Saturday, 24 July 2010

So much for a fresh start!

OK, A new job and stuff has rather sapped my time a bit but we are still gardening and allotmenting :)

Things are going pretty well. We have parsnips and a few carrots, squashes, loads and loads of fruit bushes, a flower bed, more gooseberries than we can eat, asparagus, black currants, red currents, white currents, blueberries, josta berries, goji berries (eventually!) onions, sweet potatoes, normal potatoes, swede, herbs, roses, sweetpeas, courgettes (we have millions of these) peas, broad beans, runner beans and weeds.

anyway, here are a few pictures:

A picture of a lovely red sunflower and simon's arse.

You can see our improvised tomato house - they are doing really quite well in there. We also have about 1200000000 marigolds, they are very pretty though so we don't mind.

Red flax, never grown it before, its flowered for weeks and its so vibrant I will be growing it again fosho!

Close up of our heritage tomatoes. These are supposed to have some blight resistance and are still dashed tasty. The variety is Legend and if they are successful, I will seed save them to grow next year.

You might think, well, she's gone mad. Why is she showing us a photo of fat hen. Well, I am not. This, excitingly is a grain called Quinoa. It appears you can grow it in this country with some success. I really wanted to grow a grain that I could actually eat (I am a coeliac and can't eat, well anything wheaty or gluteny) so to be able to grow this well would be a real boon. Its going to be ready in a few weeks so I will keep you posted.

lovely sweet peas. there are a few different named varieites here, chosen for fragrance and colour. I wish I could share the scent because they are beautiful. The best I have is called Allbut Blue. Its white with a tiny blue edge, its beautiful and the scent is phenomenal. If I can find seed, I will grow it every single year!

Sweetcorn going well, its just up to my chin. this is a heritage variety called Bi-colour. You can't seed save sweetcorn yourself without a tremendous amount of fuss as sweetcorn is very slutty and spreads itself around.

We have had lots of success with this variety so are looking forward to many juicy cobs by the end of the summer.

Onions, nearly ready to scoff! Simon has planted millions of these beauties as we eat loads and loads of them so it makes sense to grow what you eat.

These are autumn raspberries, lots and lots of them. They have done far better than the summer fruiting ones which are crap. I can't remember the variety (polka springs to mind) but I am pleased they are doing so well.

We are mulching the bed with lots of home made compost and stuff we can't be bothered to compost. Things like apple cores just get lobbed straight on.

Lovely thornless blackberry. We put a few of these in to act as windbreaks as the westerly wind blows right across the plot. Its going to take a few years but hopefully it might help. And we get a heap of lovely lovely blackberries.

OK, last picture. I promised you sweet potatoes and here they are. We are growing them in a covered house thing to help them keep warm as they are tropical and need a good blast of heat.

They are vines so we have given them something to climb up and hopefully that will make them happy. Its all a bit of an experiment to be honest so its all very exciting.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

2010 - New Year, New start


I am determined to properly update this thing this year so hang on to your hats, it will be a roller coaster ride. The first visit to the lottie this year, for me anyway happened in lovely winter sunshine today. We spent the afternoon tidying up the fruit bushes and trying to protect the brassicas from the bloody rabbits. They have managed to get into the site and blimey are they hungry. They have scoffed all the leek tops clean off and had a go at the PSB (purple sprouting broccoli) normal broccoli and our single sprout plant, without any sprouts. The PSB i think will be fine, its as tough as old boots and i am sure will bounce back ready for us to scoff within no time.
We put the old tomato house over them to try and protect them a bit. Simon and I can't stand to hurt the bunnies so a physical barrier is the way forward.

Plans for produce this year are formulating. I am going to try and do a proper cut flower bed this year with lots of pretty flowers ready for the house. The trick is to get a succession of flowers from early summer to autumn. I have an ever-growing list of flowers and when its finished, I will post here.

Veggie plans are also coming on. We have been over-run with pumpkins this year so will concentrate more on butternut squashes and just grow a couple of pumpkins for fun. We will grow many pumpkins, sweetcorn and a few salad leaves together with about a million onions as we eat loads of them.

I am going to try and get a few chillies going nice and early this year so I have "peter" chillies, that look like tiny willies apparently and also "rainbow" chillies which are purple. They will be sowed and popped into the airing cupboard to get them warm enough.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Soggy July

It might be very miserable outside but the allotment is a hive of activity. Stuff is growing. These are red onion squashes, should be ready in a few weeks. The plants themselves are sprawlin all over the place so with any luck, we will have loads. Lets hope they taste yummy!

Here is a trick or treat pumpkin forming. These should be ready around October time.

Here are some Martock broad beans - they are nearly ready for eating.

This odd-looking vegetable is a blue hubbard squash, this should be about the size of a rugby ball by the time its done.

A bowl of produce, mostly courgettes and a few beans. They will be made into lovely things, like puree and the like. Nommy.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Blooming Amazing

Well, the Goddess has been doing her thing and our allotment is positively blooming. The weeds are doing well too :( but it is so much better than last year. We have heaps of fat hen for some reason, not quite sure why. A few of the other plot holders are not as keen as we are so the weeds we thing are blowing around the site and ending up on ours! Bind weed is still a problem but it its much easier to dig out specific bits as they appear rather than the mass that smothered everything. We are still growing through lining but this will reduce as the pernicious weeds are smothered, I think twitch will continue to be a problem until the end of time :(

Here are some lovely pictures to share our progress.

These are Lancashire Lads - lovely pretty heritage peas, apparently they are best as either storage peas or as mange tout. Yes they are purple-podded peas! I am startled at how pretty pea flowers are, I had forgotten!

These are salmon-flowering peas. Again a beautiful flower. Not sure what these are going to be like so we will have to wait and see. Exciting stuff!

Here are our Martock broad beans, another heritage variety. Smaller than traditional beans and a lot older! This variety was thought lost until someone found it growing as a self-seeder in the Bishop of Bath and Wells' (I always want to do a Blackadder joke there) palace. We've not eaten these, last year we seed-saved the whole lot so we had enough to grow this year, they are obviously very happy in Countesthorpe so we look forward to trying these in a few weeks' time. We also know that there are not many of these plants about so we are happy to swap a few seeds to anyone who is interested- just pop them in the ground water and let nature do the rest! They don't really need anything in terms of support - perfect!

We eat a lot of onions so is a good job we grew a lot! Simon painstakingly looked after these and my has it payed off! We are starting to pull and eat these winter onions - they are mighty strong tasting veggies thats for sure! We have grown red and white ones - the white being the most successful by miles. We will definatly be growing these again! (japanese onion sets from hawgrips)

Excuse the slightly rubbish photo!

The strawberries continue to produce flush after flush of the sweetest fruit you can imagine! We have eating millions of them! Every few days we get a massive bowl full and we know that there are still more left to ripen in the sun. Its wonderful to be so picky, we are only choosing the reddest, ripest fruit. The best time to eat is just picked and still warm from the sun. What its all about really.

This is our mixed root veg bed - mostly parsnips, beetroot and carrots. All growing really well! There are a few onions and garlic in there to try to keep the carrot fly away. The pretty marigolds do pretty much the same job, they look really beautiful in the summer sunshine.

This triffid-like exuberant group of plants is our tomatoes! They have gone bonkers. I had no idea! I've never had much luck with outdoor toms but this year might be different. I didn't for one minute thing that they would all survive but of course they have so they are a bit jammed in! I am thinning a few leaves out as I can but I am hopeful for lots of fruit, we might be lucky if the numbers of flowers are anything to go by.

This fine little plant will hopefully go on to produce some red onion squash. Can you guess what they might look like? I am really excited by these, it took me a while to track down the seed I have heard really good things about this squash - perfect size for 2 people, pretty looking and tasty. Fingers crossed it keeps on doing its squashy thing!

This is a trick or treat pumpkin - already sprawlling. We hope it will get much bigger than that! (excuse the weeds!) This is a trick or treat pumpkin, supposed to make good eating and perhaps more excitingly the seeds are naked, meaning that there is no annoying husk on them. This means we can dry our own healthy pumpkin seeds for the winter. No more waste!

We've interplanted the corn and the pumpkins this year. The corn are a bit smaller than we'd like, I lost a whole load earlier in the year thanks to next door's bl**y cat sitting on them as they were hardening off. A hasty re-sow and 2 weeks baking in my mother in law's front room got them growing but I am not sure we will get a crop this year - lets hope we have a decent summer.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

oh have we been busy!!

Thank goodness for the sunshine (or even for it just not raining all the time). This break in the weather has give us a good chance to crack on with the allotment.

We have now removed the carpets that were smothering the weeds and wow! have they done their job well. We dug out the few remaining persistent bits of bindweed and nettle to revel a lovely, crumbly loam that is heading just towards clay.

The area has now been completely rotivated and well, we think you will be impressed with the results. Lots of lovely, almost weed-free space in which to plant!

Simon has been busy on the hardware front. He has constructed a study tomato house to help protect the growing plants from the wind and help warm them. We also hope that it might protect the plants from blight but we don't hold out too much hope. It will eventually have a lid to cover the structure completely but we've not had chance to get to B&Q to get the wood!

Here you can see the heritage beans (Martocks) and a mystery potato that has appeared in the middle of the path!

Onions - red and white, they are doing really really well!

Peas! Several varieties, all heritage. We are looking forward to seeing these. I LOVE fresh peas, they will be lucky if they make it off the allotment.

ohhhh now, look at this, the first strawberry is beginning to turn. I'd better get the netting sorted out!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

This is my little flower bed at the back of our plot- I am hoping to grow cut flowers from seed to festoon the house in a festive style. At the moment there are just a few tulips coming up but I have lavender, scabious, cornflower, sunflower and cosmos all ready to plant when the nights warm up a bit.

This is the strawberry patch - its been weeded since the picture was taken! There are three varieties in there, I hope that they will give us a succession of fruit throughout the season

Our shed, Simon and his Dad created it from some old pallets and a few fence panels. We have a blackbird nesting in there at the moment which makes things tricky. Its nice though that she feels comfortable though.

Just alongside the shed you see our glut of strawberry plants, our coldframe donated by friends, Simon working away and behind him, our compost bin.

Our whole plot - There is a long way to go but we are getting there.

New Season

Well, spring is well and truly here and Simon and I have been working quite hard on the allotment. I have take a few pictures so you can see the changes since we first started. I had forgotten how bad it actually was just over a year a go and its quite gratifying to see the changes.

On the left there you can see our mixed fruit bed. We have various currants, goosegogs and somewhat counter-intuitive, blackberries. Why blackberries I hear you cry! Well, our patch of Leicestershire is rather exposed and can get very windy. Blackberries grow well on the site so the hope is that eventually, they will form some wind protection.

In the front bed are early spuds, a row of carrots and a row of parsnips and beetroot. The bed behind has a few last parsnips from the previous season, they are still good eating!