Sunday 28 November 2010

Frosty day on the plot

First week of really cold weather, -4 today. Soil & Rain barrels frozen solid.

Only thing I could do was re-fill the bird feeders with fat balls.

This cheeky, fat, Robin was 1st in the queue.

Snowy Leeks.

These leeks will be so nice when at full maturity. Apparently a good frost does them good. I hope they survive -4 !

Picturesque Plot.

As the ground was frozen solid, no digging was possible, shame, so a quick check to see that nothing was missing or stolen and all was well.

But heard some good news, our association has managed to secure a grant to pay for a secure locking gate at the entrance to our site & some barbed wire too.
Should keep the undesirables out :)

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian.

Sunday 21 November 2010


Sorry been a long time since last update, but had a busy few weeks with projects at home, plus the weather hasn't been good for Allotment work.
But did have to rush down one afternoon, due to phone call from nei
ghbor who's shed
had been broken into,
so checked ours which had been opened but all was OK, but talking to other plot holders about 12 sheds had things taken from them, mostly tools & mechanical equipment, especially petrol powered. Apparently there is a notorious gang who only take these type of things as they have a ready market for them, which is a worry. But at least I never keep expensive equipment in the shed, prefer to keep my
tools at home.

So now for this week: We put some 'fat balls' up for the birds & almost straight away this cheeky Robin appeared.

It's important now the weathers colder to keep the feeders topped up.

The Sprouts are still doing well and with only 34 days to go until Christmas, they have time to get bigger.

Only crop harvested today was Carrots, but managed to temporary plant some extra Raspberry canes ready for cropping next autumn, will put them in the fruit cage with the rest soon.

Thanks for reading/returning, Ian.

Sunday 24 October 2010

Weekend before the clocks go back

Almost another 2 week interlude, but this picture is of the harvest from last weekend (17th) as we didn't have time to do anything else, due to other commitments.

Raspberries, Carrots
Sweet Potatoes which we actually grew in a large pot.

So back to today, which was another sunny, but chilly, day.

These Brussel Sprouts are looking good, and should be huge by Christmas, which seems to be the only time most people eat them, but we like them with a Sunday roast. But they do taste so much nicer than Shop bought ones.

These Leeks are doing well, some have already been harvested and added to some of the Potatoes dug up were made into Leek & Potato soup, a perfect winter warmer.

So as I said earlier a lovely day, but because my wife was convalescing after a bout of food poisoning, got from a local restaurant, I didn't have time to do anything more than harvesting.

Today's harvest:
Tomatoes & Raspberries.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian.

Sunday 10 October 2010

Glorious day today & Spuds dug up

Special day today as it was 10/10/10 & we arrived at about 10:10am too.

Sorry it's been a 2 week break since last Blog, Wife was doing a Willow Weaving workshop so could not get to Allotment last weekend.

But 1st how about this Weird shaped Carrot.
I might send this photo to Kitchen Garden mag, they like oddly shaped Veg.

I love this time of year, as it the start of the big clear-up & a good excuse for a Bonfire.

All the weeds pulled up over summer can be finally burnt, leaving us with a free supply of 'Potash' good to improve soil especially round the base of fruit bushes.

The last of the Sweetcorn was harvested today so the woody stems also go on the bonfire, no waste here.

But the biggest job to do today was dig up the last of the Cara Main crop Potatoes. The last 5 rows, out of 7 planted, yielded 153Lb (approx 69.5 Kg)

So I estimate the total yield to be 214Lb (97.3 Kg)
From an initial purchase of 2.75 Lb (6Kg)
So not a bad return.

Whilst tidying up and pulling up some Leeks we found this rather healthy looking Toad. Glad to have them as they love chomping on Slugs. I hope to build a pond over winter so we should have Frogs too, more Slugs are doomed :)

So despite it being October it was more like a Spring day today, warm & sunny and we are still harvesting:
Butternut Squash
Runner Beans
and Potatoes of course.

Thanks for reading/returning look out for next up-date.

Sunday 26 September 2010

Potatoes Dug Up

Today was the day I finally dug up the 1st Early potatoes, Charlotte & Pentland Javelin, for winter storage.

But I must tell you all about my favorite digging fork, a Joseph Bentley -
Potato Fork.

Having long and flattened/rounded Tines, it's the perfect tool for digging up Potatoes and most root crops, in fact I use it as my main digging fork it's so good.

The flat rounded tines are great for lessening damage to your Potatoes when digging, as they push the spud sideways instead of puncturing it. Today I dug up almost 100Lb of Spuds and only damaged about 6.

The head is wider than most forks at 7" wide and the Tines are 11" long, the overall length is 42" ideal for taller people, as I am.

The Joseph Bentley website is shown
below, and their products are available from most D.I.Y shops, Garden Centers & the Internet.
Find the Potato fork on the 'Traditional Seasonal Products' page.

Although I had trouble tracking down a Potato Fork but finally found one on a well known online auction site.

A trug containing 60Lb of Charlotte Potatoes, I also dug up 35Lb of Pentland Javelin.

As it was a lovely sunny day it was easy to dry them off after digging, spreading them out on the soil, then I bagged them up into Hessian Sacks obtained from Marshalls (web address link on last weeks Blog).

Each sack contains about 30Lb of Potatoes, as you can see the labels are the same ones used to mark the rows on the Allotment, recycling at it's best.

So it was a very busy day, again today, still have the main crop Cara to dig up yet!

As I said earlier the sun was shining and other harvesting was done:

Runner Beans
and Squash

Thanks for reading/returning look out for next update. Ian.

Sunday 19 September 2010

Potato Yield comparison

I thought for a change I would show you the yields I got from this years Potato crop.

The 1st earlies I planted in March Charlotte did well again and 2 tubers (seed potatoes) produced 4LB 4oz (1.9 Kg).
These waxy potatoes are great hot or cold in salads etc.

The Pentland Javelin I grew as a 2nd Early & planted in April, also did well and 2 tubers produced 3Lb 2oz (1.4Kg) of perfect Spuds.
They have a more floury texture and boil really well.

But for a high yield Main crop you cannot beat Cara, also planted in April. I have grow these many times and 2 tubers produce 8Lb 13oz (4Kg).
They make great Jackets & Chips too.

This year all my Spuds have survived without major problems such as Eelworm & Blight, I did suffer a little with Scab, but that does not affect the taste and rubs/peels off easily.

Next year I think I will try a few different varieties:
1st Early Charlotte (again)
2nd Early Lady Balfour or Hunter (a new variety)
Main Crop Markies or Cara (again)
For more information on these & other Potatoes visit Marshalls web site:

It was a foul day weather wise today, so we only went down to harvest:

Runner Beans

* Here is a simple quick Raspberry Jam recipe:
Raw Raspberry Jam
Yields 1.5lb (675g)

1lb (450g) Raspberries
1lb (450g) Caster Sugar

1.Crush fruit slightly.
2. Put Sugar to warm in a very cool oven (Gas 1/4, 225 F, 110 C)
(put clean jars to warm into oven too)
3. Put fruit into in a saucepan over very low heat. Stir continuously until just boiling.
4. Take pan off heat and stir in the Sugar.
5. Return pan to low heat and stir until Sugar has completely dissolved. Stir until jam reaches boiling point.
6. If there are some whole fruits in the jam allow it to stand in the pan for a short time until a thin skin forms. Stir skin in gently then pour jam into pots, filling each one to the brim. This method ensures that the larger pieces of fruit remain suspended in the jam instead of floating to the top.
7. Put waxed paper discs on at once, waxed side down. Put the jam pot covers on immediately, or wait until jam is quite cold. Never put top covers on when jam is half way between hot & cold, condensation can form and this leads to mouldy jam.
8. Label jam pots with name & date and store in a cool, dry, dark place.
Ref: 'The Complete Farmhouse Kitchen Cook Book'

Thanks for reading/returning, look out for next up-date soon. Ian

Sunday 12 September 2010

Still Harvesting & it's almost Autumn

The Allotments still looking green and we are still Harvesting, more on that later.
Cant believe how much is still growing despite it getting cooler & getting dark earlier too.
But we are still planting, for over winter crops and Spring too.
Some raised beds, now empty, have been sown with 'Green Manure' which are plants high in
nutrients that can be grown over
winter and then in
Spring dug in to add goodness.

So back to today, we harvested quite alot, as you can see. But still haven't dug up the Spuds for storage, due to a recent back pain problem, don't want to risk any heavy digging until it's better.

So thanks for reading/returning and look out for next up-date soon. Ian.

Sunday 5 September 2010

New month, new planning

Well now that September is here, things are dying down, the Peas, Beans & most of the Fruit have finished.
Still have Potatoes to dig up and store & the late Raspberries are still producing lovely large fruits, the Brassicas, Sweetcorn & Squashes are also doing well, including a good crop of Sprouts, a must for Christmas.

Here you can see the Sweetcorn with a Pink Banana Skin squash in the background, seed kindly donated by a Twitter friend.

Although we have Cosmos growing all over our plot I particularly like this variety 'Pied Piper' with it's tubular petals.

Crops harvested this week:
Potatoes: Charlotte & Cara, Beetroot, Courgettes: Round & Regular, Runner Beans, Tomatoes, Spinach, Rocket, Chives & Late Raspberries.

Looking up the plot you can clearly see that it's still looking lush and green, on the left are most of the Brassicas & Sweetcorn, which as I said are still looking good and producing from 1st & 2nd planting.

Next job is to burn all the weeds & potato halums that have been cut off, then I can clear an area, just after the gate on the left, ready for the pond, so we can encourage more wildlife especially Frogs & Toads who love slugs & snails :)

Charlotte early Potatoes dug up today, still 3.5 rows to dig up and store, the picture shows how many we get from only 2 tubers, and there are 10 in each row. Should dig these in the next few days.

But the next biggest job is to dig up & store the main crop potatoes 'Cara' which are resting under soil as the halums have been cut off now.

Thanks for reading/returning, look out for next up-date next weekend. Ian

Sunday 29 August 2010

More harvesting & clearing up

We are back from our holiday, a week in Cornwall, a bit damp but we had a lovely time, visited Lost Gardens of Heligan & Eden Project, both well worth a visit if you can.

But on our return to the Allotment today I spotted a new visitor a baby Froglet.
(Thumb in shot to show scale)

Sweetcorn still producing, despite our Daughter looking after the plot while we were away, harvesting & watering, there was still lots to pick today, 6 more cobs.

Other crops harvested:
Beans (Runner & Purple climbing)
Potatoes (Cara & Charlottes)
Raspberries (Autumn croppers)

But I was most concerned about our main crop 'Cara' spuds, which are resistant to most diseases, but as the weather had been warm & damp I was expecting Blight.

All of the Halums (stem & leaves) had wilte

So I cut off all the Halums to ground level, these must be burnt not composted.
Then earthed up again so the tubers don't get too much light, which will make them go green and not edible.

But a test digging showed me that they were OK.
But I will leave the rest under soil, for a few weeks, to firm up the skins, then will dig them all up & store in hessian sacks in a cool/dark place to feed us over winter.

Thanks for reading/returning. Look out for next weeks up-date. Ian.

Sunday 15 August 2010

Clearing, Harvesting & still Planting

First, here is one of the many (5 counted so far) Toads we have on our Allotment, this one made its home in the Compost bin :)

I'm planning to make a pond over winter so hopefully we will have Frogs too. Both Frogs & Toads are partial to Slugs & Snails so we make a home for them and they repay by eating the pests, win, win.

One of the jobs to do today was to clear away the Broad Beans as they had finished, all foliage went into the Compost bin.
Then we limed the area and planted more Brassicas, Broccoli this time for a winter crop.

Dug up another half row of 1st earlies 'Charlotte' today (12.5 lb), this makes way for more winter crops.

We sowed some Pak Choi and planted out some Lettuce already started at home.

Todays Harvest:
Red Cabbage
Beans (Purple, Green & Runner)
Potatoes (Charlotte)
& Rhubarb (not in photo)
The Sunflower had fallen of the host plant which is currently at 10' 6" tall

So today was a busy one, lots of weeding done too, I need a Holiday.

So this is the last Blog for 2 weeks as we are off to Cornwall for a week, visiting the Eden Project & Lost Gardens of Heligan also many NT properties & gardens too.

Thanks for reading/returning, check out next up-date on (or after) Aug 29th. Ian.

Sunday 8 August 2010

New Planting & still Harvesting

After a dull and damp week, today was a lovely sunny day, so we decided to plant some crops for autumn/winter.

This raised bed used to have Onions & Garlic in it, but now have been harvested & dried. So today planted Spinach, for a late crop.

This raised bed used to have Mange Tout Peas growing, but as they had finished, although we did get a fantastic crop this year, cleared it all away, all foliage in compost bin of course.
Have planted more Onions (seed) for winter growing.
But some Sunflowers have self-seeded so leaving them for the Birds & Bees.

This bed contains our late Rhubarb 'Victoria' the crowns were moved from another location earlier in the year, so haven't done so well but we expect to get a good crop next year.

Today's harvest included:

Not in picture:
Green & Purple Beans

and Flowers too.

So as I said today was a lovely sunny day, and things are still growing well, I was expecting to harvest some Sweetcorn today but it's still not ripe, you can tell by squeezing one of the kernels if clear liquid comes out its not ready, look for milky liquid which means its ready.

Thanks for reading/returning, look out for next update.

Sunday 1 August 2010

Best time of the year 'Harvesting'

First must apologise for not up-dating last w/e, but think I have a good excuse, I was at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show and it was good again, we were lucky with the weather too :)

But now the Harvesting, I love this time of year when all the hard work pays off.
These Round Courgettes have been producing well this year, aga

The Purple Climbing Bean tower has just started producing fine long beans, strangely they turn green when cooked, but taste lovely when steamed.

These Peas are ready for picking and today we picked 2lb (900g) not bad from a 4ft x 6ft frame.

The Sweet Corn is doing well and will be ready to harvest soon, maybe next week. So look out for next up-date.

So today was a good harvest day, also pulled up the Onions today which are now drying at home, but rain did curtail the harvesting somewhat.
Don't know whether you can see in this picture but it is raining.

Thanks for reading returning, look out for next up-date, hopefully next weekend.