Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Last visit of 2014, probably..

Very frosty today on the first visit for a while, I have only been for the Christmas dinner parsnips (very tasty they were too, if very forked). But too cold to hang around today -1C overnight and climbing to a daytime 1C.

So I stapled a piece of plastic over the leak around the greenhouse window, emptied the veg waste bucket onto the compost heap, dug up a few leeks and fled back into the warmth of home.

Well that was the plan...but the padlock on the gate to the allotments came to pieces in my hand as I was on my way out, so I had to stop and figure out a plan of action.  No mobile phone, no access to tools or spares, not a soul about, what to do?
I had lost all feeling in my fingers by the time I had cobbled a temporary solution to the problem.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Lovely morning

I went to the plot this morning, just to empty the kitchen waste bucket on to the compost heap, but it was such a clear crisp day I stayed to dig a bean trench....

I filled it with  kitchen waste and nasturtium foliage which has been running rampant in this mild autumn.  I just knew I had let those nasturtiums grow for some reason, not just laziness.

The green manure (winter mix) is getting quite tall now and there have been no frosts to knock them back, so I sheared one bed back, to see if it grows another crop.

The parsnips tops have started to die back.  I don't know if this is normal or if they are being attacked by something (I did find a little maggot on one of the leaves), I've never grown them successfully before.

Dug up some fine leeks and a few decent sized parsnips.

I also pulled a hundred little nasturtium seedlings out of the asparagus bed.

Monday, 1 December 2014

conclusion of green potato experiment

I have heard that keeping green potatoes in the dark might, if they aren't too badly affected, make them lose their greenness.

So, back in August, when I dug up the Desiree maincrop potatoes, and found that many of them were green, I chose the biggest tubers that had patches of green.  I made sure they were clean and perfectly dry and put them to store in an old tin box, excluding all light.

I can confirm it did work.

After three months in the dark nearly all of the green had gone.  I peeled them with not a trace of anything wrong with them.  But when I cut them in half....

How disappointing is that?

I cut more open and all the biggest tubers were in a similar state.  Probably nothing to do with the green on the surface, more to do with irregular watering while growing, I guess.

But I suppose we know now that it does work.

Friday, 28 November 2014

amaryllis update

The two amaryllis bulbs that were over-summered, have come to fruition. Well, one of them has...

The double white one has gone ridiculously tall, while the other, the red one, looks as if it just going to produce leaves. Pity, I liked the red one best.

But the double one is looking stunning and looks as if it might manage four blooms on one stem. Whether another flower stem will develop remains to be seen. There is something more growing from the bulb, but I can't yet tell if it is leaf or stem.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Shed door jammed

The Shed has entered its first winter and has not taken too well to the damp of an English autumn, the door has swollen shut.  I managed to pry it open, to sand a bit off the edge and it opens and closes, just... I didn't want to take too much off as it will likely shrink again in the summer. The shed is really not very strong and the whole thing bent horribly when I forced the door open.

After that, nothing to do but stand and admire the gloaming

Monday, 17 November 2014

November wet and mild so far

It rained pretty solidly all night, so it was too wet to do anything much.

I hoed around the leeks and winter onions to keep them tidy.  I'm forever being reminded that onions don't like weeds as competition. The onions are still a bit grass-like, but leeks are rather fine looking and the green manure (winter mix from SowSeeds, if I recall correctly) has sprouted away.

I'm very tempted to have at them with the strimmer, but I'm told they will die back with the frosts (if there is any, it has been very mild for November)

I hope there will be frosts, as I have dug up the rhubarb to expose its roots to the frosts, which seems cruel but is apparently the thing to do.  My Dad used to do it, but I have to admit that this is the first time I have ever remembered to do it at the proper time of year.
(The black polythene is supposedly keeping some burnable rubbish dry until the weather dries up a bit and I can have another fire.)

The sweet clover I supposedly broadcast (not very well, I now see) hasn't made much growth, I'm not sure how big it is supposed to get, but I would've thought bigger than that.

But there are signs of the mild autumn

Flowers on the poached egg plants, also the phacelia is still flowering in another part of the plot,

And lots of buds and even a new leaf on the whitecurrant bush.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

morning mist

A chill, misty morning on Hunter's Moor....

Wednesday, 12 November 2014


Banana (musa ensete) extricated from the papyrus and potted up. Looking a bit greener and has grown another leaf, so seems happy.

Sunday, 2 November 2014


1st November, open season on garden fires.

I actually got one going for longer than 10 minutes and got rid of nearly all the burnable detritis lying around the garden.

It was an ideal day for it too.

But that smoke...eyewatering! It seeks me out and follows me around until I stumble out of the cloud, lungs heaving and eyes streaming!

Friday, 31 October 2014

first leeks

Did some weeding.  That bittercress stuff sure is a pretty successful weed, with nasturtiums running a close second.  

Sorted out some of the old wood and twigs and put them under cover to dry out a little for the great burn up.

 Pulled the first leeks of the season. They have really grown well, I think this must be the earliest picking ever. I noticed the start of rust on my young leeks just a few weeks ago, so I took off the affected leaves, gave a dose of potash, and just in case sprayed with an anti-fungal.  So far no sign of rust returning.

There are still plenty of flowers and still bees, both bumble and honey, there to harvest the nectar

Loads of seed heads on the nigella.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

wood chips

There is a new pile of wood chippings up for grabs, so the plot has been liberally sprinkled

Not much to do until bonfire season starts on the 1st November.  The weather has gone all damp making my bonfire material all soggy.  Firelighters will be used.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

bean frame and a banana

Where the runner and french beans were is now a pile of leaves and stalks.  In previous years I have untangled and snipped the twining stem from the frame, but this year I just undid the strings tying the canes together and pulled them out of the ground and through the beanstalks. Simple! I will leave the detritus to rot down into the soil for next year.

This is a pot of papyrus which lives in the corner of bathroom.
"No!" you may say, "that is not papyrus!" and you would be right, it is a banana, musa ensete to be accurate. Months ago my son gave me the seed as a souvenir from the British Museum, complete with rhino poo compost to grow it in. This seed mustn't have read the book, because it sat looking obdurately seed-like through the rhino poo box rotting away, being repotted twice, sitting on the bathroom windowsill for months until eventually I got fed up with it and stuffed it into the middle of the newly repotted papyrus plants.
Eh voila! Such is the perversity of nature.

I'm not quite sure what to do with it now.

Current plot plan 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

winter onions planted

I finished planting the onions,  there are still a few left that I had no room in that bed for.  They are the small ones so I will leave them in their tray until there is some space in a place where no alliums have been for a while.

The shop was open and a new load of manure has been delivered so with £3 in my hot little hand, I was there.

Three barrowloads of manure up the hill to the plot and on to the asparagus bed was my exercise on a fine Sunday morning.

garlic and winter onions

I used garlic from this year's crop for seed for next year.  I know, I know, I said I was going to get some new but I have so many garlic cloves and they are starting to sprout already...

They have been planted next to the parsnips where the dwarf beans were.

I planted some of the winter onions..

They have good roots on them..

But it was getting late and I had meatballs and a tomato and mushroom sauce to cook for tea..

So I planted the biggest ones and left the others for another day.

I have planted them deeper than is usually recommended to try to discourage the birds from pulling them out. They tend to push themselves upwards as their roots develop, anyway.  I might fleece them as the nights get colder.

It certainly isn't cold yet though, it was up to 19C today and was only 11C overnight.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Another bed cleared

This bed contained the yellow courgettes, which were a waste of space, and are out now.  The bed has been weeded and milled, some fertilizer added and just for luck, a sprinkling of rockdust. Next thing to go in 

 are the japanese onion sets which have been sprouting in a litter tray at home.  All except one have sprouted, even the tiny ones.

I pulled, or rather prised, the first parsnips out of the ground, and I am quite pleased with them, they are quite a good size even though a bit forked.

I found a good crop of mushrooms in the woodchip path, but I'm not risking eating them as I know absolutely nothing about mushroom toxicity. Bit small anyway.

Some of the shallots were starting to go off, so I pickled some of them.
Also most of the maincrop onions have started to rot both top and bottom, so a lot have been discarded, but I saved enough to fill a few jars of dried sliced onions, which I can use in soups and is quite good crumbled on top of cottage pie.
There still a dozen or so maincrop onions in the garage and there are still a lot of winter onions, which seem to be keeping quite well on the attic stairs.  The onions grown from sets were bigger and are storing better than the onions raised from seed, so I don't think I will bother with seeds next year.  After two poor years for summer onions I may not bother at all and just do winter onions.

I will probably change my mind come Christmas.

Friday, 10 October 2014

blackberries pruned, apples picked and observations on tomatoes

It has been raining a bit lately and I haven't been to the plot for a few days.  There isn't that much to do now except cut things down.  I'm waiting for the autumn skip and bonfire night to dispose of some of the rubbish around the plot that is irking me.

The thornless blackberries have had their old wood pruned off, leaving the new wood only. The two main branches stretched a good ten feet on either side of the main root system, and on one side, were encroaching on the loganberry's space, so I have trimmed back the leaders to a reasonable length.

The apples on the old apple tree were starting to fall off so I have picked all the decent sized ones and they are for the dehydrator to provide snacking opportunities pour moi in the near future. I left the small apples for the birds, although I'm sure they would rather have had the big ones, but hey, that's a bird's life. There was only about half a bucket full, and all badly disfigured, but that was more than I thought there would be.

One of the tomato plants (gardeners delight) in the potting shed has been cut down, but the other (marmande) tomato is still going with a few large fruits slowly ripening.  It has produced large sweet tomatoes with a lovely flavour, and I will certainly grow them next year. The plan of allowing two side stems to develop in lieu of height has worked quite well and all three stems have produced fruit. It didn't work quite so well on the Gardener's Delight, which was a much leggier, more vine-like plant. Its side-shoots grew very few fruits for by the time they had flowered, they were up above the window and not getting enough light.

Rainy and cold, and feeling a bit fragile after my shingles jab yesterday, I went home to have an hour under the duvet. Zzzzz!

Sorry no pics as I forgot my phone. (which I try not to do in case I fall again or damage myself while alone on the plot)

Thursday, 2 October 2014

still warm

We have had a lovely long summer this year.  It is still really warm and sunny through the day (max 20.3C this afternoon in the back garden), but it was quite sharp this morning (min 5.9C at 7.45 am), no actual frost, but getting there.

There isn't much to do now at the plot except weeding, even the beans and blackberries are slowing down.
I picked some big fat bean pods and I am saving the french beans (monte cristo) for next year's seed as they were pretty productive after a slow start.
The runner bean pods were massive so I shelled them and the beans have gone into the latest batch of that daily necessity, soup.

I sorted through the onion sets and some of them are tiny and I'm sure they will get lost in the clods at the allotment, so I am chitting/sprouting them in a tray full of spent compost.

Monday, 29 September 2014


Nothing much new happening in the plot, still picking beans but the blackberries are getting smaller both in berry size and quantity.
Here's a few pictures from home...

 The latest batch of carrots is looking good, I pulled one just to see, and it is about the thickness of a cotton bud, so has a way to go.

The cosmos have been flowering their socks off for weeks...

The front garden is looking very floriferous (is that even a word?)

Saturday, 27 September 2014

more green manure

Looking at my leeks, some are looking quite well developed...

while others are looking a bit delicate.

Also quite a few are already showing signs of rust for which there is no cure.  RHS advice is to strip off the affected leaves, and my fave website goes for watering with a potash solution.  So I have covered all bases by stripping off as many of the rusty leaves as I could spot, watering with potash to give the plants a boost and topped it off by spraying with a fungicide.

We'll see what happens.

I have cleared three beds, again! and sowed green manure (winter mix). I can't remember what it is but there is defintely some grass seeds in there and what looks like mustard seed.

 One bed down, two to go...

I love that soil miller..

The third bed is the squash and gherkin bed, which are now defuncted.  Not growing gherkins again, complete losers, the lot of them.