Sunday, 29 July 2012

Gateshead Summer Show

Went to Gateshead Summer Show yesterday and there seemed to be lots of gaps in entries of both the veg and the flowers.  There were hardly any onions on show, although it is early for the maincrop, and I think most of the winter onions must've bolted and not good enough for showing. Not many potatoes either.  The sweet peas that were there were as beautiful as usual, but lots of space on either sides where more entries were obviously expected but didn't materialise.

In the greenhouse, I tasted one of the costoluto fiorentino tomatoes and it was very nice and sweet.  The skin was a bit tough, but then all my home grown ones seem to have tougher skins than shop-bought ones.  Something to do with slow ripening I'm told, don't know whether that's true. They make up for it with better flavour.
The Roma tomato seems to be more prone to blossom-end rot, three from that plant so far.
I'm picking 5 or 6 a day from the Garden Pearl tomato, and some more sunny days would speed that up.

Lots of flowers but very few beans on the runners at the allotment but quite a few on the beans in the back garden.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Costoluto Fiorentino

Costoluto Fiorentino
Not sure about these.  They look a bit odd.  See what they taste like before I make judgements.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Autumn potatoes planted

Blossom End Rot on tom Roma

The Morning Glory are flowering at last!

 Pity we have to go outside to see the flowers properly. I can't turn the plant around to face the inside because it is so entwined with everything else.

Lovely day for allotmenteering, its a bit breezy so went to check the bean canes were still secure, and they were.
I planted up the Charlotte potatoes in their bags.

Pulled out the peas and sweet peas, and picked a few more strawberries, but I think that's the last for this year. But there is a upside to the peas dying, the twiggy sticks I used to support them when they were little, have taken root and now I have about five potentilla plants to sell in the trading hut next year. It hasn't all been bad.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Sunday dinner

Picked some veg to go with our slow-cooked brisket which we are having for our Sunday dinner. 

Two little cabbages, overgrown sprouts really, which grew on the stump of a cabbage I picked a few weeks ago.

 This is my entire crop of the potatoes I put in in March.  I knew I was taking a risk planting them so early, but I didn't think it would be quite as bad. These are the Rooster potatoes, the Nadine disappeared altogether.

 The beetroot are small still, but I quite like them that size so I can cook them without mess in the microwave.  Because they have been growing in the cloche, the tops are nice and clean, so I will try cooking them with the cabbage.

 And a boiling of broad beans

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Bought some spinach plants and phlox at the Allotment trading hut to fill some of the spaces. The soil is easier to hoe and rake now, but I tried forking a bed over and it is wet underneath.

 But I won't complain, the sun is shining and it isn't cold, just a pity it is too late for a lot of the plants.  I'm optimistically looking at what I can put in now which will produce this season.

Friday, 20 July 2012

first tomatoes

The plot is drying nicely, we even had some more sun today.  But sadly, the things that are dead or dying, peas, sweet peas, potatoes, courgettes, pumpkin, are still dead or dying, so the allotment has a few gaps, which is unusual for this time of year. 
shallots and red onions

I've taken up the shallots and the rest of the winter onions.  The tops of the better ones had turned over, but most of the onions and all of the shallots just had no top leaves left and only a flower stalk sticking up.  I don't know what happened to the leaves, whether they have been eaten or just rotted I can't tell.  My guess is that they rotted, snail or slug damage would have been patchier, I think.

Picked some more strawberries, but they are only fit for puree, which, after all, is nice with ice cream.

I have bought some Charlotte potatoes and I am going to grow them in bags.  I can drag them out of the wet if the garden looks like being inundated again. They are autumn cropping because I guess that vegetables are going to be expensive this year.  Mind you, it is probably no cheaper by the time the seed potatoes, compost and bags have been bought, but it is more fun!?

News from the greenhouse

First ripe tomatoes, the little Garden Pearl is generally trouble free and reliable. 
The Costoluto Fiorentino have a way to go,

as does the Roma,
and the Bambino is miles off, hasn't even set fruit yet.  But it was a late starter.

The clubroot resistant brassicas are unfortunately not snail resistant 
sweet potatoes

carrots are taking a while to get going

But out in the back garden, the pansies and nasturtiums are looking cheerful

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Now this is what a day at the allotment should look like!

The plot is drying up a little now I could actually get in to try to deal with the waist high grasses and weeds.

I was tempted to put this foxglove out of its misery, it has been stood up and blown down so many times it doesn't know which way to turn.  But I left it for the moment.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

today's harvest

5 strawberries (yes I know there are only 3 there, but the other two were very tasty) one of them very bizarre

 A handful of peas
 3 broad beans

 Some onion soup in the making.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

I picked some more strawberries but they were poor, so I have cut them up and am making jam in the breadmaker again.  It is really good (so far) for making small quantities, which suits us perfectly as we are quite slow in getting through a full size jar of jam.

It has been a dry day with some sun, so I thought the allotment might have dried a bit but it is still under water from one end to the other.  It doesn't appear waterlogged, until you step on it and your boot just sinks in with a squelch, but where the patio is is under an inch or so of water.

A few weeks back, I planted two clematis near the patio, to grow through the hedge, but they have disappeared under the water, without a trace.

I am casting envious eyes on the plot over the back of mine, which isn't being cultivated and doesn't seem to be as wet.  It is very weedy because it hasn't been cultivated all season, would it be worth the extra work, if I could do a swop? I ask myself.

Monday, 9 July 2012


I gritted my teeth, put on my mac and went weeding in the rain. The leeks were getting overwhelmed by weeds because they are still quite small. But they don't seem to have been affected much by the rain and are one of the few things that are looking good. They are pretty tough but how long they will tolerate standing in water, I don't know.

The incessant rain is turning the onions and garlic that I have lifted into a soggy mess, so I piled them all into the wheelbarrow and took them home. I've rigged up a drying frame with various ladders and bits of wood (I knew those oddments would come in useful sometime), in the garage. I will have to remember to keep turning them every day.

Planted 3 Russian red kale plants given me from someone who had spares.  I put them where the pak choi was, I've given up with that because two sowings have been eaten by something.  The kale might be tough and well grown enough to withstand attack.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

first peas

Good news: picked the first peas this morning.  We will snack on them as they are too nice to spoil by cooking.

Bad news: the metal thieves came back for the rest of the taps last night.  I just hope they haven't been spying out all the other bits of metal around the site.

And its starting to rain again.....

Saturday, 7 July 2012


As if it wasn't depressing enough being flooded by the weather, somebody stole some of the taps overnight, leaving water running (which we have to pay for) making the path a sylvan stream.

The apple trees that have some fruit on, the apples have gone mouldy, and one tree has no fruit on at all,that I can see

On the upside, I picked some more strawberries and some gooseberries.  The gooseberries were so sweet quite a few of them didn't make it home.

But there seems to be something wrong with a lot of the strawberries on the old and more overgrown bed.  They have this cracking or tunnelling, looks like a mosaic.  It must be to do with the damp conditions, which are worse on the old bed.  I hope it isn't a virus.

A lot of my autumn planted onion tops have rotted to stumps so (regardless of the RHS  recommendations!)I have dug them up to save and use as soon as I can.  I can see lots of onion soup coming up on the menu in future.

All in all a bit depressing. I'm reconsidering my future in allotment gardening.

Friday, 6 July 2012

secondary growth on garlic

Some of the garlic I harvested have another row of little bubils, I'm guessing this is secondary growth.  Maybe I should have dug them up a couple of weeks ago, when I first thought the tops were turning brown.

gooseberry jam in the breadmaker

A friend gave me some gooseberries, seeing as I only have a few berries on mine, so despite saying that I wasn't going to make any jams or chutneys this year (the cupboard is full of last year's still) I made 3 little jars of gooseberry and elderflower jam, and I made it in the breadmaker!  It has worked quite well, I kept to the amount of fruit, liquid and sugar it said in the manual (it only had a raspberry jam and a marmalade recipe) and it is sweet enough, a softish set but would still work as a spread okay. There was no mess and the pan washed up beautifully.  Definitely something to try again.

smelly sweet peas

Picked some sweet peas, unfortunately after I had watered the leaves with some nettle tea. There was a strange smell wafted through the house when I put the flowers in their vase in the kitchen. Do it the other way around next time.

Soil drying nicely, but more rain forecast for Friday.

More strawberries to pick but didn't have much time and we've still got loads from yesterday.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Harvested garlic

The plot is drying a bit more now, but I tried hoeing around the leeks and everything just stuck to the hoe.

The garlic is browner than ever, they have rust from top to bottom, so I have dug them up.

There is rather a lot. They will keep the whole family going for a few months.

This is the nettle tea I made a couple of weeks ago. Cor! Dunarf smell!
 I might try some on the sweet peas which are looking very yellow. The dilution is 1 part nettle gunk to 10 parts water, I think. ( I can't remember where I read about it, to check.)

There is lots of blossom on the thornless blackberry, but it seems to be a poor year for pollinating insects. But there several beehives on neighbouring plots so I should be okay.

Picked about three pounds of strawberries, but they aren't a patch on last years. The heavy rain and slugs have combined to lower the quality, and I had to throw about half a pound on the compost heap.

Still nice though, once sorted and washed.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

front garden

While waiting for the allotment to drain, I've been attending to my garden at home.  Not strictly within the scope of this diary, but still gardening, but more of the parks and traffic island variety.  And guess what? I have an Edging Iron! My front garden has been edged to within an inch of its life! Its a bit of a shame that I didn't get it right first time though because I think it will take some months to correct the freehand curve I put on the front lawn (laughingly called so, patch of moss really)