Subscribe with Bloglines At last I've got my plot!: July 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm whacked!!

Spent the morning AND the afternoon at the plot as DH assures me we are in for a wet week. I will be glad of the rain....but why can't it come only at night? Anyway, all is weeded and hoed so the rain will soak in rather than running off.

I picked (and ate because there were only 8 !!!) the raspberries. These are Autumn Bliss and were a bit early. There is not much coming along so I hope that this was just a first flush with lots more to come later....

The first photo shows the spud bed with all the haulms cut off now, and the rows hoed, earthed up and weeded. Also the mulch that I put down the other day....more to come when we mow the lawns here. I'm hoping the mulch will stop the wind and rain eroding the tops of the rows and exposing the spuds to the light.
The beetroot bed in the second picture. I weeded this out today and went through pulling out anything over an inch diameter for pickling. Those that are left will grow more I hope. After weeding I earthed up the little ones left behind.

I weeded off the paths from the first 3/4 of the plot. These will not be allowed to get into such a state again!!!!

The beans were hoed and the stragglers were wound around the poles.

No sign of the buckwheat green manure yet, but it is early days.
These are the last paths waiting to be week probably.

Over by the fence I have cleared the nettles and comfrey to the compost, and weeded and dug over the soil around the globe artichokes and the rhubarb and gooseberries.
The compost heap on the left was getting a bit high so I moved the bags of manure out of the other bay and have started in the empty one with the beetroot tops and the weeds from the paths.

Home now for a long sit, and feeling very satisfied with my efforts....
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

An experiment!

I have read a lot about setting potatoes in the ground at this time of year to get new potatoes around the new year, and I have been itching to have a go. So when I got my Mr Fothergill's Seeds catalogue about a month ago and saw that they were offering some specially prepared Charlotte tubers for planting now I couldn't resist. They arrived yesterday and as they don't need chitting (see instructions below.....clickable to enlarge the photo) I planted them out in my spare deep bed in the back garden. They said it would be 10 tubers but it was actually eleven and they nicely fitted in the bed at the correct spacing. I gave the bed a heavy dose of chicken manure pellets, and watered each spud in well. Later I will soak the bed when I do the tunnel.
When the time comes I will earth them up with compost from the Daleks, and the instructions recommend covering the bed with fleece after October.

I mentioned that Wet-n-grow wetting solution the other day which I had applied to these deep beds and I have to report that I am thrilled with the results. From resembling a concrete path the bed now cultivates beautifully, and the soil has taken in the recent rain perfectly and was a dream to work. That stuff is well worth the money. I have ordered another bottle as they recommend dosing about once a month. I still have half a bottle but don't want to run out.

I know that with my back problems this spring the writing is on the wall for the plot but I have a while to perfect using the back garden veg plot to the max. I tried the spuds in bags method this spring and wasn't impressed with the results, but am willing to persevere. If I can make a success of that I can get more bags, or dustbins even....we have three spare since we went for a wheelie bin to foil the wretched bin-raiding Whippet that lives here....and line them up along the path to the back gate against the west facing wall and probably end up with as many as I get from the two large beds at the plot.

The other thing I need to do to make the plot redundant is to try to incorporate as much fruit into the garden here as possible. I think I should be giving up some of the flower beds for fruit. We already have some very productive fruit trees, a Victoria Plum and a Conference Pear. We planted a cultivated blackberry this spring here at home, and with a bit of effort I'm sure I could get more raspberries and the gooseberry here somewhere.
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Thursday, July 16, 2009


I went back to weed the brassicas this afternoon, and DH came by with the dogs and asked what I was going to put in the newly cleared bed now and I explained that I would probably put it under green manure because I had nothing to put in it. As if by magic a fairy godmother on a neighbouring plot came across with a bunch of leeks which she had over from her plot. So the bed now has leeks in it.

DH noticed the dire state of the paths and brought the strimmer down the paths are now done too. The cut bits do fly everywhere but I'm not raking it off the'll soon wilt.
I tidied up the large square bed (top left in this picture) and sowed it with buckwheat as a green manure. The seed packet says it is good for places where you only have a couple of months before you need the bed again. These can be cleared before the end of September when I need to get the late cabbages in.

I also put buckwheat in the bed behind the beetroot.
I cut off the dead haulms from the Charlotte potatoes and dug up two of them. The yield looked very good (haven't weighed it yet). I raked up the grass from the paths and strewed it over the spud beds to try to keep the light away and to keep the spuds damp. I will leave them like that til I want them. Looks like we'll have plenty.

Now I have had enough so sit down jobs are calling me....
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At last.....the last bed cleared.

Two peaceful hours spent at the plot this morning taking advantage of the shade from the large beech tree enabled this much progress. The bed was thick with weeds as it hadn't been touched since last autumn when I dug out the spuds. I took 3 barrowloads of weeds to the compost heap from here.......I'm glad it is done now. It looks small here but it is actually 10ft x 4ft.

It will lie low now until I need to plant the cabbages later....September probably. I am thinking of putting down a green manure crop until then, but if anyone has any suggestions for something that'll be up and gone in 8 weeks I might consider another crop.
This is the next project...the far corner of the plot. There is a stand of comfrey that needs cutting now for mulching and compost, and a whole lot of nettles that also need dealing with. Also....all the paths at this end of the plot need attention. I like to keep them as just earth paths so that a quick hoe round keeps them clear.....but this year hasn't been like that. When I have caught up I will make sure not to let them get away from me again.

We also need to get the strimmer here and do the main paths and the weedy bank.

I saw that the beetroot for pickling seem to be must get to them in the next few days. And the other end of the brassica bed still hasn't been weeded and the kohlrabi looks ready too.
Does anyone have any suggestions for a tasty kohlrabi recipe? I usually grate it for salad but am bored with that now....

The spuds also are ready for digging. The Charlotte are going yellow, and the Desire have finished flowering and are beginning to turn. I think for both of these I will just cut off the tops and leave them in the soil til we need them. They keep so well like that and I don't need the space as I have nothing waiting to go in.

There is some talk that the Allotments will be given over to the Parish Council to oversee in future. We all hope so because then we may get something done about the untouched plot by mine. I have spoken up for it suggesting that if it does become vacant I would like to move to it as it gets more sun than mine. It won't have the tree sucking out all the water, and it won't have the weedy bank to look after either.
If I get it I will transfer all my fruit from the bank, and push the shed across. The shed on the plot has seen better days and mine is only 2 1/2 years old.
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Does anyone know what these are?

When we were in Cyprus on holiday last spring we were given this salad everyday. We loved it and I bought the seeds so that we can grow them ourselves.
I've just got round to sowing them and unfortunately the instructions are in Greek and I haven't a clue what they say. If I knew the English name for them I could look up cultivation instructions online.
NB Click on the picture for a larger view
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Monday, July 13, 2009

It looks so much better now.

I spent a long afternoon and part of this evening tidying the shed, garage, tunnel and kitchen garden. There was such a mess here outside the tunnel....pots and cloches and nets and tools.....all needing putting away properly. All done now and I did a good strim of the grass which had grown up between the pots and stuff. As you can see there is still a lot to do, but it does look so much better now and I feel better about it all.
The bed in the foreground is the one I marked into Sq Ft tthis morning. I have only sown sugar peas and some wonderful beans (Climbing Bean "Italian Gold"....present from a dear friend....coated in some pink powder....I'm hoping that will deter the wretched mice), and some radish "Topsi". I had to use some wetting solution on this bed, and the tomato, cabbage, sweetcorn and bean beds as my moisture meter was registering "dry" on all these beds. Those that I did last week with the wetting solution read "wet" with the meter. All have had the same amount of rain....looks like the stuff works...
In the tunnel the plants look OK except for the tomatoes. These have now had wetting solution applied to the grow bags. Hope they pick up soon. They have been fed, but are not happy. And even though they have been regularly watered until it ran out of the top of the grow bag the soil also registered "dry". We'll see what effect that has. The tomatoes we have had so far have all had pale tops....I believe that is a sign that they were too dry.

Had enough now!!!
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A dull photo..

I did say it'd be a dull photo!!!

This morning I sowed up a few more of the little sq ft areas. I trawled through my seed drawer and found some little packets a dear friend sent me a couple of months ago. I was so surprised to find that they are recommended for summer sowing. I really must tidy up my seed drawer....
So today I have sown....
Radish "Topsi"
Kale "Cavolo Nero" (Packet from last year)
Broccoli "Romanesco Navona"
Cabbage "April"
Cabbage "Durham Early"
Cabbage "Offenham 2 Flower of Spring"
And into another bed when I have finished my sit down with coffee Climbing Bean "Italian Gold". This last is intriguing. It says it can be sown as late as July so here goes! I'll bet it will be producing it's crop when we are in the US in September. Ah well! The dog sitters will enjoy them.....

The cabbages are a little experiment. Mel Bartholomew (Sq Ft Gardening author) suggests one cabbage plant per square. I think this is a bit close but we will see. I have done as he said and sown a tiny pinch of seeds in the middle of the rather than starting in pots.....and will see how they go on. I also sprinkled a few more seeds in each of the corners to get some early leaf pickings for salad.....these will be gone before the plant in the middle needs the space.

I just found some horrid holes in my (last week) healthy red cabbage plants. There was also a lot of insect "dust" in the middle of the plant. The others are all still I have sprayed the lot with an organic bug spray and will keep an eye on them from now on.

I am hoping this Square foot method will work better this time. Mel Bartholomew says if the beds are not marked out with something then it isn't Sq Ft Gardening. He is right.....! Marking out all those little squares encouraged me to try lots of small sowings of lots of different veg. If I find this a success then I will revert to just growing the bulk crops on the allotment (spuds, carrots, beetroot, broad beans for the freezer, and fruit) and keep the kitchen garden for our day to day meal stuff.

As an early Anniversary present (In September it'll be 38 years), DH has funded the purchase of some Link-a-bord deep beds for my tunnel. I now plan to take out everything this autumn, level off the floor, cover it with membrane, then install the beds. These have been specially made....2ft deep by the length of the tunnel (4 metres-ish!) and will go along the long walls. In the middle I will have the staging, with the lemon tree in its pot one end, and the dustbin of compost the other. There will be room for paths both sides of the staging. If I mark the beds into Sq Feet just like the garden I should be able to grow as much as I have now in the tunnel, and have good access to it all. At the moment I am struggling to get to it all.
I will have over 50 Sq Ft areas to sow in there. At 4 lettuces per square, or one plant such as tomato, cucumber, melon, pepper, etc it should be very productive. It will be a lot of work installing it, and I'll have to invest in some compost and vermiculite and peat substitute for it, but it will solve the problem of the soil getting stale in there......always a worry. I will also build a permanent climbing net behind the beds.....for tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, and courgettes. I have got some seeds of a climbing one I am anxious to try next year. It isn't self fertile so I'll have to get a brush to help it along, but it will be easier to manage than the huge monsters I have in there at the moment.

So....back to my gardening!
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Sunday, July 12, 2009

More seed sowing

Too late to take a decent photo, but a seed patch with nothing up is rather a boring subject anyway.

After lots of false starts I finally was able to get round to sowing the bed which had the onions in. I decided to really go for the Square Foot Garden method on this bed so have marked it with string into 1 ft squares and sown them. is the list...
Carrots "Early French Frame"
French Beans, "Duel", "Senesta" and "Safari"
Fennel "Romanesco"
American Land Cress
Spring Onions "White Lisbon"
Perpetual Spinach
Mixed Lettuce Leaves
Ditto....Oriental Mix
Basil "Sweet Genovese"
Pak Choi
Beetroot "Bikores"
Radish "Mooli"
Parsley "Rosette"
Radish "French Breakfast"
"Ruby" Chard
This bed will mainly serve as a salad bed as I shall pick the chard and spinach as young leaves rather than leave them to grow into winter veg.

I am relieved to have done last!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Alas for the Mole!

Poor little thing. DH thinks perhaps he couldn't find anything to was very dry on my plot.

While I was weeding the beans I had a blackbird for company....then he followed me to the cabbage bed and kept nipping in and out under the netting. I didn't find any worms though....too dry!
I attended to my carrot bed first. As shown here I sowed them before checking the length of my environmesh. The two rows not under the mesh are tiny as yet, whereas the stuff under the mesh is huge...despite being dryer. They do say that water passes through the mesh, but when I soak with the hose some rolls I bet the rain does too.

The beans that I sowed so late. All weeded now.

I decided to install pots in the ground to help get the water down to the roots as they seemed to be rather dry. As I arrived at the plots today there was a huge bag of plastic pots on the surplus seat. So I took some of them and here is where they ended up.

I had to encourage some of the beans to find the poles. It is very windy on my I have tied some of them closer to the poles to give them a hint.
The brassica bed. This is 20ft long, and I only managed half of it today.

The cabbage collars continually end up in one corner of the netting as they are easily blown off by the wind. I shan't buy this make again. They are the ones with copper in them to deter slugs. They are so soft and malleable that they are easy to put on....and easy for the wind to whip off. If I hadn't netted the bed I wouldn't have one left now.

As I replaced them I weighted them down with stones....hope it works!

Had enough for the day now. There is still plenty more to do at the plot, as there also is at home, and I hope to have caught up soon.........some hope! One day I might manage to get all the paths weeded too.....
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Sweet Peas

Today's picking. These were just a cheap "fragrant mix". They smell divine, and have super long (12") stems. I am picking a bunch like this every other day.

At the plot this morning I decided to get to grips with the weeds around the raspberry canes, as it is time to start picking them. I did the far side of them a few weeks ago so that wasn't too bad, but the path between the raspberries and the gooseberry bush and the rhubarb was really overgrown and impassable with 4 ft high nettles. I pulled all these up....not difficult as it is so dry and they very easily gave in. Then to my great surprise I saw that not only was there a small picking of the raspberries to be had (Autumn Bliss) , but the gooseberry bush was laden with fruit. Last year it had not a single berry, but it was laden this year. Is that the power of the manure heap I stacked around its roots last autumn, or due to the nettles that were keeping the birds away? Who knows? But I was glad to pick them. They will brighten up our weekend!

After pulling up all the nettles and having a good go at the bindweed I hoed the paths, then gave the comfrey which grows along the back fence another haircut and mulched the base of the raspberries with the chopped leaves and stems. It makes a wonderful soil conditioner and feed.

I will be going back later as there is still so much to do there......everything needs weeding. I'm hoping to do the carrots and the cabbages. My back is a bit stiff from this morning's efforts but I will keep at it as long as I can. It needs it.

I was sorry to see a mole lying dead by my courgette. I have no idea why he died......very sad.
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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Queen has an us!!!!,18R6,JK0GT,44P8,1
Click the small picture of the gardener girl to see the video

Monday, July 06, 2009

At the plot today

After lunch I went to the plot. The weather seemed to be cool enough for me to work in the sun as there was plenty of intermittent cloud cover. However it was fearfully windy, which was creating dust storms as I worked as the soil is so dry I stayed for an hour and then came home. (I checked with the IOW weather records and we were getting 25mph winds.) I was getting earache from the constant wind in the ears, my skirt kept flying over my head, and I was worried about the big tree. It is a beech and seems sturdy enough, but a branch came off a beech at my sister's house this week and a car was crushed flat! I decided to come again tomorrow instead!

I did do some tidying but there is still a mountain to do here.
I cleared the broad bean bed, and tidied the poor little courgette bed (late sown and only one came up. I think he will catch up as he seems healthy!)
I pulled out the cheeky tall weeds in the spud bed.

I harvested the volunteer spuds in last years spud bed. Enough for two weeks eating I think. The bed will be wanted for winter cabbage so I have a while yet before needing to tidy it completely.

A view of the Brussels sprout and other brassicas bed....netted against the dreaded butterflies. I really should weed that soon.
The bed in front is the last one at the plot still waiting to be cleared for this year. That too will be for winter no hurry.
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In the tunnel

Onions , garlic and shallots drying in the tunnel .

The big LH bed in the tunnel. Lemon tree at the back.....a few small fruits on it. Next to that a little melon plant, and a cucumber. The big plant up the tunnel frame is a cucumber which is doing very well....a cue every two days at the moment.....just enough for us!
Also in this bed are the early courgettes.....I'm picking two a day from these. They are a self-fertile variety and are doing much better than the ones I tried in here last year.
There are also peppers and aubergines in this bed but they are a bit smothered by the courgettes....
As are the strawberries which edge the path. I think I won't bother with these next year....they haven't done very well this year. They are jut babies it is true as they were just runners last year, but I am re-doing the tunnel this autumn , details later, and I don't think they will fit in as edging plants.

The RH side of the tunnel has the tomatoes , some strawberries along the path, marigolds (french to deter the white works!), a physallis, 2 tomatilloes, some very sorry for themselves luffas (shan't bother with them again) and some chillies.
The tomatoes were late going in and have a lot of fruit on them, but are slow to ripen. We have had a few, but there are lots to come.
All in all I don't seem to be as far behind as I had feared. I have worked out here for many hours this last few days and am beginning to catch up at last.
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Today in my kitchen garden

Photos to show the state of play in my back garden vegetable plot.
Here are the bed I cleared this morning that had the peas, beetroot and carrots in sq ft sized areas. I have weeded it and taken out the seeded spinach and radishes. I am ready to re-sow with other stuff now.
The RH front bed is a bean and sweet pea bed. There are also some marigolds that have volunteered their efforts, as well as what I assume to be a self sown pumpkin or squash. I always leave volunteers and am curious to see what this one is. The sweet peas are just a fragrant mix, and they have super long stems. We are getting a huge bunch every two days. I love this time of year....!
The back RH bed is also beans and some sweet peas. There are also onions in there as companions.
The back LH bed is the outdoor tomatoes that my good friend in Kent gave me.....type unknown. They are growing well in spite of having been watered with tap water for some weeks now (we haven't had nearly enough rain!)
The other 4 of the 8'x3'6" beds are shown here. Front LH bed is just cabbages at the moment as the Broad beans and peas which were in there have finished. I have laid today's harvest of onions (gone to seed so for early consumption) and Eschalotte Grise shallots. These latter look very good and I am sure they will taste spectacular!

The front LH bed has the sweetcorn in it.....doing well, and some Hestia runner beans that just grow low (I don't hold with sowing sweetcorn and runner beans together no matter what Carol Klein says....the beans wrap their tendrils round and round the cobs so you can't harvest them without sacrificing the bean stems....the low growing ones are my compromise idea.)
Right at the front of the bed is a huge cabbage (see next photo) which still hasn't hearted up so I am leaving the lovely thing to fill out.
The back LH bed is planted with red cabbage, purple sprouting broccoli, fennel and leeks. All liking each other's company and looking very healthy.
Here is the aforementioned cabbage. The only one of a set I planted out last Autumn. The others just sat there reproaching me and refuse to stop sulking and out they went to make way for the sweetcorn. Can someone tell me why some plants sulk and others just want to please?
The asparagus bed is being left now til next year to re-coup its reserves. And the empty bed is the one where the bulk of my onion, garlic and shallots which I harvested this week were growing. The bed is now ready for re-sowing....Square foot method ....with salads etc I think. But I am letting it have a week or two to settle and perhaps show some weeds (bindweed was in evidence....I weeded it out but may have missed a bit) and then I'll re-weed it and sow seeds. The weather is a bit hot for salad sowing at the moment...I don't want them to bolt.
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Long Time No Post!!!

Here I am! The last month has been sooooo busy that I have failed to record my progress here. I have been generally watering everything because of the hot weather, and harvesting what is ready to eat, and enjoying what I have done.....but there was no time for photos and posting.

This morning I thought I ought to have a look at the Square Foot bed I sowed a couple of months ago. The beetroot are ready to pull, and will be eaten in the next couple of days. The sugar snap peas....."Super Sweet" from Kings Seeds...were all of a tangle because I had forgotten to stake them. They were absolutely loaded. I had to pull them up to get at the peas.....which was a shame as I think I could have left them and had a few more. Next year I'll make a wigwam for them....

Some of the other seeds I planted in that bed either never showed or were only sparse.....I should have gone back and re-sown....but life wasn't like that last month. I caught some kind of summer flu that wiped me out for a fortnight, and then we had visitors.....! (DH believes it was Swine Flu, and I am inclined to think he was right. Two days before it came out I was in Coventry.....which is right next door to one of the the hotbeds, Birmingham.)

We harvested one of the bags of potatoes two weeks ago....very sparse results. We decided they needed a bit longer and a lot more water. I harvested another bag yesterday and that was a bit better....still nothing like the results they show in the adverts.......but I reckon there were 10 spuds from each seed potato.....which I suppose isn't bad. This bag was damper than the first so I think we are getting the watering right at last. Next year I will stand each of the bags in an old washing up bowl so that the water doesn't run away before it has a chance to soak in.

The onion bed has been harvested. These (onions, garlic and shallots) were planted last Autumn and have made a middling crop. The shallots are terrific, the onions are so-so....some large (huge actually....5" diameter), some small, and some were trying to flower so we must eat them soon as they won't keep! The garlic was also so-so....some beautiful....some rotted away under the soil.
The bed was very dry and rock solid (the soil at home here is not spectacular...unlike my wonderful allotment. But I had to do the onion crops at home this year as my whole crop got white rot last year and most had to be thrown away. The crop at home was that seems to be the way to go. I have started to give the deep beds at home a wetting solution dose once a month so that the water actually goes into the soil and spreads rather than the soil setting like concrete.

Later today I am off to the plot....the weather is dull and damp today so I can cope. There was just too much sun there last week for me to be comfortable....
Pictures later.