Garden Update 9th September 2017

Garden Update 9th September. Allotment, Garden, Gardening, Harvest, Grow your own, homegrown, homegrown, carrots, beetroot, chioggia, bolatardy, touchon, roots, autumn harvest, plot to plate, wooden board, gdnblog, gdnbloggers, gdnblogger, blog,

Garden Update 9th September 2017

The warm and wet weather in Devon this week has been great for the weeds. I’ve done two tidy-ups at the allotment and managed to fill my large bendy bucket three times. It’s also the end of my tomato adventure for the year.

Previous Updates

Garden Update 2nd September

Garden Update 19th August

Allotment Update

 

We were giving some new chairs from a family member and they’re perfect for the allotment. The weather wasn’t that great so we haven’t christened them yet.

Garden Update 9th September. Allotment, Garden, Gardening, Harvest, Grow your own, homegrown, homegrown, carrots, beetroot, chioggia, bolatardy, touchon, roots, autumn harvest, plot to plate, wooden board, gdnblog, gdnbloggers, gdnblogger, blog,
New seating at the allotment
Garden Update 9th September. Allotment, Garden, Gardening, Harvest, Grow your own, homegrown, homegrown, carrots, beetroot, chioggia, bolatardy, touchon, roots, autumn harvest, plot to plate, wooden board, gdnblog, gdnbloggers, gdnblogger, blog,
The squash plants have been tidied back on the borders to clear the paths

The squashes are really enjoying the damp and warm conditions and had spread over the paths. I wasn’t too bothered initially but they’ve got the point that it was hard to reach into the beds for harvesting. They also were concealing a lot of weed growth on the paths.

Garden Update 9th September. Allotment, Garden, Gardening, Harvest, Grow your own, homegrown, homegrown, carrots, beetroot, chioggia, bolatardy, touchon, roots, autumn harvest, plot to plate, wooden board, gdnblog, gdnbloggers, gdnblogger, blog,
Pak choi settling in

The module Pak Choi seedlings are doing much better than the directly-sown batch which has been munched to stumps. I think I’ll do more of this transplanting even thought it’s more work overall.

 

Garden Update 9th September. Allotment, Garden, Gardening, Harvest, Grow your own, homegrown, homegrown, carrots, beetroot, chioggia, bolatardy, touchon, roots, autumn harvest, plot to plate, wooden board, gdnblog, gdnbloggers, gdnblogger, blog,
Chard seedlings planted out

I’ve also installed the Chard seedlings in one of the new beds around the perimeter of the allotment. I’m hoping they’ll give me some fresh greens to each over autumn and into winter.

Greenhouse Update

Garden Update 9th September. Allotment, Garden, Gardening, Harvest, Grow your own, homegrown, homegrown, carrots, beetroot, chioggia, bolatardy, touchon, roots, autumn harvest, plot to plate, wooden board, gdnblog, gdnbloggers, gdnblogger, blog,
Stachy byzantina seedlings

The Stachys byzantina seeds that I collected have germinated extremely well and very quickly from sowing. They’ve been pricked out and set into their own little module home.

Garden Update 9th September. Allotment, Garden, Gardening, Harvest, Grow your own, homegrown, homegrown, carrots, beetroot, chioggia, bolatardy, touchon, roots, autumn harvest, plot to plate, wooden board, gdnblog, gdnbloggers, gdnblogger, blog,
Geranium phaeum alba seedling

Another sowing that I made from home-collected seed was the Geranium phaem alba. I am the proud owner of one seedling!

The tomato story this year hasn’t been very successful. Blight has struck and the fruits that were threatening to ripen were being munched by slugs before they were harvestable. I’ve taken off all the tomatoes that were salvagable and cleared away the affected plants. The foliage is now in the council green waste bin. I think I’ll use the fresh border for either bringing on perennials over winter or some winter salads.

Garden Update 9th September. Allotment, Garden, Gardening, Harvest, Grow your own, homegrown, homegrown, carrots, beetroot, chioggia, bolatardy, touchon, roots, autumn harvest, plot to plate, wooden board, gdnblog, gdnbloggers, gdnblogger, blog,
Tomato harvest 2017

There’s nothing like an Instagram filter to make even a poor harvest look great.

Garden Update

Garden Update 9th September. Allotment, Garden, Gardening, Harvest, Grow your own, homegrown, homegrown, carrots, beetroot, chioggia, bolatardy, touchon, roots, autumn harvest, plot to plate, wooden board, gdnblog, gdnbloggers, gdnblogger, blog,
Overhead shot of The Far Garden

It’s been a while since I’ve shown what’s happening in the Far Garden. You can see the new boundary shed has a great grey colour that matches the furniture. The chillies are slow in the rectangular planters but I might get a harvest. My new Musa and Echinacea plants are looking awesome.

 

Garden Update 2nd September 2017

Garden Update 2nd September. Allotment, Garden, Gardening, Harvest, Grow your own, homegrown, homegrown, carrots, beetroot, chioggia, bolatardy, touchon, roots, autumn harvest, plot to plate, wooden board, gdnblog, gdnbloggers, gdnblogger, blog,

Garden Update 2nd September 2017

Yesterday was the first day that I had time to get to the allotment for anything other than harvesting for some time. We had people visiting for the bank holiday weekend so nothing much was achieved in the garden.

Previous Updates

Garden Update 19th August

Garden Update 12th August

Allotment Update

Yesterday I spent over an hour at the plot and managed to fill two large bendy buckets with weed growth that’s now been put on the unofficial compost pile. We’re mainly plagued by dandelions and docks persisting as deep tap roots. They’re capable of regrowing after hoeing and have enjoyed the extra rain recently.

I don’t like to leave huge gaps in the beds for two reasons. Firstly, there isn’t much growing area as it is and dedicating space for hoeing seems silly when, secondly, weeds will colonise bare ground as well as between plants which you have to hand weed anyway. I use the hoe on any unused ground that’s waiting for the next crop or where there is space between plants in order to give them room to grow.

Garden Update 2nd September. Allotment, Garden, Gardening, Harvest, Grow your own, homegrown, homegrown, carrots, beetroot, chioggia, bolatardy, touchon, roots, autumn harvest, plot to plate, wooden board, gdnblog, gdnbloggers, gdnblogger, blog,
Lots of Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato winter squash

The Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato winter squashes have been very prolific in number but I’m struggling to find a good kitchen use for them. Growing something to then have to hide it in food just to use it up seems silly. Roasted pumpkins should be used for roasts, soups and risottos but the bland flavour and silky texture of these leave me a bit disappointed. If I can’t find a use for them that I will look forward to next year then I’m afraid they’re off the plot.

Garden Update 2nd September. Allotment, Garden, Gardening, Harvest, Grow your own, homegrown, homegrown, carrots, beetroot, chioggia, bolatardy, touchon, roots, autumn harvest, plot to plate, wooden board, gdnblog, gdnbloggers, gdnblogger, blog,
The root harvest begins

I’m glad to be getting a better carrot and beetroot crop at the allotment. This batch suffered in the early dry spell we had so germination and subsequent growth was slow and poor. I was then too eager to try them so picked some small offerings last month. This lot are more substantial but there’s better to be had. The carrots went into a beef curry and I am plotting what to do with the beetroot. We’re having a picnic tomorrow if the weather holds and I’ve been hoping to make a roasted beetroot, walnut, goats cheese and rocket salad since sowing the seeds earlier this year

We had a bumper picking from the three crops from the allotment I’m monitoring this year on Friday;

  • Yellow Courgette – 370g
  • Climbing Bean ‘Cosse Violette’ – 700g
  • Climbing Bean ‘Trail of Tears’ – 770g

I’ve cleared out most of the pea bed as they’re coming to the end of their productivity and the powdering mildew is making them unsightly. The Peas, mange-tout and broad beans are out. In their place, I’ve planted the Pak Choi seedlings which I started in modules last month. The other side of the bed will have winter lettuce.

Greenhouse Update

The tomatoes continue to be a complete let-down this year. I think I have blight. Initially, I thought it was some cold scorching on the leaves that poke out of the windowless opening in the greenhouse but it’s since spread. I’ve taken some evasive measures to cut away the affected fruits and leaves but it’s fingers crossed for the remainders.

Garden Update 2nd September. Allotment, Garden, Gardening, Harvest, Grow your own, homegrown, homegrown, carrots, beetroot, chioggia, bolatardy, touchon, roots, autumn harvest, plot to plate, wooden board, gdnblog, gdnbloggers, gdnblogger, blog,
Chard ‘Pink Passion’ Seedling

The seedlings of the Chard and winter lettuce are growing well and are soon to be transplanted to the allotment.

For the ornamental side, the Stipa and Stachys seedlings are coming along well. I’m hopeful that my Penstemon cuttings have taken.

Garden Update

The new grey backdrop to the Right Border of the Far Garden is settling in well. I’ve bought some Echinacea Magnus Superb and Musa from Hill House Nursery down the road. I was inspired by my recent visit to Wisley where I had a good look around their Echinacea trials.

This part of the garden has always meant to be an exciting, bright, exotic garden but we’ve never achieved that. The Echiums did well but completely dominated the space so I’m hoping to introduce more exciting plants over winter that will mix well.

Garden Update 19th August 2017: The harvest floodgates open

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Garden Update 19th August 2017

I have been triumphantly carrying back the harvest from the allotment this week. I’ve had two good picking sessions. We’ve been munching through two types of climbing beans, two types of mange tout, peas, broad beans, asparagus pea and courgettes.

 

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My first large harvest from the allotment this year

Previous Updates

Garden Update 12th August

Garden Update 5th August

Allotment Update

The amount of veg harvested from the allotment is really exciting. I’m keeping a tally of what I harvest on some of the crops. I haven’t grown the Climbing green bean ‘Trail of Tears’ before so I’m comparing it to ‘Cosse Violette’ which I have grown in the past.

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Mollie dog is getting the hang of allotment etiquette – the pumpkins aren’t

The totals this week from 2 pickings;

  • Yellow Courgette – 388g+110g = 498g
  • Climbing Bean ‘Cosse Violette’ – 200g + 212g = 412g
  • Climbing Bean ‘Trail of Tears’ – 300g + 280g = 580g

Not only is Trail of Tears a very tasty variety but the amount of harvest is even beating Cosse Violette. I like this variety and think I’ll save some seeds to keep growing it. I’ll still keep Cosse Violette going as it’s such a beautiful plant and still tasty. I’m really impressed with the yellow courgette. I think I’ll not bother growing a green one next year as they tend to be more watery and not as useful in the kitchen. I’m going to try a patty pan type one instead.

It’s not all about the veg. The cut flower patch is getting colourful with some Dahlia, Anemone, Ranunculus and Gladioli.

Greenhouse Update

I’ve given the greenhouse a little spruce to tidy up the various tools and instruments. Instead of taking up valuable work surface space, they are now hanging handsomely on the wall.

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Secateurs, trowels and watering cans are now hanging up all tidy

The battle to ripen these tomatoes continues but the modules of winter leaves are coming along well.

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These tomatoes are refusing to ripen
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Cut and come again mixed salad leaves
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The winter leaves after a heavy dowsing – they did look much better before.

 

Garden Update

The neighbours have finished the shed at the back of the garden so we have a secure boundary again. Now comes the challenge of incorporating the change into the look of the garden. I still haven’t decided on whether I am installing a new boundary wall / screen etc.

#allotment #allotmentlife #allotmentsofinstagram #growyourown #gyo #edible #edibles #herbs #vegetables #fruit #gyoherbs #gyovegetables #gyofruit #growyourownfruit #growyourownherbs #growyourownvegetables #gardening #gardenblog #allotmentblog #allotmentblogger #allotmentbloggers #gardeningblog #gardeningblogger #gardenblogger #gdnblog #gdnblogger #gdn #vegpatch #homegrown #seedlings #seeds #plants #instagarden #fromtheallotment
The right border now has a new backdrop
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The left border is getting colourful

The Buddleja, Phlox, Japanese Anemone and Nasturtiums are flowering their socks off. The right side of the picture shows the impact shade can have on flowering plants. The overhanging hedge is casting a lot of shade.

 

Cheap and cheerful – how to create more basil plants using water cuttings 

Cheap and cheerful - how to create more basil plants using water cuttings

A simple way to take basil cuttings to make new plants for free

I have a terrible record when it comes to growing basil from seeds so I was really intrigued to hear about taking cuttings from plants to create more. I can’t believe it’s never occurred to me before to take basil cuttings. Usually, I cheat by buying a plant in a supermarket, with multiple elongated seedlings crammed together, and try to divide and plant these out. This has given me a small amount of success if I can harvest the leaves before the slugs get them.

I was listening to a recent podcast episode of Still Growing and was inspired to try basil cuttings myself.

How to take basil cuttings

The vigorous growth on basil is perfect for softwood cuttings. I took lengths of stem around 2-3 inches long and removed the lower leaves. Cutting under a node (where the leaves were emerging from the stem) encourages roots to develop at a point where the hormones are concentrated. The very softest growth at the top of the cutting was pinched out.

The leaves and tips that I stripped off were used in a pasta dish so no wastage.

Cheap and cheerful - how to create more basil plants using water cuttings
Basil cuttings in water

Since basil is related closely to mint it should root as easily as mint. At the same time as I took the basil cuttings I also took Peppermint and Sweet Potato. These were placed into small glasses somewhere sheltered, out of direct sunlight. The downstairs toilet windowsill is perfect. An unexpected bonus is the aromatic wafts you get from the basil and peppermint.

Cheap and cheerful - how to create more basil plants using water cuttings
Basil, Sweet Potato and Peppermint cuttings

Waiting for roots on my basil cuttings

The Sweet Potato and Peppermint definitely won the root race and had grown some adventitious roots within 4 days. I had to wait a long 10 days to see some action on the basil.

Cheap and cheerful - how to create more basil plants using water cuttings
Roots showing after 10 days

Potting on basil cuttings

Once there was a good amount of root on each basil cutting, and when I had time to do it, I potted them on into loose multipurpose compost to establish.

Cheap and cheerful - how to create more basil plants using water cuttings
Good amount of root ready for potting up

This was a really easy bit of propagation and was quite successful. A couple of minutes work to prepare the cuttings was all it took to get the process going. One cutting had to be discarded due to rot (It needed to be removed from the water) and I replaced the water twice over the 10 days. That’s it! I’m hoping they’ll establish well so I can pot them on again before starting to harvest.

No Dig Newbie – Starting a no dig bed from scratch

No Dig Newbie - Starting a no dig bed from scratc

Taking a bare patch of spare earth and turning it into a productive allotment bed using the no dig method

I’m still constructing the bones of my allotment beds and it’s getting to the stage where I think I’ve got too much border to reasonably plant up this year. There’s a lot of the plot that I want to fill with fruit trees and bushes but that’s going to be at the end of the year. The joy of digging and removing hundreds of dandelion tap roots has worn a little thin. So as an experiment and to be a little lazy I’ve decided to see how a no dig border turns out.

The background to the no dig method

Charles Dowding is the most famous champion of the no dig method. He has gardened organically since the eighties, way before the science was there to back it up and certainly before it became fashionable, and continues to inspire generations. For example, my mum was a huge fan of his when I was born and now I’m just starting to find out about him and his approach.

Essentially the idea is that the ritual turning and digging of soil destroys the natural structure, loses moisture, and exposes more and more dormant seeds to the light to germinate. By layering large quantities of organic matter you get the worms doing the digging for you and without destroying the structure of the soil. Ongoing maintenance involves repeated mulching to trap moisture in and reduce weed growth.

Books by Charles Dowding

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I’m still alittle dubious on leaving perennial weeds in situ as I’m convinced that they’ll fit their way through the layers.  Here’s how I did it;

No Dig Method – Stage 1 – starting with bare earth

No Dig Newbie - Starting a no dig bed from scratch
Bare dry earth

This is what was left after the turf was lifted right at the beginning of the allotment project. There’s been enough time for the perennial weeds to break out again (mainly dandelions). However, we’ve not had enough rain toget the annual weeds joining in.

No Dig Method – Stage 2 – Using what you have

No Dig Newbie - Starting a no dig bed from scratch
Leftover turf

I have oodles of leftover turf from stripping the whole allotment. I thought it would add a better depth of loam and it’s another way of getting rid. So in it went.

No Dig Method – Stage 3 – Addition of manure

No Dig Newbie - Starting a no dig bed from scratch
Manure layer

Courtesy of my lovely cousin and her muck producing horse! I added a layer of well-rooted manure over the turf for improved worm activity and to increase the organic matter.

No Dig Method – Stage 4 – Covering up

No Dig Newbie - Starting a no dig bed from scratch
Landscape fabric

The landscape fabric that’s on the paths is really better suited to covering a border than being a surface to walk on. I wanted to use it to keep the weeds down. It’ll also keep the soil underneath really warm. The makeshift weights are leftover wood and stones dug up from the plot.

No Dig Method -Stage 5 – Planting Up

No Dig Newbie - Starting a no dig bed from scratch
Squashes planted through

I didn’t want to waste the space and I had more young squash plants looking forlorn in their pots. The solution was to make use of the space and plant through the fabric. I’ve installed watering bottles to avoid the area drying out. The squashes can spread over the whole area.  I’ve planted Squash ‘Little Blue Hubbard’ and ‘Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato’.

Getting started with the No Dig Method

That’s me getting started with this whole no dig thing. Like I said, I’m a little sceptical about its ability to keep perennial weeds down so watch this space.

If you’re keen to learn more from someone who knows what he’s doing then take a look at Charles Dowding’s website www.charlesdowding.co.uk.

Chilli Challenge 2014: part 1

chilli challenge

Introduction to the Chilli Challenge

A while ago Southbourne Gardens started a topic on their own Chilli Challenge with an impressive selection of varieties being trialled this year. I’m going to attempt, on a smaller scale, to join in.

The contestants

I’ve restricted myself to just 1 hot chilli variety as space is limited and apparently they crop so profusely there’s a danger of drowning in the glut. Of course I’ve never had any success with chillies so can only dream of this level of success but perhaps 2014 is my year. I sourced them from the wonderful Real Seeds as they’re open pollinated and, I hope, more able to produce a crop in less than ideal conditions. I’ll also be able to save my own seeds for the 2015 chilli challenge. I have previously posted about Real Seeds here.

Also chosen is ‘Lemon Drop’ as I was intrigued by the description that there is a slight lemon tang to the flavour which is ideal as we love fajitas.

To finish the group I also got 2 types of sweet pepper.

Progress

Interestingly the chilli seedlings are slightly yellow on emerging. I don’t know if is because their fruits will be yellow or whether they just need some more light so they’re now out of the propagator and in a south facing window.

How is everyone else getting on?

Chilli seeds emerging
Chilli seeds emerging

UPDATE: See the full story 

Where we started: Chilli Challenge 2014: Part 1

Seeking some help: Chilli Challenge: Part 2 Reinforcements

Success: Chilli Challenge: Part 3 Flowers!

More posts about seeds:

Springing Up

Beans

Chinese Lanterns

RHS Seeds 2014

Totnes Seed Swap 2014