Sunday, 9 November 2008

Busy, busy!

We've been very busy the last four weeks or so. We've pretty much been to the plot every weekend and can really see a difference. The plot is looking much tidier (if rather bare - note to self, PLAN FOR WINTER!!! - I've got next to nothing in the ground now).
Update - OCTOBER

I've planted some daffodils and tulips for spring, a job lot thanks to Wilkos. They are mixed varieties and should look great.

I've sown 2 rows of Broad Beans (Aquadulce) ready for an early crop next year. I didn't know if I would like them, but were very sad when ours ran out so quickly. This year we will also sow some more in spring to keep us going into the summer.

I cleared the beans and saved loads of the seeds to have dry or for next years sowing. On my allotment alot of the old timers have permanent bean beds - so I'm going to try this and put them in the same place and start a bean trench.

I picked all the pupmkins and am storing them on the shelves in the spare room and the windowsill in the kitchen. It was a good job I did as we had our first frost on 28th October. We had left the butternut squash on their vines but these really suffered after the frost and didn't last well at all. I had to cook straight away.

Below are Jack-O-Lantern (orange) - by the way, this made a fantastic halloween lantern! The round white one, second from the left is called 'Snowman' we only had one of these and haven't tried it yet. And the squat greeny-grey ones are Crown prince and very yummy! We also had many 'Jack-Be-Little' small orange ones which are nice, good to look at and scramble over the arch, but a bit fiddly for me I think!

We sorted out the strawberry beds, weeded, rearranged and added manure to the bed under the blackberries.
I cleared out the tomatoes from the greenhouse. Picked the last few and added the plants to the bonfire. I then tidied out the greenhouse. The growbags had a bit of a shake up and water with seaweed, then a variety of salad leaves were sown in them for some winter salad.

The onions are doing well (much better than my too deeply sown disasters of last year!). They have produced lots of little green shoots already.

The rocket plant I let go to seed happily seeded all over the place and I now have an abundance of rocket to last me through the winter.

Hubby has been busy with the digging (SOOOO much easier than last year). We only have about 3 more beds to dig and we are then ready to add manure etc.

Below is a view from the shed down our plot. In front is the carpet that we thought was so great in spring. However it is now starting to rot away nicely and with mud on the surface it is as slippery as it was before we put it down. So today we changed it for some of the blue carpet bed covers, that seem to be holding up much better. It is much safer now and looks much less 'muddy'!

Below looks deceptively just like an empty bed - but it is not!! :0) In it are more onion sets, sown much closer together (3in) to pick as amaller onions (and so as not to waste the massively over ordering of onions!). There are also 3 rows, 40 ish Solent Wight garlic that came with my seed order today. I planted them 7in apart and rows 6in apart.

We decided to have roast for tea and so tried to pick as many of the veg in my plot as poss - so have beetroot (bolthardy and yellow cylindrical), 3 small green khol rabi, and MASSIVE parsnips!! I could bring myself to eat these two monsters so prepared 2 smaller ones and if they are okay I will then cook these ones tomorrow. Honestly they are the size of melons at the top!

Well, off to put the dinner on now in time for Strictly!

Saturday, 4 October 2008

It's a windy day!

Firstly a bit of sad allotment news! My one and only surviving Jeruselem Artichoke has been snapped in two :o(. I don't know if it was the wind, over zealous clearance of the community plot next door or on purpose (doubtful!). I've put the branches over the top of the JA as a mulch which my magazine told me to do and hopefully it will survive to be eaten (or is big enough, we never had any flowers :o( ).

Below is another pic of my beans drying. I don't know why, but I really like them - all shrivelled! We shelled these ones last night - they're called Mr Fearn's Purple Podded and have black beans in them. We also shelled Corona D'ora which have white beans in and some Borlotti (Heirloom) and True Red Cranberry for eating undried.

Left - Corona D'ora; Right- Mr Fearn's; Front - immature True Red Cranberry; Back - Borlotti.

Two of the sunflower heads got the chop today. One is going to be used to collect the seeds for saving and using next year and for eating, and one was put upside-down on the shed roof for the birdies (who are already starting to feast on the ones in the ground, what a mess of seed cases!).

We had a brilliant tidy up of the fruit beds. We've still the starwberry beds to do, but the four we've done already look SOOO much better. The fruit must be breathing a sigh of relief too!

When we cleared the currant bed I'd also chucked some Little White Rabbit/White Currant Tomato plants in. These produced loads of tiny toms but did not ripen. I've saved some seeds of the few ripened ones and will sow them next year (very, very sweet!) but grow them in the green house.

With the mass of green toms on the bushes though I made Spicy Green Tomato Chutney.

And lastly, my little brother came to visit us and the plot while on his jollies from the States. He made all the right sort of appreciative noises - even though I suspect he doesn't rreally get the whole grow your own scene ;oD!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Autumn on the Plot

Two piccies of my plot as of Sunday. One from the usual view and one from the other looking from the far side of my neighbours plot. Comparing the top pic to the banner at the top of my blog you can see how it has really come on!

A quick catch-up:-

We've now transplanted 4 rows of junior leeks of various size and thicknesses, and some in cells - some bare rooted. I've no idea what type they are!!!

We've sown one net bag of Shensu (?) Japanese Onions which totalled 84 and the bag wasn't even quite empty! I've another bag to go (underestimated the quantity in a bag! :o) ) so am thinking I might put them in too, but closer together and eat them as babies. THIS year I've sown them properly so that they are only half buried. I can only think that I read the instructions wrong last year (too deep!).

Another plot-shot. You can see my pumpkins and sweetcorn in the same bed and nearest to us is the parsnip bead. Fantastic so far - huge and looked amazing until I did a spectacular 'Mrs Doyle' fall into the bed!! Glad no-one was watching! The Kale at the bottom of the pic is my neighbour's.

Next are close-ups of my beans. The first is the fantastic borlotti beans that I got from America under the name of 'True Red Cranberry'. The bonus is that they are a climbing variety rather than my poor slug nibbled dwarf variety! The second pic is of my rather smashing Cosse Violette drying ready to be harvested.

My butternuts are doing well. I tried growing them up over an arch but it resisted rather. So eventually I had to tie it up to the chiken wire left over from the peas too. It is VERY happy.

The poppies on the plot were fantastic! Huge and lilac. I had spent a good few hours pulling a load out thinking they were weeds (I know that technically they are!) before I realised what they were. I've liberally sprinkled the seeds around but also thought the seed heads were interesting!

An arty shot of a dewy spider's web on the courgette leaves. Ahhhh!

And finally my new friend!! Found peering in at me in the greenhouse - longingly I think! :0)

Monday, 22 September 2008

I'm back!

My poor little blogspot has been so neglected over the past couple of months. I'm a bad blogger!! I just never seemed to get round to it once the summer started with the holidays and kids at home. So a massive update is in order I think! The header of this blog shows a panoramic of my plot and I can't get over how neat it is and how little seems to be growing in it! The plants (and the weeds!) have gone rampant and it all looks a lot more 'casual' now! :oD I quite like it though!

The most exciting thing to have happened over Summer was the local Garden Holders Association Show. The girlie entered one of her amazing sunflowers and won first prize in the Junior section. I entered loads of categories (at 10p an entry it's not exactly bank breaking! :o) ). Anyway, I won Ist prize for my pumpkin (the green one - eventually they turn orange - 'Small Sugar'); 2nd prize for my 5 coloured potatoes (can't remember what they are!! :oS!!) and 'most unusual shaped veg' and 3rd for my 5 cherry tomatoes (sweet olive). I was soooo excited when I when around to see if I'd won anything - what a day - so proud :oD!

So on to the plot - successes and disasters of the year so far: -

The pumpkins and squashes have been great, I've a fair few massive ones for halloween, ornamental gourds for drawing and lots of baby ones for soups and roasting. I've grown Jack o' Lantern (huge, fab); Jack Be Little (small, tonnes); Turks Turban (only managed one full size one so far, but was the most delicious taste); Crown Prince (huge greeny white colour, looks good but not tasted it yet); Small Sugar (orange, swat, middle size pumpkin); Butternut squash (only just coming now).

Sweetcorn - normal sized ones are good, and 'Mini Pop' were awful - I may just have picked them too early but they were rock hard! I'll give them a couple more weeks and try again. I'll definately grow sweetcorn with the pumpkins again though, it worked well.

Beans have been good, though I really don't like green beans so have let most of them go over to collect for haricots. One smashing surprise was some 'True Red Cranberry' beans I ordered from America turned out to be climbing Borlotti. I had been unimpressed with the ones I already had as the grew so short and the slugs kept getting them. These are climbers and I'll save the seeds for next year. Cosse Violette (purple), Corona D'ora (Yellow) and Mr Fearns (Green pod, black inside - I think??) Are all great. I don't like runner beans and am not going to grow them next year.

Peas have been good but I didn't successional sow enough and ran out. Magnum Bonum were fantastic. I got them from the Ryton Seed Swap and they grew to 1.5m. I'll grow more of these next year. Other peas were okay, but I don't think I've found my fave yet and I just can't be bothered with petit pois (too fiddly for the returns). I failed with the mange tout so that is a target for next year.

Brussels have been stripped by the cabbage white caterpillars as did the caulis so more protection next year. Purple sprouting (or yellow sprouting - Romanesco) was okay. Cabbages not great and need another go now the caterpillars are gone. Kale - not fussed so won't bother again and finally Kohl Rabi - interesting though expensive - May give it another go.

Carrots - utter failure! Must do better! Parsnips good - HUGE! I 'chitted' the seeds on damp kitchen towel and had near enough 100% germination.

Potatoes - earlies good especially Red Duke Of York - will definately grow these again. I won't buy any fancy ones next year I think as they didn't cope very well with the slugs. Pink Fir were also fantastic as were Cara. I don't think I'll bother with the others. I had a lot of problem with slug holes so I'll need to address this next year.

Onions, garlic and shallots were okay but bolted. I think a combination of dry weather and difficulty in weeding (I'm doing rows next time). These and leeks need more focus next year.

Outdoor toms started well but all sucumbed to either blight or more likely bottom end rot so had to chuck! Indoor tomatoes faired much better and has given me lots of fruit. In fact I made ketchup last night!! It's not overly economical though as it used a kg of toms and a variety of other veg but only made three bottles. I'm still proud of it though!

Fruit: Not many gooseberries and I chucked the large bush. The fruit didn't taste great and it seemed to have a lot of bindweed in the roots which covered it in the Summer. Raspberries were good. Blackberries didn't give me many fruits but is still a baby. Strawbs were fine and I've planted many of the runners. Blackcurrants and red currant were okay though not a great deal of fruit - no white currants. No fruit on the jostaberry, green gage or tayberries. Rhubarb filling out nicely. I've managed to stock up loads of homemade jam though from wild blackberries and redcurrants bought from the Veg show.

Lastly for this post, we're starting to sort, clear and tidy the plot now. We're making our way, bed by bed and digging out the weeds and preparing them for the winter, covering them or planting new stuff - leeks, onions etc. The pic below is of the logan/blackberry bed where we have cleared of weeds, manured and re-planted the new strawberry runners. Looks lovely!


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