Friday, 24 July 2009

Bugs in potatoes.

Just a quick post...I went up the allotment this evening to dig some spuds to take away with me...(after all we are going self catering so why buy horrible expensive ones when you can take your own!!) and one of the potato plants had something on it. Well it wasn't on the plant but in the potatoes when I dug the plant up. It was totally isolated to the one plant which was in the middle or a row so I don't think it was the soil and I am a little confused!!

I think I have heard people use the term 'potato blight'...although it is possible I'm imagining this!! The bugs looked like something crossed between a maggot and a caterpillar...all of the spuds on the one plant were no good!!

Does anyone have any idea what it was?? I wish I'd had my camera with me but it was packed all ready for hols so no picks for proof...I hope I don't find any more when I get back but I will make sure I have my camera ready on my next visit when I come home...just in case!!

Could it have been the soil?? Is there something I need to do so it doesn't happen again?? I am growing my stuff organically!! Also dug up an ants nest with ants ready to fly...god they are a pain...but only for me and not the potatoes so I won't grumble too much!!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Last allotment visit before holiday!!

Well I have been down the allotment this evening to do some general weeding and tidying up before having to leave it to it's own devices for a week as we are going away on holiday!!
The sky looked rather threatening but I was lucky enough to not get drenched!!

Stormy skies.
Stormy skies..pretty though!

Not much happening really (apart from the weeds going manic!!) The marrows are coming thick and fast and I harvested 3 huge ones tonight to give to neighbours and friends and told the allotment store to harvest a couple to see whilst I'm away as I hate to think of them going to waste!!

I got on quite well with the weeding and I think the allotment will be ok for the week although I have to admit I am going to miss going down but at least I will get to walk on the beach...and who knows maybe I will see some nice gardens whilst I'm away...I will definately keep an eye open for them!!

I did have one nice surprise tonight...I found a cucumber looks a little spiky to me so I don't know what it will taste like or whether I will end up having to peel it but I am quite impressed seeings how I nearly killed all the seedlings!!

My first cucumber
My first cucumber.

A couple of pics from the allotment before I left but they didn't turn out so great as it was quite dark when I least no-one can doubt my dedication..LOL

the allotmentA dark pic of the allotment..hhmmm?!?!?!

I also found an excellent use for my cold frame!!

cold frame storage
A new storage area!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The Maris Piper spuds!!!!!

Well like I said on an earlier post the Arron Pilots have all been eaten now and I am starting on my Maris Piper potatoes. This is a spud I know I like as I frequently buy it in the supermarket. These plants look very healthy on top and were always a lot more lush than the Arron Pilot plants.

The potato tops
The Maris Piper potato plant.

a nice healthy plant with plenty of potatoes
The first dug plant...

Above is the first plant that I dug you can see there are plenty of potatoes attached and I was not disappointed as I carried on digging a few more plants up as the all yielded a very healthy crop. I haven't dug up all of the potatoes...only those I needed for a few dinners but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that all of the plants have the same amount of potatoes on so that i can enjoy them for a few weeks. They have a lovely flavour and texture and the skins just rub off between your fingers...Perfect!!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

And off we dig again!!!!

Well we have eaten all the Arron Pilot potatoes now and although they were quite tasty I won't grow these again next year for two reasons. The first being that each plant didn't seem to produce very many potatoes and the second being that they were quite tricky to cook just minute they weren't ready and the next they were falling apart. Not a waste as they were all eaten and not a failure but just not to be repeated by me...Each to their own though!!

Starting the digging.
Starting the digging.

Anyway with all the first early potatoes dug I had land that was bare and so I took the opportunity last night to give this a good digging over and add some fertilizer. I bought some fish, blood and bone fertilizer from the allotment store a while back and so this was liberally spread over and dug in. I'm not sure whether it is the right time to put fertilizer down but I figured it can't hurt and I know a lot of people would not have dug the ground over yet but I like to keep the allotment tidy and I find if I keep on top of this sort of thing it makes the whole process so much easier and it is A LOT easier to pull any weeds out of dug ground than out of compacted earth which has previously had stuff growing...besides it looks so much nicer!!

digging complete
Side one complete...doesn't it look nice!!

My peas were also finished and the parsnips never did amount to anything so I have also dug over that side of the allotment but I figured people wouldn't want to look at too many pictures of mud so I haven't photographed that side too.

Choosing your netting.

As I told you in a previous post this year I decided I was going to net my allotment after all the caterpillars eating my lovely greens last year. I eventually managed to get some hoops from the allotment store which opens every Saturday morning from 10-12 and I had previously bought my netting from Wilkinsons..and there in lat the problem. You see I thought nets were nets...and it wouldn't matter where I bought them wrong was I!!!

The netting I bought from Wilkinsons was a nylon was quite hard to work with and I had to actually wrap it around the bottom of my hoops and pull it taught as it kept springing back on itself and sticking together..I didn't think much of this at the time...but realized what a pain in the ass it was to put my netting up and also having to pull the hoops out every time to be able to weed round my veg.

nylon netting
The nylon netting.

I then purchased some netting for my parents from the allotment store...straight away I could see the difference...this WAS NOT nylon...did not stick to itself or tear and draped nicely over the hoops which meant you could leave it long enough to give your plants room to grow and still protect them. So after gaining this knowledge I decided to splash out and replace all of the netting i had...this cost me and extra £35..(which was about as much as I had paid for my previous nets!) but I was perfectly happy to pay out knowing that weeding the beds would be easier and that the new netting wouldn't rip and let the butterflies in. So in conclusion...when you want to buy some netting...take it out of the box and have a good look at it so you know exactly what you are purchasing!!

netting from the allotment storeThe netting bought from the allotment store.

Introducing Kate's half of the allotment!!

Kate on the allotment
Well this is Kate...she has the other half of the allotment and as requested here are some pics to see how she is getting on.

peas ready to pickKate has split her allotment into 4 sections planting the opposite way on to me as she read somewhere that you should plant so that the rows face east and west for the sun setting and rising. Kate has had some good harvest but also a few failures like me so I don't think turning the rows round has made much difference but it does make it easier to see where the divider is between the 2 halves. Above you can see Kate's peas..they did a lot better than mine but had quite a few bugs in them!!

This is Kate's strawberry patch which did very well this year and we shared the fruit as there was soooo has too many weeds in for my liking though!!

weeds on the allotmentThis is part of the allotment which kate didn't get much planted on so it is slowly turning into a weed pile...whoops!!

corn on the allotmentKate was lucky enough to get a good crop of corn going (I'm so jealous!!) and you can see it in the background of the above photo..and a few more weeds!!

cabbages and cauliflowersThis is a row or two of cabbages...I think...and again quite a few weeds. Kate isn't quite as dedicated as me at keeping the weeds down...I like to try and get at least an hours worth of weeding in a week...but everyone has different ideas so there is no real right or wrong about it...I just prefer to keep things tidy!!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Planting and harvesting peas.

Well my pea harvest for the year has wasn't a fantastic harvest but I had enough for a few dinners and to eat some raw so it wasn't a total waste but I thought I could share with you some thoughts from last season, this season and what I hope to do next season!!

My pea shootsMy pea shoots just coming through in 2008

Last year was my first year of my allotment and so I followed exactly what was written on the packets when planting out which meant I took an awful lot of room planting my peas exactly so far apart in the zig-zag fashion they instructed...this made my Dad laugh quite a bit as I used so much room and he told me that I could have just sprinkled them along in a line...whoops.

My stick and string mazeMy stick and string maze (2008)

Anyway then the wildlife started getting to them and with no nets or hoops I did my rather fantastic maze of string and sticks which seemed to work and although I planted late and the peas weren't ready until August I had a good harvest.

My pea harvestMy pea harvest (2008)

This year I planted my peas in a line and at the right time of the year so they came a lot earlier...they came through a lot quicker than I expected so I still lost a few to wildlife but I soon got them netted and hooped so I still had quite a few pea plants!!

My netted peas My netted peas (2009)

The problems.....Because I only netted them they had nothing to grow up and although a few of them managed to catch the netting most of them grew along the ground which meant a few of the peas were rotted before they were ready. Also those that had managed to catch the netting meant that the plants were harmed when I wanted to remove the netting for harvesting.

pea plants already grabbing the netting.You can sea some of the pea plants already grabbing the netting.

The pluses....because they were netted I didn't have any bugs in my pods...I also didn't get any bugs in my pods last year even though they weren't netted but I think that this was due to the fact that they went in the ground a lot later so they moths that lay in the flowers had perhaps passed.

The peas..uncovered to be harvested.
The peas..uncovered to be harvested..some damage already done

Kate my allotment neighbour didn't net her peas and has had A LOT of bugs in them. So in conclusion...for next year I will stick the peas that I plant and net them too.....this should hopefully stop the bugs inside the pods and the growing veg rotting... I have learnt from my mistakes and I hope you can learn something from my mistakes too!!

No more peas
No more peas...sniff!!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Rain. rain, rain!!!

Well I was intending to go up the allotment for a few hours tonight whilst my Hubby and Son were out on a Scouts bike ride...however it isn't going to happen because of the good old british weather!!! Yup...the rains and hard....I know this is going to be good for the gardens....however it means that you can't get down there to get anything done.. :-(

Raining just a little too hard to go to the allotmentRaining just a little too hard to go to the allotment!!

And I just know all that rain is making the weeds multiply even as I type....god I hate weeds...but I love my allotment and I suppose if the weeds didn't continue to grow I wouldn't have to spend as much time within the tranquility of it....oh the dilemmas!!!!

I won't need to water the tomatoes tonight
On the bright side...I won't need to water the tomatoes tonight.. :-)

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Some pics. from 11th july

I got a little carried away with the camera and didn't want to waste the chance to display my veg that is growing so nicely so here is just a few random pics!!

onions look healthy
Don't the onions look healthy??

red gooseberries
My gooseberry has red gooseberries and I think they are ready but not really enough to do anything with so looking for inspiration on what to do with these few...and ideas????

leeks are doing well

The leeks are doing well ...although they seem to be slower growing this year....or maybe I'm just being impatient with them!!

Weeding the THERE'S a surprise!!!

Well I went up the allotment last weekend and after finishing off the compost and taking a couple of pics I did finally get SOME of the weeding done....someone down there actually asked me if I was winning...I am definately getting somewhere but I don't think you could say I was winning...for this to be true I would have to be actually beating the weeds and yet they always seem to be one step ahead..."sniff". I am still waiting for my chilli plants to do something..they aren't very big and don't seem to be very strong but I haven't grown these before so don't know whether this is normal...maybe I should take a walk around the allotment and see what other peoples chilli plants are doing!!

my chilli plants
Chilli plants....still no flowers though!

The good thing is I'm getting a steady supply of marrows....I just hope none of them go to waste..they are getting big quite quickly now but I have given a few away so that they won't go to waste and I have found that you can make jam out of them so I will possibly give this a try too!!

Don't they look fab?? OK..I promise to STOP going on about my marrows now (hehe)

Anyway the nice surprise was that I actually spotted the fact that I have a few runner beans ready....This made me very happy as I am down to the very last few in my freezer and was sure I was going to have to buy some from the store....there wasn't that many ready to pick but enough for a dinner and it will only be a few days before more are ready to harvest so i am going to have a good run for a while...YAY!!

Mmmmm...runner beans!!
Mmmmm...runner beans!!

Oh I'm bad!!!

Well I went up the allotment last weekend and I have posts to write but have been sooo busy haven't had much time for anything...including the weeding...trying to spend the week getting on top of things and I will definately get some more posts done over the next few days!!!

broccoli is being hounded by weeds.
My poor broccoli is being hounded by weeds...I will get this sorted!!

Not everything is bad though...My cucumbers are starting to grow nicely and I am actually seeing flowers start to form....I have finished all my Aaron Pilot potatoes now too so will start digging the Maris Piper this week!!

cucumber plants
Lovely cucumber plants....just need to wait now...not too long I hope!!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Finishing off the compost heap....10th July

Well the potatoes that had been growing on the huge pile of mud at the top of the allotment finally were ready to be dug so I thought it was time to get the compost heap finished!!

cutting back the bushes
I think my Dad got a little carried away...(He is in there somewhere..honest!)

At the top end of the allotment there are a lot of brambles and some sort of tree with HUGE thorns growing which I was cutting down when my Dad took a stroll down to the allotment to see how I was getting on...naturally I set him to work....I think he cut off a lot more than I could have been bothered with but I was very happy to let him go a bit crazy with the saw as it means when I'm putting stuff on the compost heap I won't get constantly attacked!!!!

Dad sorting out the cut brambles.
Dad sorting out the cut brambles.

It is nice to have finally got this end sorted and looking good...hopefully it won't take much to stay on top of it now!!

the compost heap is finished!
Finally the compost heap is finished!

So now all I need is the compost...I am going to put all the tops of what I grow in here and hope that it composts down quick...I know you can get stuff to add which helps it along and I may look into this although I want to keep it organic, I will also keep an eye out for the horses shitting on the road outside my house...kinda gross but it's good stuff!!

Friday, 10 July 2009

You don't need an allotment if your garden is on steroids!!

Ok..weird title I know but I just had to share my Mum's garden with you...I mean it is SERIOUSLY strange.

My Mum's cauliflowers

You see my mum has always grown her own tomatoes from seed and runner beans too. Every year a few extras are put in for me..(even before my allotment). Anyway this year to return the compliment I grew my Mum some brussel, cabbage and cauliflower saplings and when they were ready I planted them for her.

My Mum's cabbages

Now my Mums seedlings went in a week after mine and yet they are at least TWICE the size...I mean it just isn't right!!!!

My Mum's brussels

And as for her tomatoes...well just look for your self!!

huge tomato plants
They are HUGE!!

huge tomato plants You can see from this picture that the trusses are well over 30 cm's long.

huge tomato plants
And when we counted we found that there was an average of 100 tomatoes on each truss!!

Now this can't be natural by any standards and has never happened before..and yes mum is totally organic!!!! The only thing growing in her garden at a normal rate is her runner beans!!

runner beansThe poor things..they must feel very inadequate next to everything else!

Wow it's huge!!

This is going to be very short...but I just HAD to show you my fennel. It has always done well in my little herb patch but this year it has gone's taller than me..(although admittedly I'm not very tall!!)...Like WOW!!!!

huge fennel
Surely this could win a prize!!!

Want to know a funny thing?? I don't even really like fennel...we never eat any I just cut it down!!

I suppose I should share my neglect with you too; below you can see a photo of my salad which I grew. There was definately mustard and spinach in there...and some other stuff I can't quite remember. It went to seed very quickly so we only got chance to eat about half of it. Not the best choice to grow and I don't think I will pick this next year...but lets face don't know unless you try!!

Poor salad
Poor salad...sniff.

Potatoes and flowers?!?!?!

Well this is going to be a very boring post so if you want to skip it I don't mind but I feel I have to tell this little story.

As I already said..(probably several times!!) I planted two lots of potatoes this year, my Arron Pilot (I'm sure I spell that different every of the spellings is bound to be and Maris Piper. The Maris Piper were second earlies and the Arron Pilot first earlies. All the potato plants started to grow as you would have seen on previous posts...good yeah???

So then I see with potatoes I learnt last year to follow a procedure...(and I needed a little help with this!) wait till they flower...the flowers die...your ready to harvest!! Easy peasy ...right??? So I waited...and waited...and waited... and guess what happened??? My Maris Piper started to grow flowers...a beautiful delicate lilac flower...where is the problem you ask>>> This was my second lot of potatoes<<<<

sorting out the dug up potato plants!
dug up potato
So what was I to do?? Well I went ahead and dug a plant up...and there protected in the wonderful soil were some wonderful potatoes....turns out not all potatoes flower...would have been nice to know!!! My other problem do I know which potato plants do Flower...and if they don't flower how do I know when to dig them up???

My potatoes..washed and ready for cooking!!
Is there a potato bible out there somewhere?? I would really like to know for future refference!!!

heatwave on the allotment!! (2nd July)

Well week commencing 28th June saw a heatwave in this doesn't happen very often but with temperatures topping 30degrees c during the day and not getting below 20 some evenings I'm sure you can sympathize when I say there was no way I was going up the allotment to suffer from heat exhaustion!!

My first marrow
My first marrow..not very big but I was so excited I had to pick one!

Anyway by the Wednesday I was getting worried about my produce. I'm not big on watering...and so far I haven't but I wanted to go and give the ground a quick check over to see if I was going to have to help things along a little as it had gotten so dry and had been a couple of weeks since we'd seen any rain.

My beetroot
My beetroot..I roasted this in the oven...delicious!

Also the previous weekend I had dug some of my aaron pilot potatoes up and I had run out so needed to dig some more...(will write a little post about that later!!)

Fresh peasFresh peas..I even managed to cook a few. :-)

Anyway with all the dry heat and humid nights I was astounded when I went to my allotment and saw that stuff had grown....ALOT...and that I had some things ready to harvest!! I was very happy so went up in the evening and picked some lovely items for ourselves and neighbours to enjoy!!

A few of the radishes...I've had so many I have been sharing them with neighbours!!