Sunday 28 August 2011

Bargain Plants

We had a trip out today to the Yorkshire Dales, and whilst there, we visited a candle making workshop. Outside the workshop were some plants which were for sale and an honesty box for payment. I love coming across plants for sale in this way, you can pick up some real bargains, and that's just what happened today. I came away with an Alchemilla Mollis and an Astrantia, each costing just £1.50. I'll pot them on in to larger pots and wait to plant them out until next spring. You can read about the rest of my visit to the Yorkshire Dales on my other blog, Through The Keyhole.

I've made the decision that I'm definitely going to have a go at growing tomatoes outdoors next year. I'm not going to grow them at the allotment for fear of blight, but I shall grow them in containers in the garden. I now need to do some research as to which tomatoes grow well outdoors, so if any of you have any recommendations I'd be happy to know.

It's been an extremely wet week compared to the summer we've just experienced. I had hoped to lift my onions this weekend, but I'll put it off a while longer to see if the rain stops. If not, I shall have to find room for them in the greenhouse until they're dry. I should have been weeding at the allotment this weekend too but I've put that off in favour of some trips out. Any excuse.

Thursday 25 August 2011

How Long Till Christmas?

I couldn't believe my eyes the other day when, along with my monthly RHS The Garden magazine, this RHS Christmas Book & Gift Selection brochure dropped though my door. It's still August for goodness sake. We may not have had much of a summer but we're still four whole months away from Christmas. It won't stop me leafing through it though, and I will make a mental list of the things I would quite like to find at the bottom of my Christmas stocking. I've had some great gardening presents bought for me over the last few years, I always appreciate something new for the garden.

I popped to the allotment last night to harvest a few things and noticed that my onions are just about ready to be lifted. They've done extremely well this year and some are quite large. We don't use that many onions in cooking so we'll be able to provide my mum and dad with plenty too. I love to have an excess of produce as it feels so good to share it with friends and family.

The beans have now started to produce and we're getting a good amount to harvest already. We made some follow up sowings too of which the dwarf French beans are just about to flower, so we should get another later crop, but the climbing beans are still, well, climbing, so I hope there's enough time left for them to produce some beans. We should be eating beans for weeks to come.

Monday 22 August 2011

Arabian Night

I bought four different varieties of dahlia at the start of the year. The plan was to grow them on the allotment, but I never got round to allocating a patch of ground to them. Time had run away from me before I decided that I had better get them planted in to containers in the garden, or else all would be lost. This variety is Arabian Night and it's just come in to flower. One variety has been totally eaten away by slugs, and the other two don't look near to flowering at all. It's a lovely late addition to the garden so I shall save the tubers to replant next year, hopefully not so late.

I'm still emptying out my containers of first early potatoes - Arran Pilot. They've given a fantastic crop this year and I'll definitely grow them again next year. The maincrop potatoes at the allotment - Maris Piper haven't put on much top growth at all. Time will tell if there's anything going on under the ground, though I'm not holding out much hope.

It's bad news on the sweetcorn front. They didn't look like they were going to make it when they were planted out, so it's not a total surprise, but it's a bit of a disappointment as I haven't harvested any sweetcorn since I've had the allotment. They were started off on time and grew well in the plant pots, but they were left to languish for rather a long time before we got them planted out. I will make every effort next year to grow some decent sweetcorn as you really can't beat the taste of fresh picked corn cooked within minutes and devoured with lashings of butter.

Saturday 20 August 2011

My Favourite Tomato

Ever since I've been growing tomatoes, I've tried a new variety every year. I was so pleased with the tomatoes I grew last year that I decided to grow exactly the same varieties again this year, so this is the first year that I don't have a new variety to try out. A friend on one of the forums I read sent me some Tangella seeds last year and I tried them for the first time. I loved them, but because they're a heirloom variety, it's not easy to find anywhere which sells the seeds so I had a go at saving seed for the first time myself. I'm pleased to report that I had 100% germination with them, so I've got fruit again this year, and they're just as delicious as I remember. They've got a very fruity taste and are extremely juicy. They give a very good yield, in fact I can't think of anything bad to say about them. I'll be saving seed again this year for sure, they're my favourite tomato. 

Unfortunately, the other two varieties I've grown again this year aren't doing so well. San Marzano is a plum variety and I enjoyed them cooked last year. This year they've developed a bad case of blossom end rot. This is where the bottom of the tomato develops a black patch, probably due to erratic watering or lack of calcium, but as I was away for a fortnight and relied on my dad popping round every couple of days, I'm going with the watering. Hopefully, now that they're getting a consistent amount of water, they'll recover. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

The third variety I'm growing is Gardener's Delight. I've grown these for many years and they've never let me down, until this year. I knew I was in for trouble when the plants grew very leggy at the start of the season. They were grown exactly the same way as the other two varieties, started off indoors then moved in to the greenhouse which wasn't heated. They had plenty of light and very little heat so I don't know what caused them to grow this way. This is a cherry variety of tomato, but a cherry would look huge in comparison to most of the tomatoes being produced on my plants. There's plenty of tomatoes on the trusses, they just don't seem to be growing.

I'm considering having a go at growing some tomatoes outdoors next year. I did grow tomatoes in containers outdoors before I had my greenhouse, so I don't know whether to go down this route again, or have a go at growing some at the allotment. I'll still grow some in the greenhouse as I do now, but as my greenhouse is only 4X6 I don't grow many plants. There's only me who eats tomatoes in our house, but I'd like a few more than I'm getting at the moment, and would ideally like enough to have a go at making some sauces and soups.

I've been meaning to mention in my last couple of posts that Bilbo Waggins from The View From Bag End has very kindly offered to send some of Ollie's Sunflower seeds to any of my readers who would like to grow some. If you look back a few posts, you will see my post about Ollie's Sunflowers. Ollie was Bilbo's Bearded Collie and he sadly passed away in August 2009. You can read about the connection with the sunflowers in my post of 25th July 2011. If you would like some seeds to grow this sunflower, you can contact Bilbo through an email link on her profile.

Thursday 18 August 2011

The Year Of The Carrot

I'm so determined to successfully grow carrots this year that I've adopted a few different methods to ensure a positive outcome. You may remember that at the start of the season I sowed some seed for a stumpy round carrot variety in a container. That worked out and the carrots grew well. I've also got some carrots growing in the ground at the allotment. I've never got seed to germinate there before, and they look to be doing well, but you can never tell what's going on below the ground until you pull them so I'm still keeping my fingers crossed. Hubby's little project this year has been to utilise an old bath which was left on the plot when we took it over. He's drilled some holes in the bottom for drainage and filled it up with old compost from used containers as well as compost we had left over from last year. As you can see from the photo which was taken before we went away on holiday, the carrots which he decided to grow in there look to be doing ok. We may be lucky and be successful with all our methods of growing carrots this year.

I've got some gorgeous gladioli in a vase on my windowsill at the moment. Hubby's uncle always keeps me in flowers at this time of year and when the gladioli finish, the chrysanthemums start. Gladioli are such long lasting flowers and they're so bright and cheerful. I know they're not everyone's cup of tea but I love them.

I haven't made it down to the allotment since the weekend. I'm still ploughing my way through all the washing and ironing that holidays produce, but I'm hoping to get down there over the next couple of days to get some much needed weeding done.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Everything Survived

We're back from our holidays and I'm pleased to report that everything survived while we were away. My dad came round every couple of days to water my tomatoes and there were a few ready to pick on my return. We went straight down to the allotment when we got home on Saturday just to have a look how everything had fared whilst we'd been away, but we were short on time so hubby went back on Sunday to harvest everything which was ready. As you can see, I had the obligatory courgette turned marrow ready to harvest, which will be stuffed with mince and tomatoes for a meal later in the week. The yellow dwarf French beans have started producing and were delicious with our meal last night. The cavolo nero is still going strong and I'm still getting small quantities of calabrese. There's loads of beetroot ready to harvest, but hubby left most of it in the ground and brought just four home for the time being. There was a small cucumber ready for harvesting, my first one of the year, they haven't done very well at all. I'm still harvesting first early potatoes from the containers, they've done great this year. I left the shallots drying whilst we were away, these are just a few of those we harvested, there's a bag full ready for use.

The climbing beans and runner beans are covered in flowers and small beans are just beginning to form so it shouldn't be long until we start to harvest those too. We put in another late sowing of climbing beans and dwarf French beans a few weeks ago so I'm hoping there's enough time left for them to produce more beans for us this year.

We had a wonderful time in Cornwall and Devon, though the weather was mixed. It didn't stop us from doing anything though, and we've heard that the weather back here in Yorkshire was worse, all that rain has made the weeds grow at the allotment so I really need to tackle those.
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