Sunday, 1 August 2010

I've returned !

It's not only the blog which has been neglected, the poor lottie has been rather left too. I have been totally lifted out of my life for a whole month for work and now dropped back in. I'm playing catch up with life. My son. My man. My home. My garden...and my plot.

Although the plot has had occasional waterings it has had to survive without me. If I'm honest I was totally devastated when I finally got back down to my plot. The weeds were 2-3' high. The courgettes had stopped producing and two enormous marrows lay in the leaves. Broccoli gone to flower. Beans were alive but hadn't grown with any particular vigour. Tomatoes had survived but needed serious tying in and trimming.

So I've had time for two visits in the last week. I've pulled out many many weeds. Drenched the beans. Tied, trimmed, watered and feed the tomatoes. Eaten raspberries. Harvested carrots and a single beetroot. Tied in cucumbers, and harvested a few. Hauled out the majority of the onions and garlic, leaving them in the shed to dry on a mesh rack. The garlic seemed smaller than last year. Onions could have been bigger too I think.

But mostly I've wandered the plot six months pregnant, contemplating. I feel guilty that I haven't monopolised on everything growing. The gooseberries I did pick went mouldy in a bag in the fridge - If only I'd put them in the freezer! The rest of the goosegogs went too far on the bushes and popped. The raspberries and the tayberries are rampant and need controlling. The weeds. Oh the weeds. The paths need covering. Oh, I haven't had the best season on the plot. Will next year be any better with a baby in tow? Maybe it shouldn't be all doom and gloom, after all nothing was dead! Perhaps with a a few more visits I shall get on top of the work and shan't be as daunted by it all. It can be revived and invigorated soon again. Here's hoping!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Allotment Layout

The first home grown strawberry of the year!

Click on image to enlarge

The yellow line marks the boundary of my plot. There are also borlotti beans along side the runner beans and peppers and chillies in the tomato bed. I have a little space in the herb beds and room next to the tayberries (where I was hoping to plant a blackberry bush, finances permitting!). I have bunged the squashes in the courgette beds but it's a temporary arrangement, they will need more space. It's looking tidy today with all my recent weeding efforts. My lovely under-gardener put up with another 5 hours there today. We had a lovely picnic and our sweet lottie cat friend came to visit us as usual. It was a truly delightful day.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

The many jobs of June!

So many things to do.... so little time to blog.

At home I've been rescuing tomato plants which cooked whilst I was in Morocco and temperatures soared here. I've potted on about eight plants at home, with basil and marigolds and the rest are destined for the allotment. I lost my cucumber but sowed another.

At the allotment it would be easy to be overcome by the weeds and the all the other of jobs to do, especially being pregnant and knowing I really have to watch I don't overdo it. I have worked on one bed at a time and I seem to be making steady progress. I really want to get my paths covered as it is ridiculous to be continually weeding them, but they are always low priority.
So I have planted on the plot this weekend:- Calabrese Broccoli, Celeriac, Runner beans, Borlotti beans, Butternut Squash, Cucumber, Sunflowers and Peppers. Along with weeding, constructed the bean support, netted the fruit, put straw under the strawberries and prepared the tomato bed. Courgettes went in about a month ago now and are doing really good. The broad beans have come up fine not as tall as last year and the blackfly are worse also. I really think it is worth over-wintering them like I did last season. Note to self: -I will try to sow for over-wintering this November but the new arrival may make that a little tricky!! (and carrots for that matter.

Monday, 31 May 2010

A Glimpse of a Moroccan Potager





Courgettes and Squashes

I was very lucky to spend a week in Morocco. The beautiful hotel we stayed in in Marrakech had a great potager. Just so productive. They grew all the things you would think - tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, aubergines, onions and garlic, all the herbs, fantastic fruit - figs, oranges and pomegranates. I was surprised they had huge cabbages but equally not surprised there hadn't been a single slug or snail mark on them! The ground was clay and as you can see in the lettuce picture that they create troughs to aid watering I suppose.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Allotment in April (and an announcement!)

from the top: Broccoli Raab, 2x rows Beetroot and the Broad Beans

Rejoice! as we've had some sunshine and warmth. The barbeque has been wheeled out at home and the evenings are lovely and light. I'm also pleased to say that I have finally passed through a big patch of nausea and ridiculous tiredness caused by my new pregnancy - yes! - you read it here 1st!! So now I can start to enjoy this year and also play my "Get out of digging card free." This growing season I shall be taking it a little easier than last.

A couple of trips to lottie in the last week has seen me do some weeding, watering and a little sowing. With the brief help of my fella and a mate, soil has been turned and paths have been weeded and a bean trench has been readied. The broad beans are coming along reasonably. The broccoli raab has got loads to go in the next 30 days (-if it's to make it's 'ready in 60 days' harvest deadline) but is growing well and onions and garlic all shaping up fine. Interestingly, I have so many onions and no potatoes this year which is a turn around from last year. This is good though, as I don't eat that many potatoes, they are cheaper to buy than onions and the whole blight thing at the allotments last year really freaked me out. The onions mostly look after themselves which is definitely good for me. I almost totally forgot them last year and the several I grew last year were a gross underestimation. My boy and I sowed some beetroot and sunflowers, whilst at home the seedlings all need potting on. I'm slightly panicked that I don't have things started that I should and I think I'm going to run out of space on the plot!! oh no!! and breathe!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

“Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed. Robert H. Schuller

This is a bit of a religious quote for me but it grasps the potential of seeds. From one the possibility for life is endless. Springtime is seed time.

So what did I sow?
In the propagator:-
Tomatoes: Marmande, Cuor di Bue, Datterini.
Basil: Lettuce leaved and Bush
Marjoram, Dill, Parsley
Cayenne Chilli Pepper
Courgette: Alberello di Sarzana
Cucumber: Picolino
Leek: Pandora

At the allotment:-
Onions: Red Baron and Centurion
Broccoli: Raab

As I walked up to my plot I inhaled the sweet smell of the earth. I felt enlivened by it. I was very pleased to find that the broad beans were poking out of the ground with only a couple of duds, so there I popped in replacement beans. I was most upset to see my chitting potatoes devoured by a rodent though! An intruder in my shed no less. I'm thinking no chitting next time, I'll just get them in the ground. I have some Raab broccoli seed from a Grow your Own magazine last year and I thought I'd give it a go. It's a dwarf variety ready in 60 days, it will be interesting to see what it's like. I took my whole seed box with me thinking I'd get some other things in but I did lots of weeding and wondering but got nothing else sowed. I think the weather is going to be ok for Saturday but I did notice the first blistery pox of my boy's back tonight so I think I'll be playing nurse to my sweet boy and his chicken pox this weekend instead!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

I have been very kindly presented with this Award from Jo at The Good Life - I feel very privileged to receive it and has left me feeling proud and appreciated. Thanks again Jo.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn. ~Quoted by Lewis Grizzard in Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You

I love this quote, it's so perfect.

It's been a long weekend with my 3 year old burning a fever and the constant driving rain keeping us indoors for the most of it. Cabin fever. I was delighted to wake up to sunshine this morning which meant one thing to me - Allotment!

With the help of my young under-gardener, I dug over last year's garlic and onion bed. I had tried to grow sweetcorn after the alliums, although pretty unsuccessfully. I sowed two rows of Nantes carrots and one row of Cobham Improved Marrow parsnips. I'm hoping the parsnips and the carrots will be happier than the corn! I had dug in a little manure before the sweetcorn so I think by now the soil will be about the right richness for the carrots. It's definitely not a good idea to put grow carrots in freshly manured ground as they will 'fork'.

I weeded the raspberry bed while my darling fella, who'd made a rare but happy visit to the plot, dug over one of the long beds in which the potatoes and courgettes had grown last year. Time flew by and when my little one cracked me on the nose with a bamboo cane - AAwOOuch! - it was time to go home.

I do hope it's sunny tomorrow as I really want to go back and get more done, I'm hooked again.


Friday, 19 February 2010

The beginning of the season...

Super Aguadolce broad beans, first planting under cover.

Pomodori Italiano!

A few days ago I started to get a little buzzy feeling about this year's growing season. Opening my seed box and seeing all the potential is such a thrill. I think I learnt a lot last year, my first true season. For a start, I sowed far too many tomato seeds and each sprout I potted on, and on, and I found it impossible to throw any away. Not only did I become consumed by tomato plants, I left myself with no space (in the conservatory) to sow anything else. Also during the season I wasn't prepared with what to put in after things had finished. This year I want to have brassicas or something ready to go in after my broad beans. I may only put a couple of tomato plants at the allotment because of the whole blight thing last year which totally depressed me. I now have a strange grudge against last years tomato bed. For me it seems poisoned. I don't know what I should plant there. Perhaps I'll find something that will help clarify the ground?

I am sure it's because I have some italian blood coursing through my veins that tomatoes are very important to me. I worked on an Italian film last year, as the UK art director and I got a tip from the production designer that the best flavoured tomato to eat straight is a variety called Datterino, it's a cherry sized tomato. I tried immediately to source it on the internet but couldn't get anything in England. Fortunately I have a 'almost' Auntie in Italy, she brilliantly sourced me a couple of packets. The other variety I am keen to grow is Cuor di Bue, which top chefs Giorgio Locatelli and Raymond Blanc both champion as a cooking tom. Finally I realised last year I absolutely love beef tomatoes so I am also planning to have a couple Marmande plants.

Mmm.. what else shall I be growing?

Oh yes, Diary: today I planted some broad beans, Super Aguadolce variety in the ground which I prepared with some pongy poultry manure and lime. I covered them with my cold frame which I made last year. Note, last year I put the broad beans in in October and over-wintered them, they did quite well. I wanted to try starting them in root trainers this year, which I will but today I saw an opportunity to see what would happen if I tried them this way - we'll see eh?I also pruned the autumn raspberries to the ground too. They need to be weeded around and be fed/ top dressed.