Thursday, 30 August 2012


Right, I've got 3 beetroot, 1 turnip, a shoal of little chantenay carrots to pick 3 from,

A sweet pepper and a cayenne pepper.

Green will just have to be okay,as I have no other kind.

A jar of jam

And a photograph.
My list of entries is posted beyond recall.  Be afraid, all you competitors out there, be very afraid!

giving it a go after all

Polished the beetroot and I have found 4 matching ones! They are only the size of golfballs, but, getting into the spirit of it, dammit,  I'm going to enter three of them. Pity there isn't a baby beet category, though.

Cute aren't they?

Also I read the categories over and only one turnip is required, and luckily I have a good sized one of those (I pulled 6 and every one is different), so that's another entry.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

No go for the show

I inspected the onions and unfortunately they have come up lacking that uniformity and polish required for a show onion. (It was nothing to do with the stupid string that kept sliding off!) No two were the same and on close inspection some of them were even going mouldy, so it was just as well I had had a good look at them.  They are perfectly good for use in the kitchen, but like their mother, not showy.

I made some jam with the idea of putting some in the show but no, even that effort came to naught.  The rhubarb at the allotment has had a hard summer and didn't cook down very well.  It tastes absolutely gorgeous, but it has chewy bits of fibrous skin, which, while probably good for the digestion, is perhaps not part of the brief for a perfect jam.  So that's out.

I have yet to polish the beetroot, and some excellent looking golden turnips which I had forgotten about, but I have the feeling that they will suffer similarly.

Weeded and tidied the strawberry plots, cut back the old leaves and thinned out the old bed to let in light and air.

BUT, but, but...  I did find a cucumber!  That was a surprise! It has quite cheered me up.

And the bees were loving the nasturtiums.  There are 3 or 4 buzzing in and out of the flowers, but the camera hasn't picked them up.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Allotment Show next Saturday

I've been inspecting my onions with a view to putting an entry in the Moorside Allotment Association Autumn Flower & Produce Show which is next Saturday the 1st September.  I'm looking at the show categories and am pushed to find one which I could enter. I could put some onions in, there has to be 3 onions the same, unblemished, equal degrees of brownth on the skins, tops tied with raffia or string.  Unfortunately, the only matched three I have are quite small and probably not winners.  But I might put them in anyway, after all its the taking part, not the winning that counts.  I have some beetroot too which might scrub up nicely, but it is difficult to be sure as they are still in the ground with only their shoulders showing.
I've got runner beans but not 6 the same, ditto tomatoes.  We keep eating them instead.
I could put in a pepper and a chilli, but I'm not sure if they have to be red or if green ones are acceptable.  I think I need to research this more thoroughly and I have left it a bit late, entries have to be in by Friday afternoon.
I could do a funny face out of fruit/veg or flower, but you have to be under five to qualify.
Or maybe a photo of the allotments, I should have plenty of those just from this blog.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Orchid Phalaenopsis

Not strictly gardening and nothing to do with the allotment, but a success story instead of groans.

This orchid was given me as a birthday present two years ago, with two flower stalks. It sat, mummified, in a corner for two years after I, in my ignorance, cut off the original flower stalks too low down. 

I was thinking about throwing it out, but I couldn't bring myself to do it, so I washed the dust off the leaves, and started to feed it with some orchid feed I found in the supermarket.  It immediately started to grow lots of aerial roots, which is apparently the sign of a happy Phalaenopsis. 

When I went to the Gateshead Flower Show there was an Orchid growers stall where I got some very good advice, some orchid potting medium and a bigger pot. I stuffed as many of the aerial roots into the pot when I potted it on, and wow! 

Doesn't it look good!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

composting day

I decided that today was a good day to sort out the contents of the compost bin.  It has to be a fine warm day, with no sign of rain, because it usually takes me all afternoon to finish the job. You really don't want to get the compost wet while you are trying to shovel and sieve it, its a messy job at the best of times, and it wants to be warm because my bin is sited in the shade of the back garden wall and can get quite cool.
Rubber gloves and plastic apron on, I forked off the top layer of really nasty, slimey, rotting material into a spare container.  Luckily, I have the space for two compost bins so I can leave one to stew while filling the other one. The top half of material was pretty yucky, so I filled my spare bin to the top with that.

By this time I could slide the bin from off the more compacted stuff in the bottom half. Judicious use of spade and fork underneath the bottom edge of the bin, worked to lever the bin off.
I ended up with a giant pot pie of compost, and it really did look like compost! It was quite compacted, and with very few worms, which is a good sign. Not as fine as the compost you buy, because I put eggshells and twigs in and they never break down, but perfectly good for planting out and mulching.
I shovelled the remaining material through the rotasieve and finished up with three bags, three-quarters full ( I couldn't lift them if I filled them), of usable garden compost. Anything that wouldn't go through the sieve went back into the now empty compost bin.

(I forgot to change my shoes before I started, so I ended up with my best trainers caked with beautiful compost. The front room carpet didn't appreciate the beauty of it, though, as I walked in forgetting to remove shoes.)
A good job done and lots of lovely compost.

Monday, 20 August 2012

taking stock

But these are things dead or dying

next year's raspberry canes, all three plants are like this

The brown twigs were a sage bush

The gooseberry hasn't decided yet
Other things lost which I would normally be still harvesting are, all Rooster and Nadine potatoes, all courgettes, the pumpkin, the red onions, all the apple harvest, sweet peas.
Other things are reduced in size or quality, strawberries, raspberries, onions, shallots, charlotte potatoes, sweetcorn, broad beans and runner beans, peas.
Things that have done well are nasturtiums, garlic and brassicas, and potentially, the blackberries. (plus all the weeds, of course)


After yesterday's moan, I'm going to focus on the positives.  The cucumber plants are flowering, so I haven't put the mockers on absolutely everything

The blackberries and raspberries are just waiting for enough sun

The runner beans are producing, a bit spindly, but they are there.

 The sweetcorn has cobs

The honeysuckle is looking lovely

And the autumn cropping Charlottes in the bags are peeping through the compost,

So I shouldn't moan.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

A low point

I've looked at my garden and I've looked at other gardener's plots and mine is rubbish.

Everything in mine seems to be half the size and half as vigorous as other people's, so I think it is in need of something. Something that will put some goodness back into the soil (somebody who knows about gardening would help too, although MGG does his best).

I've bought a big bag of organic chicken manure, and ooh it smells lovely! Really, it does! If I put some of that in when I plant things and it will work miracles.

I did think of buying a load of manure, but the amount of hard work it takes to get it on to the plot makes my muscles ache just thinking of it.

So the way forward (if I go forward at all) is chicken shit and blood fish and bone liberally applied.

The only thing that worries me is that sometimes, in the books I've read, it says don't plant this or that in freshly manured ground, but I can never remember what it is I am not supposed to plant.

And when does the lime come in? I know it is used in gardening, but I don't know when or on what.

And if you put too much manure on, do you get lots of leaves and not much fruit or veg?  Obviously if you are growing leaves, cabbage for example, then that is a good thing but if you are growing beans, you want more bean than leaf.

Its too confusing and I feel I just don't know enough to garden properly.

Not happy!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

leeks flowering already

I noticed that some of my this year's leeks have grown a flower spike already, and they are only the thickness of a pencil. So I have nipped off the flower heads and hope that they might not notice.

Picked some rasps and blackberries, so with the redcurrants and strawberries I have in the freezer, a perfect combination for summer pudding.

Monday, 13 August 2012


Planted outdoor cucumbers out into the new raised bed, where the shallots were.  I'm a bit scared to put plants out at all, I seem to be the kiss of death on my garden at the moment.

The phacelia seeds have germinated. There is a green coverlet on that bed. The Charlotte potatoes in bags are sprouting away nicely and I have topped them up right to the top of the bags.

I've got some cobs on the sweet corn, but the plants are still quite small only a couple of feet high, but they've got tassels and cobs just like they should.

Some flowers have grown on the wild flower patch, up till now its been dock and speedwell with the odd buttercup and dandelion.  I'm not sure what they are, some poppies and a trumpet shaped flower which might be an annual convolvulus, which I germinated some seeds of, but can't remember where I put them.

The runner beans are starting to produce now, I even had enough to give away.

Dug up some more potatoes, I got a 3inch pot full from 2 plants.  Cooking them is tricky, one minute too long and they burst out of their skins and turn to mash.

The spinach plants I put in a few weeks ago aren't looking like spinach at all, the leaves are small and it looks as if a flower is forming at the top of the single stem. In fact, it looks more like the phlox I've been attempting to grow. I've never grown true spinach before, its always been spinach beet, but I gather it is quite prone to bolting, which I think is what is happening.

The psb is looking healthy, surprise, surprise.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


Yey!   Carrots - small but beautifully formed!

Monday, 6 August 2012

first runner beans

Picked the first runner beans today, not a lot but more than I expected
But along with the last of that planting of broad beans, will make a nice meal.

It was hot in the sunshine this morning, but there was another torrential downpour, thunder crashing overhead this afternoon. I hope the outdoor cucumber plants given to me by a fellow plotholder survived.  I'll have to swot up on what to do with them, I'm a bit frightened to put them in the garden because everything lately seems to have died.

Topped up the potatoes in bags, they are sprouting nicely.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Picked some more broad beans, about 8 strawberries, and wonders! I found some potatoes!  Only five edible ones, some others small pea-sized and some perforated by slugs, but it is five more than I thought I had.  And a turnip (golden ball)

The garden is starting to look more normal, now that we have had some sun and the rain has been occasional rather than constant.  The only abnormal thing is the unplanted open spaces.  I think some green manure might be the best thing. I have some phacelia seed, some rye grass and some field beans, they are a couple of years old but I suppose they will still work.

The sweetcorn is still growing, but not very tall.  They have developed tassels but are only at the most two feet high.

Hardly any runner beans so far.