Monday, May 31, 2010


Rain, finally

After quite a dry patch, some rain. Good rain, steady drizzling rain that will penetrate well into the soil. cool. Not so cool that it came the weekend I was participating in a garage sale. Now I just have a basement full of damp stuff...
So no gardening, except for a quick 20 minutes on Friday evening when I planted 2 spaghetti squash and 3 Tristar pumpkins given to me by a workmate (thanks Chris!). I spotted my furry friend again too, some rodent that is living in the compost box because I saw it shoot back in there out of the corner of my eye. Hope it's not going to eat my squash seeds that I sowed last week.
I was quite pleased because the tender plants seem to have really taken well. I am hoping that this rainy period will help them develop their root systems and boost their growth.
The garlic and alliums are going strong, and even I must say, the spring onions, to my surprise have finally taken off. I won't have any straight away! But they are now about 10cm tall and finally look like they are plumping up.
Now I will have to start the great weeding campaign! A little and often is what I will try to do this year!

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Thursday, May 27, 2010



off work for half an hour to come and sow seeds! Yes, that does seem rather extreme, I admit. But this weekend, I am selling our crap in a garage sale and then Sunday we are invited out, so no gardening possible this weekend.
But I got me seeds from DT Browns! I am trying to ensure more even cropping throughout the year so this year I took advice and got in some more brassica seeds, autumn varieties so I can keep harvesting as much as possible.
I bought:
I also sowed some green broccoli and coriander (in modules) and some Flyaway carrots, to fill in an empty space in the current carrot patch. The carrots are off to a good start this year, there is still hope then!
Next week I will try to find time to sow some more lettuce, although the ones that have been planted recently are starting to be well established. I will be able to start harvesting the cut and come agains I think. I also noticed that my squashes have germinated in the coldframe, I will plant them out in a week or so once they have their proper leaves. For now, the melons seem ok, they had been covered up a little by my straw, so I exposed them again. Perhaps not my best idea. Soon they will be too big for that to be a problem. The other plantations from the long weekend seem to have recovered from the trauma of being planted out, even the aubergines which worried me, and are eagerly drinking the rain we had yesterday and last night. Not nearly enough but at least it helps a little. Now the garden just needs a good weeding and it will be well on the way to success!

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010


A scorcher!

The Pentecost holiday weekend was a scorcher! We had temperatures well in excess of the normal season temperatures, well into the high 20's. And me, perhaps rather zealously, had to do all my major planting this weekend. So I then spent hours watering everything. Still all is not lost, there is rain on the way today or tomorrow.
So every morning early I was down there in my wellies (pools of sweat forming inside them) digging, and planting:
- melons: 4 Gallia melons and 5 Charentais, plus I sowed some more seeds in between each plant. Hopefully they will take off well straight from the earth. radically, I decided not to plant them through plastic but through a thick bed of straw (discreetly taken from the racetrack so it does have some horse pee in it). I am hoping that will provide heat but not too much and protection.
- courgettes; again 3 green and a yellow, plus I sowed some summer squash, and some pumpkins in the same bed. The pumpkins are having trouble taking off, I will sow some more in place this week.
- peppers,
- aubergines
and finally the tomatoes: 6 Gardener's Delight, 3 Totem, 3 Pannovy, and about 4 each of Marmande and Ananas Beefsteaks, Moneymaker, and Tigerella. There are about 25 plants in all. And despite the heat they looked as happy as pigs in s....

Harvesting! A big bunch of rhubarb and at last the first strawberries. small and sweet, a bit of rain will really help the crop along.

So the allotment is looking terrific, not too many weeds, everything in full growth, onions and potatoes looking green and healthy. I had a firkle and the garlic is swelling beautifully underground, dead chuffed as it was only precariously over wintered. I guess the cold winter was good for it. It is starting only now to yellow off a bit, I am thinking that in 2 or 3 weeks it will be ready for harvest.
Left to do now: climbing beans, more pumpkins, leeks (when a bit of space is made for them), and some sowing for winter And the weeding, in earnest.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010


New seed order

After reflecting on what I should do to keep more crops going all year round (as someone said on a web forum "That is taking growing to a whole new level"), I made a new order of seeds this morning, this time from DT Browns seeds. My idea is that I have too few things for winter and early spring, but if I sow some of these now, I will have a chance at getting some interesting new crops for the dfficult winter/spring season.
Among others, I ordered a late cropping beetroot, some spring cauliflower (OK I am glutton for punishment, the early caulies didn't work out, so I will try this strategy. Plenty of room in the cold frame for a seedbed now...), Pak Choi (first go at that), Purple Kale, some winter hardy White Lisbon spring onions, (which are supposed to give me onions early spring if I sow in summer??) and some spring cabbage also.
In the order was also a packet of artichoke seeds. I really want to grow another artichoke plant, although I haven't yet decided whereabouts I could put it, so I figure if I get the little plants going now, I can put them in their final spots later on, when other things move out of the way. I currently have one beautiful artichoke bush but it is getting old and maybe next year it won't give me a great result, best to foresee some new plantings.

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Monday, May 17, 2010


Still working hard

I put in another few hours on Saturday. I must say that it's looking OK. There are strawberries starting to grow, the onions, garlic etc look great, as do the spuds which have luxurious foliage.
I weeded, watered, keeping it all tidy, transplanted a few lettuce from the cold frame, and planted out Brussel sprouts, a few red cabbage and broccoli that I grew from seed in the cold frame as well as the first courgette plants and some pumpkins.
The cold frames have turned out to be a terrific success, now I see how to work them, I will use them more and more in the coming seasons.
I also transplanted spinach, that I started in the coldframe, as the ones I direct sowed seem useless. The others will go in later this week, and I hope to plant out the tomatoes, aubergines and peppers which for now are discouragingly small. I hope that by planting them out, they will take off... I try to be optimistic!
I sowed some more sweetcorn into the cold frame, so far it has been hopeless, I have almost no viable seedlings. Last ditch attempt, perhaps it has been too cold this year?
I will try to do some pics soon, to show how it's shaping up...

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Monday, May 03, 2010


Spuds - what we don't see

This interested me. I pulled up what is called a "volunteer" which means a spud that has grown from a forgotten potato from last season (errr actually there is a whole ROW growing for me at the moment, I think I should revise my harvesting technique!!).
And I took a picture of it, as many people have never seen how a potato actually grows lots of other potatoes!

You can see the "mother" spuddy - it will eventually rot and dissolve into the ground once its job is done. It throws out a central stem which will be the leafy part that appears above ground, and from that there are side shoots, which produce new tubers. Which is why it's good for the potato to be buried deeply and to keep putting earth around it, as that produces more potatoes.
Another example of the wonders of nature ;-)

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Our allotment site

Here are some pics taken Saturday, to give you an idea of what our site looks like just now.
I was talking about this plot on Allotments for all forum the other day - the guy came and dug this all by hand in one day... Now it's getting weedy again - but no doubt there is some science behind this that I am unfamiliar with...

This is the plot of a new guy, who took over from one of the "old boys" who passed away in the New Year. he has made it very fussy, not my style at all. he is the owner of the "drinks table, so he now has to be friends with all those around him :-)

And this is the plot of Therese - she is 80 this year and says she is giving up as she is getting too decrepit (but she says this every year). Her plot is very tidy and she is the queen of little containers and setups to protect and frame out her crops. Not sure what is under here, maybe courgettes...

This plot is 2 behind mine, I noticed the guy had everything labelled with sweet little metal labels. Another one of the ruler and spirit level brigade! :-) His peas are taller than mine though...

And finally, I was having a little moan the other day that no one mulches on our site except me, BUT I seem to have been proved wrong: this plot has some straw mulching...what? potatoes? I didn't get close enough to note it down.

hope you liked that little tour of our site, there are lots of hardworking gardeners on it.

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Hard work

On Saturday I did something that was approaching insanity. My kid had to go to a rugby tournament and he had to be at the stadium at 6.45 am. Yes you read that right. "Sparrow's fart" as my friend Sandra would call it.I dropped him off and then instead of crawling back to bed, I went to the allotment. And spent 3 hours working, mostly unaccompanied except by birdsong and the sunrise. It was glorious. I should do it more often. I took some pics (bad ones again with the portable phone), and then set out to do the following:
It was a wonderful morning, but tiring, and in the next couple of weeks, I need to have almost all the season's crops in the ground, namely the tomatoes, melons, courgettes, corn and squash. So I still have a large section to dig over and weed (about 4 x 2.5metres) and also uncover and dig over the 3 sisters patch which is currently covered to prevent weeds.
I took a couple of pics, not terribly clear...

This shows the rhubarb in the foreground, and the few flowers that surrounds it, and behind, the herb bed, with lemon balm, thyme on the left, mint behind that, sage to the far right, andparsley everywhere else. There are a couple of rose bushes here and there too. The artichoke can be seen in the bed opposite. The bessa concrete blocks are for the water tanks that are being installed - not on my plot next but one will go behind mine, to save water.

This one shows the plot from the far end, I am standing near the strawberries, so you can see the potatoes on the left and the onions on the right. The peas are netted here but just after I took the pic, they were un-netted and weeded. I also planted some lettuces next to them, where there was a blank space.
You can also see my shop-bought cold frame and the home-made one on the left. Still, they work...

And here, I am a couple of plots down and the plot with the orange roof tiles along the edge is mine. This year it is looking really good (well compared to some previous years!). Gives you a look at our plots (see today's other post).

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