Heavy snow followed by freezing temperatures meant that the weight was too much for our poor tunnels and this is the result. Looks like we will have some serious repairs to do soon. It was such hard work to build the tunnels in the first place that I almost feel like giving up all together or at least giving up one of the plots.
I spoke too soon when I said there would be no work involved as the fruit cage was up and running. Three of the uprights have snapped off at ground level. My brother Roy has bought some metal rods to strengthen the posts so that will be the first job on our next visit. We have also decided to dismantle the old sprout cage and clear up the bed ready for the rotovator. I am determined to keep all the brassicas in the tunnels next year. The framework on the bean trench has now been dismantled and all the old plants taken down. We will build the new one in the Spring ready for May planting.
Robs week off is almost at an end and we have done most of the jobs we wanted to do despite the heavy rain that fell most of last week. Yesterday and today have been much warmer with brilliant sunshine. The pumpkin bed has been dug and planted up. Twenty six brassicas have been planted and another cage built to house the plants ordered from Marshalls. The first of the Butternut Squash is in place. All the runner beans are in. More seeds have been sown. All in all it has been a very productive week. The heavy rain was helpful in one respect as the ground has been very soft and so easier to hammer in the wooden lathes we needed in the building of the new fruit cage. We have used strong plastic tubes to build the side walls and attached the plastic covered wire netting that the original cage was made of. This will enable the bees and butterflies to get in and the finer netting on the top will keep out the birds whilst being easily visible to them so they don’t get tangled in it. Some fruit cages are covered in almost invisible netting which can snare a bird. The bottom edge has been built up with panels from our old fence from home just to stop weeds from creeping into the cage and stop the strawberry runners from straying onto the path. The wooden lathes have been used inside and out to strengthen the side panels and capture the netting. This morning we started to put the main net covering on the top. My brother has found us some nine foot steel rods which we have used at several points to strengthen the main construction. Hopefully we shall be finishing the top netting this evening when it will be a little cooler.
It was a beautiful day today and all the plot holders were out in force. We arrived late at 10.30am determined to complete the second tunnel and get the new brassica plants in before we came home. Things were going great and got even better when we were given two sturdy posts by the brothers to use as end strengtheners on the door end of the tunnel. We found a Cabbage White butterfly hiding in the netting and sent her on her way with a warning not to come back and lay her eggs in the new brassica plants. We still have the base boards to put in around the bottom edges but decided to put in the brassica plants as they were getting pot bound. I planted 18 Cauliflower All Year Round, 9 Cabbage Hispi and 9 Cabbage Savoy.
Tunnel one is doing its job and we have harvested some good stuff from there. Roy and Jan paid us a visit and went home with a few goodies including a bunch of carrots from the carrot bin, a cabbage, a courgette, a cauli, a swede and potatoes plus a jar of black currant jam we had taken for Keith but were too late as he is an early starter and had already left when we got there.
Back at home we picked the first of the tomatoes. They were from the Sungold plant which has grown like mad and is now higher than the perimeter fence of the chicken run . We stood the tomato plants in tubs all around the chicken run, outside ofcourse, as last year we couldn’t get to the allotment every day and so couldn’t water regularly. Having them at home as been much easier.
This morning Rob went to the plots early to put the net cover on the tunnel. We both went back this afternoon to finish off and plant a few brassicas in there. It is looking very good. We still have to make a better doorway but it is safe from the pigeons for now. Just a few more finishing touches required. The weather today has been very hot and I risked putting Carmen ll in the lean to. On the home front Jemima is sitting tight on her eggs at last so we are hoping for new arrivals at the end of the month. We have to hope that Puddles is fertile however as although he seems fit and strong at the moment he was very poorly earlier in the year. The chicks are growing fast now and are swapping their fluff for feathers already.
Well, we were lucky and the weather was good for us to start the tunnel this morning. After a few adjustments to our original plans we have sunk in the base tubes and put up the six plastic tubing arches. So far so good. We came home aching but happy. Its not easy to measure lengths of headstrong plastic tubing when it just wants to coil itself back into the foetal position. The potatoes that we started in the pop up rubbish bags from the pound shop are doing well and we have moved them out of the lean to and on to the plot. I have tidied the lean to and dug it over in readyness for the Carmen Cucumber. The plant is already 2′ high now so I will have to take it soon. I have started another one just in case of a disaster but if the first one gets on ok I may keep the second one in the plastic greenhouse in the garden at home.