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?

February 26

10 a day

With all the talk in the news recently about increasing our fruit and veg intake to 10 a day, a friend asked me if I could do that if I only had the veg on my plots.Well here goes:

There is spring cabbage, flat-leaf parsley, turnips, leeks, chard, flower sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli, sprouts and red Russian kale. I didn’t take photos of the cavalo nero and beetroot. So yes I do have 10 things I could eat now but I might end up looking like a brassica!

February 18

Ready to go!

I always end up chomping at the bit around this time of year. I want to get going but it is often just a little bit too early. However, as usual I am going to sow some radishes in the polytunnel and sow some broad beans, peas and onion seeds in the greenhouse. First however, I have washed the greenhouse and polytunnel. I have learnt from experience that it is easier to do this before I sow my seeds.

Nothing in the garden pleases me more at this time of year than seeing seeds sprouting. I have some peas in a gutter for the polytunnel and the others are old pea seeds sown thickly for pea shoots.

My big task this year is to investigate and build a system that will water the polytunnel for as long as possible so that I can go away over the summer. My allotment neighbours will change this year and I won’t know anyone well enough to ask them to water. It is a fairly onerous task!  I am considering a water butt timed kit from Greenhouse Sensation and a self-build drip system made out of PVC piping.

I am also going to do a trial based on onions. I am going to plant some sets and some grown from seed to see if there is any difference in growing and storing. I will use red onions as they seem to bolt more easily than white and I never seem to grow them to a normal size.