Saturday 28 July 2012

When to dig up your Potatoes?

Not usual for me to do an update on a Saturday, but weather forecast tomorrow is for more heavy rain!
Anyway, I have been asked a few times 'When is it time to dig up Potatoes?'  as you can see here all the foliage (halums) have died back, this is a sure sign to dig them up, as no foliage means they cannot grow anymore, there is no problem leaving Potatoes in the soil, in fact its a good place to leave them, until it gets colder or you have Slug problems.
Here you can see the remainder of 2 rows of Charlotte 2nd early Potatoes (approx 5.5lb), there is still a row left to dig, but I'm happy to leave them there, for about a month anyway.
With 1st early varieties you can dig them up as soon as the flowers have finished, even if the foliage is still present, you then get smaller sweeter tasting boiling/salad Potatoes.
Todays Harvest:
Red Currants 2lb
Black Currants 10oz
Raspberries 6oz
Blueberries 2 only!
and the Charlotte Potatoes (above) 5.5lb.
Other Harvests this week:
10oz Strawberries, 8oz Raspberries, 7oz Mixed Blackberries, Courgettes, Peas, Cabbage, Broad Beans & Kale.

So as I said, the forecast is for more heavy rain, tomorrow and into next week too, in fact up to Wednesday, so might not get to the Allotment much :-(
We managed to get to the Allotment today (Sunday) in between the showers, so here's a  Harvest update: Tomatoes, Lettuce & Mint (to add to Potatoes as mint butter) 

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian 

Monday 23 July 2012

A week of change on the Plot

It's been a week of up's and downs.
We visited the RHS Tatton Flower Show on Saturday, lots of lovely gardens, some with Veg but sadly most did not.
We did buy a few pond plants which have been put in place and we have seen a few tiny Frogs in our pond.

But work on the plot has to go on, so we've been busy, read on.

Here is where the early Potatoes 'Rocket' are growing, they were stalled by the Frosts in March/April but have caught up now, so where I have dug some up we have put 2 more Courgettes in, I must be mad!

But lots more planting is planned.

Harvests this week:
Peas & Sweet Peas.

We've had some sad news this week, Hetty one of our Hens, who had not been well and on medication, died on Thursday.
The 2 remaining, Peggy & Maud are fighting fit and still enjoying a trip to the Allotment, here you can see them scratching around the fruit cage.
Although it's sad we lost Hetty, the good thing is she enjoyed 16 months of freedom from the Battery Farm, doing normal Hen behavior.

One other thing we did, was to clear out the Spinach & Chard that had finished or gone to seed, due to the odd weather we have had.
The Comfrey that was growing along side was also cut back, the cuttings went straight into my Comfrey Tea bin to make FREE plant food.

We then planted some more Chard, that we had started off in Modules.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Sunday 15 July 2012

A fabulous sunny day (am I dreaming?)

 Well am I dreaming indeed,
the weather has been rather damp, and that's an understatement as many around the country can confirm. But today the sun shone and on such an important day too, (more on that below). But luckily we managed to get plenty of weeding & harvesting done. The crops harvested this week are too many to mention, but we have eaten well again this week. 

Whilst on the subject of weather it has certainly helped to speed the maturity of the 'Rocket' Potatoes I planted back in March, sadly affected by the frost soon after, that stunted their growth. 
All the rain has swelled the tubers and as the foliage had died off I did a test dig, what a surprise, they are bigger than the Charlotte Spuds (2nd early) I have been harvesting for a month now. 
You can also see about half a pound of Raspberries, just a small quantity from the 9lb 8oz harvested so far, we have also harvested 6lb 12oz of Strawberries to date and a few Blackberries, Tayberries  & Loganberries (about 1lb in total).
As I said the sun came out at the right time our Allotment Association had its open day today, lots of visitors came to see our plots, our Chickens & purchase Plants, Produce, Books & Bric-a-Brac too, I think everyone had a fab day and loved the plots walkabout. We had live music from talented musicians on Bongo's and Guitar, the Scouts put on A Hot Dog feast which is always popular, the Scouts have a plot on our Allotment site, so are happy to be involved in the Family Open Day, as we all are.
We always try to organise an activity for the kids visiting, so this year we did Windsocks from Recycled materials.
1st: Cut the top & bottom off a 2ltr pop bottle.
2nd: Punch 3 holes at one end of the plastic tube and 6 holes at the other end.
3rd: Cut 1" (25mm) wide strips from old Carrier Bags, from as many coloured bags as you can find, tie a strip to each of the 6 holes.
4th: Cut 3 lengths of string about 18" (45cm) and tie each one onto the 3 hole end of the tube, then knot the loose ends together around a stick or cane. That's it finished. 
The kids loved making these and ran around the field testing them.

Thanks for reading/returning.

Sunday 1 July 2012

1st Sunday of July

Spent a rather busy few hours on the Allotment today. 
In less than 2 weeks our site is having a Family Fun Open Day, where we invite local people to visit our Allotments, we will be showing our Chickens on the day, in the hope more will consider adopting ex-battery Hens.
Last years open day was a great success, this year we are planning lots more activities and expect more to visit.

So I needed to neaten our plot a bit, the path needing most attention as it has over grown rather a lot, mostly with grass, all the rain we have had hasn't helped, so as you can see from this shot it looks much better.
We managed to do a bit of planting too, here is one of the cold frames not in use at the mo, so I got 2 compost bags, turned back to reduce the height, as you can see the inner black plastic is now also outside, this will absorb more heat, that will warm the roots of the Squashes we have planted. I re-filled the empty sacks with home made compost, from our compost bins, some spent compost the Tomatoes were growing in last year and some Grow Organic fertiliser.  We planted A Small Sugar Squash and a Courgette (yes more Courgettes)   
In the raised bed the Garlic was in, we planted out some round Courgettes, here you can see one forming.

Other crops planted this week:
Spring Onions
And some more Climbing French Bean seeds were pushed into the soil inbetween the ones already growing up the climbing structure, to give a succession crop.
Here is a part of our Allotment I don't show very much, up near the shed we have:
The Asparagus with Lettuce inbetween.
On the right is one of our Strawberry Beds.
At the back is the Comfrey, I harvest the leaves 2-3 times a year and make Comfrey Tea from it. A simple way to make Comfrey Tea is to fill a large bucket with comfrey leaves, fill with water and leave (covered) for a few weeks to a month, then you can decant the brown (stinky) liquid from the bucket (put the remaining mush/leaves in the compost) the brown liquid must be diluted before feeding to your plants, about 10/1 so it resembles weak black tea, a great FREE plant food.

This weeks Harvests:
Strawberries (2lb 10oz)
Raspberries (2lb 8oz)
Tayberries (only a few)
Peas (too many to count)
Lettuce (only the one)
Potatoes (Charlotte)
Rhubarb (5lb of Victoria)
Not all harvested today, just whats in the Trug was today's haul.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian