Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Time was short

over the last few days so bits and bobs were done in the garden, and a little in the allotment.
I bought some strawberry plants, 5 different varieties - Hapil, Cambridge favorite, Pegasus, Rhapsody and Pandora, and popped them in a grow bag. Hopefully we will have a small put varied selection this year, and can do a taste test so as to concentrate on a couple of choices next year in larger amounts.
I also bought another small 3 tier plastic greenhouse, the same as the one i am currently using for staging in the greenhouse. At just under a tenner its a cheap and quick piece of equipment which will used behind the greenhouse but without its plastic covering, mainly to put the grow bags onto so they can avoid the slugs.
Along with the strawberry's is the salad leaves, half of which were bought early in the season and half which have been sown for the next crop (Little Gem and Mixed Green leaves). I also sowed plenty more salad crops at the plot, which by now have been watered in well by the foul weather we have had over the bank holiday, (no change there then!).

Thanks to Iain for showing his face in the blog last time with his educator hat sitting tight on his head, although not applying his own high standards to his own latest blog entry to my amusement.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

At the allotment

on Tuesday i manages to get a few hours of work in. Mostly it was weeding the central area in order to plant some squash, next to the courgettes 'Albarello di Sarzana' which i got in last week. The squash are the orange skinned 'Uchiki Kuri' which have a sweet nutty flavour apparently. I also put in one more courgette, this time a yellow one called 'Gold Rush'.
This picture shows the seed bed i sowed about a month ago. As i previously mentioned what with little weeds also coming up and my rows not being particularly straight, i still not sure what needs removing and what needs thinning!! I shall have to wait and see. From the far end it was five rows each of beetroot, parsnip, swede and turnip.

The second picture shows a close u
p of the end of the seed bed into which i broadcast seeded some carrots, a 'chantenay' i believe, i'll have to look in my seed box to confirm.

The bottom area was also weeded but was a quicker job having had half of it done previously with help from my father in law, and i have completed the job now. I'm still wondering what to put in it, besides the butternut squash that are still in pots. I was given a Belgium variety of french beans which i have now sown so they could go there too.
In the garden today i have sown another round of spinach, chard and pak choi as a back up in case the directly plot sown ones dont germinate. Even if they do i think i'll have the space for them, and looking around i think next year i could do double the potatoes i am growing currently.

Friday, 18 May 2007

In the greenhouse

i see that the cucumber has already started to show a few fruits!! I know a couple of the leaves look a little wilted, water was soon given. The grow bag i am using has quite dark soil so sometimes its a little hard to see at a glance how dried out it is, although i know cucumbers prefer slightly moist soil all the time. I have double bagged the grow bags and placed a plastic bottle in the middle to disperse the water straight down to the bottom. The aubergine has put on a little growth so far but i expect to come good in the next few months.
I have 2 blueberry bushes that my dad gave me last year for my birthday, both mid-season varieties called 'patriot' and 'herbert'. I am not sure why only one, 'patriot', had decided to flower this year as you can see from the 2 photos.

i managed to get half an hour at the allotment last night and planted the second tray of beetroot, and planted some lettuce seedlings also, but did not manage to sow some more lettuce as intended. On the list of things to do next week when i have time off from work except sunday and monday. Child care permitting i will finished the main weeding area and get generally busy!

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Last week

at the allotment i managed to get loads done before the days upon days of rain we've had set in. I finished one area which needed weeding, Unfortunately i had to dig up the three dreaded weeds of any plot - couch grass, bindweed, and mares tail. Oh and many a old rotten potato from the last owner!!
I have one patch left which is mostly couch grass in the center of the plot, but I'm not gonna get there for a few days yet.
I did also manage to plant some seedlings that i had in the garden, of which some normally wouldn't go out so early this month but with the hot hot hot April we've had they have marched on and outgrown their pots. I ended up putting in 2 brussel sprout plants, the beetroot, cauliflower, cabbage, chard and calabrase too. With the cauliflower and chard i sowed a few rows of seeds too for successional planting.
This photo also shows the sweetcorn. I have put 16 plants in a 4x4 block but also sowed two rows of another 4 too see if they come up. Just below the picture i have put in some spinach and pak choi which did well last year in pots so we'll see how they do this year in a plot.

I previously sowed in a seed bed rows of beetroot, parsnip, swede, turnip and carrots. I will get a photo soon, but lots has sprung up but at the moment its hard to tell whats seedlings and what are weeds!!, Need to do straighter rows next time, that might help! Time will tell.
My broad beans seem to be doing well and will need netting soon. This is the first time i have done them, i understand that very young beans are very good. I also have a broad bean hummus recipe i want to try out this summer.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Tom's and chillies

I started to put my plants into the greenhouse, and used one of those plastic three tier greenhouses as staging. The plastic had perished over the last winter but it will do for this year, and I'll look into proper staging next year. However it may well serve the purpose well, as i can remove it easily and put down more grow bags if required.
I bought my tomato and chilli pepper seeds this year from The Chilli Seed Company which is a good site, i recommend you check it out. Tomatoes that i bought were:

  • Camp Joy - Heavy bearing heirloom variety that offers an abundance of luscious fruit with huge, well-balanced, sweet tomato flavours.
  • Nyagous - Great black tomato that is blemish-free! Cricket ball-sized fruits are borne in clusters of up to six fruits, very productive. Excellent full flavour, one of our all-time favourites.
The chilli plants that i'm trying this year are:
  • NuMex Big Jim, This chili is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest pepper. It produces long, thick, smooth, fleshy fruits. Because of the large pods, the chili is a favourite of home gardeners and chefs for making chili rellenos.
  • Etna - Chilli Heat 9 An early, hot Italian chilli pepper. Compact plant which produces bunches of conical dark green fruits which grow upwards, turning bright red when ripe. Can also be grown in a container. Voted 9th hottest chilli by BBC Gardeners World TV in their 2006 Hottest Chilli Trials.
  • Padron - Chilli Heat 4 This is a great all round chilli to have in the kitchen, it is a medium-sized, bushy plant. Medium to long flat, conical light green fruits, turning red when ripe. Meaty and very tasty.
  • Jalapeno, Heat Level of 6 This chili is well adapted for the UK short-season growing,
    Jalapeno Peppers are among the most popular and commonly available hot chili pepper seeds in the world. Smooth, dark green chili peppers the ripe form of the green Jalapeno is red. Jalapenos are about 2 inches long and approximately 3/4 to 1 inch thick with a rounded tip. Jalapenos are found in a broad range of Latin dishes. Ranging from hot to very hot with a green vegetable flavour, Jalapenos can be easily seeded and added to soups, stews and dips or enjoyed whole when roasted with meats or stuffed with cheese. Red Jalapenos have a sweeter flavour and are often pickled or smoked.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007


The next part was helped by having my dad present who has put up a few greenhouses in the past
with assistiance from peter my father-in-law.
The main assembly was pretty straight forward, the vent a little fiddly, and putting on the rubber sills was being a pain until dad suggested putting washing up liquid onto the frame and they soon were zipping on.
Final inspection carried out by my daughter Isobel.

The next day i put the final pieces of glass in, with only one piece causing much frustration and swearing, how one can not be sitting right when all the others do just is so annoying!!

The Greenhouse

was erected over 3 days due to childcare stuff and high winds which meant there was no way i could have held it up and put together on my own. I bought a Halls popular greenhouse 4 x 6. i would have liked a larger one but it was not really feasible in our garden and it will be enough for what i currently need it for.
On the whole i would give this greenhouse a solid 8 - 8.5/10 for ease of assembly, coming from someone who's never done it before. Delivery and contact with the company was excellent also.
The first day i sat in the garden listening to BBC 5live's always excellent football coverage and put together the sides and gable ends. These were pretty straight forward.

The door was just as easy to assemble apart from fitting the rubber runners which started out as very time consuming moving an inch at a time. I then spray the rubber track it was fitting to with some WD40 and this helped a lot. The picture below shows the rubber being slowly inserted.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

At the same time....

i've been growing some stuff at home in preparation for the new season, and rather taking over the shed in the process.The top one shows some beetroot in a tray and some sweetcorn.
The second shows the full range of seedlings - beetroot, cauliflower, calabrase, white chard, pumpkins, courgettes, cabbage, leeks, parsley, coriander, salad leaves - i think thats all! I can give variety's if needed.
The third is the windowsill of my study which has chillies, toms and cucumber.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

New Allotment

I'm creating this blog as just a record of my gardening year, mostly for myself but also for anyone else who's interested in its progress.
In march/april this year i started a new allotment. I've had one
before for a couple of years after not doing any sort of gardening before and really enjoyed it, growing your own fruit and vegetables was very satisfying.
After moving house i have now got an allotment very close by, a 2 min walk, to start afresh on.

This was it before i started.
It starts at the wooden border at the bottom up to the wall at the back. The soil is good but stony, not as heavy as my last place. It does drain quickly though and is thirsty.
Unfortunately there is no water on site and the blue water barrel you see is not very full which means I'm having to transport water over when i can. My in-laws were a great help with digging it over and we got a lot done quickly in order to get in some potatoes and onions as soon as possible. This was over late March and early April.