lee has had some problems with it. My theory is that the site, being fully occupied and utilized, is attracting them now.

Cucumber Problems

My second Carmen cucumber has died. No idea why, it was doing fine and I was going to plant it out in the second greenhouse when it just keeled over. The Carmen in the big greenhouse is doing OK, although there’s a bit of yellowing on the bottom leaves. I’ve even got fruits developing, which is nice. My back up is an outdoor cucumber we love the flavour of, Burpless Tasty Green. Got couple of those coming along in pots at home.

Gave the greenhouses a good watering, I like growing in the borders rather than pots because you can lose a plant if you don’t water daily in pots but the borders have more resilience.

Horsetail and Other Weeds

The last job was to tackle the horsetail on plot 29 and the raised bed I jokingly called the Joe Swift Gardener’s World experiment. Basically dumped compost on a weedy bed. The bed has couch grass, bindweed and horsetail happily growing through the compost, surprise, surprise.

I’d love to say I sprayed with Amcide, which was the most effective weedkiller for horsetail and perennial weeds but it’s now, I believe, illegal to use as the licence expired and it’s banned. Amcide was as safe as sulphate of ammonia fertilizer and had been around for as long. It was even approved for organic use in certain circumstances.

So I sprayed the horsetail and bed with magic water over which I had muttered incantations by the light of the full moon whilst dancing widdershins.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
2 comments on “Weeding, Tomatoes & Cucumbers
  1. elizabeth camp says:

    I understand that AMCIDE has benn withdrawn from the market. Does anyone know of any alternative?



  2. John says:

    The only realistic alternative herbicide is strong glyphosate. I was told that if you mix some up and then add some wallpaper paste to thicken and make it sticky you can paint it on horsetail fronds.

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