Friday 29 June 2012

Broad Beans

My first time growing broad beans and the pods are forming. Some plants are still in flower with immature pods, but as you can see, some plants are further on. I've read about black fly attacking broad bean plants, but so far, my plants haven't been affected. I hope I'm not speaking too soon here, most other things I'm growing have been held back by one thing or another. I've only got a dozen plants, I'm hoping that I don't take too much of a liking to them otherwise I'll regret my meagre sowing, though I can always remedy that next year. I've had to stake the plants as the weather has taken it's toll and a couple of them were near to collapse, and some are still looking a little worse for wear. I'm just grateful that something on the plot is producing as so many things are a washout this year.

My allotment is looking very untidy at the moment, to say the least. I never got round to giving it an autumn dig, and some of it still hasn't seen a spade since last year, but I'm really surprised at the state of some of the other plots on the site. My next door plot neighbour usually has a really tidy plot and raises lots of healthy plants, but this year, it looks like he's given up. Weeds cover the earth and there really isn't much growing. Further down the site, another plot has weeds neck high. I think it's a sign of what's been thrown at us this year weather wise. I could easily give up, my sweetcorn hasn't grown an inch since it was planted out, the mangetout and French beans have been devoured by slugs and the weeds are in a bid for ultimate control. It's a challenge though. I might not get to harvest much this year, but it's still fun trying to get things to grow.

A few carrots have now germinated but the beetroot hasn't. I shall have to have a go at sowing them in modules before transplanting them. Hubby had a major sowing session last week, peas, mangetout, French beans and courgettes among others. I had said that we wouldn't grow runner beans this year, opting for more French beans instead, but they seem to be a none starter this year, so even runner beans have been sown. It might be a late harvest but anything's better than nothing.

Friday 22 June 2012

Ten Minute Gardening

The rain is back with a vengeance, so I'm really pleased that I treated myself to this set of three books by Val Bourne. Not only will I have something to read whilst waiting for the next spell of half decent weather, but they will also advise me of the key tasks I can be getting on with, even if the rain gives in for just ten minutes. Each book concentrates on one aspect of gardening, vegetable growing, flower growing and fruit growing. The books are split in to months, and the essential tasks of that month are covered as well as secrets for success with crops, organic tips and snippets of interesting facts. They're the kind of books which you can delve in to when you have a few spare minutes. The recommended retail price is £9.99 for each book, but I picked them up for a mere £4.99 for all three from The Book People, a website I often use when purchasing books.

It looks like I've completely lost the French beans and mange tout which were munched by slugs. More have hastily been direct sown, but it means that my first harvest, if I manage to get that far with them, will be much later than last year. I had such a good crop of both these last year, so much so that my freezer was full of them, and we were eating them until the end of winter. I can't see me being as successful this year with such a poor start.

The squash bed has been dug over and plenty of organic matter added. I've only ended up with two varieties of squash, Uchiki Kuri and Sunburst. I was also hoping for Blue Kuri but after waiting many weeks, not one of the seeds have germinated. I've also got two varieties of courgette which will be planted in this bed, Soleil and Mikinos. I just need a break in the rain so I can get them in.

Sunday 17 June 2012

On A Positive Note

After my last post, which was full of woe, I decided that I needed to be more upbeat, so I toddled off in to the garden to look for some good things which are happening at the moment. The first thing I came across was this Typha Minima or Mini Bulrush. I added it to my tiny pond three years ago when I first set it up, but this is the first year that it's produced the brown seed heads. Gardeners do need to be patient sometimes. I'm hoping that now it's got going,  it will produce them each year as they certainly add something to the little pond. I've also had my Caltha Palustris or Marsh Marigold since the pond was set up and that's come on leaps and bounds, in fact, it could do with a trim. It flowered profusely earlier on in the year. It's blooms are a wonderful cheery yellow and are a welcome sight in spring.

I made a new strawberry bed at the allotment this year, but I've also got lots of strawberries in the garden too. Some of them are new plants, but others were from runners off the plants which were dug up in the old strawberry bed. I'm really pleased that these new plants seem to be producing well already this year, there's lots of strawberries on the plants and I've noticed that some of them are just starting to turn red. I'm hoping for a good strawberry year.

I had a great harvest of blueberries three years ago, but they've been pretty poor for the last two years so I decided that I'd try replenishing the ericaceous compost in the pots they're growing in. I never got round to doing so, but it seems they didn't need it as it looks like it's going to be a good year for blueberries, the plants are covered in them. It won't be long now until they ripen and then it will be blueberry muffins for tea.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Tales Of Woe

We had a quick trip to the allotment last night, just to check on things as we'd had a particularly bad downpour on Sunday night. This is the sight which greeted us, lots of boggy areas. We used to get a bit of flooding on the plot when we first took it on, but Mick laid drainage pipes underneath which seems to have worked really well, until now. I think this has happened purely because of the amount of rain that fell, the main road through where we live was closed in both directions because of flooding, and even the M1 was closed in West Yorkshire overnight after flooding left debris on the carriageways. I've heard predictions that the rainy weather is going to last for another month yet. Let's hope they've got that wrong.

The climbing French beans and mangetout which are planted out against wigwams have been eaten by slugs. They've left a little bit of leaf behind so I'm hoping that they might just cling on to life and grow, but I'm not holding my breath. The beetroot still hasn't germinated, this wet, cool weather isn't doing anything to help, and only half a dozen carrots have popped their heads above the compost in the old bath.

On a brighter note, we visited Temple Newsam, a local historic estate, over the jubilee weekend. A popular feature is the Rhododendron Walk, and we visited just at the right time as rhododendrons flower in May and June so they were providing a stunning display. I wrote about our visit on my Through The Keyhole blog if you'd like to take a look.

Thursday 7 June 2012

The First Of The Year

My mum and dad came for dinner on Sunday, roast beef and Yorkshire puddings, so I decided that I would empty out one of my potato containers so that we could have some lovely new potatoes alongside the beef. Ideally, I would have left the container a little longer to allow the potatoes more time to grow, but I was very happy with what I found. They did for Sunday dinner and the rest were eaten last night with pork chops. I usually plant two or three potato tubers in each container, and when I weighed what I harvested, I found there was around one and a half pound. I started off with a three kilogram, or six pound six ounce, bag of tubers which cost around £3.00, and I've still got fourteen potato containers in various stages of growth to empty, so I don't think I did so bad with this one seeing as how I emptied it early. They were absolutely delicious, cooked with mint and drizzled with butter, it won't do my diet any good though.

I managed to get to the allotment for a short time over the weekend. The weeds have been enjoying the weather, even if we haven't, the plot is in a bit of a state to say the least. We really need to put some work in. The sweetcorn - Sweet Bounty got planted out, and there was a little space left at the end of the bed so I planted two courgettes there. The varieties I've gone for this year are Soleil, a yellow variety and Mikinos, a green one which I haven't tried before. I finally got the onions - Bedfordshire Champion which I started off from seed planted out. I'm a little late with these but they have two chances, either grow or don't. They look to have put on some growth in their cells though, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. The beetroot which I sowed direct quite a few weeks ago never germinated. I think the seed got washed away in all the rain, so more has now been sown, and only a few of the carrot seed which was sown in the old bath on the plot has germinated, so more of that has been sown too.

You may remember that I sowed some carrot seed in containers and overwintered them in the greenhouse, hoping for an early carrot harvest this year. The tops never seemed to grow very much, and I didn't really hold out much hope for what was happening under the soil. I emptied the container out at the weekend and the carrots which had managed to grow were tiny, certainly not big enough to eat, so the rabbits got them. They enjoy the tops so they had a tasty treat. As the saying goes, you win some, you lose some.

Friday 1 June 2012

It's Raining It's Pouring

The gorgeous weather we've had for the past week or so has broken. We've had rain here for the past two days, and things are looking a little washed out. I've got a few of these poppies in both my front and back gardens this year, though I didn't plant them, they're self sown. I don't know much about poppies, but I think this may be a Welsh poppy. It's looking very sorry for itself in the rain.

I'm hoping that the weather improves for the Jubilee bank holiday weekend as I want to spend some time at the allotment, I've still got lots of things to plant out. I also need to do some direct sowing as the beetroot I sowed quite a few weeks back didn't germinate, I think the seed got washed away in all the rain. The parsnips still need to be sown, and I also want to make some direct sowings of French beans to give me a staggered harvest.

My mum and dad are coming for dinner on Sunday so I'm going to have a little feel under the soil in one of my potato containers. If there's anything there I shall empty it, the first potato harvest of the year, which I shall boil with a little mint and drizzle with butter. I don't mind if the potatoes aren't very big, just so long as there's plenty of them. I think bit sized new potatoes are just delicious.
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