Autumn jewels

Autumn. It’s such a lovely time of year. You can see the leaves on trees gradually changing from the fresh vibrant green of summer to the rich earthy tones of red and gold. This is my first successful year of Autumn crops at the allotment and I’m delighted with the harvest so far.

I managed a quick harvesting trip this afternoon (I’ve got a week off work soon so I’ll do all the gardening essentials like weeding then!) and came back with another trug full of autumnal delights!

I’m really surprised to see the runner beans still producing massive pods, and there are more flowers coming.

I’ve decided to harvest a few of the Buffy ball pumpkins. Not sure if they’re quite ready yet but I don’t want to get caught out with a surprise frost so I’ve picked most of them today and left a few of the smaller ones on the vine. The picked pumpkins will store in the garage until I can research how to cure them and hopefully I’ll have mini roasted pumpkins for tea on Halloween

The apples this year are fantastic. There’s just so many on the tree I can’t pick them quick enough! I love the colour of the apples, such a lovely rich red, it’s great to be able to pick your own food just at the right time and to taste it, freshly picked is amazing. (The apples are currently being baked in a crumble as I type…the smell is awesome!)

And last but not least the tomatoes. I’d left them on the plants hoping they’d ripen but I think they’re determined to remain green. I’ve picked them all, still on the vine and I’ll make them into chutney using more of the apples and the already harvested onions to enjoy closer to Christmas.

That’s it for now, I can hear the crumble calling out my name… Here’s a quick look at the haul from today, happy harvests everyone!

A watched pot never boils

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For the last few months I’ve been making daily trips to the allotment whenever possible. Primarily this has been to make sure that all the plants in the greenhouse have had enough water and to check all the plants out in the plots have survived the elements. It really seems like the first half of the year has flown by.

Now that most of the plants are out in their final positions (I’ve only got the find homes for the tomato plants) it feels as if I’m playing a waiting game…which vegetable is going to crop first! On each trip to the allotment I spend the first 10 minutes or so assessing the progress of all the vegetables, and in my head I recall how they looked last time I was there (usually the day before). It never seems as if any of my plants are growing!

I love checking out everyone else’s plot progress on their blogs and I’m practically addicted to Instagram and it seems like everyone else’s vegetables are light years ahead of mine, so much so, I’ve had to check the seed packets to make sure I’ve planted everything at the right time.

Drastic measures were called for. I decided that I’d not visit the allotment quite as often this week, as a kind of experiment, to see if the vegetable progress would be more noticeable. In the last 7 days I’ve only been to the allotment twice. Both just to check the plants were still alive, the weather here’s been rubbish this week so they haven’t been short of water.

Good news. On my visit today I noticed a massive difference in almost all of the vegetables.

These were the broad beans 3 weeks ago

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These are the broad beans today

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I didn’t think it had only been 3 weeks since the beans started appearing but I had no idea they’d grown so much. I think they’ll be ready for picking in a couple of weeks, perhaps earlier if I can’t hold myself back!

Same with the peas. I’ve been watching the foliage of the peas climb higher and higher but I’ve not been able to see any flowers at all…until today!

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Pea flowers. I can hardly hide my excitement! These are on my shorter variety, Hurst Greenshaft which are double podded and are a slightly earlier cropper than my main crop variety, Alderman. Hopefully this is a sign that peas will be following shortly and I can finally make Raymond Blanc’s pea risotto from Kew on a Plate.

I’ve also spotted my first flower on my Buffy Ball squash

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I’ve been swatting up on male and female flowers on squash and pumpkins and on closer inspection, this appears to be a male flower. The female flower will have a slight bump behind it as the bump will eventually turn into the fruit or pumpkin. Feeling very proud of my plant anatomy knowledge I checked out the giant pumpkins. There’s only a flower appearing there too!

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How fantastic is this? It seems to be a female flower, so I’ll have to keep a look out for some male flowers too to ensure successful pollination and those enormous pumpkins.

The tomato plants have started flowering, the onions are starting look bigger towards the base and the bean plants are twirling up their canes now too.

Tomato flower

Tomato flowers

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Red Baron onions showing their colour

It seems like the allotment’s been waiting for me to look away before unleashing it’s growing potential. If someone could just pass the message onto the strawberries, that would be ace.

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It could happen to anyone…

We’ve all been there. That moment you realise you’ve just done the most ridiculous thing, and you’ve no idea why. It’s never happened before, you’ve taken steps in the past to avoid it ever happening in the future but some how, against all your best efforts, it’s happened.

Over the past week I’ve been making steady progress at the allotment. I’ve been re-digging and re-weeding the larger plots while waiting for the tender crops to be planted out. I also managed to plant out the cauliflowers and get some brassica collars to put around the base of each plant. I found  a net tunnel protector lurking in the shed which I managed to stretch over the whole row to protect them from the birds.

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Next on the list was the onions. I’d been hardening them off for about a week and a half so they needed to be planted out, all 120 of them. I’ve got 3 varieties (2 rows of 40 for each) – Bedfordshire Champion, Red Barron and  Ailsa Craig. I hadn’t appreciated how many onions I’ve been growing and had thought I’d have room in the onion bed to plant out my leeks along with my carrots and parsnips. That’s a plan I’m going to have to revise! I’ll be lucky to get just my carrots in the space that’s left. No matter, I’m sure I’ll find space somewhere.

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In the short time I’ve had at the plot this week I’ve potted up all my squash and pumpkin seedlings. I’d planted them in cell trays next to some sprouts and cabbages to save on space and pots but they’ve grown so fast they’ve started to over crowd the other seedlings. I reused the pots from the cauliflower plants to re home the squash so it was a win-win all round.

Every day, before and after work, I’ve managed to pop along to the allotment, just for 10 – 20 minutes or so to check on the plants, make sure the slugs are keeping their mitts off my cauliflowers and to check the birds haven’t pulled up any of the onions. All the plants have been watered, the new seedlings are popping up and everything that’s been planted out has survived the elements.

Climbing peas

Climbing peas

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Potatoes

Blooming broad beans

Blooming broad beans

Today before work, I was a little pushed for time so I only managed to water the plants in the greenhouse. I made a mental note to swing by on my way home to give all the plants a check over and to nab a few stalks of rhubarb to make a crumble tonight. When I arrived at the allotment I opened the shed, checked on the plants in the greenhouse and assessed the crops already planted out. Nothing unusual to report, no pests or green-fly on the broad beans, the peas are making their way nicely up the twine supports, the onions are still there and are starting to perk up a bit and the potatoes are sufficiently leafy enough to warrant their first earthing up tomorrow. Feeling pretty good, I grabbed a few stalks of rhubarb, lopped their leaves off and returned the cutters to the shed. I shut up the shed, padlocked the door and headed out.

It was then that it happened.

Looking back at the shed door I realised I’d left all my keys hanging up on a peg inside. My car keys and the keys to lock up the whole allotment site. I couldn’t believe it. How could this happen? I can’t even remember hanging them up, I never hang them up, I always put them in my bag and keep my bag with me wherever I am on the plot to avoid ever leaving the keys hanging up and inadvertently locking them inside the shed. To say I was annoyed with myself was an understatement. In times of trouble there’s only one thing to do. Reinforcements were called and my Dad headed along with a hammer. I had left a window open on the greenhouse which is attached to the shed, so the first plan was to try and climb in. Cat burglary is clearly not my strong suit and after realising there was no way to get through the window, even after using the upturned burning bin to give me a bit of extra height, we finally decided to get the hammer out and jemmy one side of the padlock off.

Locking my keys in the shed is a lesson I’m not likely to forget in a hurry and before I can start to get busy earthing up the potatoes tomorrow, I’ll have to get the drill out and fix the padlock back onto the shed door.

Now I love taking pictures of all the ups and downs I encounter at the allotment, and I feel it’s important to share both the successes and failures along the way. Having said that, I am not going to share pictures of me in my work/office clothes balanced precariously on a metal bin trying to get my leg through a small greenhouse window! I will however share the picture of the apple and rhubarb crumble I made to compensate for my epic fail!

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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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Potting up and planting out

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Over the last week or so, I’ve been hardening off the broad beans and as its my last day off work today, I thought I’d get them along to the allotment and plant them out. I’ve grown them in cardboard tubes to make this job a bit easier for me and less traumatic to the plants and their roots.

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Rather than planting a long single row, I’ve planted a short double row. The theory is that the plants will grow to support each other and to help them along, I’ve put a twine support grid in between them.

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I’m feeling quite nervous about leaving the beans at the allotment, what if the birds eat them? What if the snails and slugs eat them? I’ve been saving egg shells at home to crush and sprinkle around the base of the plants to deter the slugs and snails, but in typical “me” fashion, I left them at home. So, if the beans make it through the night, I’ll pop along tomorrow afternoon and sprinkle some crushed shells around them then.

The last 2 jobs on my list today were to plant up the herbs and to start off the micro salad now I have my greenhouse back in working order. The original plan for the herbs was to create a scented border at the bottom of the allotment beside the nature corner. The herbs I’ve chosen are Lavender, Thyme, Oregano and Sage. When I actually placed the herbs where I wanted them, I found that the border would run right under the apple tree, where all the roots for the apple tree are. After a quick re-think, I decided to put the herbs into plant pots. For the moment I’ve put them beside the shed, which works just fine. The gate into the plot is there too so you get a lovely waft of thyme and oregano as you enter the allotment.

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Last but not least…the micro salad. A few years ago, my sister and I were watching River Cottage on TV and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall used a length of guttering to grow the most delicious micro salad leaves. Well, if growing salad in guttering is good enough for The River Cottage, it’s good enough for me! Right now I’m growing Rocket, Purple Basil and Spinach. Once these have grown and been harvested, I’ll plant another lot of leaves and will continue this process for as long as I can with as many different varieties of leaves as I can find! The micro salad leaves should be ready to harvest in as little as 3-4 weeks, and the flavour from the baby leaves will be delicious. I for one can’t wait to begin the harvest.

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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!

I’ve started so I’ll finish…

Over the last few weeks I’ve been steadily working my way along the plots at the allotment, carefully digging and weeding, (don’t mention the bindweed) getting the ground ready for planting. I had planned on spending both my days off work this week at the allotment, but yesterday I just didn’t have the time I needed to get a whole section dug. Don’t get me wrong, I could’ve weeded a section of the Brassica bed, possibly even half of it, but the thought of starting a section and not having the time to finish it completely didn’t quite feel right to me. This would just have to wait until I had the time to get the whole section done.

The next batch of seeds to be sown

The next batch of seeds to be sown

As I wasn’t going to be digging at the allotment, I took the opportunity to sow some more seeds. The next batch of seeds due for planting were my summer cabbages and the first variety of Brussel sprouts. I fear I got a bit carried away when I started sowing seeds last month, and planted all of my cauliflower seeds at once, not thinking about the fact that they’ll probably all be ready for harvesting at the same time…all 12 of them! I didn’t want to fall into the same situation with my cabbages, so I’ve only planted 3 seeds now. I’ll plant another 3 seeds in 3 weeks time, and I’ll repeat this until I’ve got about 12 well-developed seedlings. This should give me a good few weeks of succession cropping later on in the year, and then my winter cabbages will be ready to take over. In the allotment I’m trying 2 types of Brussel sprouts, one green and one red. The green variety is slightly earlier cropping, so these are the seeds I’m sowing now, I’ll plant the red variety at the beginning of May. With a bit of luck, we could have red and green sprouts for Christmas lunch. How festive will that be?!

Weeded and ready for action

Weeded and ready for action

Today I had much more free time, so I spent a very cold day at the allotment. It’s been blowing a gale, all the leaves have been swirling round my freshly dug plots, my toes were numb, but I’m pleased I completed the weeding of my second Brassica bed. The next plot to dig will be for my peas, beans and sweet corn. The broad beans I planted a few weeks ago are growing well and should be ready to be hardened off and be planted out in April so I’ll have to keep on track with the weeding and the digging if I’m to get them out on schedule.

The peas, beans and sweetcorn area waiting to be dug

The peas, beans and sweetcorn area waiting to be dug

Broad beans

Broad beans

The daffodils at the allotment are really shooting up now, and their flower heads are starting to develop. Let’s hope they bring some warmer, sunnier weather with their cheery arrival.

Daffodils

Daffodils

Broad beans a plenty

I love beans. I know it’s not cool to admit this when you’re young, (I’m sure we all remember the beans rhyme from our school days, my son is certainly well up on that particular school yard chant) but I’m now at a stage in my life where I can lift my head up high and say I LOVE BEANS. I’m growing a few varieties of beans in the allotment this year, Runner Beans, Climbing Beans, Dwarf French Bush Bean (purple podded) and of course Broad Beans. Theres something about opening up the pod of a Broad Bean and seeing all the lovely beans, cosy in their feathery beds that makes me just want to pick them all! I know the most traditional way to grow Broad Beans is to plant them directly into the ground, but I’ve decided to start mine off in doors. The reasoning behind this is that practically everything I’ve ever planted in the allotment has been eaten by slugs and snails before they’ve had a chance to really get growing. Once the plants are outside, I’ll use a barrier, such as half an empty plastic bottle to keep the slugs off. The variety I’ve chosen to grow is Broad Bean Crimson Flowered. The pods will be quite short and will sit upwards to make picking easier, and as the name states, they’ll have lovely deep crimson flowers.

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Crimson Flowered Broad Beans

As I’m starting my beans in doors I wanted to sow them in a way that would minimise root disturbance when I come to plant them outside. Toilet roll inner tubes seemed to fit the job description perfectly. They are long, so the roots can grow down as they would naturally do if planted outside, and the tube will rot down over the season so I can plant the beans, still in their tubes, so I won’t disturb the roots at all. Its win win for both me and the beans. Happy days.

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Theres no time like the present so I gathered up the tubes and seeds and started planting. I’m going to have one double row of 12 plants ( 6 in each row) so I’ve planted 14 seeds to be on the safe side. If they all germinate I’m sure I’ll squeeze in the extra two plants somewhere!

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The seeds have now been covered up with potting compost and watered well. I’ll leave them in the garage where its cooler for them to germinate and then move them closer to the window to get as much natural light as possible while keeping them cool. It really feels like the sowing season is well on the way now. The onions are all up (that’s over 80 in total, not including the red onions which will arrive in March…Yikes) the leeks are also growing like mad and the Cauliflowers are all growing their first set of true leaves. The next few weeks are set to be full of planning and sowing and not forgetting digging and weeding (got to have somewhere to put all these seedlings) so a busy time ahead. I had thought that at this point I might be quite apprehensive about growing so many different crops, but actually, I’m full of excitement. The thrill of growing your own veg is truly addictive, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.