Monday, 26 September 2011

Saving Seeds

I don't save many of my own seeds. Last year I saved some Tangella tomato seeds, purely because it's not that easy to buy them, there aren't many places which stock them. This year I'm having a go at saving some seed of the mange tout which I grew. These are Robinson and Stephens, which are actually peas, but they can also be eaten as mange tout. They were kindly given to me by Bilbo Waggins from The View From Bag End. I left the pods on the plants to dry, and now that I've snipped them off, I shall leave them a while longer just to make sure that they're thoroughly dry before removing the seeds. Fingers crossed that they germinate for me next year.

I was very sad last week when I came across a goldfinch in the back garden. It was laid on the grass as dead as a doornail. I've no idea what it died from, a cat certainly hadn't had it, it looked so perfect. Poor thing. I've never seen a goldfinch in the back garden before, I've seen them on a few occasions in the front garden.

It's a lovely bright sunny day today. I've been holding out for an Indian summer after the miserable summer we've just experienced, but it's been so cold lately that I'd just about given up all hope. That is until the weather forcasters told us that the temperature is set to rise this week. Perhaps we'll get our Indian summer afterall.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Know Your Onions

These are just a few of the many onions I've got drying out at the moment. They're Turbo which have been grown from sets, and they've done really well this year. There's some quite large ones. We don't use very many onions in cooking so they'll easily last us through the winter months. Next year I'm going to have a go at growing from seed and I've got a packet of Bedfordshire Champion at the ready.

After the gales we had at the beginning of last week, I was expecting to find lots of damage at the allotment. I'm pleased to report that everything was fine, even the bean wigwams were still standing, and we're still picking lots of beans from them. The late sowing of dwarf French beans are now producing, though I think we were a little too late with the second sowing of climbing beans, I don't think they're going to come to anything.

I've eventually got round to sorting out my seeds. I've been quite ruthless putting aside any which I know I'm never going to sow, or any which I've got duplicate packets of, and they've been taken to hubby's workplace for anyone who wants them. There was a full carrier bag full. I made a list of the things I want to grow next year, and headed back to Wyevale for any seeds I was missing. I managed to get everything on my list from the packets offered in the 50p per packet sale, and the total savings I've now made on buying reduced seeds this year stands at £50.01. Not bad.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Carrot Success

You may remember that I named this year the Year of the Carrot. I've never grown carrots successfully on the allotment yet, I manage to grow round stumpy ones in containers at home, but I really wanted to get some growing at the allotment. I've never even got them to germinate in the past. When we took on the allotment, we inherited an old bath which had been left on our plot, and hubby has put it to good use this year filling it up with old compost and sowing some carrot seed in it. Meanwhile, I sowed some carrot seed in the bed which had been allocated for my root vegetables this year. Well, the biggest success has been the bath. The picture is of carrots which have grown there, all different sizes, shapes and colours as hubby sowed all different kinds, he can't remember which varieties though now. The carrots which I sowed in the ground did grow, so I've had a success of sorts, though because I didn't cover them with fleece, they were decimated by carrot root fly. I'm not too bothered, at least I got them to grow, and I know what to do next year now, though I'll definitely be utilising the bath again.

As I've mentioned before, I'm really pleased with my Tangella tomatoes. They've produced a very good yield and are still cropping now. My Gardener's Delight were very leggy and produced tiny tomatoes early on, but are now giving out some decent sized ones. The San Marzano have suffered from blossom end rot and haven't given one edible tomato yet, though there's some ripening at the moment. I might end up with half a dozen this year. I don't grow a huge amount of tomatoes as I only grow them in my 4X6 greenhouse and have already decided that I'm going to grow some outdoor ones in the garden next year. I was telling hubby's auntie that I want to make some soup and sauces next year, and she kindly popped round with a bag full of tomatoes for me from their allotment. I shall turn these in to soup.

Hurricane Katia was forcast to hit our shores yesterday, and it's certainly given our area a battering. Part of the garage roof over the road from us blew off yesterday and my greenhouse is in bits. Archie, the dog, was frightened on his walk last night as the street lights were out, and temporary road signs were following him down the street being blown by the wind. The rain has started now too and it's being driven by the wind. I haven't been to the allotment so I don't know if there's any damage there, I hope my bean wigwams are still standing.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

What A Bargain

I always visit Wyevale Garden Centre at this time of year as they reduce all their seeds to 50p per packet and I stock up ready for next year. The seeds I bought this year should have cost me £42.14, I saved £35.64. Amongst the seeds are five types of tomato. One of the varieties I've chosen is Ferline. I've grown this before and it has good levels of blight tolerance, which will be more important to me next year as I plan to grow some plants outdoors. I also stocked up on Gardener's Delight, a favourite variety. The other three varieties are ones I haven't grown before, Black Cherry, Gold Nugget and Pannovy. All these tomatoes can be grown outdoors.

I also bought some onion seed, Bedfordshire Champion. I've always grown onions from sets but thought I'd have a go at growing them from seed next year. I've heard people say that they get a better crop from seed rather than sets so we'll see, they'll have to do well to improve on this year's harvest.

Other seeds which I purchased, which are new varieties for me, are carrots - Resistafly and Sweet Candle, dwarf bean - Purple Teepee, salad onion - Furio, and cucumber - Swing. I haven't ruled out another trip there once I've checked my seed box and see what I'm missing.

Monday, 5 September 2011

They're Coming Thick And Fast

I'm picking beans like there's no tomorrow. I've got dwarf French beans, climbing beans and runner beans and they're all producing very well. I also made a second sowing of dwarf French beans and climbing beans of which the dwarf French beans are just starting to flower, but the climbing beans are still climbing at the moment. I hope there's enough time left to get a crop from them. Beans have to be my most successful crop, they've never let me down, but have consistently given a plentiful supply every year I've grown them. I've never grown broad beans, I remember not liking them when I was a child, but I'm going to give them a chance next year and grow them for the first time. Who knows? My tastes might have changed.

I found another cucumber hiding in the greenhouse yesterday, that brings my tally for this year off three plants to three. To be fair, I haven't gone out of my way to look after them very well, I've really left them to get on with it, but still, three off three plants is pretty poor. I must try harder next year.

We've been out and about all weekend, making the most of the last few days of the school holidays. We've been really lucky with the weather, avoiding any rain apart from when we were driving home on Saturday evening. Today is a different story though, it's sunny at present but it's windy and we've had some downpours this morning. I'm still trying to hang on to summer for a while longer, but I think it's in vain.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

What a whopper

I've never grown marrows before, but last year, after finding some overgrown courgettes which I'd missed when picking, I decided I'd use them to make stuffed marrow. It was a hit with hubby so I decided to grow the real thing this year. This is the first one we've had off the plant and we haven't used it yet. I've heard that it does taste different to courgette so I'm just hoping that we like it.

I've been reading of courgette gluts on many blogs but my plants haven't really got going this year. They're just starting to produce a decent amount now so perhaps the glut is to come. The Firenze courgettes which I grew in containers have given up the ghost, they've been a washout producing a few tiny courgettes before giving in. I've got yellow and green varieties at the allotment and both are now producing well.

It's always at this time of year that my thoughts turn to next year. Already I'm weighing up what's done well and what hasn't and what I'll grow again next year and what I won't. My mum and dad are moving in a fortnight and we're inheriting their freezer, so one thing I definitely want to do next year is grow more things to freeze. I already freeze some things, but even though we've got one of those American style fridge/freezers, there isn't enough space to freeze much. The new freezer, even though it's only small, will give us extra space to store gluts for winter use. It'll be nice to be eating from the allotment right the way through winter.
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