Harvesting and Growing

Finally the rain has stopped ! woo hoo…. the sun has arrived and brought all the slugs, snails and weeds with it.

I have had to harvest all the garlic, very early as it was so wet and all the foliage was dying back very quickly, so leaving it any longer would have been a disaster and probably rotted away. It’s very mixed results, we either have small but perfectly split bulbs or single mono-bulbs. None of it is very big but at least we have saved it and will have enough to keep us going for a few months.

The onions seem to be doing fine and are bulking out well, especially the red ones, and I have finally mastered the art of growing spring onions, and we have eaten quite a few already with still plenty to go. The strawberries are fruiting and ripening faster than we can eat them, everyone (except me) is loving them, I’m loving the raspberries. These tiny plants are producing the sweetest fruit and just enough for me … sssshhh don’t tell.

I had a chat with my neighbour about the artichokes and he gave me a few to try, although I never got chance as my auntie pinched them from me ! There are still lots and he said I can help myself, as long as I leave a few for the bees. Sounds fair to me.

I’m still getting regular pickings from the rhubarb and am taking the larger radishes each time to thin them out and it seems to be working well. The potatoes are doing well and soon we will be pulling the early Charlotte’s.

Some things seem a ways behind this year, we had already had our first crop of broccoli by this time last year but this year they are only just starting to bud. Also I’m now on my fourth sowing of beans, thanks to the rain and pigeons, I’m not hopeful of any this year, which will be very disappointing as they were my favourites last year. However the peas are doing really well, the plants haven’t grown particularly tall but are covered in pods and flowers.

The greenhouse is growing well, mostly, the tomatoes are flowering and the peppers are both flowering and fruiting. I’ve gone with mainly sweet peppers this year and only two hot chilli plants, the opposite of last year. We had so many chilli plants last year that we are still using the dried chillies and will have enough to last most of this year also (and we use a fair amount), I’m not sure what is chomping on the aubergine leaves but it’s growing steadily so fingers crossed.

 

Finally, I took the plunge and put in the new pond, it’s not finished but it looks good and with a few buckets of water from an established pond has really helped to get it up and running. I’ve started planting around but need to work more on the edging and planting in the pond itself. The other ponds have plenty of wildlife, including some tiny frogs and the planting is really starting to establish and fill out. It’s looking really pretty with lots of flowers.

I hope your gardens are growing well and you are enjoying your outdoor space.

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Allotment update

The weather is driving me mad ! It was so hot and sunny and I’ve had a few busy weekends so I’m trying to get to the allotment in between work hours during the week but it keeps raining, sigh, however I have discovered that I’m not the only person who allotments in the rain, it was lovely to see a friendly face and enjoy a warming cup of coffee and chat in the shed.

The tomatoes have finally perked up and after a feed have had a growth spurt as have the peppers, some even have flowers starting to appear, although the aubergine is very disappointing. I’m even debating removing it, maybe a job for next week ….

The sweetcorn has also filled out and is doing really well and now has a pumpkin friend growing, although I’m not going down the three sisters route as I’ve heard the beans can be a nuisance to the corn once they start growing up and wrapping around. I have a fixed bean frame which is currently housing a lot of very happy peas, some have even started to flower. The beans haven’t done very well, a combination of cold and slugs, hopefully they will start to shoot up once the weather warms up a little more.

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The broccoli and kale is booming, in fact it’s doing so well I’ve had to raise the netting a couple of times over the last two weeks. The leeks have settled well and have had a good weeding and look happy, as do the parsnips although I can’t say the same for the carrots. I planted three varieties in different areas but have around 10 carrots growing in total. The beets, radish, pak choi and turnips never fail and need thinning out a little and covering to avoid the dreaded pigeons eating them all !

The courgettes are starting to produce fruit, this year I’ve only planted two as I learnt the hard way last year just how many fruit they can produce. However I have made a slight error with pumpkins this year and currently have seven, yes you read that right, seven growing very happily, after I planted four seeds and nothing happened for a month, I planted another four, I didn’t get to the allotment for ten days and bingo, seven happy pumpkin plants. I’ve moved one into a space with the sweetcorn but the others I have left and they have a fair amount of space to ramble. I’m not doing butternut squash this year, thankfully.

The fruit bushes are coming along nicely, the raspberries have a few berries as do the gooseberries, they are still very young, small bushes so even a small crop is very satisfying to see. The strawberries are covered and some of them are huge, again the birds and I are fighting over these gorgeous juicy fruits. The pear tree needs to be thinned but I’m going to leave it until the end of June to see if any drop naturally. The newly planted blackberry bushes have really shot up and have had to be tied up.

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The sunflowers have gone missing again ! I noticed whilst I was there in the rain the last few days that there are a lot of slugs and I’m not very happy that the frogs aren’t doing a better job, I really don’t want to use pellets so might have to invest in a few traps.

Phil’s rose is blooming and looks beautiful. It’s still only a small rosebush but has the biggest yellow flowers with red tips. On a grey day it really stands out, like his beautiful smile always did.

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The compost area had spilled out, the front board had come loose a month or so ago and with everything needing to be planted out, it was left to it’s own devices and I finally got round to sorting it out and we had a lovely surprise underneath. Our first crop of the year, potatoes, enough to keep our family of four supplied with three meals.

My allotment is a really big space, it measures 110ft long by 15ft wide (33.5m by 4.5m), not including the shed and greenhouse so has lots of growing area, we still have two full beds covered and unused plus a smaller bed covered. I’m thinking of creating another pond area in this smaller bed as it’s at the opposite end to the others and will hopefully help with slug population down here. I’ve bought a liner to make a shallower, smaller pond than the others, no fish but hopefully plenty of other wildlife and plenty of planting around and in it. But that’s a job for another day.

I bought myself a present, a new 25m hosepipe and reel with 7 setting spray nozzle. The old one didn’t have a reel and it had also sprung a few leaks, even the repairs had leaks. I have used a long piece from the old pipe to run from the tap to the reel and then can use the new hose to cover almost the entire plot, if I need to top up the ponds or water the flower area I can use the smaller piece from the tap at the other end of the plot. It’s so much better and much easier to pack away.

My only other possible plans are to create a herb bed, as I only have thyme and rosemary at the moment. Also my neighbour has a huge artichoke plant, which has lots of globe artichokes on it. I’ve dropped a few, very subtle, hints that I’ve never eaten one, he harvests most of them but always leaves a couple for the bees. So I’m tempted to plant one, if I don’t like it then all is not lost as the wildlife will be happy.

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All the basics are covered and growing but I’m looking for suggestions for what to grow or do in these two remaining beds, approximately each about 15ft by 15ft, so a decent size.¬†What do you think, any suggestions welcomed ?

Spring has sprung

The sun is shining and the weather is really warming up now. Everything is starting to bloom, including the weeds !

The Easter weekend was perfect weather, dry and hot, to finally get stuck in and get planting some of the huge seedlings.

I arrived at the allotment to find a gift from a neighbour of 6 broccoli plants and 4 cabbages, as I already had plenty of these I passed them on to another plot holder who was very grateful.

I decided to plant up the six, newly created, box patches. One has sweetcorn, the second has broccoli, third has kale, spring onion and two rows of multi-coloured heritage carrots, the fourth has leeks, the fifth has cabbage and cauliflower and the last has courgettes.

 

I have also planted 4 rows of Paris market carrots alongside the onions and garlic, both of which are doing really well. I finally managed to get the main crop potatoes in (after a lot of weeding), the earlies went in a month ago and have started sprouting and these have been earthed up.

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The peas are doing well, however the beans haven’t done so well since being planted out and I’ve put some more seeds in, so hopefully they will grow.

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The strawberries are flowering as are the raspberries, they have settled well after being moved to a new spot and are growing well, although it’ll be another year or so before we get any to eat. Likewise the gooseberries, red and black currants are also starting to fruit.

The pond area needed a lot of work and after many hours is only about half weeded, however the bulbs planted have all started sprouting and the colours are lovely. There’s still a lot to do but the fish seem happy enough and we’ve got a few water snails to try and keep the green algae down. The wood chip man brought us some large logs and I’ve used some around this area to create more places for the wildlife to perch and hide and it’s working.

 

In the greenhouse we have aubergines, two types of tomatoes, chilli peppers and 3 varieties of sweet peppers.

 

It’s lovely to finally have things planted and growing but still plenty to do, mostly weeding !

Happy growing everyone.

 

June on the allotment

The weather has been crazy, it’s hot, hot, hot and apart from about an hour of pathetic drizzly rain that soaks humans but dries before it hits soil around three weeks ago, we’ve had no rain for a couple of months and the dreaded hosepipe ban is being mentioned.

The allotment has stalled a little as it’s too hot to be digging, so the areas that I’ve not yet cleared have been covered and left until the weather cools down. The ponds have been very welcome. I used a cheap trellis, held down with a couple of tent pegs and bricks to make a ‘wildlife escape route’ and the little birds, coal tits and sparrows mostly, are using it as a ladder to drink, its lovely to see them enjoy it. I had great plans of planting around the ponds and creating a flower, shrub area but that’s on hold until the weather eases up.

The plants are loving the heat and everything has been growing well, including the weeds. We had a slight issue with pigeons pinching all the pak choi so I’ve sown some new seeds and will make sure to keep it covered.

I was given three broccoli plants and two Brussels sprouts, neither of which I have ever grown before and this week we’ve harvested from 2 of the broccoli plants and the other isn’t too far behind. The netting has kept most of the butterflies away although now the sprouts are getting bigger it will need to be moved soon. Another job for another day.

The second peas (after the pigeon raid) never grew very high but we’ve had plenty of pods already and still plenty to fatten up. It’s been the similar with the broad beans. The french beans are slowly making their way up the frame.

The courgettes are producing really well, we’ve had 3 and I’ve given a few away to neighbouring plot-holders. I have planted two pumpkins and two butternut squash, I’ve never grown these before, and all have gained new growth and the pumpkins are flowering.

The greenhouse is a nightmarish place to be as it’s ridiculously hot in there. I have opened the roof, both side windows and the door vent but it gets super hot inside, however the tomatoes and peppers are loving it and have grown really well and are fruiting nicely.

Thankfully before the very hot weather really started we managed to sort out around half of the plot and those are the beds which are being used and grown in. I’m looking forward to get the rest sorted and growing some new things next year. I would like to get some more fruit growing, raspberries, strawberries, and gooseberries.

 

Whilst I was busy weeding and watering my mum was working hard making repairs and beautifying the shed and the ‘bath’ pond.

Have you grown anything new this year ? Any suggestions, tips or ideas welcomed.

Enjoy the sunshine.

 

1 Year allotment anniversary

Exactly 1 year ago today I took over a new allotment and a good friend took over the one next door, plots 331 + 332, we decided to work together and have it as one huge plot.

Unfortunately for us the plots hadn’t been worked/used for about five years, and before that they were owned by a gentleman in his 90’s so only a tiny patch had been used for many years before. When we arrived it looked like this …

A huge overgrown mess, many people told us we were mad, but not ones to shy away from a challenge we got stuck in. First we only had shears, hedge trimmers and a hand saw. We started but very quickly realised that is was going to take forever, so we joined the allotment association and borrowed the ‘big boys toys’

It was back breaking work but great fun. Soon we had clear ground but huge piles of brambles everywhere.IMG_3120

Unfortunately for us it was late autumn, the weather was turning and an eye operation meant I was out of action for a couple of months. But we got stuck back in a little over winter, chopping back more and more. Finally the weather started to clear and we invested in an incinerator bin.

We have spent the last month burning, chopping and burning some more, and now finally all we have left of last years brambles is a very small pile of ash.

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So in 12 months we may have only chopped and burned a few weeds, but now we can not only walk onto our plot but all the way from one end to the other without fear, scratches stings and a fight.

The plan for the next 12 months is car park area at the top, near the tree, a compost area, to complete the fencing, rotavate the land, and start growing. With the amount we have achieved this year I’m confident we can do it.