Category Archives: allotment

The weather this weekend was beautiful; sunny and warm.

I was at a conference on Saturday but on Sunday I managed to get lots done even though I was on the ‘4am shift’. We finished sorting and burning the pile of hawthorn that was cut down at the end of last year as it was shading to much of the vegetable patch – all before 11.30am.

Then in the afternoon I finally got to spend some time at the allotment, mostly tidying and moving manure but also sowed the first beetroot. MYS has moved into a house with a much bigger garden and an old vegetable patch so I am taking on her plot on the understanding that if her house doesn’t work out she can have it back so I have so rethinking to do. I did start turning over a bed to sow so carrots but then couldn’t decide if I should use it for carrots or garlic…

At home I have sown salad, cabbage, leeks, parsnips, sweetpeas and cauliflowers although the chicks have learned how to get out of their brooder and may have eaten the sweetpeas and caulies, Grr… I still have plenty more seeds that need using up.

I am still trying to work out when to start things like beans and tomatoes lots of people of forums seem to have already started or be starting theres off but I have very limited indoor space and there are still a fair few cold or frosty nights happening. I have exactly the right amount of bobby bean (otherwise known as French beans) seed and so don’t want to risk any of them. I have some dwarf bean seeds though so I may start those off and see what happens

And the sowing begins…

Kestrel seed potatoes chitting - 15th March 2011

Kestrel seed potatoes chitting - 15th March 2011

I made it all the way to my March the 1st starting line for sowing seeds and celebrated by sowing leeks and sweetpeas, finishing planting the last of the garlic, I know it was very late, and planting the first seed potatoes and buying and setting the allotment ones to chit. That was all on the 1st of this month and hasn’t time started to fly…

Since then I have sown lots of sweetpeas, cauliflowers, leeks, started parsnip seed chitting and am doing a germination test on some old carrot seeds that I have.

I can’t wait for the lighter evenings when I’ll maybe get some time to spend on the allotment after work but in the meantime I seem to have replaced facebook with gardening forums

Allotment plan 2011

The trailer being off the road has held up work on the allotment, I had hoped to have almost finished covering the beds that are being manured by now but as it stands there is still four still to do. I will get there though and in the mean time I have finalised a growing plan.

Plot one (starting from the bottom of the plot nearest the car park);

Bed 1: Garlic. Bed 2: Parsnips. Bed 3: Leeks and beetroot. Bed 4: Courgettes and sweetcorn. Bed 5: Peas. Bed 6: Cabbages

Plot two;

Bed 1: Broccoli. Bed 2: Winter squash and sweetcorn. Bed 3: Cauliflower. Bed 4: Winter squash and sweetcorn. Bed 5: Potatoes. Bed 6: Potatoes

Middle-younger-sister is going to grow all the beans and carrots and more beetroot and at home I am going to grow sprouts, tomatos, kale, strawberries, raspberries and salad.

Left to buy are seed potato, International Kidney (or Jersey Royals if grown in Jersey although I think they have their own variation which has been bred on the island) and Kestrel, beetroot, sweetcorn and parsnip seeds.

Minus 12 days until sowing starts!

This week has been one of those weeks. It started off flying; I was starting to get in to the swing of things keeping on top(-ish) of house work, the day job and animals.

Then on Wednesday night my car broke, well and truly broke too not just broke and needs fixing up a little but needs a whole new engine broke. It makes everything so much more difficult without a car especially now that I’ve moved out. I’ve already missed two training course because of it and I’ve not even started on a full week of work yet.

My grandmother has also come to stay, which I have been looking forward to and am glad that she has, but she’s a fusser and a dither to boot and after loosing my temper yesterday over cars or the lack of one (not with her) I’ve found myself slipping back into being a sulky child over truly stupid things. “Yes, that is where I want to keep the eggs… No, I don’t want to take the Lavender outside, it’s fine where it is… Yes I’m drinking that, I happen to like it…” I don’t mean to behaviour like this but I am.

It hasn’t helped that it’s been raining all day today, I had plans when I went to bed last night that I would get up and explore the footpaths leading to the allotments a little. I knew it was forecast to rain but the last few times it has been just showers but this morning when I woke up and looked out the window it was tipping down and hasn’t really stopped all day.

Hen tea party - 9th January 2011

Hen tea party - 9th January 2011

Everything feels a little crazy right now. I am still not into a routine after moving and I seem to be starting one of those busy times at work were at least one of my weekend days is taken up with something extra.

One of the tyres on our trailer has gone; which has called a halt to our mass clean out. Not a big problem shouldn’t be that hard to sort out and get going again… If only it were that simple. After trying one garage without the tyre and not getting very far I took the whole wheel into another tyre place to get a replacement. It turns out that our trailer has been made out of a base of an original original Mini and a replacement tyre will cost at least £50, each.

When I say the ‘original original’ Mini what I mean is when Mini’s first came out they had one size of tyre, then a little later they changed the size to a more standard one so it isn’t even like all the original Mini’s take the same size and there are very few that take the original original size now as they were the very first Minis.

The halt on the mass clean out has resulted in a halt to covering allotment beds ready for growing later this year. I’d hoped that if I managed to get at least most of it done last month then there would be about three months for it to rot down before anything was ready to plant out. I know that doesn’t sound long enough by ‘book’ standard but we have such a good eco-system (I think that is what I mean) thing rot down mega fast.

Allotment at sun set - 30th August 2010

Allotment at sun set - 30th August 2010

I have managed to go through my seed collection and work out what I haven’t got, only parsnips, sweetcorn, beetroot and seed potatoes, and now I just have to work out how I am going to fit in all the things I want to grow into the space I have.

I can’t wait to start sowing but I decided at the start of the year not to start growing anything until the 1st of March. Which will give me time to sort out everything out and also mean I don’t lose so many seedlings to leggy-ness or frost. It is a good plan… 22 days and counting.

Last week I was given some Maran hatching eggs so I have the incubator on. It is the first time I’ve used my new one. Yesterday the Beanie Babies went to their new home, after so many false starts. But they have gone to a lovely family where they will join their other goats to provide milk for making goats cheese once they have kidded.

And would you like squash with that?

I noticed that one of my Boston squash had started to get little patches of mould on it and so was time to think up ways of using it all up before what I consider to be last years biggest, in all senses of the word, success of last year went to waste.

I don’t think I properly recorded  how big the last one we eat was but this one weighted 8.7kg once cut up, to fit on the kitchen scales, and all the seeds removed.

Some of it was made into roast squash which is one of our favourites and Boston squash seem to have an ideal taste for it, not too sweet and a little nutty. Similar to Butternut squash I would say but much easier to grow going by last years results. Some more was made into ‘Cheesey Squash Wraps’ and some more made into ‘Creamy Squash Soup’ and even more made into ‘Creamy Squash and Garlic Soup’.

The Cheesey Squash wraps were based on some spicey cheese wraps that I have made a few times lately and have gone down a storm, these however got mixed reactions but I thought they were delicious and so did Rhys so shall be made again I am sure. I made them by mixing the leftover roast squash with some that had been softened up and mashed, as there wasn’t enough roast squash left to go round, with some grated mature cheddar and some mozzarella cheese and put into tortilla wraps and served with salad including carrot, apple, beetroot, cherry tomatoes and leaves with a homemade raspberry, honey and mustard dressing.

The Creamy Squash Soup was made by softening onions with black paper and mixed herbs then adding the chopped up squash and allowing it all to ‘mush up’ together, then add water, vegetable stock, marmite and soy sauce all to taste. The first time I made this soup I also added cream but this made it far too creamy for most of us so I left it out this time. To make the Squash and Garlic Soup I added two bulbs of chopped up garlic to the softened onion and cooking for a few minutes before adding the squash and I did add a pot of cream to this one at the end as the garlic completely changes the taste.

No photos of any of it as I was too busy eating it all but hopefully this year I will get good at taking photos of the food I make.

Onwards, slowly

This week has been grey… Grey and busy; busy at work, busy at home, busy moving. There is just an endless list and I am not feeling very organised, or completely well.

I have a new home for the Jelly Beanies, well hopefully I have. They were meant to go on Saturday, and a few times since but for busy-life reasons they are still here. At home everyone’s sheds are in need of cleaning out, plus a shed we use as a sort of ‘over-spill’ housing which naughty doesn’t get cleaned out as it is normally used in a rush but we want to bring the cows home so it has to be done before they move in.

All the cleaning out does mean that the allotment is getting a generous manuring, and I almost have a plan for them now. Part of my plan includes not sowing or planting anything excluding garlic until March 1st, when I told Rhys this he asked how I was going to survived. Until then I am getting organised, I need to finished manuring and covering those beds that are still left, add some boarders to those on plot one, buy some pens that don’t come off of the plant labels (done last night) and finally, and really finally after all the other bits are done, buy the very few packets of seeds I need for this year and seed potatoes. I think I am also going to treat myself and the new house to some large terracotta pots for growing salad and tomatoes on the patio

Allotment up-date; The news we have been waiting for

Runner bean - 16th July 2010

This morning was a very important time for the future of our allotment site, after months of work we voted to form our own allotment society and signed a tenancy agreement which takes effect from the 1st of January 2011.

Since the beginning of the year the site has been in a positive but uncertain state as the person who originally set up the site, held the lease with the land owner and had all the tenancy agreements with plot holders; well, did a runner basically and it has taken us until now to pick up the piece and plan away forward for our site.

We technically formed our own society back in August but todays meeting was to put forward the plans that the committee have come up with to the other plot holders so if there wasn’t enough agreement then by lunchtime today there would have been no point in our society and no more allotments but the plans were agreed!

Summer growings; my allotment plots - 24th July 2010

We now have the job of encouraging new plot holders to the site, our site was never full and sadly we have lost some plot holders though the uncertain times, and making some improvements to the site; we would like some sort of water, most likely some sort of water collection system, some better fencing along at least one side of the site and drainage. 

My role in all this is publicity and events; the aim of both is to encourage more plot holders to the site so if anyone has any ideas or tricks they have learned please do share them with me.

Planning for next year

My first seed order has arrived for next year. I received the D.T Brown catalogue and as I have decided I need to grow more, or even just some, flowers next year I decided to order those along with a couple of new varieties and some seeds I can’t buy from The Real Seed Company later this year or at the start of next.

I bought Sweet peas – Singing the Blues and Horizon mixed, Cornflowers, Sweet William, Poached Egg Plant, Love in a Mist, Nemesia and lots of Sunflowers – Garden Statement, Ring of Fire and Earth Walker.

For eating I have bought some Cape Gooseberry – Golden Berry. Soya bean – Elena, Brukale – Petit Posy which is a new variety crossed between a Brussel Sprout and Kale and a climbing bean called Festival which is also a new variety and is like a runner bean that will stay on the plant for longer without becoming ‘old’. They also sent me a free trial seed Butterhead which is a lettuce.

I’m hoping to be much more organised with seed sowing next year (and everything else) especially with things like beans which I think have suffered from my lack of bed readiness for them, and then again from my refusal to water anything that was in and growing through the second spell of dry weather.

I only have room for four and a half more beds at the allotments and I am hoping I can have them finished by Christmas and be ready with a plan as to what is going where and when, although my crop rotation planning keeps being left for anything vaguely interesting as I have created a bit of a nightmare by mixing everything up so much this year. A rotation will also mean I know which beds, like the squash and bean beds, should be having all the manure heaped upon them over the winter months ready for a mammoth crop nexy year

The pick of the crop

I harvested my Boston Squash on Saturday. After being away for a night I started getting jumpy about a possible frost happening and losing them before the chance to try them.

Day of harvest - 2nd of October 2010

The plants have done well, all but one have produced a large squash and tried to carry on and produce more but these monsters seem to have taken all the energy and although other fruits have set they have started to rot on the plant before getting to full size or ripening.

A car full; we had to put the back seats up to get them home and that is my hand on the largest squash - 7th of October 2010

Last night we tried the first one, I picked the second smallest up by its stalk which was a big mistake as it fell straight off and so was picked first for using up as it won’t store well. We had it roasted with rosemary and it was very nice!

There is still plenty left for tonight’s dinner. I am planning on making a creamy soup which will use some of the rest up and tomorrow we shall have to think of something else.

One meal down, a few more to go - 7th of October 2010

They are all far to big to weigh using any of the scales we have, 5kg being the heaviest, but this one weight over 8kg after being seeded and halved.

Definitely one to grow again next year.