Monthly Archives: May 2014

Old Fashioned Veg

In recent years traditional British veg has fallen out of favour with many growers and been replaced by the likes of courgettes and squashes. Whilst I grow a wide range of veg on the plot I’m an advocate of traditional allotment fare such as cabbage, cauliflowers, leeks and brussel sprouts for a number of reasons. Firstly they suit our variable climate – when summers can be relatively cold and wet they will thrive where veg needing warmer conditions suffer and fail to produce a decent harvest. They’re normally very cheap to buy as seed, with our local Horticultural Society discount I can buy a packet of leek seeds for 50p for example. And with modern cooking methods (i.e. not boiling them to a pulp) they taste fantastic!

Spring Cabbage

The Spring Cabbages have been eaten for a month now and still going strong. They’ve covered the gap until the brocolli and cauliflowers are ready.

Cabbage cut

Once the cabbage is cut I cut a criss-cross in the stalk from which new leaves will sprout giving spring greens which are lovely steamed with a light coating of butter and seasoning.

Leeks

The shallots have been lifted now and replaced by leeks (Toledo). I make a hole 8″ deep and pop the leek seedling in. This is then gently watered until the water reaches the top of the hole and then left alone. Over time the soil will loosely fill in the hole and allow the stem of the leek to swell until ready for lifting in the Autumn. The holes are 6″ apart and I’ve fitted 66 leeks into a 6′ by 4′ space. I usually follow shallots with leeks as they are out of the ground by end of May/early June. The shallots were put into pots mid-January and a couple of months later planted out so they have only taken up the ground for just over 2 months, perfect when space is limited.

Cucmber House

I also needed to find a home for a couple of cucumbers (Carmen). The greenhouse was taken up with tomatoes and all my chillies and peppers so I decided to put together this greenhouse extension. It’s basically two of the cheap mini-greenhouses put together with one cover put on upside down. It’s 8′ high which should give plenty of room for the cukes and secured with steel rods pinning the frame to the ground and twine around the top of the greenhouse to stop it blowing over.

Cukes

They will enjoy the hot, humid conditions of the sealed greenhouse. I keep them well watered – but watering away from the plants themselves – by watering into the grow rings that are normally used for tomatoes. Our family eats a lot of cucumbers so I’m hoping for a good long harvest from early July through to the end of October.

Other traditional veg I’m growing this year are potatoes, carrots, swede, parsnips, beetroot, broad beans and runner beans. I’m looking forward to a bumper harvest fingers crossed!!

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Growing Fast!

With the wet and relatively mild weather we’ve had recently everything is growing fast and the plot is looking lush and green.

Cabbage

The cabbages (Dutch White) are starting to grow now they’re established and well rooted. I’m hoping these will be good sized cabbages and possibly a pair for my end of August show.

Brocolli

One of our favourite family veg is brocolli (calabrese). These are planted 9″ apart and the central heads are just starting to form. When they’re slightly bigger than fist size I’ll cut them to encourage the side shoots. They should be ready in a couple of weeks and then we’ll have a continual supply for 6 weeks until it gets too warm towards the end of July.

Shallots

The shallots (Hative de Niort) are starting to fill out. These will the biggest I’ve ever grown and the trick now is judging when to lift them to try and achieve a matching set. This is not as easy as it sounds as the bulbs continue to grow slightly after lifting and can become “pregnant” which spoils the perfect rounded appearance. They taste great as we have had thinnings over the last few weeks.

Parsnips, Carrots

I need to thin the parnips and carrots that I sowed directly into one of the beds. I’ll be spraying with Garlic Wonder to ward off the carrot fly as these don’t have any mesh protection. Hopefully that will work. The Spring Cabbages behind them are ready now and have provided a tasty, nutritious veg whilst we wait for the broccoli to come through.

Long Carrots

The long carrots are looking good, a cane and some clips for support.

Long parsnips

And the long parnsips in pipes are also doing well. They’re getting plenty of water so I’m hoping for a good set in a few months.

Tomatoes

The Sungold tomatoes have been planted out in the greenhouse on a bed of manure and compost using bottomless pots. I also plant French Marigolds as I find the smell means I don’t have any whitefly and there are a few comfrey leaves rotting down to give them a boost.

Salad

We have a few herbs (chive & parsley) along with lettuces growing in a three tiered stand. It’s great having this by the kitchen door and using “cut and come varieties” such as Salad Bowl means there’s always leaves when we need them for sandwiches or salads.

new project

Sorry for my lack of posts recently I’ve been busy with my new project. I’m converting a section of the front garden next to the road in a vegetable area (possibly a fruit cage eventually). You may remember I had one bed here before (where the broad beans are). As this is in the part of the garden we use the most (as it’s south facing) I’ve gone for better quality timber rather than using the cheaper gravel boards. There’s a 12 ft by 4 ft and a 12ft by 6 ft bed at the moment with a 10ft by 6ft bed to go in behind. More on this later but you can hopefully get an idea from the photo. Have a great Bank Holiday weekend everyone!

Plot update

It’s been a while since my last post as I’ve been very busy in the garden. Things are moving on quickly now as the weather is warming up.

Brassicas

The brassicas are coming along well. There’s 4 cabbages – Dutch White, a few broccoli – Aquiles, and Cauliflower – a Romenesco variety, the purple Graffiti and the standard white variety Cornell.

Cabbages

And the spring cabbages are almost ready to start cutting. I usually cut a cross in the stem from which more spring greens will sprout. Very nice with a Sunday roast and also great shredded as an alternative to rice if you’re watching the calories.

Long carrots

The long carrots are starting to take off now, still fairly small but they will put on loads of growth in the next few weeks.

Shallot thinnings

And finally I thinned my exhibition shallots down to 3 shallots per plant and these have been very tasty in our lunchtime wraps over the last couple of weeks.

After recent renovations of the front garden I’m planning some new raised beds – more of this in the next post – needless to say the extra work is keeping me very busy!!