Sunday, 7 August 2011

Last chance to sow

The allotment is now running at full speed and every visit results in a bounty of veg - just today I came home with the first cucumber, a slightly over-large courgette, new potatoes, raspeberries, onions and more french beans than I know what to do with.

Evenings are drawing in but there is still plenty left to do, there are still a couple more weeks in which to sow seeds, and in fact seed germination was so poor this spring that you might find it easier to get things growing now. Today I put in more fennel, lettuce, chinese greens and a slightly optimistic Japanese Kale which can also be used as a green leaf. Hopefully these will come through to fill the gaps left by the finished peas and completly disasterous spinach.

Now I'm just waiting for that first ripe tomoato.

Monday, 20 June 2011

In Praise of...The Hoe

So it appears my last post was in March, ahem. Sorry about that. Despite appearances I have been busy digging and planting, the allotment has battled through the dry weather and it at last starting to produce food. This year has turned out to be incredibly busy; I changed jobs, went to Manchester, went to Dudley, went to Croatia, saw numerous friends and even managed to fit in a few concerts but despite this my allotment is relatively weed free. The reason is simple; my hoe.

Rarely mentioned, my hoe is quite simply my can't live without allotment tool (well ok, I need my fork and spade too, oh and I use my watering can a fair bit as well). Coming quite late in my purchases I finally had my "Ah Ha" moment a few weeks ago when a fellow allotmenter kindly offered to "Hoe up" a weedy area for me, I finally realised that waiting until I had time to dig the ground and clear the weeds properly was exactly where I was going wrong, everyone else is simply hoeing them down.

Oh course they come back, if it's hot and wet they'll be back before the day's out but it doesn't matter, clearing an area with a hoe is so quick and easy that you can whizz round and clear the worst of the weeds* in half an hour and if you persist, the weeds not only don't self-seed everywhere but are also weakened so when you do finally get around to digging them up the tangle of roots stands no chance.

So next time the ground is so dry you can't get a fork into it, or you're rushing to get home in time to feed to family reach for the hoe and enjoy the beautiful, if temporary, weed free allotment**.

* - Couch grass remains annoyingly resistant to my hoe
** - obviously I still have some weeds but compared to last year...well lets just say it's much better.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

First sowings

This year seems to be taking on a life of its own, and sadly there is only limited time for gardening hence my posts being very few and far-between. I don't think you need me to say that I am woefully behind but really I'm already at least a month behind and it's only March!

I have managed to sow some peppers, aubergines and chillis but, so far at least, only the chillis seem to be thriving. I expect I'll try another sowing next week. Today I put in some assorted lettuce seed and some beetroot but there is still plenty to do.

My potatoes are chitting but things seem to be going very slowly which is concerning. Hopefully they'll be ready to put into the ground soon, mind you I'll have to finish digging the potato bed first...

On a positive note the garlic is doing really well and I'm still harvesting leeks from last year which is impressive.

Here's hoping for a sunny weekend next week so I can actually get some stuff done!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Seedy start to the year

This year's seeds have arrived! I love this time of year when everything is still in the planning stage, the allotment is half dug and I can sit inside with a cup of tea and dream of the bumper harvests. Sadly we all know that not everything will go smoothly but part of the fun is seeing just what will thrive this year.

I will be growing 'True and Tender' parsnips, 'Giant Red' red carrots and having another try with the 'Diamond' aubergines. After last year's success I am repeating the 'Wautoma' cucumbers but this time I'm going to follow the instructions and try and save some seed! In fact, all of my seeds are from 'Real Seeds' so in theory, since none are F1 varieties, I'll be able to save seed from all my vegetables. Watch this space...

Tomato wise I'm going to risk growing a few plants on the allotment so alongside 'Latah' and 'Gardener's Delight' I'll be growing 'Galina' and 'Solanum Spontaneum' which is an intriguing orange currant variety.

Also going into the new category are some blue 'Azur' khol rabi and a brocolli raab. All of these will join the usual brassicas, salads, beans, potatoes and leeks that I have seed left over from.

Now I just need to finalise a planting plan and quickly work out where the seed gaps are. How is your planning going?

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Happy New Year

The last few months of 2010 went a little mental so sorry for the lack of posts. I did manage to get my sister through a wedding, and of course give her a proper send off with a rather boozy hen night, and then there was some craziness at work which doesn't look like it will be fully sorted until February.

All of that and the terrible weather has meant considerably less time was spent at the allotment. As a result the allotment is looking very weedy, even with all the snow and ice there are lots of things growing and it's just a shame they're not things I can eat. I have managed a couple of recent visits so the digging has at least begun but once your feet have doubled in size and the spade is twice as heavy with wet mud I start to wish for a cup of tea and a warm sofa.

Late in November I found time to plant 'Sicilian Red' and 'Lautrec Wight' garlic in the raised beds at home, where they will hopefully avoid the rust I have had trouble with at the allotment. Since then I have been given some garlic bulbs by a kind neighbour so I will be putting in a couple of rows on the allotment too.

I still have kale, cabbages, brocolli, celeriac, parnips and leeks growing but annoyingly now that my rabbit proofing has stopped the rabbits eating everything it has given the pigeons a good chance. It looks like next year will see the purchase of some proper netting for the brassicas.

Now I just need to get my seed order placed before the VAT rise.

Happy New Year!