Hello mojo

 

 
  

I’ve been feeling nervous. I’ve only had a couple of visits to the allotment over the winter season and for the last couple of weeks I’ve been preparing myself for the worst. Winter alone can wreak havoc with the allotment so I was quite anxious to actually see the allotment especially with all the storms we’ve had here recently.I couldnt put it off any longer.

Today I took my first serious trip up to the allotment, and to my surprise, the allotment had faired pretty well over the winter. The shed was still standing, all the glass was accounted for in the greenhouse and the hanging baskets were still…well…hanging! 

  
I had a quick look over the vegetable beds and although they will need a good digging over, I was delighted to see that they hadn’t become totally over run with weeds. 

  
My leeks were still standing even though most of them bolted last year, I spotted some of my purple sprouting broccoli was still sprouting and I even still had a solitary kale plant still going. 

  
In last years onion bed I spotted what I thought was a very straight line of weeds. On closer inspection I realised these were actually the spring onions I planted last year…better late than never I suppose!  

  

  
While the sun was shining I took the opportunity to clear out the shed. I hate cleaning out the shed. Spiders live there. But no one else is going to do it for me so I grabbed my wellies, gloves and a large broom and got to work. 

It’s amazing what a difference a clear out can make. Just spending an hour or so sorting out plant pots, getting rid of all the old junk that had piled up last year, picturing the greenhouse full of seedlings rather than full of rubbish really boosted my enthusiasm for this years growing season. 

The reassuring signs of Spring have started to appear at the plot. Crocuses have started popping up, the rhubarb has burst through the mulch and the Rosemary cuttings I took last year are really coming on. 

   
   

  

Hello gardening mojo, I’ve missed you

Confessions of an allotment holder

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Ok. There’s no sugar coating this folks…I’ve been a very bad allotment holder. I’ve been busy and I’ve not spent the time I should’ve at the plot. There…I’ve said it…I’ve failed in my duty to keep on top of the weeds, and I’ve not looked after the veggies as well as I could’ve. In my defence, most of the vegetables have been harvested already, and the ones I’ve left at the allotment should’ve been OK for a while.

Did you see the “should’ve” there?

The vegetables I’m referring to are the leeks and main crop potatoes. I’d thought that by keeping the main crop potatoes in the ground until I needed them (at least until the weather got colder) it would be the best way to store them and keep them fresh.  Today, the allotment told me different. At first I thought the potatoes were OK, then I brushed the mud off them and spotted loads of holes where little white grubs had burrowed their way inside. I hoped that only a few of the potatoes would have been feasted upon, I’m ok with sharing a some of the crops with the little critters that live at the allotment, but no, every single potato I dug up had been eaten. The best I can do is to learn from this and next year I’ll either lift the potatoes earlier or I’ll just stick with earlies and second earlies.

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Grub infested potatoes

Moving along the plot I spotted the leeks. Now, I was under the impression that leeks are a low maintenance vegetable and would be totally fine to do their thing with hardly any supervision. After all, leeks can stay in the ground for months over winter, easy peasey. Well, I’m sure they can but no one told me that there was a chance of the leeks bolting before winter arrives. Checking my little leek patch,  about half of them have bolted.

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Flower head on the leeks

I’m not sure how or why it’s happened, but it’s happened. Determined to find the silver lining, I’ve decided to leave the bolted leeks to flower and the birds can enjoy the seeds. I’ll dig up the remaining leeks over the next few weeks and enjoy them before any more get the urge to produce flower heads.

After a quick rake up of the leaves it was time to go. I’ve not left the plot empty handed for ages and it didn’t feel right to do so today. So I dug up my first non-bolted leek, and it’s a beaut!

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Ready for pulling

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My first leek

Back in the game

  
What a whirlwind the past 6 weeks have been.  There’s been a camping trip, a new school, a country show, a black belt and a house move, which unfortunately has left very little time for the allotment. At times, it’s really stressed me out when I’ve known there’s loads to do at the plot but there’s simply been no time to do it. 

For the first time in weeks I had a couple of hours free last weekend so I hightailed it along to the allotment. 

It was great to be back, just stepping through the gate I could feel weeks of stress slipping away…until I saw the weeds! I didn’t want to spend my first visit in ages simply weeding so I decided to lift the rest of the onions instead. 

  
I’ve had a bit of a mixed result with the onions, I’ve had some tiny ones, some huge ones and a few had bolted but on the whole they’ve all grown and they’ve been pest and disease free so I’m calling them a success! They’re now laid out on a table in the garden at my parents house to dry out so that they’ll store for use over the winter. 

  
The apples were looking good too but I’m never sure when to harvest them, so I gave a gentle twisty-pull to a few and just took the ones that came away in my hand. 

  
Plans for the apples are crumbles and pies, and perhaps an apple cake. I really would like to make some kind of jam/jelly with them but I’m not sure if that would be weird or not? Might try apple and blackberry jam with a few elderberries thrown in for good measure, in essence autumn jam, you never know, it might be delightful, or it might be the most awful thing ever, anyway, I’ll give it a go!

With preserving things in mind I come to my tomatoes. At the start of the summer I’d had big salad-like plans for the tomatoes, as well as slow roasting them to intensify the flavour, similar to sun dried tomatoes. However I’ve only got one single red tomato. Not really enough for slow roasting really is it?

  
I do however have loads of green tomatoes so chutney making will be on the cards next week. 

  
With time pushing on I quickly dug up a few potatoes to take home for tea. The yield from the potatoes has been really good but they have been a touch on the small side. (Must manure next year) Only a few had been nibbled so discarding those I collected my haul and headed home. 
  
My head is now full of plans for the allotment over the autumn. I need to clear the old crops (peas/summer brassicas) and collect the squash before the first frosts. The winter vegetables are coming along nicely with the kale looking healthy and Brussel sprouts just starting to form at the leaf bases so I’ll need to make sure I harvest those regularly.

  
 I’m going to revamp nature corner by re-digging the pond and using a preformed liner to help maintain water levels and encourage more wildlife to the plot. My biggest challenge however is going to be the pampas grass. I think it’s days on the plot are numbered and although it’s going to be a nightmare to dig out, I could use the space more effectively.

So, with the house move out of the way, I’m back on track. I’ve got a plan, and over the next month I’ve really got to get to work. Once the pampas grass is out, I’ll be able to get more spring bulbs planted and I’ll have to re-stake the cordon apple trees as they’re practically horizontal with all the fruit on them (poor things!) 

Oh, by the way, I think I might just hold the record for the slowest latest early sweet corn crop…it’s just started to grow cobs now! 

Happy Autumn folks!   

Eyes down for a full house

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At last, the beds are full at the allotment. Over the last 2 weeks I’ve been a busy bee planting out the last of my home-grown seedlings to finally fill the vegetable plots.

Last week I gave myself the task of getting the Brassica beds finished. If I’m being totally honest, I’ve been putting this off a bit as it would mean I’d have to build some kind of netted structure to protect the crops but I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to do this. I’d had an idea about using an old garden hose to make an arched tunnel  across the bed. This plan went quickly down hill after I cut the first length of hose, secured each end into the ground across the vegetable bed then watched the hose arch promptly collapse to the ground.

Under construction

Under construction

Plan B was to use bamboo canes along the outside of the vegetable beds and to attach the net to those. I’ve been saving squash bottles to use as snail and slug protectors and I’d kept the tops of the bottles to put on top of the canes to secure the netting. This plan was much more successful and after an hour or so I’d made 2 Brassica cages. In went the Calabrese, the Kale and the Purple sprouting broccoli, along with the green and red Brussel sprouts. I’ve still got a little room left in one of the beds for the cabbage. I’ve not been so successful with the summer cabbage this year, but I’ve still got my winter cabbage and my turnips to sow so I’ll probably use the space for those.

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The beginning of a much more successful plan

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Ready for planting

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Bird Proof Brassica beds

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Cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts

Calabrese, Kale and Purple sprouting broccoli

Calabrese, Kale and Purple sprouting broccoli

Now, building the cages was primarily to keep the birds and butterflies off the Brassicas, but I was still quite concerned about the slugs and snails. I’ve been reading about organic ways to keep these types of pests off the vegetables by using beer traps, wool pellets, crushed egg shells, sharp sand or nematodes, but the method that appealed to me the most was to sprinkle used coffee grounds around the newly planted vegetables, the main reason being that I could get a huge box full of them for free from work – it’s a no brainer really! So far I’ve been really pleased with this method, I’ve used it around all the Brassicas, the beans, sweetcorn as well as all the squash and pumpkins I planted out the week before and there’s only been a very slight nibble to one or two of the leaves, nothing more…brilliant.

The only things I had left to plant out were the leeks and the courgette plants. I’ve had to make a bit of a “space sacrifice” in order to plant out the leeks. I’ve decided not to plant parsnips this year and only plant 3 short rows of carrots so that I can fit the leeks into their allocated bed. The reason for  this is that I’ve got really heavy clay soil and I don’t think the carrots or parsnips will be particularly successful, but if they are, I’ll reduce the number of onions next year to give me more room.

3 short rows of carrots

3 short rows of carrots

So, on with the leeks. I’ve been intrigued about planting leeks, all because of how this is done. Puddling in. Doesn’t it sound great! Armed with the handle of my garden hoe, I started making deep holes in the ground for the mini leeks to be dropped into. Once they were all cosy in the holes I topped them up with water to allow the earth to settle around the base of the plants. Hopefully I’ve made the holes deep enough to blanch the base of the leeks, giving them a lovely white stem. I’ll earth them up later on in the year to help with this too.

Leeks ready for planting out

Leeks ready for planting out

Leeks ready for puddling in

Leeks ready for puddling in

30 leeks, puddles

30 leeks, puddled

Last but not least were the courgettes. I cleared a bed for them last week, thinking I was digging up a couple of errant brambles but to my surprise this is what I found…

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Surprise potato

Surprise potato

More potatoes

More potatoes

I must’ve left a couple of little potatoes in the ground when I cleared the patch!

Once I removed the last of the potatoes, I planted my 6 courgette plants. I’m growing 3 types, an Italian striped variety, Defender which is a deep green variety and Atena, a yellow variety. They’re all suppose to be good croppers too so I’ll be sharing them with friends and family.

Courgettes planted

Courgettes planted

After they were planted I gave the area a good sprinkling with the coffee grounds and stood back to survey the plot.

The sunflowers are starting to flower now, mine was the first to bloom (much to my son’s disappointment) closely followed by my Mam’s and my sons in third place.

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The Alliums are starting to flower in Nature Corner now which is great for attracting bees and hoverflies to the plot

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The apple trees seem to be doing well with the new fruit starting to swell. There seems to be loads of new fruit on the trees at the moment, I’m in two minds about whether to leave them or to remove some of the fruits now to allow the remaining ones to get larger. Any thoughts on this would be fantastic.

Apples

Apples

Lots of apples forming on the tree

Lots of apples forming on the tree

Last but not least the Nasturtiums have started to flower. I had planted these to attract the green-fly away from the crops but they’re too pretty to be sacrificed! Don’t they just look lovely.

 

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Take a walk on the wild side

  
I did it. I ate the mushrooms. After conducting some carefull research into  the pros (tasty treats) and cons (stomach cramps and possibly being poisoned) I came to the conclusion that the mushrooms growing in nature corner at the allotment were indeed the safe and tasty variety Morel. 

After collecting them on Sunday evening I brought them home, in my brand new vegetable trug, along with some of the micro salad, rhubarb and herbs I’ve been growing. 

  
To prepare them I cut them in half and soaked them in a container of water. Some of the advice suggests simply brushing them carefully with a small paint brush to remove debris but after seeing a tiny slug creeping up the side of the container I’m pleased I opted for soaking! It must’ve been seeking refuge in one of the mini crators on the mushroom. After an hour or so, I dried the mushrooms off and wrapped them in kitchen paper overnight. 

  
I love mushrooms. Being vegetarian I use them regularly in everyday cooking, so I was keen to use them in one of my favourite dishes…risotto. I love using porcini mushrooms as the base flavour in risotto, they’ve got a wonderful texture and a real earthy-ness about them which I think works perfectly in this type of dish. The Morel mushrooms were added to the mix and a mushroom feast was had at tea time. 

  
The mushrooms tasted good, not too strong and were surprisingly soft, I’d expected them to be firmer, but were still a delight to try. 

Now, I can’t take all the credit for the tasty wild mushroom risotto, actually I can’t take any of the credit…my sister cooked it, added some micro salad, tossed in a chunk of Stilton, threw in some cannilini beans and served it up… it was awesome. 

  

A really fun-gi

I woke up to a lovely sunny day this morning, and feeling spurred on by the progress made yesterday I headed along to the allotment with my sandwiches and flask in hand.

First task of the day was to plant up the strawberries. I have an area on the allotment which, at the moment, houses the broken cold frame. I had planned to take it down and dig it out to use as the strawberry patch, but the little test dig I did a few weeks ago proved it to be full of really tough woody roots (where they’ve come from and what they are I’ve got no idea). So strawberries in planters was my next best option. I like the idea of vertical gardening and as I’m short on patio space I thought stacking strawberry planters was the way to go.

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I love strawberries, so I’ve planted 18 individual plants, 3 per pot. I had thought about stacking them 3 pots high to save on space but I think stacking them 2 pots high is going to give the plants more sunshine.

After an hour or so’s digging (got to keep on top of those weeds) I stopped to plant up some more seeds. I planted my climbing beans – Cobra, my runner beans – Enorma and my dwarf bush beans – Purple Teepee. I’m growing the runner beans and the climbing beans up wigwam style support canes so I’ve only sown 6 seeds of each. If I need any more, I can plant a few seeds directly into the ground when I plant the beans out.

After that, I thought I’d test my luck and plant a few beetroot seeds and some Swiss chard directly into the ground where I’d been weeding. I’m really looking forward to seeing the Swiss chard. The variety I’m growing is called Bright Lights and the stems will be lovely shades of red, yellow, silver and purple. If I only pick the outer leaves, they should keep producing more to last right the way through the summer, and even into autumn.

After all that hard work, it was time for a cup of tea. Off I went to nature corner to relax and enjoy the flowers.

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As I was watching the bees, I noticed something growing beside the grape hyacinth…

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There, right in the middle. Can you see it? It looks like the weirdest wrinkly fungi ever! I cast my eye over the woodland-like floor and spotted another…

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And another!

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Once I got home, I did what anyone else with pictures of weird looking wrinkly fungi would do. Put the picture on Instagram and asked for help! After a short time I had a reply saying it was a Morel wild mushroom. The best thing is that it’s really easy to identify (once you know what to look for in your mushrooms) and it’s edible too, supposedly it’s quite delicious.

I’ll have to do a bit more research, just to make sure it is a Morel before I eat them all, but I’m delighted that nature corner is producing things to forage. And so what if the mushrooms are all weird looking? It’s can certainly come to party at my allotment…because it’s a really fun-gi.

Blooming marvellous

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It’s official, I love this time of year! Is it spring? Could it possibly be the start of summer? Sometimes it feels like winter, but, what ever the season it is, I think it’s fantastic.

Over the last week I’ve been weeding like crazy, trying to keep the vegetable plots in tip-top condition ready for the seedlings to be planted out. Even though I’ve been, what I consider, to be very thorough in my weeding, I can’t believe the amount of bindweed still coming out. It’s fortunate that it’s been raining over the last few days, the ground is really soft making weeding all that much easier, still, the bindweed root was much chunkier than before, fingers crossed I’ve got most of it out now.

Revenge of the bindweed 2.0

Revenge of the bindweed 2.0

This month I’ve got my onion seedlings to plant out. Well they’re not really seedlings any more, they’re more like an onion jungle in their seed trays, but I’ve been gradually hardening them off along with my first batch of summer cauliflowers ready for planting either this weekend or at some point next week. The Brassica collars arrived this morning so they’ll go straight on to the cauliflowers when I plant them out. I’ve saved an old hose to try to construct a sort of arched tunnel covered in netting to protect the veg from bird attacks, haven’t quite figured out how to make it yet but that’s a challenge for another day!

Summer cauliflowers ready for planting

Summer cauliflowers ready for planting

Onion jungle

Onion jungle

While on the plot this morning I was absolutely delighted to see that the broad beans have started to produce flowers. I’m growing a crimson flowered variety and the lovely deep pink colour is just gorgeous. I’m hoping that the bean plants themselves will continue to grow taller as they still seem quite small, but as I’ve never grown broad beans before I’ll look forward to seeing how they come on.

Crimson flowered broad beans

Crimson flower buds on the broad beans

Elsewhere on the plot the first leaves on the potatoes have started to poke through the soil. In first place we have the Lady Crystl variety which seems about right as they are the earliest cropping of the potatoes I’ve planted. In about a week I’ll start earthing them up, and I’ll need to keep an eye on the weather forecast just in case we get a sneaky frost.

First leaves on the potato plants

First leaves on the potato plants

The flowers in nature corner are coming along a treat and more tulips are starting to bloom. I think it’s really important for the allotment to have a little section which is slightly wild to encourage bees and other pollinators to the plot. There are still a few more tulips to come through and in a month or so I should have some alliums for the bees to feast on too.

Nature corner

Nature corner

Hover fly on a dandelion

Hover fly on a dandelion

Big bee

Big bee

Both apple trees are blossoming now which is just lovely to see. I was a bit worried when the male tree started to flower a week or so ago and the fruit bearing trees only had buds on them, but just yesterday the blossom on the female trees opened up, hooray! Apples will be had in the autumn!

Pink Apple blossom opening up on the fruit bearing trees

Pink Apple blossom opening up on the fruit bearing trees

Getting a move on with seed sowing, I’ve planted my sweetcorn today. I’m growing a super sweet variety called Swift and following the success of sowing my broad beans in cardboard tubes I’m doing the same with the sweetcorn. I’m planting about 20 seeds in total so I when they go into the ground they’ll make a decent sized block. I’m told that the corn tastes best if it’s cooked within 20 minutes of it being picked, before the sugars turn to starch, now that’s something I can’t wait to try!

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The last job on the plot today was to tend to the greenhouse crops. The rocket and spinach I’ve been growing for micro salads are ready to be picked. I’ll pick them tomorrow so they can be enjoyed fresh for tea. I’ve got some radish seeds I was going to plant outside but I might try a few in the guttering once the rocket and spinach have been picked. The purple basil seedlings are taking ages to grow, they’ve been at the 2 leaf stage for weeks now, I’m hoping once the greenhouse warms up more they’ll have a growth spurt.

Rocket

Rocket

Finally the tomatoes. While I was watering them earlier this week I noticed that suckers had started to grow from the main stem. As I had a little time before I needed to leave the allotment, I got to work pinching them off. It’s important to remove these extra leafy growths because the plant can put more energy into producing fruit rather than into growing more leaves.

Suckers starting to grow in the V between the main stem and the leaves

Suckers starting to grow in the V between the main stem and the leaves

Tomorrow, the plan is to harvest more rhubarb, plant up the strawberries, check the onions and cauliflowers have survived their first all nighter outside, and to dig over the last 2 vegetable beds (again). I’m so happy to see the allotment really coming into bloom after months of waiting for signs of life. It’s definitely been worth the wait.

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Surprise Surprise

I love a surprise, and for better or worse, this week has been full of them. First up was the cauliflowers. A couple of weeks ago I reported that they were in dire straits after I started trying to harden them off. Their leaves had shrivelled, they looked really poor, and I thought I’d have to start all over again.

Poor cauliflowers

Poor cauliflowers

But to my delight this week, they’ve bounced back. They look strong and healthy, and their next set of leaves have grown in really quickly.

Hooray for cauliflower

Hooray for cauliflower

I’m currently growing most of my seedlings, including the cauliflowers, on windowsills at my parents house (my flat is on the ground floor and gets very limited sunshine) so in my absence, they’ve been left in charge of the seedlings. On Tuesday my Mam called me and asked if she showed me the cauliflowers, would I notice anything different about them. I replied, of course I would, they’re my first ever home-grown cauliflowers, nurtured from seed and brought back to life from the point of no return….this is what I saw.

Missing leaves, poor cauliflower

Missing leaves

The leaves had vanished from about 3 of my plants. My lovely cauliflowers have had their leaves nibbled off! They hadn’t been outside so it wasn’t the birds, slugs, snails or any other usual vegetable predator. My Mam had caught their cat Noodles red pawed, nibbling away at the leaves!

imageThose poor cauliflowers will be lucky to make it to the allotment at this rate!

The weather today has been glorious. Thankfully the winds have eased off and the rain, sleet and hail has passed. I’ve been making daily trips to the allotment this week to check on the shed, greenhouse and the broad beans. I’ve been really worried that the beans might have been blown over or that their stems might have snapped in the winds but luckily they’ve survived.

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The plan on the allotment today was to dig up a smaller section of the plot I’d used to plant some potatoes late last summer. I’d hoped they would grow in time for Christmas but no foliage ever appeared so I just resigned myself to the fact that they must’ve been eaten by the slugs. To my surprise, I dug up a load of new potatoes! I’m not quite sure how they’ve made it through the winter but tonight, they made it to my son’s dinner plate.

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Man Down

This week I’ve had a bit of a disaster. I’ve been getting rather excited about the prospect of planting out my seedlings so I’ve started to harden off my broad beans and my cauliflowers. The broad beans have loved being outside and thrived in the great out doors, soaking up the sunshine and breathing in the fresh air. The cauliflower seedlings on the other hand have not fared so well.

Poor Cauliflowers

Poor Cauliflowers

I’m not sure whats happened to them. The first day of hardening off, the weather was slightly breezy and quite mild so they were only out for an hour or so. The second day they looked fine, so they went out for slightly longer. I wasn’t too concerned about this as it was probably the most lovely sunny day we’ve had so far this year. The following day however, the seedlings looked extremely poor. Quickly, they were watered and they have improved slightly, but they are still in need of a serious rescue plan. Needless to say they’ve not been outside since. I’m hoping that they have just been dehydrated and that over the next few days their next set of leaves will continue to grow. Worst case scenario…its cold shock, and I fear they’ve had it.

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I’m going to plant up a few (lots of) extra seeds over the weekend to try and make up for any that don’t pull through. Failing that I can plant them directly into the ground and we’ll do battle with the slugs and snails.

Other than that, its been quite a successful time this week. I’ve almost finished digging the whole of the allotment and there are just 2 small sections left to do. After what seems like hours upon hours of digging and weeding the end is in sight.

I spent Thursday and Friday at the allotment and was delighted on Thursday to be joined by a squirrel. The allotment backs onto a park and I love how the animals pop over the fence to say “Hi”. I’m sure I’ll change my tune though, when the squirrels are tucking into a 3 course meal at the expense of my vegetables, but for now I’m enjoying seeing the wildlife in action.

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I’m really pleased that I’ve managed to keep on track with the digging and weeding over the winter months. After spending most of last year clearing the plot, it’s a really great feeling to look at the allotment now its ready for planting, and vision the vegetables growing.

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The potatoes I started chitting last week are getting some lovely purple sprouts on them. With a bit of luck they’ll be ready to plant out in about 4 weeks time. The tomato seedlings are also up and running and are smelling absolutely marvellous. There’s something about the smell of their leaves that is just summer in a sniff! The Nasturtium flowers I’m growing for companion planting have germinated and now look like mini lily pads. I’ve grown enough to plant along side most of the crops, but I’m hoping they’ll be most effective in the brassica beds as well as with the pumpkins and squash.

Sprouting potatoes

Sprouting potatoes

Tomato seedlings

Tomato seedlings

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums

After watching Gardeners World last week, I’ve gone a bit Monty Don and started to force a section of my rhubarb. I didn’t have a black bin to use, but located an old bucket and covered that with a black plastic bag. I know it’s not pretty but it’ll do for now.

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Now you see it…

 

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Now you don’t

Next week is going to be full steam ahead down at the plot. I’ve taken the week off work to get all the little jobs at the allotment done including getting the broad beans supported and planted out. Now, when I say little jobs, I mean the jobs I’ve been putting off, like cleaning out the shed, burning all brambles I dug out last year (the plot was over run with them), making the path section between the beds wider using the bits of bricks I have dug up, finding a glass door to fit and replace the one that was smashed by vandals on my home-made green house a year ago and to plant out the herbs and lavender. Hopefully by the end of the week, I’ll have a beautifully clean and tidy plot with some actual vegetables growing in it. Wish me luck!

Holy sprouting vegetables Batman

Over the last week or so it’s really felt like the growing season has well and truly started. The list of seeds to grow each month is getting longer and longer, and soon I’ll be able to get the first lot of home-grown seedlings planted out. Yesterday I spent the day at the allotment digging and weeding the bean, pea and corn patch. I really should’ve started with this plot, as the broad beans are due to be planted out first but I’m sure they won’t mind a freshly dug plot to be transferred into. The broad beans have really surprised me with the rate at which they’ve grown. Last week, they were only just starting to get their leaves above the soil, this week they’d give Jacks beanstalk a run for its money! I’ve started hardening them off now, so they should be ready to take up residence on the plot in about a fortnight.

Broad beans last week

Broad beans last week

Broad beans this week

Broad beans this week

March on my planner is filled with lots of little jobs, cleaning out the shed and greenhouse, getting fleece/netting/bamboo canes/brassica collars, along with lots of digging and weeding. I’ve also decided to get some marginal pond plants for nature corner. The plant I’m going to grow in the pond is the water Forget-me-not. It’s not a tall plant, more bushy but it’ll have lots of green leaves and loads of tiny blue flowers which are perfect for pollinators. I’ve never grown plants in water before, so I think it’s best to start off small and with a bit of luck I’ll not kill them (the plants, not the bees).

The one thing on my planner for March that I’ve been looking forward to the most is chitting my potatoes. I’m growing 4 types; Lady Christl and Charlotte as my earlies and King Edwards and Maris Pipers as my main crop. I’ve had the seed potatoes since the middle of January but I’ve held off chitting them until now because the soil I have is clay and it’ll take slightly longer to warm up. Also, the last frosts here will be closer to the end of April, early May so hopefully by the time the shoots start to show above the ground, the last frosts will have passed.

Letting the potatoes out of the box

Letting the potatoes out of the box

I’ve been keeping the seed potatoes in a cardboard box in the garage to keep them cool to try and delay their natural urge to sprout. Well, this has worked for the main croppers, but it seems that the earlies have had other ideas.

King Edward seed potato with only a small amount of early sprouting

King Edward seed potato with only a small amount of early sprouting

Mega sprouts on the Lady Crystl potatoes

Mega sprouts on the Lady Christl potatoes

The Lady Christl variety had sprouted really long white shoots, not the lovely green ones I’m hoping to see growing on the potatoes in the next few weeks, so I rubbed all the shoots off and loaded up the egg boxes I’ve been collecting.

You can never have too many potatoes, right?

You can never have too many potatoes, right?

Now, I knew I had a lot of seed potatoes but I didn’t realise just how many I had until I started filling up the egg boxes. I’m not sure you can ever have too many potatoes but just in case, I’ve organised a Plan B. I’ll be giving some to my parents to grow in containers, and any left over I’ll donate to my sons school gardening club.

For now the potatoes are now on a nice bright windowsill ready to get some sunshine onto their skins, and I can’t wait to see the lovely stubby shoots starting to grow.

Posing potato

Posing potato