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

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Experiment a success!

Back in July (19th) I tried some later planting of spuds to get a so-called Christmas dinner crop of new potatoes. They were Charlotte, from Mr Fothergills. There were 15 tubers and I put them in one of our deep beds in the Kitchen Garden here at home.
In September the tops were all brown so I cut them down; but left the spuds in the ground under a good layer of grass mowings to keep out light.
Today I dug up one plant's worth and was pleasantly surprised. The plate above shows what came up, and the weight of the product of that one plant was 1.1kilos.
I have no idea if that is good or bad, but I am pleased with it and feel that the experiment was worth trying.
I haven't tried potatoes in the deep beds before as I was worried about earthing up and getting the soil all over the paths. I didn't do much earthing up but did put lots of mowings on the bed to build it up.
They were so easy to dig up. I pulled up the rotten stalk stubs I'd left in to show where they were, then just felt around in the soft soil til I found the spuds. I finished off with the fork but most of them were found just by feeling for them
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Friday, October 30, 2009

Have a look at this!

How would you like an allotment here.....
It is somehwre in N England and I pinched the link from Skippy's Vegetable Garden Blog

More jobs done today....

A well used morning in my kitchen garden. I decided to continue the Autumn tidy up here at home.
Firstly I cut off the yellowing asparagus tops (bed nearest the tunnel). Then I cleaned the bed.
I strimmed the grass between the beds.
I moved the pots back to alongside the tunnel.
I tidied up the incinerator area, and piled the next lot of garden rubbish into the barrow ready for a fire later today.
Don't the compost "Daleks" look pleased with themselves? They are all stuffed to the top with goodness waiting for a bit of worm action.
I have some work to do in the corner by the tunnel here under the plum tree. I am going to move the barrels to the other end of the tunnel so that I can get round this side to clear away the brambles. The area under the plum is full of pernicious weeds that need properly clearing away.
Also this morning I sowed some winter salads in the spare row of Sq feet (under the fleece tunnel in the second photo). Spinach, lettuce, spring onions, rocket and mizuna.
This far bed needs a lot of attention over this winter. I want more fruit in it.
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And this photo shows what needs doing in the area just by the tunnel. DH has started clearing the brambles from behind, and I need to clear the clutter away from in front of the tunnel to make a nice corner.

There is also lots to do inside the tunnel to re jug it with my new plastic deep beds. It is going to be rainy within the next week....perhaps I'll get a chance then...

Broad Beans

Just for my records....
Sowed the broad bean "Bunyard's Exhibition" that I got from Alan Romans (99p for 31 seeds) in the last empty bed in the back garden.
I have ordered some "Aquadulce Claudia" (a bigger pack, from Kings via the allotment society) for the bulk beds at the plot for feeding the freezer (!), but the little bed in the back garden will be handy for picking for meals.

I am hoping for a full day gardening today as I'm sure there can't be many more days of this Autumn mellowness left.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I love the smell of bonfires....

This afternoon DH cut the brambles away from behind the tunnel and I have started a fire with the "proceeds"! I love the smell of an Autumn garden rubbish bonfire, where the stuff to burn is all vegetation. Shirtsleeve weather again. Very pleasant!

I also weeded out the Sq Ft salad bed. There are a few empty squares which I will have to think about what to put in them, or even whether to just fertilise and leave 'til spring. There are a number of good salads still left in there, and some small brassicas which will do a meal each when they fill out. The beans are finished as are the red radish. The mooli look good.

This morning I went to the plot and had a good look at my projected rotation for next year. Where the spuds were this year will be the cabbages next; where the carrots and beets were this year will be manured for spuds next year; where the beans were this year is where the carrots and beets will be next year; and where the cabbages were this year will be where I will have the squashes etc. next year. That should work!

I also harvested the last of the carrots (a bucketload), and cleaned the bed. And the last of the beetroots....another bucketload for pickling, perhaps tomorrow; and cleaned the bed. And the pumpkins; and cleared the vine to the compost. All in all a VERY productive morning.
It is beginning to look much more cared for at the plot.....At Last!!!

Now to walk the dogs...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Compost....and a bonfire

A today was shirtsleeve weather here on the Isle of Wight I thought it the perfect opportunity to turn the compost. I have 4 "daleks". I slipped the first one up from its contents, stood it next to the pile and then refilled it using a fork.....well mixed. I repeated this with the others then went inside for a good sit!
The exercise has compacted the 4 overflowing "Daleks" into just over 3....freeing up space for the product of the autumn clear-up. I still have two front beds to sort out, and the Sq Ft salad bed.

After my coffee I went out and emptied the incinerator of about a foot of ash. Then refilled it with a goodly layer of paper, dried everlasting sweet pea stems, lots of twigs and finally the thick stems from cabbage etc. This burnt very merrily. It never ceases to amaze me that whatever way the wind is blowing, and wherever I station myself to tend the fire, the smoke always chases me round.

After lunch I started it off again with all the brambles I cut from behind the compost bins.

Then I strimmed the grass areas of the Kitchen garden.

After that I walked the dogs through the allotments, digging up some spuds and cutting a small cabbage for dinner. I am hoping to get to the plot tomorrow to continue with the autumn clear-up there. Lots of harvesting to do....hundreds of beetroot for pickling, carrots to dig up, pumpkins to bring home....

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The versatile cucumber.....

The amazing cucumber

(This information was in The New York Times several weeks ago as part of
their "Spotlight on the Home" series that highlighted creative and fanciful ways to solve common problems.)

1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.

2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a
cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that
can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.

3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like

4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long.
The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminium to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.

5. Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few
minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works
great on wrinkles too!!!

6. Want to avoid a terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before
going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free.
Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover
and headache!!

7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening nacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and
explores for quick meals to thwart off starvation.

8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don't have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the
shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.

9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge?
Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!

10. Stressed out and don't have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals
and nutrients from the cucumber with react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown the reduce stress
in new mothers, and college students during final exams.

11. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don't have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for
30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemcials will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.

12. Looking for a 'green' way to clean your faucets (taps), sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean,
not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but it won't leave streaks and won't harm your fingers or fingernails while you clean.

13. Using a pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing, also works great on crayons and markers that the
kids have used to decorate the walls!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

This may be a waste of time but.....

When we got back from holiday I found that an order for little plug plants (that I had expected my dog sitters to take in and look after) had been held at the post office for 9 days as they had been unable to deliver it! I collected them thinking I'd just have to bin them when I got home.

They were wrapped in sets of 5 plants in greaseproof paper, all within a little cardboard box, and they all looked very dead! So I put the whole lot in water to see what would happen. This was two weeks ago. Since then I have noticed a distinct greening of the little leaves and today investigated further and found that 13 of the 20 plants had been resurrected! Today I put them out in a patch that isn't requiered 'til next spring....just to see.

There were 4 cabbage "Excell", two Caulis "Carol", 4 Sprouting Broccoli "Aquilles", and two Calabrese.

They are very tiny...poor little things.

I also sowed two rows of Peas "Meteor". These were packed for year ending 2006, for sowing bt 2007. I soaked them and they were showing signs of sprouting so I have sowed them rather thickly. We love pea sprouts in salads so I'm prepared to thin them if they come up too close together.

This may all be a waste of time.....but we shall see!!!!
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

How about that then.....?

The arches were ordered yesterday, and today they arrived.....8 of them. £8.99 each, free P&P...what a bargain! I've put one together to see what's what and it is a simple job to erect them. I've put one in place (there will be two straddling the path at the end of each bed) and pushed it about 6 inches into the soil. It will go in over a foot, and that is what I will do when I put them in for real as they are very high. I might not be able to reach my beans without a ladder!!!

The span is 4'7" which is just right, as it means they reach from 1ft. into the bed, across the path and 1ft. into the opposite bed leaving a perfect stretch of soil for planting within the arch.
It'll be a simple matter to run strings over the hoops each spring for the beans etc to twine around.

I was very surprised at the quality for the price....

Anyway...if anyone is interested I got them from here...they have a sale on at the moment.

I won't do the rest until the need!

Also, you will notice the net curtain covering the vine. We are eating grapes every day. The grapes are not huge, the biggest about thumbnail sized, but they are sweet and juicy.
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Onions in!

The state of play in my back garden veg plot. The eight beds are now weeded for the winter and I have also given the strawberries their Autumn haircut. (back lh bed) The front Sq ft bed (front left) is empty apart from some marigolds (I always leave them wherever they come up because they cheer me up!) and some of that salad I got in Cyprus....tasty!
The back netted bed has broccoli in it and some red cabbage still hearting up....nicely!
The front bed with the white labels now has shallots at 4"apart(25 "Grise") and Garlic at 4"apart(24 "Albigensian Wight") and "Radar" onions in.
The back beds here are (middle front) the spuds which I put in in late July. Tops now dead and cleared. I'll dig these when I need them. Behind that is the other onion bed...Red Onion "Electric", White Onion "Bianco" (these were so beautiful...healthy and so white) and the rest of the net of "Radar". I have put all of these at 2" spacing . There are only two of us and a 4" spacing produces huge onions that are too big for us.

The front and back rh beds are empty at the moment, except for a couple of volunteer leeks. I will be putting the broad beans in one and some Meteor peas in the other.

Next year I am going to do all the climbing stuff a different way. I have ordered some metal arches which I will install to provide an arch over the path between the front and back beds. I will grow the beans, sweet peas, climbing courgettes, tomatoes and cucumbers up these. This will eliminate that difficult to get at weedy spot within the bamboo wigwams that I find such a pain to weed....and always leave leave!. It will also ensure that all the produce presents itself well for picking....! should look nice too. We shall see.
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Friday, October 16, 2009

The sun was shining...

The sun was shining so I had to go out and do my back garden. I have cleared or weeded three more of the beds, and planted up my pots with bulbs. These are to put round the front door next spring.
I harvested two beautiful red cabbages which the creepy crawlies were just beginning to attack(three more left in the beds for later), and a whole bowlful of green tomatoes. The plants had died (I think there was an almost frost the other night) but the toms were still beautiful and shiny. I think I might do "fried green tomatoes" with them.
I cleared the bean wigwams and saved the seed from my "Cosse Violette" French climbing beans, and from the "Inchley's White" runner beans (Heritage Seed Library last year). I haven't done that before so I'm hoping they are successful.
When I'd finished the back garden was in shadow pics tomorrow.

Life is good!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A productive afternoon....

No time to go "plotting" today but I did find a couple of hours to start sorting out the back garden deep beds. I have tidied up 3 of them and got them winter ready.
The Sq Ft bed nearest the gate was a bit untidy with spent pea and bean haulms. But there is also a sq ft of those Cyprus salad leaves that I posted about on here a while ago. They are wonderful and seem to be happy even though the weather is not as warm as Cyprus!!!
The bed is weeded and tidy now and ready for next spring.
The spud bed had very straggly tops. These are the late spuds....bought as suitable for harvesting in December. I have left them in the ground for now. I don't know what is going on underground, or how successful they have been. I suppose I should dig up one plant and see.
The bed with the sweet pea and runner bean wigwams, which also had a volunteer pumpkin vine in it has now been cleared. The 8 inch diameter pumpkin that it achieved is now on the staging in the polytunnel ripening.
This last bed was the most awful orangey coloured hard soil when I started it off three years ago. I have piled manure and compost into it every year since and it is now lovely dark brown loam, teaming with life. I might try carrots in it next I won't put any more compost or manure on it this winter.

Have you seen this?

There is a new garden show, being held for the first time next March, at Stoneleigh (near Coventry). It is called The Edible Garden Show, and is just about gardening for the table. This sounds like just what I need........reasons....
  • it's in the spring....before I have my garden set out for the year and in time for me to make changes,
  • it is just about veg gardening
  • presumably there will be seeds for sale

I have booked a hotel so that I can stay two days. The tickets are not available yet, but I will post when they are. I have put my name down and they will e-mail when to apply.

To read more about it look here

Anyone else fancy going? I'd love to say "Hello!" if we are there on the same day......

I usually go to Chelsea, but they don't do very much in the way of veg ideas, so this is going to be on my must do list each year, and I won't bother with Chelsea any more....

Monday, October 12, 2009


A beautiful sunny afternoon so I answered the plot's calling me and went for two hours.

First I dug some spuds! Desiree of course.
Then I uncovered the little cabbages from their net and weeded the bed thoroughly. I also sprayed the whitefly.....the blighters were all over the poor little plants. Then I re-arranged the hoops and netting so that it was higher, and secured it all round against pigeons and rabbits.
The leek bed was beginning to be invaded by that weed (I call it mares' tails, but am not sure of its real name) which has roots that go down as far as Australia (!). That is all pulled out, and the soil loosened and weeded out.
Then I turned to the other brassica bed. I noticed that there was plenty of broccoli (stupid me bought some this morning!!!) and a lot had flowered. I've cut off everything that was there and put the flowery bits in the compost and brought the rest home. I think I'll blanch it this evening and freeze it against a "rainy day"!

This bed is next on the list for a thorough weeding.....

After I had straightened up from all that I decided to call it a day. There is still a mountain to do but I am feeling much better about it all.
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Thursday, October 08, 2009

A little progress....

Two hours at the plot this morning brought some order to more of the beds. I finished weedingthe spud bed and the one after it, and came across to the other spud bed and tidied that up.
I pulled up all the pea beans and the bamboo pole framework, and weeded out that bed too. I pulled off the beans still hanging. They are too mature to use green but will make good soup as just the bens without the pods.

So....6 beds of the 18 are now sorted. I will have to green manure some of them for the winter.
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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Catching up on blog reading.....

...but cannot seem to access Allotment Lady from my favourites list. Has something changed? Lottie...if you read this perhaps you can set me right again.....thanks!

Lost the Plot!!!!

We got back from a long holiday on Friday, but I was only able to inspect the plot today. It was of course weedy, and there was plenty to do. Nothing had been picked for over a month so all the climbing beans and caulis had gone to seed. But there was stuff to harvest, so I dug two 4ft rows of carrots, and picked some string beans.
I also pulled out a heaped barrrow full of seeding tall weeds that were waving at me cheekily, then properly weeded bed 1. I decided to not worry too much about the state of it but just to plod around the beds weeding systematically....hoping that the plot inspector appreciates that I am working on it.
I was hoping to go back this afternoon to continue, but the rain is here and promises to stay for the rest of the day so I will spend a while in the tunnel (which is also a disgrace).
The postman brought my Van Haag seed catalogue this morning. This is the firm that gives allotment associations whacking discounts. I must compile my list for next year and give it to the fella that does the bulk order. I can do all that later with a cuppa after my polytunnel stint.

Lost the!

There seem to be three small skinned.
The raspberries are finished. The weeds are growing!

The beds are all weedy too.

And the beans are over. Lots of carrots ready to harvest and the beetroot have grown big enough for pickling too.
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Photos continued

Very untidy...lots to do!
A pity about the murkiness but I was able to get stuck in.....
The little cabbage plants are doing well, and the leeks. Malcolm said that the leek moth was active on some plots so I should inspect these soon to see if they are OK.
The caulis had gone to seed, but the brussels sprouts and the little fat solid cabbages in the long back bed are fine.
All these beds need weeding a.s.a.p. I did pull out all the tall weeds before I left and weeded out the first bed (just out of the middle photo ) and I will take some after pics tomorrow. Rain has stopped progress today....
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