Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Repairing the storm damage

Back in August I planted a row of strawberries through black plastic to help them crop earlier and to suppress the weeds, I held it down with stones, but at the time I thought it might not be good enough to withstand a strong wind.

Went to the allotment this afternoon and I was right, most of the plastic was ripped up and strewn across the plot. What it really needed was for the edges of the plastic to be buried, so I dug a trench all the way round, weighted the plastic down and then refilled the hole. Hopefully that should be good enough.

Luckily none of the strawberry plants have been damaged.

Also dug the remainder of the gladioli bulbs still in the ground.

The garlic I planted in the autumn is starting to peep through, thought the progress would be a bit faster.

Crops today, cabbage, carrots, beetroot, spring onions and leeks. 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Preparing For Next Season.

I've already bought all my seeds for next season and I'm raring to go.

Last year I bought a few packets of seeds from a company called Premier Seeds on Ebay. Their seeds are half the price of the regulars such as Suttons and T&M, you get more seeds in a packet and the germination rate is excellent.

Seeds of note:

Onions: I've always grow seeds from sets, but Glen has grown then from seed in the garden and they've done well. When you compare the price of 99p for 1000 seeds as apposed to £2.99 for a bag of sets I thought it was time I gave seed a try. I read on some allotment websites that onions do do better grow from seed.

Flowers: Bought quite a few flower seeds so I can grow cut flowers for the house on the allotment.

Fennel: Never tried fennel bulbs in cooking, bought a packet of seeds, will give them a try.

Curly Leaf Parsley: After the success of flat leaf parsley this year I thought I'd give this a try.

Sweetcorn: Fed up with mini corns, so I've bought "Rising Sun F1" seeds to grow a full sized corn. I don't think the Highland summers are warm enough or long enough, but it's an early ripening variety so it might work if it's like this year. 

Red Spring Onion:  Variety Lilia, the white spring onions did exceptionally well, so I thought I'd try a white variety as well next year.

Gherkin: I love pickled gherkin. Another experiment.

Red Cabbage:  I grew red cabbage in 2012 and they did brilliantly, not sure why I didn't grow any in 2013.

Broccoli: One of my favorite vegetables, in my experience they tend to all crop at the same time and then run to flower, I'll have a read up to see if there's anything I can do to avoid this.

Apart from these I'm growing things I grew this year. I can't wait to get started, once Christmas is over I'll start digging the allotment and get some manure.

Winter Veg

It might be only 3 weeks to Christmas but there's still lots of fresh produce available on the allotment.

Carrots, beetroot, spring onion, cabbage, leeks and even parsley. 

Most root vegetables will last through the winter, my still plenty of carrots and beetroot on my plot.

The leeks are cropping well this year, they also should stand up to the winter weather, although the outer leaves do tend to go a little much when it's very cold.

Despite the summer vandalism by the caterpillars I still have lots of cabbages, like the leeks the outer leaves might go a little bit off in very cold weather, but they can always be peeled off and the rest used.

The spring onions and the parsley will not fair so well in the snow, but at the moment they're still doing well.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Pumpkin Pie

Back from a two week holiday and the allotment is starting to look a little autumnal.

The Dahlias are still flowering, picked  a bunch today, some carrots, a few squashes, but the big harvest of the day was my pumpkin. It's enormous, I really didn't think it would grow when I picked up a plant in Simpsons in the Spring.

Busy making Pumpkin pie and soup.

I'll write a review of the year for the Dores website in the next couple of days.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Wallflowers For The Spring

As I've said before, it's not just fruit and veg on the allotment, I grow flowers too.

One that works well is wallflowers especially as they are biennials. In June I planted two rows of seeds, White Ivory and Giant Pink.

Here you can see them growing, ready to harvest.

As the summer bedding in the garden is looking pretty tatty now, especially after this weekends wind and rain, I've cleared it away ready for the wallflowers. 

Here's my walled flower bed on the drive, all planted up with the wallflowers, ready for the spring.

As the wallflowers are pink and white I've interspersed them with dark pink tulips that will hopefully grown up through the wallflowers.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Lots to do at the moment

Had to crop my onions this week. A bit earlier than they should be, but my potato plants next to them had got so tall that in the strong wind they'd flopped over the onions and underneath the onions were damp and going off.

Not a bad crop of white onions considering, red onions very disappointing, again! Don't think I'll grow them again..... and I don't think I'll grow my onions next to the potatoes again either.

Having a problem with my carrots, last post they were cropping well, but some animal, I think a badger is digging them up. He's eaten all of my early carrot row, apart from the ones I've dug. I've put heavy stones next to the fence where he's getting under and I'm really hoping he doesn't discover my other two rows of carrots.

Other things cropping well at the moment: baby sweetcorn, courgettes, flat leaf parsley, spring onions, new potatoes, french beans,  dahlias and gladioli.  Especially pleased with these green gladioli.

I also have two pumpkins growing, getting quite sizable. Saw the plants it Simpsons, didn't think they'd do much, I could be wrong.

The other two things I'm having problems with is catapillers on my cabbages, they've shredded one row, hardly any leaves on them and weeds which have gone crazy since the rains came.

Need to think about lifting my potato crop in the next couple of weeks. The "Desire" have got blight and the plants are dying off but should still be a good crop. The "Golden Wonder" seem to be resisting.

Yes, that really is a courgette!!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

It's all gone crazy

The allotment is cropping wonderfully at the moment, some things more than we can cope with.

New Potatoes:

Been cropping these for a while now, in fact we haven't bought any potatoes since early July. The type is Epicure and I must confess I didn't think they'd crop very well due to the dry early summer, but as you can see they're doing wonderfully.

 And they make the best chips too!!!

Other things cropping really well at the moment are:

Spring onions, courgettes, mini sweet corn, french beans, beetroot and Italian flat leaf parsley.

Had a real surprise with these carrots this afternoon, I've been leaving them for weeks because every time I checked the on the surface they looked very small. Today I thought the plants looked really big so I pulled one, to my surprise the carrot under the ground was really long, So I pulled enough for dinner.

I'm growing flowers too, for use in the B&B, flowering really well at the moment are the Dahlias and the sunflowers, the Statice is coming to and end now although I've been picking arms full for weeks.  I picked my first Gladioli today, a lovely mixture and purple and green.


Friday, 26 July 2013

Starting To Crop

This haul was from the allotment the other day.

Gooseberries, strawberries, beetroots and my first courgette. Sunflowers, dahlias and statice.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Broad Beans

Picked my first crop of broad beans today. Not many but enough for dinner.

I planted two lots, one batch of seeds I planted in the ground back in February, the other I grew in the greenhouse and planted out in May.

I don't think either have done better than the other, but certainly the number of successful plants from seed was much better from greenhouse raised plants. Probably only about a third of seeds in the ground germinated. Probably due to the cold spring.

I also picked another punnet of strawberries this afternoon. They are some of the biggest and tastiest strawberries I've ever had. Made a strawberry flan this afternoon.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Warm Weather, Works For Some Things

A few more crops are ready recently, the two most exciting for me are new potatoes and strawberries, neither of which I've managed to grow before.

I dug into the soil at the end of June to check my new potatoes (Epicure) but they were still quite small so I left them for another 2 weeks.

Now they look like this and are lovely cooked with sprigs of mint and served with butter.

You can't beat the taste of home grown spuds.

I netted my strawberries about a week ago, I thought the birds wouldn't find them up their, but one afternoon I went up to weed and found a couple of strawberries scattered with chunks missing even though the weren't ripe.

So I loosely draped a net over the whole row and
yesterday went and picked my first crop.

Alas not everything on the allotment is enjoying the recent weather, my cauliflowers are a disaster. I think the ground is too dry for them as we've not had any proper rain for weeks. Most of the row have just flopped over and died, I have about 5 plants left from a row of 20. Strangely the cabbages are doing really well, they don't seem to mind the dry.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

First Crop Of The Season

The allotment is coming along well at the moment, thanks to the rain last weekend.

My cauliflowers were really suffering from the weeks of no rain, many have wilted and flopped over. I'm really hoping they'll recover, but most are not looking too good.

Technically I picked my first crop of the year on Monday, I thinned my little gem lettuce and made a salad with the plants I pulled, but yesterday was my first proper crop.

I picked a carrier bag half full of spinach leaves and made a spinach and feta cheese pie. Lovely.

Spinach: first crop of the year.

Spinach and feta cheese pie.
Other crops coming along ready soon are strawberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants, spring onions and broad beans.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Never Ending Battle With Slugs

If you read my posting from last year you'll know I had major problems with slugs.

I try to be organic, but sometimes I resort to slug pellets, although I'm not keen on them as they potentially kill birds that eat the poisoned slugs.

So this year I'm trying a new ploy, I've bought some slug traps.

Small cup with beer in the bottom
They are a small plastic cup with a top on them, that has a gap of about an 1/2 inch to let the slugs in. You fill it with beer and this attracts the beasts, they then fall in and drown.
Put the top on and see what happens. 

Be interesting to see how well they work, and how much beer they need.

It's time to get those brassicas in

In case you are wondering, brassicas are the cabbage family and they need to be planted around now. The brassica family include cabbages, cauliflowers, sprouts, kale and broccoli. 

I've grown the ones I want from seed in the greenhouse, and they're about the 4 leaf stage now and ready to go out. They're pretty hardy so no need to worry too much about the frost.

This year I'm growing:-

Cauliflower Romanesco 200 seeds
Romanesco Cauliflower
  1. Cabbage - Mini cole - A Small cabbage should be ready in the autumn
  2. Cabbage - Tundra - A good winter variety
  3. Cauliflower - All Year Round - As the name suggests should be available all year, but that depends on when they were started. I've never been very successful with cauli before, so bit of an experiment.....
  4. Cauliflower - romanesco - A spiky green cauliflower, saw them on the farmers market in Inverness last autumn, another total experiment.
When growing brassicas they must be covered over with netting for two reasons

  1. when they are young the pigeons love them and will strip them to the ground in a day if they find them..........I speak from bitter experience. 
  2. Later in the summer the cabbage white butterfly will lay their eggs on them and the emerging caterpillars will eat them. 
Nice neat rows with netting over them.
I plant a line of them across the allotment, they need to be planted about an inch deeper than the seedlings where grown and the earth must be firmed up around them to stop them flopping about in the wind and damaging the stem.

I put 5 sets of sticks in triangles over the plants. I then run a piece of garden twine along the line over the sticks and weight each end down with a rock, then I put netting over and hold down the edges with stones. Luckily their is no shortage of stones on the allotments.

I bought my netting on Ebay and paid the same price for 5 lengths and a single pack in B&Q, so shop around. 


Monday, 29 April 2013

Fruit Bushes

If you've read my page from last year you may have noticed that the first thing I ever planted was 6 gooseberry bushes. They're doing well so far.

Then in January of this year I bought 6 blackcurrant bushes and planted them along side.

At the end of the row was my asparagus from last year, but that failed, too cold for it I think. So I decided to extend the fruit. I've added 3 redcurranr bushes, never grown them before and added another 2 blackcurrants.

Don't think the currents will do much this year, but hoping for good things from the gooseberries.

I bought the blackcurrants as bare rooted plants for about 6.50 each over the internet. Seemed a good price at the time until I found that B&Q are currently selling potted, more mature plants for £6.98 at the moment. 

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Get Those Tatties In

It's late for planting potatoes, but there's no point in putting them in until the ground is ready and warming up.

I've started planting mine this week, I'm going to have 5 rows:-

1  of Epicure - An early potato which should be ready in Late June / early July.

2 of Desiree - Main crop - A great roasting potato

2 of Golden Wonder - Main Crop

I particularly chose Golden Wonder and Desiree as they're reputed to be slug resistant, I lost about a 1/3 of my crop last year due to slug damage.

Potatoes Ready for covering with 12" soil.
Some people prefer to plant potatoes at soil level and then regularly earth up as the plants grow, that is you rake the soil up over the plants as they grow. This is a lot of work, I much prefer the following method:-

I dig a trench about 6" deep across the plot, using a string to try and keep a straight row.

I then space out the seed potatoes, about 10" - 12" for main crop, 8" - 10" for earlies. I then dig along side the trench to make another trench piling the soil up over the seed potatoes, to about 12" high.

The 2nd trench acts as a walk-way so I can get along to weed and because the potatoes are 12" deep there's no need for earthing up.

And here's another tip, that will make your money go that little bit further. Each seed potato should be about the size of a golf ball, any that are much larger than this can be cut in half to give you double the plants, as long as you make sure you have a bud on both halves. Try to make sure that each half is of equal size.

Any Large Seed Potatoes Can Be Cut In Two
Make Sure Both Halves Are Of Similar Size And Both Have Growing Tips 

Friday, 19 April 2013

A Blank Canvas - Start Of The Season

The title of this post is a little misleading in two ways.

Allotment At The Start Of The Season
Firstly, it gives the impression that nothing has been done with my allotment this year, which is far from the truth.  I started digging on the 3rd January and by the end of February I had dug the whole plot, not just the 2/3s that I used last year but also the 1/3 I hadn't used but which was sprayed with weed killer back in September. Angus also delivered a load of manure which I'd spread over the section of the plot which wasn't manured last year, the bottom half.

In the past week or so I have also rotovated the whole plot, to break up lumps, dig in the manure and get the ground ready for planting, I've been rushing to do this as the soil was nice and dry thanks to the recent lack of rain but as this week the forecast was somewhat wetter I wanted to finish before this arrived.

Secondly, although in the photo it appears empty there are some fruits growing. When I started working on the plot in January 2012 I planted 6 gooseberry bushes, they will hopefully produce their first fruits this year. In August I planted a row of strawberry plants, again they should fruit this summer, all but 2 have survived the winter. And in February I planted a row of 6 blackcurrant bushes, these were dry-rooted so I don't think they'll fruit this year, although they look healthy enough, covered in leaf buds.

I'm also doing a bit of an experiment, if you ready my page on the Dores website about last year  about the 2012 season you'll know my broad beans were a bit of a failure, in part because of the shock to the plants of moving from growing at home to out in the wilds of the allotments. So this year I have planted a double row of broad bean seeds directly into the ground in late February. There's no sign of them yet, so I dug up one seed yesterday to see if they'd perished in the cold, but it was sprouting away happily. We'll see how they do.

Before I Began

I took this photo before I did anything to my plot.

January 2012: Before the first spade full was lifted.