First New Potatoes
1130am these potatoes were happily growing in my greenhouse
1200midday they were dug up
1215pm they were washed
1245pm they were eaten
Food miles ????...FOOD YARDS!!
What's happening down on the allotment? An intimate account of a passionate veggie grower.
There are 2 different types of growth habits in tomato plants. Indeterminate or cordon tomatoes, and then determinate or bush tomatoes. There is even a half way tomato which is semi-determinate.. basically it can't make up its mind what it is!
These strawberries have been in a growbag up on a table outside. In the last few weeks they have been swelling and slowly ripening one by one. This picture was taken the day before yesterday. I thought that one more days' sunshine would ripen it perfectly and would make a gourmet snack. I arrived yesterday and it had gone!!! I was suspecting all sorts of people, and apart from having taken a photograph of it the day before, there was no real evidence that it existed at all... apart from some evidence on the ground.... yes, my black , furry trousered, four-legged, veggie-eating, enterprising DOG had stood upright and got to it before I did !!!
My Blog is one year old today! What an interesting time I've had. About a year ago this bloke at work called Stan kept on at me about how much fun blogging was... I didn't quite get it. I mean why would someone want to read my daily diary. What could I possibly write down about my daily life that anyone else would want to read? Stan suggested that as I read nothing but seed catalogues at work, and how I kept going on and on about my garden, that I could start a blog about my veggies. How ridiculous! who on earth would want to read about the daily goings-on down on the allotment? Who would want to hear about turning your compost heap when you are wearing sandals? Who would want to hear about my re-cycled tea and coffee? And I am most definitely NOT going to tell anyone about my straw bale urinal!
One of my greatest pleasures from gardening is being able to eat what I grow. This is the time of year when you will see elderflowers in the hedgerows for a short period of time. Surely one of the quintessential English flavours is that of elderflower cordial. Every year I make a couple of bottles which last me into the Summer. Here is how you make it:
Well, it's all just shooting up at the moment down on the allotment! Whilst it is still very warm we have had a well needed and sustained period of rain - and I mean proper rain, not just 'wet air'. The potatoes are doubled in size and sitting bolt upright on the soil. The runner beans are sending up shoots and have just started finding their way up the bean poles. The tomatoes have grown about another 8" and I have had to tie them up twice in a week. This tomato pictured is one I have not tried before called 'Ildi' . It is supposed to be a small yellow, grape sized tomato but I have never seen anything like it! The trusses of flowers are collossal ! I would say about every 3rd leaf joint there is a truss of about a hundred flowers. I should think they are pretty small. My 'Harlequin' tomatoes have set their first fruit. They were the earliest last year, and have done the same this year.
An incredibly worrying news story from the USA this week. Most of their honey bees have just vanished this year. Queens and drones are left in the hive but it seems that the worker bees have just flown off and apparently forgotten where home is! 90 percent of the world's almonds are grown in California, and they cannot fruit without being pollinated by bees. Commercial companies (who have bees left) are raking it in by driving their hives round to orchards all over the USA.
One of my least favourite tasks in the garden is "thinning out". As much as you try to sow seed thinly, they are usually too close together to be viable. Beetroot have a particular difficulty in this respect. When you have one beetroot seed, you actually have about 3 or 4 stuck together in a corky cluster. So when a beetroot seed germinates you will usually have a little group of seedlings all coming up together. There is however, a very new variety called "solo" which is a monogerm variety, there being only one seed per seed.
I sowed some parsnips today. I used the space from my 'magic broccoli' which had finally past its peak several weeks ago. We had some overnight rain again so the soil was easy to work, and I weeded and dug over the patch. There is a knack to sowing parsnips. I have inherited a very useful 6ft long, solid iron bar with a point on the end, which is perfect for making holes in the soil. Make a hole about 8 or 12" deep and fill it up with loose sandy compost. It is important that parsnip seed is fresh each year as it deteriorates quickly and you might have germination problems using old seed.
On the subject of making liquid feeds, another way of producing liquid feed is making manure tea. Take a shovel full of manure and tie it up in a hessian sack, or a pair of stockings will do fine. Lower the sack into a bucket of water and let it stew for a couple of weeks.
Now that the stinging nettles are growing well in the hedgerows, it is the time to put them to good use. Yesterday I started to make a fantastic plant feed using stinging nettles. Gather up a good carrier bag full of stinging nettles, leaves and stalks. All you have to do is scrunch them up at the bottom of a bucket and weight them down with a brick and fill the bucket with water. Just leave the nettles in a corner of the garden for about 2 weeks - you will certainly be able to smell when it is ready.
Having bit the bullet last week and planted out my tomatoes, I constructed and planted out my runner beanz. I had intended to grow a runner bean 'hedge' this year.. but decided that access to the far side of the hedge would be problematic because it is up against a fence. So now I have 4 wigwams. HOW!...
My globe artichokes are getting bigger by the day. The largest one here is the size of an orange already. As previously stated, they get horribly infested by blackfly and are quite inedible. This one is still fairly tight and quite clean. Today I tied it up in a loose bag made from a piece of fleece.