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

 

 

 

 

 

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

Propagation

Echeveria

I find that these types of plants are great! For a pound you can purchase a small plant with amazing potential.

I spent a few moments showing my children how to propagate from our new plants, with clear instructions not to take any further leaves off afterwards. Thankfully they enjoyed the little planter that much they pottered around keeping the small plants in wonderful condition.

As you can see the leaves act as reservoirs as with aloe, and other varieties that can allow a few new plants for free! If you strip a lower leaf and set it in dry compost and set it aside with grit or stones to mulch, in a few months you will have a newly rooted plant. 

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

Allotment, Gardening on a budget, Propagation

Sowing Plug Plants!

As my seedlings take their time to grow on in the greenhouse, a few weeks of unusual weather has set them back, but with little sign of damage I decided to start our holidays with a visit to the Garden centre!

This place has a fabulous play area, so for me I find it the perfect compromise as I can search through the plants and they can follow the amazing dinosaur trail and spend some time in the park. On this trip I set off to choose a few trays of plug plants to allow the family to plant some crops into the raised beds as ours matures to a stronger size.

The shelves were a disappointment with very few varieties available, I ended up with mini pop corn, Pak choi, Brussel sprouts and Kale. I had hoped for some cauliflower or broccoli but obviously these had been purchased or overlooked. After a wander around and play we set off home through the villages and after the shop tomatoes being very small, I had seen a home sign for plants for sale and stopped to purchase four of the main varieties, Gardeners delight and Money maker.

Yesterday our plot visit was designed for the children to plant these and water them in, I found them a great little project and they did a fantastic job setting them in place as I cleared the old crops and set in the new. After around 40 minutes the new plants were in and after a quick water up we were home, refilling the plug pant trays with alternate varieties of the crops we had sown.

Having a huge seed selection, I chose a variety of Brussel sprout, Pak choi, Beetroot and potted on my Popcorn planters sweetcorn into the shop trays. This is a good way to offset crops to over winter as you harvest the first of your shop bought crops, late starters will be ready for a successional crop.

After setting a selection of Jack o’ lantern pumpkins and Atlantic giants to replace those taken in the unusual frosts, these I have set in larger pots and will not plant until they have their true leaves. I set a few salad trays with ‘Princess of India’; Nasturtiums and a pale yellow calendula variety and some mixed cosmos as those I had set in my planters are yet to germinate.

Once they were watered by my youngest I left them on the bench for a cool night to be placed in the greenhouse today! This will hopefully encourage them to grow as the warmer days set in! Our greenhouse is full of promise, tomatoes, early purple and a mass of cucurbit treasures which will need potting on shall be our project this week so by our next holiday we should be sowing an abundance of crops in our allotment beds.

So today with the sun shining, I have moved a few trays of established plants and set the new ones to warm in the greenhouse. The new plants growing in our soil, adding to the collection of crops we are trying this year, potatoes sown are yet to show but an investment in a hose adapter to our water tank will allow me to water the patch while the weather is dry.

So, hopefully you will have set some seeds of your own… spring is a perfect time for clearing and mulching whether in the allotment or at home.

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

 

 

 

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Propagation

Allot of progress!

Today was a busy day, I returned to find a few panes broken and after boxing and safely clearing them I set about planting my blackberry bushes into the tyre they have sat in for the last few months. These I set at the side of the greenhouse, all of which will give a safe barrier between the pumpkin bed and the greenhouse which will prevent any serious accidents.

The fence required re-securing so a few screws later it was a little more secure, I will be purchasing a large fence post to divide in half and set behind the main panels. My paint was being used to help family! so, I will be choosing a vibrant colour as it needs a refresh already.

I potted up three troughs with peas along one side and a selection of small variety sunflowers, along with a large trough of peas with giant yellow sunflowers in the centre of the planter. These will clamber up the archways and cover the compost bins, I have several troughs at home which we planted a few weeks ago so they will be set at the compost sides at the end of the allotment.

I find it un-usual to have a little time without the older children, surprising how much I am used to the regular distractions, I find that having a chance to sit and enjoy our space which is already producing our first spring cabbages. Our Potatoes in and the next planting of crops already set in the greenhouse, I am looking forward to setting a few successional sowings to fill the space around us.

So, as my pots of pumpkins, squashes and Sweetcorn grow at home rapidly, I am looking forward to planting them out into the ground!

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Propagation, Recycling

A’ Frames

So Monday was a busy day, Finding myself with a free morning we ventured to the allotment, a few family jobs to complete my husband set on with painting while I built the first A’frame. Our beans have been set a few weeks now so as the first shoots formed I decided to put up an additional structure in the first bed. These frames I have used for Beans, but obviously Sweetpeas could also be set to clamber up.

The Bamboo canes set at a foot apart  was enough last year to support the rambling shoots once they finally established. So once in place I made a few ties with my wire cutters to secure the tops, crossing them over a centre horizontal cane and tying them off! Last year I covered them with container cloches to start them off but as the weather is extremely mild at the moment, and they have been started off in our small greenhouse I feel they will not stall in the ground.

Then I added the beans, one at the base of each cane, sprinkling a little slug repellent before mulching over the newly set seeds. I learnt last year that a little preparation saves returning to find your newly set crop reduced to stumps. However I always sow enough to replace what I set in the ground in the allotment at home, just in case of emergencies.

The first bed required a little weeding! so after clearing a few spaces I added some red baron and silver moon onions in the clear patches before mulching the whole bed with straw, I find this bed is quite clear of grass so the mulch will just retain moisture. I planted a mizuna last year which went to seed and a few new plants are dotted around so I will let them grow and transplant any seedlings into the salad bed.

The water is just over 750 litres, I believe before the season begins we will have a full tank. I had taken suckers of one of my variegated yukka’s at home so after potting them into pots and donating one I had four cuttings which I set in a water tray, these will take several months to root properly but along with the four I planted into pots in our front garden it will be a good return on the £10 I invested in the original.

Next I cleared my box beds, rescuing the small  strawberry plants from our walkways and setting them in trays I hope to add a few plants at home for supplying new runners to replenish those at the allotment. After adding a bag of compost it is now ready for this years Chard and Beetroot.

 

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

Grow Your Own, Propagation, Writing

Sundays Seedlings!

Today the seeds we set over the last few weeks inside have begun to germinate, the popcorn planter sweetcorn is looking strong, almost reaching the top of its container it will not be long before I can pot them on and set a second sowing!

Our Brassica’s are looking great, I will set a few more when I pot these on as I hope to have a continuous succession through the year! I have three set beds which I plan to fill with our ton bag of compost from the first year, it should be perfect for building up firm growing area’s for cauliflowers and Broccoli.

Our Cloche frames are strong, however the scaffolding fabric will require securing to the framework to deter the Cabbage whites feasting on the newly planted crops. I shall add a few cup hooks to hold it in place.

My excitement today as our Pumpkins have just begun to show the first stages of germination inside, it will be a few weeks before the greenhouse sown crop catch up but it will good to see whether the inside set seedlings will get ahead after they have been climatized to plant!

I have already set all of my different types for this year which is probably around 50 seedlings, I will probably plant around 15 large cucurbits in the area which we have just manured and dug over. My next job is to dig over and trench manure in the final area of that side, this bed will probably fit another 25 plants.

Any extras I will donate or share, as between these I will set the sweetcorn, as the pumpkins will ramble through the small fields of corn. However as I plan to train the smaller pumpkins and squashes up the pergola, a few of which I set on our last visit at the allotment, hopefully when I return they will be just starting to germinate. I plan to add wire to three sides of it and cover it with mesh to create a space which is sheltered, that provides a little warmth in the colder months.

My Silver Moon onion sets are all showing new shoots so these will be planted on our next visit, probably in the front garlic bed. I will add straw to deter the weeds but these front beds I intend to rebuild with scaffolding boards in time.

So as Dinner Settles, I plan on finishing some chores ready for another week!

Happy St Patricks Day!

Cheryl

Allotment, Crop - Seed to Table, Propagation, Writing

St Patricks Day; Potatoes!

Today the weather has improved slightly from the last few days and the sky is bright blue with whispy wintery clouds, the wind has died down from its previous torrent! It has been a family week this week so I am grateful for my early sowing of potatoes, as today despite the good weather I am looking forward to a relaxing day at home!

Around the country however thousands of my fellow allotmenteers will be sowing their selections of potatoes in whichever style they choose, whether it be a no dig version successful piling of compost or the long enjoyed trench dug preparation. The enjoyment of potatoes straight from ground to table is surprisingly satisfying, the fresher the better!

I have set aside 6 pots for our potato competition, I let my children set a potted potato set into similar level soil to see who can grow the most over the season, something  we have done since they were small and that we have been lucky to have been supported in their local schools.

So Today post Sunday Dinner we will be planting a selection of Salad potatoes from our home favourites, to trial growing from supermarket bought potatoes. Whereas at the allotment we shall try setting a few chitted varieties in last years pots. Either way we hope for a more successful crop than last years pebbles.

Last year I planted a similar selection, Charlottes are our favourite salad potato, King Edwards and Desire are all from £1 bags. If I have the chance ‘Valor’, from the garden centre would be another variety I would find space for, but already my trenches are full of potential.

Trench digging for me ensures the ground is weed free, especially with newly dug beds riddled with couch grass. It also allows you to break down the top layers of soil which for ground that has not been dug for several years. I know plenty of people who try this method who are physically unable to dig but for me the cost of piling up good compost over the surface every year is to expensive a method for growing if you are purchasing it.

It is fine if you have ten years of rotated compost but for those just starting out I prefer straw as it is financially viable and prevents the weeds draining the crops of nutrients! I have a compost bin ready to clear, but at the moment I am focusing on ground preparation, I may however start using it to build up the ground levels on my main beds and for earthing up the potatoes as they grow.

Earthing up prevents the potatoes which surface going green and toxic in the sunlight so as they grow it also allows more tubers to grow on the enclosed layers increasing the yields from the plants. I have to say that I place my tubers at the bottom of the trenches and then double dig the plants out to reduce the need for earthing up. The principle being that the plant once established has a foot to set tubers in as it grows, once it is in the earth is already deep enough to ensure no tubers are likely to spoil.

If you are interested in trench digging your potatoes in please check out my previous post GYO: Potato Planting

If you are interested in container planting, grab a large container or pot and purchase some seed potatoes. These can be a £1 per bag from poundstretcher or £3 plus for a set weight at the garden centre. Early croppers grown for June, middle and late croppers for September just wait for your first flowers and check for the potatoes underneath.

If you plant a few in June you can set a few for Christmas dinner, or set aside an area with the plants you will add to your Christmas table. This will allow you to pick fresh and add a harvesting treat to your special day. This could be completed in a metre square bed or selection of containers and grow bags the opportunities are endless, over the years we have grown in Belfast sinks, potato bags and selected garden spaces. Which is perfect for growing a selection of crops on a small scale.

So whether you are trenching in this years crop, or planting in containers, today is the day to plant your potatoes!

Happy St Patricks Day!

Cheryl

 

 

Photography – Online CC

Crop - Seed to Table, Grow Your Own, Propagation

GYO; Seed to Table – Cucurbits

So as with all crops their is an abundance of varieties to choose from, these include;

  • Squash
  • Marrows
  • Pumpkins
  • Courgettes
  • Cucumbers
  • Some Gourds
  • Watermelons

According to Wickipedia;

The Cucurbitaceae (/kjuːˌkɜːrbɪˈteɪsii/), also called cucurbits and the gourd family, are a plant family consisting of about 965 species in around 95 genera, the most important of which are: Cucurbita – squash, pumpkin, zucchini, some gourds. Lagenaria – calabash, and others that are inedible. Citrullus – watermelon (C.

These are one of my favourite types to grow with my children, partly because they are larger seeds and subsequently better for them to sow! Secondly because they are large leaved seedlings that are robust and can take the poor skills of a young gardener. Finally because they produce such a wide variety of fruit!

Last years Courgettes though few and far between, provided enough to add it to my chilli’s, Bolognese and stir fries. I have to admit it felt like a luxury to add it regularly to our recipes! Do not get me wrong I can afford to add it to our shopping list but I enjoyed growing and harvesting our own far better.

Cucumbers are a favourite and our first years plants provided around twenty fruit, the weather being damp most of the year allowed for great success, last years heat meant we managed one on a small vine. This year I hope to enjoy a few more treated to our table, my children love them to snack on.

Pumpkins were three tiny Jack O Lanterns and two large, this year I plan to have a few more varieties;

In the end I received; (Halloween Treasures for 2019)

  1. Miniature White Pumpkin (Baby Boo) 10 seeds.
  2. Miniature yellow Pumpkin (Jack be little) 35 seeds.
  3. Squash (Table King) 20 seeds.
  4. Gourd (Crown of Thorns) 10 seeds.
  5. Squash (Crown Prince) 5 seeds.
  6. Pumpkin White (Casper) 10 seeds.
  7. Squash (Delicata) 30 seeds.
  8. Squash (strawberry crown) 15 seeds.
  9. Squash (Yellow Scallop (Patty pan) 25 seeds.
  10. Marrow yellow and green (sunbeam) 10 seeds.
  11. Cucumber (Marketmore)
  12. Atlantic Giant Pumpkin

So this year I am hoping for a small variety of each crop with a few giants thrown in, just waiting on germination! I will be transferring all my seeds to my Easterly window so that the first rays of light can wake them up from their slumber! These however are adored by slugs so really need a salt circle at least and a cloche until they are well established.

This year I hope to invest some energy in creating some pies, stews based on the many wonderful ideas I found in the cookery Blogs last Autumn. I enjoy the carving but really would like to use the fruit for eating throughout winter.

As my first seedlings are finally showing in the greenhouse, currently needing a door renovation and still producing the first Tomato, Cauliflower, Broccoli and Chard seedlings I am excited for another prosperous year!

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

 

 

 

Ref; Wickipedia

Photography; Online Cc ; seed packet, seeds and seedling!

Mature plants ; The Cornucopia Allotment