Clicking on any of the pictures will open them at full size in the browser window, which means you will have to use the 'back' button to return to the main pages, whereas clicking to the left or right of any picture will open them in a new window, if you fancy a closer look at any of the piccies we've posted! We've included a Google Earth satelite picture of our plots and this years planting plan at the bottom of the page, next to each other. If you choose the Earth view on the satelite image you can rotate the image until it is lined up with the planting plan, then use the arrows in the plan to scroll from Plot 2 to Plot 1.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Moss View Allotments - Partington - some piccies!

Took my new camera to the plot yesterday, to have a bit of a play, and ended up being asked to forward any nice piccies to the council liason for them to see and possibly use on the official Allotment website, so decided to take a few piccies of some of the plots, the general atmosphere and some of the wonderful flowers that are growing on the site, so I've posted them here for any that are interested to have a look! I know its not my normal type of post, and that we dont grow many flowers ourselves (you cant eat flowers - well not many of them!), but I thought some of the piccies were lovely and wanted to share them! Please click on them to see them in full size and all their glory!

A panorama of the plot from the front entrance, our plots are behind the trees on the right! The 'road' goes around the central square of plots, with other plots to both sides. This is a photomontage of 2 piccies taken handheld (with the zoom set to a focal length of approx 50mm) that was stitched together with some of the Canon software that came with the camera!

Another panorama of the site, taken from the bottom (road end) looking towards the back! This is the other side of the circular road, and the piccy is again a photomontage, this time of 5 piccies! The plot directly in front is the Doc's, a wonderful productive and very pretty plot that uually gets a commendation in the Trafford Allotment Awards every year!

Looking down from the top end of the plot along the road to the left of the plot (other end from the lact piccy)

Wonderful and productive flower and veg plot, one of two thats tended by our council liason!

The second plot of the council liason, full of lovely flowers and very productive in terms of fruit and veg!

Believe it or not, this plot was a weed infested rubbish dump only 12 months ago, when B took it on! Both him and his family have worked exceptionally hard to get it tamed and looking as good as it does now!

Commonly known as the Ponderossa, the owners of this plot live in a flat, so their plot is both veg plot and garden, very well tended and very productive!
Another 'garden' plot!
Our old half plot, now cleared and with planning in place for paths and other works to be carried out in the near future!
P&C's plot, on the other side of the road from us!
The other half of P&C's plot, again the other side of the road from our plot!
M's plot, rustic, full to brimming and very productive!
A speciality of one of the plotholders, these grapes are the envy of most of the plot!
Another view of the grapegrowers greenhouse, showing the fruits of his labour!

And now for a few of the flowers that are grown on the plot!
Another rose!
Yet another rose!
I've no idea what it is, but the vibrant colours stood out, so I took a piccy of it! (edit - Happymouffetarde from the Grapevine forum has identified it for me - Hemerocallis (Day Lily) - thanks chuck!)
Carnation? I think! I'm useless at identifying flowers, as we grow virtually all fruit and veg, apart from a few companion flower plants!
Wonderful colours!
Just trying out the Macro feature of the lens, the snap of the butterfly (Cabbage white?) on Lavender!
Anyhows, I hope this post gives you a better appreciation of the whole allotment site, and that you enjoyed looking at the pictures of the wonderful blooms on the site!
Back to normal posting soon!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Spuds are poor, balance sheet and a new camera!

Sorry for not posting for a while, I've been mad busy at work (again), plus we've had a bit of a trying time of late!

I've had an early birthday prezzie (Canon EOS 10D digital camera - see lower down in the post for more details and a review) as I've been getting more and more annoyed with trying to use the cheap digital camera for taking pics of the plot, and buying one from ebay meant Mr D having to wait in at home for it to be delivered, so he's had a bit of a break from the plot and managed to get on top of a few of the jobs around the house (our loo no longer honks when you use it..... dont ask!)

Anyhows, our day off last week should have been a good one, our new bed was being delivered between 9am and 1pm, allowing us to get down to the plot for the rest of the day, so we set the alarm for 8am to give us time to get dressed and then move our old bed into the back bedroom!

750am there's a knock on the door, the bed is here! Que a mad rush from us both to get dressed, prevent Bella (the Great Dane / Alsatian xbreed dog) from eating the delivery men and move the old bed. Well, after 10 mins the delivery guys tell me they only have 15 mins per drop, so they'll bring it in now and wont be able to erect it, or they'll have to take it back, so in it came!

We had a brew, then went to put the new bed together, only to find that although its listed as 150cm size (King size), its base is actually 158cm, and the gap between the fitted bedside cabinets? 155cm!! Aaaargh!!

We contacted Sleepmasters, who unfortunately could do nothing, so set to dismantling the fitted bedside cabinets, cutting the back and cross pieces down and refitting them, which then allowed us to get the bed in! Fortunately the doors didnt need to be cut, they just fit, and we've done a good enough job that it isnt noticeable! (Mind you, although it was a pain, the new bed is rather LUSH! Its a Sensafoam bed, developed by NASA, keeps you cool or warm depending on the ambient temp, is ultra comfy and was half price! Its so nice you definitely dont want to get out of it in a morning! Add to that some Egyptian cotton bedding (Matalan have some great stuff at excellent prices) and a Duck Down Duvet (Debenhams sale) and its a wonderful sleep experience!)

But it took all day to sort the bedroom (instead of the half hour we were expecting), so we didnt get to the plot until 5pm!!

On arriving at the plot we switched off my MINI only to find that something was making a whining noise, so thinking it was the cooling fan for the radiator I didnt think anything of it, until 1/2 hour later after watering the greenhouses I noticed it was still whinning! Oh no! Got in the car and tried to start it, flat battery! So, we cut the harvesting short and had to get a bump start (fortunately other plotholders came to our rescue) to get the car home! Its booked in for next Wednesday (another 'lost' day on the plot!!), and from looking online it sounds like I've got a steering pump problem, that could potentially cost £700 to sort out! Eeek!!

So, overall it wasnt a good day, and made worse by the fact that I had my new camera, but the memory cards I'd ordered hadn't arrived, so I couldnt play with it! Frustrating!

Anyhows, onto the plot updates (and new piccies taken with the new camera!! Go, on, give em a click and open them up to the full size, revell in the detail and quality!!)

Plot 1, our new plot!!

Still looking good, few weeds, produce growing well, we're happy with it at the moment! The courgettes are now into their stride, producing 7 or 8 fruit every few days (we're struggling to use them all atm, fortunately Bella the dog like them too!) The celery is doing really well, methinks we'll be growing them again next year!

The brassica bed at the back of Plot 1, The cardboard mulch is working exceptionally well, the plants are strong and healthy, and very few weeds, we'll be using this technique again next year, and on more crops too!

The 2 sisters bed, the Mars pumpkins are setting fruit really well, and the sweetcorn are just beginning to show their tassles, hope we have a good harvest this year!

The grapes on the grpavine are now beginning to swell, we may yet get a crop from them this year!

One of the Mars pumpkins, looks like a possible good harvest of pumpkin and squashes this year!

So, onto the weed infested plot 2, our original plot!!

Lee harvested the maincrop spuds this week, after noticing the first signs of blight, as many others have said, the harvest of spuds has been poor this year!

The 2 beds of 20 tubers each of maincrop spuds on plot 3 (the half plot we're just giving up) produced less than 35lb of spuds each, pathetic! The Roosters did the best, with some decent sized spuds and about 35lb in total, but a lot of peanut sized spuds, and the second bed of maincrops only produced 20lb in total! We split the harvest with the new plotholder, but as you can see from Lee's face, it was a disappointemtn, mind you, the taste of the Roosters is superb! We're planning to do much better with next years tatties!

A general panorama of weed infested plot 2! If you click on the image and enlarge it you'll be able to see that the beans and peas on the supports to the left are doing well, as are the late planted broad beans and french beans, plus the Fartichokes, which are now at 8' tall, methinks a good harvest for the winter there!

Brassicas on plot 2, cabbages and sprouts!

The baby sprouts beginning to form!

Triffid house! Plot 2 greenhouse is rather full, I get the feeling I'm going to have to get a machette to get in there soon, Lee even thinks he saw a lost tribe of pygmies in there the other day! lol!

We've been eating cherry toms for a while now, but the main crops of beefsteak toms have lots of fruit yet havent started to ripen yet, tho we did notice the first few starting to turn now! Hopefully it wont be long till we're bringing home a bumper harvest of toms!

We've been suffering with wabbit attacks on the plots, the onions from seed, carrots, peas and beans have been ravaged, as has some of the sunflowers, so the plans for next year include more use of netting to protect our crops!

So, onto the Balance Sheet!

A fellow grower on the GYO forum has tod me that the costingsa I've been using are far too conservative, so I've revised some of them using Organic prices formt he supermarkets!

Total costs so far this growing year

Rent (for 2 full plots and a half plot) £100
Seeds £30
Seed Spuds £20
Compost / Grow Bags £20
Fertilizers etc £20
Muck £10
Total costs £200

Total Harvests

2 batches overwintered garlic (97 bulbs) =50 pounds sterling approx
Rasps 19lb =£152 (£8.40 a lb at Tescos!)
Strawbs 9lb =£45 (£5 a lb at Tescos!)
Courgettes x 40 =£25
Rhubarb 20lb = £40
Cucumber 8 = £6
Chillies / peppers = £4
Spuds 90lb = £60 (£0.50 -0.80lb at Tescos)
Onions = £40
Radish =£5
Mange Tout 10lb = £25 (£2.50lb at Tesco)
Broad Beans 5lb = £10 (£2lb at Tesco)
Lettuce x 8 = £5
Broccolli = £8
Cabbage = £8
Caulis = £6
Carrots = £8

Total Harvest so far 2008 = £448 - a profit now of £248!!

Ok, its not strictly GYO related, but as its something that I'll be using to provide the piccies for the blog, I thought I'd include a review I wrote for eBay of my new camera, you never know, it may help other budding photographers with their choices!

A New (ish) Camera!! My very early Birthday prezzie!

Having been into Photography since my mid teens I've recently found myself using my images mainly online, resorting to using a cheap 0.4Mpixel camera (all I could afford at the time) rather than my 35mm film camera (Canon Eos 100 SLR), so the time was right to finally upgrade to a decent Digital camera, and the Canon EOS10D seemed to offer all that I needed at a reasonable cost (being a discontinued model the prices have now reached a level that I was able to afford from eBay on my budget!)

I chose to remain with the Canon brand specifically as my current lenses (EF fit) are compatable with most of the current EOS cameras (watch out for the differences with EF and EF-S fit, they wont fit all models), the quality and reliability of their cameras has always been good and I'd also heard that if you've used an EOS before, then the controls on the newer models will feel both natural and easy to use.

I have to say how amazed I've been with both the ease of use and the picture quality of the EOS10D! The controls do feel easy to use, if you've ever used an EOS SLR before, then the transition feels very easy, the controls are instinctive and in the same places as on the older film EOS's, which means you dont need to spend ages concentrating on learning the controls, but rather can focus your attention onto the picture itself, where it should be!

On a technical front, the 10D offers masses more enhanced features than my old EOS100, the AF now has many more focussing points (7 in total), the exposure metering offers 3 modes (which should be suitable for most applications), plus there are 12 shooting modes, divided into 3 zones, which should enable anyone from the most experienced to the newest photographer to acchieve good results!

Quality wise, the 10D although now discontinued (originally released in 2004/2005) is a part of Canon's 'prosumer' range, (meaning that its aimed at both entry level proffessional and advanced amateur use), and features a magnesium alloy body, which makes it tough, if a little on the heavy side! All the function buttons and fittings seem well made, and the LCD screens are both good quality and easy to view. Picture quality is up to 6.3 megapixels, not amazing by modern standards, but more than sufficient for web use and for printing up to A3 size, the DIGIC processor does a great job of processing the image without any noise that I've been able to discern, even up to 400% magnification!

I was concerned before I used the camera that the focal length magnification (1.6x caused by the size of the CMOS sensor which is smaller than the size of a 35mm film plane) would make it less easy to compose the shots I wanted, but I'm happy to say that this hasnt yet been a problem, although I do now feel that I'd like to invest in an ultra wide zoon lens for wider landscape shots!

The digital imaging controls on the 10D are something that I am new to, the white balance isnt something you can normally control on a 35mm film camera, but I have to say that they are exceptionally easy to use, rather like chosing the type of film that you use on a film camera, plus the choices of ISO speed are good, the lower the ISO the better the quality, as with a film camera!

Overall I am very happy with this camera, it offers all the features and quality I need at a reasonable cost, yes I'd love to have an EOS5D (with its full frame sensor), but not for 10 times the price!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Raspberries everywhere + balance sheet!

Sorry, no piccies today, forgot to charge the camera, but will attempt to get some for Thursday this week! The plots looking good, but today I have been mainly getting nettled whilst harvesting raspberries! Our Fedge (35' edible hedge - 65 raspberry canes and a bramble or two) was loaded with fruit this morning, so I set to harvesting it with gusto, a thousand raspberries later and 5lb of them were brought home for jam making later this week!

Today's harvest!
5lb of raspberries= £20
8 courgettes= £4
a cabbage=£.8
a cucumber=£.8
6 portions of broccolli=£1
12 baby carrots=£1
a cauli=£1
Todays haul = £28.60

Yesterday Harvest

2lb Strawberries = £10

So, cumulative thats now.........

Total costs so far this growing year
Rent (for 2 full plots and a half plot) #100
Seeds # 30
Seed Spuds # 20
Compost / Grow Bags # 20
Fertilizers etc # 20
Muck # 10
Total costs #200

Total Harvests
2 batches overwintered garlic (97 bulbs) =50 pounds sterling approx
Rasps 12lb =35 pounds sterling approx
Strawbs 7lb =35 pounds sterling approx
Courgettes x 23 =16 pounds sterling
Rhubarb 20lb = 40 pounds sterling
Cucumber 4 = 3 pounds
Chillies / peppers = 3 pounds
Spuds 40lb = 20 pounds
Onions = 35 pounds
Radish = 5 pounds
Mange Tout 6lb = 12 pounds
Broad Beans 5lb = 5 pounds
Lettuce x 6 = 4 pounds
Broccolli = 6 pounds
Cabbage = 4 pounds
Caulis = 3 pounds
Carrots = 4 pounds

Total Harvest so far 2008 = £282 - a profit now of £82!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Update + piccies from 8th July 2008!

Well, what with the weather (yucky isnt it? We were at the plot for 8 hours last wednesday, got soaked, cold n muddy, plus about half of what we wanted to get done finished as the soil is just too wet to work!), being mad at work (back from hols and straight into our stocktake prep for next week - stresssssfull!) and trying to keep the plot weed free for the judging (no-one has seen them yet, so we're not sure if they've yet been, so need to keep it immaculate for a while yet!), I've not had a chance to process the latest piccies and post them, so thinking that I'm better late than never, here you go! As you may be able to see, the grapevine is doing really well, tho without some decent sunshine I'm not sure that we'll get any decent grapes this year, but with some serious pruning and perhaps the addition of a gazebo type roofed structure in front of the shed, it may improve our chances next year!

Looking from the front of plot 1, the courgettes (front 2 beds) are now getting into their stride, we're taking at least 1 courgette per plant per day or two, and with current prices, this is darn good value - plus of course very tasty, organic and fresh! Beyond the courgettes is the first 2 sisters bed, which is growing away nicely! The sweetcorn isnt as far on as it was this time last year, but the Mars Pumpkins are going really well!
Beyond the 2 sisters bed we've the late sowing of carrots, now nicely germinated - must get this netted to stop the pesky wabbits from munching them! The next bed back is the main pumpkin / squash bed, and seems to be doing well! Beyond that bed is the victorian purple podded peas, borlotti beans and carlin peas, with the brqassica bed beyond! In the right hand beds from the back forwards is the walk in plastic greenhouse, another 2 sister bed, a bed of leeks ( doing really well already), another 2 sister bed, 2 beds of onions from seed and a bed of celery (not seen in this piccy), then the greenhouse and the beds in front of that! (see next piccy!)

In front of the greenhouse, and as you can see, the celery is going great guns, the outdoor toms are ok, and the jack be little pumpkins are really doing well!

Of particular note (in other words, I got a nice piccy of it so I'm gonna post it - so there!:p) is the 2 sisters bed, which seems to be doing really well!

The brassica bed at the back is also growing nicely, the cardboard mulch doesnt seem to be causing any problems, and is definitely keeping the bed weed free! Methinks we'll be using this technique more next year! PS if you need some cardboard boxes to fit the beds, then try your local Halfords, the boxes that cycles are delivered in are absolutely ideal for this!

Finally for plot 1 a view from the bottom, not looking too bad!

Plot 2 on the other hand.....................
is definitely a bit more of a work in progress!! The weeds seem to be a bigger problem on this plot, and although we've been working hard on weeding them, the wet weather means they are germinating and growing at an incredible rate, just a bit too quick for us to keep up with! Definitely a case of using a cardboard mulch on this plot next year methinks!

The pea n bean bed! It took me 3 hours to hand weed the 2 supports of runners and one of peas, but the good news is that they are doing well, with lots of flowers and a few small pods now forming, can't wait to be munching them! The late sown broad beans are covered in flowers, whereas the overwintering ones are just about finished, and the french beans are also doing really well, should be eating french beans very soon now!

The overwintering onions and garlic have now been harvested, and the bed they were in has had an extra path put up the middle, so it now allows us to adopt no dig methods and be able to reach all areas without stepping on it! Our plans for these 2 beds are to muck them, mulch with cardboard, then plant our last sowing of red cabbages and some chard and pak choi in one bed, and overwintering spring cabbages plus chinese cabbages in the other - all to be protected with netting! I'm hoping to get these beds sorted in the next week or so, plus weed the paths and bark them up to keep the weeds down a bit more!

Finally, a piccy of our maincrop rooster spuds on the half plot that we are giving up! We harvested about 70lb of first earlies from this plot this week, splitting the harvest with the new plotholder, and still have spring sown onion sets, second earlies plus 2 beds of maincrop spuds to harvest from here, all of which are looking good and will be split with the new plotholder, Pete!

So, harvesting wise, this past week we've had 35lb spuds (first earlies, 2 beds, 20 plants per bed, which is only about half the total harvest from the 2 beds, the other half went to the plot holder who's taking on the half plot we harvested the first earlies from), 7 more courgettes, 3lb more rasps, 2lb more strawbs, another 2lb mange tout, 18 beetroot, 12 baby carrots, a cabbage, about 8 portions of broccolli, 2 caulis, 95 overwintering onions (biggest at about 2lb each), another 2lb of broad beans, 2 lettuces, a cucumber and lots of radishes!

That means our total harvests for this year are now.....
2 batches overwintered garlic (97 bulbs) =50 pounds sterling approx
Rasps 7lb =12 pounds sterling approx
Strawbs 5lb =10 pounds sterling approx
Courgettes x 15 =8 pounds sterling
Rhubarb 20lb = 40 pounds sterling
Cucumber 3 = 2 pounds
Chillies / peppers = 3 pounds
Spuds 40lb = 20 pounds
Onions = 35 pounds
Radish = 5 pounds
Mange Tout 5lb = 10 pounds
Broad Beans 5lb = 5 pounds
Lettuce x 6 = 4 pounds
Broccolli = 5 pounds
Cabbage = 3 pounds
Caulis = 2 pounds
Carrots = 3 pounds

Total Harvest so far 2008 252 pounds sterling!

Costs for this year are currently still at 200 pounds, so we're already in a profit situation, and with getting our seeds for next year in Wyevales half price seed sale (we spent 26 pound and got 52 pounds worth of seeds, only onion sets, overwintering garlic, seed spuds and a few seeds that we werent able to get from Wyevales to buy for next year!), next years costs should also be good!

Well, thats all for now, hope your growing year is going well! I'm hoping to get some more piccies today and may even manage to post them later, so please check back and see whats grown!