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

Monday, July 16, 2018

Unusual edibles

 Since moving down to the New Forest in Hampshire in April this year, I have been enjoying the stunning coastal scenery.  One of the delicacies to be foraged in salt marsh land is Samphire.  This succulent plant grows close to the ground and is known by different names in various parts of the UK. 'Poor man's asparagus' is one that comes to mind.  Eaten raw it tastes a bit like a cross between spinach and sea water!!!  Next time I see some I will bring some home and steam it - see if it tastes better cooked!
 Matron is starting on a new venture in the new garden.  I have obtained this Eglu chicken run, and in a few days' time I hope to start a new family!  Exciting times ahead.  Not sure yet how Daisy will take to these critters invading her garden....
 I have purchased layers pellets and mixed grain for starters. I do hope they will be able to recycle kitchen waste, weeds, various slugs, snails and insects... and turn them into eggs for me!
 Now here's a thing.   I bought a physalis plant at a local fete.  Otherwise known as Chinese lantern, golden berry or cape gooseberry, this fruit grows inside a paper lantern.  I seem to remember in the past that pollination can be problematic with only one plant, and so, I managed to obtain a second plant locally so pollination should be good.
 In my new greenhouse I am growing some shoots that appeared on one of my purple sweet potatoes.  It may be a little late in the season to start these (they do need a longer growing season) but the warm weather here  in the UK has meant they are making great progress.  I have just potted them up into a larger pot in the greenhouse.  Sweet potatoes are a relative of bindweed!!
 I've been meaning to try this for ages.  Seaweed extract is something you see on plant food labels and so I decided to see if I could make some liquid fertiliser in the same way that you make comfrey liquid.  So here goes! 
 I collected a few bags of different types of seaweed and gave it a good wash to remove the salt.  Some of this seaweed has air bladders on it to help it float in the water, so this was definitely helped with the use of a piece of concrete to weigh it down in the water.
So this will sit in a quiet corner of the garden for a few weeks to see if it will rot down to make a liquid feed.  Watch this space!
P.S.  I have noted with pride that many of Matron's ideas usually end up on the pages of gardening magazines, or on TV gardening programmes!  I've not seen this done before, so keep your eyes peeled, and programme and magazine editors are sure to pick up on this one for an interesting topic. ;-)

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Codling Moth Pheromone Trap

  I am pleased that over the last several weeks the pheromone trap in my apple trees appears to be working well.  The scented rubber thing only works for a limited period of time before it runs out.
 So yesterday I opened a new scented lure and a new sticky card.  This will continue to trap the moths before they have a chance to lay eggs inside my apples.
 Apples on the two standard trees are developing well.  We are coming to the end of the 'June drop' when small apples fall naturally to the ground, but I am thinning out groups of apples to just two or even just one apple so they develop into a smaller number of larger apples instead of lots of little ones.
 A momentous moment on the plot! My first harvest in my new garden.  Yesterday I enjoyed these Romanesco courgettes for lunch.  It really is important to pick them while they are still small because it encourages more to develop.
 The Rhubarb crowns I brought with me are doing well.  To start with, you can see the older leaves started to become unhealthy and 'nibbled at' - but eventually all that lovely horse manure compost has enabled them to have a really good, healthy growth spurt.  I will NOT take any stalks of rhubarb this year, I will leave it all to develop a healthy crown below the soil.  Taking stalks will weaken the plant at this stage.
 The raspberry canes I brought with me to the new garden have also enjoyed the thick layer of horse manure compost.  Really I shouldn't allow them to fruit in the first year because they are still putting energy into developing healthy roots, but as you can see I let a couple develop fruit.  This growth will fruit next year.
 So I started a veg patch by removing turf on the lawn.  All is going really well, but due to the heat over the past few weeks it is impossible to dig any more turf, the ground is too hard.  Happy with this little patch for a start.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Matrons New Greenhouse

 I've been monitoring where the sun rises and sets in my new garden.  I've been here 9 weeks now and there is definitely a sunny side.  Above picture is first thing in the morning, and last thing at night, this is the South facing side of the garden so this is where the veggie garden and greenhouse will be.
 Here is a good solid base going in.  6ft x 8ft is a nice size.
 Matron particularly enjoyed watching the nice young Man working hard.
 Such a nice, hardworking young Man.  In no time at all I had a level concrete base which just needed curing for a few days to let it harden.   So Daisy and I locked ourselves in the house for an afternoon so as to avoid doggy paw prints all over the concrete before it dried.
 But our resident blackbird had other ideas while we were inside.
 So Daisy felt it was only fair that she should put her mark down in a long held family tradition!
 Well done Daisy!
 Matron was extremely happy that another nice Man from Vitavia came to install the greenhouse this week.  It would have been nice back in April or May... but never mind, it is here now.
Absolutely perfect!