Friday 27 April 2012

Starting Over

I think I've made a big mistake with my tomatoes this year. I started them off inside the plastic greenhouse which was placed inside the normal greenhouse for a little extra protection. They were taking ages to germinate so I brought them in to the house on a sunny windowsill and in no time at all, they were popping their heads up through the soil. I decided that I would move them back outside as plants grown indoors tend to grow leggy and rather weak. Last year, my method worked great, the plants grew really strong. Things haven't worked out the same this year, I assume it's because we're having much cooler weather than we did last year. I've lost a few seedlings to damping off, some are very tatty whilst others just aren't growing. I've decided to cut my losses and start again. I'll still keep the originals going and just hope that they recover, but I've now got a back up, and these are being started off indoors on the windowsill where they'll remain until the weather improves. I've learn my lesson, sometimes seedlings do need a little extra care than I sometimes give them.

Most of the seedlings started off in the greenhouse are taking a long time to germinate at the moment. The radish I sowed a week last Sunday have germinated and are growing well, it shouldn't be too long before they're ready to harvest, they grow really quickly. The brassicas are enjoying this cooler weather though, they don't do very well if they're given warmth so the temperatures at the moment are suiting them and they're growing well. I just need to keep the slugs off the seedlings now, I think it was last year that a slug devoured the lot and I had to start again.

I don't think there'll be any allotment gardening happening this weekend. We've had so much rain just recently that I can imagine it being a quagmire down there, even hubby and son's cricket match which they were supposed to be playing in tomorrow has already been cancelled. Instead, I shall satisfy my desire to be doing something constructive for the garden by sowing some more seeds, I think it's the turn of the sweetcorn and squash.

Monday 23 April 2012

Thank You, Tanya

I was thrilled to bits a few weeks ago when I found out that I was one of the top commenters on Tanya's Lovely Greens blog. It was a year since Tanya had started her blog, so she decided to count up the comments each person had left over the year and send a thank you gift to the people who had left the most. The gift was a jar of Tanya's Manx Beeswax Lip Balm. Tanya makes this product herself using local Manx beeswax. I've been using it a few weeks now and can say that it's lovely stuff, it's doing it's job of keeping my lips silky smooth.

Tanya has just set up her own hive of bees, so she's hoping to be able to harvest her own beeswax which she will use in her lip balm. If you haven't yet visited Lovely Greens blog, I would urge you to do so. Tanya's posts are on a variety of subjects from her allotment to the new hive she's just set up. She's also just about to start keeping chickens so I'm looking forward to reading all about them.

If you're interested in the lip balm yourself, Tanya sells this in her Etsy shop, along with various scented soaps which she also makes herself. You can also find further information about the product there.

Thank you very much, Tanya, I'm really enjoying using the lip balm.

Friday 20 April 2012

Filling Up Nicely

Not only did I spend time at the allotment on Sunday, but I also did a bit of gardening at home too and got some more seeds sown. As you can see, the mini plastic greenhouse which is inside the proper greenhouse to give everything a little extra protection is starting to fill up. I decided that I would sow my French beans. I know that the weather isn't all that warm at the moment but I'm hoping to have some ready to go out at the earliest opportunity so that I can get an early harvest. I'll sow more at a later date, as I did last year, to extend the cropping period. The varieties I'm growing this year are Blue Lake which is a climber, and Safari and Purple Teepee which are both dwarf varieties. I also planted some courgettes, Soleil which is yellow, and Mikinos which is green. I may be a little early with these too, but I can bring them on in the greenhouse before planting them out.

I don't tend to grow salad crops at the allotment. I find they keep much cleaner and pest free if grown in containers in the garden. I sowed my spring onions in to a planter. This year I'm growing red spring onions - Furio, as well as White Lisbon which I usually grow. I also made my first sowing of radish. Again, I've chosen a different variety to that which I'm used to - Rainbow Mixed, so they should be nice and colourful. They're a round variety and I find that they grow perfectly well in a seed tray, no point wasting lots of compost if there's no need. I don't think the longer varieties such as French Breakfast would do so well without a bit of extra depth though.

I also started off some basil, a must if you're growing tomatoes. The seed tray has been placed on my son's windowsill, the sunniest in the house, though there hasn't been much sun about this week, and they've germinated already. Fingers crossed that everything else isn't far behind.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

On The Plot

At long last, I managed to get to the allotment on Sunday. I started the shallots and red onions off in pots in the greenhouse many weeks ago and they should really have been planted out before now. As you can see, they'd put on plenty of top growth and as I removed them from their pots, I could see that they'd put out plenty of roots too. I'm hoping that this has given them a good start. The Bedfordshire Champion onions which I started from seed are still only like blades of grass. It's the first time I've tried growing from seed and I don't think I'm going to be very successful, surely they should have grown more than this by now. I've no idea when I should plant them out, but I don't think they'd stand much of a chance at this point. Perhaps I'll buy a few sets and get them out as soon as possible then I won't be left without.

I also planted out the broad beans. They'd also been languishing in the greenhouse waiting for their turn to be turfed out. I've only got a dozen plants, I'm not sure what sort of yield each plant will give, but as I'm not sure whether I like broad beans or not, I thought a dozen was enough to try. They've grown in to sturdy little plants so I hope the cooler weather we're having at the moment isn't going to do any damage to them.

The first direct sowing of the year has taken place, half a row of beetroot, Boltardy. I'd only ever eaten pickled beetroot from a jar before I grew my own, now I love it roasted, though none of the family are particularly keen. Hubby also sowed some carrots. You may remember that we experimented last year by growing carrots in an old bath which had been left on the allotment when we took it over. The carrots grew really well, and weren't troubled by carrot fly even though they didn't have any protection, so we're growing them the same way this year. We're trying a new variety, Sweet Candle. There's one thing about the wet weather we're having at the moment, I'm not having to go down to the allotment to water anything.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Another Winner

As you know, Anna's name was drawn out of the hat as the winner of my third anniversary giveaway, however, she let me know that she already has a paper potter and asked me to allocate this to someone else. I've done another draw and this time, the name out of the hat is Wellywoman.

I'm sure Wellywoman will be able to make use of the paper potter, after all, she sows so many seeds at this time of year, not only veggies but lots of flowers too for her cutting patch.

If you haven't yet visited Wellywoman, you can find her blog at Wellywoman - A Life in Wellies. Her posts are about all manner of gardening topics and very interesting.

Wellywoman, can you please let me have your address and I'll get the paper potter sent out to you.

There's no gardening happening here today, it's already been raining and is forecast more rain on and off all day. In fact, the forecast doesn't look to change all week. Fingers crossed for the weekend then.

Sunday 15 April 2012

Giveaway Winner

I hope everyone's thoroughly enjoyed the Easter break, I know I have. The schools are back tomorrow, so we're a hive of activity in our house getting bags packed and uniforms at the ready.

I was hoping to get lots of things done at the allotment and in the garden over Easter, but as there was lots of DIY activity indoors, this didn't really happen. I've managed to catch up with a few things today, but I'll tell you about those later.

My giveaway for the third anniversary of my blog has come to an end today, so a winner's name has been drawn at random. I'm very happy to say that the first name out of the hat is Anna. Congratulations, Anna. Please let me have the address to send your prize to and I'll get it out as soon as possible. If you haven't yet visited Anna's blog, you'll find it at Green Tapestry. Anna has an allotment as well as growing a wide variety of plants in her garden and photographing visiting birds. Do pay her a visit, you won't be disappointed.

I'd like to thank everyone who took part in my giveaway, and also for all the wonderful (and very flattering) comments you left on my last post. I know that my blog would not be what it's become today without all the comments you leave and support you give so thank you all very much.

I'll be back with an update soon.

Sunday 1 April 2012

Third Blog Anniversary Giveaway

It doesn't seem three years since I started this blog, it just goes to show how quickly time slips by.

As is now usual on my blog anniversaries, I am running a giveaway to thank all my readers, new and old, for their visits to my blog, and for the many wonderful comments you all continue to leave. I really do appreciate the time you take to read my ramblings and for all the support you continue to give by way of commenting. It doesn't matter how many years I blog for, I don't think the thrill of having another comment left for me will ever fade.

The prize I am offering is a Paper Potter, ideal for this time of year when seeds are being sown. It's really handy to be able to make pots from old newspapers, cost effective, and good for the environment too. I am also offering a Collins Nature Guide Wild Flowers of Britain and Europe book. This is ideal to take along on walks as any flowers you come across can be easily identified.

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this blog post and I will pick a winner at random on the 15th April 2012.

The schools have now broken up for Easter, and although the weather was forecast to break this weekend, we've still had some sunny days though noticably cooler. I'm hoping to get lots more jobs done in the garden and at the allotment so I'm hoping that the weather doesn't change too much over the next fortnight.

It just remains for me to wish you all a very happy Easter.
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