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Updated: Thursday 31 December 2015
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Most of the planting in now done with the exceptions of a few bits here and there. This year I am having a go at growing some cauliflower some say this is a tricky crop to grow so I will have to keep an eye on it I know I need to keep the head covered over to stop it going yellow and I have read that most people use the leaves and tie them over.
I am also growing Purple sprouting Broccoli again (a favourite of mine see previous posts)and also having another go at some Brussels sprouts, I found them quite hard to grow first time round but I know where I went wrong last time and won’t make the same mistakes again.
With my brassicas I also add a little crushed egg shells to the potting mix I do this with all brassicas as it gives them a little calcium boost as they grow it helps in develop strong roots. I have also put an egg shell mulch round them to stop the slugs and snails (I don’t get to many on the plot but don’t want to tempt fate!)
It’s looking “ship shape” now on the plot and can’t wait for things to start cropping.
The next job it to get the cover sorted for the raspberry’s as they are starting to flower and won’t be long before fruit is developing. The raspberry’s look especially healthy this year, with the autumn variety’s putting up lots of canes and even cropping up in the pathways the mulch and feed I gave them last year is starting to pay off I suspect.
Hello readers it’s been a while, it’s been a busy few weeks first off I competed my charity walk on the 12th May a 13 mile walk from Malden to Chelmsford in Essex I was part of a team and in total we raised over £700 so well chuffed with that and we still have money coming in, so thank you if you donated it’s going to a great cause.
On the plot not much went on in early May as it was Rain rain and more rain and I was getting quite worried that I was getting quite far behind.
But the last week I have been off work and the weather has been kind so a few days spent on the plot and things are back to normal.
The first job was to weed as since I rotivated, the beds were covered in weeds again luckily they were all little ones so a hoe did the trick.
This week I got quite a lot planted out, my sweetcorn, celeriac, chard and dwarf Bollotti beans all went in one bed I also planted out my French beans but haven’t quite got round to doing the Runner beans yet but plan to do this next week.
This year as some of you may know I am attempting to grow a large pumpkin for my 2 children they have asked me to grow a big pumpkin that Cinderella can use to go to the ball! (Oh to be 4 again!).
I don’t normally go in for the growing food that you can’t eat but on this occasion I will make an exception, I am growing a variety called hundred weight. I have done a bit of research on this variety and got a bit worried at the size they can get! But hopefully it won’t be too big. I started by digging a large hole about 2ft wide and 2ft deep my soil in this part of the allotment where I plan to grow it isn’t that great so needs a lot of help to get it going, I filled the whole with 4 spadesful’s of ½ rotted horse manure them topped it off with some compost and some chicken manure pellets and planted it in the centre of this. I also put some stones round the base to help keep the moisture in I them made a raised circle round the plant so that when I water, the water wont escape and go to the roots where it’s needed. I plant to feed the pumpkin once a week with the beer ullage I will save from work, as I have read that they like a bit of ale and Beer!!!
Also this week I needed to change my 2 front tyres on my car I planned to keep the tyres and recycle them as planters on my plot so when I asked the mechanic that I wanted to keep my tyres he went white in the face and went straight to his boss I think he thought I was some sort of inspector or something his boss came out and gave me the third degree as to why I wanted them! I don’t think he believed me. It was all rather funny.
First off this week I just want to quickly talk about a Walk for life I am doing on the 12th May it’s a 22km walk for a local charity called Farleigh Hospice they do some fantastic work and I want to help them with raising money.
I have put a link to my just giving page if any of you would like to kindly sponsor me or simply just give a little. Thanks for your support.
Well this week has all been about sowing seeds and getting things going down the plot, so I thought I would just give you an update as to where I am and the progress some of my sowings have made. I will start with what’s going on in the greenhouse. The celeriac sown at the beginning of March has come on well I transplanted them into individual cells this week I hope it produces an edible crop this year unlike last year’s tangle of roots.
The tomatoes have produce some fantastic plants this year waiting that extra few weeks this year stopped them from going leggy and the result is a good health plant.
The leeks are showing good progress and I will look to move them into cells in the next few weeks but for now they are happy.
My PSB and cauliflowers have just popped up in the last day or so, never grown cauliflower before so a first this year for me looking forward to it, some say it’s a bit tricky so anyone with any tips and hints please share I need all the help I can get.
Down the allotment the onions finally went in today the soil was simply not ready until now, I started them off in modules in the green house so all I had to do was plant out today fingers crossed I get a great harvest like last year.
Also sowed my parsnips, and carrots I have said to myself this year if I don’t get a decent crop of carrots I am not going to bother anymore just to much hassle.
Last year I dint get ant beetroot the weather was to wet and every time I put some new ones in they just rotted off so hopefully this year I will get a crop.
Just want to finish on my strawberries they are looking fantastic again this year so a bumper crop is on the cards with them.
Have a great week and please check out my just giving page and give to a great cause.
But the last 2 weeks things have been on the up.
Last Monday (after having the beds covered over for 4 weeks) I along with my dad decided that we would rotivate the plot our allotment society do tool hire for the day and at £10 it’s a bargain I have never used one before and I found it a bit of a pain in the proverbial the soil is heavy clay and it didn’t like it to much I found it a lot easier to pull it back over the plot rather than letting it go forward. But the end result was pleasing and now most of the beds are ready for planting at last!
After we sorted the beds out I planted out the potatoes as they were crying out to go in the ground this year I am keeping it simple only growing 3 main crops in santé Cara and King Edward and a second early called British Queen, I grew this last year and was impressed with it so giving it another crack this year.
I have also this year created 2 flower beds and have put a climbing rose up a metal arch that goes over the middle walkway through the plot, its going to look pretty grand when its grown a bit. The other plants put in are all bulbs with some daffodils and some summer ones the name escapes me now!
Well what weather it was down the plot today, started off foggy and quite cold then by 10am I was walking about the plot with a T-shirt on it was according to the thermometer at the plot 13°C then by 12pm there was hail stones and I had my jumper and hat back on!
Go quite a bit done today, I weeded over 3 beds and used my compost to put over the top of the beds I have 9 Raised beds all around 3m x 4m and I put 4 wheel barrow s full of my homemade compost on each of them. And then I covered them over. I do however have a raised bed that is total water logged and has been since October of last year, I don’t really know what to do with it and by the looks of it I don’t think I can use it this year as it needs to dry out totally before I try to grow anything in it, it’s because my allotment is on a slight hill and I am the bottom plot the bed has always been a bit of an issue but the rain last year made thing worse… much worse!
In the next week or so I should have more Purple sprouting broccoli just need a bit of warm weather give it a final push to fully open so I can pick it.
My potatoes that I have chitting on the bedroom windows are coming along nicely and I am thinking of putting them in the green house soon.
I managed to get round to sowing some leeks yesterday also I am not going to over the top with them this year as last year I had quite a lot all ready to be planted out then they got hit with some fungal disease and wipe the whole crop out!
I had some left over egg whites from last night dinner so rather than go to waste I thought I would knock up a Roulade to surprise the Girls when they get home today (that’s the 2 children & the wife!)
Some people think meringue is hard to do, it’s not you just have to be precise with your measurements and do a little pre cleaning. I always remember what my lecture told me the first time I made meringue at collage all them years ago, “start with a clean bowl & clean whisk” I know that sounds like common sense but what he meant was clean it again before you use it and make sure its DRY before you start. The egg whites won’t whisk up if the bowl if dirty or not clean enough.
Then you need to make sure all your measurements are accurate no guestimating. And I have always worked on 2oz of caster sugar to every egg white and it has always been successful for me.
So here’s what I did:
5 egg yolks 10oz Caster Sugar 200ml Double cream
2og icing sugar Vanilla essence or vanilla pod
Your chosen fruit (strawberries in my case)
Pre-heat oven to 200°c
In a CLEAN DRY mixing bowl add your egg whites and whisk until they form what’s called Stiff peaks that when you can form a peak with the mix and it stays there.
On a lined baking tray pour the mix in the centre and using a spoon spread the mix out evenly over the tray.
Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 200°c then lower the temperature to 120°c for a further 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from tray and place upside down on a cooling rack and leave to go cold for 15 minutes.
Roll from one end using a firm hand to hold in place.
Sprinkle with icing sugar and leave in a fridge for 2 hours to chill before serving.
Not much action down the plot this week, the family has been hit with this winter bug, my youngest daughter has had it the worst, so daddy day care comes before Allotment action.
I wanted to get the rest of the posts done I started last week but the snow today has put pay to that idea. I am really hoping that it clears up a little as I want to pay a visit tomorrow as got a load of horse Manure to take up there, its fresh stuff but I have a old compost bin that I intend to get filled asap and plan to leave it till this time next year so its had time to do its thing.
My Father has managed to get hold of some black plastic as next year we are going to cover the beds over to stop the weeds coming up over winter and to make it earlier in the spring. Covering your plot as I have found out is split into 2 camps those whom swear by it and do it every year and those whom feel it should never be covered, me I am of the opinion you don’t know until you try it so that’s what we plan to do.
My Dad found a right Bargain on eBay 50m x 2m continuous length on a roll for £20 with free postage, so we snapped that up straight away, I was a little sceptical at first as I thought that was too good to be true, but it was delivered today and it is really good stuff. So it pays to search and your find what you’re looking for.
this picture was taken last October from a bed I neglected for a wile hopefully the plastic will stop this from happening.
It’s been a week since my last visit to the plot, and today I started a Project that has been a year in the making, like I have said before my Parent’s work in a factory where they dispose of lots of wood (it goes off to be re-cycled) but they are able to take it home with permission of cause, I have asked them to gather some timber for me to use as posts for my plot I needed 50 posts in total I knew they would take a while to get them and time was running out as they are both retiring this year. So after 11 months of collecting I final had them all, painted and ready to go. The plan is to put 6 posts on each bed so if I need to cover the bed to protect it all I need to do is put the netting over it and job done! This way no matter what needs protecting I just need to put the net over it no making supports with canes that last 5 minutes and need redoing and also with crop rotation the post are they if needed or not. I managed to get 2 beds done today, with help from my Father. My Parents are planning on helping me out this year a bit more as they will be both retired that way if things need a quick water they are on hand. I managed this week also to get my leaf mould sieved and ready to use it was my first attempt and making leaf mould last year and I am really pleased with the results I managed to get about 10lts from it I have put all my leaves from the garden again this year so hopefully have more this time next year. I also sowed my fist lot of seeds today, I sowed some tomatoes, Yellow pear and Alice Craig I plan to sow 1 more variety but going to leave that till mid-March I also sowed some Celeriac, Cabbage, Chives and some long Red Peppers I got from a Reader of my blog (thanks Helen) after sowing today I really feel as though the new season has begun. Thanks for reading…
Well were off, yesterday saw the first action for the new growing season, I went to my local garden centre and selected my seed potatoes for the coming season, I am being a bit more conservative this year as last year I conducted a trial into old heritage variety’s selecting 10 different potatoes but the weather was not the best for it really but still ended up with a decent crop.
I am not bothering with First earlies this year, the last few years I have been disappointed with the yield from them so I am opting for just a single Second early and 3 main crop varieties. I am going with what has produced well for me over the years this year to try and guarantee a good crop (if there is such a thing as a guaranteed crop)
The variety’s selected this year are: British Queen, second Early this produced a great crop last year and tasted wonderful Santé, main crop grow this every year really reliable and good cropping Cara, main crop great for the allotment blight resistant and can cope with lack of watering King Edwards, main crop this has been a reliable crop for me in the past.
I Really wanted to grow Dr Macintosh again this year but cant find anywhere that stock it so may have to keep a look out because if i find it i will grow some because they were the best crop by far last year for taste and yield.
That’s it for this year just the 4 types hopefully I will get a good yield and should see us through the year for potatoes and that’s a goal of mine to not by potatoes for a whole season and just use what’s produced at the plot.
Let’s hope the weather is better this year for the allotment.
It was a big day this week down the plot, as I knew my purple sprouting Broccoli would be ready to pick; I got a bit excited on the drive to the plot! Last year my PSB was a disaster firstly I planted them far too close to each other, then they were struck down by white fly LOTS of white fly and to crown it off the didn’t produce any broccoli heads.
So I did a lot of reading on the best ways to grow them and I had some great advice from my friends on twitter and other bloggers, so armed with the knowledge I really went for it last year.
I started with 7 plants but 2 were killed off with the wet weather (rotted) then the birds got to 2 of them so I ended up with 3 which I nearly lost at the turn of the year because I forgot to cover them and the pigeon’s stripped all the large leaves but thankfully they didn’t get to the heads before I covered it over.
PSB I feel is a special vegetable as it’s only available in a short window of 4-8 weeks. I know you can get it all year round but to be “in season” in this country it’s a short window.
To me PSB is a real treat to have and when I have it I like to do something special with it. Be it a flavoured butter or topped with Bacon lardons, but my favourite thing to do with PSB is to make a cheese sauce with Gorgonzola and drizzle it over the broccoli it’s a match made in heaven! And it’s a classic you can’t beat broccoli with blue cheese.
To make it you need: 25g salted butter 25g plain flour 250ml milk Salt & pepper Nutmeg English mustard 100g Gorgonzola 50g Bacon lardons (optional)
Warm the milk in a pan but don’t boil. Melt the butter but don’t colour it then add the add the flour cook for 1 min then add the milk a little at a time use a whisk to stop it going lumpy then season with Salt & pepper and add a small pinch of nutmeg and ½ teaspoon of English mustard cook for 5 mins to cook out the flour then add the Gorgonzola save a little back to sprinkle over the top at the end. Then just cook your broccoli brain off all the water and pour over the cheese sauce.If you want to you could add some crispy bacon lardons to really make it.
I am going to do a trail with a giant pumpkin for my children because they want to grow a “massive” pumpkin so they can use it at Halloween as a coach to take them trick or treating (oh to be 5 again!). Plus daddy wants to enter the pumpkin contest at the allotment and try to grow the largest, just for a bit of fun really.
the plan is on the tab at the top of the page
I want to talk compost in this post, like most plot holders, I make my own compost recycling all my waste materials from the plot, but I also compost at home, and have dome for a number of years now, but there is one big difference with what I do with my home compost.
When I clean out my chickens I add there waste. Chicken poop and straw mixed together. I also add Percy’s (my children’s Rabbit) hutch waste the sawdust and rabbit poop.
It makes fantastic compost and my allotment crops love it because I mix it in with the compost from the plot to make a mix that’s rich and full of great things for the vegetables. I also mix in lots of crushed down egg shells to some of it this adds a calcium boost to all my brassicas to get off to a good start. I collect the egg shells from work and dry them out and crush them down to almost like a powder, admittedly you need a lot so working in a hotel that does hundreds of breakfast helps this cause!
I leave my mix a full year to do its thing but it’s normally ready in 3 months but I like to leave it to really turn black and crumbly. I take the top layer off, that has not composed down yet then you reach the good stuff.
If you use chicken poop you must not use it fresh as it is too rich and will kill off your plants you have to leave it to compose for a while normally about 3 months. I don’t have enough chickens to make a pile of just poop and straw so that’s why I add it to my compost it turns my good compost into Super compost.
This year is going to be a bumper crop of compost I would say when it’s all mixed up together and ready to spread on the plot I would have about 40 wheelbarrows full!
This time last year I had begun in earnest with sowing and getting things ready for the coming season on the plot. Potatoes were chitting, broad beans sown, onion seeds had shown their heads and I had planned what I was going to grow for the year… this year I haven’t done anything yet apart from flick through a few magazines to find what I want to grow. This had lead me to ask myself what is my new season resolution?? Last year I had some big plans for the plot but my change of job and the weather put pay to some, so this year I want to keep it simple because as a chef we don’t lead a “normal” working life. The stereo typical Monday to Friday 9 to 5 job is a myth in the catering industry, and some weeks, it’s just imposable for me to get to the plot. So I am just going to grow what fits round my life style, vegetables that need water every day will be off the list and things like baby corn will not be grown, as I typed that it saddened me because that was one of the reasons I took the plot on to grow the things I love, but the truth is baby corn needs to be picked quickly and if left even for a few days they become too big and turn woody, as I found out last year.
So back to my question what would my new year’s resolution be?? Well the answer is keeping it simple. Grow less but give the less more attention don’t get me wrong I am still going to have a full plot but a full plot of what I love that fits in with me.
I read a lot of blogs from people that have taken on their first allotment plot and I know the tendency is to grow it all but what I have learnt is unless you can be at your plot 3 or 4 days a week it simply is not achievable. So my advice is, grow what fits with you.
I also what to keep my promise when I started my blog and that was to share some recipes from time to time with the things I grow on the plot so this year I will do more to share this.
So my question to you dear reader is what is your New Season Resolution?.................
I just been looking back at my blog post “Fruitilicious” last year, it’s about how I don’t really have any success with soft fruit or any fruit for that matter!
I was looking back because over the last week I have tied up the raspberries & Tayberry bushes. I have summer and autumn fruiting raspberries and they have to be treated different, as summer fruiting varieties produce there fruit on last year’s new growth and autumn fruiting varieties produce there’s on this year’s growth,
So summer varieties have to have the fruiting stems removed from last year and the new shoots from last year left. How can you tell the difference this time of year?? I hear you all shout… Well I have a simple system really, I tie a peace of garden twine loosely round the stem of the new growth that appears throughout the fruiting season and these don’t get the chop whereas all the others do, you can also tell the difference as the stems that are older don’t look as green but instead look much more woody.And my Tayberries are also treated like summer fruiting raspberries and the old growth chopped back.
The autumn fruiting varieties are a lot simpler to sort them all just get chopped back every year.
2012 was a funny year for my raspberries as they were not producing fruit when they should be; I have 6 varieties of raspberry’s ranging from Very early to very late giving me a long season. Indeed I was picking raspberries in mid-November last year! But the season didn’t start when it should in fact all the raspberries were a good 5-6 weeks later than they should have been my first raspberries were not ready until mid-July I had quite a good crop though except from the very early variety’s as I think it was just too cold for them to do anything.
My Tayberry was a big flop though I just had 1 berry but my, it was a big juicy one. I am hoping this year will be better.
My strawberries were absolutely brilliant last year the best I have ever had I would say I had 5-6KG in total and that’s being conservative! I put it down to the preparation I put in the year before I dug them all out and dug in a load of my homemade compost (with my chicken’s poo in it)then put them back only selecting the healthy plants and the young plants also. And I netted them from the start to stop the birds.
I had no joy also with my new pear tree I planted it was looking magnificent in early April but we had a cold snap and all the blossom fell and thus no fruit! Hopefully this year will be kinder to us allotment growers.
The last 2 weeks have been very frustrating for me this cold weather has scuppered my plans on a number of occasions to get to the plot so I have had to find other ways to get a few jobs done for the plot without actually going! I decided to have a clear out in my shed at home this is also where I keep all my seeds for the plot, I discovered I have a lot of seeds, no scrap that, I have tonnes of seeds! So many so, that I have decided to give some away here on my blog.
Pretty good idea I thought, so if you fancy any of the seeds listed below then all you need to do is follow these simple steps:
First you have to be a follower of my blog that's the simple bit
1. Email me your request using the link on my blog page (top right) with the seeds you would like and your user name you follow me with ( only 2 packs per person) it’s on a first come first serve basis once there gone there gone.
2. I will email you back with my postal address
3. Send a Stamped addressed envelope along with your name and seeds selected to my postal address
4. I will return your seeds in your self-addressed envelope
5. Happy sowing!
The following seeds are available:
Courgette Black Beauty 5 packs
Runner bean Goliath 25 packs
Dwarf Borlloti beans 15 packs
Crown prince squash 5 packs
Parsnip white Gem 3 packs
Chilli pepper Hungarian Hot Wax 2 packs
Aubergine Black Beauty x 1 pack
Sweet pepper California Wonder 2 packs
Basil Sweet x 2 packs
The seeds are made up of what I have gathered over the last year and what I have collected from my allotment plot
These all being given away on a first come first serve basis and I will update the blog with the availability only 2 packs per person
you can also follow me on twitter @plot58
thanks for reading…..
It’s been a while since my last visit to the allotment, about 4 weeks to be exact, I went on a scouting mission today to see how bad the soil is and boy its bad, my allotment site is on a slight hill and I am at the bottom of it so all the water runs right down to my plot, good if we are in a bit of a dry spell I don’t need to water as much, bad if it’s done nothing but rain for 4 weeks. Working on the soil was a non-starter so I did a few other jobs that needed doing around the plot.
Firstly I covered over the Purple sprouting broccoli (PSB) as it had been attacked by the pigeons, most of the leaves had been stripped but the precious heads of broccoli are still intact so I swiftly covered them with netting, last year my PSB was a complete disaster completely covered in white fly and I planted them far too close together. This year I have given them plenty of room and picked out the bottom large leaves to allow air to circulate and I think (fingers crossed) I am going to get a good crop.
I also dug up one of the best crops I have grown to date on the plot…. my parsnips, I used some great advice from sue over at our plot at Green lane allotments. She told me to dig the soil over and rake it as fine as I can get it then add a layer of multi-purpose compost as I could not get the soil fine enough to sow direct on my clay soil. I did this and they have been amazing I had nearly 90% plus germination from my parsnips and they tasted so sweet and they were the talk of the table on Christmas day so thanks for the advice sue. I also put down more bark on the paths on the plot as it was starting to get a bit thin in places and weeds were starting to poke through, it made such a difference to the place made it look a lot tidier! I didn’t do anything to my January kings(cabbages) today they look a little messy but the cabbages themselves are in good shape, just can’t get on the soil to tidy up cause if I step foot in the beds I am liable to lose my welly! I am planning on another visit this week as I need to prune my raspberry bushes ready for the new season but that will have to wait now…..