Allotment, Grow Your Own

Pumpkins Progression;

After evaluation of this years pumpkin setting I feel my groundwork  was successful, the plants are thriving in the space and stretching out setting multiple fruit across the ground bed.

I set corn and 12 twelve cucurbits in a ten foot bed, these have all filled the space to provide a fabulous selection of fruit. My treasure is much smaller but I have visited once every few weeks to water the greenhouse and weed, so those everyday waterers and weeders are able to push it everyday. I have been working on home projects, that have been set aside as we have been blessed with another daughter, who is finally finding her feet!

Whilst I rely more on nature to produce my plants, I have time to nurture my seedlings, so  I visit if the rainfall is low, I really would like to work a space daily but my garden is our oasis. A summer haven, we open the doors into the garden and relax and play on the warm days, we grow a few home staples but a few tomatoes, nasturtiums and corn is hardly enough spade for the plants we set.

I sow everything but I do not panic if something vanishes, I just prefer to see what treasure our efforts deliver. This means every year is different, my plan is to see what succeeds without daily visits, the crops that will make the most of what is already there.

I do not stress as I know with the right conditions eventually I will find the space and process that I can utilise more frequently. However I prefer the forest style, planting in layers to restrict the weeds, vegetables are different as were they are set promotes weeds. Despite this my straw mulch suppresses the small mass of weeds and I rarely find more than a dandelion, where evasive weeds re-occur I can easily deal with them as the straw acts as bark would in no dig.

My energy is put into the seedlings, planting the strongest and nurturing the stragglers moving everybody on until they catch up or blossom in their own space. I can fill my greenhouse, plant what is needed and enjoy seeing what is delivered in our harvest!

This allows me time for everything, so the goals are achievable and we can share the process of growing something new. Plant seedlings in smaller spacing to avoid gluts of one crop, transplant the stragglers to maximise the crop, my version of thinning without wasting seedlings. I do not plant what we will not eat as the whole point is enjoying the process.

Do not get me wrong, I admire the pristine rows of set crops however I could not eat twenty courgettes so if I receive one every week it will not go to waste. If the next plant turns out to be something different what a bonus!

There is something glorious about the leaves and flowers and sets, the Gunnera of the allotment it is great to find the hidden gems set behind the grandiose foliage. One day I will grow a Halloween decoration the size of a tractor tyre, until then I will see what our efforts bring!

Decorative or for additions to our table, it fits my need to grow with my children!

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

 

 

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Harvests

September Harvest!

As I strolled around the allotment the beans were bundled together nicely, so after selecting mainly! I set them aside to dry out for seeds. With ten plants we have managed at least 10 punnets of beans, these have been added to our chilli’s and bulked up our Favourite meals.

Somehow we managed to grow a very unusual looking cabbage, its veining leaving it more a Halloween prop than food! It really is the most unusual thing, I think it will find its way to the compost pile as despite being perfectly formed it looks like a sci-fi creature which is really too unusual to eat.

The outdoor tomatoes look fabulous and had a punnet of green tomatoes, which I shall set to ripen on the windowsill. The greenhouse is too hot and dry for my tomatoes and cucumbers, my polycarbonate which blew to pieces retained moisture and I got amazing results. Its glass replacement just frazzles as the southern position, maximises heat and light on hot days.

My little treasure is a miniature pumpkin, the little jack is perfectly formed and will be a real treat for our autumn table. So as we return to wash and store our courgettes I am already planning the meals to add them to….

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

Grow Your Own, Recycling

Pop up shop!

After a previous post I decided to sell on a few of my extra plants from this years sowings. I prepared price and identification labels using stickers with the children as printed labels were not necessary for a home project.

I set a tiered stand to hold a variety of trays, including one I built from recycled pallet wood. A hammer and nails and your set just choose two side pieces for the width and use the pallet boards for the base and sides set length ways.

All of our tomatoes, Crassula, Heuchera, calendula and watermelon plants were presented for sale and set outside in a hope a few may be sold. After a few days we sold twenty eight plants at a pound per pot, their was enough for me to purchase a few more plug plants.

The watermelons plants in 9cm pots were added to the potato bed last week, some rows I left for an autumn regrow. The plants being so healthy it seemed a waste to restrict them in pots when they could be added to the ground bed. When I return they should be settled and preparing for stretching out and setting fruit.

I am choosing plants I would like for my empty pots, the cost is equivalent to paying for one or two large plants, the amount I receive I can make the most of the spares, the additional plants can be sold or donated. I have managed to fill a few of my pots with the smaller plants which most would have discarded for their need of a little revitalising.

So as the rain waters our allotment, something I am always thankful for I shall leave the weeds to another day and focus on home.

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

 

Crop - Seed to Table, Grow Your Own

Watermelon: seed to table

Yesterday I decided to share the results of our watermelon experiment; Last year we sourced seeds from our snacks during the holidays which made wonderful Seedlings, but due to late sowings they did not have time to produce fruit.

Last Easter we repeated the project, saving seeds and planted around forty seeds. With around twenty plants set at the allotment I was amazed to see the plants already setting fruit in our new ground bed.

As with all cucurbits, the seeds are ideal for planting with children and transplant easily as they are strong. Once potted on until the plant is well established they have taken hold and are growing well in the freshly manured ground.

These seedlings were down early but only began to germinate in June once the temperature levelled off, however I will still sow them around April as each year is completely different when it comes to germination.

As you can see this week we have several varieties setting fruit, these were again seeds sourced from our food, this week I plan to set some more to see if we can extend the growing season. Once pollinated the fruit forms at the base of the flower, swelling until it is eventually a fruit, courgettes, pumpkins, strawberries, apples, pears and plums all produce fruit from pollinated flowers.

The flowers which are a vibrant yellow can be fried in batter, edible additions. I am sure omelette recipes, summer salads are readily available, but adding bacon(if your non-vegetarian), onions, peppers with them to a stir fry or omelette would taste fantastic… I shall have to experiment.

Additionally I find it satisfying to grow on from seeds that we all eat, fair to say I buy melons and pineapples to stretch fruit until the weekend, as our children love them, they vanish quickly. So if you grow your favourite fruit and vegetables they will never go to waste… they will  require a lot of water though to produce good fruit but hopefully well worth the wait!

The allotment is set for a break in the heat, so after a day bringing water in as the heat wave continues, or in our case buying a shallow pool including fabulous inflatable creatures and play balls, today was due to be adventure day, but as it was too warm to venture far. I cringed momentarily at the Hawaiian skirts and flowers, but all in all my husband did well and they all had a great day, which will end with me cooling my feet in the water.

Happy propagating!

Cheryl

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Propagation

June

This month started with frosts, and the usual  family commitments which has set back the seedlings, but finally as the sun shines I have set up a stall to sell on my excess plants. The children are prepped with lists and prices to hopefully allow a few to find interest, Heuchera, tomatoes, watermelons and a few Dahlia cuttings are just a few we are already growing on.

At the allotment everything is setting off, courgettes, potatoes ,sweetcorn and a wide selection of Brassicas are growing well. This years strawberries are setting fruit, the first harvest to be collected this season, hopefully the first of many.

My plug plants finally arrived in the smallest  of trays and I have to say were very impressive, the Heuchera treated me to ten extra seedlings which I have divided from the multi set trays. I chose Purple palace as it has a wonderful contrast against our vast array of green within the levels of our garden. I got 52 plants for the cost of one established plant, I plan on scattering through our pots and baskets, growing a few on to sell or donate.

Weather permitting, the crops will be setting soon, courgette and pumpkin flowers are starting to form and will soon be filling the space … I have found a few packs of seeds which I would have left usually however , Salvia, zinnia’s  and cosmos have been set in the plug trays, these will happily grown on and with tlc add colour later on.

Along with finally setting narrows, sausages and pumpkins, I will sow a few more cabbages, broccoli and lettuce to ensure a winter crop, along with leeks and a second sowing of climbing beans. These will hopefully replace the broad beans, I have set seeds so i may have to add a wigwam to the tractor tyre border if they have managed to get germinate.

I bought a tarpaulins for a pound and cut large circles to line some old hanging baskets I had been given, I planted a pumpkin in each, adding lettuce seeds  and salad leaves  for a extra crop this month. I planted runner beans, sweetcorn and a pumpkin in two as an experiment to see how much can be planted in a small space.

The warm weather finally revitalising the new plants, enjoying the season as it begins to take shape.

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

 

 

 

 

 

Grow Your Own, Harvests

Harvest and Seedlings!

Despite feeling exhausted we set off out this morning, after a few hours of water watching by a local river we set off back to the allotment. I had collected 6 ornamental gourds see from a sale, a few pepper plants from a road see side sale later and we were ready to plant them out. These will fill a gap whilst we are waiting for our cucurbits to grow. After weeding the pumpkin bed we planted the gourds and two water melons into the ground bed.

I planned to plant twenty tomato’s in the ground, however they filled the greenhouse tripods perfectly, I shall take a further ten plants  along with our beetroot on the next visit. Seeing them filling the space makes me keen to plant the seedlings, however I want them to be strong and ready to flourish once they are planted out.

The peppers I potted into larger pots and set, them in a water tray in the greenhouse. After a good water, I collected a selection of hanging baskets in need of TLC These i intend to line and set with a selection of shrubs and plants which should arrive this week. 200  to be precise, a few for the empty pots around our garden and a few to sell on. At under thirty pounds I am looking forward to another project to grow on.

The last of the pak choi was needing harvest, along with a few red onions, I shall plant my beetroot in it’s place on our next visit. With the wet weather  it will not be long before the second sowing will be ready, it is definitely. Something I will grow again.

I collected 200 pint pots, wrongly priced on the shelf I got a great deal as they were labelled at 99 pence each. So when my shrubs and perenials arrive I will have a few little projects to create with my family, which will allow the shrubs to grow on to a reasonable size.

Using  left over wood I started to make a small garden stall for the girls to use in the garden,  to add in their play house as they pot on from the garden. A few other pieces and it will be ready for them to use.

Happy Harvests!

 

Cheryl

 

Grow Your Own

Le Jardin

This week I have spent a little time investing in a few treasures for some empty planters, it was a visit to a local superstore. The eventual choices were a small Acer and a modest olive tree, both of which cost under twenty pounds. I enjoy the texture and shape of both tree’s and know they will grow into their quiet corner perfectly.

This week I built up a garden tray for transporting seedlings into the allotment, the recent visits have shown wonderful potato plants finally filling the main bed, along with hundreds of brassica plants, kale and beans beginning to break the ground.

With a week off to spend with the children, I have been potting on seedlings in abundance… Despite clear labelling my cucurbits have suffered the usual predicament and I have several labelled pots which I shall use for identification. Plantings  in large quantities  of butternut squash  and honey few seeds which I have been looking forward  to seeing will be establishing their first leaves before their treasure is clear. As usual I will be happy to have any successful plants stretching through our newly dug spaces.

The new tray holds around sixty plants which I plan on setting on our summerhouse roof with the addition of a wind break, this will allow me to set more seeds on, allowing a greater diversity in plants. Ensuring we are not tripping over the vast amounts if planters.

The tomatoes set in the greenhouse have been watered regularly, I intend to plant a further ten plants as an outdoor crop, last years struggled with the heat so these should enjoy the diverse weather we are having.

I have created some presentations to sell a few of our extra seedlings, I plan to create a pop up stall at the our home. This will allow my children to help sell our wares, I may even ask a friend to help as it would be a perfect chance to catch up.

At the allotment we will be planting beetroot , Marmande tomatoes and various cucurbits. Last night I set some squash and turnips into trays. I hope to transfer the compost into the first cloche bed, it will then be perfect for a mix crop of seedlings.

So on a sulky Sunday morning I am happy to prepare  what we need for the week ahead, thankful that the rain will water on our crops, while we get on with our day!

Happy Horticulture,

Cheryl

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Harvests

May

After a month of cool weather my allotment has been set aside for work at home, my daughters have a new room to enjoy from our little break and I am enjoying family weekends with our youngest snuggled close.

Our garden is amazing this time of year, our small pond full with new life some of which I have set into a small tank for our toddler to watch. The rainwater aquarium is home to a collection of  tadpoles, water snails and with the addition of a few grass plants is ideal for watching them evolve into froglets’.

Our Clematis is the star this month, millions of pale pink, scented flowers cascade over our a self supporting arch. Their scent is as strawberry chocolate , which is heavenly  for this time of year. I have decided to try to make some dried flowers to see if it holds the scent, as it is so invigorating.

The work  in the greenhouse  has shown an abundance of tomatoes, I shall be setting them into the bean frames to try them as an outdoor crop. My beetroot sowings, leeks, and flowers are finally starting to show promise, the month flew by and I found no momentum to share the menial tasks. A few weeding  visits and crops are finally settling in.

The harvest has moved from broccoli to salad leaves, Pak choi to be precise, it has grown perfectly and our second sowings are just beginning to grow on. The leaves I rinsed with salt water and finely chopped, these can be added to a salad or stir fry, another quick meal to add to our table.

Yesterday I potted on my seedlings, tomatoes and watermelon plants to be set in plastic pint cups, the larger planters I hope to sell on as grow on pots. At a pound for fifty they are perfect for growing the seedings on from plugs, without the additional pots. As they are new they present the plants at their best and can easily be personalised if required.

New adventures as I have search for new plants and resources to work with, soon my potted on seedlings will get ready to set into fresh soil. Until then I will set the view this month…

 

Happy Horticulture!

 

Cheryl

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Propagation

Spring Shoots!

This morning as the weather shows vague promise of good weather I am planning another visit to the allotment! With this planned, the last visits treasure is still strong on my mind and the new shoots some from our little greenhouse and some from the ground are beginning to shine through.

The Cherry tree we planted in our first year is adorned with beautiful white flowers and may even fruit this year! The sight of Blossom is the true measure of spring for me, our home orchard add a majesty to our garden at this time of year. I look forward to seeing this tree growing on, set in a position in which it cannot shade over my neighbours plot it looks fantastic.

The Apple tree is set back behind our central compost bin, again this will cast shade as it grows however in the height of summer it will be good for anything growing on the  beds, as it will shade out the afternoon sun giving the plants a break from the heat.

Today I plan to collect our first bail of straw, the potatoes which are just beginning to show are just breaking the surface, as are the first weeds, also weeding and watering the potato bed. Once it is clear I can add a layer of mulch to the whole space to reduce the small weeds.

Last year the calendula was set centrally and as I checked the bed for potatoes I could see the self- seeded plantlets beginning in the bed. I intend to use the spaces every year, allowing them to regenerate from the previous years as a perennial planting area. This will save me paying for seeds, and break up the beds with a little colour.

My first planted pumpkins were lost due to the switch from frost to hot sunshine, unfortunately the cloches baked them. So this week has seen my children set another few seeds to allow them more opportunities, sweetcorn again is on a second sowing. Several of which I will plant today, ensuring everything gets a good water as they are set in!

The kale seedlings which are an unusual red colour and selection of Chard are growing on nicely! Hopefully they will thrive over the next few weeks, along with the sunflowers and tomato’s set in a trough of water to act as a reservoir over the warm days.

So today I will see what needs planting out and potting on, I will maybe even move the bench and check out my centre compost bin of top soil from the first year.

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Propagation

Sunday Sowing!

Sunday mornings are generally quiet, the sun is high in the garden and as we settle in after our family visit to the allotment I have managed to set the majority of our first seeds. After settling my daughter into her late morning nap the warm spring sun greeting our time, I began to plant the first of our larger pumpkins out into the ground. I had previously set a load of Sweetcorn and a few Atlantic giants to be the first half of the bed. I had set a few aside in the greenhouse just in case their was any frost damage, so seeing the others growing well under their covers I added these to the newly prepared bed.

I added milk carton cloches to ensure that if the temperature drops they will have a little support while they settle into the new space. The squashes we planted had grown on this week so we I chose the furthest arch to grow a selection of small Pumpkins and squashes to grow up, as my husband has collected a large selection of decking boards I will create a few supports to reinforce the top of the arches to accommodate the fruit as the plants mature.

After clearing our newest raised bed I set our first Brassica seedlings, they are tiny but with the protection of a scaffolding cover from our Early Sprouting  Broccoli, they should grow well! With A selection of January king, Golden Acre and Red acre cabbages which were approximately thirty seedlings, these I plan to resew this week to ensure a good succession of crops over the year.

The Kale I planted over the last year is still growing so using spaces between I have planted this years crop of Scarlet Kale to grow on. I Still have several different brassicas growing on in the greenhouse, so today I have enjoyed a few hours at the allotment with my children.

My tomatoes have their first leaves, so these along with the other seedlings will  be ready for next week. After an unusual dinner I returned to cook our favourite, before preparing for another week which is positive after a good mornings work. One step closer to an allotment full of a variety of crops for us to watch grow and harvest.

Time to Enjoy, some quality time with a busy week ahead!

Cheryl