Wednesday 30 March 2011
Last year M's father sadly passed away. He was a keen gardener and every trip to visit him included a tour through his immaculate garden and whatever veggies he had growing. As someone who went from never growing anything to growing on an allotment scale during the time I knew him these visits and his advice were as invaluable as they were inspiring. It was seeing how productive his greenhouse was for example that inspired us to get ours.
On one of the last visits we made before the end, when he was too ill to do the garden tour himself, his wife gave us a tray of strawberry plants that he'd potted up from last years runners and now needed a home. We took them back with us, potted them up in their own special blue tub and when he sadly passed a few weeks later we made a promise that we'd use them to populate a proper strawberry bed on the allotment in his memory.
So, when they started giving off runners at the end of last year we potted as many of them up as we could and left them over the winter to grow. At the weekend we cleared a smallish area on the plot and last night we took the baby plants up and planted them in their new home.
Later this year we'll take more runners from the originals and these new plants and next year add these to the strawberry bed until we've filled the space and have enough plants to enjoy a bumper harvest for years to come. I like to think he'd have approved.
Tuesday 29 March 2011
Friday 25 March 2011
Thursday 24 March 2011
Inside we've seen the first cucumbers and a plumb tomato come through. I was only planning on three tomato plants this year, one outdoor one and two greenhouse cherry ones, but now seem to have two extra plumb varieties on the go as well. Damn you seed companies.
In the greenhouse we've had Pac Choi, Leeks, sprouts and cabbage appear in their pots as well as the salad leaves and container carrots.
In the greenhouse beds we've also seen the first raddish and little gem seedlings break through. Leaving just the spring onions that were sown at the same time yet to make an appearence.
I love spring!
Monday 21 March 2011
With that in mind I was doubly looking forward to a trip to The Edible Garden Show on Saturday. Unfortunately all bar one of the seed companies selling their wares were offering nothing but the bog standard favorites which seemed a huge missed opportunity to me considering who the show was aimed at. Other than that though we had a fun day browsing through all the stalls and could have spend hundreds of pounds if only we'd had the spare cash.
The one company exhibiting that did offer some unusual seeds was Heirloom Tomatoes Ltd who had a great selection of tomato seeds and plants as well as a sprinkling of cucumber and squash seeds too. We came away with the four packs you can see above which were Red Pear Tomato, Sikkim Cucumber, African Horned Cucumber and some Hooligan Squash. I'm especially looking forward to seeing how the African Horned Cucumbers turn out, they look so strange they'll be very interesting to try, assuming we can grow them!
The plan is to get the new seeds sown tonight and then start focusing a bit more on the allotment for the rest of the week to get the first and second early spuds in and to make sure everything is still on track for when things need to be planted out.
Saturday 19 March 2011
Rather than germination problems with these notoriously tricky seeds I 'chit' my parsnips so I know what I'm dealing with. To do this I damp a few sheets of kitchen roll and fold them into the bottom of a plastic container. I then sprinkle some parsnip seeds onto the wet paper, seal the container and place it in the airing cupboard (although anywhere warm will do). Once the seeds have germinated (keep an eye on them, you don't want them kept in the dark once they've sprouted) I carefully take each little seedling and pot it into its own toilet roll filled with compost to get properly started before the whole thing goes into the ground a couple of weeks later.
This week we've also discovered The Horticultural Channel, a fortnightly TV show on The Information channel (Sky 166, FreeSat 402 or available via their website and YouTube). Described as being made by gardeners for gardeners with the focus on allotments, chickens and self sufficiency it seems like exactly the kind of show we've been wishing someone would make for years. The first episode, originally broadcast on 6th March, was really promising and it'll be interesting to see how it develops over the year.
Thursday 17 March 2011
Top of the list last night was some re-potting. The tomato seedlings had got as leggy as I could bare to see them so it was high time to get them into a new container. They look much happier now, all being well they can go into the greenhouse in the next week or so where they'll get far more light than where they are. I left the few other seedlings I don't need in there last night to see if the cold kills them off as a test run.
How is everyone else's seeds doing?
Tuesday 15 March 2011
With the weather now warming up (if we can all just pretend yesterday’s slight frost didn't happen that'd be grand) my thoughts are turning to thoughts of potatoes, more specifically when to get the first earlies in the ground. I'm thinking it may still be a little early for this weekend, however with a week away on holiday looming at the beginning of April that only leaves the weekend of 26/27th if I do rule out this coming one, and then what if it's wet and horrible that week? Perhaps it'd be worth risking getting them in this weekend, if the weather permits, after all?
Monday 14 March 2011
In the greenhouse I managed to get a load of salad leaves, spring onions, lettuce and radish sown as well as a few brassicas before I was called back into the house to aid in the final stage of cooking.
It was good to get some proper sowing done at last and with the first of this year’s leek seedlings showing their heads in the propagator upstairs it was an all-round good day.
All being well I'll get some more seeds sown over the next few evenings and then be able, weather permitting, to give the allotment a few hours’ work at the weekend. I probably shouldn't say it, but things are looking unusually in control this year so far...
Friday 11 March 2011
However, this year, despite having owned it for ages, I've also suddenly gained a new appreciation for Andi Clevely's ‘The Allotment Book’. I still think the pages on specific veg lack detail and feel a tad cramped and hard to read when compared to Carol Kleins book, but what he does have that's great is a really useful section detailing all the things you should be doing, sowing, planting out, harvesting etc at each point in the year. As well as being a good reminder of things that need doing it's proving to be a good way of scratching that 'what can I sow now' itch and prompting ideas for veg I'd not thought of growing.
What about you guys, what gardening books couldn't you survive without?
Thursday 10 March 2011
Sadly this winter it finally succumbed to the passage of time and passed away. We were sad.
Then, as if by magic, just when I was about to empty its pot, new green shoots started to appear. Now a few weeks later there are loads of little baby chilli plants growing round the base of the old one... It's like our old plant gave us some kids just before it died. :)
Obviously I know really they came from a few dropped fruit etc but I prefer the more romantic view...
Wednesday 9 March 2011
Fast forward to today and the answer seems to be 'yes', there are now even more green shoots and general 'life' about them, enough to warrant being repotted in fresh compost at the weekend anyway.
Ain't nature grand....
Tuesday 8 March 2011
Of course now, with growing our own a passion, we run out of space almost instantly at this time of year. The first casualties of 2011 have been the tomatoes. As you can see they're looking a tad tall at the mo...
Of course the saving grace with tomatoes is that they can be potted up right upto the leaves without any problems so they should be fine in the end, fingers crossed...
I'm still a bit wary of starting seeds off in the greenhouse at the moment as the last few nights have dipped below freezing here but I think it's probably time to risk a few brasicas at the weekend. At least it will make the greenhouse look a bit more lived in...
Oh and this is my first attempt at mobile blogging so hope it looks ok by the time it arrives...
Monday 7 March 2011
Blimy, it's been a while hasn't it. I wonder if there are still any readers out there? I don't really know what happend to my blogging muse last year. I did spend over three months on crutches through the end of the summer which dramatically slowed progress on the allotment. However for the periods where I didn't have a medical excuse I can only put the lack of updates down to the nagging the feeling that I really didn't have anything of interest to say outside reporting seed germination and plant growth.
So what's going to be different in 2011 I hear you ask... Well first up, while the main theme of the blog will remain the allotment and all things veggie growing, I'm going to broaden the scope a little to include more of things like our brewing, preserving and cooking experiences as well as a little bit more day to day life to make it all a little more personal and hopefully more interesting.
Also, having recently joined the iPhone revolution I'm now fully equipped for blogging on the go which seems far more exciting than having to make time to sit down and post properly.
So anyway, that's the plan, first proper post tomorrow all being well... :)