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

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sticky Stuff!

I've tried many different ways of preventing maggots in apples and plums over the years. I don't like spraying so I thought I'd try a good old fashioned grease band.
Stickier and messier than black treacle, this band of grease goes all the way around the trunk of the fruit tree at this time of year because the little fruit moths climb up the trunk from October onwards and through the Winter, making a home for themselves and their eggs in your fruit buds. Next Spring they hatch and make their way into the flowers and the developing fruit.
So the idea is that they are prevented from crawling up the tree in the first place (they cannot fly!). I have yet to decide what to do when a certain yellow Labrador comes into the house covered in black grease? Any ideas?

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Taste of Autumn

Yesterday I went to the RHS Garden at Wisley, Surrey. The annual Taste of Autumn festival is on there until Sunday. A celebration of food and drink. My eye was caught by this interesting bottle of beer made by The Hogs Back Brewery in Surrey. If you like traditional ale, I can recommend a bottle of T.E.A. (Traditional English Ale). Sometimes I like to go up to a bartender in a pub and order a pint of tea!
Autumn is a time of vibrant colours in the garden.
A lovely display of pumpkins and squashes, but it has not been a good Summer here so this display was smaller than usual.
Free apple tasting so that you could try before you buy.
And something for the boys.. this lovely, vintage David Brown tractor.
And what English agricultural show would be complete without the 'guess the weight of the marrow'? I wouldn't have a clue.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Matron's Christmas Veggie Blog

Just a reminder that I will be posting a special Christmas Veggie Blog in the week before Christmas. I will be asking bloggers to send me a photo in the first weeks of December of something edible that you are growing in your allotment or garden that will be ready to eat on Christmas Day. Think of something to send Matron. More to follow.

Monday, October 17, 2011


The chickens have come to stay for a couple of weeks.
Endless entertainment for Leo as he wags his tail and barks at the chickens. The black hen actually stands her ground and clucks back at him! Watch this space.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What I did with my chillis

I snipped the end of these Bishop's Kiss Chillis so that air could circulate inside and out and I put them in my dehydrator for just a day or so.
Now completely dry they could be preserved somehow.
So this first batch ended up in the food processor to make chilli flakes. I think I might sew the next batch together to make a Christmas decoration!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Chilly Evenings

I picked my first batch of these Bishop's Kiss Chillis today. I have been watching them change colour over the last few weeks, and a couple of plants have been brought indoors for some extra warmth and light on these chilly nights.
I had some difficulty drying them last year, the solution seems to be to snip the chillis open with a pair of scissors to allow warm air to circulate both inside and out. This batch of chillis has been put in my dehydrator to dry. Seeds from my largest and ripest chilli have been carefully saved.
Another unexpected success story has been these tomatillos. I did plant several tomatillo plants around my patch, but although they grew healthy and strong with lots of lovely flowers, very few of them pollinated. I came to the conclusion that tomatillo plants should be planted together in groups to pollinate each other. Does anyone know for sure? I'll give it a try next time.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Record Temperatures!

In the last couple of days in Britain we have seen some unseasonably hot temperatures. My Bishops Kiss chillis are enjoying the heat and bright light and the colour is changing fast.
I took this photo late in the afternoon when it had cooled down a little but most places in England saw 80 degrees easily! As long as I keep up with the watering on the allotment this hot sunny weather is really good for a growth spurt.
One of the strange things happening this Autumn is that I have a second crop of strawberries! This has never happened before with this variety. My worry is that at this time of year the leaves should build up a good crown to feed next year's crop. I fear that if they crop this time of year they will not have enough strength to form a crop next year. I must give them a good feed to try to help.
Meanwhile in the greenhouse, some of my black cherry tomatoes were so tall that I tied the top of the plant to the roof of the greenhouse. Though the fruit at the bottom of the plant is long gone, the fruit at the top is going well, and this lovely bright weather is ripening the fruit.
This very late sowing of KohlRabi has germinated. I am just experimenting to see if I can get a quick crop for my Christmas Veggie Blog. I have taken a chance and ignored the instructions on the packet which say you can sow seed up till August. Let's see. Hopefully this hot, sunny spell will get them on their way.
I am still cropping these lovely F1 hybrid cucumbers called Delizia. These short, pale cucumbers are wonderful. They stopped cropping in about July, but have just started again.
My Garlic Chives are putting on a lovely show at the moment. Local honey bees are all over them.