Down on the Allotment

What's happening down on the allotment? An intimate account of a passionate veggie grower.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Visit to Gipsy House

During the Summer the National Gardens Scheme allows public and private gardens to open for charity. You can visit the website at NGS or pick up a yellow book at your garden centre. This year for two more days only Gipsy House in Great Missenden, Bucks is open to the public by courtesy of Mrs Felicity Dahl. This was the home of the famous author Roald Dahl, you can visit his fantastic garden which includes a traditional gipsy caravan and of course, a little shed down the bottom of his garden where he always sat alone to write his books. Yes, of course he has a walled vegetable garden too! There is an exceptional plant nursery just across the road!
The gardens are open on Thursday 11th June and Wednesday 15th July between 2-5pm. A home made tea and refreshments can be found there too. I can highly recommend a visit and you might catch Matron mooching around on the 11th !

Blog Problems?

I had a worrying email from blogger last night informing me that this blog 'Has been identified as a potential spam blog' - apparently I must request a review or they threaten to shut this blog down in 20 days. Has anyone else had problems like this?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Taking Cuttings from Tomatoes

Earlier in the Spring I was lucky to do a seed swap with Dan at his Urban Veggie Garden in Ontario, Canada. Sadly the unusual Pink Berkeley Tie Dye tomatoes did not germinate but I do have one precious tomato Dixie Golden Giant. It is good practice anyway to remove the side shoots that develop between the leaf joint and the stem. I like to refer to these shoots as 'armpits' and I remove them so that the tomato plants grow up one single stem, or cordon. It is possible to plant these side shoots to multiply your precious plants.
All you need to do is to plant them deeply in a cuttings compost and treat them in the same way you would any softwood cuttings. This Dixie Golden Giant cutting will root in a couple of weeks and I will have 2 plants instead of one. When you think about how expensive the F1 hybrid seeds are, you can take as many cuttings as you like from just one plant!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Matron's Tits

You may remember that earlier in the Spring I attempted construction of my first titbox. Well I am pleased to announce the birth of a family of Great Tits. Parents have been flying in and out of the box, on average about every 3 or 4 minutes throughout the day. I stood at the ready inside my greenhouse waiting for the bird to return with a beakfull of food. You can see here a flying entry. Moments later, after much squeaking inside the box, the tit flies out carrying a white faecal sack (that's baby bird poo folks!)
Whilst on the subject of nest boxes, can I recommend a visit to the Dorset Wildlife Trust Kestrelcam. You can hear and see live pictures of a kestrel sitting on it's nest. Thrilling stuff.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pictures from Norway

Matron is back! Norway is such a beautiful country, this is Geiranger Fjord which has been listed on the UNESCO world heritage site as being of outstanding beauty.
Can you smell the fresh air?
It is fairly damp a lot of the time in Norway but we had some sunny days too.
The Norwegians are very keen on their soft fruit, this seems to suit their climate and they are very keen on making jam from berries such as rose hips, rowan berries, blue berries and all sorts of other soft fruit which appreciates the climate. The Norwegian strawberries were the best I have ever tasted - and that includes my own! You could smell these from yards away!
Rowan trees are in blossom at the moment high in the mountains, they will produce vibrant orange berries in the Autumn.
I couldn't resist visiting any local markets I came across. All their fruit and vegetables are bright, clean and unblemished.
The tomatoes must have been greenhouse grown in the South of the country.
Their rhubarb was a dark red colour and the turnips were whiter than white. More updates later when I have inspected my own garden.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

From Norway!

I am writing this post from the middle of the North Sea! I am on board the Cunard liner Queen Victoria having just visited the Norwegian fjords for a few days! Back home tomorrow when I can share my exploits with you!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Matron's Flower Show

This week in London it's the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. This week in Hillingdon it's Matron's Flower Show! I know where I'd rather bee. Actually, I am leaving for a short break cruising the Norwegian fjords tomorrow, so I'll leave you with my flower show. Purple Podded Peas
Chives
Tomatoes
Strawberries
Raspberries
More raspberries
Spinach
Broccoli
Blackberry
Broad Bean.
Plenty of bees around this year. Please do everything you can to encourage them to your garden!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Would You Wear These?

Birthday celebrations in the Matron household this weekend. But would you wear these? How about this brilliant invention The Egg Skelter. An ingenious contraption to store your home produced eggs in the order in which they were laid. No more do you have to write the day on each egg as they are laid. Great fun too!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Taste of Things to Come

Look! my first Great Wall of China tomato!
A beautiful truss of Sungold tomatoes.

A Broad Bean Aquadulce Claudia just poking out of the fading flower petals.
Little crab apples start to form just as the beautiful flowers fade.
Gooseberry Invicta just getting bigger and sweeter each day.
Victoria plums just bending the branches, these will definitely have to be thinned out!
Last and not least the strawberries. Now all I need now is rain, and lots of it please!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Planting Out

A couple of weeks ago I decided to leave one of my purple sprouting broccoli plants to grow into flowers. Well just look at this beautiful show! The bees are loving it and flocking to the garden. Elsewhere the blueberries are also smothered in blossom, it looks to be a bumper harvest this year for soft fruit - right across the board!

This week I will plant out my sweet corn 'Conqueror' the plants have been hardened off in the last week and are ready to stay outside. I will also plant a second planting of sweet corn seeds direct into the ground elsewhere. I am going to plant them in the same bed as my pumpkins.

These courgettes 'Black Forest' have been outside for a couple of days now, protected for a week more with these plastic water bottle cloches. During the day it gets quite warm inside the cloches and they are growing fast. These climbing courgettes were amazing last year, incredibly productive and apparently resistant to mosaic virus too.

My other pumpkins have been hardening off outside too. The pumpkins rouge vif d'etamps and the lovely Queensland Blue pumpkins too. I just don't have enough space for all the pumpkins I would love to grow, they just ramble everywhere!

This little tomato plant Golden gem really wanted to be a bush! Even at a few inches high it was sending out little side shoots. So if it really wants to be a bush - I will let it! planted out in a hanging basked, let's see how it enjoys life!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

My Vegetable Heaven

My vegetable Mecca has to be the Model Vegetable Garden at the RHS Garden, Wisley. If you are lucky enough you will see the chief vegetable gardener and he can answer any question you might pose - of a vegetable nature. We had an interesting conversation about New Zealand spinach today. I had a peek inside one of their greenhouses, lots of interesting plants potted up ready to plant out.
The most wonderful rhubarb forcing pot made by the Yorkshire flower pot company.
I always love to compare sizes when I visit the vegetable garden at Wisley. I can't help it.
I had an idea while I was strolling around today. You see, I had such a wonderful time meeting with fellow gardening bloggers when I visited Seattle recently..I was wondering..
What do people think about the possibility of making a date to meet up with fellow gardening bloggers at Wisley? Would it spoil your illusions? I am just fielding the idea at the moment, but if enough people were interested could we find a date later in the Summer to meet up?
Whaddayathink?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Chicken Sitting!

Tikka (right) and Korma (left) are visiting again! This time they are banished to the lawn and borders and I am trying to keep them away from the veggie patch. Moments after release they sprinted into the greenhouse and started to investigate my newly potted up tomato plants.
Jumping up, squashing them with big feet while the other one flicks out the potting compost on to the newly swept floor... the little hooligans. I bet they will bring a can of spray paint and really vandalize it next time!
Elsewhere in the veggie plot (and safely out of reach of the girls) are my asparagus spears.
This morning I discovered two newly laid eggs waiting for me. Korma lays the lighter one and Tikka a darker egg.
So what did we have for breakfast this morning?
Couldn't be fresher!



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