Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Hardening off

Normally I give hardening off a skip and just leave the poor plants to suffer the shock of the great outdoors, but with the weather being so changeable (read shit) and with my entire collection of globe artichokes having come courtesy of mum (read cannot be re-sow), this year I have been attentively hardening off the sweet peas and globes.

Every morning I trudge between the crappy greenhouse and the patio moving the 15 or so pots of sweet peas and similar number of globes to a sunny position, later than night, usually after they have experienced some torrential rain, I trudge back and forth again to move them under cover. It would, of course, be easier if I had bought some more gravel trays to put all the pots into so that I could move them in one go but there you go. Live and learn and all that.

According to books this should go on for 2 weeks, the sweet peas have been moving for a week and the globes for 5 days but I have decided that enough is enough, everything is still alive so if the weather is reasonable at the weekend they are all going out for good!

Saturday, 26 April 2008


The sun has finally managed to coincide with the weekend. I spent most of the day at the allotment and have finally managed to get all the potatoes planted out, no small task when you include the actual digging of the bed first!

Elsewhere spring seems to be here, the plum tree is in blossom, as are the 2 apple trees in my garden, and the raspberries are starting to sprout. I have starting hardening off the sweet peas and globe artichokes so with a bit of luck they will be ready to be planted out over the bank holiday. I just need to get the rest of the seeds sown and I will be ready for the growing to begin.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Gardeners World Seed Trial 2008

I am very excited to have been chosen to join in the Gardeners World Seed Trial 2008! I have now been sent a packet of sunflower Mezzulah F1 to try and grow, it is a poll free semi-dwarf variety so it should complement my normal sunflowers which I am planning to sow this weekend.

I decided to apply for the sunflowers rather than the tomatoes because I am already planning on growing quite a few tomato plants this year whereas sunflowers will be good in the garden and on the allotment to attract bees. Fingers crossed all goes well!

Saturday, 12 April 2008


Over the last couple of weeks I have come to the conclusion that I have not killed the raspberry canes or the plum tree that I planted out last year, in fact all seem to be slowly coming to life as the weather improves. Buoyant by the arrival of the first baby raspberry leaves I have turned slightly fruit mad, it started with the new strawberry plants, 6 'Hapil' and 6 'Cambridge Favourite'. Last year I grew some strawberries in a pot but after the nightmare of trying to keep them watered, even last year, has convinced me to make some space in the raised beds. Foolishly I choose 2 last summer varieties so I think I am heading straight into a Strawberry glut and I don't think strawberry soup is going to be the solution...

Last year I claimed a free blueberry plant from Gardener's World but sadly the twiggy little thing died over winter so I have finally replaced it with a slightly more robust looking sample, due to blueberry plants loving acid conditions I have it in a pot on the patio. The variety is 'Bluecrop' which is a apparently a vigorous upright grower and hopefully also a prolific fruiter. It already has some buds on it so hopefully there will be blossom soon.

Finally I surrendered to a Blackcurrent bush to go on the allotment, after reading that 90% of all blackcurrents are turned into juice I was overcome by a desire to actually eat the little things. The variety 'Ben Sarek' is a compact bush but heavy yielding and according to Ken Muir the berries are unusually large, which sounds alright to me.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Free seeds

The Guardian newspaper is giving away free seeds with today's newspaper, well you get the coupon to use to send off for the seeds in the paper. They are giving away cabbage seeds 'Guardian' which I think is a summer cabbage but as there doesn't seem to be much info on the web I will have the wait for the seeds to arrive before I know the full details. Still I have completely omitted to buy any cabbage seeds this year so I think that for the price of a newspaper this is a pretty nice offer.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Almost spring

Today was almost a spring day, if it just hadn't been raining and snowing then it would have been lovely. All week has been dry and yesterday, whilst I was at work of course, was a beautiful day so I had high hopes for today.

As it is now spring (in my mind I mean) I was determined to get some seeds into the ground, everything which has been grown in pots inside is doing amazingly well, even the peppers have germinated, but it simply isn't the same as actually putting seed into the ground. So today I set off to the allotment to enjoy some surprisingly warm sunshine, as I forked over the bed, marked lines and hoed the drills all was good, as I started to sow the seeds the snow arrived. As I determinedly continued the rain arrived, and wouldn't stop.

Anyway Seeds are in and covered with some bubble wrap on account of all my fleece having been commandeered by OH for germinating grass seed, apparently grass is more important than carrots, heres hoping that the seeds germinate.

Luckily I am not too upset about the poor weather because I have received a rather great book: 'The Allotment Book: Seasonal Planner and Cookbook', for those of you who have read 'The Allotment Book' then this is the follow up, if you haven't read either then they are highly recommended. I am now salivating over all the tasty recipes that I will be able to cook using my own crops!