Thursday, August 09, 2007

My first Cabbage

I had been told that cabbages are quite difficuly to grow and last year I failed. They do take a long time to grow and you need to be organised - to get some spring cabbage you need to be on the case now.
So in Janury I bought some Greyhound seeds, these are Summer cabbages and had these in the greenhouse for 2-3 months. When they were about 9 inches tall (some were quite leggy) I planted them out under fleece.
Cabbages can attract caterpillars and slugs so you do have to keep an eye on them. I left them under fleece for 2-3 months, not to keep them warm but just to keep the butterflies away. This was a tip from Lukerman and it seems to have done the trick and we had the first summer cabbage this weekend.

I just need to master growing leeks now..........

At last summer is here

and all the weeds are growing!!!! Apart from that the place is full of veg, my courgettes, squashes and pumpkins are racing away. I have pulled up the remains of the Broad Beans, my late crop didn't do too well as half of it was eaten by the deer. In its place I have planted some late 'Nantes' carrots and some winter turnips.

The sweetcorn is doing very well - I can't stand the stuff so I hope the wife is hungry. My late crop of peas seem to be doing quite well as are the parsnips. The only crop I am worried about are my late potatoes - they seem to have taken a battering with all the bad weather so how many we get is hard to say. One mistake I did make was that I didn't plant the potatoes deep enough so I have had to earth them up.

Anyway here are a few more pics

Still more Beans.......

.....they just keep on coming, the freezer is now full so we are now selling them or trading them for other veg. Last weekend we had a 'preserving weekend' we pickled shallots, made some Piccalilli and some Blackberry & Apple Jam.

Monday, July 09, 2007

here are a few more pictures from the last 2 weekends

One crop out another crop in

At last we have had 2 days were we could get out and tackle the allotment without getting soaked. The recent rain has damaged a few crops but the weeds just keep on coming.

Last week we pulled up all our garlic and onions and in that bed we have planted peas. It is a little late but I though we would have a go - I have struggled all year with peas mainly for 2 reasons - firstly I was using old seeds and germination was slow, secondly those that did germinate were eaten by the pigeons. So to deter our feathered friends the peas are now under netting.

We have also taken up our shallots - and in their place we have sown some Purple Sprouting Broccoli (PSB). Well, that's what I think it is - but the label came off... As the pigeons also like Brassicas these are under netting and fleece as shown in the photos.

We have also dug up our new potatoes - these looked quite sorry for themselves after all the rain and in their place are leeks.

But still things are growing - mostly weeds - in fact for the last month we have been overrun with lettuce, so much so we now have a large amount of lettuce soup in the freezer...
Last weekend on one of the few dry afternoons I pulled up all the garlic and onions. These were planted on 3rd Dec and they have grown really well - last year I struggled with garlic - this was because I used shop-bought garlic. This is heat treated so when you plant it it will not spilt into cloves. Also I have found out that the frost is essential for garlic to split into cloves. Normally you would pull up the onions and garlic and leave them on the soil to dry out in the sun. Clearly this is not going to happen so they are in the greenhouse. I reckon we have enough onions and garlic to last us 12 months. What lovely breath we'll have...
We have also been eating a few new potatoes and this has been great - these have been our earlies though they didn't flower. We have also had a good crop of Broad Beans.
I am now deciding what to plant in place of the onions/garlic - I reckon it will be peas, although I am struggling with these as the pigeons keep eating them.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Lettuce, Lettuce and more Lettuce

Garlic & Red Onions

I don't know if you can see on the photo but some of the onions have started to flower - so these heads needs to be snipped off and these onions eaten first.

Beetroot, Sweetcorn & Carrots

Broad Beans...

A few more pictures.....

Early Spuds and some french beans

Monday, May 21, 2007

Welcome to my office, a wedding and Fava beans……

The last few weeks have been a little weird as April’s weather seems to have caught us a little off guard. The glorious April weather lulled us all into a false sense that summer was here – but thankfully the past few weeks of rain has meant lots of seeds have sprung into life and we are at last eating produce from the allotment.

As you can see from the planting plan the plot is looking pretty full – the areas in grey are now fully planted so you can see there is not much space. For those who are really interested look how it has changed since March.

I have found that I have had a different set of results between planting direct into the soil and seeding everything in trays and then transplanting into the ground.

I prefer to seed everything in the greenhouse and then once seeds have come on I transplant these into the ground. This does take a little longer but what it does mean is that I don’t have to thin out seedlings on my hand and knees at the allotment. If you have sausage fingers like me the last thing you want to be doing is trying to separate delicate seedlings on your hands and knees! Give me the peace and quiet (and warmth) of my greenhouse.

Essentially I am planting a tray of seeds once every 2-3 weeks. E.g. I seed Beetroot in a tray and in 3 weeks time they should be ready to plant out; once they have been planted out I seed another tray. This means that if I have some old seeds I can see that they have not germinated and so take some action. This also means that I should get a continual crop of that veg right through the summer.

Also one quick related note re the allotment – we went to Fiona & Andy’s wedding last Friday and I was very surprised to see a picture of my allotment as a table name – apparently most of the people on our table like digging holes which was why we were all out together, though I think everyone else seemed to dig bigger and more interesting holes than the ones I do for my spuds. Still it was a top day – thanks to Fiona & Andy.

Anyway I think that’s it for the moment – I must pop up to the allotment now as I need to pinch out the tops of my Broad Beans – apparently when the first pods grown you pinch out the top parts so they concentrate on the pods not getting any bigger – and finally did you know that Fava beans are in fact Broad Beans – somehow you can’t imagine Hannibal Lector saying ‘Broad beans and a glass of Chianti’ can you?!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

lots of seeds in...

It has been a busy few weeks and I have planetd the following:

Main crop of spuds, Runner beans(Scarlet Emporer), Peas (Greensage), mixed Lettuce, Autumn Gold Carrots, Beetroot and Spinach.

As you can see I have built my runner bean canes. This was very easy to do.

As things are ticking along I have been spending a bit of time tidying the place up.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Running out of space????

When I took over the plot I was given a full plot size (10 pole) and after a few months I thought that I may give half of it back as it would be too much to handle.

Thankfully I didn't!

At first it was quite daunting - the picture below was 9 months ago so I started to slowly get a grip on it and by working on it all through Nov & Dec. I have started to use the top half of the plot.

The top half already had 2 redcurrant bushes, a friend (Lukerman) also gave me a further 3 bushes and these have been planted by father-in-law. He has also cleared a small area at the top of the plot and discovered a further 10 rhubarb crowns, so the top half will just be for fruit bushes.

The plot to the left of me belongs to Murray (a Kiwi-Arsenal season ticket holder) and he, like me, is new to allotments so it is quite good to chat things through and see how each of us are doing.

One of the good things about the allotment is that you share resources. I have a shed on the allotment and have given Murray a key so he doesn't have to lug his tools up every time. In return he has given me some horse muck and a few raspberry canes from his plot. And these have been added to the top of the allotment.

I have been finding out that I have been running out of space, so a strip of land that I was not going to use will now have my spuds in it - It has been sheeted for 6 weeks so it should be ok.

The last bit - probably the size of 2 raised beds - is quite rough, so it will be sheeted for the next 2 months and I will look to grow my winter caulis, broccoli and sprouts in it, so that will hopefully mean that all of the plot will be utilised.

I am now starting to think about what to fill the plot with once the first crop has finished, ie once my broad beans have finished in July - what will I grow in that spot - eg Kale ready for winter, still that is a while away but worth a thought.

So in total I should have about 10 raised bed that about about 1.3-1.5m across - how much this will all produce remains to be seen......

What has happened in March?

I think it was quite easy to get carried away in early March as it was quite warm but this was followed by a cold spell - and it even snowed (& stuck) (pitched, says the wife who's from the West Country) in Henley town which has not happened for a couple of years.

So I have been quite careful in what I have been doing and only last weekend (31st March) did I plant my potatoes. Essentially March has been further preparation and seeding in the gereenhouse.

3rd March I seeded quite a lot of peas and broad beans (short pod - Sutton), radish, carrots and some lettuce, summer cabbage and brocolli in the greenhouse at home

17th - I planted out the broad beans that had been in the greenhouse for 1 month, they are the long pod variety.

24th March - planted more broad beans (Sutton) directly into the ground - seeded some lettuce under cloches in the ground

31st March - Planted early potatoes - seeded the runner beans in the greenhouse

I have also nearly finished digging over the beds with just one left. I have also built the canes for the runner beans.

So it looks like I am all set - I feel pretty confident that I have things under control - though I think I am running out of space..........

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The first batch of 'homemade' compost

At the weekend I had to move the compost bin in the back garden - (to make way for 2 more chickens). For the past 18 months we have been putting all our veggie/fruit scraps into the bin and wondering whether it will work.

Well I can say that it has - and with minimal effort.

I thought I would just write down what we did as you hear lots of stories of what you need to do so here is our version. It really has been easy.

When we bought the house we inherited the green compost bin - it is one of the standard issue green ones from the council.

We put it on some lightly dug soil and made sure it was level. For the past 18 months we have added in the following.
  • All vegetable peelings (any left over cooked veg gets eaten by Rita & Mavis - our chickens)
  • All receipts/bank statements (can't imagine anyone digging in the compost bin to nick my identity)
  • Grass cuttings
  • Some chicken pooh
  • Any rotten fruit
All we have done is buy some compost worms - I bought these for £2 of ebay, and once every 6 months I stuck a garden fork in the top of the bin to mix things up - in total this has taken me 15 mins.

We have had some tiny white flies inside the bin but this is normal and they don't cause any problems.

We have had no problems with rats/foxes etc.

Anyway there we have the first bag of compost, roll on next year!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Planting Plan

All seems to be going well?

I am getting worried because things seem to be under control and I keep thinking that I have missed something!

Since my last post I have have finalised my planting schedule and have started a few crops in the greenhouse.

I have only have about 1/3 of the plot left to dig. Areas which have not been dug are still under the black matting.

On 27 January I seeded 30 broad bean plants. These have been in the green house for 4 weeks and are all doing well.

Last weekend I finished a small raised bed and put in 70 shallots.

This weekend (25th Feb) I have prepared another bed and put in 12 Jerusalem Artichokes tubers. I have never grown these before so I have given them small plot in between the rhubarb and onions.

I have also seeded the following in the greenhouse:
Cabbage (Greyhound)
Tom Thumb lettuce

The next few weeks

This is roughly what I am aiming to do over the next few weeks, I have found it best not to make too big a plan for the next 8 weeks as I find I end up changing my mind:

03-Mar - Seed Parsnip/Leeks /Peas/Radish/Beetroot in the greenhouse
10-Mar - Nothing
17-Mar - Seed Parsnip/Leeks /Peas/Radish/Beetroot & Plant out (Jan) Broad Beans
24-Mar - Plant Early Spuds
31-Mar - Seed Parsnip/Leeks /Peas/Radish/Beetroot

Also I have started to work on the other half of the allotment - this is quite overgrown but I have started to clear this in the hope that I could get some stuff in later in the year.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A few more pictures.

Here are a few more pictures.

Everything seems to be under control......

Well the black matting seems to have done the trick. Those areas that have been sheeted are free from any grass or weeds.

The garlic and Onion that I planted on 4th Dec are now about 6 inches tall and are coming along well.

The rhubarb crowns are now starting to sprout.