Saturday, 18 November 2017

A bit kippered owing to smoky bonfire, as is usual at this time of year.  Worth it though as I got rid of quite a lot of stuff that has been lying around for ages.

The winter onions given to me by a friends have gone into bed 1, hopefully an area which hasn't been affected by white rot.

Bed 2. The annual ritual of planting the baby leeks, ie. trim the roots, make a hole, pop in the leek and,,,

fill the hole with water and hope it doesn't wash the leeks out of the hole again.

Bearing in mind that they may not turn out to be leeks. Well, some will, of course, because I got them from my own stock, but the others are a mystery yet to unfold.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

The little chrysanthemums are still flowering away, even though it's November.

Put my garlic in today, only 10 cloves but lovely fat ones - the biggest of last season's crop.

Only a few winter onions and the leeks to be planted before the real winter sets in.

A local sage declared that because we have experienced a few mild winters in recent years we are due for a lot of snow come December....
I don't know whether nature really works as logically as that.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Deconstructing the support structures on the plot now.

It is very mild though, for almost November, there were still flowers on the outdoor tomato when I took it down. Come to that, it still had fruit on but it was so battered I didn't really fancy eating it.

I've put the giant pieces of cardboard onto one of the empty beds (after weeding out the dandelions and buttercups) and piled on top the spent compost from the potato boxes and the tomato plants. Plus anything else that isn't a perennial weed, bean stalks and shells, courgette and squash stalks, asparagus tops.

All the woody stalks, I have piled on top of the asparagus bed to dry for the time when we are allowed to burn.

Next I need to sort beds out for the baby leeks, the garlic and a few winter onions given to me by a kind friend with a surplus. The last few years onions, both winter and maincrop, have been so damaged by mould that I'm not going to get any more for a few years.

I managed to pick some saffron strands, not many flowered this year, or if they did they did it between my visits, so only got the strands from about four flowers.

This was the results of the purple sweetcorn experiment. Poor.

I pulled some celeriac and as usual they are about the size of a golfball, but flavour packed all the same.

I have got a new plum tree, just a stick at the moment but I live in hope. ( there are three in the tub but two are someone elses's) Jubilee cordon Victoria type plum.

Apologies for the technical hitch meaning I cannot publish all my
photos, My old phone died and I haven't figured out my new one yet.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Time to take down the bean frame, autumn is here in earnest. There is a bucket full of foot long beans which I look forward to shelling (not)

As for the sweetcorn,..

 I need say no more except "lovely colour" This is the biggest one but I picked a very small one at the same time and it was like eating a salad babycorn, or a carrot, very sweet and crunchy.  This could be the way they are meant to be, I don't know and could not tell from the packet's instruction as I don't read Thai.

Picked the pears...

The reddish-brown ones are Loffelbirne and the green ones are Invincible.  Not very many but each one is very heavy, the poor little Loffelbirne breathed a sigh of relief after picking.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Very very windy today! 

Thankfully no real damage to the plot.  Some apples blown off their trees, the netting blown off the brassica bed. The worst was the bean frame broke, but they were ready to come out soon anyway.

Oh and a couple of sweet corn stalks have been blown over, they weren't going to ripen any time soon, so no great loss that I wasn't going to lose already.

Monday, 18 September 2017

I found an allium seed head on the free shelf at the allotment, which was growing "grass" in amongst the seed heads.

So I carefully extracted the "grass" which looks like baby leeks...

and potted them up....

So, hopefully, that's my next years crop on the go for free!  Result!

Friday, 15 September 2017

 The one surviving Crown Prince, diminutive but still bigger than last year's specimen

 Pear Invincible: a beautiful of only four, but it is the first crop.

Pear Loffelbirne: lots of heavy fruit.

Apple James Grieve: almost ripe and ready to pick.

Purple sweetcorn: lots of cobs but way off being ripe.  The weather forecast is predicting warmth next week which might help, but I have a feeling it it won't..

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

The temperature is dropping, it was 10C this morning at 9.30am. Time for the tomato plants to go...took off the last few fruits.  I'll think of something to do with them, don't know what yet, no more chutney though, I know that much.

I took off some sideshoots of the marmande and poked them into a pot to overwinter on the kitchen widowsill.

It was worth doing this year, there were fruit on earlier than usual with the Marmande, and from the very bottom of the stems to the tops.  Quite often the fruit trusses don't grow until the plant is quite tall so the bottom foot or two of stem is unproductive space.

I don't think I need to keep shoots of the Shirley or Garden Pearl as they both flowered early anyway.

I haven't taken the outside tomatoes down yet, it is a bit too cold and wet at the moment, but they won't be long.

There is no sign of the Jalapeno peppers turning red so I 'll keep them for a while.  If I can find some space I will bring them into the house when it turns cold.  It did well this year if a little leggy. Just wish I actually liked chillis.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

The weather has turned autumnal all of a sudden, grey skies, spatters of rain and a bit breezy.  That did not affect the annual allotment show, however, and we managed to raise a few pounds for the association plus a good burger for lunch.

The show went by without any contributions from me this year, sadly, I've just had too much on, my kitchen is being painted so I have nowhere to put anything at the moment.  Space and time are needed to spread everything out to decide whether there is enough good quality stuff to put in the show.

Truth to tell, I just haven't done all that well this year, the harvest was okay but nothing to write home about.  The early drought set back a lot of the early crops and when we did get some rain there was little sun and low temperatures.
My corn has cobs at last, but unless we get a couple of weeks of sun and warm they won't ripen.
I've never known my sweet peas to die mid season before, and two sowings of mange-tout and peas have both been non-starters
The broad beans weren't as prolific as usual, but it was a different variety than usual so it might not have been just the weather causing it.
The climbing beans are producing more than enough for home consumption, but that is mostly the runners (Czar), the french beans have been nowhere near as productive as last year...very tasty though (blue lake).
Unusually, the winter onions were affected by basal root mould, I suppose because the mild winter we had last year didn't kill off enough bugs.
The beetroot has been so slow to grow I haven't had any worth picking even now, although I might get some eventually.
There's been some good things though...

  • the blackberries have got loads of lovely big berries
  • the runner beans as I said earlier.
  • the potatoes in bags were nice, tasty and clean.
  • the tomatoes have done really well this year though, I've had loads.  I've made soups, passata, pasta sauce and ratatouille and still had enough to give away to friends and family.

Dropping a shelf down in the greenhouse mean't each tomato plant (Shirley and Marmande) had room for another truss, and the Outdoor Girls did well in the blowaway outside even though the door has been rolled up since June. The Outdoor Girls are nicely flavoured and quite productive, but very straggly plants, I'm never quite sure how to deal with these bush varieties that fall about all over.  If the branches are left on the ground, the slugs and snails get them but its hard to tie them up because of all the stems.

All in all not bad so far.  Still to come (hopefully) sweetcorn, celeriac, beetroot, apples and pears, more potatoes, more beans (depodded) and maybe a teaspoon of saffron.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

I haven't been able to upload photos for the last week or so since I had an update to windows 10.  Don't know why. But now I have discovered how to upload direct from my camera, so I will be able to catch my readers up ...all three of them.

This strange caterpillar was spotted crossing the path at the allotment.

It is a hawk moth caterpillar with false eyes on its back, in the second pic, the real head is tucked under, presumably because I frightened it when I picked it up to get a better photo. This is only the second time I have seen one.

My biggest tomato. (Marmande)

It has been a good year so far for toms. Nothing much else mind.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

more beans and a few courgettes....

and the contents of one potato bag..

Monday, 7 August 2017

I found, in the pantry, a bit of ginger root starting to sprout so I laid it on top of some damp compost and stuck it underneath a tomato plant in the greenhouse, and lo...!

Now what do I do with it!

The purple sweet corn is looking very healthy, thanks to all the rain lately, but no sign of any tassells.  They are going to have to get moving as the season is ticking on....only a few more weeks of "summer" to go.

picking now: broad beans (just tailing off), runner beans (in full flow), french beans (just starting), blackberries (just starting), courgettes (steady)

There are a couple of cucumbers in the making and three crown prince pumpkins, lets hope they get a bit bigger than last time I tried them.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Tomatoes in the home lean-to are ripening nicely.

Picking runners and broad beans and the odd courgette. 

Its unusual to be picking both types of beans at the same time, the broad beans seem late this year.  I assume it was the dry spring slowing things down and there was also quite a bad attack of blackfly just at the time the plants were trying to set their first flowers. I thought the beans, both plant and pod, were particularly small this year, only about 3 or 4 beans per pod and only about 18 inches high, but they are all like that so it could be the variety. But I wouldn't know as I  have been very naughty this year and not kept a record of what and where.  I can't find a packet and I haven't written anything in my notebook since march! Tut tut!

This new kitchen I have been getting has a lot to answer for...

Thursday, 20 July 2017

The gooseberries and jostaberries may have been disappointing, but no complaints about the red and white currants.

2 kilos of red and...

1.5kg of white.

I am in the process of converting the whitecurrants into fruit leathers.

Emptied one bag of potatoes...

Not bad...bit of a funny colour but that's just sun on the camera.

The cleome have started to that's what the flowers look like!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

The first ripe tomato! (Garden Pearl)

First of many, I hope.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

After a few days of dryness, its back to the rain again...all day non-stop...

Picked the gooseberries, the jostaberries and the blackcurrants.  Not very many of any of them and the goosberries are small this year.  Victims of the dry spring, I guess.

The blackcurrants aren't bad considering two thirds of the bush had to be surgically removed. There may be more jostaberries to come, I couldn't get near because of weeds but the fine weather has let me get at them.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

The weather a bit better today so down tout suite to the plot to do some much needed weeding.

Cleared bed one of the remaining shallots, weeded and replanted with four slightly slug bitten cucumber plants bought from the plant scheme. (Burpless tasty green)

They look a bit lonely but they will be joined very soon by their best friends willow herb, buttercup and fat hen.

I should have cleared the onion bed next but my knees and back declared they had had enough crawling around.  So instead I pulled the garlic which as usual has succumbed to rust.  Some quite decent bulbs this year, certainly enough to see me through the winter.

Brought all the onions and shallots home in the pram, to dry in the garage.

I'm pooped!

Friday, 30 June 2017

Paddled again, boots and trousers soaked.  All the long weeds which I should have kept on top of are sopping and drape around the legs as I push through.  As soon as it dries a bit I will get the shears and strimmer at them.

Some things are looking good despite (or because of) the rain.

The remaining blackcurrant stems after my surgery on the bush, have super big berries, as if it is making up for the lack of stems.

The red and white currants were unaffected by whatever the blackcurrant had and are ripening nicely.

I didn't net the gooseberries this year and the pigeons have had nearly all the red ones.

The first baby courgette...

Some broad beans looking good..

other stems blackened, I think that might be black fly damage.

The sweet peas need picking but it is too wet to linger.  Besides, the flowers never seem to last long when picked in the wet.
Paddled through long wet grass and weeds to my strawberries.  Lots laid flat to the soil by the constant rain this past two, three days.  Lots of strawberries there but soggy and slug-ridden.  No strawberry jam this year.

Everything that needed water is looking perkier, everything that needed to be dry eg. strawberries, onions and shallots are looking dismal.

Hey ho! that's an english summer for you...its either too dry or too wet or too cold, there is always something to complain about.