Thursday, 31 October 2013

But Bobbie is not for turning...

And I think Billie has got taller, which I am surprised at as I didn't think they would continue to grow once cut off the parent plant. Just thought...perhaps Bobbie has shrunk instead.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

gluebands, winter onions and potatoes

It is starting to get a bit colder now, it got down to 5C last night, but it is quite pleasant today, sunny, bright and quite breezy.

I put some glue bands on the apple trees.  Dear me! what a mess I was in!  I had to wait until some dust had stuck to the glue on my hands before I could take pictures!

I saw that there was a few weeds under the fleece over the winter onions, so I lifted it off and found that quite a few onion sets had been pulled out of their places.  That is what the fleece was there to stop!  I don't think that birds could get under the fleece so it must be mice, but the onion sets didn't look nibbled, just moved.  Its a mystery. So I left off the fleece as it didn't seem to be making a difference.

But they are looking quite healthy so far, apart from the tops being bent over by the fleece.

I turned over the two phacelia beds, and the soil in the lasagne type bed (old strawberry) is lovely and crumbly, with lots of worms.  Unfortunately it also has lots of weeds from the home-made compost. 
The soil in the other one, the old onion bed, was a lot more solid.  I left the soil in big lumps for the frost to get at, that is the theory anyway.  It usually means the lumps have to broken up with the flat of the spade in the spring.

I planted the pot-grown loganberry, but forgot to learn the planting instructions. I think I can recall that I have to cut everything down to 9 inches, but before I do this I had better check, as I can't put it back if my memory is faulty.

Pulled some more leeks for soup and a potato and leek frittata for dinner. 

I'm using shop-bought potatoes though, I have just finished the last home-grown "kestrel" potatoes. I have ordered my next year's potatoes, maincrop "Desiree" and early "Lady Christl".  I liked the Kestrel as a new potato, just scrubbed and microwaved, but as it got older it didn't mash very well and was quite a dry potato when baked or roasted.  Desiree is supposed to be a good all-rounder and Lady Christl is defo the fashionable choice, supposed to have a lovely flavour.  We'll see!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

For Billie's fans

The latest portrait.

Monday, 28 October 2013

currant bushes planted

I got to the plot late this afternoon, I forgot that the clocks had gone back yesterday, and boy! Did it get dark quickly!

I managed to scrape up the last two barrows of soil improver (got covered in mud as usual) and spread it on the old sweet pea bed, which is where I'm putting the currant bushes. I dug out the existing redcurrant because I want to build up the level of soil a bit more and it was sitting a bit low down in the so-called raised bed.

I then replanted it with suitable soil preparation, and also the white and the blackcurrant that I heeled in only yesterday.  If I had known I would get back to it so soon I needn't have bothered. But, hey! it was good experience for me.

So there they are..the red, the white and the blue.  It was getting dark by the time I was finished and that was only 5.00pm.   

I was going to pick some beans too, but it got too spooky so I came home.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

bushes heeled in

My turn to help out in the trading hut this morning and the weather was a bit wet this afternoon so I haven't had time to plant the bushes properly.  So I heeled them in and they should be happy enough until I can do a proper job.

Gales are forecast so I hope they don't get blown about too much.

Friday, 25 October 2013

fruit bushes

It was a horrible morning, it has been raining and windy and the lights have been on in the house all morning, but one bright fruit bushes from Blackmoor Nurseries were delivered.  Yey!

1 whitecurrant, 1 blackcurrant (along with the redcurrant I already have, I am going to be very patriotic) and a loganberry in a pot.

And the sun has come out!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


Very mild and damp today, 16C.

Currently in wasp observing mode, and I spotted a new one today.  (I have been swotting up on the camera manual, so I thought I would test out a different setting.)
I don't know what kind of wasp it is, not a Common Wasp as in the nest, but it definitely looks like a wasp rather than a hoverfly.

However, enough of my nascent entymology skills, the business of the day was to push two barrow loads of soil improver up the hill to the plot, and spread it on the weeded squash bed.
That done I was a bit pooped, so after a bit of weeding and wasp watching it was time to go.  The way home is looking very autumnal.

I was in the kitchen this afternoon slicing apples (Ribston pippins donated by MGG) for the dehydrator.  I dip them in lemon juice to keep them white and into the dryer they go for about 8 hours.

I dried some overnight last night and they are luscious, very moreish.  Too moreish... an hour peeling and slicing, 8 hours in the dryer and I can scoff them all in five minutes!
I also made some lazy garlic with the cloves left after planting out the biggest ones for next year.

It is simply garlic, chopped, into a clean jar and covered with wine vinegar. It is supposed to be white wine vinegar, but in this case, I'm guessing it was rose wine vinegar.  The trouble with shopping at my corner medina store is I often can't understand the writing on the label.  It said turkel, had a picture of grapes, and the contents were a sort of pinkish colour, so I am concluding it is rose wine vinegar. I hope!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Tidying up for winter

Its a dreary, grey day on the plot today.
A good day to get covered in mud while coiling up the hosepipes.
A good day to get covered in mud turning the compost heaps.

I did both of these things.

While turning the compost there was an increase in wasp activity.  It seems I spoke too soon when I said the wasps had gone.
I noticed that some of the outgoing wasps were carrying something white, and when one of them, a small wasp carrying a blob almost as big as it was, actually dropped it, I got a chance to see what it was.
It was a pupa, presumably a wasp pupa. I took a picture, but I don't seem to be able to do close-ups, so all I got was a white blob.

I wonder why they were moving their young? Wikipedia tells me that all except the queens die off when it gets cold, so what would be the point in moving the pupae? Perhaps the pupa was dead and they were tidying up.

I moved most of the compost to the next bay, but I left the bit around the nest undisturbed. Just a big softie, me.

The apple tree is starting to let go of its apples at last, there are some quite big ones on this year

And they are tasting quite sweet.

I think the beans might be coming down pretty soon, they are starting to go over now.
There is still a lot of pods on, but not many beans in the pods.  Yes, definitely borlotti beans in the growing list for next year.

I had a proper look at the red cabbages (Huzzaro) for the first time for ages and they have nearly all rotted away and just came loose when I moved them, only two left attached to the ground.

 It doesn't look like the dreaded club root though, the roots look okay, if a little stunted.  The heads seem to have developed so far, but then stopped before they filled out, perhaps when the dry spell ended and the rainy season began.  They are in the wet end of the plot but I thought they would be okay after the dry summer.  Wrong.

Ah well, I'm sure I can survive with only two red cabbages.

Did some end of year tidying... coiling the hosepipes, collecting scattered canes, string, netting from various parts of the plot, and stacking them in the hut, cutting back the old wood on the blackberries, and tying in the new.

Friday, 18 October 2013

strimmer time

I remembered to take the strimmer to the plot, (The Pram came out again) and I strimmed the green manure in the old strawberry bed

I will come back to that and turn it in later.  

I also cut down the peas sown in one of the small raised beds so I could plant out the garlic I have been growing in modules.  

It didn't look as if they were growing at all, but when I tipped them out of their cells they all, except one, had lots of lovely roots underneath.

It has rained a lot this past few days, and I have some pools back on the plot

But the raised beds are looking nice and dry, so it has been worth the effort of putting them in.

Taken altogether, a successful and productive year so far, in stark contrast to the last one; I just have to try to maintain progress and continue to learn and improve.

Nearly forgot to mention that I pulled the first leeks of the season for soup today too.  I was surprised how big they have grown.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

allium and daffs

Stayed home and sowed allium christophii seeds, taken from the plant in the front garden, into a 5 inch pot.
Bought a bag of daffodil bulbs from Aldi and planted some in a nice blue pot

and the rest went into the empty patch in the front garden.

The marmande tomatoes are ripening slowly, while that dozy Black Russian has decided to flower at this late date.  No chance!

 The begonia I was given for my birthday in June is still flowering beautifully after a little lull.  I'm thinking I should take it into the house soon, along with the peppers on either side.

Although I have pretty much decided not to try to over winter the peppers again as they didn't crop well after the early start.  The peppers were very mis-shapen, but I am not sure what causes that.  I think it might be best to start with some new seeds for next year.

 And the christmas cactus has mis-timed it as usual.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Picked the last of...

.....the cucumbers, courgettes and maybe the runner beans.

But the apples are starting to ripen, the pippin type tree released a couple today, but the discovery type tree isn't giving in yet, nor the Jonagold. The James Grieve released its two apples last week, but they were a bit sharp still.

I bought another barrow of manure and put it on the cucumber bed.  There is still one cucumber left on one plant, but I think it is getting too cold for it to ripen much more.

Temp today and for the last 3 days has been hovering around 10-12C.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Front garden

The weather has been very threatening all day today so I confined myself to tidying the front garden, it gets very neglected in favour of the allotment.  I pulled about 20 baby comfrey plants and one absolutely huge one.  The bees have finished with them now and even though I have pulled them out I'm sure they will be back again next year.

I took down the oenothera and sunflowers B

as they were looking very bedraggled, but sunflowers A

have a bit longer to go, although the current windyness will probably finish them off.
The gaillardia

have been very good, bright jolly flowers which have been flowering for ages, and when the flowers have finished there is a sort of pompon seed head. Just the thing to cheer up a north facing garden.

I planted a load of summer bulbs a while back but very few of them came to anything.  There have been a few anonymous leaves coming up with no identifying flower attached so I don't know what they were. I took the leaves out, if they haven't flowered by now it is too late.
The soil isn't very good and I have to admit to neglecting that too.

Because I keep forgetting where I put things and then accidentally digging them up, I'm thinking I could start a frontgardenplan like the plotplans. But the shape may not lend itself so well to a spreadsheet as do the beds on a rectangular plot, so it might be easier to keep a record of it on paper as it doesn't change every year as the vegetable plot does. Although I would probably forget where I put the paper it was drawn on.  Mmm, I suppose it doesn't have to be realistic just schematic.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

walk through

When I get home and start to do my diary (I am not up to mobile blogging yet), I forget where things are, "Is the leek bed the third one from the top or is it the fourth?" I think to myself and it has never occurred to me before to do a walk through.  So here it is...

I bought 6 summer sprouting broccoli plants a few weeks back and they have grown into six good healthy plants.  Two are sprouting as they should...

The other four are not-sprouting broccoli

See? Not sprouting little flower buds anyway, leaves yes, buds no. So what are they? Having consulted MGG, who was equally at a loss, and come to no conclusion, we are going to wait and see what happens next.  I will keep this diary updated.

Yesterday, I replaced the wheel on the barrow, so today the old wheel starts a new life full of tete-a-tete daffodil bulbs.

Monday, 7 October 2013

pear harvest in

Took the pear off the tree, and a sad specimen it is too.

The birds have had a go at it, it has cracked, and it is wood hard still.

Picked more blackberries, guess what is for afters today...

I have finally given up on the wheel of the barrow, the inner tube is leaking and the tyre has multiple cracks in it. I noticed last week that Aldi had new wheels the right size for £9.99, so as it was going to cost as much for new tyre and inner tube, plus the stress of broken fingernails and skinned knuckles, it was a no-brainer.

As it happened, I still got to enjoy the nails and knuckles thing, installing the new wheel, which was a very snug fit.

Hopefully, the barrow will now be up to the task of transporting my raffle prize-winnings from the plot. (4 x 70 litre bags of multi-purpose compost)

runner beans unpodded

I harvested some of the overgrown runner beans
and we had them steamed for dinner, and they were very nice, well worth resisting the temptation to pull all the plants out.  Some of the bean pods have grown to cricket bat size almost. Enorma indeed!

I also harvested some spinach beet and the stems looked so edible that I steamed them with the beans and they were good, quite mild earthy tasting, but good, and even those of us who don't like spinach ate them.

Dug over and added some GrowOrganic to the little patch where I am planning to put the loganberry.  I haven't done anything about the currant bed yet as it is still full of drying sweet peas, and anyway the currants are bare-rooted and probably won't come for a week or two.

And the latest (and probably last) pictures of the Butternut Twins for posterity.

Both of them are about 20 inches in girth and 12 inches top to bottom.

Billie is gradually turning yellow but Bobbie has a long way to go before he/she does.