Subscribe with Bloglines At last I've got my plot!: July 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A hot morning!

This morning was very hot again here on the Isle of Wight, but I knew it'd be shady at the plot so I spent the morning there. I did a mountain of work and brought a lot of produce home.

First I hoed all the paths.
Then I picked up and bagged all the onions to take home.
Then I dug up a week's worth of spuds.
Then I tied up the squashes and re-directed the pumpkins that are absolutely rampant at the moment.
I realised last week when I saw the cabbage whites within the cabbage nets that I would have a caterpillar problem. I picked off a load of 1/2 inch ones from one Brussels sprout plant. I also checked the undersides of the leaves of the other brassicas and found the telltale yellow clusters of eggs. These have now been rubbed off.
To stop the butterflies getting in again I have redone the netting. The problem was that the Brussels sprouts were growing too tall for the nets, and pushing them up from the ground so that the b'flies could get underneath. I got
another net and the two now do the job better. I also staked the Brussels.

The cabbages are hearting up beautifully, and the caulis are coming on. We had one yesterday, but I'm leaving the others to get a bit bigger.

I picked all the sugar snap peas, some French beans, and the courgettes. Chris gave me a pile of baby turnips. So when I walked back up the path I was very heavily laden....spuds, onions (whole crop), courgettes, turnips, peas and beans.

We are going to have lots of winter squash. They are hiding just about everywhere on the plot.
We will also have enough sweetcorn to set up a stall! The tassels are turning brown, but I have investigated the cobs and they aren't quite yellow yet

When I got home I set out all the onions to dry in the tunnel. I cut off the foliage that had withered and put that in the dustbin. I am trying not to spread the onion white rot spores to the beds here at home so won't be composting any of the onion waste from the ones grown at the plot.

This evening I started getting a bed ready to sow some winter cabbage and other stuff for the late Autumn and winter...tomorrow.

We had a splendid stir-fry this evening with a huge variety of home grown veg...tasty! We have some teenage boys (aka hollow legs) coming to stay next week...I'll be filling them up with veg, and rhubarb crumble.
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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Progress in the Kitchen Garden

This morning was beautiful weather, and I used it well.

The broccoli and Kale plants that I started from seed in June needed a home for the winter, so I found some space for them at the end of the pea and bean beds. They are now firmed in, slug pelleted, and protected from butterflies (and cats searching for a toilet) with the green net arrangements. These are the Haxnicks tunnels I bought last year at Wisley. I have cut them in half because they are more use to me across the beds rather than along them.

Having had a sit with a cup of coffee I must now go and cut all the sweet peas......! We are going out this evening so I will take some with me. I get about 6 vases worth each time I pick them which is more than enough for me.

The stems are very short this year. Any suggestions for a long-stemmed super-scented variety of sweet pea?

The Robinson "Show Perfection" Peas which were on a tepee were finished so I cleared them all away, picking off the last which we'll have for dinner. In their space (at the other end of the sweet pea bed shown here) I have put some shallots started from seed and getting a bit big for the pot they were in. I have netted these too against the cats.

State of play in the Polytunnel

I am so glad that I decided to have another go with courgettes in the tunnel. These have been cropping now for over a month....whereas the ones at the plot have just produced their first courgette. The variety is possibly a bit too big for the tunnel....the cucumbers behind them are smothered...they are trying but nothing much happening there....! Next year I will try to source a smaller, more compact, bush variety of courgette. Anyone got any suggestions?

Right at the back of this bed is the fig...with 7 fruits left on it. We have already had some.

The tomatoes are doing quite well but are not prolific, despite feeding. I let them get rather leggy before I got round to transplanting them, which may account for it.
My shallots drying off a bit. These are actually now bunched and hung from the side rails of the tunnel.
These are my lovely red onions from the back garden. There are loads more at the plot.....we shouldn't be buying any onions now til late next spring.....and I have plans for that gap anyway.

These onions are now in the tunnel, drying off.
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Monday, July 14, 2008

Autumn Salad Bed

I harvested the red onions from this bed this afternoon....they are laid on the bed behind to dry for a day or two. I was surprised by just how many onions I have from this bed. I had thought that the crop was a bit dissappointing, but I actually have about 30 very good specimens. There are more at the plot too.

After that I cleaned the bed and decided that it would be ideal for my Autumn salads.
So...this evening I sowed 11 furrows, filled with compost, with
Perpetual Spinach
Oriental Mixed Salad Leaves
Misticanza (mix of lettuce, chcories and endives for cut and come again)
Mixed lettuce leaves (red and green)
Corn Salad "Cavello"
Rainbow Chard
Pak Choi
Saladin Lettuce,
Spring onion "White Lisbon"

All-in-all a good evening's work. Now I can sit and knit!
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A Plot with a View!

When I was weeding the cleared part of the bank this morning (see below!) I stood up to ease my back and realised that this bit of the plot is quite a vantage point for the views. So I got the camera and took some pictures for you. (All photos clickable to make them bigger to see the details)

To the South we have Colin's plot, and fields running up to a beautiful house (now a row of beautiful houses).

Colin's plot is always very beautifully kept. I walk through it to get to mine and marvel at his industriousness. He says he has had it for some years now and the weeds are well under control.
Moving round we see the views across to the hills behind Seaview. The green shed is Malcolm's. His plot is always immaculate, as is Jeff's which is between Malcolm's and Colin's, behind the little wooden shed at the end of the plot next to mine.

This plot next to mine is a a bit of a mess. Someone has been looking after it because the plotholder has not been well, but it is still a mess.
Looking across the messy plot you can see the new fruitcage. A number of plotholders took advantage of the timber which was being thrown away when a cedar bungalow was demolished in the village a couple of weeks ago.
Here is the view across Chris's (seen here) plot, and Linda's plot (next to it, with the little shed), to the Sport's Club, and the Solent in the distance.

Now you can all see why I love being at the plot. It is so peaceful, and I have a pair of blackbirds for company who sing so beautifully from the top of the fence. It is truly a beautiful place to be. And I have been tempted to put a park bench against the fence to have somewhere to sit and enjoy the view from....but honestly, I never sit down, as I always have to get home. (One reason is that there is no loo at the plot....correction...there is a tin hut that is so awful no-one uses it!)
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A busy morning clearing the bank area

DH wanted some exercise today, and I needed help with a big Berberis at the plot. I had been wanting to clear this part of the bank where I moved all the herbs and some flowering plants to when I took over the plot. It hasn't been a success because it seems to be a breeding ground for bindweed which issues from here all over the plot when I have my back turned. Added to that I want some room for summer raspberries.....and this shady spot seems to be the best place.

Officially this part of the plot is not mine. The 8 feet x 50 feet of bank area should really be a no-mans land, but as "no-man" never comes to dig or weed it I have sequestered it into my plot. If I leave it a mess others bring rubbish here to dump. You wouldn't believe how much rubbish there was here when I took the plot on.
We cut down the top foliage from the berberis then DH dug out the main root for me. The rest I got out when I started digging and cleaning this area. I have barely started the digging and have already, out of about 4 sq yards, dug out 4 tubtrugs of white bindweed roots, and about the same in rubbish.

The soil is beautiful, if a little dry. It is against a west facing fence, and so gets no sun until after lunch each day. This bit isn't affected by the roots from the big beech tree which is further along the fence to the right of the pictures, but it is shaded by it. For this reason I think more raspberries would be best here.

I also want a blackberry or one of its relatives under the tree when I get to that end of the bank. The tree roots are so near the surface that digging it all over is not an option as I found last Autumn when I tried to tackle it. So I will strim it; cover it with manure, cardboard and black landscape fabric; then plant the blackberry through it.
The yellow daisy plant will get dug out when I get to that bit later this week. I want to take cuttings from it to make a hedge along the top of the plot with.
Here you can see the bit I will be turning my attention to later. The heap of weedy rubbish will be moved, when I next go to the plot to a burning pile, that will get some attention in October when we can have a fire again.
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Terrific e-mail

I had a very informative e-mail this morning from Dave's Garden. It had a wealth of info in it for covering chain link fencing with foliage fast! I thought it worth sharing.....

Thursday, July 10, 2008


The comfrey that I moved from all over the plot to this spot last autumn produces a regular supply of lush vegetation for mulching and for the compost heap.

I hoed all round the raspberries and cut down all the comfrey to tidy up this area.

There was also a lot of mess....weeds and overgrown artichokes...crowding out the rhubarb. All cut down and removed now. I expect I'll have a winter crop of artichokes again this year.
The comfrey leaves, and the grass mowings from home are now excluding light on the Charlotte potato bed. I removed the dying tops last week, and they are waiting to be dug up as I want them. I exclude the light in case there are some a bit near the top which might go green.
The cabbages are looking good. We are having the biggest for dinner tonight. I'll have all of these before they get too big and then split like last year...
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A fine day at last.....if a little spitty!

A general view of the plot when I left this afternoon.....
This is the bed where the shallots were til last week. Now sown with beetroot "Bikores". I had these last year and was very happy with them.
Here are my onions. I am keeping an eye on them because next door, on my prompting (after the business with the shallots and the onion white rot) checked his and was really fed up when he found that almost half his crop had succumbed. They were his beautiful white onions. His reds seem to be ok at the moment.

I pulled up one and it was ok....but I'll keep checking.

The ones I have at home are ok so I think all my onions will be grown at home next year.
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Saturday, July 05, 2008


I pulled up all the shallots today and brought them home. I reckon about a tenth of the crop had the onion white rot (the pile in optical illusion as the rotted pile are nearer the camera.) We will eat what we can of that pile and dispose of the rot and the tops in the bin rather than my compost.

A couple of other plotholders said they had the rot on theirs too.....but only at the eastern ends of the mine...! We reckon it is wetter at the eastern end...

They advised liming the soil before putting in shallots next year.
I dug up three more of the Kestrel potato plants. The tops were dying so I cut them all down and put the haulms on the compost. They haven't any blight so that is safe....

And the tops on the Charlotte (main salad potato crop) were yellow and floppy so I cut them down and dug up 3 of them too.

With both lots I shall dig them as I need them. There are rather too many for us so I'll be taking bags of them as presents when I go to Kent, and London in the next few weeks.

In the next few weeks I'll be piling grass cuttings on these spud beds to make sure the soil surface remains dark. I don't want the spuds going green.
The courgettes at the plot seem to have doubled in size in the last few days.

The leeks I planted the other day are still going. Not growing away yet but I bet it'll be soon.

Whilst there this afternoon I was musing about the whole allotment dream. It is Shed Week this week coming, and I was thinking about how my dream was to have an allotment and a shed and a little stove to boil water on or heat a can of soup. But it hasn't worked out like that. I snatch moments to go there and work hard the whole time. I never sit there and just chill because I always have to get back to feed DH or to walk the dogs.

I do really enjoy the time I spend there but wish it could be more....
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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Onion white rot

I have looked this up now on the RHS website, and am convinced that I have it at my plot....
There is aphoto on their site which is identical to the problem I found on mine.
This is what they say about it......

Onion white rot (Sclerotium cepivorum)
Plants affected
All members of the onion family including spring onions, leeks, chives, ornamental alliums.
Infected plants often die before maturity. Above ground onion leaves wilt progressively before collapsing, although this symptom may not be so obvious in other alliums. Underground bulbs are rotten at the base and covered with a fluffy white mould.
Onion white rot is a most serious disease of the onion family because it is nearly impossible to eradicate the dormant stage from the soil. It is caused by a fungus which spreads from plant to plant by contact between roots and bulbs, and is capable of surviving in the soil for up to 15 years, during which time it can infect any onion or onion relative planted in its presence.
Practise a three or four year crop rotation. If the infection is diagnosed do not grow susceptible plants in that area of the garden again.
Non-chemical control
Removing infected plants and increasing the space between host plants will help to reduce the severity of the disease. Destroy infected plants by burning or putting them in sealed bags in the dustbin. Do not compost infected material.
Chemical control
None is available. If necessary, contractors can be employed to sterilise the ground.

It seems I will have to grow my onions in the home kitchen garden in future....!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Boy was it hot today....

I went to the plot whilst it was in deep shade this morning and hoed off all the weeds, and sowed some more courgette seeds to replace those that didn't come up. Hopefully I'll get a late crop.

I also weeded the shallots....shown here. I think these are about ready now as so many leaves are turning yellow.. One or two that came up whilst I was weeding were showing a lot of fungus growing on them. I am beginning to get the feeling that this plot is infected with something that gets onions. Last year most of my onions grown at the plot rotted. I put it down to the shade on the plot and the wet summer; but this year has been if anything too why the rot?

The squashes were beginning to trail all over the place. So this afternoon I did a quick trip to the garden centre to get some 5ft canes to make tripods for them. Then I went to install them.

Can you see my lovely Sweet Nugget Sweetcorn? They are so strong and the flowers are pushing up from inside the leaf whirl already. It would be good if they didn't grow too tall as the plot is windy and they might blow over.

We had all home grown veg yesterday and today...except for the carrots, which were local (ie Tesco's...! 2 miles away!!! LOL) Yesterday we had salsify, peas, courgettes, onions and potatoes. Today we had courgettes and potatoes, also onions.
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