Tag Archives: Vegetables

Spring Glow

Are we nearly there yet?

‘Depending upon which definition you use, there are actually two different dates that the mark the first day of spring.’

1 March 2018 is the first day of the meteorological spring

20 March 2018 is the first day of the astronomical spring

The skies are still mostly grey and dismal, the temperature outside is still cold but spring is officially here!

However, it’s a joy to see my garden and allotment begin to wake up after winter. The spring bulbs and fruit trees are blossoming…that ‘Spring glow’ is everywhere.

The daffodils are looking stunning!20180414_1228521478062419.jpg

The willow is sprouting nicely.

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The rhubarb has already contributed to a delicious apple and rhubarb crumble.

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The perennial Kale tastes delicious and continues to add a ‘punch’ to dinner.

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The broad beans and garlic are growing nicely too!

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Spring is the busiest time on the allotment and in the garden, so I’m trying my best, despite the weather, to get on with the jobs but I’m still behind in my planting!

The potatoes are still chitting, a second batch of broad beans have just sprouted along with a sowing of ‘Moonlight’ runner beans.

I’ve managed to plant three ‘Gardeners Delight’ tomato plants in the new greenhouse raised bed. Fingers crossed they’ll be ok – no luxury heating in my greenhouse :-/

Tomato plants are looking strong…doing my bit for recycling too by using old labels found in my seed box!

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Some of my favourites in the garden at the moment are Honeyberry flowers, Cowslips, Hidcote Pink comfrey, Night Scented Phlox, Anacylus and the gorgeous blue Lithodora (Heavenly Blue)

 

Hopefully you’re enjoying the ‘spring glow’ and managing to potter on with the planting, despite the gloomy skies 🙂

 

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Under the Cloak of Winter

Over the last 3 years I’ve taken on and worked 3 allotment plots.

  • Plot 1 – January 2015
  • Plot 2 – May 2015
  • Plot 3 – June 2016

All three were in a shocking state of neglect. The photograph below shows the current state of the last plot acquired. The plot is approximately the size of half a tennis court.    It was divided into beds by the previous owner but was never really planted or worked. To be honest, I took on plot 5b because the weeds were impacting on my plots but I also fancied a bigger shed to shelter from rain showers and make the odd cup of tea!

The weeds on 5b were shoulder high and tackling the tangled mess was done through hard graft (weed killers are definitely not an option on my plots). Weeds and grass were scythed, burned and finally covered with heavy duty weed suppressant. It’s taken a while but I think plot 5b will finally be fully ready for the growing season.

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February 2018: Astro Turf picnic area, vegetable bed, bay and bulb tub, new raised bed, Gruff the dog sat under the sunshade of the mini shed, allium bed, daffodil bed, gladioli bed, willow bed and dahlia bed.

I’ll eventually remove the wooden sections – I’m not really a fan but we’ll see. The photograph doesn’t show a row of mini raised beds all approximately 4ft in size…they’re currently taking up valuable space so I’ll be ripping them up asap!

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June 2016

The photograph below doesn’t give an accurate idea of the size of the plot but it does show the work still needed.

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Gruff watching the work in progress!

Plots 5a and 4a still need a little work mostly in the fruit bed and the perennial flower bed. The greenhouse needs a good clean through too…20180224_1252211098521171.jpg

“Every allotmenteer knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle … a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl.  And the anticipation nurtures our dream.”

Willow, radiant Willow

 

Willow 2

I love the look of Willow.  It grows quickly, comes in a range of beautiful colours and you can make things with it!  I’ve decided that now is the best time to work on a new allotment project using willow.

My plots are on the side of Welsh mountain, consequently crops can suffer from the effects of strong winds, so I’m aiming to grow a living fedge (a cross between a fence and a hedge) to create an informal boundary along the most exposed edges of the plots.  The aim is to reduce the wind speed coming down from the top of the mountain.  I’ve read that the most effective windbreaks need to be semi-permeable and I’m hoping that my Willow fedge  will filter 50-60 percent of the wind!

This weekend we took delivery of 34 twelve inch rods of Willow…17 different types.

Willow 1

1.White Willow 2. Scarlet Willow 3. Flanders Red 4. Golden Willow 5. Candida 6. Goat Willow 7. White Welsh 8. Black Willow 9. Bay Willow 10. Purple Willow 11. Curly Willow 12. Green Dicks 13. Sekka 14. Dicky Meadows 15. Black Maul 16. Viminalis 17. Grey Willow

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I’m using one of the larger flower beds on the back allotment plot as a ‘nursery’.  The ‘Willow nursery’ has already been covered with weed suppressant which is an absolute must when it comes to growing Willow.  Willow can grow up to 6½ft each year but despite their vigorous growth, young Willow trees cannot cope with any competition from weeds or even grass!

Fedge

I’m hoping my fedge will eventually look something like this…

Photograph from: http://mygarden.rhs.org.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Lightening Seeds

Loving my windowsill propagator…

Rosella tomato seeds planted  February 27th at 14:21

Germinated  March 2nd – (photographed at 11:38)

Romping away March 3rd at 16:11 !!

There’s something really exciting about watching your seeds germinate and grow into strong plants.  I’ve been growing from seeds for a few years now and I’m still loving it! I wouldn’t say that I’ve mastered all things ‘germination’ yet but I’m getting closer every growing season 🙂

Seeds of Promise

Late February / early March brings the opportunity to start the growing season – indoors only – my garden is still far too cold and wet!  I did check using the ‘squeeze test’ and, yep, the soil forms a soggy mud ball in my hand!

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I’ve invested in a windowsill propagator so I’m hoping that the seeds will be kept warm and moist – perfect for germination!

I’m only sowing a few to begin with…sweet peas and tomatoes.  Sowing now should allow the plants to reach a decent size before planting out after the last frost, which should be around the end of April in my area of Wales.

  • Sweet Peas ‘Spanish Dancer’ – highly fragranced and an unusual tri-colour plus a packet of mixed tall sweet peas that were free on the front of a gardening magazine 🙂
  • Rosella tomatoes – part of James Wong’s collection (Sutton Seeds).  I grew them last year and I can honestly say that they were the sweetest tomatoes I’ve ever tasted!  I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to grow this tasty fruit however because they’re a hybrid. In my experience hybrids tend to be offered by seed growers for a few years, then disappear 😦

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Early sowing of peas, broad beans and runner beans are next on my list but I think that’ll try to wait another week 🙂

 

 

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Books, Copper and Red Noses!

I’ve treated myself to a few books by Charles Dowding as recommended by fellow bloggers plot34 and LisaSpooner.  Thank you both!

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I’m also following this brilliant organic gardener via his website http://www.charlesdowding.co.uk/

As I explained in earlier blogs, I’m currently managing a nasty injury to my foot.  This has pushed me to look at alternative gardening methods.  I’ve always been passionate about organic gardening but I’m also very keen to learn more…

During my ‘wanderings’ through various blogs, books, webpages and articles about ‘The no-dig method’, I’ve stumbled across a growing use of copper tools.  Gardeners who use them claim that copper tools have properties that deter slugs and snails!  The idea is that each time you use a copper garden tool in the soil, you leave a little copper residue in the soil – this can reduce the damage done by those nasty ‘mini beasts’!  I’ve yet to be convinced on this point having tested copper  bands and actually seeing a slug lying happily across a copper strip, munching my newly planted lettuce!

Well respected gardeners have flagged up a few more practical reasons for using copper gardening tools such as, they don’t rust, the copper edges stay sharp and they slice into the soil with ease!

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Photograph:  www.permaculture.co.uk

One more little point…they look stunning!!!  I’ll add them to my wish list. Perhaps Mr D will pop one in my Christmas stocking this year 🙂

My latest gardening gift…. ok, technically Comic Relief Noses (2017) but I think they make great cane toppers and they survived storm Doris!!!

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Growing Medicine for the Mind

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the mind.”

I love growing flowers on my allotment plot. To me, they look stunning, they attract pollinators and very importantly are they can be used as an environmentally friendly bug barrier!

I’m currently growing perennial flowers such as daffodils, verbena, hydrangeas, lavender and rudbeckia but I also grow a number of annual flowers such nasturtiums, sunflowers, sweet peas and marigolds.

This year I’ve decided to dedicate Plot 5A to flowers. So far, I’ve planted 2 beds of bulbs and they’re already up!

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In 2016 I have to admit that I was very disappointed with the results of ‘direct sown’ seeds – they either didn’t germinate or produced 3 inch high plants 😦 so this year I’ll be starting ALL my flowers off in the greenhouse.  I’ve already started stockpiling a few beauties (these will go straight into the ground)…Any tips on growing dahlias will be gratefully received 🙂 Look at these gorgeous ‘dinner plate’ varieties!

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I’ve managed to gather a few basic planting tips:

  • Don’t rush to plant – dahlias hate cold soil. Wait until all chance of frost is past.
  • Plant in full sun. They need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight to thrive.
  • Protect from the wind.
  • Soil should be rich and well-drained.
  • You can start tubers indoors.
  • Be cautious with watering – tubers rot easily.
  • You can expect flowers within around 8 weeks of planting, starting in mid-July.

Do you have any tips or advice on growing Dahlias?

On my wanders around gardens in the UK, it’s clear that most kitchen gardens combine flowers and veggies.

These two pictures show the Agatha Christie’s kitchen gardens at Greenway House…

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Love the combined planting!

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I’m aiming to create a mini version of this sweet pea and bean (the beans have been cleared) arch (at the National Botanical Gardens of Wales) over the central pathway on Plot 5A…

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Do you grow flowers on your allotment?  How do you ‘mix them up’? What are you most looking forward to growing in 2017?