PLANTING OUT

I took a gamble and started planting out some of my seedlings. Yestarday was a lovely day so after lunch I took most of my brassica seedlings over to the allotment and planted them out in the recently rejuvenated polytunnel – now a beautiful net tunnel. All in all there are 50 of them there – a mix of kohl rabi, purple kale, cavolo nero and cauliflower.

Even though it is only a net tunnel it feels slightly warmer inside, the mesh is so fine that it seems to stop the worst of the wind. Let us hope for the best.

001

I think they’ll be fine.

Next I had to get some of my courgette plants out, they were getting a bit too big. I decided to put them in one of the raised beds where I constructed a support for them. The plants are lowere down so the wind doesn’t affect them.

After that it was just time to have a look how everything is doing – the broad beens are doing very well, I pinched the tops and hopefully this will stop the blackfly invasion.004

The iceberg lettuce, the chinese cabbage and the Daubenton kale are all fine in the first net tunnel. Especially the kale – I bought just one plant and managed to get a number of cuttings, all rooted well and growing – this reduces the need to grow ordinary kale seedlings. This kale is very tasty and I’ve been picking it even during the winter.

…AND BUILD SOME MORE…

I have a steady supply of beautiful long willow branches because Paul is taking his sorting out very seriously. He was very kind to deliver today another huge bundle of sticks to the allotment and it din’t take very long to use up most of them .

First was this….

..a very nice, sturdy structure in one of my raised beds. This will be a home for some courgettes. They climb quite well, important is to keep them tied to the sticks. At least the fruits will be off the ground and the slugs won’t be tempted!

And of course, you can’t have too many trenches for growing climbing beans. This is a trench number two

…so this way I shall have a nice ‘bean corner’ beside my net tunnel. There is a small area left, between the trenches and the tunnel and thet will house another structure for growing more courgettes and squashes.

005

I’ll be able to build it next week because I’ll get another delivery of the sticks!

All I need now is good growing weather.

AUTUMN ACTIVITIES

Last night I couldn’t sleep so as I was lying in bed I was thinking what to do next on the allotment (what else?!)

I have got a number of net cages there and the one very close to the shed was due for a rethink. First of all I was going to move it closer to the round net tunnel because I moved my cold frames somewhere else, they were in the wrong place. But then I realised that a few days ago I took a number of cuttings from my Daubenton kale and planted them in this net tunnel. I made a line of them, that will stay there and I won’t have to grow seedlings of kale – saves time, space and money. The rest of this tunnel will have lettuce, peppers and tomatoes, cabbages and different kinds of kale were there this year.

It was surprisingly easy to dismantle the net cage – nothing is wasted though, I managed to roll the net and keep it in the shed, that will be used to cover the strawberry beds next year and the posts are stashed away beside the shed. I’m sure they will come handy too.

All that’s left from the cage are my two giant cabbages. I covered them with a piece of the salvaged net because the birds always look for something to eat – why don’t they nibble weeds??

Talking of birds – I had to put some torn bits of an old video tape around my garlic as the birds were pulling the cloves out!

I decided to grow broad beans this year; I gave them a rest last year but as I have space in the two empty raised beds, why not. The soil was ready and as the sides are quite high it should protect the plants if they should be too tall.

This was the last thing to do on the main plot, all is finished and now I have to wait for next spring.

005

In the meantime I’ll be digging the rest of my plots.

DWARF FRENCH BEANS

My first harvest of french beans. I always grew just the climbing beans – not runner beans, only any other, like Blauhilde or Hunter. Last year I tried for the first time the dwarf variety and was very pleased with the result, I had a great harvest, they just kept producing.

This year I started the dwarf beans in the greenhouse, as I did all the others but I planted them in one of my raised beds (this variety is called Safari). The soil in the beds doesn’t come up to the very top so the plants were nicely sheltered. I even covered them with a mesh, in case the pigeons wanted to have a nibble.

They grew well and the result is today’s picking.

005Meanwhile in the greenhouse things are speeding along. The tomato Tigrella is doing great; I can see why it is called this, even though it is still green.

Another great result is the cucumber. These are Marketmore and I had them last year and was very happy with the result that’s why I decided to have another go. I know they’re an outside variety but I was very happy with last year’s result that I decided to grow them inside the greenhouse.

URBAN GARDENING

Coventry University has enlarged its hold on the city by building and redeveloping the area close to the cathedral. Nothing wrong with that, my only worry was that it’ll reduce the amount of trees and any other green spaces there. No need to worry. I was pleasantly surprised that they have created a large number of raised beds and even some ‘bug hotels’. The produce they grow is meant free for anybody who would be brave to help themselves. http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/local-news/coventry-universitys-edible-campus-scheme-3012980

I was impressed when I walked through the new part – raised beds with beans, peas, soft fruit, herbs, even a bed of strawberries. All carefully tended and protected where necessary.

This is not the only place I’m aware of. Some years ago while visiting London I was taken to have a look at a small oasis in the middle of office buildings and blocks of flats.

This shows that it can be done – where there’s the will there’s the way. We’re all beginning to realise that growing fruit and veg without the ‘help’ of pesticides and insecticides is the way forward.

The allotments are a small part of that and long may we continue.

Happy gardening!

FIRST HARVEST

It certainly was worth it planting my kohl rabi seedlings out quite early. It didn’t hurt them, they were well protected in one of my raised beds and had a net ‘house’ over them. I have to do the protection lark, the pigeons on the allotment have a great liking for any kind of brassica!

The beauty about this veg is that I get to use everything – the leaves and all. The leaves can be used the same way as spring greens and the bulb is peeled and best eaten raw. It is very crunchy and delicious.

Exactly as I remember it from my childhood.

JANUARY

It is never too early to start on the plot, as long as the weather is reasonable and the ground isn’t too wet.

It was an ideal afternoon to go there today and get going. Not only was I able to harvest the rest of the swedes but also get the raised beds ready.

I was forced to grow swede under cover because the pigeons developed a great liking for them. Thanks to the fact that I put the swedes in my raised beds and put the mesh over them I had something to show for my troubles.

006

I like swede and they keep well once harvested so we shall have a variety of dishes next week.

I also put some leaf mold into the empty beds, ready to grow my courgettes there later in the year. Because swede is in the brassica family I can’t grow cabbages there this year. Never mind, I’ve got enough space.

I keep digging my parsnips out, a few every now and then. The ground hasn’t been too frozen so far and they keep well, right into March if necessary.

008

Even managed to do a bit of digging and moved one of the cold frames, they are now all in one row, more organised and I gained some space to put up some wigwams for climbing beans.

005