Hamsters & Planting Out

I decided Saturday was plot day but the fickle finger of fate (remember Rowan & Martin?) intervened.

Just as I was ready to leave, I heard a commotion in the garden which turned out to be the cats chasing a little black creature. At first I thought it was a mole but it turned out to be a hamster.

It was one of those laugh and cry moments. The hamster would rear up on his hind legs, waving his little paws and making furious chirping noises. The cats would back off and he’d turn and waddle away at his fastest speed. About a slow walk.

Grabbed the large washing basket and some gloves and popped him in there along with some shredded paper, loo roll inners, water and some crumbled weetabix and chopped apple.

He calmed down quite quickly and is obviously a pet since people don’t bother him at all. I say ‘he’ for all I know tubby Hammy might actually be a pregnant female. Next job was to go door knocking and leafleting to try and find his owner but we had no joy.

Finally got down to the allotment where it was a case of what to do first. So many jobs, so little time. I ran the rotovator over plot 5, where a new flush of weeds was about to start. Only took half an hour which was faster than hoeing.

Planting out Sweetcorn

Planted out my sweetcorn, spaced in a block at 2 feet (60cm) apart each way. Sweetcorn should always be planted in blocks to encourage pollination. It’s one of the most common mistakes people make to grow a small row and find half the kernels haven’t developed.

The other common mistake is to plant too closely, forgetting the size sweetcorn will reach. The recommended spacing is 18″ (45cm) but I like to give them that extra room.

A good scattering of pelleted chicken manure followed. Sweetcorn is a greedy plant and particularly needs nitrogen, which pelleted chicken manure has. If your sweetcorn is looking a bit yellow, perhaps because it’s been checked with cold weather, try giving a high-nitrogen liquid fertiliser like urea or sulphate of ammonia dissolved in water. I’ve seen it bring them back when they look sure to fail.

My one disappointment with the sweetcorn has been out of 30 seeds I had 28 germinate but the blasted snails managed to get another dozen of them! That’s despite them being on shelves in the home greenhouse with slug pellets scattered about.

Oh well, 16 good plants should be enough for us.

Courgettes and Squash

Planted out the courgettes that were in pots in the greenhouse on plot 29. They’re just starting to outgrow them. Then back over to plot 5 where I planted out a couple of squash. I’ve more squash and a couple of pumpkins to get out asap but the tomatoes had to be next.


I’m not doing a lot of tomatoes this year. We’ve got cherry tomatoes in pots at home – perfect for salads and so forth. Just a couple of ordinary gardener’s delight and a bush plum in the main greenhouse.

A couple of plum tomatoes went into the raised bed with a cloche top on plot 5 and a short row of three went in through weed matting on plot 29 by the courgettes.

All of them are pushing the limit of 3″ pots and got planted so the soil or compost covered about 3″ of the stalk as well. This should result in them generating lots of new roots further up the stem and really developing.

Normally I’d have potted them into larger pots a couple of weeks ago but one of the show growers reckoned keeping them what appears over-long in small pots and then planting out resulted in great plants. It seems counter to what you’d expect but we’ll see if he’s right .. or misleading the competition.

I noticed the site went very quiet in the early evening. Perhaps there was something on the telly. So I was on my own until just before 9pm when I decided to head home, being starving. It was strangely quiet on the street as well, didn’t see a soul.

Loads more to do – beans to go out now and more squash and pumpkins not to mention the brassicas and the endless battle against the weeds. If only there was a prize for weeds, I’d win it!

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
5 comments on “Hamsters & Planting Out
  1. Laura says:

    I always feel way behind until I read your posts then I realise I am right on time, thank you for teaching me it’s not a race and for all the other help I have got from your books.

  2. Snoop says:

    Yes, I heartily agree with Laura. Thanks to your advice and that of others in the forums, I’m being a lot more patient this year than last about getting things out and am enjoying it a whole lot more due to the reduced guilt.

    I planted out some toms a couple of weeks back. I’d had them in five-inch pots for what I thought was far too long but the weather was dreadful so they couldn’t go out. They’ve shot ahead since then much quicker than I expected, despite the bad weather continuing and cold night time temps. So maybe the show grower was right.

  3. stuart says:

    I think everyone headed home early to watch England playing their first game in the world cup!!! Your not a footie fan i take it John!!? lol!!

  4. Rachael says:

    Re. sweetcorn, I sowed most of mine in toilet roll inners, and about half a dozen in pots. As a result the ones sown in pots are much further ahead than the loo-roll ones and i’m now worried that they won’t be ready for pollination at the same time. I’m never using toilet roll tubes again.

  5. John says:

    I’ve never had any joy with loo roll inners either. I wouldn’t worry to much about them not pollinating, I think they’ll probably catch up.

    Football? Have we a team?

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