Sunday 27 November 2011

Cavolo Nero

My cavolo nero is still going strong. I've got three plants which I've been picking from throughout the summer, yet there's still plenty to harvest. One problem I always seem to have with cavolo nero is whitefly, I think I'll have to plant some marigolds close by next year as this should keep the whitefly away. I do net the cavolo nero to keep the Cabbage White butterflies off them, but my netting must still be allowing the whitefly to pass through, I think only Enviromesh would keep them out, but it's very expensive so I'll have to rely on companion planting.

Another plant which is doing really well is curly kale. There wasn't room in my brassica cage for the plants so they haven't been netted at all, but they haven't had any damage to them. I don't think the pests like them. I've picked a good bunch for tea, it's a vegetable which all the family enjoy.

I nearly got blown away when I visited the allotment today, the winds are really strong. The temperature has dropped too, though we still haven't had a frost, could it be that winter is finally on it's way?

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Hanging Around

I moved my tomato plants out of the greenhouse a couple of weeks ago in order to have space in there to overwinter my tender plants. I've been a bit lazy in actually emptying the tomato plants out of their pots and disposing of them, they've been hanging around in the garden waiting for me to get my act together. Whilst I was in the garden this morning, I noticed that the few green tomatoes I left on the plants are starting to ripen, who would believe that they'd be doing that at this late stage? I don't hold out much hope of any more ripening though, you can tell by the photo that we've got a grey, damp day again today, there isn't much light never mind sunshine.

I've had a subscription to Gardeners World Magazine for quite a few years now. I've decided that when my year is up this time, I'm not going to renew it. I do enjoy reading gardening magazines but I'm finding that I just don't have the time to read each issue properly , there's two issues here which haven't yet been opened, so it's a bit of a waste of money subscribing. I actually find that reading gardening blogs is more enjoyable than a magazine anyway, especially blogs which you follow. It's a bit like a serial, tuning in for the next episode, plus there's two way communication with blogs, something else which I prefer.

I didn't manage to get to the allotment at the weekend so I must make more of an effort to get down there this week. Time is running away with me now and I know I'm not going to get everthing done before winter sets in, though I'm not letting it stress me, what gets done gets done and what doesn't will be left until spring.

Saturday 19 November 2011

Cauliflowers Fluffy And Cabbages Green

I haven't grown any cauliflowers this year, but my cabbages are lovely and green. I've never been very successful at growing cabbages, the slugs usually get them before I get chance, but it's looking very hopeful this year. They're starting to heart up now and should be ready to harvest before long. I don't seem to have had as much slug damage this year, I suppose that's one of the good things to come out of the dry weather conditions this year.

My Brussels sprouts are just beginning to produce some buds along the stem. This is another crop which I haven't been very successful with in the past, though it's too early yet to predict if I'm going to do any better this year. I always keep the soil firm around the plants but the sprouts are still never up to much. It would be nice to have home grown on my Christmas dinner plate.

We've had a lovely bright day here today but I didn't get chance to go to the allotment as I've had other commitments. I'm hoping for similar weather tomorrow so I can pop down there then.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

This Year's Failure

There's always something which does spectacularly badly on the allotment. This year it was the turn of butternut squash. I haven't grown this before, and I don't think I'll bother again. There was only one squash produced on the plant and it only grew to the size of a tennis ball. I've captured it's good side in the photo, the other side has a couple of holes in it where insects have had a feast. I would like to grow squash though, so next year I'm going to have a go at one or two other varieties. As I'm not growing potatoes on the allotment next year, I'll give the potato bed over to them. I'd love to hear if you've got any particular recommendations of varieties to try. I'd like to grow some which will store well over winter.

I've been out to the greenhouse this morning to check on the strawberry plants which I mentioned a few posts back. I'm pleased to report that they've all recovered from their time in transit very well, every single one of them has sprung back in to good health and have produced some new shiny green leaves. I've got high hopes of a good strawberry harvest next year.

I had a visitor in the garden a few days ago, the first robin I've seen there this autumn. We get lots of sparrows and starlings, a couple of blackbirds and the odd pigeon, on a regular basis. I'm making sure that I'm feeding them all regularly so that they know where their food source is when winter comes, especially if snow's on the ground and food is hard to come by. I love watching the comings and goings, the feeders are well used and there's always something to see.

Sunday 13 November 2011

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

I've tried growing Purple Sprouting Broccoli in the past but it got stripped bare by hungry pigeons before I got to taste it. I wasn't going to let the same thing happen this time so it's been netted from the offset in my brassica cage. I didn't realise just how tall this grows though, it's making a bid for freedom, trying to find a gap in the top of the netting through which it can escape. The plants are producing their heads early, I shall be tasting some this week, though it's a plant which usually produces it's harvest in the new year. I suppose this is another plant which is confused by the weather this year.

I still didn't manage to source any pansies for my hanging baskets this weekend. It's a job which I shall definitely do in the next week, time just seems to be passing me by at the moment.

We've had a really miserable day today. We haven't had any rain but it's been damp and grey all day. It hasn't been ideal gardening weather so I didn't do any, I really need to get motivated and get the plot dug over for winter.

Friday 11 November 2011

Parsnip Experiment

I dug up the first of the parsnips at the weekend, and delicious they are too. I've always started my parsnips off in pots and then transferred them in to the ground once they'd germinated, but this year I thought I'd try sowing them direct. My soil contains quite a few stones so I decided that I would sow them the same way as I do my carrots and channel out a trench which is then filled with multi purpose compost before sowing the seed. This gives the parsnips some soft earth to grow down in to rather than hitting stones and forking. The seeds are quite large which enabled me to space them out evenly, avoiding the need for thinning out later. I also started some seeds off in pots, as I have done in previous years, and transplanted them once they had germinated. The two parsnips on the right are the ones which were transplanted. As you can see, they started off well having nice wide shoulders, but they must have forked just as soon as they were transplanted, after hitting stones in the ground. They also suffered from a bit of canker but it was only skin deep and didn't affect the flesh at all. The three parsnips on the left are the ones which were sown direct. They've still forked but not before growing a little longer than the others. I think I need to dig my trenches a little deeper, so I'll try that next year. They still tasted good, and there's lots more in the ground to last through winter.

I usually plant some hanging baskets up with pansies for winter but I haven't got round to it this year. I must make an effort to take a trip to the garden centre or nursery otherwise I'll regret not having a bit of colour around when we're in the depths of winter. I choose pansies as they stand up to the cold and wet weather really well. They were covered in a foot of snow last year yet they still survived it and went on blooming all winter.

We've had a bit of a grey week here, though it's stayed mainly dry. We still haven't had our first frost, and the grass continues to grow. I thought it had had it's last cut a few weeks ago, but it's actually in need of another one. I wonder if it will stay dry long enough now for the lawnmower to come out again.

Sunday 6 November 2011

Blue Skies

I planted some borage at the allotment two years ago and I haven't been without it since. It's a prolific self seeder and the bees love it. I've been at the allotment today and have done a little work, though there's still plenty more to do. The borage plants got pulled out to enable me to get some of the beds dug over. I want to get as much digging done as possible before winter comes as the frosts will break down the clods of earth making the earth more workable when spring arrives. Anything for an easier life.

We've had some real downpours over the weekend. There was heavy rain on Friday night which lasted right the way through to Saturday evening. I'm glad we hadn't planned to go to a bonfire. I thought the weather was finally changing, yet look at the gorgeous blue sky on the photo I took today. Perhaps our first frost is still a little way off.

The pumpkins which I wrote about in an earlier post got a reprieve. It turned out that my daughter had a drama rehearsal on Halloween so we didn't end up carving them after all. I think I'll have a go at making pumpkin soup.
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