Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Wouldn't you just know it!  One apple on the Jonagold and I missed it...

Asparagus ferns in their second summer...

I planted out the spring cabbage and put a green mesh tunnel over.

I will plant out the others when they are big enough.

I am starting to clear the ground for the new pond and disturbed another big caterpillar.

I await an id from our caterpillar expert.....?

This is the proposed site of the new pond..

to fit this..

Its only 18 inches deep which doesn't sound much, but....

Monday, 28 September 2015

I made some bread and butter pickle (so called because it goes well with bread and butter).  Cucumbers, onions (or in this case shallots) and a red sweet pepper for appearances.  I hope it is going to keep okay in these coffee jars, I haven't got any proper kilner jars and the cost of buying them is an investment I am not prepared to make at this time.

The pears (loffelbirne) have been picked, some had some beak damage, so I thought I had better get them in before the birds do.  And according to the growers website, they should be picked unripe and stored till Decemberish.

The sweetcorn is starting to ripen at last, I was beginning to give up on it as the nights are getting quite cool now and the first frost feels just around the corner. The cobs picked so far are a good size and well pollinated and there are plenty of them.  Something has been eating the tips of some of the cobs, but so far only the ones on the tillers (side shoots)

The banana shallots (simiane) are falling about untidily all over the place, and I was tempted to pull them out. But as the tops are still growing strongly, I have taken out only the feeblest ones and left these for the moment.

The buckwheat green manure is coming up nicely, although my broadcasting technique definitely needs work! I don't know why it is called buckwheat, it is nothing like any wheat I have seen.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

the adventures of a lost little soldier

This afternoon, I was digging in the back garden, struggling to take out an old quince bush, when, in the tangle of roots I came across a lost little soldier.  The poor little man must have been waiting to be rescued for about twenty-five years at least, maybe more.

If he could talk I wonder what he would tell us....

(squeaky voice)
up to my knees in muck and bullets...

tramping through the rainforest...

hacking through tropical undergrowth...where's that machete...

Bit of a lull now after the show and the growing season is winding down, Not a lot to do on the plot except to keep it tidy and pick things.

Picking now...runner beans, blackberries, sweet peas, courgettes, cucumbers.
Picking soon....apples, sweet corn, celeriac, red shallots, purple dwarf french beans.
Still growing....winter onions from seed, fennel, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, leeks, cabbage, red cabbage, brussels sprouts.

I put the cloche over the cucumbers and some of the courgettes to keep them going a bit longer

I found a very large caterpillar marching determinedly along the edge of a raised bed edge

Don't know what it is, but from the size of it it has done its eating already and hopefully past any danger to my plants, so I left it alone.  I couldn't face the squish even if I had killed it anyway.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Show day 2015

Sadly, grey and wet, very wet, but not so wet that the show was called off, which would have been a disappointment to all of the 20 people that turned up.

By the time the gates opened at 12.30 the rain had stopped, but by that time the path in front of the show tent had turned liquid.  I nipped up to my plot, rolled up my new astroturf paths and laid them down over the muddiest parts in front of the entrance and that helped minimise the clarts a bit.

I was manning the plant stall where the few veg plants went like hot cakes, but the flower plants attracted less interest.  There were some nice plants too, three different varieties of foxglove, three  or four of lupin, all nice sturdy plants. But even with the bad weather, the stall made £57.50, half of which goes into the plant scheme coffers for seeds for next year.

I did surprisingly well in the show;
firsts for

  • three garlic bulbs
  • pickled sliced beetroot, 
  • photograph taken on our allotment site, as below:

thirds for

  • three onions
  • three carrots
  • one sweet pepper
  • six sweet pea stems
  • jar of jelly
  • jar of chutney
I am particularly pleased with the awards for the onions, jelly and chutney. The other thirds were not so well earned because they were mostly third out of a field of three.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

On carrots

The morning was spent over the sink, washing carrots.

They are all pretty small, but there is a possibility that I might have three decent-sized ones that will do for the show. I'm not sure yet as I have only rough-sorted them,  I'll do the fine-sort before Friday.

Above are the biggest whole undamaged carrots

 These are the small and part carrots which I will use for snacking or cooking.

This an example of the typical damage.  Something has tunnelled into the side, usually near the bottom, then once maggot has reached the core it tunnels up through the carrot damaging the whole root.
I'm guessing it is carrot fly which is responsible.  They were growing in a box raised up off the ground so that the soil surface was at least two feet high, so in theory it should have been safe from carrot fly. Seemingly the fly hasn't read the book.  I did have a fleece cover on the box, but it shredded in the last wind and I thought, mistakenly, I might get away with it this year.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Preparing for the show

Thinking about the show which is due to happen on Saturday, always providing there isn't a sudden torrential downpour to wash us all out.
  • I've got 3 matched onions, but no raffia, so I tried one with a strand of hessian string and it could look quite good if I can keep it neat enough. Somebody told me that you do something with onions and talcum powder, but they didn't tell me exactly what...
  • I've got 3 beetroots roughly the same size so If I can get them clean without damaging them they might do.
  • I have a box of carrots in the back garden which are of unknown quality so far, I will investigate tomorrow.
  • I've sweet peas and runner beans galore, which I can pick on Friday.
  • I can put in a jar of the currant jelly I made last month.
Things that won't star...
  • the shallots are too big, if I put six of those out they would fill the table, besides, they aren't ready and I don't want to pull them yet. (Like lots of other things in the plot)
  • the broad beans are too small
  • the courgettes are all different sizes (one enormous one - see pic below)
..and they have been nibbled by slugs underneath.
  • The crown prince squashes have grown two fruits at last, but too late...too late...they are only the size of grapefruit.
  • the sweetcorn aren't ripe yet, I picked an exploratory one today and although it was fully pollinated from top to bottom, the kernels are small and still pale yellow. I gnawed on it and it was quite tasty, even so.
  • there is only one presentable gladioli left, they were brilliant last week.
  • apples and pears, I have, but they are not ripe.
  • the blackberries are ripening slowly, but there probably won't be enough to fill a plate full.
  • the red cabbages are all leaf and no heart.
  • And the leeks...I only replanted them a few days ago.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Leeks transplanted

I retrieved the leek seedlings from under the sweet peas and re-planted them in the potato bed. They are all a bit bendy with being in the shade, but I hope they will straighten up.

I broadcast some buckwheat green manure onto the old strawberry bed, which is now topped up with soil improver.

I did a lasagne bed thing with it..1 cardboard, 2 kitchen waste and annual weeds, 3 newspapers, 4 soil improver.

I have noticed that the sunflowers beside the apple tree are looking a bit sick...

Now, that is the same part of the garden where the little apple trees died and the gooseberry bushes looked sick last year. I was hoping I might have cured it, but obviously not.
Its a bit worrying when I have just planted some jostaberry bushes and a new pear tree in that same bed.