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

Allotment, Harvests

September Sun!

So today after a week of the children off with cold I decided to check on the allotment, I was surprised to see a Good selection of squash and small pumpkins. Despite a busy year it is doing well, a few of the pumpkins will need to colour but they will save me spending on harvest dressing and carving for Halloween.

Sweetcorn thriving, pumpkin patch almost filling our ground bed I feel another tarpaulin  will be necessary to prep next years bed as the pumpkins stretch out over the surface. After a heart shaped tomato, courgette, red cabbage, calendula seed, and some beans we left to complete our chores.

An hour later we returned to help a friend move her amazing Pumpkins, she only got four but two required a bit of braun, After setting them on the pallet we carried on, I was lucky to find the baking items for our next family project reduced so I could buy twice the amount.

After an evening making traditional cupcakes with my children we have set them aside to decorate… They are under orders not to eat them, hopefully they will be ready for tomorrow nights fun, trying to ice and decorate their own cakes.

So apart from waiting for the crops, I shall leave them to ripen and get back to enjoying our new kitchen…

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

 

Allotment, Harvests, Home Craft

First Fruit and Harvest

 

My husbands new project is a bargain caravan which we hope to use over the holidays, but my project is refurbing my kitchen. Usually I choose frugal over a first choice but today I am being treated as my bargain was exceptional, despite winning a basic used kitchen for sixty pound’s it was clear that despite best efforts their fitters demolished the kitchen. So after a second delay I spotted a fantastic kitchen with appliances and extras which I thought would sell for a few zero’s more than it did, so after covering the lowest bid I continued searching for other requirements.

After a few days we found that we had won it! So today I am looking forward to its arrival, the old kitchen we have chosen to set along one wall along with our storage and appliances. The rest will be used to make work space in our summer house as we plan on making a space for the children to play…

So, a few weeks ago it arrived, as I stood in my kitchen surrounded by cupboards, work tops and drawers it would have been easy to close the door and forget about it. After my husband had sat, fed and rested I moved around pieces and organised the doors and shelves to get a better idea of the project ahead. With some fabulous wooden worktops resting on the stairs it was apparent I needed a plan and quick as the holidays were well underway.

A large corner unit was the first problem, this became the basis of the whole design as it would only fit the far wall. I had moved our wall units a week earlier, hoping to fill this wall with all new cupboards we set these aside, the new kitchen had an island and free standing units with doors as panels, these I hoped would transfer to the high units to allow new cupboard doors for the old units.

As my husband transferred the corner unit and island base units level to the back wall I set about harvesting the trees with the children, our fruit harvest was amazing the larder fridge trays filled and several popcorn tubs of pears and plums.

This beautiful reclaimed kitchen was to become a modern workspace, set in quality materials for the cost of an oak worktop. I was unsure about the new hood, at over a metre wide I felt it was too heavy but as it was set and i re-laid tiles to fit the new space it began to show promise.

So as the children return to school well rested, I am enjoying the relative luxury of my new kitchen. Again enjoying the space and focussing on our needs, grateful for the opportunity to build something new for us all to enjoy.

Above are the beans and courgettes from our recent harvests, red cabbage and tomatoes are a regular pick but the beans flourish as ever. All a bonus to our table…

Happy Harvests

Cheryl

Allotment, Harvests

Harvest July 2019!

This month has been dull up to now, the weather switching between climates has meant this is our first visit this week. The potato bed and it’s variety of unusual volunteers were my first area to focus on, after clearing two thirds of the bed and harvesting a punnet of potatoes I left a few in for a potential winter crop. Once I had cleared the first three rows I added a mix of cucurbits as I hoped to get a second crop in the space as it will be manured next spring it will not loose nutrients.

The pumpkin, sweetcorn and courgette bed again held surprises, several fruits are setting including watermelons a great bonus considering our climate. Tonight I am setting some more seeds as they are doing so well, along with broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, leeks and early purple sprouting for winter crops.

After clearing the broad beans, picking and watering tomatoes and collecting apples from our tree we set off to escape the sunshine. So an hours work did not change much however a few more visits and it will be back from bee bliss.

Despite the vast amount of plants that germinated, they seem to be taking a long time to establish… patience

Happy Harvests

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

 

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, Harvests, Writing

Allotment Tour – March

This week has turned out to be a very productive week! Our water tank is at the 750 litre mark, I really am thrilled we have managed to store so much over winter. We really will have plenty to water up with, time to figure out the connections required to attach a hose for the summer months.

The garlic is just beginning to shoot! Carrots are growing on nicely and as I wandered our space I found a small harvest of early purple sprouting broccoli to harvest! The front bed which has branches marking were my A’ frames will be positioned this year is dug over, last years manure dug through nicely as it was weeded, after this years beans fix the nitrogen it will be well prepared for this winters Brassica’s.

My late sown Brassica plants set in the central cloche bed are growing nicely, on my return I shall mulch them and the potato bed with a layer of straw to prevent weeds and allow the potatoes to grow on without competing with them. I have planted a few of my tiny pumpkin seeds which i have cloched using half a milk carton, this will provide a little warmth to set it growing a few weeks ahead. These have a selection of red sunflowers called ‘Velvet sunshine’, I hope to have success with this variety as last years were un-successful.

The potato bed is trench dug and set with my chosen chitted potato’s, I know St Patricks day is usually the date to plant but after the failure of last years crop in the heat, I am starting them early to ensure they have a good start. The children will plant a pot each to see who grows the most, as we have done in previous years.

The late sowing of last year are beginning to show signs of bolting, on my return I intend to pick the leaves to freeze and use as cabbage style addition our Sunday Dinners! A few ‘Lolla Rossa’ lettuce are growing on so the additions at the end of the summer holidays were well worth the effort.

After a few indoor sowings of small and giant Pumpkins, Gourds and Squashes to add to my indoor Sweetcorn and Tomatoes I am hoping to have some seedlings to show for our efforts. These will be up earlier than the greenhouse sowings, allowing for larger plants to be set once the baby pumpkins germinate at the allotment. These and the potatoes will let me know when my other sowings will cope with site weather, although all will have their own little milk cloche domes as this allows around 10 degrees difference between local temperature according to research. (Not forgetting a straw mulch and a unhealthy dose of salt for the slugs who love fresh leafy seedlings!)

Happy Preparations!

Cheryl

 

Allotment, Harvests, Propagation

GYO: Potato Planting

Today was another warm start, so after preparing a small pack-up and getting everyone ready we headed off up to the park, after around an hour we made it to the allotment and as the children made the most of the extra space, I began weeding the potato bed. Today the children were in full voice so after half an hour of explaining the need for quiet. I washed their hands and set them down to eat while I dug over my potato trenches in peace.

It took me a while to dig the first three trenches, so as my husband arrived I set him to task at the end of the bed to dig the final space by the pergola. My son was in a boisterous mood so I set him and my youngest daughter the task of spacing the chitted potatoes. Finally after a good few hours I had six trenches dug, planted and covered for this years potatoes, including a row of King Edwards, two rows of Desire and three rows of charlotte potatoes.

At the end of the bed I planted two types of small pumpkin, Baby-Boo and Jack be little with several red sunflower seeds between to make the most of the north face of the pergola. Then using some straw kindly delivered by my husband I set three paths, at the beginning of the bed, one next to the seedlings, between the potatoes and one over the old calendula plants. I hope these spaces I have left will self sown seed from last year additional to the seeds I will grow at home. I rescued a handful of nasturtium seeds so these will be added to my collection from last year, I may use my new garden bed to grow a few direct.

Whatever methods I use I should have plenty of plants to share out, the tomato seeds I have set a little different to previous years. I have chosen three different varieties; Moneymaker, Yellow Delight and poundstretchers own Italian variety. I set three positions in the 24 cell tray choosing one position for each different type of tomato, I hope to achieve three types per cell to transfer together into larger pots allowing me a larger variety without the need for several large trays. If I am successful it will be easy plant my cane tripods with the three varieties, I have a few more types sown with peppers but these I will add to a row of outdoor plants I hope to set this year, to see what success they have in our wonderful English weather.

I have planted all of my Brassica’s, Cauliflowers, Cabbage and Kale this week, my greenhouse is filling up nicely. I am planting, Calendula, Nasturtiums and Sunflowers along with my Atlantic giant and Jack o lantern pumpkins. I plant seedlings or plantlets direct as they do not have to compete with the weeds and get a better start in compost, plus once set in place they can be mulched to retain moisture.

The satisfaction of finishing another main bed is great, a few hours as my youngest slept was enough to get the basics completed. In the next visit it will be setting up my main ‘A’ frames for beans and runner beans which hopefully will have started germinating, planting out this years flowers and digging the pumpkin bed trenches. I did feel I would struggle to get the groundwork in but it seems a few hours a couple of times a week is ample to prepare the ground, whilst the planting can be done as and when I get a moment.

So potatoes in early I am hoping to get them established early, ensuring strong healthy plants as last years barely started due to the heat, this will allow for a second sowing later on in the year. Finally the Early purple Broccoli was ready for harvest so these will be added to our Sunday Dinner!

Happy Trenching!

Cheryl

Allotment, Harvests, Writing

Allotment – 01 2019

Well today has been a busy day, the weather was warm enough to allow us to venture out and we made our way to the park. I found the children enjoy the walk and by the time they get their they have used up a lot of their energy. As we finally arrived the plot the water tank was at 750 litres, my daughter was amazing and anticipating getting very little done, I was pleasantly surprised.

The early purple sprouting Broccoli had grown on brilliantly, one plant of the brussel sprouts had developed a large cluster of plantlets along its main stem. These I have brought home to harvest and set as cuttings, this will give me an opportunity to experiment to see whether they will grow on. As I left the children to play I cleared the garlic bed of weeds and planted the newly set plants which were full of wonderful roots, directly into the ground.

Next was to dig over the first small ground bed, last year it was home to a selection of cabbages which were wonderful additions to our Sunday dinner. After removing the remaining couch grass and straw it is finally ready to plant another crop. I decided to weed a further two beds before sitting to feed my daughter. The weather was mild, sun shining and it was nice to dig over the soil for the first time since last autumn.

The carrots had grown on over winter, they had clearly formed shoots as my daughter pulled them out I spread them out between the two boxes. This should allow them to grow on this summer to a edible size, there really is no need to re-sow when they are ready to get a good start this year. The Rhubarb has begun to sprout in the pot so I am devising a new space to plant them out permanently.

The late sowing of mixed Brassicas are growing on and a few lettuce had managed to survive the winter without being slugged. Our harvest was pretty good for the first week. several good carrots, a lettuce, two broccoli heads and the Brussel sprout cuttings. I shall be planting tomato, pepper, chilli and a few other seeds with the children this week.

A few strawberries and celery plants had survived the winter so again, along with our late sowings at least a quarter of the planting areas were productive over the last few months as I have enjoyed the winter at home. The strawberry beds were relatively weed free, so on the next visit I will be planting potatoes and any other seedlings that we manage to establish.

Despite hard work I have enjoyed the afternoon, thankful for a few hours we could enjoy somewhere different. A few hours of fresh air and sunshine is refreshing after weeks of looking after the children, their illness and exhaustion. Finally the paths were prepared, the grass was well ready for cutting and has provided some plants for the compost bin.

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

Allotment, Gardening on a budget, Grow Your Own, Harvests

GYO – 2018; Year Review

The last year has flown and after spending winter caring for my youngest I have not really sat and looked at the achievements of last years growing season, which if I compare to year one we had a huge leap in growing success and structural development. Our cloche beds work fantastically for all crops requiring protection from pests, and have ensured the brassica plants have not been devoured by caterpillar armies.(see – The Cloche Apex!)

2017; Year one I had focussed on ensuring at least three quarters of the spaces ground was ready for planting, potatoes and pumpkins taking centre stage, mainly due to the poor germination of brassica plants and the late season we eventually had. I managed a small shop bought crop of everything in 2017 as poor compost and irregular weather put a halt to most things until around June. What we had grown was adequate to the freshly dug site and we enjoyed homegrown carrots, tomatoes and potatoes in autumn filling our punnets every week with something fresh. My primary focus was on ensuring our site could recycle the waste products we were producing while removing weeds completely from our growing spaces. (see – Allotment Ecology!, )

2018, I focussed on expanding our plot by adding raised beds, somewhere the children could plant directly, and to date we have four large beds currently filled with Early Purple sprouting Broccoli, multi coloured Brussels and broad beans which will present a small harvest over the next few months. These crops are all home sown as with a selection of cabbages and lettuce I planted later in the season and I look forward to seeing their progress on my return.(see – The Broccoli Bed)

Additionally we purchased a roll of wire to make arches between the fixed beds, an idea inspired by Roots and Refuge on you tube, the wire allows extra space which I intend to rotate spaces between beans ad small gourds and pumpkins. To date the beans I trialled in September grew well so hopefully this year with the addition of wooden supports I will be able to grow a wider variety of climbers. I am looking forward to experimenting with these upright supports as the season commences, as I test out my new types of cucurbit crops for the first year! (see –Harvest – 21 October 2018)

The fence we put in has allowed our children a space to work and play in safely on site, we have enjoyed walking and harvesting regularly through summer, without this we would not enjoy our space without constant interruption.

The water system is now in full flow and a month ago was at 500l, I am hopeful that this will now be well on its way to being full. this will ensure a good water supply throughout the dry months and hopefully reduce the need for using the mains supply. I will still need to engineer a watering attachment so for now my watering can will be in full use.(see –Resourcing Water)

Our Harvests 2018;

  • 30 Cobs of corn
  • 4 cabbages
  • 8 courgettes
  • 4 cauliflowers
  • 6 pumpkins
  • 20 punnets of beans
  • 40 tomatoes
  • 4 kale plants
  • 6 cabbages
  • 6 sunflower heads
  • calendula seed – 500g
  • nasturtium seeds
  • Rhubarb – 10 stems
  • strawberries and brambles – eaten on site
  • 6 celery plants
  • 16 beetroot plants

It may not seem a lot but it has allowed me to add to our meals throughout the week with produce I enjoy but would not buy as part of our weekly shop. I still have carrots, beans and broccoli growing but for a year were half of my first sowings were taken we did well.

I have altered my sowing techniques as previous years cell sowings seem prone to damping off despite under watering, that method was less productive than those hand sown and separated from trays, troughs and cups. I also find that I have a lot of spares as my thinning’s, I pot individually taking the largest seedlings, which allows the stragglers to boost in size with the added space and nutrients. I use every seedling, hopefully I can share a few if I manage to prevent the first sowings being moved by pests!

First Homegrown successes;

  • Celery
  • Early purple Broccoli
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbages
  • Bell Peppers
  • lettuce

So to review 2018 was a step towards ensuring we could grow a variety of crops, each requiring different structures for support and protection. 2019 sets out to be an experimental season as I try out new crops within these structures and ensuring that staple crops are planted such as onions and potatoes to ensure the ground is productive all year.(See – Crop Rotation!)

So when I finally get round to planting my garlic sets, I will be one step closer to starting the New Year growing season!

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl