Start of the harvest

allotment potatoesA quick trip to the allotment this evening was a pleasure, even in the cool and misty weather we’ve had today. We pulled up the first potato plant and brought these beauty’s home, this should last us the week! I also picked just a few swiss chard leaves. It’s great to finally have produce to bring home, even if it is just the basics!

We planted out the leeks that have been growing away nicely in the greenhouse – they’ve been exposed to the elements for the last couple of days and now the nights are warming up, I think they will do just fine as long as the rabbit doesn’t take a shine to them!

Ashley managed to sneak a quick photo and video of the Swallows nest in the tool shed – I’ll show you what he found in another post very soon!

16th June, quick allotment visit

I popped by the allotment this morning as I was nearby.

There was a rabbit on the plot, not quite a baby but certainly small. I think I’ve figured out where he’s getting in so will have to fix that soon. Luckily, he doesn’t seem to be doing too much damage, though my herb fennel has taken quite a battering! The fleece that I covered the chard with is doing it’s job and I put some netting over the peas so they’re OK. I think the onions are too big now to really be affected by a little bunny, hopefully he’ll be too big soon to hop through the fence.

The parsnip foliage seems to be almost doubling each time I go to the allotment! I did some thinning out as they were getting a bit crowded, the chickens are now enjoying the thinnings – if it’s not composted, the chickens get it so nothing goes to waste!

Aphids had visited the pepper plants in the greenhouse so I sprayed them with water and wiped them off. I’ve heard that aphids don’t like citrus so I’ll take some lemon juice down next time I go and add it to the spray bottle. At home, I use soapy water on the roses etc but would rather not put soap on the edible stuff.

Last Friday, Ashley and I put in a new ‘no dig’ bed, I’ll show you what we did in another post soon. That was looking great today, a few weeds on the surface but it is very hot today and they had wilted anyway. I can’t wait to get planting in that one, but I don’t want to get caught out like we did before with weeds overtaking the plants so I’ll give it a few more days. The leeks are patiently waiting in the greenhouse to go in this bed. I must put them outside actually to harden off. Do you need to harden off leeks? I have no idea, but I’d rather not lose them for the sake of doing something as simple as leaving them outside somewhere sheltered for a few days.

See you soon!

allotment 16/6/15

Vertical potatoes

A week ago, Ashley and I were at the allotment debating what to do with a box of chitted second early potatoes that hadn’t been planted. We had intended to have more beds put in sooner and so the potatoes should have been growing away by now. As we don’t have any room in the beds we have, I suggested trying to grow them vertically. We didn’t have much to hand but I spotted a small wooden frame that Ashley had built as part of a dust bath for the chickens that they no longer need. We cleared a small patch of ground near the polytunnel and put some cardboard down to suppress the weeds, filled the frame with compost and rotted manure and stuck the potatoes in!potato boxI have no idea whether this is enough for the potatoes or if it’s too late for them to be going in, but we will see what happens! Now we just have to find some more scraps of wood (shouldn’t be too hard at all) and make some more ‘boxes’ the same size to build up and up as the potatoes grow. with each box added, we will cover the plants with more rotted manure, compost and woodchip. This is the same box after 1 week:

potatoes The potatoes are showing through so at least they’re growing! That’s a job for Ashley sorted for the weekend whilst I’m at work; box building!



A quick visit to the allotment

I popped up to the allotment last night about 8pm to give the plants in the greenhouse a water and generally check on things as I haven’t been up there for a couple of days. Unfortunately, the birds and baby rabbits (who we discovered could get through our fencing!) have been having a nibble! The damage isn’t too bad but I needed to do something about it quickly before we lost crops. The peas and young brussel sprout plants were the worst affected, the Swiss chard had been nibbled but not too badly. Everything else seemed OK. Luckily, I had some gardening fleece in the car that was intended for the allotment anyway so I covered the affected veg with that.  I had some hoops to raise the fleece off the young sprouts but the rest of it was just laid over the plants. It’s so light that it doesn’t damage the plants at all. I had to try and wrap the fleece around the pea supports. I will try to find a more suitable alternative for the peas but hopefully it will save the peas from the hungry birds for now! Thankfully, the bigger rabbits can’t get in or I don’t think there’d be much left at all!


The first strawberries!

StrawberriesI managed to get 3 perfect strawberries from the garden this evening! This feels like quite an achievement since the chickens discovered where they were! And they were MASSIVE! Home grown strawberries really are the most tasty. My much younger brother in law said that he didn’t really like strawberries until he tasted one of ours! Supermarket ones can be a bit bland, particularly out of season and if they’ve travelled a long way. I prefer to eat my strawberries ‘as they come’ – that is without sugar or cream, apart from the odd spoon of clotted cream (we are in Cornwall!). We chose to grow them in the garden rather than the allotment so that we could keep a closer eye on them and harvest as soon as they were ready, rather than letting the birds, rabbits, slugs and anything else get there first! Can’t wait for more!

One potato…

Allotment Potato This little potato is the first produce from the allotment! Ashley and I spent the day there yesterday, the sun shone but the wind was a bit chilly – result = sunburn! Some of the first earlies are flowering so I had a little dig around in the soil with my hand and this little guy was there! I’m sure that there’s lots more but I decided not to dig them up as I don’t need them right away. Ashley strimmed some of the long grass and weeds, those threatening to spread seed all over our supply of rotted manure and those impeding the route into the potting shed area. In the tool shed, Ashley spotted a Swallow nesting which is lovely, but I’m a bit worried that we’ll be disturbing it going in and out for tools. We decided to sacrifice the beetroot that we’d put in a while ago as the weeds over took them early on and even though I’ve kept clearing the weeds, they don’t seem to have recovered well at all. We could do with the planting space so decided to scrap them for this year. We still have some beetroot pickled from what we grew last year anyway. In it’s place we put several brussel sprout plants; I’ve never grown them before but wanted to give them a go now we have more room. I think I will plant some lettuce and maybe some spring onions around them for the summer. The beans are still looking a little washed out, I think it’s the constant wind up there. We may have to look at putting up some sort of wind break. The newer growth looks OK though so we’ll see how they get on in the coming weeks. The peas are being munched by the birds though! Seeing other people’s plots online, it feels like ours is a bit behind – maybe because we didn’t have the greenhouse earlier in the season to get things started. But it’s good to see the potatoes and onions coming on well and I’m sure everything else will catch up.

A quick allotment tour…

Last night I headed down to our allotment to check on things and give the greenhouse a water. I thought I’d show you what we have going on so far. We started making the beds in February of this year and planting commenced in April. We have just 5 beds so far (the raised beds in the top left of the photo are someone else’s) but have fenced off a patch the same size again which will be filled with beds quite soon. As you can see, the central bed here is full of first early potatoes and doing well. I expect we can harvest some soon, as a few plants are showing flowers. Peas, beans and Swiss chard have gone in the bed to the left of that. The chard is looking great,  swiss chard but the beans are looking a little washed out.runner beans

I’m not sure why, possibly as it’s quite exposed at our allotment so are feeling the elements or maybe the soil conditions aren’t completely suitable.

On the right hand side of the allotment are onions, beetroot, parsnips and a few more potatoes that over spilled the first bed! We are incredibly lucky that the wonderful friends that allow us to use this field also keep horses (as you can see), so we have a ready supply of rotted horse manure to hand which has formed the main structure of the vegetable beds. Unfortunately, some of it is rather too well rotted and has collected a lot of seeds where it was sitting, which have now burst into life! On the plus side, we believe the weeds to be edible but they have out competed a lot of my beetroot seeds. The parsnip seem to have managed quite well though, and now everything’s a little bigger, it’s much easier to distinguish between the weeds and intended crop. I hope that with some constant weeding this year we will see much less of them next year! I’ve never grown parsnip before, so any words of wisdom are greatly appreciated!

The bed at the bottom of the first picture has a bit of a mixture in at the moment. I started with 2 raspberry bushes, one summer and one autumn fruiting variety. On the opposite side of that bed is a new rhubarb plant. We seem to be suffering quite badly in this bed with dock so have mulched part of it with cardboard. There is a courgette plant and a couple of small lavender plants. I don’t intend for the lavender to stay in the veg bed, but it needed a home! I want lavender dotted around the allotment because a) I love it, and b) we love bees! There doesn’t seem to be a particular shortage of bees around us but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still try to encourage them. Ashley would like to get a bee hive set up at some point… I like the idea in theory but w certainly need to do some research before jumping into that one. Do you have any experience in bee keeping? Does a bee hive need daily attention?

There is another smaller bed just out of view in the first photo, that has blackcurrant and redcurrant in. It is also acting as a nursery bed for a few more lavender plants. We have a fairly established bed of blackcurrant bushes at home, we will move them down to the allotment this autumn I think. They are getting on well and it would be daft to move them now and lose what will hopefully be our best crop to date!

In the greenhouse at the moment I have several tomato varieties, some broccoli and Brussels sprouts that are waiting for a home on the plot, and some chilli and sweet pepper plants. One of Ashley’s next jobs is to build me some benches to go in there! For now, an old vertical grower (the mini greenhouse type) that has lost its cover and an old pallet or two are serving as shelving.

Well, that’s our little allotment! I hope you have enjoyed the little tour!