Saturday, 27 February 2010

Carrots and Leeks

I was determined to get some home grown veg this week so during a brief dry spell this afternoon I've just been to the plot and dug up these leeks and carrots. You almost wouldn't know the carrots were there, the foliage is so ropey it blends in with the surrounding weeds, but the carrots underneath are pretty good I think you'll agree? These leeks were the biggest four I could find, and as you can see, they are not even as big as the carrots. They have a month left to grow before I dig them all up to make room for the potatoes.

Talking of potatoes, the chits on the Anyas are getting quite carried away. This particular one only had the one sprout so far, but I have now removed it, in the hopes that some more will develop. The others all have more little ones coming so they should be alright if I remove the biggest ones. As I've said, there is still a month to go before planting.

We finally ate the oyster mushrooms. There were about four large-ish ones between six of us for breakfast last weekend. (It was hardly worth it!) They were mostly stalk, which was quite tough and chewy, and on the whole, a little disappointing. Still, a fun experiment to keep me going while nothing much else was going on. I have thrown the straw into the compost as it was starting to develop green mould and once I had cut the biggest mushrooms, all the others started to shrivel up, so I've called it a day.

The purple sprouting brocolli, the ones that are still alive, look as if they might start to sprout soon, but I think they will take a battering during the storm that is coming our way tomorrow....

I could see little pink buds of rhubarb coming up, as far as I can tell the blackcurrants that I planted a couple of weeks ago are still alive, and the overwintering onions and garlic are still soldiering on. My main concern is the unidentified weed that is growing amongst the strawberries and fruit bushes at one end of the plot. It spreads via its root system and I think I may have to try and control it with glyphosate, as it seems impossible to dig up a plant without breaking off the root and leaving half of it behind. Also it has now started to encroach on the next patch along, where I will shortly be putting the onions in.

In the greenhouse, the broad beans I put in a few weeks ago still haven't come up. I went to look this morning, thinking that the last few days of milder weather may have got them going, only to find that there was fuzzy mould growing round them, and I think they are rotting. I'll leave them a little bit longer, just in case one or two survive, but I think they may be gonners. No sign of the sweet peas either.

There was me thinking I would have the whole of February for ground preparation, and I think I have managed about 3 hours in total in the whole month. Oh well, planting will have to be somewhat delayed this year I think. The Easter holidays are coming up so fingers crossed for some dry weather soon.....

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

More mushroom news

Are we all well and truly sick of hearing about mushrooms now? Well I am sorry because there's not a lot else going on. Unfortunately the first cluster of mushrooms which were doing so well, suddenly decided to shrivel up and die. It happened just after I misted them for the first time. I haven't misted them at all since, just left a pool of water in the dish, and now they are sprouting out all over. These ones are looking much more promising....

The celeriac seedlings are doing pretty well too.

The Stevia seeds mostly germinated, but many of them were affected with a bit of damping off, and I am only left with four or five seedlings, still very small. Luckily I kept a few seeds back so I can try again. I think the plants get quite big so I probably won't need that many. If they do well and flower I may be able to collect the seeds for next time.

I have managed to get to the plot briefly this week, and I even took the camera, but I got soaked by sleet and hail before I had a chance to take any pictures. Which was a shame because I planted three blackcurrant bushes, and de-thatched the strawberry patch. I had just started digging up couch grass from among the strawberries, which involved digging up a few strawberry plants in the process, when the heavens opened, and I couldn't leave because I hadn't replanted the strawberries.

One of my compost daleks has been infiltrated by rodents. I keep finding a rat-sized hole at the top of the compost, and a pile of freshly dug earth just behind. On investigation it seems I was not very careful with repositioning last time I emptied the bin, and it is now overhanging the mesh rat barrier by a couple of inches, this is obviously where they are getting in. I can't do anything about it for now, as the bin is full and far too heavy to move. I did try to slide another piece of mesh underneath but it hasn't worked. Still I think the compost will be ready before long so I can deal with it soon. Just need to weather to warm up.......

Still no sign of the broad beans I did in the greenhouse. I dug one up the other day to see what is going on. It had the beginnings of a bit of root coming out of the bottom, so I think it is happening, just very slowly. They don't seem to be rotting, so there is no reason not to be optimistic.

One thing I am not optimistic about is that the weather is going to change any time soon. I think we are in for a very late spring indeed. I was going to sow some seeds this week (chillis and tomatoes), but I'm being very restrained, because even if they germinate ok indoors, they will have to hang around in a very cold greenhouse for quite a while. It's not worth it.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Mushroom progress

So the mushrooms have... well... mushroomed. They look like alien life-forms. I wonder when the top bit starts to expand? The gills are starting to develop, but it doesn't quite look like an oyster mushroom yet.

Today I remembered I have some Stevia seeds, which said you could sow them from January onwards, so I have put them in the propogator, as they need some heat. Here are some pictures of it. The leaves can be used as a calorie-free sugar substitute, and I am going to use it to cook fruit with, and then eat it with home-made yogurt - very healthy! (That's if it grows ok, it's all very experimental).

I managed to get to the allotment on Saturday and do some digging. I have dug in the green manure in the potato patch, and the bit where I'm going to put in my new blackcurrant bushes. So starting to feel like I have made some progress.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Fruiting Bodies

For Christmas I was given an oyster mushroom growing kit. It was a bag of straw and some dried spores. First I had to sterilize the straw by pouring boiling water into the bag and leaving it for a couple of hours, then left it to drain for a couple more hours. I then scattered the spores into the bag and shook it up to distribute them around the straw. Then the bag had to be left in a warm place for four weeks. I don't have an airing cupboard, or any other consistently warm place in my house, so I put it on my heated propogator tray and wrapped it all up in bubble wrap and a towel. So four weeks have now passed, and then the bag has to be chilled for a couple of days (outside in the shed). After all this, when you take the straw out of the bag it is held together by the mycelial structure which has been forming. A couple of days later, and the tiny beginnings of mushrooms have appeared... I have never grown mushrooms before, so a new experience for me.

The rest of the seed potatoes had started chitting so they have been spread out on windowsills to continue in the light. I have had to start some more broad beans in pots in the greenhouse to replace all the ones which have been destroyed by frost. Hopefully they will be ready to plant out at the beginning of March, when I will also sow the rest of the packet direct into the ground. If the worst of the cold weather isn't over by then I will be really depressed.

And I have sowed some sweet peas!
No sign of the celeriac germinating yet.