Monday, 24 September 2012

Sweet success

   I've harvested my first cob of sweetcorn today. The plants aren't very tall but all have a nice little cob sitting there waiting to be picked. I didn't have very much success with sweetcorn last year but this year has been a vast improvement. Ive heard other people say that nothing you buy can compare to the sweetness of homegrown sweetcorn and i have to agree. Perfect freshly boiled and then smothered in butter- delish! (My dog seemed impressed with my sweetcorn as well!) 

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Elephant garlic

   I finally harvested my elephant garlic. i didnt know what to expect as i had read mixed reviews about its success. The thing with garlic is that you dont know how well its done untill you dig it up. I have to say that i was pleased with my elephant garlic. Theyve formed large bulbs seperated into cloves. They might not be the biggest but they are bigger than my hang so they seem pretty big to me! Now all thats left to do is to slowly roast one so i know how they taste. Cant wait!

The harvest begins

   After the poor weather this summer i thought this year was going to be a complete disaster. However some crops have managed to recover and have started giving out produce.

   My courgettes took a battering from the slugs but now they've come back fighting. I love courgettes, they are so productive and you can do so much with the crop.
   My second sowing of peas have now begun to make plump pods. This is a pea that ive tried for the first time called 'Desiree'. As pretty as it is the pea actually tastes quite earthy and not very sweet so i wont be growing these again.
   My autumn raspberries are now pumping out lovely ripe fruit, along with my blueberrys and a second flush of strawberrys.
   Im even getting a harvest of cut flowers every week. I only sowed a few sweetpea seeds but they are producing loads of flowers providing me with a vase full every week.


Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The war on slugs!

   With all the recent rain my crops having been sitting targets against the onslaught of the slugs. My squashes and courgettes have been stripped to just leave a stubby stem remaining. Well now its time for them to fight back! Its useless using pellets when its wet as they just dissolve. So the secret weapon in the war is nematodes. I've used them before against vine weevils with great results, so I'm hoping to have the same success against the slugs. the nematodes are microscopic organisms which prey on different pests in the garden. Its completely environmentally friendly and it couldn't be easier to use. It comes as a spongy substance which should be stored in the fridge. You just dissolve it into your watering can and apply to the soil. Luckily with the rain sill pouring it ensures that the nematodes will get down into the soil and do their magic. Nematodes are quite expensive so I'm hoping they'll be worth the cost. It states that the slugs will be dead within a week so  if my plants can hold out a bit longer then the war might be won! I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The garlic harvest

   I harvested my garlic yesterday. They were suffering from rust and all the foliage was yellowing and dying. I didnt know what to expect from the bulbs. Its always exciting digging something up and seeing if your hard work has paid off. Its my first harvest of garlic and I will defiantly be growing them again this Winter. I thought they might have suffered after all the bad weather and then from the rust, but they seem to have survived. They arent the biggest bulbs ever but for my first time i am very pleased!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The risk of frost has passed

    Its mid June so all the tender veg is now planted out in their final positions.

   My Tomatoes have been planted out into pots, these include Ferline, Amish Gold and Black Krim. I always plant my tomatoes deep up to the first true leaves, this ensures good anchorage and encourages it to develop feeder roots. I just need to sun to start shining and the rain to stop.

    Up at the allotment Ive planted out my final bed. Its a take on the three sister bed, but mine just consists of two of the sisters. My sweetcorn is in a grid with my squashes planted among that grid. The plan is that as the sweetcorn grows up nice and tall the squashes will spread around the bottom covering the ground which suppresses weeds and keeps in the moisture. (The third sister is runner beans which normally grow up the sweetcorn, but my beans are in a seperate bed.) I dug in a couple of bags of manure because the squashes are greedy plants. I've also planted courgettes and gherkins
out. I think they all might sulk for a little bit as they they sat in their pots a little bit too long as they had started to yellow, but they should soon pick up and get growing.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Squashes, Courgettes and Cucumbers

    Since the weathers been so rubbish I thought I best get on with some sowing from the comfort of home. The start of May means it is time to sow the cucurbita family for me. Last year my squashes and courgettes were a disaster. It was just too dry for them. This year I'm hoping it will be different ( well if it stays like this it certainly wont be too dry for them!) So that means I need to prepare their bed well with lots of manure. I've sown a variety of squashes, courgettes and I'm even trying 'Crystal Apple' for something a bit different. They've gone into pots which are now in my heated propagator. Hopefully a bumper harvest awaits later in the summer.

Monday, 30 April 2012


    I bought some reduced tulip bulbs last winter which i planted at the end of November. They were a bit of a gamble whether it was too late to plant them or if the bulbs were a bit past it. However as you can tell by the picture above the gamble paid off. I planted them in a row at the end of the bed that the tenders will be going into, so that the bed would be free till June. Perfect for my first attempt at growing cut flowers. Tulips are my favourite flower, i just love the simple shape and bold colours of them, a truly elegant flower. The thought of growing some extra ones to enjoy in the house as well as the garden seemed a good idea. So i currently have two bunches of homegrown tulips providing my house with glorious colour and all it cost me was a few pounds back in November- bargain!

One Sunny Day

    Well I couldn't believe my eyes this morning when I woke up to find the sun shining through the window after yesterdays torrential downpour. It was just in time for my first day off work. I headed up to the plot to take advantage of the sudden sunshine. I did the usual weeding to try and stay on top of it. Then I started digging a bit more of one of the beds and raked it over ready for sowing some seeds direct. I also planted out my parsley plants that overwintered in my blow-away greenhouse. I hadn't really thought about growing parsley till I saw Monty with his healthy looking plants on 'Gardeners World'. Hopefully I'll have nice big plants ready for when my new potatoes are due to be dug up.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

April Showers!

   Well this last week has been a right wash out! So much for the drought! The rain has stopped me from doing anything at the plot. Whenever i was about to venture up there the heavens opened. All I've managed to do is pot on my tomato plants and sow some more broad beans. My fingers are itching to get things planted out at the plot. Hopefully it'll stop raining long enough for me to get a bit done now that I've got three days off from work, fingers crossed!
    I have been enjoying my first rhubarb pickings, turning them into a good old fashioned crumble. I've managed to get some more today after the gale force winds have blown over the stems and broken some. Well we cant have them going to waste, so Im thinking i might try making a rhubarb fool tonight.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Tomato Time!

    All my tomato seeds that I sowed last week have emerged. I always wait till April to sow mine because they'll be grown outside which means they need to be ready for June.  I think tomatoes are the vegetable that I most enjoy to grow. I love to grow lots of different varieties. This year I've chosen to grow 'Ferline' (my good old faithful), 'Black Krim', and 'Amish Gold'. Then 'Black Cherry', 'Green Grape' and 'Gardener's Delight' for gorgeous cherry toms and I'll be trying to grow 'Rambling Gold Stripe' and 'Fountain' in a hanging basket. Ive grown tomatoes once before in a basket with great success but that was with shop brought Tumbling Tom plants.  The seedlings seem so tiny at the moment, but I'm looking forward to a late summer harvest of tasty juicy toms! What tomatoes are you growing this year? have you got a favourite tom?

Friday, 30 March 2012

Planting Potatoes


   After a long time chitting it was finally time to get my potatoes into the ground. I planted some in grow bags in the garden and also planted a row up at the plot. This way I can compare the yields of growing them in different ways. Im only growing salad potatoes as main crop take up too much space and are easily available in the shops. All my chitted potatoes had good strong shoots appearing which should help get a successful crop slightly earlier than non-chitted.

    I've also planted Jerusalem Artichokes for the first time this year. I planted them in two short rows at the plot. After seeing Alys Fowler harvest them and turn them into a tasty looking gratin, I've been intrigued to try them. She stated they were a crop that need little attention and provide a bumper crop for little effort. So I look forward to trying them this winter.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Shallots are in

    Ive never grown shallots before, so im very excited to see how they grow. Each bulb is meant to produce several others, i dont know if they split and divide or grow extras. I love shallots thrown whole into stews or finely sliced into salads. I will just need to keep these weed free as they dont like competition. It feels good to be starting to work the ground again and to be able to plant things. The growing season has finally started...

Spring is in the air...

    March 1st was a glorious day to spend at the plot. It really felt like spring had arrived. I was pleased to see that most of my garlic appears to have survived the winter. As it was my first winter on the plot i didnt know how wet the soiled stayed, so i made sure to add some grit to improve drainage. It seems to have payed off as there are loads of tiny green shoots poking up through the ground.

   My brassicas have also survived the winter. The nets put in place have withstood the gale force winds that we had. They have done the job and kept the hungry pigeons off. This is a photo of a white sprouting broccoli. Ive also got brussel sprouts and spring cabbages. I think they went in a bit late but hopefully now the weathers warming up they might take off and get growing.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Let the chitting begin

   My first veg job of the year! Now I dont normally start chitting potatoes till Feb but my delivery came early. Im not growing as many potatoes as i did last year on the plot as i never managed to eat them all. I dont grow main crop as it takes up too much space, so I'm sticking to new potatoes. I will still be growing some in my three grow bags in my garden and the extra potatoes i have left will make a small row on my plot. The varieties Ive chosen this year are Rocket, International Kidney and Belle De Fontenay. Ive had to use my trug to chit them in as ive not got enough egg boxes or windowsill space.

    As you can see I've also got shallots in there with them. These are 'Pesandor'. I've never grown shallots before but i thought I'd give them a go this year. I'm quite intrigued to see how they grow little groups of shallots from the original bulb. It said to store them in a light place so I've put them with my potatoes to separate the different varieties so they dont get muddled up.


Sunday, 8 January 2012

Projects for the New Year

   This will be my first full growing season on my plot so i want to take full advantage of that. Theres lots to be done however I can see myself getting carried away and starting lots of things but never actually completing any. Therefore I'm going to try and be organised and name the projects that I want to get done this year. So my projects for 2012 are:

  • Get my new shed. I already know which one i want and the company come and build it for you on your site. the only thing Ive got to do is get the base done for it. Ive already got the paving slabs at my plot (thanks to dad!). All i have to do now is level the ground, lay the slabs and order my shed. my current shed is a spider infested rickety old shack. Its useful for storing my tools but i want somewhere i can shelter in when its raining and relax in and enjoy my plot!

  • Build a compost heap. Ive got a few pallets and I need to turn them into a place where I can make my own compost. Ive just got a darlek for the time being. After listening to Monty Don talk about homegrown compost i don't want to miss out any longer.

  • Clear the brambles. This is a big task! There are currently four rows of overgrown brambles on my plot. The space they are taking up will be valuable growing space. I'm aware though that the roots go far and wide and are going to be an ongoing task to clear them forever.

    These are my main projects for the year. If I get any more of the plot cleared then that will be a bonus. Theres still an elder tree and wild rose to clear and a path to make, but I've got my main priorities now. With the weather being this mild it's a perfect time to get started. What projects have you got lined up for this year?

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year!

   A new year, a new start, a new growing season! At this time of year the weather might be stopping you from venturing out into the garden or up to the plot (although it has been a lot milder this winter than last!). However when those bleak days arise you can always settle down with a cuppa and start flicking through next seasons seed catalogues. I love looking at all the different varietys of vegetables that there are to grow. I do quite easily get carried away and can find myself circling far too many choices. This year i need to be sensible orelse I will end up with more seeds than I can grow.

 I hope you all had a merry Christmas and a great New Years!