Thursday, 29 October 2009

The end or the beginning?

Having had a little bit of time to myself, literaly no one wanted to be near me in case I had swine flu, I pondered a very deep question. Were we coming to the end of the growing season, or was it really the beginning? I came to the conclusion there is no end, everything just goes round in one circle. Amazing eh?
Anyway, the reason I was thinking about this was on 18th Oct I spent a whole morning at the allotment garden, where I planted my overwintering onions, garlic, some savoy cabbage plants and some cavalo nero kale plants. I also cleared away the last of the beans and pulled up the sticks. The plants are a bit small, but in the week they have been out they have really put on a spurt. It is so wet and mild the weed seeds are growing great guns.
I was feeling very wobbly, so I didn't do much when I went up there this week so far. I did plant 24 aqua dulce claudia broad beans to overwinter, and that was enough for me! I think the garden is much more sheltered than here in Iwade, so I reckon they have a good chance of doing well.
While it is still mild I am going to move my rhubarb, and have a go at relocating some of the rogue raspberry canes. The rhubarb hasn't done well where it is, so I'll split it, one bit for the allotment, and another bit for the driveway garden.
Last night I sorted out my seed box, I think I've enough to plant the whole of Iwade! I do seem to have lost some seeds though, so I'll have to have a search and replace them if they can't be found as they are some of my favourites. of course, maybe I passed them on to someone else. I am doing some swaps for some sugar pie pumpkins and some martock broad beans, a good way of obtaining seeds of thinks you wouldn't have thought of giving a go.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Rain at last

Why is rain like buses, you wait ages then get loads? I suppose it hasn't been quite like than, but life gets in the way of the gardening, so on Thursday I couldn't get to the allotment garden because I had to cover an after school session for a sick collegue, then yesterday, what was supposed to be a quick trip out turned into an all day jaunt. Today, all set to get started, and it's raining again!
I've got the small compost bin delivered to the allotment garden, now I want to clear the ground and get it ready for next year. I've decided, after a season's growing, that the original bit earmarked for the compost bin is too valuable, as it gets a lot of sun. There is a space between the massive mahonia and another shrub, that is in shade almost all the time. Not much good for growing, and not a place you would put a compost bin in a normal garden, but as I'm going for utility not aesthetically pleasing design, that won't matter.
The beans are almost finished, so I'll get these up, although the roots are left in the ground to rot and provide nitrogen for the plants next year. Bean and peas are both good at fixing nitrogen in the soil. I think the cabbage stalks can stay a bit, I've no immediate need for the ground, and the small cabbages and leaves they are still producing are useful. I want to get the onion sets in now, I'm going to put them where I had the pumpkins, it is a nice sunny spot, and they should be virtually over before I want to put chillies and peppers there next year. My own garden is too shady for these outdoors.
Hopefully over the winter months I'll be able to get more of the well rotted manure from my brother, though it doesn't help he's put a load of hay bales on top of it at the moment. (It is in a rather derilect shed, but still pretty waterproof)
In my own garden I want to dig up my flower bed in the back, add a lot of my homemade compost, and plant in the daffodil bulbs I saved from my pots, and the allotment garden. The wisteria I planted when we first moved in never did take properly, it was an expensive plant, so very dissapointing, but I'm going to remove the unsightly stump, to make way for something else. The beans will come up, and i think I'll move growing these to the allotment garden too. I didn't get as many off them as at the allotment, so it makes sense to give the space to something else. The rhubarb is going to get lifted and moved too. There isn't enough space where it is, and it is too shady. The stalks were very drawn, which I know happens artificially if you blanch it, but it isn't good for the plant under normal conditions.
The celeriac is going great guns at the allotment garden and in the recycling bin pot at home, but those in the veg patch are very small. I would put it down to watering, but as Chris turned the water off at the allotment garden just when I needed it, they didn't get as much as I would have given them. I keep removing a few leaves as they split in two around the root, as you are advised to do. I think it is too make sure the root can swell evenly and is not constricted by the leaf stalks.
Well it's 8am, I've finished my tea, so I'll go see what its doing outside. I'll report back later to say if I managed to get any of the stuff done that I wanted to.
The spinach, matzuma and pak choi seedlings are up, and I plan to leave them uncovered until next month if the weather holds a bit. then I'll put the plastic cover on. The home saved white beetroot seeds that I tested for germination have all come up, so I'll be putting in some of those for greens. I wonder if I put the plastic cold frame over them it will keep them warm enough to keep growing? I'll consider where to put these, probably at the allotment garden, although I will soon only be able to get there at weekends, it will be too dark after work.
Now 10.45. I've popped to the allotment garden, picked some beans and 4 small cabbage for dinner. I'm still picking caterpillars off the sprouts, but 2 plants seem to be growing small buttons, so hopefully we'll get some sprouts this year. I sited the compost bin, and decided the mahonia, which is about 12ft tall if not more, is a health and safety risk. One of the lower branches will need to be pruned, I almost caught my eye on it, thank goodness I wear glasses. I didn't stay long, because I had some help to move the finished compost bin in the garden. 3 barrow loads have been piled onto the driveway garden, and I've a lot to move into the flower patch, in order to put the bin back in place. I've a whole bag of blackberry prunings from last week and shredded paper to put in, as well as some fermented bokashi. It should get everything going in there. Just having a cuppa, than back to it.
7.30 in the evening. I managed to move all the compost from the bin, and set it up again, but the ground for my flower border was so hard the clods of clay were coming up in bits bigger than a grapefuit, and I couldn't break them up. I couldn't plant my bulbs, I think I need more rain! It has only penetrated the top couple of inches.
I had to tidy up then, and go to see my Mum, but Vicky came too, and we stopped off at a good place for chestnuts. In about 15 minutes we'd picked up half a carrier bag full, and they aren't all down yet, so hopefully we'll get back next week. For immediate eating we remove the tough outer skin, then put them on a skewer and roast over the gas burner for a few seconds. The thin, bitter inner skin chars and dries, so it is easy to remove.
I also tried steaming some with the potatoes for dinner. I left them to cool, then cut in half, scooped out the inside and pushed it through the sieve to remove any stray bits of skin. This seems to have worked, I have crumbly cooked chestnut, which can go in other dishes to make a vegetarian meal. I now have to find some tasty recipies, and steam a load more chestnuts!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Pumpkins and Stuff

I can't believe it's so long since I posted, but things have been very hectic in life, and it's impossible to keep up sometimes. Going back to school after the summer always seems harsh, so little time left over for gardening, and marking is always lurking in the background.

Anyway, back to gardening. On Thursday, Oct 1st, I decided to harvest George, Fred and Sam. Wow, best pumpkins I've ever grown (but this is only my second time :)). George weighed in at 10.5kg, with the twins at 5.5kg and 6.5kg. I lost track of who was who out of them. They are currently decorating my kitchen windowsill, along with a marrow and eight butternut squash ranging between 400g and 1.5kg. I still have one at the allotment garden, as it was a late grower, and I'm giving it a bit more time to mature. The problem is, they look so good there, and I get a thrill everytime I see them, so it will be a wrench to eat them. I'm not going to carve one for Halloween I think, it seems such a waste.

We still haven't had any rain, although the days are often cloudy and gloomy. It is forecast for today, which is typical as it's Saturday. Last week I started sorting out my Patio Gro tubs. A lot had old ompost in, which had dried out completely. I wet it down, enriched it with dried poultry manure, and sowed some spinach, pak choi and mitzuma. I can put the cover on if the weather turns colder. I also got my hyacinth bulbs planted, and hopefully some of the others in the garden club will collect today. I did intend to deliver, but time ran away with me. I've just got them on the patio, covered with an old large plant pot to keep the light out. Hopefully this will be cold enough, I haven't anywhere else to put them.