Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Re: Allotment update.

On the left is the new herb bed, at the other end of the bed on the right is the flower bed.

I have planted x5 lavendar, bergamont, chives, oregano, several different varieties of thyme, borage, lemon balm, curry plant and at the back bronze fennel.

In the flower end I have transplanted foxgloves (Pam's choice), dahlia's, sunflowers, cottage garden annuals and butterfly mix seeds. It doesn't look much at the moment but I am hoping it will fill out and attract the bees and hooverflies. Whilst I was digging it a frog or toad jumped out at me and gave me a fright! So some wildlife it there already.

On the left are cabbages in their new cages.
I planted out greyhound and hispi varieties about a fortnight ago and they seem to be coming on well.

On the right is the first of the new years asparagus, I have managed to finally cut a few spears this year which will be cooked in butter with a sprinkling of black pepper - oh my mouth is watering already! They are also nice dipped in a soft boiled egg - free range of course. They take an age to grow but are worth the wait.

The chard and broad beans have started to put on some new growth. I have sown extra chard for the chickens.

The broad beans were a spring sowning, I have a few gaps in the row so will do another sowing this week.


These our new arrivals, we have rescued three ex-battery hens who have settled in remarkably well. Gertie, Florrie and Bea. And that is also the pecking order!

We are currently getting 2-3 good sized eggs per day, and the waste is taken to the allotment for the compost heap. They are a joy to keep and all have their own characters. My youngest daughter has really taken to them and is quite often found in the chicken run with them, they are very social animals.

I have been to the allotment a few times over the last few weeks and have manged to get back on track. Early potatoes have been planted into two beds, although I have forgotten which varieties again, I'm pretty sure one of them is charlotte but can't remember the other variety, some how the lbels disappeared when they were laid out to chit. Leeks have been planted in a nursery bed undercover of fleece. Red Onions have started to put on growth.

I have continued to sow peas over the last few weeks for planting out at the allotment as the mice nick directly sown seeds.Runner beans have been sown and are currently in the plastic greenhouse, I decided to to two varieties this year St. George and White Lady. The St.George are through and are growing well but the Whitelady are taking a while longer some are through but not nearly as good germination as St.George.

I have sown french beans and borlotto beans which have all germinated, did a second sowing last week. The greenhouse (glass) is looking quite full and I have to keep moving things about. Since I have planted out a few cabbages, spring onions, chard and spinach I have gained some room in the coldframe so need to move things on again. I have 30 tomatoes plants that I have been growing for an education day at work; which will be gone by 19th May so I will then gain alot more space back.

Cucumbers, melons pumpkin and squash have all been sown as has sweetcorn.

The sweetcorn in in the greenhouse along with the cucumbers and the squash and pumpkins are in the propogator. The melons came up within a few days and are growing on the kitchen window ledge waiting to be potted on. I am going to try these outside this year, maybe keep two back for in the greenhouse to see how they do. The varieties say they can go outside but how they do remains to be seen. All the tender vegetables won't be planted out for a few weeks yet, as our last frost date is early may although I prefer to use that time for hardening off and plant out mid may.

This is the patch of rhubarb which was planted out proper 2 years ago although the crowns were planted in big pots at home. It has done very well this year and I have had 2-3 cuttings of 4-5 stems so far. Because we had had a reletively dry spring it has been trying to flower so the flowers have been despatched to the compost heap.

On the left are the first of this years leek seedings which have been grown in pots at home and transplanted into a nursery bed at the allotment. On the right are last years. I will harvest these as they were attacked by leek miner but made a recovery just ended up very late. Everyone at the lottie had the same problem so this year I will ensure that they remain covered when planted out into their final positions.

On the left are some early sowings that I made of radish lettuce and beetroot. they look very close together but the radish will be harvested first then the lettuce so the beetroot can swell.

On the right are some lettuce that I planted out by the grapevine which is in the shade for part of the day. The lettuce has done ok but I must inspect the grapevine as these were 1 year old cuttings and I'm not sure if they have made it through our artic winter.

The grapevine at home is just sprouting its leaves so need to have a closer inspection before they are taken out.
Happy Gardening xx

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

New Additions.

Chickens Have arrived.
We have been rather busy over the last few weeks, due to three new arrivals. We have rescued three red (ex-battery) hens. I have been reading a fellow grapes blog and she has given me the inspiration to give it a go.

We have named them Gertie, Florrie and Bea.

We purchased the above coop which is big enough for 4 hens but we only wanted three so they have more room to move about. We have had them about 2 weeks and they laid 10 eggs in the first week. We have built a bigger run for them which is why we have been so busy as this mean't re-arranging the garden.
I don't know which breed they are but will post some pictures. When we first went to collect them from the rescue centre, the chap told us that they had been out since November, he had certainly nursed them back to health and they are in good condition.

I have been out in the garden for the last 2 days having a major tidy up, we had a clematis that had given up, so it was time to take it out. It took two of us and hour and it filled one of trade bags which sand is delivered in! Underneath was a climbing hydranger which has now taken its place so the fence panel isn't completely bare.
We have painted fence panels, six so far and a few more to go, all the sleepers and the deck have a coat so has the front of the shed but we have now run out of wood preservative.

Today was spent cleaning out the chooks, cutting and strimming the lawn, helping finishing the large gate to the side of the coop, weeding, trimming, and finally sowing some flowers and tending the greenhouse.

Today I have sown directly:

Sweet William - Excelsior mixed


Canterbury Bells - Mixed

Night Scented Stocks - Starlight Scentsation

Dianthus - Baby Doll

Cornflower - Blue Ball

Delphinium - Pacific Giants Mixed

Swan River Daisy - Summer Skies

Californian Poppy - Carmine King

Poppy - Shirley Single Mixed

Poppy Paeony Flemish Antique


Coreopsis - Sea Shelled Red

Cosmos - Double Click Rose Bonbon

Matricaria - White Gem

Verbena Bonariensis

Gazania - Sunshine Mixed

Aconitum - Carmichaelii

These are all set for a chicken free zone. Off now to sort next batch of seeds for sowing.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Weeds are growing.

On Thursday we had a dry day so spent it at the allotment catching up on a few jobs.

The weeds have started to make an appearance so the soil must be starting to warm up. I started by turning the compost heap to aerate it and adding a few bags of manure. The amount of waste has reduced by more than half and is doing OK. Although I haven't had proper compost yet it seems to be on the way. I am going to save some newspapers to add to the mix and later I will add comfrey which will speed things up. I have covered it over and have my fingers crossed!

I have one bed left to dig over which is on the list for the next visit. I have raked the majority of the seed beds ready for sowing. I have noticed that the soil is of a much better structure since we started cultivating the allotment back in 2009. The soil looks a much healthier colour rich brown rather than grey, we have lots of earth worms, and the ground is easier to tend. We have been using manure which is added at the end of the season once the beds have been cleared and dug it seems to be doing the trick.
The leaf mould bin is full so I am hoping to be able to use this later in the year, as last year we filled it up and again this year it has been filled to the top so hopefully the leaf mould at the bottom of the bin may be ready for use at the end of the season.

Fruit trees and bushes have all been fed and mulched with 2 inches of compost this should help them get off to a good start as they are coming out of dormancy, producing big fat buds and green shoots. Whilst doing the raspberries in the fruit cage I had a good tidy up of the strawberry bed removing dead leaves. The rhubarb has big fat buds breaking through the ground so I have mulched around the plants to give them a feed.

I have sown a double row of broad beans, three different varieties as I had some seed left: Giant Exihibition Longpod, Bunyards Exhibition and Witkiem Manita.
Planted some early lettuce seedlings under a cloche, I have plenty more if these fail but lettuce is a cool climate crop and seems to do better at the start of the year rather than in summer.
Pea's: One full row of Onward and a half row of Kelvdon Wonder, both rows have been covered with sticks to deter wildlife.
Carrots: Early Nantes, Amsterdam Forcing and some Polish seed have all been sown under cloches.
Beetroot: Boltardy - Sown under cloche.
Parsnips: Gladiator and Hollow Crown sown under cloches.
All the above are old seed and I won't be disappointed if they fail to grow but will be delighted if they do. They have two chances!

The shed has had a good tidy up, brought home some soil for acid loving plants to pot on a Camellia which was a gift from a good friend the rest which was left has been spread round the blue berry bushes which are looking very well. Lots of new growth.

Today I have ordered some new herbs which won't be available until April which will be added to the new herb area. This afternoon I am going to divide oregano and three lots of thyme which are growing in the back garden to take to the allotment once they have started to put on some growth.

The weather here today: am tipping down and now its stopped and the sun has made an appearance.

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011


Today i have made a start sowing some herbs. I have a patch under some trees at the allotment that I want to fill with herbs. The trees are only dwarf trees so I am hoping the herbs wont necessarily be cast in shade.

I have herbs dotted around the allotment to encourage wildlife but this patch will home for the majority.

I love the scent that some herbs give off and they are very pretty in the height of summer.

Sown today:
Basil - Red leaved, Lemon, Sweet Genovese - These are destined for the greenhouse to be planted around my tomatoes.

Borage - Vivid sky blue flowers which are attractive to bees.
Oregano - Greek
Dill - Aromatic, ferny foliage.
Cutting Celery - Can be grown in full sun or part shade.
Parsley - Lidl Seed - This can sometimes be difficult to germinate but so far I haven't had any problems.
Thyme - Orange Scented - I have grown this one before typical thyme scent will a hint of orange.
Meadow Sweet - Hardy Perennial, leaves and flowers have a fragrant scent, prefers moist semi-shaded position.
Thyme - Old English Winter - aromatic herb with pink flowers attractive to bees.
Bergamont - Mixed
Hyssop - Tri-colour mixed
Thyme - Purple creeping.
Lemon Balm
Cotton Lavender.

I have also sown another two packets of sweetpeas - these are for the allotment - variety old fashioned mixed.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Seed Sowing.

Sown the following today:
Spinach - Tetona and Renegade.
Rainbow Chard
Spring Onions - Ishikura & Spring North Holland Blood Red
Cabbage - Grey Hound
Cauliflower - All Year Round
Kale - Dwarf Green Curled & Frosty
Mangetout - Reuzensuiker
Peas - Feltham First

Cleaned up strawberry runners, moved leeks, celeriac, broad beans, cabbage and lettuce seedlings to the plastic greenhouse. Later when they have grown up abit they can go to the plastic cold frame to be hardened off.

Sorted seeds out for next batch of sowing which will be herbs these will be started in the airing cupboard and I plan to do these tomorrow.

Soon be the 1st of March!!!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Sweet Peas and Tomatoes.

On Tuesday I decided to sow my Sweet Peas, this year I am sowing the Giant Waved variety they did exceptionally well last year at the allotment and at home.

I always sow extra for my mum and sister so ended up sowing three packets. These will be for the garden. I am planning to purchase a new variety to go to the allotment this year. I just love the scent of sweet peas and pick them regularly for the house.

I have sown them in root trainers and 2 deep pots as they tend to have a good root run.

I have made a start with Tomatoes, last year I took part in an early sowing experiment and had lots of tomatoes that ripened in the sun a lot earlier. We made several batches of passata for spag bol with home grown herbs and garlic. Even the tomatoes at the allotment did well although I only planted Ferline which is blight resistant. So this year I will plant those again plus try a few others and see how they go.
Sown: Sungold (This tomatoe is one of my all time favourites as it tastes divine), Ferline, Pomodora, Black Cherry, Yellow Submarine, Money Maker, Golden Queen, and San Marzano 2.

I potted on 3 Newmex Twilight, x3 Big Banana, x6 Romano Sweet Peppers, x4 Cayenne Peppers.
Celeriac: Balder has been pricked out into modules.
Germination: Piccante peppers are up. Still 2 types of chilli's haven't shown their face as yet!! Leeks: Blue Solaise and Lyons Prizetaker are growing well although Musselburgh and Autumn Mammoth are taking their time.

Sown another lot of Broad Beans, Crimson Flowered this time. Never tried these before so looking forward to something new.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

First Proper Visit To Allotment.

Set off this morning for first proper visit to the allotment. The weather has been sunny with clear skies. We managed to clear a few beds, dig up parsnips and carrots, build new frame for cabbages (two more to go) these will be covered in new netting as last year the caterpillars had a field day!
We repaired the compost bin. The inch thick ice that had settled there was turfed off. Had a general tidy up and marked beds which will have the sides added to complete the raised beds.

Had a general exploration: New buds have formed on the trees which were planted in 2009, blackcurrants have big strong buds forming, the rhubbarb has started to make an appearance and the comfrey has green shoots.

The leeks that I planted last year have started to grow!!! Garlic and shallots have green shoots.

Had some onions that were supposed to be planted last Autumn that I didn't get round to putting in so popped them in and covered with fleece (Red Baron and Troy) they have two chances!
All in all an enjoyable day.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Lettuce & Cabbage.

Pricked out Lettuce Webbs Wonderful and Little Gem they have been moved to a cold greenhouse. One tray of each.

Cabbages Hispi and Greyhound have also been pricked out into modules and moved to cold greenhouse.

I have moved them to stop them getting too leggy.

The Broad Beans that I have sow recently have made an appearance - no sight of the leeks yet.

Weather today is dull and 2 degrees - Wish it was March!!!

Monday, 24 January 2011


Lettuces have germinated and have been moved to kitchen window cill. Once they are abit more established they will be moved to greenhouse.

Bronze Arrow has not fully arrived and was the slowest to germinate, hopefully it will make an appearance over the next few days.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Chilli's & Sweet Peppers

Today I am going to make an early start on sowing a few chilli and sweet peppers.

They will all be sow and stored in a heated propagtor until they are big enough to live on the window cills. I tend to start these early as they need a long growing season to get fruit of a reasonable size. I will only sow a few seeds of each and do another sowing in a few weeks.
Chilli seeds have been sown in compost and covered with vermiculite and placed in propogator.

Pea's-Feltham First - will be sown and stored in a cold greenhouse.

The weather here today is clear skies although abit damp.

Thursday, 20 January 2011


The clear skies have led to two very frosty mornings over the last couple of days. The garden is frozen so not much doing.

Today I am going to sow:
Lettuce: Webbs Wonderful, Little Gem, A foglia di quercia (Lidl), and Bronze Arrow from the Heritage Seed Library.
Cabbage: Greyhound and Hispi F1.
Celeriac: Balder

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

First Sowings of 2011.

Today I have finally made a start on sowing.
All the seeds have been sown in a cold greenhouse.

Leeks: Blue Solaise, Snowstar, Lyons - Prize 2 and Musselburgh.
Hope I have a better year this year with leeks. I am planning on buiding a cover for the leeks similar to the sort used for stopping carrot root fly. I have purchased the netting ready for this task.

Cauliflower: All the year round.
x6 sown into modules.
Planning another sowing in mid February.

Broad Beans:
Witkiem Manita x6
Planning a further sowing in mid Feb of Crimson variety.

Spring Onions:
Ishikura - x3 modules.
Spring North Holland Blood Red - x3 modules.

Planning to make a start on chilli's, onions and peas later in the week.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Heritage Seed Library 2011

Selections For 2011.

Climbing French Beans:
Kew Blue
Cherokee Trail of Tears
Blue Queen


Dwarf French Bean:


Bronze Arrow

Looking forward to seeing how these perform. Must remember to cover peas if sown late to avoid the nasty pea moth.

Gardening Year Starts Here For Me.

Over the last season I just haven't had the time to blog. I have been beavering away at the allotment and had a rather good first proper season.

I have been juggling my time between home and family, working five days a week and the allotment. The garden has also been returned to flowers, herbs and some veg but the majority has been grown at the allotment.

At the same time as getting the allotment up together, we have also been decorating at home.

So this year, I am planning to spend alot more time at the allotment. At the end of the growing season I managed to get all the winter digging done, I didn't manage to get as many crops sown over the autumn for winter crops as I would have liked and got a bit behind so there is a lesson learned for this season.

I visited the allotment in January when it was covered in frost and decided to draw up the plan for this year. The plan is completed but may be subject to change. I have included crop rotation and I am planning to increase sucessional sowing as this also was an area where I can increase yeild.

At present I have the following at the allotment in the ground: Chard, Brussel sprouts (although these didn't perform particulary well - most have blown), cabbage, carrots, garlic and shallots.

In the greenhouse I have over wintered Broad Beans, strawberry runners (approx 50) and onion sets ready for planting soon. Indoors the seed potatoes are chitting.

I have been itching to get on with some sowing so today I will be going through the seed box and picking some varieties.

I want to start my leeks early this year as they were a disaster last year and were plagued by leek miner.

After the amount of fruit and veg we enjoyed last year, I am enthusiatic and itching to get started with the growing seaon for 2011.

Happy Gardening xx