Wednesday, 21 December 2016

 Not many apples left, the birds are enjoying them....

On the other hand the birds in my back garden haven't touched the fat balls, they have sprouted!


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

It was hard frosty all day on Monday, -1C first thing.  Today, Wednesday, it has reached 14C, yes, you did not misread me, that is 14 above zero not 14 below...which I am quite glad about, really, so not complaining.


Sunday, 4 December 2016


The birds are enjoying the left-over apples.  Every apple has a peck out of it.

Quite wet at the mo, the bonfire season has got off to a damp start, as is frequently the case in this part of the world.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

I've got a new partner on the plot...meet Lady Eleanor




Fresh from an appearance in the walled garden at Gibside, she is gracing my humble plot with a touch of class.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Pretty mild, this last couple of days 7C or thereabouts, after a cold few days.  No frosts yet though.

Bonfire time.  Got rid of some of the leylandii trimmings, but there is a lot left.  The conifer branches light up quite easily even though everything is pretty wet.

The winter onions are showing well, I have had to take the netting off because their green leaves were either getting squashed by it or they were growing through and getting entangled..

The garlic is sprouting through now too.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Lots of rain, lots and lots.  The upside is there are plenty of puddles to wash the beetroots in.  The downside is that the bonfire material is very soggy.

Shelled the french beans that I picked when I took the vines down...there's a lot of beans... and the runner beans are yet to go.



...and picked a junior Brussells sprout plant...


...the sprouts were full size though and luscious with pot-roasted brisket and roast vegetables.  Mmmm!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Four barrow loads of manure on the asparagus bed.  I wouldn't normally have the stamina for four trips, but there is a lot of straw in this batch of horse manure which makes it a lot lighter.  It doesn't matter too much that it is not well rotted as it will sit on the bed over winter and lighten the soil for next spring (I hope).

Sowed some sweet clover green manure in an empty bed.

Weeded the courgette bed of perennials, but left the annuals and the remnants of courgette plants. They will die back over winter.

Dug out the sweet corn stalks ready for the end of the bonfire ban next week.

Picked a few pounds of apples from the old tree, they are nice tasting this year, though small.  They always taste better straight off the tree.  I have been stripping off any apple that was blemished as the season has gone on and it has paid off,  now they are ripe, there are only a few with the crusty cracked skins.  I'll have to try and get them a bit bigger next year.
Haven't been to the plot for a week!  I'll be getting a Letter if I don't watch out!

While I was gone my saffron crocuses have popped up


Planted out the last of the winter onions that have been sprouting in the shed.  Every one has rooted eventually.

Still pulling beetroot and picking chrysanthemums.

There some good looking sprouts under the netting, will have to have a closer look soon.  Its a bit of a chore taking the net down, there must be a better way.

Sunday, 16 October 2016


Garlic planted (Provence wight)

Picked blackberries, not that many,  I seem to have missed a lot of them.  Never mind, I'm looking forward to blackberry and apple with yoghurt or ice cream.  The apples were some scabby ones off the big tree, they aren't ripe yet so they were sour enough to go well with the overripe blackberries.

Had to rig up some netting over my onion and shallot sets because something (probably birds) had pulled loads of them out and left them scattered all over.

Sunday, 9 October 2016



The Cherokee trail of tears french beans are starting to die back and the pods...


 ...are turning a lovely dark red.


The Czar runner beans pods are getting thinner and lighter in weight and colour. I grew Czar because they are supposed to be like butter beans when dried.



 The sweet peas are dying back too, they have been excellent this year.  I have my seeds for next year and I will be sowing them in pots soon.

I picked a lovely apple, an orange pippin, pity there were only three on the tree. Also an humungous courgette the size of a marrow...the last shout I think.  Courgette soup coming up.

And a surprise cucumber in among the nasturtiums..


Monday, 3 October 2016

Not been to the plot so often lately, the weather has turned a bit chilly and there is just weeding mostly which is a bit boring in the cold.

However, I have been watering the onion sets in the modules and most of them are sprouting away nicely, as usual it is the red ones that are being awkward and going mouldy instead of rooting.

Imagine my surprise when another 50 onion sets (Radar) arrived in the post.  That's the trouble with ordering weeks ahead of planting time by the time it arrives I have forgotten what I ordered. I knew I had sent for new garlic because although I've planted my own garlic for the last few years, they seemed to be getting smaller so I decided it was time to buy new (Provence Wight). Also some winter shallots (Jermor) They look nice and healthy, not a soggy one among them, got from DT Brown

I took advantage of a fine afternoon and planted all the leek seedlings and the onions sets out, all except the red ones which have been left in the modules for a bit longer.  The garlic can wait for a week or two before they need to go in.

I would post a plotplan but Windows has been at it again and changed the rules on me.  No more until I figure out what is going on.



Got there in the end, what's that all about?!


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The last of the sweetcorn was harvested this afternoon


There were a couple of nice fat cobs but the rest were small and patchy,  I will scrape the kernels off the cob and freeze them loose. The tillers produced small thin cobs which looked as if they were not pollinated.  I might take them off in future to concentrate the plant's efforts into making proper cobs.

Planted some horseradish roots (thank you Beverley) ...


...and 10 saffron crocus bulbs.  The crocuses might yield a teaspoonful of saffron next autumn.  I am informed that it needs to be harvested at sunrise with tweezers....I'll look forward to that.

Bought some more onion sets to fill up the empty modules in the tray. Red ones, not sure of the variety.

Monday, 19 September 2016



It would have looked even better if we had thought of doing this before I cut half the hedge down.


We discovered a fence-post and trellis we didn't know was there and suddenly realised that we had cut into the next door neighbours part of the hedge...oops! I am going to have to grovel a bit.


Planted the onion sets (Radar) bought in the Grainger Market, into modules to give them a start before the winter.  I will keep them in the shed until they get some roots going.


The chrysanthemum plug plants planted in the spring have flowered nicely, this is just one stem. I even won first in its class at the allotment show with them, although I have to admit that it was the only entry in its class.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Another lovely day, this summer is making up for the late start it made, September and still no-coat weather.

Bingo wings still tender...arms akimbo is a no no!

However, as I have time-limited access to it, the trimmer of power was calling to me so the spirea hedge in between mine and Sue's plot got a good seeing to.

Pat did more work on the hedge art and it is looking good, but sadly I forgot to take photos.  It will have to wait till Monday now as I am off to Harrogate Autumn Flower Show tomorrow.  Lets hope the bus turns up this time. (Long story..)

Weeded and picked lots of purple queen french beans.  Also four cucumbers and that's just from one plant, after a summer long sulk the plant has suddenly started to produce female flowers.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Arms aching tonight as my puny muscles feel the hedge trimming I have done this afternoon.
Borrowed a cordless hedge trimmer from son Paul and wow! what a blast!  Wielding the sword of power like a rather slow Jedi knight! It really does the job magnificently, well, it would if the wielder had more stamina.
Assisting the work and adding to the strain on my biceps was a bow saw, a pruning saw, loppers and some secateurs. All essential equipment to take a leylandii hedge from 10 feet high to 4 feet.
There are a couple of really thick stems in the middle which  have morphed into a lollipop art project.  Pictures to follow, but I wish I had thought to take some "before" pictures. Not sure what the committee will make of it.
Luckily a friend and useful gardener came to the aid of my muscles, and she is the arty one, so I will blame her if any questions are asked.

Forgot to mention that I saw a Jay this morning.  The other day I saw a strange bird as big as the parakeets and making a harsh rasping call but couldn't see it against the sky.  But I saw it proper today, crest and all.  That's a first for me!

Saturday, 10 September 2016


Best ever year for sweetcorn, they are so sweet...


I won by default as the only chrysanthemum entry..


Beat stiff competition for the jelly first ...

After all the hype, the marrow was beaten by a big yellow pumpkin.

All in all...3 first prizes, 2 seconds and 2 thirds.

But what really counts is that it was a good day, no rain, no wind, no sun either but that wasn't important.  Everything went to plan, the show committee did well.  One crisis averted when a visiting large dog almost got to lick the beautiful raffle prize cake...
 The book, jam, and plant stalls made a bit of money and with any luck the show might have broken even on expences.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Getting ready for the show tomorrow...


I can't decide which marrow...the short fat one or the long thin one....hum..



 As ready as we'll ever be.  Just some french beans to select and some flowers to pick tomorrow morning.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

The marrows have a severe case of mildew on the leaves so I have trimmed them off exposing them in their full glory...



Any Other Vegetable...here we come!

Monday, 29 August 2016

Weather: sunny, light breeze, a high of 24C...a very nice day

The buckwheat green manure is flowering, I think...



Fairly low key blooms, and sadly didn't the chance to show us its full glory, because...


chopped and dug in as best I could on such a sunny day.  Too hot to do that kind of strenuous work really.

More beans picked, more sweet peas picked, more courgettes picked and, just for a change a little baby cucumber.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Another bucket of french beans today and another two courgettes.  This is getting repetitive.

The buckwheat green manure is growing nicely (doesn't look a bit like wheat).  I'm not sure how big to let it grow before it is supposed to be turned in, but it was too hot today to do anything as strenuous as digging, so it will stay for a while. Dig it in before it flowers is the answer I suppose.


Thursday, 25 August 2016

The french beans are really going for it now


The runner beans are runners-up for a change.



I'm thinking I will pick french beans in preference to the runners a) because I like them better and b) the Czar variety of runner bean makes a good dried bean when left to grow bigger (so the packet said)


The asparagus ferns are falling about all over, but there have been quite a few spears this years which promises well for next year when it will be their third summer and I will be able to cut some. Yey!


Today's harvest, including some over large courgettes which escaped the eagle eye somehow.

These are some "armpits" from the Marmande tomatoes


I will try to keep them going through the winter on the kitchen windowsill and see if they will produce fruit a bit earlier next year.

Monday, 22 August 2016

We are pickling...

An overabundance of beetroot results in beetroot and orange chutney


I decided to take down some of the early tomato plants in the home greenhouse.  They were looking very sorry for themselves and only had a few fruits left.

The result.. mixed green and red tomato chutney.


It is a Nigel Slater recipe I have used before and well worth doing again.

While the early tomatoes are fading, the marmande are looking plumptious..


But they only have fruits on the lowest two trusses,



Perhaps, being beefier plants they need more root space than a 10 inch pot allows.

  • I could try them in recycling boxes next year, but that uses so much compost the cost per tomato becomes ridiculous.  
  • Or another option could be to have more pots and nip each plant out at two trusses. That, come to think of it, could be the best option, because being  plants that  develop later, by the time the top 3rd and 4th trusses have filled and ripened the summer is just about over. The only down side of that is that they would have to be in the greenhouse as they didn't do at all well in the blowaway outside and I don't have a lot of horizontal space inside.
The bush tomato Early Latah is still producing its strange composite fruits and the flavour is very good.  But the plants are very sprawly and untidy and bring on an attack of OCD if I think about it too hard. The Nimbus are definitely a no for next year, the fruits look very pretty and they are quite thin skinned, but they are tasteless and prone to splitting and blossom end rot. So the side shoots I have been nurturing are binned forthwith.
I might take some marmande side shoots and see if they start fruiting earlier in the season.

And a last look at the marrows...


Definite candidates for the allotment show.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Harvesting...

Beetroot-Cylindra , tomato-early Latah, runner bean-Czar, french bean-Cherokee trail of tears

Planting...


A bit late (packet says plant April) but hopefully they will survive.



Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Weather: cool wind, with a mix of sun, cloud, and sudden deluges.  Overnight 10C, 12C at 10 am

Now is the season for giant courgettes to be left on the free shelf at the allotment gate.  Its clever how they manage to hide in plain sight until they are a foot long.

Dug up the potatoes, not many but each one is absolutely humungous.

No beans to pick, yet.  They are coming slower than usual because of the dryness I suppose.

But I did pick a tomato (early latah) from the plants at the plot, and very strange it is too


It is like a whole truss of cherry tomatoes all rolled into one.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Lovely sunny day at last.

Picked the last of the broad beans, the first of the french beans and the second picking of runner beans, bean salad tonight I think!

Weeded the strawberry beds and cut the tops off. Quite a poor year for these, too dry.

The three marrows are getting big (forgot camera, pics tomorrow) might win a prize at the allotment show in September.

Picked two chrysanths.  The first time I have actually cut anything from the cutting garden.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Pretty much picked all the broad beans, just a few baby ones left to grow a bit.  The bag of beans was so heavy I had to get the pram to carry them home.



Dug up some potatoes.  One plant had wilted and gone brown so I dug that one first and the potatoes underneath were revolting, slimy and rotting.  Don't know what that is, blight maybe?  Seems to be the only plant affected, the potatoes on either side were lovely. (there was more than one!)



Four marrows on the plant so I nipped off the other ones so it could concentrate on those four. (three now!)



After giving up on the cucumber plants, one plant has a cucumber on, small and prickly as yet, but with potential.

Picked the first runner beans, all three of them.  No sign of any french beans yet, no I found a tiny one...



The sweetcorn have their tassels on the top and are looking lovely and healthy.



The two of the courgette plants are producing nicely I have had half a dozen so far.



What am I going to do this evening in front of the telly?  You guessed it....shelling broad beans.

Sowed buckwheat into the bed where the winter onions were.

teazel

nigella seed heads

honeysuckle