Tag Archives: Kale

All In

The Two Chances Veg Plot is now fully planted. Every square inch of available space in the garden has been used and the plot is flourishing.

In the large bed (front to back) are potatoes which are coming on nicely after a slow start. They’re followed by 7 Green Ramco cabbages which I’m really pleased with at the moment – they’re perfect and putting on top growth that you can see every day. I’m just hoping I can keep the pests off them until the end of July when I’ll hopefully have a pair good enough for the New Forest Show. Then there’s some calabrese, a double row of celery, a couple of kale and a couple of late purple sprouting broccoli plants and finally a row of french beans and a row of runner beans.

In the medium sized bed there’s the pipes with the carrots which are starting to take off along with shallots garlic and onions. And in the small bed there’s a few more onions, dwarf french beans, mangetout and peas. My main hope for the Show out of that lot is the carrots although they are behind where they were last year but I guess we’re all in the same boat.

In the greenhouse I’ve got the cucumbers set up on the staging to grow over the roof and tomotoes, salad crops and aubergines in the bed. The greenhouse is being optimised for cucumbers so it’s shut up 24/7 apart from a few minutes of watering each day or damping down so the tomotoes in the greenhouse will have to fend for themselves. In the 3 mini greenhouses alongside the main one are the Goldstar tomotoes which I’m hoping to get some decent fruit off.

In the front garden is a bed full of summer and autumn fruting raspberries and strawberries and another bed with marrows, cauliflower, courgettes, carrots and parnsips and that’s it there’s no more room. I have a couple of trays of celeriac seedlings with nowhere to put them – up at the shared plot or allotment I can’t water them as much as they’re going to need so they may not get planted at this rate. There’s some leeks which I’ve got room for at the shared plot alongside the 24 squash and pumpkin plants I’ve just planted out up there. The last of the runner beans will go in tomorrow along with sowings of carrots and beetroot and then that’s it, I can do no more, and to be honest I haven’t got the energy even if I wanted to!

With today being the best of the long weekend weatherwise it’s a BBQ and a few drinks with friends and 24 hours off the gardening – well apart from watering the greenhouse, tieing up the peas, supporting the potato haulms………………

So much to do!

Well with a new season looming and the last few weeks of preparation wiped out by the weather there’s so much to do on the plot.

I’m glad to say that the PSB has bounced back, it was looking pretty forlorn in the cold weather, but I’m hoping to get a decent crop off a couple of the larger plants. It’s the only resident left in the front bed as I harvested the last of the Brussel Sprouts.

In the back garden I cleared the remainder of the kale and harvested a few more parsnips. So just the snips and PSB left from last year and overwintering onion sets and broad beans, with a few garlic coming through that I planted in March only never to appear in the summer. I’ve cleared the rest of the beds and will add some more well rotted chicken manure around the plot. I tested the soil in January last year and it had a pH of 7.7 so I’m happy to keep adding manure to bring the alkalinity down but I’d like to have another go at testing to see if it’s making any difference. Adding manure is a job I’d normally have done in November but with the rock solid ground it was impossible. It’s almost like soil it’s so rotted down so I will get away with it.

I’m also making plans for some prize winning veg growing. I’ve ordered some stump carrot (Sweet Candle) and parsnip (Gladiator) seed from Medwyns. I’m planning on growing the carrots in a couple of old dustbins I have and the parsnips in drainage pipes sunk into sand in a raised bed. More on that later.

I’ve taken inspiration from reading blogs written by people who show veg as a serious pastime and have been impressed by the dedication and hours they put in and their openess to share all the top secrets. I am only planning a very small effort by comparison and entering a local show or two. I met fellow Salisbury blogger Darren for the first time this morning, had a brew on his allotment and then saw his parsnip/carrot set up back at home. Having grown on an allotment for 5 years he’s decided to branch out into showing veg and is well ahead with his plans for this year. Take a read of his blog for an insight into what it takes to get started, mainly a lot of hard work and tonnes of sand at the moment!

Off the plot Rachel transferred her elderberry wine into a new demijohn, we had a quick taste, it has promise. And we sampled the sloe gin that we started 3 months ago, it’s tastes really good already, and it should develop to be even better in a few months. My favourite winter tipple.

I hope you’re all having productive weekends and managing to get out there and catch up with those jobs!

Update: just realised this is my 150th post, where did that time go!

What’s Left? Autumn & Winter Veg

The garden has been a bit neglected recently with my trip away so this morning I had a good clear up. There’s not much left now just the Autumn and Winter veg. I took down the runner and french beans and have about a 100 pods to take beans from for stews and soups over winter. The kale and chard looked a bit miserable so I stripped the worst of the damage and they’ll survive for a while to give some welcome winter greens. There’s around 70 parsnips which I’m looking forward to harvesting to go with the roast dinner tomorrow. I always wonder about parsnips as they take up space for pretty much the whole year but the doubt is disspelled when they come out of the roasting tray!

In the front bed I harvested the last of the beetroot.

They won’t win any prizes but will provide some welcome colour and sweetness on the plate at this time of year.

I tidied up the brussels which had fallen over.

There’s some good sized sprouts already.

And the sprouting broccoli has survived the cabbage white attack.

The Onion sets I planted a few weeks ago have sprouted nicely, I am hoping they survive the winter.

The Jerusalem Artichokes are looking good, still in flower, and will provide another different vegetable over the long winter months. Well worth growing as they are very easy, I gave them no attention at all, and provide a useful screen about 6-8 feet tall.

Rach is making pumpkin soup today. I grew Rouge Vif d’Etamps from the seed Maureen sent me. They look great and I’m sure the soup will taste lovely.

If you would like some seeds to try next year just send me an email with your address and I’ll post some to you. I have loads to go around and they are a great variety for anyone trying pumpkins for the first time or looking to expand their number of varieties.

Have a great weekend!

Go for it!

With temperatures soaring into the high twenties I decided to go for it today and get everything planted out. So in went the courgettes, squash, celery, runner beans, french beans, cabbage, sprouting broccoli and kale.

But first I had to mow the lawn and then get some of the bedding plants in. I started by emptying 3 stone baskets we have on the front verge by the road. I filled them up with fresh compost and planted a mix of bedding plants in them. Petunias, Busy Lizzie, Gazania, Pansies and Antirrhinums all went in which should give some nice colour and make the front a bit more presentable. The rest of the bedding will go along the edges of the drive entrance and wherever I can find a space in the flower beds.

Next it was onto the front bed which I built recently and was half full with brussel sprouts, beetroot and sweetcorn. In went some squash (Scallop Mixed and Sunburst) around the sweetcorn (Sweet Sensation), about 10 celery plants (never grown celery before), a couple of rows of cabbage (Golden Acre Primo) and some early white and late purple sprounting broccoli.

Then onto the other beds. The kale (Scarlet and Dwarf Green Curled) went in alongside the spring cabbages (as soon as they are ready for harvest I’ll start replacing with another batch of calabrese and cauliflowers). I earthed up the spuds and ripped out most of the sprouting broccoli at the back of the large bed. It had started to flower. As you can see from the photo they were huge, this one is 7 foot tall.

This is were the beans were to go. Not ideal as you’re supposed to have a trench running over winter getting filled with kitchen waste. I dug a trench anyway and chucked my last bag of well rotted chicken manure in along with some pellets, I’m hoping that will be enough to feed the beans. Up went the A-frame of 8ft bamboo canes and in went 4 runner beans (streamline) and six french beans (blue lake). I planted a runner per cane and 2 French beans per cane. Around the spare canes I sowed some more french beans (our house prefers them to runners).

In the front bed there are strawberries, raspberries, a gooseberry and blackcurrant bush. Along the house wall I’ve planted a row of gladioli (Mexico & Passo) which are starting to poke through. The rest of the space was filled with Squash (Scallop Mixed) and Courgettes (Zuccini, Black Beauty and F1 Orelia).

Then I turned my attention to the onion bed which has been subject to some unwelcome visitor over recent weeks. I’ve narrowed it down to a rat, next doors cat or my dog Polo, so I fenced off the bed last weekend to fend off the cat and dog and some rat poison went down under next door’s shed. Some of the onion sets have been dug up so I chucked them and made sure the rest were well in and had some fresh soil around them. I also removed the soil around the shallots which are coming on really well. This will allow them to form, I may also remove some to allow the rest to grow bigger.

I thinned out the parsnips.

In the greenhouse the tomatoes are in their bottomless pots on a bed of gravel (ring culture) and some will go outside in grow bags next week. There’s also chillies and peppers, aubergines and my back-up cucumbers are coming on, the first batch sucumbed to the cold.

The herb area is looking good. It’s handy having it by the back door and I also put the mixed salad there so it’s easy to get to. There’s flat leafed parsley, basil, chives, rosemary, bay, oregano, sage and thyme which will brighten up our cooking over the next few months.

I really pleased with these dahlias. I’m growing these in pots, I have some more tubers in the front flower bed and some grown from seed to go in.

Elsewhere in the garden the clematis are starting to flower.

And the rockery is in full bloom.

So a busy day. All the beds are full now until the spring cabbage come out and I’ve still got leeks and pumpkin to plant out and swedes to sow. A friend up the road has some space so I may have to plant them out there. Now time to put my feet up and enjoy it, barbie tomorrow I think!

What a Year!

Well 2009 was a big year with the arrival of our 2nd daughter, Emily. I can’t believe that was nearly 12 months ago, wow how time flies!

2009 was the first proper year of my veg growing and I’m been thrilled with how well it’s gone. The family have eaten every type of vegetable that I have grown, nothing has failed although some have been more successful than others. The only thing still to harvest is the purple sprouting broccoli, I hope it’s survived the snow of the last couple of weeks and we can look forward to tender purple spears for the first time!

My Top 3 most successful veg 2009 were:
1) Brussel Sprouts, I can’t believe how many sprouts you can get off just half a dozen plants. We’ve been picking them since November and still going!
2) Courgettes, with the mild Autumn they produced from mid-May right through to the end of October – 3 plants gave us all we could eat.
3) Cucumber – great variety, 2 plants in the greenhouse produced cucumbers from May, the last one picked early November.

My 3 least successful veg:
1) Carrots – pretty useless harvest, I need to rethink my tactics!
2) Parsnips – good harvest but variety was smaller than I expected, I’ve picked a different variety for this year.
3) Leeks – variety wasn’t as big as I’d expected, a new variety this year I think.

Resolutions for 2010:
1) Get my eldest daughter, Chloe, more involved. She’s 3 this year so is old enough to have her own mini-patch. Also I’ve got a much better idea of what she likes to eat so I’ll be planting a lot more cauliflowers this time round and calabrese for the first time.
2) Root veg, I need to do better on the parsnips and carrots, both for the table and exhibitions.
3) More showing, I really enjoyed entering my local Horticultural Society’s Summer Show and I’d like to do more this year.

2009 list of vegetables:
In the greenhouse: Lettuce (Salad Bowl, Little Gem & Lollo Rosso), Cucumber (Carmen F1), Tomato (Moneymaker, Garderner’s Delight & Marmande), Chilli (Cayenne & Jalapeno), Peppers (Etuida).

Radish (French Breakfast, Albena), Beetroot (Detroit), Salad Potato (Charlotte, Juliette & Anya), Broad Bean (Sutton), Runner Bean (Scarlet Emperor), French Bean (Dwarf – Ferrari, Cobra), Courgettes (Aurelia F1), Summer Squash (Scallop Mixed), Butternut Squash (Cobnut F1).

Chard (Bright Lights), Brussel Sprouts (Maximus Hybrid), Cabbage (Golden Acre Primo & Savoy), Carrots (Amsterdam Forcing), Parsnips (Tender & True), Garlic (Purple Wight), Onion Sets (Radar), Shallots (Griselle), Broccoli (Early & Late Purple Sprouting), Kale (Dwarf Green Curled & Scarlet), Swede (Virtue), Cauliflower (Snowball), Leeks (Musselburgh), Jerusalem Artichokes (variety unkown).

Winter Harvest……..

The plot is still producing plenty of veg at the moment. Today I braved the cold to pull up some snips, dig up some artichokes, pick some brussels and kale. It’s great having fresh veg as and when you want it.

This is the first year I’ve grown the much-maligned brussel sprout and they are fantastic, getting loads of sprouts off just half a dozen plants.

The purple-sprouting broccoli is looking really good, the sideshoots are starting to appear and I’m really looking forward to the first harvest of spears. Last year was a disaster between the caterpillars and pigeons so this time round they have been netted and have really filled out well and they should start appearing in a few weeks time.

Rain, rain and more rain!

What a miserable week, downpour after downpour.  Not much that can be done on the plot in this weather but I’m still harvesting the winter veg, some brussels, cabbage, swede and kale.  Apart from booking next year’s holiday (Brittany) sanctuary can be sought in ordering seeds for next year.  You can get great discounts on seeds if you are a member of your local Horticultural Society or Allotment Association, last year my local society achieved a 50% discount on the catalogue price.  I have plenty of seeds in store and most should be good for next year, but I always need to replenish the stocks and it’s the time of year when you can start planning how the plot will look and reflect on what went well this year and what you will do differently next.  Our society uses Dobies who have a great selection of seeds and plug plants to choose from.  Other good options are Thompson & Morgan, Suttons and Mr Fothergills.  So get cracking and get your order in!