Down on the Allotment

Matron grows vegetables and fruit in a Hampshire garden. I've been growing veggies since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Some traditional varieties and old favourites as well as new ideas. I share my garden with my allotment assistant Daisy the Labrador. On Twitter as @MatronsVeggies

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Spring Plantings

 Now that I'm living down here in Hampshire, I made a trip across to the Isle of Wight recently.  I bought some Elephant Garlic cloves.  I know they are a very mild type of garlic, rather like the taste of leeks, but I thought they might be fun to grow.  Have you tried them?
 The Garlic Farm also does an amazing cooked English Breakfast, and they are also dog friendly!
 Meanwhile back at home I started a new venture.  I am planting an asparagus bed.  This patch of ground gets sun most of the day in Summer so I am using this place behind the greenhouse. I don't need access much of the time so it will be fine. 
 I chose 3 different varieties, Gijnlim, Connovers Colossal, and Pacific Purple.
 Prepared the ground and added well rotted horse manure, some superphosphate and I used mycorrhizal fungi on the roots to encourage healthy root development.   I won't be picking a crop for a couple of years, so patience will be needed until then.
 Meanwhile at home on a rainy day, I ground up my dried chilli.  Joe's Long Cayenne, and Targu Mures Transylvanian Paprika.
 My tomato and chilli seedlings are doing well on a windowsill, and under some grow lights.  Time to prick them out.
Found this handy little windowsill propagator, so they are now happy in their new trays.  Varieties here, are Sungold, Golden Jubilee and Pantano tomatoesOrange Kilian and Joe's long chilli.

Monday, February 04, 2019

A New Venture!

 As the days are gradually getting longer, my purple sprouting broccoli is beginning to respond by starting to produce florets.
 And even the little side shoots are now beginning to show. So lovely to see the beginning of the new growing year.
 A new development for my new Hampshire garden, as I am on sandy loam soil I thought I would start an asparagus bed.  So I carefully weeded this sheltered spot behind the greenhouse making sure to remove every possible weed, then give the soil a good helping of my well rotted horse manure compost.   When it stops snowing here!! I will get the crowns planted.
I've bought some different varieties to plant, Pacific Purple, Conovers Colossal and Ginglim F1.

I SINCERELY HOPE THIS WILL NOT BE MY LAST POST!!!!  I HAVE JUST HAD A MESSAGE FROM GOOGLE THAT GOOGLE PLUS IS BEING DISCONTINUED AND ALL INFORMATION WILL BE DELETED!   I WILL SEE WHAT I CAN DO ABOUT THIS... BUT THEY ONLY TOLD ME ON FRIDAY THAT THIS WILL BE HAPPENING! 

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Happy New Year

 Happy New Year everyone!  I am thrilled to say that the dreaded leek moth has not yet found my garden!  Even on a fairly poor, sandy soil this year I was able to grow a respectable crop of Musselburgh leeks.  With the addition of some more compost and manure this next season I hope to continue to do well.
 No success in 2018 with my pot grown purple sweet potatoes, I had a very late start due to my house move.  But I managed to take a couple of slips and rooted them in water on a windowsill.  I will pot them up and keep them going until I can plant them out.
 Chickens are doing well!  It seems like a convenient arrangement for me, they eat all my excess veggies and kitchen waste as well as slugs, snails and other critters - then they give me lovely manure for the compost heap, AND they lay eggs!  Well done Girls.
 A lovely surprise in the garden this year was growing these physalis.  Again, a very late addition to the garden they grew and grew producing lots of fruit, but sadly many of them did not ripen.  What I did get was really lovely.  A real recommendation if you haven't grown them before.
 So, on Christmas Day I had a wonderful harvest of specially prepared Charlotte new potatoes.  Autumn sown in a container in the greenhouse, this bag has many more to come.  Well worth the space in the greenhouse to make an extra Winter crop.
These chillis caught my eye on Twitter last week.  These are wonderful bright orange cayenne chilli from the Czech republic called Kilian.  A standard cayene type chilli which ripen to orange. I found them at Sea Spring Seeds if you fancy trying them.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Matron goes winkling!

 This takes me back to childhood holidays in Cornwall!  Whilst out on a seaside walkies along the Solent I saw these winkles - or common periwinkles at low tide.
 I checked with a local wildlife warden that the sea quality in this part of the Solent is excellent!  Strong tides bring fresh water to the area twice a day.
 So I picked a bucket of winkles from the rocks and picked some seaweed to pack with them.  After cleaning thoroughly I soaked them overnight in salt water to allow them to filter out any sand or impurities.
 Boil in salty water , with the seaweed, for about 10 minutes and then cool in the fridge for a couple of hours. 
Fiddly work to get them out of their shells with a needle or a pin (my Grandfather was a London pawnbroker so we have some long pawnbrokers pins for the task)  It is well worth the effort.  Serve with vinegar and pepper on a slice of wholemeal bread.  Perfect!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Chickens!

 I collected three hybrid layers a couple of weeks ago.  They have settled down really quickly and started laying beautiful eggs almost straight away.  They are calm and curious and they don't seem to mind Daisy poking her nose at them from time to time.
 This Eglu chicken coop is really easy to use and easy to clean too.
 Ta Dah!
 Early this Summer I hung a pheromone lure in my apple trees, but unfortunately it didn't work as well as I had hoped.  Many of the apples still have maggots inside them.  I'm certain I put the lure up at the right time, but maybe the Summer was just a really good year for the fruit moth, or these trees were already so badly infested it will take a bit more work. 
So I bought a sticky grease band to wrap around the trunk of the tree.
Winter moths climb up the trunk of the tree ready to lay their eggs next Spring in the developing apples.  So maybe this, plus another pheromone lure next year might do the trick!   The sticky band might even catch something bigger..... I hope not.... but you never know!
Exciting news!  I bought a Peach tree for my new house.   I have a lovely South facing dry wall at the front of my house, so this espalier pruned Redhaven Peach should do well here.  This variety has some resistance to peach leaf curl, but this wall is very dry anyway so fingers crossed.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Hot Stuff!

 I've been picking chillis nearly every day now.  Wait until they are fully red and then harvest them.  This will enable unripe chillis on the plant to develop. Don't leave them on the plant when they are ready to be picked, you will inhibit the ripening of the others.
 So these Transylvanian Targu Mures chillis are on a plate in my airing cupboard. 
 Same here with these Joe's Long Cayenne chillis. Drying slowly in a warm cupboard.
 Meanwhile back on the plot, these Physalis are beginning to ripen.  Hanging underneath the branches these plants look really lush and healthy.
 I planted two plants here next to each other, they need a partner for good pollination.
And here they are!  Really lovely, sweet fruit.  I can highly recommend giving them a go.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Matron's Maggoty Apples

 I have two beautiful apple trees in my new garden.  They are so lovely and I have enjoyed sitting under the shade of the trees this hot Summer.
 One is definitely a Bramley apple tree, but I don't know the eating apple identity.
 So last week I sent off 3 apples, a twig with a bud and some leaves, and a cheque to the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale in Kent.  They provide a fruit identification service this time of year.  I wait eagerly to find out what I have in my new garden.
 Meanwhile, although I put up my codling moth pheromone trap at exactly the right time of year, I do seem to have a problem with maggoty apples.  These are fairly old trees, perhaps the infestation was quite severe, perhaps the hot Summer had an effect on the numbers?  I don't know really. 
I'll put a grease band on both the trees this Winter to catch some of the Winter moths climbing up the trunk (hopefully I won't catch any passing Labradors!!!)  and I will put up the moth trap again next year and see if it improves.  Any ideas why the codling moth trap didn't work? Anyone?

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Matron goes to the Village Show

 I moved down to the New Forest in April this year, to a beautiful Village called Sway.  So of course one thing I did straight away was to join the local Gardening Club.
 So for the first time here, I decided to put an entry in to the show.  Lots of wonderful fruit, veg and flowers on show.  I've not done this before so I had quite a few of my lovely Delistar cucumbers in the greenhouse to choose from.
 So these two were the pair that matched well for size, shape and appearance.
So I displayed them in the village church first thing in the morning... then I had to wait until 2pm when the show opened.....

YAAAAAAY! FIRST PRIZE!
 

Powdery Mildew

 I bet all of you out there suffer from powdery mildew at this time of year.  It is inevitable really, in dry weather it tends to become more prevalent, but just makes these courgette leaves look scruffy.   But just recently I was at a local cheese and wine party, and one of the speakers used to work in an organic vineyard where grape vines suffered from powdery mildew.
 I am just itching to try this remedy, but organic wine growers used a tea made from either mares tails, or stinging nettles to help combat mildew.  Boil up the mares tails in water for about 30 minutes and make a weak tea, then when it is cold spray it on the affected leaves, or on unaffected leaves to prevent mildew.  The active ingredient is salicylic acid (aspirin!)  Makes sense with stinging nettles because they do make a nice tea which is said to have healing and anti inflamatory properties! Maybe that is why! -  Can't wait to try this remedy next year and see if it makes any difference!
 Meanwhile, about a week ago I planted some of these specially prepared Charlotte new potatoes for harvest at Christmas.  I suppose these have been kept refrigerated to fool the tubers into thinking it was Winter, then when I planted them they think it is Spring!
 Just look at the growth in just one week!  A nice potato bag in the greenhouse, with some nice compost will keep it warm enough.  I've left a few inches at the top of the sack to earth up when they get taller.  Looking good for now.
 Looking forward to New Potatoes at Christmas!
Meanwhile, I don't think my Pheromone codling moth trap is working.  I hung out the pheromone trap as advised at the right time of year, and still many of my apples have maggots.  I have two beautiful, full size apple trees which may have had a long term infestation.  This Winter I will try a grease band at the bottom of the tree to catch the Winter moths, as well as a pheromone trap next Summer.

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