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

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Oxford Covered Market

Last week I had a spare day and decided to make a visit to the Oxford Covered Market.  I love this traditional old market filled with produce of every imaginable kind.  The greengrocers here has such a wonderful display.
 Many different varieties and colours of carrots and beetroot on sale.  Makes a lovely change from the aenemic plastic vegetables in supermarkets.
 and the pie shop! Lunchtime was bekoning and there was every kind of pie imaginable here,
 and speaking of colours, white asparagus locally grown in the Wye valley.
 Purple asparagus...
and green asparagus too.  Nothing beats fresh veggies in season does it?

And one of the other reasons I went to visit Oxford was to visit Christ Church College.  One of the most beautiful of all the Oxford colleges.  But that wasn't the only reason...

The old staircase at Christ Church College was used during the filming of the Harry Potter films.  You might recognise this as it was the main staircase in Hogwarts School!   But on the day I visited it was just teeming with Muggles!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Planting Out

 You have to make your own decisions as to when you think all risk of frost is over.  A few weeks ago I planted out just two of my tomato plants in a calculated risk.  This is my first Sungold tomato.  This week in London it is predicted to get up to 30 degrees so I have just planted out the rest of my tender veggies! They wouldn't do well in pots this week.
 Making the best use of a small space involves companion planting, I grow climbing Blauhilde beans up walls, and up other plants and veggies. These are a lovely purple French bean, and very prolific.
 I use these lovely planters to grow up a South facing wall.  To the left is a climbing courgette Black Forest - one of my all time favourites. To the right is a Romanesco courgette  a bush variety from Seeds of Italy. Both very prolific and very healthy.
 Growing in a partially shaded West facing wall up against the house is this Morello Cherry.  Fruit has set well and I am keeping it well watered because soil under brick walls tends to be quite dry even in wet weather.  I am off to the garden centre today to buy some netting so that the blackbirds don't eat them all!
 These vegetable planters are double the depth of a traditional growbag and I have had good success with tomatoes here.  The cane support frames are really good here.
These large pots have the bottom cut out down into the grow bag.  This is a 'ring culture' which provides extra root space for growth, restricts the feeding roots at the top of the soil so that the plant grows tall, and the tap roots go down into the bag looking for water. Feed the top, water the bottom.  These are Joe's Long cayenne chillis.  A large plant with very long chillis reaching 12" or more.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Hardening off

 You can't be sure that the risk of frost is over yet, but you have to make your own decisions.  Space in the greenhouse or under cover is limited.  This is a Swiss Chard plant I sowed from seed one year ago.  It overwintered in the garden and has really come to life.  These can be perennial if you look after them. I had one in my last garden for a number of years, it just kept coming up.  Actually I prefer Swiss Chard to spinach.  The white ones tend to be bigger and healthier, but the other colours are beautiful too.
 I am gradually hardening off my cucumber, courgette and squash plants.  In a small courtyard garden where space is at a premium, my plan is to grow upwards!  Climbing plants can make the most of a South facing brick wall.  Climbing courgette Black Forest is one of m all time favourites.  Small Winter squash Uchiki Kuri can climb up a wall or up a sturdy tripod.  Cucumber Delizia will climb up a wall too.   I usually companion plant some climbing beans around them too.  Climbing bean Blauhilde is a 'good do-er' and provides great colour too.
 I grew these Joe's Long cayenne chilli from seed.  Really prolific, producing lots of long chillis, usually around 9" long on a large plant which is about 4 foot tall.  They do need an early start as they are slow growers.  I planted these back in February and have them under a growlight indoors.  Gradually hardening off outside on mild days, the movement of the gentle breeze outside develops stronger stems.  Plants grown indoors on a windowsill will get spindly and soft if you don't keep them moving.
 Morello cherries can grow almost anywhere,even against a North facing wall.  So to make best use of my small space, I planted this against the house which is a West facing wall.  Looks like it has set well and little cherries are beginning to appear.  Brick walls can be dry so I am making sure it is well watered as the fruit grows.
So against my East facing shed wall I have my soft fruit.  Rhubarb, raspberries and a Tayberry can do without full sun all the time, so as long as I keep this bit well watered and fed it is doing well.  Daisy is becoming interested in the bees which are pollinating the flowers. Watch out or you will get stung Daisy!