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

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Indigo Rose Tomato

Regular readers may remember that over the past few years I have tried to grow Black Veggies.  This started in 2011 when I planted the veggies in memory of my lovely dog Buddy.  The Black Veggie Garden contained black varieties, or those which are named black.  This is a recurring theme in my life now as I named my new company Blackdog DNA. (plug!) I am a qualified dog behavourist providing DNA tests for dogs. I named the company and the logo after Buddy.   Well I am thrilled to have found a tomato variety Indigo Rose which is truly black!  I look forward to growing them this season.  I found this wonderful seed company in Devon Plant World Seeds where they have an astonishing range of varieties, particulary tomato varieties. Everything you could possibly want is there!  Go have a look!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Winter Wonders

 Not much is happening on the allotment at the moment, but with just a little pre-planning there are still a few wonderful Winter colours to be seen. Just look at this Ruby Chard. Worth growing just for decoration I think.
 I haven't been able to get out on to the plot for weeks now, it has been under water and on my heavy London clay it is just not possible to walk on it at all.
 But I donned a pair of wellies and took the plunge this afternoon to see what's out there. Just look at my rhubarb patch coming to life.  I must give them a good mulch of rotted manure and compost to keep them happy.
 Look at this little baby rhubarb leaf bursting through the bud. What a miracle of nature!
 The biggest surprise of all is that my Purple Sprouting Broccoli is starting to come out already.
This is an extra early variety called Rudolph.  I've not had it this early before, perhaps I planted it a bit earlier in the late Summer and it had time to establish.  I hope this keeps going through till March!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Oxford Covered Market

 Regular readers will know that Matron just loves to visit produce markets around the world. So this week I took a trip just about an hour away to Oxford Covered Market.  This market has been here for hundreds of years.
 First stop, before I loaded myself with shopping, was to climb up the Carfax Tower at the end of the high street.  A rare moment of clear, blue sky over the 'dreaming spires' of Oxford.
 A spectacular collection of market stalls!
 Locally produced and named varieties. Here you can see these January King cabbages.

So, on to the Oxford Cheese Company.  How could I resist a gourmet selection of local and European cheese.  I bought a very naughty chunk of ripe French Brie, infused with truffles.
 Their speciality is the Oxford Blue cheese.
 You want sausages!  well here is the place. A place of worship for lovers of the good old fashioned banger!  Just look at that Cumberland wheel!
Professionally butchered meat and game.  Just another couple of weeks for wild pheasant and the season is over.  I can most highly recommend a trip to Oxford.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sweet Potato Propagation

 At the end of last Autumn, before the first frosts I dug up my Beauregard Sweet Potatoes.  They had been growing in a black plastic dustbin all Summer and had really enjoyed the heat.
 To my surprise I dug up some enormous tubers which were growing deep under the compost.  Sweet potatoes are very frost tender and will not survive any degree of cold.  So I decided to take some cuttings to try to propagate some new plants for next year.
 I cut off some tips of the growing vines and just put them in a glass of water on a windowsill.  Sweet potatoes are related to the bindweed family.. I don't seem to have any problem at all propagating THAT! so they have been on a warm, sunny windowsill indoors since then.
 And here they are in mid January!  Rooted well and still green and healthy. Just in a glass of water on the windowsill!  If you look in the seed catalogues for Sweet Potatoes, the variety Beauregard is one of the varieties that do best in our British climate.  Rooted slips just like these are posted out to you in about May to be planted out when the soil is warming up.
I suppose I should pot them up into compost some time, but they are doing so well I don't want to disturb them.  Looks like I will have some growing slips to plant next Spring. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

In The Bleak Mid Winter

 A stunning Winter sunrise over London on Sunday.  The allotment is hibernating at the moment but there are still plans to make.
 Don't be too tidy!.. I live by that rule!  Keep your fallen apples out, leave them on a border or in a pile somewhere in the garden.  Late Winter visitors will find these and they will be a lifeline for some birds when there is nothing else to keep them alive. You might make the difference.
 Last Winter, a flock of Fieldfares swooped down on my garden and demolished the crab apples on the tree, and cleared up a whole pile of apples under the Bramley tree.
Once they have discovered a cache in your garden their little bird brains will remember this location for next year.  Food sources are an important memory for hungry birds. Three years running these Fieldfares have visited my garden, and brought their friends and family too.  These pictures were from last year, but I await their arrival.