Monday, 12 November 2007

I have now

mostly cleared what needs to be out before winter sets in, and have covered the grassy area after weed killing it so that it should be much more manageable in the spring. All that is left in now is the last of the chard, a few swede's and the last of the carrots which are a little small and several actually were probably attacked by some bug, i need to look up the damage a carrot fly does before i pronounce him guilty.

The other winter crops are the solitary savoy cabbage who still looks good, and the spring cabbages, cauiflowers and sprouting broccolis. These are mostly looking healthy, certainly 90% have survived, although about another 10% still look a little small and pigeon attacked.

I also have now planted my overwintering onion sets and garlic. (L to R) 2 rows of Autumn Champion went in, then a row of garlic which consisted of 2/3 of a row being Spanish Roja, and the remainder being Purple Georgian Wight which i got at the Cowbridge food and drink festival this year. The next two rows are onions Swift which i have done before and were good croppers and stored well.

I also have now cleared the greenhouse of the last pepper plant, cleaned the glass inside and now all that remains is the herbs which seem to be doing well.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Etna chillies

now picked and strung to dry. Aided by my daughter we picked them on Sunday, although half way through picking them i realized that probably letting my daughter help me wasn't the smartest move if she decided to rub her eyes or lick her fingers!!! The idea of trying to get cold milk down to cool her down wouldn't be easy!! Thankfully mission was accomplished and hands washed quickly.
Amazed at how quickly these are turning red.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Tidying up

in the greenhouse this morning, and picked a lot of the chillies. Most went in the freezer but i've strung a few up in the kitchen to dry, but mostly for show!
I have been using 2 three tier greenhouses for staging and keeping grow bags and plant pots on. I always intended to move one into the greenhouse as staging but today got round to sorting it out. When i looked at them one was quite unsteady and the other was older and the plastic had degraded in several points. I ended up canabalizing them to make to make a three tier, then added another tier, until i settled on a five tier shelving system!! I popped the herb pots onto it, and also sowed more coriander and basil. I got round to weedkilling the floor and covering with gravel also.

The remains of the greenhouses!!!
This the Etna chilli, great looking clusters of chillies but the leaves are looking a little lackluster currently. I am going to dry these when they've all turned red.
I went onto the BigJim Chilli competition site (link below somewhere) to update my entry but its closed now, with the winner growing one to about 32cm. I only managed at one 19.5cm but still quite chuffed at he result. The site are going to announce next years competition in November so i may attempt that also.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Clearing up

the plot has been the order of the day when the weather has been amenable. Its been pretty much cleared now on one half, removing some well established bindweed and many other weeds. Some of the crops such as the mini leeks which had got established i had to sacrifice in order to properly clear the weeds.
The cabbages, broccoli's and cauliflowers that i planted earlier in the year all performed badly so were also removed bar one savoy cabbage which seems to have persevered.
The carrots are still coming up good though and have provided for two soups this week. And a few grins also!!
The white chard is also still growing well, and the swedes are swelling up too. The runner beans are over now and need removing, and i managed to dry out some of the beans for next year also.
In the greenhouse the aubergine plants have still only flowered but not produced any fruits, but the chillies continue to look good with several of each variety turning red now. I have found a chilli pickle recipe also which sounds good but requires massive amounts of spices as well as the chillies, potentially could blow my head off!
More of the same on the plot next week, weeding never ends. I have ordered and waiting for the onions and garlic to be delivered and have also got some overwintering lettuce to put in next week if it warms up which its forecast to do.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Big Jim

Here are 2 of my Big Jim's. One of the others has also turned red red now but was also starting to go off at the tip.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Digging it all up,

I've been starting to clear some of the plot, the area which had the potatoes has now got some winter/spring brassics, including claret and white types of sprouting broccolis, 2 cabbage varieties, and one type of cabbage. In total 50 plants now in for the slugs and birds to eat over winter!!!
I have also dug up all the beetroot and pickled it, this time using white wine vinegar and popping a few different chillies into each jar for a bit of a sweeter and hotter flavour this year.
In the greenhouse i have cropped a lot of the green tomatoes and made some chutney today, and will clear a few of the tomato plants out now to give the chillies more room, and hopefully the aubergine will start to fruit soon, lots of flowers but thats all, it maybe to late in the season though which i must check on. To be honest i'm getting into the mood for preparing for next year on the plot and the greenhouse while i have the time and the weather.
The chillies by the way are still looking good with many fruits on all 4 varieties i'm growing. The Etna and Jalapeño are really quite nice and hot, the Padron and Big Jim bland really, and i have found many of the BigJim have started
going off once they reach about 15cm or so, i keep them with brown/black patches.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Tasting tomatoes

I have been able to taste test all 3 varieties of my tomatoes, Gardeners Delight, Nyagous and Camp Joy.
Gardeners delight are a common favorite amongst growers as they are good croppers and quite reliable. They have produced for me a reasonable crop this year but they are always quite small and whilst tasting good, are a big plant for small return.
The first new one for me this year is Camp Joy, which has grown well and produced medium sized fruits. Taste wise they have a light flavour, a little disappointing really.
The second new one Nyagous has produced some large sized fruits and averages 4-5 to a truss.The plants have grown well and are very keen to continue putting on new shoots all the time. The fruits when ripe do have a lovely dark blush to them and are quite fleshy and soft inside. i would imagine these cook and break down very easily but taste wise again they are a little light on flavour, so both tom's i would give 6/10.
Next year i need to reduce the number of plants i grow in the greenhouse so i will need to consider which varieties i am going to grow, whether its a beefsteak type or any others.

Also an update on the chillies - all plants are now laden with chillies, the Big Jims have really done very well, and the largest so far is 19cm long. The Etna and Padron are also producing many fruits, and i am looking forward to this tasting session!!!

Friday, 17 August 2007

Plot Update

The plot has grown loads recently, unfortunately its mostly weeds again. But i did manage to dig up some more potatoes although blight has ruined a fair few of them. I took a good couple of handfuls of the white chard pictured below, and tonight i made a chard gratin to go with some gammon steaks. I now cannot move to far or fast!! The chard has been a success this year amongst all the other poor crops.
I also thinned out the swedes, picked some runner beans and courgettes, and pinched out the tips of the pumpkins as they have several fruits now on each plant.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

greenhouse latest

Slight delay updating due to new router problems and basic lack of time! Today i managed to do some tidying up. My two outdoor tomato plants look suspiciously like having blight, certainly potato blight is in the area, so i disposed of them before it spread to my indoor crop. I then thinned out the plants in the green house as firstly they were seriously overgrown and trying to grow more shoots everywhere. I also found a few leaves that looked a little dodgy bearing in mind the outdoor tom's, so i removed them too.
The first photo is the pepper plant which is looking good, two nice sized fruits and many more starting to grow.

This is the black Russian tomato Nyagous, i have several really large tom's, this one being the largest, although unfortunately a victim of my erratic watering as the split skin shows.
The Big Jim chillis are coming along nicely, i must update the competition page even if i'll never win it, 2 of the 3 plants have quite a few chillies.
Some of the 'Gardeners Delight tom's, which while productive does produce small fruits and i dont think i'll grow it again next year.
The thinned out greenhouse, minus a couple of plants. When they are in also it makes watering very difficult and i basically have to crouch at the door and can get in no further. Next year i'm going to have to plan a little better my number of plants.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Update: The Plot 2

Pumpkins taking over in the front and at the back left, back right being the poorly producing courgettes.At the front are the carrots 'Chateney red cored 2' which are good tasting and nicely shaped so far. Behind are the turnips and swede which are now starting to look like producing a reasonable crop. And behind them are some Pak Choi which bolted as soon as they got in the ground.
Carrots 'Artemis F1' and onions 'Stuttgart giant'
Runner beans starting to form, even if looking a little thin so far.

Update: The Plot 1

My first ever turnips. And pretty good too, cubed and pan fried in butter with brown sugar to caramelize them. I have also just pureed some for my son who will be starting solids soon. One of the pumpkins that are rambling over the plot.
Some of the latest lettuce, one of the success yet again this year. I'm so surprised with the wet weather we've had that more haven't been devastated by the slugs but all have been pretty much untouched.
One of the biggest disappointments this year has to be the main crop potatoes 'King Edward'. They hardly produced any foliage and this small bunch was the result of a whole row. I probably put more in the ground than that to start with. Thankfully the early/salad potatoes have been quite good so far. I notice and hear from others at the plots that red skinned varieties do quite well here so i think i'll try them next year.
Sweetcorn looking pretty sorry with only a couple looking like I'll get something from them. I think i had them in too smaller pots from seed, normally i grow them in toilet rolls and they get to a good size before going in, but modules didn't agree with them this year. Cgard in the background which has been producing well this year. I have a recipe for a chard gratin that we will try soon.

Update: Greenhouse

This was the greenhouse a week or so ago, i thinned it out a bit after this which i think was needed!

This is the first pepper of the season, and there are more coming on now.
This is the chilli Padron which is about 5 ft tall, and now has a few fruits growing, although not many for the size of the plant so far.
Some really meaty looking tom's, 'Nyagous' just waiting for the sun to come and ripen them up. (Please!!!)
My first few 'Big Jim's' which are a couple of inches long now. I dont think i'm gonna win the competition but i think i'll beat Bigdougfromdorset which is all that matters.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Tenby again

This week we also managed to get down to Tenby again, the weather was not to bad becoming quite sunny in the afternoons so that Isobel could get into her new wetsuit and properly splash around in the sea.We also went to Folly Farm which is a brilliant place for kids, lots to do and many animals to see. Isobel above liked patting the donkey, and saw lemurs, tapir, wallaby's, pygmy goats and loads of different sheep. After the car ride she so obviously enjoyed at Mats last weekend i took her on the go-karts, not for my enjoyment at all, no.

Monday, 16 July 2007

The weekend

We had a weekend away to see some of my family, and to attend the christening of my friends Mat and Lucy's daughter Phoebe. It was a great weekend, the kids had alot of fun and it was so good to catch up with everyone one. More photos are up on the blog of the wise old sage sammypafc here.

My daughter enjoying the ben's fort
Ian (Sammypafc) and his lovely wife alison
Doug (bigguyupfromtheback or variation there of)
The lovely main attraction Phoebe and my son Max get aquainted,
Isobel being chauffeured around and quite enjoying it.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

this years varities

This is more for my records if anything, but these are the seeds i have planted this year. I'll update the list later in the year with comments.

Leek - Armor, Lyon Prize taker
Beetroot - Boltardy, Perfect 3
Pak Choi - China Choi
Turnip - Golden Ball
Parsley - moss curled 2
Chard - White Silver 2
Lettuce - Little Gem, mixed green leaves (johnsons)
Basil - Lemon, Sweet Genovese
Cauliflower - Snowball
Carrot - Early Nantes 2, Artemis F1, Chateney red cored 2
Squash - Uchiki Kuri, Butternut
Courgette - Albarello Di Sarzana, Gold rush F1
Swede - Marian
Broccoli - Purple sprouting early
Calabrase - Pacifica
Brussels - Cascade F1
Cabbage - Ormskirk Late(Savoy)
Broad Beans - Witkiem
Tomatoes - Gardeners delight, Camp Joy, Nyagous
Cucumber - Passandra F1
Runner Beans - Scarlet Emperor
French Bean - Fortex
Spinach - Hector F1
Aubergine - Orlando, Black Beauty
Chillies - Big Jim, Padron, Early Jalapeno, Etna
Parsnip - merlin F1
onion (sets) - stuttgart giant
Potatoes - Pink fir apple, King Edward
Sweetcorn - miracle F1

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Back again

with another update, about time really!
Small but tasty crop from the one blue berry plant.
very good with my weetabix in the morning!!
I have been popping down to the plot for half an hour here and there, collecting lettuce, picking my (finally) first few courgettes, training the pumpkins across the plot, planting the second lot of runner beans and the French climbing beans also. I put in the butternut squash plants, and also sowed some more seed for them in case they don't take. The spinach as i said before was bolting and i didn't even get any leaves of them as they all went to seed, so i removed most of them and put in the Pak Choi which look quite healthy. This was the second sowing of Pak Choi as the first ones died suddenly before i got them in. I have also sowed further rows of 'Boltardy' beetroot although the previous sowings are now coming along nicely.

As we now have had a few days of sun at last i also managed to dig up the first few early potatoes and pulled a few carrots. The onions are ones i grew in a container in the garden before i was given the nod with the new plot. Currently the plot spring sown onions are bulbing up nicely, alongside the carrots which seems to have deterred the carrot fly this year. Even the broadcast sown patch of carrots seem untouched at the moment.I have also attacked the central weed area with shears and, unfortunately, chemicals. I was fighting a losing battle with the couch grass and bindweed as i just could not put in the time to properly dig it all out. I have always said i would never use chemicals on the crops but if required it would be used on weeds. I was having difficulty getting the stuff on the area and having a dry period so it was not washed off, but managed to last week, and today put a second application. Hopefully this will at least bide me some time till i can get the spade into it.

In the greenhouse the tomatoes are fruiting up nicely, chillies are flowering and i have a couple of peppers coming on well. The aubergines are looking healthy although no sings of fruit yet. The cucumber has grown to the roof but does not look too healthy and most of the fruits are not making much progress. I am wondering whether to cut my losses and remove it from an already overcrowded greenhouse and make more room for the rest of the plants.

I shall get the camera out for both the greenhouse and plot soon and update again next week, as i am on holiday then. Yipee!!!!!

Finally a cheeky monkey

and a messy bunny!!!!
Bonus points to who can name the CD she is eating.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Child labour

is great really when it works! My daughter helped to shell the broad beans once she realized she didn't like to eat them, taking the pod to pieces to find the beans was fun to do.