Monday 24 May 2010

Photo Challenge

Tanya from Allotments 4 You set me a challenge last week to post the 8th photo from my 8th photo album. It turns out that the photo I had to post is connected with another of my hobbies, genealogy. This photo is of my great grandparents on my dad's side, and was kindly sent to me by a distant relative who I met through tracing my family tree. The lady on the left is my great grandmother's sister. I had a bit of a problem tracing further back than the gentleman in the photo as it turned out that his father was born with a different surname to the one he later took. I did eventually manage to get back to the 1700's on this side of the family, but I'm stuck again. I don't think I'll manage to get any further back as my leads have dried up. Genealogy is a great hobby with many twists and turns, and I've met many distant relatives who I never new existed.

The following are the blogs I would now like to challenge to post the 8th photo in their 8th folder:-

Eight by Six Gardening Blog
Flighty's Plot
Growing Our Own
Ma Larkin's
Moj Vrt
Pam's English Cottage Garden
The Green Grower
Two Chances Veg Plot Blog

I should have spent much more time on the allotment this weekend than I did, but I couldn't let the beautiful weather pass without making the most of it. On Friday evening we went for a walk in some woods near where my parents live. I used to play in these woods as a child, and it brought back lots of happy memories. The bluebells were in full bloom and looked so pretty.

On Saturday we decided to head off to Yorkshire Lavender. This place will look fantastic when the lavender is flowering, it's planted en masse and everything is really well labelled. There are quite a few plants to buy and many herbs, including lots of rarer varieties which you don't usually see in garden centres, but I found them quite expensive so I was very restrained and didn't buy anything. I don't think I've seen as many mint varieties all together in one place before.

About three miles from Yorkshire Lavender is Castle Howard, so before heading home we decided to call in to their plant centre. I was surprised by the wide variety of plants on offer and at reasonable prices too. There is a courtyard at Castle Howard with a farm shop, book shop, gift shop, craft shop and cafe, as well as the plant centre, and you are able to go in all these without paying the admission fee, which I think is rather steep for a family.

On Saturday evening we had a quick trip to the allotment and I managed to get my dwarf French beans planted, as well as giving everything a really good water. I was pleased to see that some of my potatoes are just showing through the soil so after a little more growth I will have to earth them up.

We spent yesterday in the garden. My son was off playing cricket, my daughter had her paddling pool out and had friends round whilst hubby and I did some tidying up. One of my Christmas presents off hubby was a walk in plastic greenhouse, quite a bit bigger than the four tier greenhouse which I use inside my normal greenhouse, so we put that up yesterday and moved some of the seedlings in to that. I haven't used it before as it's a little flimsy for cold weather. I didn't want to put my seedlings in any danger of getting frosted, but I think they should be ok now. I'm trying to free up some space in my normal greenhouse as it's time that my tomato plants were potted up and set in to their final positions. They've started flowering so it won't be long now before they start setting fruit.

This week is Chelsea week. I'm not lucky enough to have a ticket to go, so I shall be watching all the highlights from the comfort of my own home. Some days there are three programmes on, so to avoid missing anything I have already set Skyplus to tape them all.

Thursday 20 May 2010

Green Seasons

I've been lucky enough to win another blog giveaway, this time on Monica's SmarterFitter blog. The prize was the Green Seasons Cookbook by Rachel Demuth. The recipes are seasonally inspired and many contain vegatables which I'm growing on the allotment. The seasons are divided up into seasonal vegetables, small eats, large eats and sweet eats, and there's extra chapters such as accompaniments, dressings, salsas, sauces and chutney, and techniques. Though I haven't had chance to have a proper read of it yet, I've had a quick flick through, and there are some wonderful recipes. This book will certainly appeal to those with an allotment or who grow their own vegetables. Thank you, Monica, I can see that this book will be well used.

I finally managed to get my maincrop potatoes planted on Sunday. I heaved a sigh of relief as it's taken me so long to find the time. I had eight tubers left over so I gave those to my dad. He's got a small area in his garden where he grows a few veg, and he hasn't planted any potatoes this year, so he was pleased to take them off my hands. I also planted my shallots. I know it's very late in the year to be planting shallots, but I'd already bought them so they might as well go in.

My beans have all been sown now, I'm just waiting for them to germinate. The weather is supposed to be improving, so the dwarf French beans which had already been sown will be able to go out very soon.

Sunday 16 May 2010

It's Pinocchio

Do you remember last October when I mentioned that my daughter was taking part in a bulb growing competition at Wyevale Garden Centre? She could choose three bulbs of either Pinocchio or Red Riding Hood tulips, and then had to write a diary and record how they grew. We couldn't remember which variety she chose, but once they were in bloom we were in no doubt that they're Pinocchio. My daughter decided to plant them in a container and topped the container off with bellis, which the tulips grew through. She handed in her diary last weekend and was thrilled to find out that she had won the competition. The prize was supposed to be a growbag with a tomato, pepper and cucumber plant, but they had also added to the prize with a watering can, some hand tools and some seeds, which was very generous. I'm quite intrigued by the pepper plant she was given as it's a grafted plant, which is supposed to make it more vigorous and it's supposed to produce up to 70% more fruit. We'll wait and see.

We had a lovely day out yesterday at Lotherton Hall where there was a garden show on. I picked up a convallaria manjalis - lily of the valley, which has been on my wish list for quite a while, but which I never get round to buying, and also a hesperis - sweet rocket plant, which is good for attracting butterflies and other beneficial insects. This will go in my wildlife border. As well as horticultural displays and trade stands, there were other attractions such as a sheepdog display, a shire horse display and a reptile and exotic animal house where the kids got to handle a tarantula, lizards, a baby meercat, a barn owl and a huge tortoise amongst other things. It was a great day out, and on our doorstep as Lotherton Hall is only about four miles from my house.

Tuesday 11 May 2010

It's Bean Time

I think the weather has now warmed up sufficiently to sow my beans. I'm quite glad that I've held off until now as we've had some very chilly days recently, but if sown now, by the time they're ready to plant out the weather should be fine. I have already sown my dwarf beans, Safari, which I grew last year and were delicious, and Sonesta, which is a new one for me. They're a yellow waxy bean and supposed to be a heavy cropper. I've also got another dwarf bean yet to sow, Cantare, which were included in the seeds I won in the competition on Eight by Six blog. The climbing beans I've gone for this year are Blue Lake, which I grew last year. These kept on producing until very late in the season and had a great taste too. The other climbing bean I've gone for this year is Blauhilde, which is a purple bean. As you can see, all the beans I've chosen this year are French beans. I'm still unsure whether or not to grow some runner beans too. I think I'll wait and see what room I've got left.

Although I had other commitments at the weekend, I had hoped to snatch an hour or two in order to get my maincrop potatoes planted. Unfortunately that didn't happen, so they're still waiting to go in. I should be able to get that done this week, time's running out now.

I'm hoping to spend some time tidying up the garden this week. The grass is desperate for a hair cut, and the rest of the garden has been neglected in favour of the allotment. I find it very hard to get the balance quite right, one suffers because of the other, or a bit is done in both, but neither are done to satisfaction. I must work out how to manage them both better.

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Seed Swaps

I have so many seeds in my seed stash that there's no way I will ever sow them all. I like to try new varieties each year, so those left from the previous year will probably never get used. Some packets of those that I do choose to grow each year will contain more seeds than I will ever use, especially before the 'sow by' date, some contain literally thousands of seeds. Then there's those seeds which come free as a gift in a magazine. I hate waste, so a great way of passing on these seeds to someone who wants them is through a seed swap. I have taken part in many seed swaps on a forum I belong to, Allotments 4 All, there is a link in my side bar. Some swaps can be between two people who are looking for specific seeds, and some swaps can be amongst a group of people, where a parcel of seeds will be posted to each member of the swap group, they will take out the seeds they require and add some more of their own surplus seeds to the parcel. Seed swaps are great if you are looking for a particular seed and can't find a stockist, or if you only want a few seeds of a particular variety rather than a whole packet. Last year, I swapped something for some Lunaria - Honesty with Georgie from Little London Garden. As you can see, they are now in bloom. I hadn't thought of cutting them for a vase, but stole the idea when I saw Jeanne's lovely display on Tales From A Cottage Garden. I took the photo outside as those taken inside the house didn't show the true colour of the flowers. The seed heads are just starting to form, they are used widely in dried flower displays and I remember my grandma always used to have them in the house.

The bank holiday weekend wasn't such a wash out as we were led to believe it was going to be. Saturday was a lovely day with plenty of sunshine, Sunday was a little windy but still dry, and yesterday was sunny with a few rain showers. I managed to get my first and second early potatoes planted on Saturday as well as my first batch of peas. My maincrop potatoes are still waiting to go in, but hopefully I'll get those in this week. I don't feel quite so behind now that the earlies are in though. I need to sow some more peas now as I plan on sowing them successionally to lengthen the harvest. I planted my onion sets last week which I know is very late, but I should still get a crop from them, I expect they'll just be very small. I noticed on Saturday that there are already some green shoots showing. I haven't got around to planting the shallots, I don't know if it's worth putting them in now or not.
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