Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Brassicas, Sun & Raspberries.

It’s been great having a bit of time off work especially that the weather has been so kind to me, I was able to get down the plot a fair bit.IMG_1013

Most of the planting in now done with the exceptions of a few bits here and there. This year I am having a go at growing some cauliflower some say this is a tricky crop to grow so I will have to keep an eye on it I know I need to keep the head covered over to stop it going yellow and I have read that most people use the leaves and tie them over.

I am also growing Purple sprouting Broccoli again (a favourite of mine see previous posts)and also having another go at some Brussels sprouts, I found them quite hard to grow first time round but I know where I went wrong last time and won’t make the same mistakes again.

I planted them far to close and I didn’t support them with canes, the lover leaves I left on rather than removing them to let air and light in.IMG_1011

With my brassicas I also add a little crushed egg shells to the potting mix I do this with all brassicas as it gives them a little calcium boost as they grow it helps in develop strong roots. I have also put an egg shell mulch round them to stop the slugs and snails (I don’t get to many on the plot but don’t want to tempt fate!)

It’s looking “ship shape” now on the plot and can’t wait for things to start cropping.

IMG_1028The next job it to get the cover sorted for the raspberry’s as they are starting to flower and won’t be long before fruit is developing. The raspberry’s look especially healthy this year, with the autumn variety’s putting up lots of canes and even cropping up in the pathways the mulch and feed I gave them last year is starting to pay off I suspect.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Pumpkin Hundred Weight


Hello readers it’s been a while, it’s been a busy few weeks first off I competedIMG_1009 my charity walk on the 12th May a 13 mile walk from Malden to Chelmsford in Essex I was part of a team and in total we raised over £700 so well chuffed with that and we still have money coming in, so thank you if you donated it’s going to a great cause.

On the plot not much went on in early May as it was Rain rain and more rain and I was getting quite worried that I was getting quite far behind.

But the last week I have been off work and the weather has been kind so a few days spent on the plot and things are back to normal.

The first job was to weed as since I rotivated, the beds were covered in weeds again luckily they were all little ones so a hoe did the trick.

This week I got quite a lot planted out, my sweetcorn, celeriac, chard and dwarf Bollotti beans all went in one bed I also planted out my French beans but haven’t quite got round to doing the Runner beans yet but plan to do this next week.

This year as some of you may know I am attempting to grow a large pumpkin for my 2 children they have asked me to grow a big pumpkin that Cinderella can use to go to the ball! (Oh to be 4 again!).

IMG_1019I don’t normally go in for the growing food that you can’t eat but on this occasion I will make an exception, I am growing a variety called hundred weight. I have done a bit of research on this variety and got a bit worried at the size they can get! But hopefully it won’t be too big. I started by digging a large hole about 2ft wide and 2ft deep my soil in this part of the allotment where I plan to grow it isn’t that great so needs a lot of help to get it going, I filled the whole with 4 spadesful’s of ½ rotted horse manure them topped it off with some compost and some chicken manure pellets and planted it in the centre of this. I also put some stones round the base to help keep the moisture in I them made a raised circle round the plant so that when I water, the water wont escape and go to the roots where it’s needed. I plant to feed the pumpkin once a week with the beer ullage I will save from work, as I have read that they like a bit of ale and Beer!!!


Also this week I needed to change my 2 front tyres on my car I planned to keep the tyres and recycle them as planters on my plot so when I asked the mechanic that I wanted to keep my tyres he went white in the face and went straight to his boss I think he thought I was some sort of inspector or something his boss came out and gave me the third degree as to why I wanted them! I don’t think he believed me. It was all rather funny.

Monday, 29 April 2013

A Quick seed update for April….

First off this week I just want to quickly talk about a Walk for life I am doing on the 12th May it’s a 22km walk for a local charity called Farleigh Hospice they do some fantastic work and I want to help them with raising money.

I have put a link to my just giving page if any of you would like to kindly sponsor me or simply just give a little. Thanks for your support.


Well this week has all been about sowing seeds and getting things going downIMG_0974 the plot, so I thought I would just give you an update as to where I am and the progress some of my sowings have made. I will start with what’s going on in the greenhouse. The celeriac sown at the beginning of March has come on well I transplanted them into individual cells this week I hope it produces an edible crop this year unlike last year’s tangle of roots.

The tomatoes have produce some fantastic plants this year waiting that extra few weeks this year stopped them from going leggy and the result is a good health plant.

The leeks are showing good progress and I will look to move them into cells in the next few weeks but for now they are happy.

IMG_0975My PSB and cauliflowers have just popped up in the last day or so, never grown cauliflower before so a first this year for me looking forward to it, some say it’s a bit tricky so anyone with any tips and hints please share I need all the help I can get.

Down the allotment the onions finally went in today the soil was simply not ready until now, I started them off in modules in the green house so all I had to do was plant out today fingers crossed I get a great harvest like last year.

Also sowed my parsnips, and carrots I have said to myself this year if I don’t get a decent crop of carrots I am not going to bother anymore just to much hassle.

Last year I dint get ant beetroot the weather was to wet and every time I put some new ones in they just rotted off so hopefully this year I will get a crop.

Just want to finish on my strawberries they are looking fantastic again this year so a bumper crop is on the cards with them.

Have a great week and please check out my just giving page and give to a great cause.

IMG_0972                       IMG_0971


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Mr Rotivator!

It’s been a while since my last post, there was not much happening down on plot 58 as it was too wet or covered in snow, the action at the allotment pretty much came to a standstill.IMG_0962

But the last 2 weeks things have been on the up.

Last Monday (after having the beds covered over for 4 weeks) I along with my dad decided that we would rotivate the plot our allotment society do tool hire for the day and at £10 it’s a bargain I have never used one before and I found it a bit of a pain in the proverbial the soil is heavy clay and it didn’t like it to much I found it a lot easier to pull it back over the plot rather than letting it go forward. But the end result was pleasing and now most of the beds are ready for planting at last!

IMG_0937After we sorted the beds out I planted out the potatoes as they were crying out to go in the ground this year I am keeping it simple only growing 3 main crops in santé Cara and King Edward and a second early called British Queen, I grew this last year and was impressed with it so giving it another crack this year.

I have also this year created 2 flower beds and have put a climbing rose up a metal arch that goes over the middle walkway through the plot, its going to look pretty grand when its grown a bit. The other plants put in are all bulbs with some daffodils and some summer ones the name escapes me now!

Monday, 18 March 2013

The Great British Weather!

Well what weather it was down the plot today, started off foggy and quite coldIMG_0919 then by 10am I was walking about the plot with a T-shirt on it was according to the thermometer at the plot 13°C then by 12pm there was hail stones and I had my jumper and hat back on!

Go quite a bit done today, I weeded over 3 beds and used my compost to put over the top of the beds I have 9 Raised beds all around 3m x 4m and I put 4 wheel barrow s full of my homemade compost on each of them. And then I covered them over. I do however have a raised bed that is total water logged and has been since October of last year, I don’t really know what to do with it and by the looks of it I don’t think I can use it this year as it needs to dry out totally before I try to grow anything in it, it’s because my allotment is on a slight hill and I am the bottom plot the bed has always been a bit of an issue but the rain last year made thing worse… much worse!IMG_0917

In the next week or so I should have more Purple sprouting broccoli just need a bit of warm weather give it a final push to fully open so I can pick it.

My potatoes that I have chitting on the bedroom windows are coming along nicely and I am thinking of putting them in the green house soon.

I managed to get round to sowing some leeks yesterday also I am not going to over the top with them this year as last year I had quite a lot all ready to be planted out then they got hit with some fungal disease and wipe the whole crop out!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Strawberry Meringue Roulade

Today I fancied doing a spot of baking, as getting to the allotment is totallyIMG_0912 out the question And I love baking when there’s nothing else to do!

I had some left over egg whites from last night dinner so rather than go to waste I thought I would knock up a Roulade to surprise the Girls when they get home today (that’s the 2 children & the wife!)

Some people think meringue is hard to do, it’s not you just have to be precise with your measurements and do a little pre cleaning. I always remember what my lecture told me the first time I made meringue at collage all them years ago, “start with a clean bowl & clean whisk” I know that sounds like common sense but what he meant was clean it again before you use it and make sure its DRY before you start. The egg whites won’t whisk up if the bowl if dirty or not clean enough.

Then you need to make sure all your measurements are accurate no guestimating. And I have always worked on 2oz of caster sugar to every egg white and it has always been successful for me.

So here’s what I did:

You need:

5 egg yolks                   10oz Caster Sugar                 200ml Double cream

2og icing sugar                   Vanilla essence or vanilla pod

Your chosen fruit (strawberries in my case)

Pre-heat oven to 200°c

In a CLEAN DRY mixing bowl add your egg whites and whisk until they form what’s called Stiff peaks that when you can form a peak with the mix and it stays there.

IMG_0909Then slowly add the sugar whist still whisking. Once it’s all added the mix should have a sheen to it like Gloss paint.

On a lined baking tray pour the mix in the centre and using a spoon spread the mix out evenly over the tray.

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 200°c then lower the temperature to 120°c for a further 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from tray and place upside down on a cooling rack and leave to go cold for 15 minutes.

Whisk the cream with the vanilla essence and the icing sugar until its thick andIMG_0911 again forms stiff peaks. Cover the meringue with the cream and then scatter the sliced fruit on top.

Roll from one end using a firm hand to hold in place.

Sprinkle with icing sugar and leave in a fridge for 2 hours to chill before serving.

Then Enjoy it………..go on give it a try.

Monday, 11 March 2013

To cover or not to cover that's the Question….

Not much action down the plot this week, the family has been hit with this winter bug, my youngest daughter has had it the worst, so daddy day care comes before Allotment action.

I wanted to get the rest of the posts done I started last week but the snow today has put pay to that idea. I am really hoping that it clears up a little as I want to pay a visit tomorrow as got a load of horse Manure to take up there, its fresh stuff but I have a old compost bin that I intend to get filled asap and plan to leave it till this time next year so its had time to do its thing.

My Father has managed to get hold of some black plastic as next year we are going to cover the beds over to stop the weeds coming up over winter and to make it earlier in the spring. Covering your plot as I have found out is split into 2 camps those whom swear by it and do it every year and those whom feel it should never be covered, me I am of the opinion you don’t know until you try it so that’s what we plan to do.WEEDS

My Dad found a right Bargain on eBay 50m x 2m continuous length on a roll for £20 with free postage, so we snapped that up straight away, I was a little sceptical at first as I thought that was too good to be true, but it was delivered today and it is really good stuff. So it pays to search and your find what you’re looking for.

this picture was taken last October from a bed I neglected for a wile hopefully the plastic will stop this from happening.

Monday, 4 March 2013

A year in the planning…

It’s been a week since my last visit to the plot, and today I started a Project IMG_0891that has been a year in the making, like I have said before my Parent’s work in a factory where they dispose of lots of wood (it goes off to be re-cycled) but they are able to take it home with permission of cause, I have asked them to gather some timber for me to use as posts for my plot I needed 50 posts in total I knew they would take a while to get them and time was running out as they are both retiring this year. So after 11 months of collecting I final had them all, painted and ready to go. The plan is to put 6 posts on each bed so if I need to cover the bed to protect it all I need to do is put the netting over it and job done! This way no matter what needs protecting I just need to put the net over it no making supports with canes that last 5 minutes and need redoing and also with crop rotation the post are they if needed or not. IMG_0889I managed to get 2 beds done today, with help from my Father. My Parents are planning on helping me out this year a bit more as they will be both retired that way if things need a quick water they are on hand. I managed this week also to get my leaf mould sieved and ready to use it was my first attempt and making leaf mould last year and I am really pleased with the results I managed to get about 10lts from it I have put all my leaves from the garden again this year so hopefully have more this time next year.IMG_0884 I also sowed my fist lot of seeds today, I sowed some tomatoes, Yellow pear and Alice Craig I plan to sow 1 more variety but going to leave that till mid-March I also sowed some Celeriac, Cabbage, Chives and some long Red Peppers I got from a Reader of my blog (thanks Helen) after sowing today I really feel as though the new season has begun. IMG_0881          IMG_0882 Thanks for reading…

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

let the chitting Commence…..

IMG_0869Well were off, yesterday saw the first action for the new growing season, I went to my local garden centre and selected my seed potatoes for the coming season, I am being a bit more conservative this year as last year I conducted a trial into old heritage variety’s selecting 10 different potatoes but the weather was not the best for it really but still ended up with a decent crop.

I am not bothering with First earlies this year, the last few years I have been disappointed with the yield from them so I am opting for just a single Second early and 3 main crop varieties. I am going with what has produced well for me over the years this year to try and guarantee a good crop (if there is such a thing as a guaranteed crop)

The variety’s selected this year are:

British Queen, second Early this produced a great crop last year and tasted wonderful

Santé, main crop grow this every year really reliable and good cropping

Cara, main crop great for the allotment blight resistant and can cope with lack of watering

King Edwards, main crop this has been a reliable crop for me in the past.

I Really wanted to grow Dr Macintosh again this year but cant find anywhereIMG_0870 that stock it so may have to keep a look out because if i find it i will grow some because they were the best crop by far last year for taste and yield.

That’s it for this year just the 4 types hopefully I will get a good yield and should see us through the year for potatoes and that’s a goal of mine to not by potatoes for a whole season and just use what’s produced at the plot.

Let’s hope the weather is better this year for the allotment.

Thanks for reading…

Monday, 25 February 2013

My first Purple Sprouting Broccoli

IMG_0858It was a big day this week down the plot, as I knew my purple sprouting Broccoli would be ready to pick; I got a bit excited on the drive to the plot! Last year my PSB was a disaster firstly I planted them far too close to each other, then they were struck down by white fly LOTS of white fly and to crown it off the didn’t produce any broccoli heads.

So I did a lot of reading on the best ways to grow them and I had some great advice from my friends on twitter and other bloggers, so armed with the knowledge I really went for it last year.

I started with 7 plants but 2 were killed off with the wet weather (rotted) then the birds got to 2 of them so I ended up with 3 which I nearly lost at the turn of the year because I forgot to cover them and the pigeon’s stripped all the large leaves but thankfully they didn’t get to the heads before I covered it over. IMG_0783

PSB I feel is a special vegetable as it’s only available in a short window of 4-8 weeks. I know you can get it all year round but to be “in season” in this country it’s a short window.

To me PSB is a real treat to have and when I have it I like to do something special with it. Be it a flavoured butter or topped with Bacon lardons, but my favourite thing to do with PSB is to make a cheese sauce with Gorgonzola and drizzle it over the broccoli it’s a match made in heaven! And it’s a classic you can’t beat broccoli with blue cheese.

To make it you need:

25g salted butter

25g plain flour

250ml milk

Salt & pepper


English mustard

100g Gorgonzola

50g Bacon lardons (optional)

Warm the milk in a pan but don’t boil. Melt the butter but don’t colour it then add the add the flour cook for 1 min then add the milk a little at a time use a whisk to stop it going lumpy then season with Salt & pepper and add a small pinch of nutmeg and ½ teaspoon of English mustard cook for 5 mins to cook out the flour then add the Gorgonzola save a little back to sprinkle over the top at the end.

Then just cook your broccoli brain off all the water and pour over the cheese sauce.If you want to you could add some crispy bacon lardons to really make it.

Thanks for reading…