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, July 30, 2016

My Gardening Companion

 Everyone should have a gardening companion! Daisy has been helping out in my new courtyard garden for about 6 weeks now.
 She has been helping me by eating sticks, chewing moss, nibbling leaves and by occasionally eating big, fat, juicy slugs!! (I make sure that her wormy, parasite medications are up to date!)
She is now 15 weeks old and growing in confidence and in stature every day.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Courtyard Garden Harvest

 Now I am growing my veggies in a small courtyard garden, I have to make the best use of space and aspect.  The main area is this South facing wall.  Companion planting is working well here.  Cucumbers and climbing beans are growing together.  These are Blauhilde purple dwarf beans.
 This cucumber is growing in a large pot on the patio.  It is climbing up a trellis against a South facing wall.
 It is amazing!  I'm making sure it is tied back and well fed and watered here.
 In one of the small soil beds here I am growing my Italian Romanesco Courgettes.  This is doing really well, but the space and spread of this plant - nearly 6 ft across - takes quite a bit of my precious space in this small garden.
 One way you can use all the space possible in a small garden is to grow UPWARDS.  This is one of my favourite climbing courgette Black Forest.  Doing well in a large planter container growing up against a South facing wall.
 I do love growing pumpkins and squashes but many of them take up too much space.  This year I am trying a smaller squash 'Uchiki Kuri' and climbing the plant up a tripod and winding through other plants in the garden and up walls.
Runner beans usually enjoy deep, fertile soil and lots of food and water.  These runner beans are in a container on the balcony climbing all over the hand rails.  I am waiting to see if they enjoy being in a container, or whether I will try a dwarf container variety next year.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Growing Purple Sweet Potatoes

 Here's something a bit different!  I love Purple Sweet Potatoes!  Having left a few on a windowsill in the kitchen I noticed a couple of weeks ago that they had started to put out shoots.  I decided to see if I could propagate them, so with the aid of my new garden assistant Daisy, I cut off the top of the sweet potato and planted the shoots in some potting compost.

 Lo and behold in just a couple of weeks of warmth, water and sunshine the two tops had filled this pot with roots.  Sweet potatoes are not related to normal potatoes in any way and they grow quite differently.  Actually they are related to the columbine or bindweed family.  They propagate through these vegetative slips which put out roots when buried in the soil.
 So carefully I separated the individual slips and tried to get some roots on each cutting.
 The potato itself does not put out any roots, just the green shoots so I had to separate them quite carefully.  It is fairly late in the season to be doing this, I really should have planted slips around May, but let's see what happens in my South facing walled garden.  I have planted some slips in containers and in a large pot, so if at the end of the season they are not quite ready... I can bring a pot indoors and give it some extra heat and light to encourage it.
So fingers crossed the slugs don't get all of them!  I'll keep you posted!