Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The tomatoes are going great guns, quite tall but once I pot them on they will do well.
Once again the lettuce is terrifically tall! I don't know what to do about it, maybe indoors is too hot for it?? Again, maybe potting on will do the trick.
I was starting to despair for the sweet peppers but I moved them nearer to the radiator and last night noticed a little bump under the soil so I think they are just coming up now.
The first leeks are now about 7 cm tall and the second lot are just rearing their heads.
Also good germination on the brussel sprouts, the rhubarb chard (red silverbeet I would say) and my dwarf marigolds are looking splendid. I couldn't get them to come up in direct sowing last year but maybe this is the wayto do it. I want to use them as companion plants to the tomatoes.
I am hoping that some of these bits and bobs will be ready for a cold frame by the time I need to sow the courgettes and squash otherwise the windowsills are going to be under great strain!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
In typical fashion the weather over the Easter weekend was mostly cold and drizzly and today, back at work, it is nice sunshine. bugger...
Well, by Sunday I was getting thoroughly depressed looking at my chitting spuds so I decided to brave the elements between two drizzles and go down to the lottie.
Once again, depressed by all the work there is still left to do. But I do feel as if it is better than at the same stage last year. OK, there is still a lot of tidying up to do. The flower beds are quite messy but at least some of the plants are established now so just need to fill in the gaps and weed throughly.
I planted the second earlies, Bernadette variety. By my calculations they should be ready in July.
Then I weeded the garlic and lettuce which to my mind was overrun with - bloody rocket again. I think it has self seeded all over the shop! But it is easier to get out than dock... The garlic looks great, the stems are at least 20cm high and the stalks are looking thick - I hope this means that there are nice heads developing underneath??
Finally I dug over a plot of about 1 x 3 metres, weeded it (there is still bloody bindweed there and also redshank which when small pulls out quite easily, thank goodness) and then set up my polytunnel. To my disgust the plastic is not wide enough! It is supposed to be 2m wide but it was nowhere near that when I unpackaged it. So it drapes over the half-circles but only just touches the ground. :-( oh well, maybe it will provide sufficient heat like that. I sowed under it 4 rows of early carrots, beetroot, a row of fennel and a square of early peas. Well, I suppose it is not too in advance of the real sowing times anyway, perhaps it will just provide some frost protection and keep off too many nasties (the birds at least I guess).
The peas I sowed a couple of weeks ago are just showing their sprouts so the weather must be warming up after all. I wonder if they will work? I have trouble with peas.
Next task - get in the manure for the greedy summer crops before it gets too late.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
They were sitting on the dashboard of the car. When she had picked them up, I had thought they were a bit sandy, but I didn't mention it to her. On closer inspection, though, I realise that the "sand" is actually seed. Dozens of physalis seeds. Blimey, how many of them have fallen in the ground over winter?? Still, I am tempted to sow some indoors, because an early start is crucial otherwise they don't have time to ripen (this year I will plastic bag them at the end of summer, they must ripen on the bush). I can always give some away to friends too.
Oh and before I forget, it's the first day of spring!!!
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
The seeds from last week are starting to show signs of life - I can see a few leeks popping up in the pot. So time to sow some more...
Last night I set out:
- more tomatoes (Marmande and Harzfeuer), oh interesting info about this tomato variety, Harzfeuer, that I got from Lidl for next to nothing... "(69 days) Amazing selection from from Germany. Dependable, disease resistant, beautiful and flavorful, it produces huge clusters of fruit. A hybrid Hellfrucht type tomato that translates to "Resin Fire" in english. Fruits weight 3 to 4 ounces and are a highly popular variety for market or home in Europe. Determinate." Hmm 3 to 4 ounces, so medium sized fruit of about 150 g. 69 days - is that from sowing to harvest I wonder? that doesn't seem long enough... that's 10 weeks. If they are sown now that means tomatoes in June...surely not?
- red swiss chard, called rhubarb chard,
- another tray of leeks (De Carentan winter variety),
- the first Brussel sprouts (Sanda variety, harvest starts in September it says),
- spring Batavia type lettuce (looks more or less like this...),
- and a tray of red and yellow dwarf marigolds (these are said to be useful planted throughout the veg garden to repel some pests, oh well they look pretty at any rate...).
Also put out the second lot of potatoes (Bernadette, second earlies) to chit. Up on the high shelves in the pantry seems to be a good spot - not too warm and filtered light. The earlies had developed nice solid sprouting bits, perhaps a little long on some of them but they seemed firmly attached.They will go in the ground in a week's time, Easter Monday with a bit of luck.
I uncovered the spud plot, that had been tarpaulin-covered, and we dug in two and a half rows of spuds, Me digging and Her putting the spuds in the right place. We moved the tarp and spread it out over the to-be-summer crops plot, where the tomatoes, peppers and courgettes will go.
I then did a bit of weeding around the raspberries (new shoots coming on the plants and out of the ground now) and gooseberries (leaf buds forming, even on the plant that was just a broken off twig that I shoved in the ground - it obviously rooted duriong February's mild weather). The strawberries are just starting to take off too.
Dug up some of the last parsnips and leeks, and my nice neighbour gave me some green cabbage leaves (boiled them up the next day them tossed them in onions cooked in butter, they were delicious).
The onions and garlic are coming on a treat!! The echalotes are up and the first onion stems are just poking through the ground.
As the rain started to spit down, I grabbed come containers full of potting mix. I had seeds to sow at home too...
Monday, March 10, 2008
I have sowed:
- about a dozen Harzfeuer tomatoes (small bunch type),
- about a dozen Gartenperle cherry tomatoes,
- about 10 sweet pepper seeds, Canape type (from Alan Romans),
- a pot full of De Carentan winter leeks.
Friday, March 07, 2008
It is at these coordinates:
47º12'28.97" N and 1º37'18.63" W
and you can see clearly my paths and my compost bin!
I am almost smack bang in the middle of the allotments!
Isn't Google Earth amazing!!
By popular demand, I am posting my favourite scone recipe. Hope they work for you as they always do for me. There is an English and a French version here.
- 225g (8oz) self raising flour
- 1/2 level tsp salt
- 1 level tsp baking powder (I substitute a pinch of bicarbonate of soda)
- 25-50g (1-2 oz) butter or margarine
- 1/4 pint (150ml) milk
Preheat oven to 230 deg Celsius (hot).
- Mix together the flour, salt and raising agent.
- Rub in the butter/marg until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- (If you want you can at this point add a handful of sultanas or other dried
fruit if you like that. If you prefer your scones very sweet, you can also
add a heaped teaspoon of sugar but in fact they are better plain.)
- With a knife, slowly cut in the milk, the dough should be rough and slightly
sticky when you finish. If there is a little milk left that is ok, you might
not need every last drop.
- On a floured surface, roll out the dough to an inch thickness (2-3 cm).
Cut with a scone cutter or cut triangles if you prefer.
- Place on a baking sheet (I use baking paper so they don't stick) and cook
for about 8 minutes (keep an eye on them).
- 225g farine
- 1/2 sachet levure chimique
- 1/2 cuillère à café de sel
- 1/2 cuillère à café de sodium bicarbonate
- 25-50g beurre ou margarine
- 150ml lait
Préchauffer le four à 230 deg Celsius (four chaud).
- Mélanger la farine, sel, levure et bicarbonate.
- Travailler le beurre dans la farine jusqu'à obtention d'une mélange
- (Si vous souhaitez faire des scones plus sucrés, ajouter à
ce stade 50g de raisins secs et une cuillère à café pleine
de sucre. Ceci dit on tartine souvent de la confiture sur les scones, donc
très sucrés, ils sont moins bons.)
- Utiliser un couteau à beurre et ajouter le lait tout en mélangeant.
La pâte obtenue est assez lourd et un peu collante, mais pas trop. Il
est possible qu'il vous reste un peu de lait.
- Sur le plan de travail légèrement fariné, roulez la
pâte doucement à une épaisseur de 2-3 cm. L'idée
c'est de toucher la pâte le moins possible. Couper des ronds (utiliser
un petit verre si nécessaire, mais ils ne devraient pas dépasser
6 ou 7 cm de diamètre. On peut aussi couper en triangles avec un couteau.
- Poser les scones sur une plaque de caisson graissée (ou encore mieux,
mettre du papier sulfurisé si vous en avez). Au four, 8 minutes (surveillez-les,
ils doivent être gonflés et un peu dorés, mais pas plus).
Servir tiède avec beurre et confiture ou froids avec confiture et chantilly.
Ils ne se gardent pas plus d'une journée donc mangez-les tous !!
Thursday, March 06, 2008
It is an excellent description of what to expect the first year!! I felt a lot of sympathy as he describes the sowings that failed, the things that got eaten by slugs (speaking of which I saw a funny book in a bookshop window on the weekend, a French gardening book entitled "50 ways to murder your slugs"), the tomatoes that got sick and rotted away, all of which sounded like my 2007 season. It's the kind of thing that makes you feel like you are not alone and gives you some encouragement for the new growing season!
The potatoes are causing me some worry too. The ones that are chitting are sprouting really long feelers, I hope they don't get all buggered up when they go in the ground. I think I might have to plant them sooner rather than later.
Popped down the lottie yesterday to put some waste on the compost, and I noticed that the weeds are starting to kick in. Oh well at least maybe I can then dig them out when I start planting. The strawberries are giving out new growth, maybe it will be time to fertilise them soon. I must buy some organic food for the fruit.
I must start some of the seedlings this weekend too, the tomatoes and peppers need starting and I might try some new lettuce and the first leeks. Well I say the weekend, all I really need is to get down there to fill my trays and pots with some potting mix, because all those will be sown indoors anyway.
Smallest One saw the new paths for the first time and declared them to be "superb" so I suppose we must have done a good job. I felt slightly discouraged, seeing all the empty beds and thinking of all the digging and weeding to come, but I also know how pleased I will feel once the seedlings start up and the plants start to take place in their beds. It couldn't be worse than last year's starting from scratch anyway.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
If you click the image you will see a bigger version of course:
I don't think it is entirely representative of the space I have, the plot is longer than it seems on paper but it gives an idea. If anyone sees any glaring planting errors, I would be pleased to hear about them ;-) This year I will try to feed the veg more and squash them up a bit...
Two weeks and winter is behind us...
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