Status Report Captain…

  
How the weeks have flown by! One minute you’re pawing over the seed catalogues and the next it’s May and you’ve not even planted out the potatoes….well, rather, I’ve not planted out the potatoes! 

I know, I know, it should’ve been done weeks ago but, the delay in planting then has made sure they haven’t succumbed to the sharp frost we had, and I’m sure once they do make it into the ground, which is going to be tomorrow, I’ve every confidence they’ll still be delicious when harvested, even if it’s a few weeks later than anticipated! 

  
So that’s the potatoes. 

I’ve been equally late in getting the beans and peas going but I’m pleased to report that the broad beans have made an appearance over the last 7 days. Last year I veered away from the Crimson Flowered variety and tried Bunyards Exhibition. The pods themselves grew really long but I did prefer the sweeter taste of the crimson flowered type, so I’m back to those this year. 

  
Last week I sowed the peas direct and constructed a support frame from bamboo canes for them to scramble up when they get going. I’m sticking with the tried and tested Hurst Greenshaft peas, but I’m also dabbling in the world of Mangetout. The variety I chose is Shiraz, and the pods are a lovely deep purple colour. I can’t wait to try them later in the year. 

  
The shallot sets have fared the frost well and the onion sets have started to sprout. I also spotted the first of the familiar lily pad shaped leaves of the self seeding nasturtiums today. I love how they come back again and again adding colour to the plot. 

  
  
The Gooseberry bushes I planted last year have put on loads of growth (I think I should be pruned them in winter) and I had an abundance of flowers in March and April. I’m delighted to see that there are now loads of mini gooseberries gently swelling up. 

  
Indoors, the tomato plants are coming on great guns. I’ve been tickling them every day to encourage them to grow strong and sturdy for when I plant them out at the allotment. There’s something about the smell from the leaves of tomato plants that just reminds me of the summer! I’ve tried not to get too carried away with the tomatoes this year and have restricted myself to only 2 types: Gardeners Delight and Sungold. 

  
The Cayenne chilli plants are now flowering away quite happily on the window sill. I’m not sure if they are self pollinating or not so once a day I’m playing the part of a bee and gently using a small brush I’m transferring pollen between the flowers. I’ve got huge respect for the bees, pollination is tricky! 

  
I’ve also got sunflowers growing along with a second batch of cabbage and cauliflower. I’m not sure what happened to the first batch of brassicas, they just shrivelled up. I’m hoping the second sowing is more successful. 

  
The next few weeks are going to be hectic with all the squash, courgettes, beetroot, strawberries and the rest of the quick crops. I’d better get the last of the leeks dug up quickly otherwise I’ll have nowhere to put them all! 

  
Happy Gardening! 

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!

Pumpkins

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Its been about a week since I gave my mildew infested squash a liberal spraying of milky water and I’ve got to say I’m really pleased with the results so far. The spread seems to have slowed down and I’ve not noticed any new leaves showing signs of mildew either so I think the milk has done the trick.

I’m off on holiday camping on Saturday, so tomorrow, I’ll pop along to the allotment  and give the leaves another coating of the milky-wonder-spray and keep my fingers crossed the mildew fairies will keep their powdery fingers off my plants!

On the whole I’m pleased with the squash and pumpkin progress at the allotment. The little Buffy Ball squash are starting to come along nicely and are really scrambling up the bamboo trellis I made earlier in the year. I’ve even noticed more fruits forming in the last couple of weeks so I could be on for a nice crop of mini pumpkins.

Buffy ball scrambling up the trellis

Buffy ball scrambling up the trellis

Buffy ball squash

Buffy ball squash

Buffy ball squash

Buffy ball squash

The giant Atlantic pumpkins I’d had such high hopes for haven’t taken off as well as I’d hoped. This is probably down to me not preparing the planting area as well as I should’ve and not adding manure until after they’d been in the ground for a few weeks (rookie error, lesson learned). I have spotted a few pumpkins growing but I don’t think they’ll be needing a wheel barrow to take them home, but the seasons not over yet, they might be the surprise of the crop.

Teeny Giant pumpkins climbing up the sunflower canes

Teeny Giant pumpkins climbing up the sunflower canes

Lastly we have the Japanese winter squash, Uckiki kuri. These seem to be the Kings of the pumpkin patch. They just keep producing loads of onion shaped fruits right along the vines. They must like the temperamental British summer we’ve had as they are by far the biggest pumpkins on the plot.

Japanese squash

Japanese squash

Japanese winter squash

Japanese winter squash

More pumpkins

What a beauty

I’ve got some more manure to mulch around the plants before I go away to help them along. Who knows, I might come back to the worlds biggest pumpkin (probably not though!)

Monster pumpkin

Monster pumpkin

I’d like to say thanks to fellow blogger gunn4 for asking for a pumpkin update. They have a lovely allotment blog, it’s well worth a read.

A year (and a week) in the making

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Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun? 

I can hardly believe its been a year (and a week) since I started re-cultivating my plot. I say re-cultivating because I’ve actually had the allotment for about 2 and a half years. After the greenhouse was vandalised, the allotment lost a little bit of the magic it once held for me and I didn’t visit as often as I should’ve. I neglected to keep on top of the plot maintenance, and as would be expected, the weeds took over. Last year I decided that I would give the allotment another go and if I was unable to restore it to its former glory I would call it a day and give it up.

Its been 53 weeks since then and I’m delighted that the magic has come flooding back.

I’m really surprised its been a whole year already, I’ve obviously been enjoying myself far too much digging and weeding, repairing and constructing, sowing and growing, not to mention harvesting and cooking. So to commemorate my allotment transformation, I thought I’d post a few pictures of the last 12 months.

So this time last year the allotment looked like this:

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After a weekend with a heavy-duty brush cutter, a rake and some hedging shears, the allotment looked like this:

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Not wanting to waste any time I quickly planted out some beans, carrots, lettuce and a courgette plant bought from our local DIY centre. The courgette lasted 3 days before being totally decimated by the slugs and snails, the birds pecked the beans to death and I can only assume the mice managed to get in under the netting and stole all the carrots and lettuces because they all mysteriously disappeared. Not a very productive start to the harvest.

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Not one to give up, I ploughed on with the aim of getting the allotment ship-shape for next years growing season. I started to tackle the brambles. This took weeks of chopping and digging but the satisfaction at the end was brilliant. Creating a corner for wildlife quickly followed and before I knew it, it was Christmas, so on Boxing Day I gave my lovely new cordless trimmer a test run.

Brambles ahoy!

Ground clearance, digging out the brambles

Pond making

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Clear and ready for action

Testing out the new strimmer

The new year brought newly planted shoots emerging from the ground and a rush to get the beds prepared for planting. Blisters and Bindweed were part of the norm but I don’t mind a bit of hard work (as long as there’s lots of tea and biscuits on hand)

A cold start to the day

Sun worshiping garlic

Bucket of bindweed root

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Half way and 2 hours in

Repairs to the greenhouse allowed me to start growing more plants at the allotment and a sowing and growing frenzy was started…it hasn’t really stopped yet either! The first crop of rhubarb was a delight and the feeling of walking off the plot with your very own produce was amazing.

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Lovely peas

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The unforced part of the rhubarb growing sturdy stems

Weeding, planting and protecting the crops has been the last stage of the re-cultivation plan. I’ve still got a few crops to plant out (broccoli, sprouts, beans and corn) but I’m happy so far with the progress made in this years growing season.

When I look back at the pictures from this time last year, I’m delighted that they bear no resemblance to each other. The following pictures were taken yesterday, see what you think.

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A blogging award for me?

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Last week I was amazed and surprised to be given a blogging “hi-five” in the form of a Liebster award. As I’m still a newbie here (I’ve only been posting for 2 months and still can’t believe people read my blogs) I’m totally shocked to receive this. Now, I know I’m not receiving a Pulitzer or the Booker award but nevertheless I’m totally delighted that another fellow blogger (thank you Gardening Hands) has thought to nominate me.

So, what is the Liebster award? From the research I’ve done over the last week, the Liebster award is passed around the blogging community to those who have fewer than 200 followers as a “getting to know you” tool. The rules are as follows:

1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.

2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post

3. Answer 10 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.

4. Nominate 5 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 200 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display this information!)

6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.

7. List these rules in your post. Once you have written and published it, you then have to:

8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that this looks a bit like a chain letter. I knew it. I thought that too. But having thought about it for a while I’ve decided to graciously accept the award and would like to take the opportunity to pass forward the blogging hi-five that I received. So, here we go…

I’d like to thank Gardening Hands for my nomination.

Here are the answers to the set of questions given to me:

Do you like to start with seeds or buy seedlings? Seeds

What sort of composting system do you have? I have a big wooden slatted bin that I put everything into (except brambles and rose cuttings). Then I shut my eyes and hope for the best!

Favorite time of the day to garden? Mornings

What makes you smile when you’re having a bad day? My son

What is the most recent book you have read? The Forgotten by David Baldacci

Favorite gardening tool? My new cordless strimmer

Your next big project in the garden? Sourcing and fitting a glass door for my home-made greenhouse

2 movies you enjoyed recently? Big Hero 6 and Rise of the Guardians (both with my son, honestly!)

Soda water or mineral water? Mineral water, it always reminds me of being on holiday

Sweet or salty? Sweet – love cake almost as much as being an allotmenteer

I’d like to nominate:

Muddy Boots and Fingernails 

Bloom or Bust: Alota Allotment

Wellie-Blog

Plot 138

Rare English Rose

My questions for you are:

1. What do you use for inspiration in the garden/allotment?

2. What new vegetables are you growing this year?

3. How do you control pests in the garden/allotment?

4. What is your top tip for new vegetable growers?

5. What are your 2 favourite vegetables to grow?

6. What got you interested in growing your own vegetables?

7. Favourite music to listen to?

8. The one job you dislike to do at the allotment?

9. Marmite. Love it or hate it?

10. Your favourite person to garden with?

There we go! All done and not one request for bank details or PIN numbers (see it’s not a chain letter)

Big Hi-Fives on their way now…