Monthly Archives: July 2012

Harvesting for dinner

Today I harvested a tiny amount of broccoli, some potatoes and runner beans.

Doesn’t look a lot in the photo, but on the scales 1.6kg:20120728-180834.jpg
Yes, they are more early potatoes (Arran pilot), I’ve got more of them to come I think too, but it’s hard to tell where the main crop starts as the plants are growing horizontally!

The runner beans:20120728-180858.jpg
Decided to pick three that looked ready, again they look small in the photo, but they are a good size:20120728-180905.jpg
Fortunately keeping a close eye on the plants has really helped reduce the black aphids to threat level “not bothered”, though I still check for them.

Looking forward to the eating!

Shimano UN54 bottom bracket plastic cup failure #cycling

The cup came loose and with no way to tighten it on the road it kept loosening and jamming the cranks. I eventually gave up, cycled through it, crunch, crunch and the plastic was mangled, but I could finish my ride to work then home in the evening.

As I’ve done before, my Nexus bike donated the parts to fix bluebell, its bottom bracket is UN54 too. Different models often have slightly different cups, so I am fortunate they are the same model.

I’ve ordered a UN55 for the replacement, that has alloy cups on both sides, I’m unsure if that’s wise, but only time will tell if I ever get it happen again.

Surrey News

Britain’s Mark Cavendish began the final countdown to his bid for Olympic gold with a gruelling training session on Box Hill today (26 July).

The world road race champion joined Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and his GB team-mates for several laps of the climb in the Surrey heat.

Cavendish will lead Britain’s charge for road race victory on Saturday before Wiggins goes for gold in the time trial on Wednesday 1 August.

Riders from nations including Australia, France, Austria, Canada, Belgium and China also trained on Box Hill, which is set to be key to the outcome of the race.

The men will have to complete nine laps of Box Hill to be in with a chance of road race victory while the women will tackle two.

Helyn Clack, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services and the 2012 Games, said:

“Cavendish and Wiggins looked relaxed as…

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Bag rubbing on frame #cycling

I thought my seat stay had a paintwork chip, wasn’t sure how it got there, these things happen after all 20120725-134317.jpg
But I was annoyed to realise that my bag occasionally hits or rubs it.
The rack has worn and the bag warped a little so it now makes contact. 20120725-134519.jpg

Reducing future damage was my next action (I’ll look at adjustment, paint and a better solution when I have some free time). So I grabbed some padding, cable ties and some cutters 20120725-134924.jpg
Quick fix done 20120725-135239.jpg
Probably quicker than the time taken on this post.

Garden – Runner bean crisis – black aphids

I almost missed a huge infestation of black aphids on my runner beans. They were low down on the plants and I was too busy tending to the shoots and eyeing up the bean growth. Mental note to check the whole plant!

I washed and squashed what I could and I’ve made a trap from the cover of the yellow pages and some clean plastic takeaway tubs. If it works I’ll post pictures else I’ll be crying about my losses.

Wish me luck.

Garden July update 4 – the cat solution?

As you can see from the following photo, the cat has destroyed my onion patch in the back garden:20120724-141823.jpg
I’ve previously blogged about my front garden where I planted the spare onion sets, the cat hasn’t destroyed them so I’m hoping I’ll get some onions from there instead.
So in light of the cat’s destructive powers I’ve decided I needed to protect my leeks from her and of course other animals too. Pigeons have also been shredding my broccoli too, so netting seemed a good plan. Here’s my first attempt:20120724-142020.jpg
Some of the netting I used was left in the shed when I got the house and that covered half the patch, the rest was 50p low quality fruit netting 4m x 2m from ASDA. I bought three lots thinking I’d need more, but one was enough. The canes were £1.28 for 5 from Wilkinsons, I needed two lots, and I used a metal rack I had lying around to cover the last 18 inches of gap (my place of entry to the netting on the right side, not visible in the photo).

The potato plants are spreading more horizontally than vertically now:20120724-141907.jpg
The ones closet to camera are the earlies, still 50% left to dig up, they are lasting well, but then we had a lot of potatoes given to us just before they were ready.

The broccoli, still looking ok, but I’m worried about bolting after one has (it tasted good though), there’s also been some black fly maybe on it, but just a few that I’ve shaken or washed off, also note the pigeon damage closest to the camera:20120724-142012.jpg
Worth mentioning the cat has one use, she loves butterflies, so I don’t have butterfly problems with the broccoli!

Then the leeks, the reason for all this netting:20120724-142003.jpg
I’m really happy with the leeks for the moment, I’m hoping the weeding effort and this netting will be worth it.

The Runner Bean plants climbing the fence:20120724-142029.jpg
Some of the beans I’m watching:20120724-141855.jpg

Any finally my first attempt at round lettuce have been planted in the greenhouse soil:20120724-142040.jpg
(pellets down as I’m not taking any chances with mr slug)

Finding new homes for new friends

This picture says it all….

Garden July update 3

I dug more early potatoes yesterday and there’s a mix of tiny, small and mid sized. I was fairly happy but they were taken from me before I could photo them, they tasted nice the next time I saw them though. There’s a couple of kilo left, but a photo now wouldn’t do it justice.
A couple of bits of the broccoli have bolted, I expect more will too, but I’m ready to harvest the small heads before I lose them. It also has got black aphids or flies, i keep shaking them off, but I might have to come up with one of those magic potions to kill them. No photos again sorry. Some plants have been pigeon nibbled, I’ve put up some netting and that has protected it a little, more netting is required and the time to do it too.

Anyway the reason for this blog entry is the runner bean progress, I haven’t seen any wildlife eating them thus far and I’m starting to get excited
The tip of the plant in the last photo was heavily loaded with flowers but I accidentally snapped it, I was gutted, but it has promoted growth of the beans rather than climbing, so it might not have been such a bad thing.
I’ve covered the roots with grass cuttings to try and retain moisture in the soil now we’re going to get some summer.

Not a lot of other developments other than I’ve given up on the onions in the back garden, next year I’ll plant where the cat won’t destroy them. There’s still hope for those in the front garden and I gave them a good watering can full of feed, just so they know I’m looking after them.

The onions in the back garden have been my biggest disappointment and probably one that i’ve spent the most time on. In reading online forum posts I see gardening for food isn’t always fun, keep your chin up, spread your bets and enjoy what works. There are always other things you can grow, other varieties, other ways (e.g. Grow bags when the soil has blight), etc. Never give up, you’d have to weed that patch either way!

Garden July update 2

More potatoes, this time some white early (Aaron) and some red main crop (Desiree).
I’m disappointed by the earlies, but they were planted a bit late and maybe we’ve not had enough sun.
Why did I dig up these? Well, these were the spare seed potatoes I planted in the spare soil pile and for no reason other than I felt like it.

Some onions in the front are looking good, the cat has mostly destroyed the back ones
And I’ve tried to support them with plastic bottle necks and stapled together bits of plastic bottle in a cone shape
As they were leaning a lot, some haven’t grown as a result, so this is a bit trial and error, fingers crossed.

Garden July update #gardening

While the rain took a rest I thought I’d take another garden snapshot.
First up the broccoli has started to get bigger now and finally started to grow the erm… broccoli?

Next up over the last two weeks I weeded the leeks, the furthest ones grew noticeably while the others awaited weeding
New potatoes / earlies (Arran pilot) should be ready
So I picked a plant to investigate
Alas, there were only 6 small pots, so I think I’ll leave them another couple of weeks (the bucket is a very small bucket!)
Note: I had previously earthed up the potatoes and later emptied grass cutting on them too, mainly because the composting bin was getting full but also because it is meant to keep moisture in and suppress weeds.

The runner beans are still climbing, not many leaves, but they’re flowering

The onions are still a mess, some look strong but I’m not that hopefully at the moment.
We’re getting a nice supply of raspberries and some small strawberries.
I’m currently growing salad leaves on the windowsill and the beginnings of some lettuce are in the greenhouse.

I’m enjoying this relax and rewarding hobby thus far, impatience is hard to overcome, but I’m sure next year will be easier as I’ll know what I’m doing and what to expect.