Tuesday 29 September 2009

Ta- Da!!!!

Well I have finally finished the top end of the allotment........when I went looking at the builders merchants I had a lot of choice on what to pick but in the end I decided on your basic 10 mm gravel.

allotmentJust to remind you what the top end of the allotment looked like in February!!

I picked this for two reasons, firstly because it was the cheapest option and although I want my allotment looking nice and easy to maintain I really couldn't justify doubling the price purely because the slate was pretty and secondly because I had been too lazy to level the ground off properly and the smaller gravel filled in all those nasty little dips...so what do you think???

So what do you think??

I know it isn't going to win any beauty contests but it's neat, tidy and will keep the weeds away so that I will be able to spend more time next year concentrating on my actual plot instead of pulling up the weeds around the top end. I also now have somewhere nice to sit and have a drink or a bite to eat!!! Happy days to come!! :-)

allotmentThe gravel was placed here and had to be shifted to the top of the allotments!!

I think I should add a little thank you to two strong men.. (well my Dad and Hubby anyway!!) as I had to lug the gravel from one end of the allotment to the other and couldn't have got it done so quick without their help!!!

Saturday 26 September 2009

And it's finished!!!

Well I popped up the allotment this morning and spent a couple of hours finishing off the weeding and cleaning up the debris between the brussels and purple sprouting broccoli plants. That's it now....totally caught up with everything!! Obviously I haven't rough dug it for the winter yet but I am going to wait a while to do that as it's a long time since we've had any rain so this is my prayer for the future....a little rain to soften up the ground to make turning over easier. When I rough dig the ground over I will be turning in some fertilizer at the same time to re-nourish the ground for next season. I have bought Fish blood and bone fertilizer as it's totally organic and was very cheap from the allotment shop!!

I got asked if my name was Tanya when I was up the plot today.....now I'm always caught a little off
balance at times like this as I never know whether it's going to be a good or bad thing to own up....anyway I decided to go with honesty and it paid off as apparently I was quite a focus at the last committee meeting and everyone is very impressed with the work I have put in on my allotment and how much I have achieved in a very short time...Yay Me!!!! (don't worry I just about fit my head through the door on returning home!!!

O.K. to finish off a pic of my delightful blackcurrant bushes which I bought and planted yesterday....I love a bargain...still no luck on the horseradish front as yet but I'm sure we'll find something!!!!!

blackcurrant bushes...my bargain of the week!!

Friday 25 September 2009

The allotment...prettying it up...and making life easier!!!

So I told you in my previous post about the 'Big Plans' I had for the top end of the allotment...well in hindsight I think I may have making a huge affair out of very little. My grand idea is to gravel...(or something similar)... the top end of my plot to keep all those pesky weeds at bay and therefore leave me more time to spend tending my veg.

This is what we started with.

So today I went to home-base and bought some plasticy stuff to lay in preparation for the gravelly stuff......(are you loving my technical terms?? hope I'm not losing you all with my jargon..LOL). Today was a good day to visit the store as it was a 10% off day......and also on my travels round the store I saw three beautiful blackcurrant bushes on offer at £1.79 each so snapped those up too!!!

Up here was originally where I wanted to put the blackcurrant bushes but the ground was rather hard and dry!!

So anyway I got all the plastic laid (with some help from my Dad!!) and it was really looking quite neat and tidy...but then as I haven't actually bought any gravel yet the carpets had to be laid back on top so that it would stay weighted down and not blow away in the wind so you will just have to imagine the beauty of it for now!!

Just her would have been a beautiful pick of my blackcurrant bushes...but I deleted it by mistake...whoops!!

After a lot of consideration I picked a place for my blackcurrant bushes and also got a bit more weeding done too...all in all quite a productive days work!!!!

So this is where we are at now...will look better again with the gravel but none the less a huge improvement...oh and the B.C. bushes are right at the other end.

Thursday 24 September 2009

Allotment Bargains!!

Well I went into town today and just as I said in my previous post I searched high and low for horseradish....unfortunately to no avail. The closest i came to was powdered stuff in the health shop but Kate said this would not be the same.

One guy in home base told me to try walking the railway lines as it is basically known as a pretty weed and it was the done thing to plant it along the tracks...maybe I will give it a shot!!!

bargain seeds!!!!

Anyway the day wasn't a total loss as I did come across lots of seeds on sale, now I'm not one for planning ahead much but I did buy up a whole load of seeds at cut price saving my self a small fortune next season..the best thing is they are all well dated!!!

I haven't been up my allotment since last weekend but I fully intend on going up tomorrow to finish the last bit of weeding and to sort out the top...I have plans for the top end...boy do I have plans...you can all see tomorrow!!!!

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Horseradish anyone????

horseradish plant
horseradish plant.

OK...this is just a quick little post to find out if anyone knows anything about horseradish!! Kate who shares the allotment with me has grown some mini cucumbers which she wants to pickle but one of the key pickling ingredients is horseradish root. Now I think in the future she may want to grow some but we would also like to know where the root can be purchased from!! So if any of you out there know where we can get our hands on fresh horseradish root to use and also horseradish seeds/plants then please let us know...Thank you.

horseradish root
horseradish root.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Tackling the powdery mildew.

Well as was established on an earlier post I got powdery mildew on my marrows and cucumbers. I wasn't too worried as I was told it was quite common this late in the season and I had a really good run of veg. from both sets of plants.

powdery mildew
A reminder of the powdery mildew.

So I thought I would set to the task of remo
ving the plants from the allotment. However upon cutting back the marrows I found that there was some new healthy growth underneath and there were still some flowers blooming so on two of the plants I cut them right back and left the healthy growth. I have no idea if this will work but considering there was a possibility of some extra marrows I decided i wasn't going to lose anything from it!! I will keep you posted on the result!!

The healthy growth underneath the marrows.

I decided to go ahead and compost the leaves as the powdery mildew only lives above ground on live plants and therefore....(hopefully)....the composting process and then being dug into the earth will kill it all off!!

P.S. A quick apology for those whose comments don't show...I have had a few that have disappeared without a trace whilst trying to publish them but i am working on the problem so please keep commenting...Thanks.

Monday 21 September 2009

The case of the cauliflowers!!!

Well by far the worst crop I have had this year is my cauliflowers. I'm not really sure what went wrong...I manged to eat one and the rest were a total bust...anybody got and ideas what the problem was?? I started out with perfectly health seedlings which I grew and lovingly cared for from seed...and then....garbage!!!!!!

puny cauliflower
This was one of the better cauliflowers.

I don't know why this happened...when we dug them up they appeared to be regrowing from the roots...very interesting?????

bad cauliflower
This is what most of the cauliflowers looked like!!

Anyway someone gave me some all year round cauliflower seeds so they are in and I can see the shoots coming through and I will see if this crop fairs any better...any tips people??

cauliflower root growth
There was some very healthy growth below ground though?!?!?!

Busy, busy, busy on the allotment!!!!

pulling weeds and cutting back the cucumbers
pulling weeds and cutting back the cucumbers.

Well with all the beautiful weather we had over the weekend I managed to get lots of work done down the allotment and I have to add that I had some very kind helpers too!!!

picking raspberries
picking raspberries.

My Dad came down and dug up some of the deep rooted weeds for me and then the kids helped with the shallow rooted weeds and sorting out the cucumber plants as well as helping pick some more raspberries.....(yes they are still growing!!)......and runner-beans.

The last of the cucumbers.
The last of the cucumbers.

My patch is now looking a lot tidier and although I haven't finished all the weeding yet, I am hoping that now the weather is cooling off a bit not too many more will grow...(well one can hope!!)

this is half of the weeds we took up over the weekend.

One good thing was that the chair of the committee came over to have a chat with me about the half of a plot that i was hoping to have and said that although the next meeting isn't until January I will be told then whether I can have it...and that me getting this plot looks promising. I'm trying not to get my hopes up just in case but I have already started planning in my mind :-)

The allotment
The allotment so far, maybe I should have took a before picture too...whoops!!

Wednesday 16 September 2009

Allotment grows on it's own!!!

Well I haven't had chance to get back to the allotment since last weekend when I first noticed the now confirmed powdery mildew on my marrow and cucumber plants. Not getting down there is driving me mad as I know that the plot is continuing to grow without me and I know that most of that growth is going to be weeds!!!!!!!!

I have had a productive couple of days in my garden getting it prepared for the colder weather but all the time I've been doing this it has made me want to be down the allotment even more.

Anyway this was really to say a big thank you for all those people who have come to read my blog..and especially to those who come back to read a little more, comment and join. I am glad that you are enjoying and if there is anything you would like to see or for me to write about then just ask.

I am going to get down my allotment over the next couple of days and get it whipped into shape so watch this space for a beautiful weedless (well in my dreams!!) allotment!!!!!

Sunday 13 September 2009

Is it powdery mildew???

OK everyone.......so this is what my marrows looked like when I went and visited my allotment this weekend.

Is this powdery mildew????

the marrows

If it is...will it cause any damage to the ripe pro
duce on the plants??? Is it OK to put these leaves on the compost heap??? Is there anyway to prevent this happening??? Do we know why this happens???

the cucumbers

The cucumber don't look quite like the marrows but it seems they could go that way...they appear to be dying off though..is this just from the cold spell we had?? Does powdery mildew spread??

I know it isn't much of a post but I really do want the answers and whilst I will also look in my books and stuff I think here is a great place to have easy reference!!!

Saturday 12 September 2009

Powdery mildew????

Just come back from a quick trip to my plot.

setting up the rods
just setting up.

I actually intended to go down today to get some serious work done but a walk with the kids turned into a fishing trip/lesson which they really enjoyed so the work on the allotment has yet to happen.

the first fish
whoop...we caught fish!!

Anyway when I went down to pick some runner-beans I noticed my cucumber and marrow plants weren't looking too healthy...I think it may be the powdery mildew everyone has talked about at one time or another so I will take some pics. tomorrow to get confirmation off people...until then enjoy the fishing pictures!!!!

waiting for a bite
waiting anxiously for a bite!!

Wednesday 9 September 2009

It's a pepper

Hi all...sorry it's been a few days since my last post but things are slowing down a little now and I don't want to keep repeating myself so I have just stayed clear of boring you all....Until today that is!!!!

pepper plant
can you see the pepper??

Today was the day I spotted my first pepper growing. Just to refresh your memories, I planted pepper seeds to put on my allotment and not one grew...I tried again and still none grew. Then because it was getting so lat4e in the year I filled a tub up with compost and placed it in my miniature greenhouse with 8 pepper seeds...2 of these grew...and now I have a pepper...I'm very excited!!!

pepper plant
plenty of flowers growing.

It is very tiny but I'm hoping it will grow quick so that we get to eat them before it gets too cold and they die off. There are quite a few flowers on the plant now too so I am praying for more than the one pepper..please pray with me :-)

pepper plant
quite a handsome looking pepper plant :-)

Saturday 5 September 2009

Allotment harvest!!!

Just a very quick post to show you the days harvesting!!!

runner-beans, marrows, blackberries, cooking apples, chillies, yellow beans, baby-corn, cucumbers, green beans and beetroot.
runner-beans, marrows, blackberries, cooking apples, chillies, yellow beans, baby-corn, cucumbers, green beans and beetroot.

As you can see pickings have been good today (and this is after I have given away several chillies, cucumbers and marrows!) and I also managed to forage a few more blacberries and some apples too. Now I'm going to spend the evening chopping, preparing, blanching and preparing for jam...wish me luck!!

Friday 4 September 2009

The Bramble Jelly!!!!(Recipe)

Well I finally got around to making my bramble jelly after all my researching and foraging.
The recipe was easy.

6lb blackberries.
3/4 pint water

3/4 ounce of citric acid.

There are many variations of recipes but this is the one I used.

Firstly I added the blackberries, water and citric acid to a large pan and then brought to the boil and simmered for just over an hour. You are supposed to mash/press them every so often but I skipped this step and just used my bamix at the end. Then came the tricky part...straining off the juice!!

straining the pulp.
straining the pulp.

I don't have a jelly bag...or any muslin...or a stool with 4 legs for that matter so it was a case of improvising. In the end I used a cake protector...which was basically a net with a framework inside which you can stand over a plate of cakes...same principle as a jelly bag really. Well I loaded my cooked goodness into the net which I had placed over the top of my pan and left it to drain overnight whilst I went to bed. Come morning I found that the weight of the cooked berries had collapsed the cake net into the pan so although some of the juice had come out...a lot still remained in the net as it was sat in the bottom of the pan. At this I then transferred the net into my colander and put in the pan...again this only worked to some extent as when the juices met the colander they soaked back into the bag.

waiting for the juice to drain
just hanging around waiting for the juice to drain!!

As a last resort I bent the wires inside the net and hung it from my stove to let the last juices drain out (the net is no good now anyway and wasn't overly expensive so I didn't mind too much) and then this morning all was ready to carry on making the jelly.
I discarded of the pulp that was left and measured out the juices...6lb of blackberries had given me 2 pints of liquid.

boiling away nicely.
boiling away nicely.

So back into the pan went the 2 pints of liquid along with 2lb of sugar and then the mixture was brought to the boil and boiled vigorously for about 20 minutes...I used the saucer test for set...then when it was ready poured into ready sterilised jars.

bramble jelly
cooling on the window sill.

Obviously when you make jellies you don't end up with as much as you would when making jam...but you also don't end up with seeds in your teeth!! I have no idea how this will taste once set...but it was quite nice whilst still a little warm as I had a little scrape from the bottom of the pan after I had finished placing into jars!!

I am quite happy with the look and texture but I am now definitely on the hunt for son muslin or a jelly bag..lol

Thursday 3 September 2009

To water or not to water?????

Well today was the first day back at school for all the children living in my area ...and what do we get up to?? Beautiful sunshine?? NOPE!!!.....RAIN.......and we aren't talking a little bit of rain, or even raining cat's and dog's, I'm pretty sure it was raining horses and cows it was that heavy!! I felt very sorry for all the children that had to go out in that this morning...and for myself who had to go out to work in it too.

Anyway the rain and out most recent allotment newsletter inspired me to write this post so I guess the weather wasn't all bad.

So I'm sure you've guessed now that the post is going to be about watering. Now I know that if you grow in a greenhouse/poly-tunnel or have things in tubs then watering is inevitable and I also know that if you are growing in small sheltered garden or on patios that even when it rains the wind is often blowing in the wrong direction so the soil where you have planted doesn't get a good soaking so I would like to point out from the very beginning that I am only talking about things that are planted directly into the earth on an allotment or in a wide open area...(that should stop about half the comments!!!) (lol)


OK...so this is a post that is also a kind of opinion poll I guess and I really do want peoples thoughts on the matter, you see I am definitely not one for watering the garden...even with the very dry spell we had in June, not once did I water my allotment plot.

I have put three old dustbins on my plot and these catch rain water for me. I use this when I am planting my seedlings or seeds. I like to dig quite big holes/trenches and then flood this with rain water and let it soak in before putting my seeds/seedlings into the ground. Then I firm them in well and 'Voila!!' All is finished.

watering can
watering can.

I'm a big believer in using rain water....it is totally natural and has no harsh chemicals or treatments added and is also a lot softer (especially as I live in a very hard water area) and so better for your plants. I am not a big believer in extra watering...lots of people on the plots have hosepipes and if we get a couple of days without rain then you see them stood for an hour or more soaking their allotments. I don't think this is good for the plants. Roots are designed to go down...and that's where the water is, if you water unnecessarily then your plants will become shallow rooted as the roots will not feel the need to push deeper into the soil....this will also make them less stable. I also find that if you put tap water on soil it bakes the surface of the soil leaving a hard crust which can tighten around and damage plant/vegetable stems. I don't feel that any of this is good for the plants and is also a waste of water........after all you don't see the farmers out watering their crops after a few days of no rain do you??? Surely they can't be that wrong with all the growing and harvesting they do each year!!

water butt.
old dustbin becomes a water butt!!

I know that there may come a time when we have a drought and it will be a case of I have to water or lose my crop...but in this extreme situation I would dig a small trench around my seedlings and then water that trench keeping the soil around them loose and aerated so as not to damage stems.....and to do all this I would have to use a watering can as I don't have a hosepipe on the plot as I don't think it's necessary. Do you water your plots?? How often and how much water do you use?? People on my plot tend to water quite a lot which has now incurred an increase in prices of the plots as, and I quote "The water consumption was so heavy that a substantial increase in water contributions is inevitable next year"...this make me quite mad as I have not touched the allotment taps once all season!!

So your view please...I would dearly like to know what you think..and whether or not you think I am wrong!!

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Family foraging.

Well it's been a very busy day!!

After all my researching at the weekend I just had to get out there and pick some blackberries with which to make my bramble Jelly!!

I went out yesterday but it wasn't too successful and I only managed to get a couple of lb’s of fruit.

My Dad however went out on his bike and told me that he had found a place that was abundant with fruit so this morning I decided that I would go.

It turned into quite the family affair...with 3 generations picking together and we all enjoyed the fresh air..(If not the thorns!!)

After a couple of hours and a few laughs we went home to wash the blackberries...we ended up with 6lb...which was more than twice what we managed to get yesterday…and that was even after my youngest nephew stumbled and trod on the largest bag we had picked..(Whoops!)

Well it was a good day and my kitchen now has a lovely distinct blackberry smell, as the juices drain in the kitchen…… I can’t wait for the morning!!!

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Some Allotment Pictures.

Well like I said on my previous post, I let the kids loose with the camera over the weekend and too be honest the pics although plentiful weren't half bad so I thought I would make a collage out of them for you all to see.

collage of vegetable plants.
Things are looking quite healthy here!!

collage of vegetable plants
The cauliflower plants leave a lot to be desired!!

Not to bad a show for my second year...again my cauliflower plants look terrible but I am now going to try winter cauliflowers and see if i can do any better with them!!

A weekend at the Allotment.

Well I managed to get down the allotment this weekend and see exactly what a complete tip it was. There were weeds choking the weeds in some areas, which is seriously NOT a good position to be in. So with myself feeling a little more mobile and armed with a couple of willing (well almost!) helpers I got to work!!

lots of weeds
The raised bed before we started working on it.

I desperately wanted to plant something and manged to get hold of 6 nice lettuce plants on the allotment stall which I thought could go in my raised bed with some radishes which are still OK to put in from seed at the moment.

herb patch.
Me weeding the newly placed herb patch.

So That was the plan. Everything took a little longer than it usually would, but that was alright...at least I was getting something done. Overall I suppose the plot doesn't look too bad, even with a few weeks of weeding neglect!! I let the kids loose with the camera hence the reason I am actually in one of the pics...It's a good pic though..you can't see me face.. LOL

A little help
A little help :-)

Within the next week I am also going to sow some cauliflower seeds (all year round ones) and some winter broad beans...I hate to think of so much ground not being used over the winter period.

lettuces and newly sown radishes
The newly planted lettuces and newly sown radishes..much better!

I am still getting plenty of marrows but so far with giving them to friends and neighbours, donating to the allotment stall and cooking with them I haven't had any that haven't got used...now I also have cucumbers in abundance and I'm sure the neighbours will soon get fed up with me..:-)

The weeded herb patch!
The weeded herb patch!

In All it doesn't look like I've done much but I don't think it was a bad mornings work for someone who isn't fully recovered yet..I'm quite proud that i took things nice and steady!!