More Beans, Cats, Green Manure & Chemical Warfare

Sunday was again nice but most of the afternoon was spent in the traditional British hobby, shopping. My daughter rescues cats and with 22 kittens to try to home as well as her two cats and the two kittens she’s adopted, well we couldn’t hold out any longer so next Saturday we have a 5 month old black tom cat called Dexter joining the family.

So, like any expectant parents, off we went to buy requisites. Namely, one of those scratching poles with dangly balls for the kitten to play with, cat litter and suchlike. We’re confident that our miracle cat, Claudipus, who was given 2 weeks to live 20 weeks ago will be OK with him. Apparently Dexter likes cuddling up with other cats, as does Claudipus. Squeak will probably be a bit put out and little Aphy will be OK as long as he believes her impression of a panther. The others believe her, so why shouldn’t he?

Incidentally, if you’re in the Leeds area and want a cat, I know where you can get a kitten or ten – just contact me.

I also got a power meter from Aldi so we can see how much various appliances use. At the moment, if I’ve figured it out correctly, our freezers are costing more to run than we thought. More on this another day when the results are all in. Also picked up some autumn onion sets at Stapeley Water Gardens ( didn’t like the cat toys though).

Anyway, we got down to the plot together about 4 pm and the site was pretty quiet, again. Val harvested our Buerre de Roquencourt French beans whilst I fought my way through to the compost bins on plot 29 carefully avoiding the squash plants as I cut the comfrey and pulled up a few more weeds.

Some potato peelings on the heap had grown into plants whilst I was avoiding the nest of bumblebees in there. They seem to have gone wherever bumblebees go now, so it’s safe to approach. It’s an ill wind, as they say, and in this case I seem to have won some extra potatoes. Strangely, these plants were actually in good condition whereas the plants on plot 5 had been looking pretty ropey when I cut the haulm off.

That was it for Sunday, I stopped on my way out for a chat with Therese on plot 1 and by the time we’d put the world to rights it was going dark. That’s one of the joys of allotments – you get to chat.

Monday was boring work stuff and I hardly got to see daylight, just the glow of the computer screen but it was a grey day here. Tuesday, however, was sunshine. So down to the plots around 3pm and the site was empty, which was good for my productivity.

Preparing Autumn Onion Beds

The Mantis tiller came out and I ran it over a couple of the raised beds on plot 29. The small bed that had salad crops on it earlier and the larger bed that has lain fallow since I moved the strawberries off it and sprayed it to get rid of the horsetail. The soil wasn’t bad in either bed but the Mantis made short work of breaking up any clods and making the soil fluffy.

Once that was done I gave them a good amount of fish, blood & bone and raked them level. The large bed will get the autumn onion sets and the small will get some French onions that say you can plant in September. They’re sort of oval shaped and apparently you can use them as spring onions or let them grow on and use them as larger onions fresh.

Green Manure

Back over to plot 5 where the Merry Tiller came out to play. I ran over the patch where the early potatoes had been. First up and down and then side-to-side, which has broken up the top quite nicely. I then broadcast white mustard seed and raked over. This should hold nutrients and crowd out the weeds until it’s dug in sometime in November.

Chemical Warfare

Back over to plot 29 where the blessed horsetail is back on the paths. The plot next to me is over run with it as well as other weeds and even Janice and Gianni’s plot on the other side has some of the rotten stuff.

Since we can no longer use Amcide, I sprayed the paths with the very last of my magic weed killing water over which incantations have been muttered. I doubt I’ve got it all so next year the battle will carry on with glyphosate.

Now I’ve carefully checked both sides of my brassicas leaves, picking off caterpillars and rubbing out eggs but they’ve won. I’ve got about two cauliflowers the size of a cricket ball since their leaves have been turned to lace. The late planted cabbages look pathetic and the romanesco just got ate.

Well they’re not having my Brussels sprouts so it was out with the derris. I know I could get a biological caterpillar killer, but I’ve got derris in the shed so derris it was.

It was quite amazing spraying the sprouts, kept seeing caterpillars appear from nowhere, curling up and falling off the plants.

I heard on the radio that cabbage white caterpillars have another great defence mechanism, they absorb some chemical from cabbage that is poisonous and makes them taste horrible (who tested that?) so birds won’t eat them and most insects can’t either.

I just hope I’ve saved my sprouts for Christmas. The purple ones look particularly striking.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
4 comments on “More Beans, Cats, Green Manure & Chemical Warfare
  1. jopan says:

    congradulations on a new kitten! my sister’s cat just had some beautys, i’d love to have one but alas the other people in my house say that the one is enough. I happen to think that as shes just lost her mum, grandma and son that she’d like a friend…Alas no.
    well done on the book. i hope you continue to have fun with the allotmenting.

  2. John says:

    I dare say I’ll annoy some people when I post a photo of Dexter, but I will. One cat?? never enough. I just hope he settles with the others, especially Claudipus who is now incredibly fussy and only eating roast chicken breast. As the vet told me, no wonder he is still around the way you pamper him.

  3. Dawn says:

    Cannot wait to see a photograph of the little chap Dexter, one cat is certainly not enough (we have 7). I’m sure they will all get on very well indeed given time.

    Thank you for a great website; this year is our first year of allotment growing and I came across your site when surfing the net and have learnt some brilliant tips (shame about my tomato plants though, maybe next year they will do better when we get a greenhouse.



  4. John says:

    Outdoor tomatoes are always pretty risky – a glorious summer is what we need next year.

    I mentioned 7 cats to Val who informs me that 4 is plenty…

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