Tuesday, 30 June 2009

High Maintenance Brassicas.

After pulling up my cabbages because they had some speckly yellowing of the leaves - suspected mildewy sickness? I was thinking, as I always have, why bother with brassicas? They are fussy; needing rich, limey soil, they are greedy for food and water and space, they are eaten by everything - birds, slugs, aphids, cabbage whites, root flys, flea beetles, moths - oh but not eaten by teenagers and the fussy other-half and they can suffer any number of ailments from various mildews and club root. And although I like eating them I don't love them, not like I love tomatoes or asparagus or raspberries or onions or garlic or most other things. So I was thinking what am I going to put in the brassica bed - perhaps some runner beans I dunno but I wasn't thinking "umm, yeah I'll definitely do more high maintenance brassicas in there!" Well then along came our friends 'the vegetarians.' They are lovingly nicknamed 'the vegetarians' because once when I was chatting to them, a flock of low flying canadian geese flew over, I pretended to aim and shoot them with my hoe that I happened to be holding and they were appalled and declared their love and respect of all animals! Anyway along come our lovely allotment friends with gifts of two cauliflower seedlings, two cabbage seedlings and a brussel sprout seedling. I had given them a couple courgette plants a few weeks ago. So here I am in a quandary. I smiled graciously thanked them and thought to myself well at least I don't have to worry about what I put in the bed. Or do I!?!

Sunday, 28 June 2009

"Rain, Rain come back, Go Away another day!"

Italian Parsley and Roma Tomatoes

my flower bed

The ground is shockingly dry. I've been really, or at least I thought I had, drenching the plants with endless cans of water, but the soil has been baked deep down. Normally the Wimbledon Tennis starting and Glastonbury festival normally ensures a decent spell of rain, but no not this year, I'm thinking we're in for another '76!! Not so long ago I was teaching my son "Rain, rain go away, come back another day" - as he had his nose and scooter disappointedly pressed up against the window! Now I think I'm going to teach him a rain dance - er, well if I knew any! Perhaps we'll just do "Rain, rain come back, Go away another day!? At home I've been recycling his bath water on to the lawn; very easy with a hose held in the bath by the bath mat then chuck the rest of the hose out the window, I fortunately found out that if there is water already in the hose it sucks through with need to help it syphon through yourself!

This is my first year at the Lottie and I didn't really think through what I could plant when crops were finished. Therefore I had nothing ready to go in and a bit worried as I hadn't sowed anything. I visited a lovely local garden centre this morning to buy some seedlings to bung in. Sweetcorn and Cucumbers were two things I had on my original plan but hadn't cleared their allocated beds, so I was pretty excited when I saw them already started. They have some serious catching up to do if they want to get as big as our award-winning neighbours and my god I'm going to have to pray for rain or be there twice a day nurturing these babies.

I couldn't decide what to do about the broad beans roots, pull them out or dig them in. I did neither I just left them in the ground dug in some more manure between the lines and covered the bed with black membrane and cut holes for the cucumbers. I planted them and a big plastic bottle upturned and bottom cut off next to them for ease of watering and seriously puddled them in. I have put the sweetcorn in the end of the onion bed where the garlic had been. I'm most worried about them as they we're all in one pot and their roots did not split very well. I also bought a very tasty Tayberry bush, I can say that as it already had fruit on and they tasted divine, I planted it where a summer raspberry had failed.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Results of the Garlic test

Purple Peruvian Garlic - only formed two cloves!

Purple Peruvian on left and Thermidrome on right

Q: Can you grow garlic from the supermarket?

A: No, unless perhaps you are lucky enough to get a variety that is right for our climate etc.

I harvested my first batch garlic today after planting it almost eight months ago. The Thermidrome variety which I got from the organic catalogue all seem to have grown perfectly but the Purple Peruvian variety I got from the supermarket was a failure, the bulbs had formed but were very small, in fact only 2 cloves formed. Fortunately the large majority of the garlic I planted was Thermidrome.

I have chopped all the broad beans down to the ground so the roots are intact under the soil holding on the the nitrogen - I hope!?!
I'm totally unprepared as to what to put in next - doh! I think I could put leeks in the garlic bed or should I start rotating? There are still onions in there. I'm thinking that I could do a few runner beans where I had the calabrese and what about sprouting broccoli where I had the broad beans? I'm not sure but the unplanted ground makes me fidgety!!

Monday, 22 June 2009

All Things Bright and Beautiful

Bees and Borage

Unidentified Caterpiller on Nettles

Poached Eggs

Garlic needs harvesting and broad beans are ready to move on now - what shall I do next? My potatoes are not flowering - why? These are the questions I am pondering any thoughts greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Heaven is Homegrown

Broad beans, broccoli (calabrese), carrots and sweet smelling sweet peas...mmm!
- don't they just look perfect? So proud am I.

Tonight we enjoyed a herby spatchcock chicken accompanied by the freshest and most perfect (-well I would say that) carrots, broad beans and broccoli (calabrese)...mmm...divine. I have come the swift conclusion that when you eat 'fresh as it comes' vegetables you are getting the life energy of the vegetable. The ions are still bouncing about and the rigor mortis (-for want of a better term) has not set in. The purest transfer of energy from the ground to ones own being. There definitely is a lightness to the taste.. ooo! and virtually none of the vitamins are lost to the drawer at the bottom of the fridge. I could go on. But I think you get the point. The joys of freshness. The smell of sweet peas..aah! bliss!
I wasn't sure how to harvest the calabrese actually. Obviously I cut off the head to eat but I'm not sure whether I should let it grow on or whether I'm to pull out the rest of the plant and bung it in the compost? Ever the optimist I shall leave it and see if more perfect heads shall form.
I have planted two types of beans on a tepee where the raspberries failed. One variety is French climbing purple and the other is French round safari. I wasn't really thinking when I bought them whether they were dwarf or not. I pretty sure now I've googled that the safari variety are dwarf... I wonder if they are compatible with each other? I planted them alternately around a tepee of bamboo. I have no idea how tall the safari will grow (-more googling necessary!) I decided to split up the poached egg plants and dotted them around the plot too. I also sowed a new shorter (18") row of French Breakfast Radish along side the raspberries and some Flakee carrots in the carrot bed were the carrots had failed to show before.
It really is a joy to be at the plot now.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Early Summer

Dainty Alliums

Brazen Borage

I have been nipping down to the plot to water and weed a little. I'm always impressed by the speed everything is growing, weeds included. The borage is massive now and the flowers will be open in a few days I'm sure. The alliums, if they don't get decapitated by my son, will soon been in flower too. I have planted the little one's sunflowers and some sweet peas in the flower bed. I've been harvesting delicious broad beans and superb radishes which wonderfully completes the cycle from fork to fork. My lovely boy has been pulling a few carrots which are almost ready and I've delighted in watching him washing and munching them.
Unfortunately two of the summer fruiting raspberries have died. I'm not sure why they haven't taken, perhaps not soaking them before they were planted or perhaps I didn't water them enough early on? I do feel remarkably sad about them but will try again in autumn.