February 13

Harvest Monday 12/02/18

Stored vegetables

We grew a lot of winter squash this year; Crown Prince, Waltham Butternut  and Hunter – a type of butternut.

Here they are after we had harvested them in October . As you can see, the bench is quite full. We ate the Butternut squash first because they do not last as long as the Crown Prince which will still be going strong in May.  There were five Crown Prince in total and they all grew on one plant. Normally I have five plants each with one squash on so I do put the vigour of the one and only plant that survived the slugs down to no-dig. I have also just noticed that there is an Uchiki Kuri, the bright orange one, in there as well.

 

This is what the bench looks like today. Just the Crown Prince to go and they are probably the best-tasting of all of them.

New no-dig bed

I have created  a new bed for some squash this year on a slight slope. Being a no-dig gardener, I have put cardboard down first, watered it, and then manure and home-made compost on top  and covered it with black plastic that lets the rain through.  A new bed in 15 minutes. I reckon I will get three squash plants in it.

It is not essential to put compost on top of the manure but I have found that plants seemed to do better in that mix rather than just compost or just manure.  That could be more about my compost and manure than anything else. The compost I have is full of weed seed because it was made before I got on top of the weeds which is why I covered the bed with black plastic. Again, it isn’t essential to do this but beds that I haven’t covered, where I used my compost, do have weeds growing in them. I need to get the hoe out!

I am as desperate as everyone else to start sowing seeds but the weather is so cold at the moment.  I might sow some chilli seeds in a propagator on the kitchen windowsill but that is all until this cold snap disappears.

Multi-sown seeds

I really enjoyed Charles Dowding’s latest video about growing multi-sown module leeks. He certainly seems to grow a lot in a small space which is what I want to do. Leeks are one of the seeds I will be sowing soon.  I have Musselburgh which were free with the magazine Kitchen Garden and are ready from October onwards; Tadorna, which I have not grown before,  are ready in December  and Blue Solaise which are ready from November onwards.  With these three, I should be able to have leeks throughout the winter and into the early spring. I planted 50 leeks last year and they are just about to run out now so I would say I need another 20 at least.

Harvest

And so to the harvest. I really can’t show kale again which doesn’t leave much to show this week.  I do have large clumps of parsley in the polytunnel and so a salad of parsley, cucumber and tomatoes all chopped really small would go well with my chicken tagine tonight.  I know people talk about the hungry gap starting in April/May but mine seems to start now!  I do still have a freezer half-full of blackberries, raspberries and black currants which we eat for breakfast every morning.

What is the best fruit or vegetable you have stored over winter?

December 3

Covering it all up

This is the month where I start to cover the beds that are empty and wonder how much more compost I need to make next year.

I have a mix of 2yr old manure and compost that I have made myself over this year and I am trying to remember what I put on each bed last year so that I can alternate: compost one year, manure the next. I don’t think this is necessary but I think each has its own type of goodness and the plants might benefit from a range rather than one thing.

The parsnips are ready so we have started to eat them. They are enormous – perhaps a little too big – so I think I need to sow them a bit later next year. I think May should be early/late enough. Perhaps I should sow some in April, some in May and some in June. I definitely need better notes than I kept last year about when I sowed things.

I sowed some broad beans in the greenhouse on the 10th of November and planted them out on the 4th of December. They are tiny in comparison with many other plots but should catch up. I also planted about 12 in the polytunnel which is not enough so need to sow more.

Today, I harvested parsnips, kale, leeks, sprouts, radicchio (not sure if I have spelt that right!) and parsley. I have a few peppers left on a plant in the polytunnel which I will need to pick soon or they will rot.

One of the things I will be doing this month is searching for other vegetable/gardening blogs to read and learn from.  So far I have found

Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments

Sharpen Your Spades 

What are your favourite vegetable growing blogs?

 

 

 

 

October 30

Warm and Dry

It has been unseasonably warm and dry. Having been away for a week, the tomatoes in the polytunnel continue to ripen and the lettuce has rocketed away with lots to pick again. The borlotti beans have dried on the plants this year although I did give them a final dry in the greenhouse.

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I have had some manure delivered and have started to use it straight away on new beds. I know you are supposed to use manure that is about 2yrs old but I don’t have any. It will be interesting to see whether I can grow in it next year. Perhaps potatoes.

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I have covered it with black plastic and will leave it until April and then try planting in it.

How do people get enough compost etc that is 2yrs old? I am still not sure how I can get enough to save some for the next year. Anyway, I will keep going. More leaves gathered but the trees haven’t really dropped their leaves yet.

September 13

My plots

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I have had my plots for about 12 years now but it is only this year that I have really had the time to give to them. I used to manage on about 3hrs a week but it wasn’t really enough time and they tended to look a little unloved.

Last year I visited Charles Dowding’s garden and marvelled at his no dig vegetable growing. The plants were in fantastic, rude health so I decided to transition to no dig. I say transition because I am finding it difficult to get the amount of manure/compost that I need for one plot never mind two. I do make compost but nowhere near enough and it is very weedy.

I do have one bed however, which I composted to a depth of about 5cm and covered in black plastic all winter and have grown potatoes followed by chard, leeks and endives which can be seen in the photo above. The potatoes weren’t great but the leeks, chard and endives are doing very well.