Sunday, 30 October 2011

Allotment & Chicken news

Not a lot done this week as been away for a mini break to Harrogate, which was nice.

But as you can see it has been a lovely dry, blue sky sort of day, sunny at times too.

So did a bit of weeding, checked the crops, the Leeks I put in last week have taken, not grown but still alive.

So as you can see it was a lovely day.

Managed to still harvest a few Raspberries and Runner Beans but I feel will be the last as frost is sure to arrive.

Also harvested a few greens for the Chickens, Kale, Lettuce & weeds too.

The clocks going back means it gets dark earlier now, but our Chickens won't mind.

Here you can see them in their favorite spot, at the patio door expecting food, but as you can see they are looking healthy and fit.

They are still laying an average of 3 eggs a day, I have been told laying slows down and can stop in the winter, due to less daylight.

This months egg count is 100, so hardly slowing down yet. Best month so far was May with 108.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Monday, 24 October 2011

Help with planting Leeks

Leek planting is not hard, unless you have clay soil, luckily we have light sandy soil.

The most important tool you will need is a Dibber, no need to go out and buy one, simply cut a length of a brush stave (handle) round off one end and mark at 4" from the tip. I also make a mark at 6" as this is the distance between each hole.

Using the Dibber make a 4" (10cm) depth hole by pushing vertically into the soil, which should be firm, not loose as the soil can fall back in.

Using a ruler, but not essential, make a hole every 6" (15cm) along a string and lower 1 Leek shoot (previously started in a seed tray as in photo) gently into each hole, roots first obviously.

Continue placing leeks in each hole to the end of the row.
Don't back fill the holes with soil at this point.

There shoul
d be at least 10" (25cm) between each row.

When all the leeks are in place, simply trickle water into each hole which will drag some soil back into each hole.

Then water freely over the whole patch.

The Leeks in the background were planted in this way back in July and have grown well, the ones planted today are an over Wintering variety.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Potatoes dug, Onions in, Leeks weeded too

On Friday the weather was favorable for a bit of digging, so I decided to get the last of the Potatoes up.
There were 4 2/3 rows left of the 'Markies' to dig up, out of the 7 rows planted.
You can see them here, it doesn't look like a lot, but in fact this pile weighs 104lb (47.1kg) and the largest single s
pud weighs 1lb 6oz (600g) a plateful of chips in itself!
The revised total harvest is now 157lb (71.2kg)

Last weekend I planted the White Onions out, so today I planted the Reds, another 3 rows, so now we have another 80+ Onions to over winter and harvest in the Spring. Handy as I have already ordered my Onions for Spring planting:
Autumn Gold, Stuttgarter Stanfield & New Fen Globe, all whites from Marshalls Seeds.

The Leeks I planted out in July are doing well and look fab, weeded them and cleared the patch alongside ready for another batch of Leeks to plant out as a successive crop. Hopefully will get those planted in the next few days, weather permitting.

They will go well with all the Spuds dug up in Leek & Potato soup, lovely.

A surprise harvest today too:
Runner Beans

The late warmth & rain we have had helped to get an extended & in the case of Strawberries a second crop.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Clearing, Planting & Harvesting still

Yesterday this patch still had the Peas, Dwarf French Beans, Climbing Bean frames, Purple Beans & the Purple Potatoes were here too. But I managed to clear all that away and plant out the late Onions, approx 40 White ones, will plant a few rows of Red too soon.

But was surprised to be still harvesting fruit this late in the year, see below.

Todays Harvest:
Dwarf French Beans
Purple Potatoes (just 3 left in the ground)

And another 14lb of Markies Potatoes.

The Markies Potatoes, from Marshalls Seeds are described as 'it excels as a chipping potato and is considered by some 'chippies' to be even better than Maris Piper' now that's some recommendation.

I can agree it does perform very well Boiled, but best Baked, Fried or Roasted.

Markies also have a good all round resistance to disease & viruses.

I dug up 2/3 of a row here which weigh 14lb so I expect the yield to be approx 20lb per row, I planted 7 rows so total yield should be approx 140lb (63.5kg) not bad from an initial 4kg purchase.

The other important job to do at this time of year is have a Bonfire, all the weeds, dry foliage and dead woody plants (soft plants etc go in the compost bin) go on the bonfire and when all burnt down the 'potash' can be dug back into the soil.

An important tip:
If you are planing a Bonfire, always construct on the day of burning. If you pile up foliage over a few days then set light to it you might be Barbecuing some wildlife too.
At this time of year small creatures especially Hedgehogs might use your bonfire pile as a place to hibernate, so always check underneath.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Sunday, 9 October 2011

We made it finally, to harvest veg for dinner

I planned to dig up the rest of the Markies Potatoes today, but Network Rail started to replace the train tracks this week and access to our Allotment site was limited as we have to cross the tracks to get there.
Anyway about an extra mile detour and we made it. But limited us on what we could carry back, so sacks full of Potatoes was out.
But we did manage to harvest the following:

Runner Beans
a Strawberry
and Tomatoes

When putting waste veg in the Compost bin I disturbed a fat Frog, I hope it's so big because it's full of Slugs.

I'm hoping to put a pond in soon, if we get our Bathroom facelift done before Xmas I will be using the old bath as a pond, so hopefully a colony of Frogs & Toads will move in.

Anyway as I said we did manage to harvest plenty, here you can see the Peppers, Tomatoes, Courgette, Kale & Pak-Choi, these will be used in a Stir-Fry meal.
The lone Strawberry, there are a few more coming after the warm spell last week, will be scoffed by someone I'm sure.
But because of the railway line work I will have to put off digging the Potatoes until next weekend.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

More Potatoes dug and a Bonfire too

Now it's October and the first few days were as hot as the height of summer, so some crops are still producing and some like this Strawberry, are having a second later crop which is a bonus, we also have a 2nd crop of Runner Beans.

Today's harvest:
'Markies' Main crop Potatoes
'Charlotte' 2nd Early Potatoes
Runner Beans and Raspberries

The 'Markies' in the bucket weigh 9lb (4kg) and are what I dug up from less than half a row,
I planted 7 rows so estimate the yield to be 140lb (63.5kg) which is very good.

Here you can see the 'Charlotte' potatoes, the last to be dug up this year.

I used my favorite 'Joseph Bentley - Potato Fork' to dig these Spuds up, the long, blunt end, flattened tines are ideal to lift without spearing, the wooden shaft & handle lend a traditional feel and is so comfortable to use.
I even use this fork when turning over the soil and does the job quickly too.

The weight of this haul is 14lb (6.3kg) and was about 2/3 of a row, I planted 2 rows so estimate the yield to be about 45lb (20.4kg) not bad at all and very tasty potatoes they are.

And last but not least, here's a punnet (approx 1lb/0.45kg) of Raspberries harvested only 2 days ago, so as you can see the Autumn Raspberries are still cropping.

One other thing that has to be done in October is a Bonfire, all the weeds that have been left to dry, the potato halums and other foliage when burnt can be dug back into the soil, a good source of Potash.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian