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

Friday, April 15, 2016

April Showers

 I am really pleased with my new growlight.  These Joe's Long Chillis were started off in a heated propagator under a growlight back in early February.  The long day length and bright light for 12 hours a day means they have done really well.  I am starting to harden these off during warm days outside in a protected wallhouse.  The gentle movement of the breeze helps to harden the stems and stalks so they are less fragile and ready to go outside next month.  This morning there was a lovely gentle rain so I put all my seedlings outside to get a good soak.  Have you noticed how much happier your plants look when they have been watered in the rain like this, compared to a slosh of tapwater from a watering can?
 These are Romanesco Courgettes from Italy.  They really love the warmth of the growlight and they are putting on a new leaf practically every day.  I've not grown this variety before but they are one of the tastiest varieties around.  Typically in Italy they are sold with the flower attached like these here. I saw these a few weeks ago in a market in Florence.  They have a ridge along the length of the courgette.
Taste is one of the main reasons in my opinion to grow any particular variety of fruit or vegetable.  Now that I have a sheltered courtyard garden, these should do well against a South facing wall.
 Another Italian variety from Seeds of Italy are these wonderful beefsteak tomatoes Pantano.  I have grown these before, they are superb!
 and an old favourite of mine here are these Royalty purple dwarf beans.  About 13 years ago I 'liberated' just one or two seeds from the compost heap at the Secret Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall.  These are a really lovely old heritage varitey which is a 'good do-er'
 Just a few of these Early Purple Wight garlic plants should do well in a pot against a sunny South facing wall too.  Container gardening should work well as long as you know the aspect of the garden, which is South facing, and how much direct sunlight on each part of the garden throughout the day.
Speaking of growing for taste - my Epicure potatoes have just started to come up in these potato grow bags.  I grew these as a child XXXX years ago, and for my money this is the best tasting potato you will find.  Must be careful though, there are still night frosts around so I will keep these earthed up and covered until all danger of frost is past.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Hardening Off

 This is the first year in my new veggie garden.  I took some Rhubarb crowns from my old allotment, it looks as if they are quite happy in their new home.  I won't take any stalks this year because I should let them develop a nice new root system and settle down before I pick a crop... well maybe just one or two if no one is looking!
 Just to fill the space in my vegetable planters I have filled the gaps with some Lollo Rosso lettuces.  This part of the veggie growing year is known as 'The Hungry Gap' just when Winter crops have finished and before Summer crops start.
 I was given this 4 tier growhouse about 10 years ago as a gift but never used it.  So yesterday I decided to assemble it to help harden off some of the seedlings I have growing in my propagator under a grow light.
 Happy with this one!  The shelves are removable so that I can grow taller plants inside later on in the year. Meanwhile some little plants will be happy to harden off in here.
Just during the sunny day time I bring out my Joe's Long Chilli plants.  Nice and healthy looking under the grow light, but need to harden off slowly.