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 28, 2010

Apple Pie

I went out into the garage this week and the lovely smell of my stored apples hit me immediately. They seem to be doing fine, though I now have the urge to use some of them to make an apple pie!Isn't it interesting how your sense of smell puts ideas in your head that just won't go away! These are 'liberated' windfall apples from Wisley last year! I have been dreaming about freshly baked apple pie for days now....
I bought myself a little experiment this afternoon at the garden centre. Has anyone grown lemon grass from seed? I know that you can plant the stems you buy from the supermarket, but I thought I'd give this a go this year. I will start them off in a heated propagator and see how I get on. Watch this space.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Spring Cleaning

You might remember that Matron was in trouble last year when I was blogging about my tits... and my titbox. Apparently the blogger powers decided that this might be an unsavoury website and started the process of taking me offline! phew!You can rest assured that Matron is giving her titbox a good Spring clean, brushing out the old nesting material and drying it out in the propagator for a couple of days. It will be back out in the garden before you can say Matron's tits!
Something else that is springing to life again is my overwintered spinach. I find that when it is overwintered the cropping in Spring is spectacular. This perpetual spinach has been resting under the snow, but just wait and see - with a bit of spring cleaning and a good feed it will be shooting up any day now!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Signs of Spring

I sowed a few broad beans yesterday.I start them off with a little heat in individual modules then let them grow on unheated for a few weeks. These 'Aquadulce Claudia' would have been fine to plant out last Autumn to overwinter, but I find that they all catch up with each other sooner or later in the season.
I managed to get hold of a few of these French potatoes 'Vitelotte' at Borough market this week. They are purple all the way through and grow as a main/late crop.
My rhubarb has started peeking its shoots above the soil. It will have loved that hard covering of snow as it needs a good, cold dormant period to set crowns.
Rhubarb is also a greedy feeder so will love this thick covering of manure compost.
My Isle of Wight garlic seems to have survived the Winter uncovered too. The Early Purple came up first and is slightly larger. The Solent Wight was a bit slower, and the Chesnok Wight seems to have been nibbled at by something. I'm sure it will grow back.
Only a couple of years ago I planted just six raspberry canes in this patch. Just look at how they have spread! They can be a bit of a creeping pest if you don't keep them under control. I will keep the thickest canes and prune out the weedy ones!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Back in from the Cold!

I had a wonderful time in Tromso, Norway. I was lucky enough to see the Northern Lights every night for three nights!Locals told me it was the best show they had seen all year and I only had to wait an hour after arriving at my hotel for the show to begin!
Needless to say I was up there for the dogsledding as well. Matron loves mushing!
This lovely girl is a very special dog. She led my sled all around the wilderness of 'Kvaloya' - Whale Island. She was the lead dog 3 years ago in the world famous Iditarod race in Alaska. She pulled a dogsled over 1100miles from Anchorage to Nome. Whattagirl! Inspiring! I am honoured to have patted you!
There is a cable car running up the top of the mountain overlooking the Tromso island. A spectacular view from the top..if a little chilly at times!
The view from my sled!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Northern Lights

Matron is off to Tromso, Norway for a couple of days. I am hoping to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights if I am lucky. If not there is tons to do up there in the Arctic Circle. You can bet that mushing a team of huskies will be high on the daytime agenda!Buddy is staying with Mum for a couple of days. Back soon!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Anyone for Sparrow Pie?

Did that get your attention? read on.. Once every 5 weeks I get off work early and decide to play 'Tourist in my own Town' Today I visited the new Ministry of Food exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth.During World War 2 the British were encouraged to 'Dig for Victory' and a whole Government Department was set up to win the war on the home front! This is the most amazing exhibition, it runs till January next year. Highly recommended, the best thing I've seen in a long time.
You can see some of the inspiring statements that were issued. Seem a little dated now....
So if you were short of food during the war...
why not try roasted hedgehog.. or sparrow pie? An old man next to me at the exhibition told me that as a boy during the war he remembered eating hedgehog!!
After this I popped down the road to the National Garden Museum at Lambeth Palace. A fine collection of historic gardening implements. This is a sweet pea seed counter!
Well worth a visit if you are in Central London! They have a special exhibition at the moment about self-sufficiency and growing your own food. 'The Good Life'

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

More Signs of Spring

One of the aims of any veggie grower is to produce food 12 months of the year!This early PSB 'Rudolph' is just starting to produce. This same variety last year was more than a month earlier than it is this year. Perhaps the extended cold snap here has set it back a few weeks.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Let the Season Begin!

At last there is light at the end of the tunnel! There are signs of Spring around all over the place!These are some first early new potatoes 'Rocket' which I am leaving to chit in the garden shed. They should be frost free and in daylight. If you leave them in their bags they are likely to damage their shoots. If you keep them in the dark the shoots become white and spindly and break off. Rocket is the first early variety I choose to grow in a pot in the greenhouse for a special first picking.
The variety of leek I am growing this year is the F1 hybrid 'Oarsman'. I've not grown these before, but when I went to the RHS Autumn show at Wisley last year the man in the National Vegetable Society stall recommended this variety. Gardeners tend to be creatures of habit, and everyone has heard of Mussleburgh leeks because they have been around for so long, they are what most people tend to grow..just because....Well, 'Oarsman' is a new, improved variety. It is supposed to stand right through Winter and be resistant to bolting and to leek rust. Only downside is..... I only get 40 seeds in the packet! daylight robbery!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Last of the Pumpkins!

This is the last of my Queensland Blue squash. You might remember that back in Spring I drew a smiley face in one of my baby pumpkins. Well, the corner of the smile started to soften slightly so I thought it was time to use it.Teddy is very proud of his Delicata squash as well. I love this variety which is also known as the sweet potato squash because of its lovely dry, sweet texture. Nice one Ted!