Wordless Wednesday: Winter Flowering!

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Potato Picking

Visited the local,  family run garden centre today which is currently an Aladdin’s cave full of different potato varieties! I was tempted to buy a few random bags and see how it goes but then I spotted this…

 

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So tonight I’m picking potatoes…not easy! 😕 So much choice!

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Last year I planted Rocket, Charlotte, Cara and Desiree. The Rocket potatoes were completely blemish free, waxy and tasted quite good. The Charlottes were similar to Rocket but had a bit more flavour in my opinion. However the maincropper Cara was a bit bland and was hopeless for boiling! My favourite was Desiree! I liked the taste and the firmer texture…it was also a heavy cropper!!

I’m reading up this time. Loving the names too! Harlequin, Blue Belle, Red Duke of York, Casablanca…Oh decisions, decisions!!!

 

 

 

Planning for vegetable comfort

Despite not actually being able to work on my allotments due to the recent appalling weather, I have been busy preparing and planning the planting for the growing season.

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I’ve started with Plot 4A, which unlike Plot 5,  will include a number of raised beds.  I have to confess that most of my raised beds have been bought on-line mostly because of the difficulty involved in building them from scratch on my own.  I have built a small shallow one but for Plot 4A I wanted deep beds that would last a good few years.

Raised beds x2
Raised beds

 

There are some quality products on the market however I particularly wanted metal beds.  I found the perfect solution at Sutton Seeds, admittedly they are not cheap, however they are durable, deep at 40cms high and they look pretty good too!

Between the two plots I will have a combination of planting – rows and raised beds.  I’m hoping that this will increase the yield for 2016.

Raised beds are good for:

  • Improving drainage – The bottom half of Plot 4A is prone to water-logging so raised beds on that area will alleviate the problem.
  • Increasing soil temperature – The whole site is exposed and the plants suffer in cold weather.
  • Enhance root health – I’m aiming to enrich the soil in the raised beds with extra fertiliser and organic matter.
  • Improving access – As you will be aware, if you read my blog, my family often enjoy helping out on the allotment and I want to ensure all of my family members can have a go, if they wish.
  • Growing plants in a different soil type – I haven’t had success with growing cranberries so far – three plants have died!  I’m hoping to create a bed especially for plants that prefer specific soil types.
  • Pest control – I’m hoping that I will be able to protect my salad greens, cauliflowers and peas from the slugs, mice and birds more easily in raised beds.
  • Weed control – I’m told weeding will be much easier…we shall see!

The RHS website says that raised beds are suitable for:

  • Soft fruits, such as strawberries, currants, raspberries and blackberries
  • Vegetables, almost any vegetable can be grown in raised beds
  • Herbaceous perennials, raised beds are a good idea for establishing a cutting garden for cut flowers
  • Alpines, ideal for alpines that relish good drainage
  • Small trees and shrubs, depending on how big your beds are, you may be able to  grow some small trees and shrubs
  • Ericaceous or lime hating plants,by filling beds with acid lime-hating plants   such as heathers and rhododendrons may be grown in areas of alkaline soil

I’m also considering constructing a hot bed which will entail building a frame, building up layers of manure and compost material then topping with around 4 inches of soil.  I’m told that I’ll have to get cracking on this project asap in order to reap the benefits!

Has anyone tried a hot bed?  Any tips?

 

 

Quiet the mind, and the soul will speak

The rain here in Wales has been relentless, cutting off my escape to my beloved allotment! There’s only so much reading one can possibly  do about gardening without feeling downhearted about the fact that you are still trapped indoors!!

As a person I need a creative outlet, a distraction, a meditation so I’ve started drawing illustrations of my favourite allotment ‘scenes’  from 2015.  After a long day dealing with other peoples’ frustrations and sadness I’m enjoying drawing these little pictures as a means for calming my emotions.

It started with a ‘doodle’ of my mum helping with the weeding on a beautiful summer’s day…  20160116_104424

and I quite liked it!  So did my mum!  In fact it’s great seeing the reactions of my little family when I create an illustration of them so I’m now creating a family picture book. It’s also a lovely way to reflect on my first year as an allotmenteer…in a ‘doodle diary’.

next came ‘Helping Bampi’…

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then ‘Purple Bean Tasting’…

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followed by…’Aubergines’

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and finally ‘Superheroes’….

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I’ve no idea about the ‘rules’.  I admit that I’ve never had lessons on how to use watercolour pencils etc but I’m enjoying being able to create my allotment story in my ‘doodles’!  Whilst the rain continues I’m quietening my mind and allowing my gardening soul to speak through ‘art’ 🙂