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, June 29, 2008

Matron's TRUGBLOG!

Welcome to Matron's TRUGBLOG a big thank you to everyone who has contributed, what a fantastic colourful range of home grown veggies! When world food prices are soaring and supermarket veggies are poor quality, soon everyone will want what we've got. Can I ask you please to share your knowledge and enthusiasm, share and swap your seeds, extra plants, and gluts of veggies.... tell your friends and neighbours what they are missing. *****
One last minute offering from Kris at Losing Sleep Counting Sheep surely one of the best blog names I've heard. I just love these yellow courgettes!
Just in time for this June blog came my first ripe tomatoes 'Gardenperle' a tumbling tomato in a hanging basket, also new this year is Black forest climbing courgette. A really tasty cherry tomato, at least I think they were tasty... more to follow. *****
What a brilliant picture from Rob at his Sustainable Garden blog. Just a superb illustration of the veggies we are harvesting this June. Rob digs in Nottingham. Thanks Rob *****
This beautiful selection comes from Celia at Purple Podded Peas. Celia is a champion of old heritage varieties of vegetables such as the Victorian purple podded peas pictured here. Celia grows her veg in Suffolk. *****
My heartfelt thanks go to She who Digs for allowing me to post this picture of baby 'Digger' at just 10 days old. Baby Digger is currently growing in Hastings, Sussex Thank you both. *****
I couldn't resist showing you my other pride and joy! Buddy really enjoys helping around the garden too! His favourite luxury food at the moment is asparagus tips! *****
What a perfect selection of June veggies from Marigold. She apologises for including flowers in this arrangement, but assures me that they are all edible.. so I forgive her at once! Marigold lives in London. *****
Just look at these vibrant colours in the trug from Gintoino at Jardim com Gatos his 'Garden with Cats' in Portugal. Growing vegetables is so much a part of life in Portugal, one of my favourite places to spend a holiday. *****
A million thanks go to Stan my blog-mentor. Without him I would not be blogging - with my encouragement he has been able to present his virgin trug this year! Three cheers for a brand new allotmenteer! - Oh, and Stan lives right at the end of the runway at Farnborough, Hampshire *****
Here is a wonderful selection of June harvest from DaVikka who lives in Cricklewood, London. As you can see she also presents two offerings from Tikka and Korma. *****
Just look at these beautiful beets and red onions from Primrozie in Pennsylvania - this looks like the makings of a wonderful salad! Hope you have a wonderful July 4th celebration this week! *****
Truggers come from far and near, this beautiful plate came from the Well Read Gardener in Arkansas. There are 57 green beans - not 57 varieties. *****
Here is a beautiful continental selection from Mas du Diable, as you may be able to see from these beautiful onions, these were grown in France! These are French beans of course, yellow courgettes and golden Greek perperoncini. *****
Here is Karen's fantastic offering - I am really jealous of that fennel, it looks superb. Surely one of the biggest hauls this Spring! *****
Well... those tomatoes did look rather nice... I think I'll just.... while she's got both hands on the camera!!


Friday, June 27, 2008

Get Trugging!

Don't forget this weekend to send me a picture of your fruit and veg to Matron's TRUGBLOG! Send a picture of your bucket,tray, basket, bowl or trug full of fresh grown stuff to my email I will post a special blog on Monday 30th June. Fantastic, colourful photo entries already received, thank you.
Ted junior and Ted Senior send you their best wishes!
Now that's what I call a trug!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Battle Goes on!

The war goes on agains the creepy crawlies that are attempting to gain the upper hand down on the allotment! Today I changed the pheromone lure in my codling moth trap. (what an exciting life I lead!)
Six weeks ago I set a brand new sticky trap. The little cream coloured object in the middle of the card is the pheromone capsule. It fools the little boy codling moths that there is a little girl codling moth inside the green box and that she up for it! He flies into the box thinking that his lottery ticket has finally come good... and comes to a sticky end. Let that be a lesson for you boys!
So I inserted a brand new sticky card today with a new, fresh pheromone lure.. and let the poor little defenceless creatures come and get it! I have used this to great effect over the past few years and I can verify that 99% of my plums were maggot free! You can also get moth traps for apple tree moths as well.
I picked some more rhubarb today, I think it is taking over the world! it is massive. I think this is about the time of year that I will stop picking it for two reasons. 1. to let the leaves feed the crown for next year (in the same way that you do for asparagus) and 2. the stalks get gradually tougher and more acid as the Summer goes on. Does anyone have a rule of thumb for when I should stop picking rhubarb?
Don't forget to go out and take pictures of what's in your trug for Matron's TRUGBLOG. I will be posting a blog after next weekend on or around 30th June, so please get picking and snapping and send me your photos

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Food Yards!

I dug the first of my other new potatoes International Kidney this morning. If I happened to be lucky enough to live on Jersey I would be allowed to call them Jersey Royal new potatoes.. some silly EEC regulation means that because I grow them elsewhere I have to call them International Kidney. That aside, I steamed them and ate them for lunch - just the most sensational waxy new potato you could imagine. This is the first time I have grown them, and in my mind they will be hard to beat. A definite for next year!

P.S. Don't forget to send me a photo of what's in your trug for my forthcoming Matron's TRUGBLOG .
Speaking of food yards (not food miles) I walked down the end of the garden this morning and as well as digging potatoes, I picked some more broad beans. Shelled them, put the pods on the compost heap and steamed the beans. Not a plastic wrapper or a car journey in sight.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Broad Beanz

My Broad Beans are just coming to full production at the moment. This year I planted Bunyards Exhibition, a variety I have not tried before. They appear to be smaller pods but slightly more prolific than Aquadulce Claudia that I usually grow. I think they have also taken longer to mature. Perhaps I will try a mixture of the two varieties next year.

Just another reminder please that I would love you to send me a photo of any trugful of beautiful veggies from your plot and I will feature them in my forthcoming Matron's TRUGBLOG which I hope to post at the end of the month (or whenever my first ripe tomato is ready!) Please email me your pictures
Thought I would also share some unusual wispy clouds hovering over Hillingdon last weekend.

If my memory serves me correctly... are these cirrus? clouds? I'm sure someone will put me straight!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Red Spider Mite Control

Following the recent purchase of some nematode worms to combat slugs in the garden, I have just purchased some Phytoseiulus from Defenders to help control the inevitable infestation of red spider mite each year in my greenhouse.
Red spider mite are tiny little sandy coloured mites that crawl all over your leaves and spoil and eventually kill leaves or leaves them a discoloured sandy colour. The phytoseiulus bugs are contained in this vial of vermiculite, and once arrived in the post they should be deployed immediately. Their eggs hatch and their larvae devour red spider mite. That is the theory!
I've not tried it before but seems like a good idea as I have had bad problems with red spider mite in the past.
Meanwhile elsewhere in the garden the strawberries are just fantastic at the moment. That top dressing of wood ash in the early Spring has really made the difference.
And look! my first little pumpkin. These are a beautiful heritage variety Rouge Vif D'Etamps, fingers crossed for some hot weather now to get them going. They are trailing well and I have been foliar feeding with diluted comfrey liquid.
Speaking of the need for heat.. here are my okra Clemsons spineless plants in the greenhouse. I am amazed they are still alive, but they just need a little boost of hot weather. Last time we had a few warm days they doubled in size, since then they have just existed.

Friday, June 20, 2008

What's in Your Trug?

Following the success last year of Matron's Dogblog and Matron's Squashblog - I will be hosting Matron's TRUGBLOG in the next couple of weeks. Please be prepared to show me what you've got! by taking a photograph of What's in your trug? Gluts of gooseberries? Perfect pots? Sensational strawberries? Matron wants to see them. At the end of June I will be publishing my TRUGBLOG so please get snapping and attach them on an email to me. Don't worry if you don't have a trug, just get in the spirit and improvise!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

How to Grow Pineapples

You might not recognise the object pictured above, but it is a pineapple root! Last week I visited a pinapple plantation in the Azores and learned how to grow pineapples! These roots are laid out in trays of compost and kept moist and very warm for about 8 months.
Alternatively you can take the top from a pineapple - as long as the growing middle has not been removed - strip the lower leaves from the stalk and leave it to dry on a windowsill for a couple of weeks. You will see the little vestigial roots in the leaf joints.
After about 8 months or so green shoots will appear from this root, and these are broken off and planted out under glass and left to grow for up to 2 years! One of the most startling things I learned is that they are not given any nutrients or feed, they are grown in woodchippings and sawdust, with a top dressing of pittosporum leaves!
Now this is the bit where I come unstuck in London - the temperatures inside these greenhouses are unbearably hot! Just about the same temperature as a very hot sauna or Turkish bath.
In fact this picture above had to be taken quickly within about half a second of walking inside the greenhouse as my glasses and camera lens were completely steamed up. This is a baby pineapple, the beautiful flowers bloom out of each of the tiny segments - I did not know this!
Eventually you get something that resembles a pineapple after about 2 years (although I am told that in warmer climates they can do it in 18 months)
So after about 2 years of sweltering heat inside a greenhouse on the Azores - you have grown your own pineapple! - I might just start off the process inside a heated propagator inside a greenhouse in Summer in London... and see how far I get!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Back to Dear old Blighty!

I've just returned from a wonderful week in The Azores. I will try to stay on the topic of growing fruit and vegetables but please excuse me for going off topic for a while. As you can see I have been watching whales.
Many different speces of whales and dolphins swim in the waters around the Azores. The ones we spotted here are sperm whales, we approached and switched the boat engine off and they just glide right past the boat, then after about 10 minutes they reward us with a deep dive, affording us the chance to take the classic 'whale tail' photograph.
We also visited a pineapple plantation on the island of Sao Miguel, these wooden glasshouses are past their best, and sadly the majority of them have disappeared and the land sold to build new houses. I will blog on 'how to grow pineapples' at a later date.
The temperature inside these glasshouses was a bit hotter than your average sauna!
One of the most famous views on the island is over the two lakes of the volcanic crater at Sete Cidades. One lake is green and one is blue, the distance from one side of the crater to the other is about 8 miles!
Lots of common dolphins too!
And Europe's only tea plantation - there was a small factory rolling, drying and packing the tea. I have yet to taste the packet that I bought there - apparently it is awful!!!

Monday, June 09, 2008

I'm going away again...

Well, I'm going away on holiday for a week tomorrow. I have always wanted to visit The Azores and finally I am getting the chance. Buddy is staying with Mum and the veggies will be looked after for me. Back on Tuesday 17th.