Sunday, 13 April 2014

Pond nearly finished

Here is the pond with some water and plants in it. It needs a water lily or something as it is in full sun most of the day which can cause a build-up of algae. I have put a couple of spreading plants around the outside edge and sowed a few seeds, and I will be adding more stones as I rake them off the plot. Beyond the pond I have spread a thick mulch of bark chips (we had a delivery from a local tree surgeon) so no weeding in this area this year :)

These are some half hardy annual seedlings, dahlia Bishops Children, Morning Glory and Zinnia. On the right are Aquilegia seedlings.

These tomato and chilli seedlings are in my 'inner greenhouse', which is my small plastic greenhouse inside the main greenhouse. At the bottom of it is a thermostatic tube heater, which keeps them warm at night.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

New Season Begins


My new pond has had about 12" of water in it for the last few weeks, but by yesterday it had all drained away. We have had a few really good days this week, which by lucky chance has coincided with my week off work (half term), so I have been taking advantage. I have pruned all the fruit:


dug over the onion patch and the potato patch:

planted a row of shallots and sowed another row of broad beans. Maybe I've been a bit hasty but I got quite carried away. It is nearly March, and it has been very mild so I think I will get away with it. I've got my seed potatoes laid out chitting, and I've sown some leeks and sweet peas in the greenhouse.

You can't beat a freshly dug patch of earth - so satisfying!

Friday, 17 January 2014

Peppers and Pond

My gardening mojo has been in a state of dormancy over the last few weeks, I haven't really been interested in anything gardening-related, mainly because of the weather. I haven't been able to do anything significant on the plot since before Christmas, I doubt if anyone has. I left a couple of pepper and chilli plants in the greenhouse at the end of the summer, mainly through laziness, but also because the plants still had unripe fruit on, and I couldn't bring myself to throw them away, even though I knew they wouldn't ripen....or WOULD they??? Well, some of the chillis did continue to ripen, and a couple of weeks ago I noticed the chillies were going mouldy, but the peppers still looked perfect, so I brought this stalk in and put it in the vase to see what would happen, and lo and behold! Not only ripening, but still plump and wrinkle-free.

One thing I have been doing at the allotment, mainly before Christmas, is digging this little pond:

At the moment, there is about 6" of water in the bottom, along with a couple of drowned worms and two large drowned green caterpillars. Caterpillars in January??

There is a lot of work to be done: I haven't done any digging yet, the whole plot needs to be dug over and prepared, plus all the fruit needs pruning and weeding, not to mention finishing off the pond. Well if the forecast is to be believed we are due a dry spell at the end of the month and not before time - I'm really looking forward to getting stuck in now!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Smashing Squashes and Cheeky Chillies

This is a selection of this year's squash harvest. We have already eaten a couple, and there are several more still out on the plot: an elongated pumpkin, and a few interesting hybrids, the result of cross-pollination from last year. The seeds must have been in the compost I planted my potatoes in, and when the first potatoes were dug, the seeds germinated. I left them to see what would happen, and the long warm summer has enabled them to produce some nice fruit. There are a couple with obvious Crown Prince parentage, and one which is round and bright yellow.

These Orange Habanero chillies got off to a very late start, and although they have spent the entire summer in a very warm conservatory I was concerned that they would never ripen, but eventually they have. They look so innocent don't they - the jolly bright orange colour - in fact they are seriously hot, a little will go a long way. I have also grown some Caribbean mix (not very hot at all), some Bulgarian Carrot (very hot) and Memorial Day (very/quite hot).

The pepper on top is the only one to have started to change colour. The peppers also got very delayed by the cold spring, so most didn't even produce fruit, and the few fruit I did get are all still green, apart from this one, encouraged by the banana.

I now have two weeks off work, and the forecast seems to be for rain/heavy rain for the foreseeable future. However, I have planted all my tulip bulbs, some garlic and some broad beans, I'm up to date with the most urgent allotment tasks,  and I have got a couple of indoorsy projects to work on - a patchwork quilt, and some paintings of the flowers I have been growing over the summer, so I can relax and enjoy.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

August Produce

Yes I know it's actually September, but only just! This mini aubergine is half the size of a standard aubergine. I have three fruits on two of my three plants - the other two are quite a lot smaller, so not exactly good value in terms of yield, but it's satisfying to have produced some actual fruit.

A Marmande tomato - with growths on its bottom. The flavour isn't much to write home about, but they're a good size.

I ate these for lunch today - not quite as sweet as I had been hoping for, but perhaps I have picked them a few days too early, we'll see with the next ones...

I have found a way of using the mouse melons, which everyone seems to like - pickling. I have made about three jars full, and there are lots more coming.

Meanwhile, we are getting plenty of raspberries, and the blackberries - well to be honest I'm considering putting them on my local Freegle site, I can't possibly use them all! Also still lots of courgettes, beans, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes. I have been watering my celeriacs liberally, and pulling off the outer leaves regularly, and the signs above ground are promising, quite a bit of visible root, but I'm not pinning my hopes too highly for what's underneath.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Ryton Gardens and Bee Gardens

Yesterday we visited Ryton Gardens for their Chilli Day and Exotic Crops Fair. While my son and husband took the chilli challenge and stocked up on hot sauces, I had a wander in the allotment garden, and was greatly inspired by the squash frame, above. You can actually walk underneath this squash tunnel, and there are beans growing up the other side. I am now trying to think up simple ways to replicate this on my allotment!

The lady who runs the allotment garden (and the bee garden) at Ryton came to our Annual Allotment BBQ last weekend to give us a talk on 'organic methods of pest control'. When she saw our bee garden (which is in its first year and looking a bit sparse) she promised us a box of divisions and seedlings from the bee garden at Ryton, and these I picked up and brought back yesterday. We will be extending the range of plants to include butterfly-friendly flowers, buddlieas, scabious etc. The numbers of peacocks on the buddlieas around our garden this year have been staggering. Now we are left with hundreds of pieces of wing all over the ground underneath!

The Bee Garden in its first summer

I have been busy making jam: blackcurrant, loganberry & blackberry, and plum. Also lots of blackberry sauce but I can't make any more jam until I get my hands on some more jam jars. Like most veg-growers we are having a glut of courgettes, and I have just attempted to make a courgette and chocolate cake, but unfortunately it's disgusting. Burnt on the outside and raw and soggy in the middle. I've never seen so many blackberries as I have this year: great big juicy ones too, even the wild ones.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Garlic Plaits

 I have followed the instructions in Gardener's World August edition, on how to make a garlic plait. I think I need more practice, but that's all the garlic I've got this year! I will have forgotten what to do by this time next year.

Meanwhile, in the greenhouse, the first of the Sungolds are just about ready to pick. We have had our first cucumber and there are LOTS more to come. I have flowers on my aubergines and chillis and even a couple of green fruit.

Things were getting rather parched down at the allotment, until Tuesday morning, when we had some very impressive thunderstorms and heavy rain. It's done the plot the power of good, and with the weather remaining warm the squashes are putting on several inches of rambling growth daily, as well as producing plenty of flowers and the first few fruit. Courgettes are coming thick and fast. On reflection I'm quite glad I didn't plant outdoor tomatoes, as the warm damp conditions are ideal for the spread of blight on tomatoes and potatoes, but for everything else it's great growing weather.