Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Since I last wrote lots has happened ...

Veg from the garden

I dug up our first potatoes, which, though tasty were not quite ready. We may have to take what we can get though because they are suffering from 'holheid'. Not sure what it is in English but the centre of the potatoes has a little hole in it and the potatoes are glassy. Ick. The very small ones are ok. Not entirely convinced about this Novella cultivar. It was a bit tasteless. The potatoes do wash up nicely though and the skin is all but removed with a quick brushing.

The garden got flooded. We had localised floods two weeks ago just before I went to London and most of the garden was underwater. Most of the plants seemed to do ok. The teepees for the peas didn't withstand the wind and the pea plants have since been removed.

The shallots were almost ready so I took them out. We reaped a fair amount of shallots for very little work and they're really tasty, with firm flesh and a purple tinge to the skin. I will definitely repeat the shallot experiment for next year. I purposely planted them close together because I like small bulbs. Nothing worse than half an onion/shallot in the fridge making everything else smell funny.

The cauliflower is forming heads! This is the same cauliflower that shares a bed with the kohlrabi and which I feared had club root. The cabbage in the bed next to it has no club root. I'm baffled. I'll let these ones form their heads and then pull them out and see what their roots are doing. Next year I'll try in a different portion of the plot.

The garlic has a little bit of rust, but nothing on the scale of what I've been reading about.

The strawberries are forming runners. I think we got most of the fruit that we're going to get off the yellow raspberry and the currants are probably lying on the ground now after the horrendous windstorm we've been having all day. I should have harvested them last week. I spent four hours at the allotment and didn't even get half of what I wanted completed.

The apples and plums are hopefully thinning themselves in this wind and the blackberries have put up an amazing framework of stems for next season. All the manure I gave them in spring has obviously worked wonders. I have woven them through a fence I made with wire and poles, and I hope that it holds. I have to work on a system for cutting down the just fruited stems.

How do other people do this? Do you just remember which ones just fruited, or do you mark them some way or another?

On the balcony my tomato plantation is doing wonderfully! My tomatoes are now about 5 ft high and each plant has more than 10 trusses of blossom. The first few trusses on each plant have set fruit and they're looking wonderful. The orange cherry cultivar is very strong indeed and is rampaging all over the place, whereas the gardener's delight seems more restrained. I can see a very big difference now in the planting dates of the seeds. The orange cherry was sown on 3 March and most of the others were sown a week later. Orange cherry has trusses of fruit that are much closer to ripening than the others.

I think for an early crop, and if one has a greenhouse/sheltered area the first week in March is a good time to plant. Of course, it all depends on the weather. Three years ago in March we were under 2 ft of snow.

Patrick gave me a whole lot of tomato plants which are doing pretty well. They've got two sets of blossom on each plant. I used the method of transferring the plants to their final pot/planting out area when they had their first flowers just opening, as per Joy Larkom.

The other side of the balcony, and sadly, still in windowboxes, I have my sweet peppers. I just didn't have enough room/money to get big pots for them. They're rather cramped, but quite pretty and even if they don't bear it will have been a good experiment. They have lots of flowers. I think if I can keep them damp they should bear, but otherwise... oh well. I will know for next time.

The basil is growing nicely, but I learnt something this year - don't plant individual basil seeds, plant a whole 4 inch pot full! I intend to take soft cuttings of my lavender, thyme and rosemary this week to try and establish some new plants.

I had my first sweetpeas from the garden which scented the living room beautifully. The gemsquash and butternut are romping away madly and have filled up their bed/rows between the potatoes. The dwarf bean plantation was augmented with some more plants raised at home. The borlotto didn't come up at all, but the contender did well.

It's time to think of what to plant for winter crops. I will be planting more salad leaves, seeing as all my summer lettuces drowned (and the slugs with them I hope!). I have spinach, swiss chard, autumn planted garlic, overwintering broad beans and peas. Leeks are obviously a must.

I need some more soft fruit bushes. I'm thinking of a gooseberry to replace the one redcurrant that is ill. I tried a wonderful red gooseberry that was just amazing. The current strawberry bed in front of the apple tree will be moved in autumn to be a bed adjacent to the other one with strawberries in and the rest of that area will be for soft fruit.

I'm now working in a flowershop which gives me the capability of buying plants at reduced prices like this chocolate cosmos, which has been calling my name repeatedly this week. They really do smell like chocolate!

So, lots to do, and possibly a development for our family that includes a summer house, 250 m2 of land and a greenhouse, all less than 5 km from our home! Just financial logistics to work on ...

Friday, June 8, 2007

Too too hot

It's 35 degrees out there and we're melting. I visited the allotment this afternoon at lunch time as we have a busy week and it's the only time I could go. I can't help but feel that the water I gave the plants probably all evaporated!

I asked about the redcurrants on my plot and apparently the plants are 17 years old! No wonder their yield is low and they look ill. This winter I'll replace them with other plants. I'm thinking of a gooseberry (kruisbes) and some other raspberries ...

Monday, June 4, 2007

Oh, the garden is so exciting!

Gemsquash Flower

So so much stuff happening in the garden.. raspberries starting to ripen - I've had three! Peas in quantities big enough to keep the kids busy for a while, strawberries ripening under their nets. Not enough for much, but they add a nice touch to a fruit salad.

This is a picture of the strawberry nets, with my legs and pink crocs in the background!

Hoops over my strawberry bed

The spinach started to make flower buds so I pulled it all up yesterday and we will be having spinach and ricotta cannelloni tomorrow. Mmmmm.

There's enough lettuce to feed an army. The beans are flowering away, the climbing beans are climbing, some nasturtiums are flowering.

The butternut plants have recovered from their chill and have gone nice and green and have started doing a mile a minute growing. The tomatoes that I planted first out still look a bit sickly, but the ones subsequent to those are doing fine. It's a bit of a gamble with those tomatoes anyway as there is usually tomato blight at the allotments, which is why I have 24 tomato plants in pots on my balcony!

But most exciting of all, my gemsquash plants have flowers and one has a baby gemsquash! That's the picture at the top! I am so excited I can barely speak! If all we get is gemsquash from the allotment it will be worth it.

Next year I am definitely doing more pea growing, more strawberries and concentrating on getting a bigger and better harvest from the soft fruit. I should have a cracker raspberry and blackberry harvest judging by the amount of canes they've put up this season so far, but I'm completely unsure of how to prune the red and blackcurrants. The bushes look a bit elderly and one of them is completely dead in the centre.


The redcurrants in the picture above are from the younger plant. The older plant has tiny fruit and yellowed leaves.

More photos here.