Thursday, 7 April 2011

Well.... lookee here!


I was hanging out the washing and suddenly caught a look at the asparagus bed out of the corner of my eye. The sneaky things were (some of them) about a foot tall. I came straight inside for my knife and harvested everything over 3 inches tall. Dinner tonight I think!
The broccoli was also showing off so I cut off everything there too.
I think the sun this week has made a difference.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Visit to Wisley

Today we had to go all the way to Kent and back to visit someone in hospital. We broke the journey at Wisley, as usual, and I had a few minutes to pop up to the Model Vegetable Garden to have a quick look at what is going on there this year.
What a disappointment!
Last year they had started from scratch with this beautiful little veg/fruit garden, with stepover apples dividing the beds up into interesting areas planted with a mammoth amount of veg. The three following photos show how it looked in the summer. It was a real delight!



So today I thought I would just see how it looked over the winter. I was shocked to find it had all gone (even the wonderful stepover fruit bushes only planted in the beds last year)! They now have it as a boring rhubarb trial bed! Wasn't even worth a photo.......
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

This and that!

Today it was warmer than of late and my back was not too bad so I decided to make a start on the beds ready for this year. I love the concept of Square Foot Gardening, and have been doing just two beds by this method for a year or two, but have decided to go for it with all the beds this year. There are just two of us most of the time, so small quantities are required of lots of different veg, so the Sq Ft method will work for us.
This bed is marked out into 1ft squares with some bamboo poles that I now don't use as I have the arches.
I gave it another dig over and removed the cat droppings, then covered it in net to stop further infestation!
In the back of the picture is the bed that was the strawberry bed last year. I will convert that to Sq Ft tomorrow. I have dug out all the strawberries...they didn't do so well last year, so perhaps they are getting to the less productive stage of their lives. I saved the baby plants and planted them under the back hedge. The spot where I put them was full of ivy, stems and roots. These I threw into the dip at the back of the hedge to provide insect home type opportunities. The soil was soft and looked to be in good heart but I added a load of chicken manure pellets to make sure.
I have made other provisions for strawberries in grow-bags as explained last week, but these here will make a welcome addition. The plants should thrive in this sunny spot (south facing, with protection from the north) and the stones should help keep the roots moist.

I moved the rhubarb forcer over one of the crowns a couple of weeks ago. Couldn't resist a peep. The plant seems to be growing faster than the uncovered crown next to it (see last photo) we should have some early pink rhubarb. What a treat!

This is the other crown....the manure I helped it with last Autumn is nearly gone. I didn't pull any stems from these last year as they were new then, so I will be glad to have some stems this year; having given up the allotment with its huge bed of Timperley Early...
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Cima di Rapa

I sowed these two days ago and they are up already! The packet of seeds was dated 2007/8, to be used by 12/2010. This gives me confidence to try other out of date packets. The germination is still good.
Posted by Picasa

The google definition of this plant is....."broccoli raab = broccolirab = broccoli de rape = broccoli de rabe = brocoletti di rape = brocoletto = rappi = rape = raab = rapini = cima di rapa = cima di rabe = choy sum = Chinese flowering cabbage Notes: This slightly bitter cooking green has long been popular in Italy and is now catching on in America. It's best to just eat the florets and leaves; the stems are quite bitter. Substitutes: Chinese broccoli (similar, but not as bitter) OR dandelion greens OR Swiss chard OR mustard greens OR turnip greens OR kale OR broccoli (milder, takes longer to cook) OR cauliflower OR watercress"

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Washed the tunnel and sowed some seeds

A warmer day than of late so I had to make use of it. My back is bad (inflamed lumbosacral joint giving me sciatica!) so I can't do real gardening. But the polytunnel needed its annual wash so I got on with that today. I use my Vileda mop with e-cloth mop end, so that I don't need soap (.... or worse!) I gave it a good scrub inside and out and it looks much better now, and there is a lot more light getting to the inside.

Then I felt the urge to actually grow I got on with some seed sowing. These are what I have started off so far.....
In containers in the tunnel....Carrots.."Early French Frame", "Early Nantes" and some Suttons Baby Carrot Type, "Ideal". These are in large containers on the bench.
In Row Planters........ Very Dwarf Early Pea "Oskar" and
....Misticanza...a 4 salad mix from Franchi
In modules...Beetroot "Chioggia" and Beetroot "Boltardy"
In the propagator on the windowsill indoors....Aubergines "de Barbantine", "Black Beauty" and "Violetta di Firenze". The last two are old seed so I might get nothing from them
Also in the propagator....Herb "Summer Savory".
In small pots to be transplanted later.... Cabbages, "Portuguese", "Offenham Flower of Spring", and "Earliest of All". Also some "Cima di Rapa"
I have set some Broad Bean seeds to soak.

I've had enough now, so I will sit and read my new "Kitchen Garden" magazine...
I used to think that I couldn't actually do any more damage to my back (broke it in 1984) and that I should ignore the pain. But it has been so sore lately that I went to the osteopath. He has given me a good telling-off, and so I must respect that and not do the heavy stuff for a while. It hurts too much anyway!

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Fruit bushes

I was going to dig up the raspberry canes and the gooseberry bush from the plot, but T&M were offering free postage this weekend so I succumbed to some new ones instead! I have also ordered a John Downey Crab Apple for the front garden. I hunted for one all over the island but given up. This is easier!

Now to prepare all the planting places for them.

So, as I have done all I need to do there, I sent off the e-mail relinquishing my allotment.....with a heavy heavy heart. I know it is the right thing to do as I wasn't keeping it properly, the waiting list is sooooo long, and I really do have enough space and enough work to do here........but I have had such a wonderful 5years on two different plots there that it is a sad day for me. I shall miss it.....!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Early spuds

Much too cold to work outside today, so I had to be content with a little work inside the tunnel. Time to start off some early spuds in pots, ready to move outside later when the weather is warmer.
I have used some B&Q builders' buckets which are more like the tub trugs I use for weeding. I haven't been very successful with the potato bag things supplied by mail order, but last year I did do well with self watering pots. These are expensive, so I am doing my own version. I drilled holes about 1.5 inches up the sides of the buckets, rather than in the base, and put in a good layer of gravel up to the level of the holes. Then 2 inches of compost, then the spuds,then another 2 to 3 inches of compost to completely smother them.
I find the biggest problem with potatoes in containers is maintaining the compost wet enough to guarantee a good crop. The self watering containers have a reservoir at the bottom which helps. But it is difficult to know how full it is. With my method the water will pour out of the holes if there is too much, but there will always be some in the bottom to keep the compost wet.
I will report back on this method when I harvest them.
I didn't put them in the side beds in the tunnel because I need this for cucumbers and melons this year. Also, this bed was tomatoes last year and they are the same shouldn't grow in the same spot two years running.

Now back to reading about gardening and dreaming about gardening!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Just joined!

I have just joined this forum
(I couldn't work out how to add their widget to my blog though!)

My New Book

Just had a delivery....from Amazon (£12.74 and I don't pay individually for book postage as I pay for Amazon Prime). Over lunch I had a good delve and am already certain that this was a very good buy! There is a chapter for each month as to what to do in the tunnel....with lots of photos. It is absolutely packed with really good information.
Posted by Picasa

Kitchen Garden as at the end of January.

The start of the year! The tunnel needs a good wash down; the paths need weeding; and the compost "Daleks" need turning and sieving.
(NB. If you click on the photos they get bigger!)
The garlic and shallots (Grise) in the pots in front of the tunnel are showing but not very happy. Hopefully some sun will help them out.
I moved the rhubarb forcer over one of the crowns yesterday. I have two crowns here and am hoping to force them on alternate years.

Yesterday I cleared Bed 1. Now it needs some manure. Better order some. The bags I was hoping to bring home from the plot were nicked!
I have decided that now I am reduced to growing everything here at home the strawberries will in future be grown by the table top method. I bought the Agriframes structure some years ago, but wasn't very happy using it. But I have decided to have another go. I found the special deep organic growbags for strawberries at our local garden centre (two for £8). It says on them that each is good for 3 years for up to 9 plants; I shall be doing 10 per bag as Ken Muir suggests.
Yesterday I ordered some plants from Welsh Fruit Stocks (chosen because they will sell as few as 5 plants of each variety. I ordered a selection of organic roots. Hapil, Honeye, Florence and Elegance. This should give a good spread of seasons.
I have assembled the edifice where I can get to all the luscious fruit that will hang off the plants!!!! It is stood on a North to South axis so that all plants should get some sun each day. There is a net arrangement to keep off the birds. I have some of those "peace pipe" watering things to help with keeping the growbags wet enough, and applying feed. Hopefully I have done enough to ensure a good crop.
Note to self....the photo sizes are not big next time use a larger size.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, 24 January 2011

My new venture

I have been blogging for some time about my allotment (here but as I have almost given that up entirely (except for digging up the raspberry bushes, the gooseberry, and the last of the spuds) and the title is inappropriate for just my kitchen garden antics, I have decided to start a new blog for the "new" venture here at home.
I have been much inspired this last year by Alys Fowler's TV series and book called "The Edible Garden" so I have pinched that name for my blog. It will just be about my kitchen garden here at home, and the other parts of the garden which I am endeavouring to make more productive....with edibles mixed in rather than just flowers. Alys mixes flowers, fruit and vegetables to create a beautiful garden....I will be trying to do that too.