allotment, Garden blogging, Garden Meme, Six on Saturday

Six on Saturday – 4 August 2018

My Six on Saturday is an allotment update.  The ground is like concrete, I am going daily for about an hour to water and ‘stock take’.  There is little else to do, so I am appeasing myself that I am building up a tan and tightening my biceps carrying heavy watering cans from the trough to the plot.

First an apology I have broken rule 7 of Six on Saturday:

Not too much verbiage. ….it’s easily done, but since there are Six things, and a growing number of Six posts to read in a typical week, consider being a little frugal with the wordcount.

1. Protecting sweetcorn husks

53FDD0D5-C284-4534-9FF4-B6E9E46E5F11The sweetcorn (Northern Extra Sweet) is coming along a treat, despite the strong winds last Sunday.  I have staked them and built up the soil around the base of each plant – there are only 8.   I read that night visiting animals have a panchant for ripe sweetcorn and it’s recommended to protect the husks with large plastic bottles until ready to pick.  Now, I’m not sure if this was a wise thing to do.  I have carefully punched holes in the top so they don’t sweat.  Any thoughts on this?

2. Pumpkin update

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I planted 3 pumpkin plants and have 3 pumpkins,  there is an abundance of female flowers but no more male ones,  I wonder if that is the norm, I don’t needs lots anyway.   The one with the yellow bottom I can’t stand up because the stem is too short, the one at the bottom right of the photo is now on its end so with a bit of luck it will become round in shape.  I’m seeing a lot of posts on FB allotment group pages of pumpkins splitting so fingers crossed mine will be ok.

3. Cauliflower protection 

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This is allotment life on a shoestring.   I had a freebie packet of cauliflower seeds so for a bit of fun I sowed them in pots.  Only 2 came good and because the ground was so hard when they were ready to plant out I put them in a doubled up growbag.  Someone told me an elderly gentlemen on her allotment said they thrive on solid ground, he compacts the soil with a roller and drills thin holes for his plants.  She said his cauliflowers and cabbages are the envy of their plots!   Anyway – my homemade cage.  Despite putting collars around my two precious plants they are still swarming with whitefly.  Rather than buy a cage, or netting, I found an old net curtain I was about to throw away and made my own cage.  It’s a bit rickety but I am hoping it will do the job.

4. Blackberry heaven 

When I took the plot over a number of folks told me that the blackberries were always fabulous and they were not wrong.  Last week I picked a punnet full and decided to make blackberry gin.   There are so many recipes on the Internet but all are roughly the same, however, they vary in the time that the gin is ready from 2 weeks to 3 months and I’m  not sure why or if it matters.  I’m going for 2 weeks in time for my daughter’s birthday.

Ingredients

250g Blackberries

70cl Gin

100g Sugar

Method

1. Put the blackberries in to a 1 litre sterilised bottle or jar

2. Add the sugar

3. Top up with the gin

4. Shake well

5. Store in a dark cupboard and leave for a maximum of three months, shaking the bottle every week or so.

This recipe is courtesy of NicholasJon.

5.  Apples galore

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The little apple tree on my plot would appear to be some type of Pippin.  They are still very small and it could be due to the lack of water. I understand they are usually ready in September so we shall have to wait for a taster session then.   I’ve seen recipes for spiced apple gin 😄😄, so much better than eating every apple from the tree.

6. Baby strawberry plants

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I am wondering if I would do better to put these little strawberry runners into individual pots rather than a new bed.  Any advice please?

If you’ve been a great reader (thank you) and got to the bottom of this post, please now pop over to The Propagator Blog who hosts this weekly meme and has lots of contributors it’s always great to peer over the fence at other peoples gardens.

 

allotment, Garden blogging

Is Frippery Ok on an Allotment?

I had a strange conversation with a passing fellow allotmenteer this morning and am still pondering if she was being derogatory or funny.

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She stopped as she was cycling by, nodded disparagingly at my scarecrow and asked:

Do you think that works?”

I laughed and replied:

I don’t think so but it does work in as much as people stop and talk to me.”

This was received with a bit of a snort so I continued:

“I have always had this fun idea that allotments should have a scarecrow and sunflowers.”

Much to my surprise she said:

“That is a misconceived idea of town folks don’t you think?”

Which she then followed with:

“I grow vegetables.” as she cycled off!

I know I’m only a beginner and this is my first allotment season, but it made me wonder if I do have a misconceived idea.  When I looked around there are lots of vegetables being grown, in particular an abundance of sweet corn, but only about 3 other plots with sunflowers and no other scarecrow that I could see.  What is your take on this?  Should an allotment be a place for a little bit of frippery or should it be taken seriously under the control of the ‘allotment mafia’?

Now that is off my chest, let me share the goodies growing on the allotment today.

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The blackberries are almost ready for picking – there will be some jam cooking soon!

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The sweet corn is coming along just fine, with at least two silky tops of emerging cobs on each plant.

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After a slow start and the first lot of flowers being eaten  I’m delighted with the sugar snap peas, and collecting a good harvesting on each visit.

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I’m gobsmacked with the pumpkins and how fast they grow.  This one has doubled in size since Sunday.  Something had a little nibble but I think it’ll be ok.  It was recommended that I place the pumpkins on stones or slabs to prevent them from rotting, so I found a few large stones lying about the plot and have used them.

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There is a little apple tree on the plot, but I have no idea what variety they are, or whether they are cookers or eaters, but I expect I’ll find that out soon.

I’m happy with what I am doing, although I have made a few rooky errors, having a scarecrow and sunflowers are not one of them!  What do you think?

Garden blogging, Six on Saturday

Six on Saturday – 21 July 2018

My first Six on Saturday is Roselily ‘corolla’ which after a very long wait just looking at buds, eventually flowered in a spectacular fashion this week!

As promised here are the photos – aren’t they beautiful!

They are so different to other lilies, for a start they are pollen free so won’t stain anything that touches them. Also they have a very delicate light fragrance, which will please those who love lilies but dislike their heady perfume.

My second is pumpkins!

At first I though someone or something had thrown an apple into my pumpkin patch until I looked closer and found baby pumpkins. I’ve never grown them before and it’s only a little thing but I felt really quite excited.

Third are my Sunflowers.

I have always had this idea allotments should have sunflowers and am surprised there are very few to be seen on our allotment site. I raised a number of plants from seed, some are in my daughter’s garden and I planted the rest on my plot. Much to my annoyance, and ignorance I suppose, they were cut off at the pass by snails, leaving me only 2 to rescue. They are now enormous, standing proud for everyone to see, so it’s sunflowers 1: snails 0. Today, this little bee was feeding away, totally oblivious of me taking photos of him.

Fourth is Scarecrow and sweetcorn.

Along with sunflowers, I have this idealistic view that scarecrows are part and parcel of allotment life – again they are far a few to be seen. I know they don’t scare anything but they are a bit of fun. I made mine out of a pillow, and when I asked my granddaughter to name her she said “GRANNIE”!!! 🤣🤣🤣

What started as eight tiny sweetcorn plants are starting to reach for the sky, nowhere near as tall as some on other plots but they will get there. They appear to be the one vegetable thriving in this unusually hot, dry, summer.

My fifth Six on Saturday is Poppy (Pom Pom Shaggy somniferum)

This is one of only three wonderful shaggy poppy flowers that were successful and have more than made up for only being three. I sowed a whole packet of seeds direct into the raised bed I dedicated to flowers hoping for a big display. However I will collect the seeds with better luck next year.

Last but not least is blackberries.

At the back of the plot is a resplendent thornless blackberry growing along a very rickety fence. I have read that even the best flavoured thornless blackberries don’t quite have that aromatic sweetness associated with the true wild blackberry, but I bet they still taste good. There are so many of them I will be making lots of jam very soon.

So that’s my Six on Saturday. Please pay a visit to The Propagator Blog and take a look at the many contributions to this weekly weekly meme.

allotment, Garden blogging

Sunday Morning on the Allotment

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Oh boy it’s hot hot hot!  It is far too hot to do any work on the allotment, anyway the ground is so hard you can’t get a fork in to do anything.  All that can be done is massive amounts of watering.  I have two large watering cans which I fill from one of the strategically placed troughs on the site.  All of this has three benefits (1) free exercise (2) firm biceps and (3) in this summer of 2018 – a healthy tan.

Of course there are other benefits, good fresh food.

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Today I picked my first mangetout peas.  Only a few but it’s a start.

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On 5 June I planted out tiny sweetcorn plants, they were only about 4” tall.  A month later they are romping away and producing ears which is exciting to see.  Clearly the sweetcorn is relishing this weather, on some of the other plots it is a good 6 foot high.

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The other plants enjoying this weather are the pumpkins, now full of flowers.  I was given three tiny weedy plants only about 3 weeks ago and they have really taken off.

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I’ve inherited an enormous thornless blackberry which is laden with berries just about to ripen. Fingers crossed I get to pick them before the pigeons have a go.  They are not in a cage, and I’m thinking I will buy some blacknet to drap over them, my only concern with is I read that any netting should be taut to prevent birds catching their feet.

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The flower bed is looking promising too, the sunflowers have beaten the snails and are sporting some large blooms.

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When I took over the plot at the end of April, there were three small globe artichoke plants.  I’m not sure that happened to two of them, I suspect it was my fault being too  gung-ho with the strimmer.  As this is an old plant I let it go to flower and it now has a very fetching purple bonnet.

This hot dry weather appears set for sometime and whilst we all like a sunny, dry summer day, it is about time now we had some decent rain.  Everything is looking parched and all the grass has gone brown.   So from a gardener’s point of view I am hoping for a bit of a wet spell, but perhaps only at night please.