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

Saturday, January 30, 2016

My New Grow Light

 January is much too early to start sowing most seeds, even in a heated propagator they don't really thrive.  Chillis however, do need a longer growing season in the UK where we don't have enough light or heat to give them the best.   So I have bought a very basic grow light.  The bulb is specially selected to be multi spectrum light, containing the right sort of wave lengths to mimic real sunlight.
I will make a foil reflector to go around the heated propagator just to take advantage of all the light I can.  I might grow a few early herbs, lettuce and quick crops just to see how it does.  Any suggestions?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

What Not to Grow

 I like to try different varieties each year, you never know what is going to work and I try to step out of my comfort zone.  In 2014 I saw an advert for this Indigo Rose black tomato and thought it looked amazing.  Well it does LOOK amazing and that's all in my opinion.  Even in South facing, direct sunlight all season long, the underside did not ripen.  Some of the smaller tomatoes did eventually ripen but they tasted of nothing!... actually they tasted of cotton wool. So I won't be growing these again.
 I had seen Yard Long Beans in some of my Asian grocers in London. The idea of a yard long bean sounded great! I managed to germinate these seeds in a heated propagator, and plant some small plants outside in late Summer, but they came to nothing.  I think these need a really hot climate, and even in a hot Summer we don't have the light or the heat to grow these well.  Has anyone grown these? I won't grow these again.
I had always wanted to grow Asparagus Pea - so a few years ago I did.  A pea pod that tastes of asparagus sounded like a really great thing to grow.  Well, these little pods are only about an inch long, they are not prolific, they are stringy.. and you need a whole big patch of them just to get a handful to cook. And guess what? - they don't taste of asparagus.  Nice colourful flowers!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Morello Cherry Tree

 My new shady garden has its challenges, but there are quite a few fruit and veggies that can tolerate growing conditions which are less than ideal.  The Morello Cherry is one of these.  It can survive against a North facing wall and is also very hardy.  These are sour cherries which ripen to a near black colour, they can be used for pies, jams and cherry brandy.
 This tree has quite a few nice side shoots so I may train it up against a brick wall.  It is on a semi-dwarfing rootstock which means it will probably reach a height of about 10feet tall.  Ideal for a small garden.
 I have a corner space on my patio which is North West facing.  It will get quite a bit of sunshine in the morning up against the brickwork of the house.  A hole here goes down into soil so this should do fairly well, and also restrict too much growth as long as I make sure it is well watered.  Soil underneath brickwork like this can get dry.
So I look forward to a crop of cherries round about August time.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

January Rhubarb

 This has been one of the warmest Winters I can remember.  It doesn't seem right that on some December and January days I have been outside in short sleeves!  My rhubarb is a bit confused too!  I took a couple of crowns of rhubarb from my old allotment last Autumn and planted them here in my shaded fruit and veggie garden.  As a newly planted crown, I will not be taking a harvest for a couple of years until it gets well established.  Give it time to put down a good root system in its new home.  Well I suppose a couple of sticks in late Spring won't hurt.
 Time to check up on my bags of leaf mould.  The warm Winter has helped the decomposition of this leafmould too.
Stacked up in a corner of the garden, this mixture of grass clippings and chopped leaves will compost well.  The warmth has really helped this process too.