Saturday, 29 September 2012

Survey of apple trees growing on Moorside Allotments

I am thinking of buying a new apple tree or trees.  I want one I can use for cooking as well as an eater, so it might be one apple which combines both virtues, or I might have to get two trees, one of each. Doesn't necessarily have to be a good keeper or particularly prolific.

So I am doing a little survey among the plotholders of what apple grows well in our local conditions.

So far.....

Named varieties

Ribston pippin   *****   dual purpose, good keeper, but the example here is quite a big tree and supposedly on M27 stock.

Scrumptious      ***     dessert, went spotty.

Discovery          ****     dessert, loses flavour soon after picking, not a keeper.

James Grieve      *****   dual purpose, tasted this myself and it was lovely flavour, sharp, sweet, but softish and not a keeper, apparently. Tree had quite a lot of apples even this bad year.

Discovery/James Grieve/ unknown (grafted tree)***** Owner very pleased, gets a succession over the autumn.

Kidd's Orange Red  *****dessert, sharp/sweet cox-like flavour, cropped well. Owner has 3/4 of these in different rootstock.  The only one that had fruit in this bad year was the columnar version which had quite a lot of apples.

Greensleeves * parentage Golden Delicious, eat fresh, not a happy specimen.

Egremont Russet ***good flavour but owner a bit disappointed.

Current opinion is leaning towards a container grown M27 stock, as hopefully can better control the water and soil quality.
 Pros...moveable in bad weather, better drainage.
 Cons....will need closer monitoring in summer for watering and feeding.   Might get blown over. Might get frozen.

The decision on the variety has been made. I have ordered a Kidd's orange red and a Howgate wonder, both M26 cordons, from Blackmoor Nurseries

I haven't yet decided whether to plant them in pots or in the ground.

new raised beds

Old beds, raised or otherwise

New raised beds.

Made by that kind man with a drill, MGG aka Emily and Katie's granddad.
(I sawed the wood though, with only one major error, ie. a cut halfway through one of the ends that didn't ought to be there)

Friday, 28 September 2012


Just keeping track

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

post rain survey

Back to what seems to be the norm for my plot!

The ditches are full but hopefully the raised beds are drier.
But the winds have played around with various structures. 

                                                                                                Easily remedied though.
 I took out the little apple tree.  I just pushed and pulled it a bit and it came out like a rotten tooth.  It didn't have much in the way of a root ball.  Probably why it was a little apple tree.
 I'm thinking about taking all the trees out and getting a family apple tree (one stem with three different varieties grafted on)  Even excluding this year's missing harvest, which to be fair seems to have been the same across the country, they have never produced well and never the kind of apple that I wanted to either eat raw or cooked.  Last year there was a lot of small apples but they don't store well and didn't taste particularly good except when eaten straight off the tree.  I have found a family tree at Blackmoor Nurseries which looks like it might be hardy enough for this part of the world.  I know Discovery will work, because there are some growing successfully on this site, but I don't know about the other two varieties, James Grieve and Sunset.
I suppose I can only try.

Picked a punnet of ready-washed raspberries.  I don't think there will be many more this year.

Monday, 24 September 2012

rainy day

Its pouring outside today, the lights are on, the heating is on, winter has arrived early.
Those peas I was propping up yesterday are probably goners.
I had a walk down to the plot, mac and wellies on.
The ditches I dug are full of water, which could maybe be called a success, except that everything else  is also full of water at the moment.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

I never thought I would.....

be putting supports in for peas,and.....

have broad beans flowering, and....

have flowers on my potato plants....

                                                       in mid-September!

It's been a funny old year!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

compost heaps

Continuing the tidy up with the wood chippings yesterday, I renewed the surface of the area in front of the compost heaps, and as one job leads on to another, I combined my two compost heaps into one monster heap.  Unfortunately I forgot to incorporate my pig muck.  So that means I will have to do it again. And its hard labour shifting forkfuls of heavy, wet, half decomposed organic material.  My shoulder has been telling me about it all today.

Have I mentioned the pig muck?  I can't remember whether I wrote about it, but I heard tell that a lady in our street had some bags of pig muck that she wanted rid of.  It sounded like a good thing, and even though I had no idea what to do with it, I very nobly volunteered to take it off her hands. Two trips to the allotment with the wheelbarrow got it on the plot and into a disused compost bin, while I considered what to do with it. It seems to consist of large lumps of poo (pigs or otherwise), mixed with wood shavings, presumably bedding, and, surprisingly, not that smelly. Taking advice from the forum on, I decided that the safest way to use it would be to mix it with the compost. Well that was what I intended to do, but....

The autumn rasps are coming good at last.  I picked a punnetful of unblemished fruit and they were delish with ice cream.

I don't know if it is just this year but a lot of the earlier fruit had little maggots in, the same with the blackberries.  Apparently it is raspberry beetle and seems to be quite bad this year, one or two other plotholders on the site have remarked on it.

Sunday, 16 September 2012


Corncobs picked today.....or is it a family of funny coloured hedgehogs?

Saturday, 15 September 2012


There is a big pile of chippings and clippings at the gate so I acquired a few barrowloads and tidied up my apple tree area, it seems a bit pretentious to call it an orchard.  So, it may not be producing any apples, but it can hold its head up high on tidiness.

And I discovered this monster cabbage!  I hadn't really noticed it before, its been growing away all neat and tidy while I've been moaning on about the rest of the garden.
It's all show though, its empty and got no heart.  Still, we'll have it with lamb chops and runner beans for our Sunday dinner.

The ugly sister in the background is destined for the compost heap.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

winter onions planted

The last few days I have been digging over a very weedy patch, mostly creeping buttercup, and plantain, which I gather, indicates badly drained clay soil.  Well! there's a surprise!  I have mounded up the beds to leave a ditch in between, hopefully taking the planting surface above the winter/spring water table. I added some Blood, Fish and Bone and some organic chicken manure and I have planted my winter onion sets.  I covered the beds with fleece to keep the birds off.

raised bed

I picked some of the corn cobs in the distance,  I would've taken some pictures, but we've eaten them.  They were very nice and sweet.  Small cobs, pale cream rather than the traditional yellow, about half the size of a shop bought one, but then the plants were only about half size too. Better pollination than last year's, the kernels were more regularly arranged. I will get pix of the next ones to be picked.

Monday, 10 September 2012

new camellia

The new camellia that I got last year to replace the one that died in the long freeze of 2010, is not looking happy.  Its new leaves grown this summer have gone all yellow mottled.

I did a soil test (which reminds me that my tester that I got for Christmas has gone missing from the shed along with a pair of secateurs)and the ph is about 8 when it should be about 6 for camellias.  The compost in the pot was ericaceous and I fed it with a proper camellia feed, so its not that. The only thing I can think of is that the dust on the gravel I layered on the top of the compost might be limestone.  So I have re-potted it with fresh ericaceous compost, fresh feed and I washed the gravel.

I have since been advised that it could be the gravel itself which is limestone, so I suppose I should take it off asap.

Its pouring outside so it will have to wait until tomorrow.

Now I'm getting handy with the soil testing kit, I tested the gravel and its dust, the gravel was ph neutral and the dust was alkaline, so I might have been right in the first place.  I tried putting vinegar on the gravel too, apparently if it fizzes it is limey - it didn't fizz.  So I left the gravel on the pot, it seems okay.

See if it improves.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Show day

Well, it was a great day, it didn't rain and it wasn't freezing cold!  Lots of people came and looked at the flowers and vegetables, had their faces painted, bought plants, bought cupcakes and cups of tea.  I had an excellent sausage sandwich and two, yes, two cupcakes and a piece of delicious carrot cake.  That's my calorie allowance for the day blown to smithereens.

And to top it all, I won a first place for my sweet pepper!

I also won second places for the turnip and the photograph, which was this one:

And third places for the carrots and the cayenne pepper. Everybody was very kind about the baby beetroots and agreed that though they were well matched and very cute, the others were just about twice the size, so that was fair enough. The jam was quietly forgotten, but I know its lovely and I get to eat it, so that is fair enough too.