Tag Archives: Leeks

Summer into Autumn

There’s been a real change in the weather over the last week, an autumnal feel of cold evenings and nights. It’s one of my favourite times of year, change is in the air, and the veg being harvested starts to change as well.

The greenhouse is coming to the end of its’ productive phase with the last of the tomatoes, peppers and chillies being harvested.

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I’m really pleased with my leeks this year. I planted 66 of them in the area vacated by the shallots at the end of May. They were tiny – here’s a picture in my post “Old Fashioned Veg” if you can see them! But in 4 months they’ve grown to a decent size.

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The parsnips are pretty good too. We like to roast them along with beetroots, garlic, potatoes and carrots. Whilst the frosts haven’t come yet two or three days in the fridge chiller box does the same trick. Lovely and sweet.

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And lastly one of my favourite veg – beetroot – are still going well, if a little large now. They’re so easy to prepare, wash, top ‘n’ tail, roast with skins and all. If you eat as many as I do your pee will turn red!

I hope you’re enjoying the changing season as much as I am and your plot is still giving plenty of delicious veg!

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In recent years traditional British veg has fallen out of favour with many growers and been replaced by the likes of courgettes and squashes.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!!

Last of the Summer veg

It’s not been a great September temparture-wise and the summer veg is now winding down.

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The Courgette plants have finally succumbed to mildew with just a few fruits left. In the greenhouse the last few dozen Sungold tomatoes are ripening, there’s Joe’s Long chillies to pick and the Etuida peppers have ripened. All in all there’s not much summer veg left. So it’s over to the parnsips, leeks, beetroot and brussel sprouts to keep the harvest going along with the potatoes in store.

The seed catalogues are hitting the doormat and the planning for next year starts again!

Sun at last!

At last some sun and a few days of dry weather after the deluge of the last five weeks or so. With lots of jobs to do I’ve concentrated on the home front this weekend and thought I’d give you a virtual tour as I haven’t focused on this for a while.

I started with the onion bed finding a few spaces for the last of the vento onion plants I’ve been growing on from Darren. There’s also shallots, Hative de Niort, and garlic, purple wight, in this bed.

Next were the peas, show perfection on the canes, and oregon sugar snap up the netting.

The cabbages, green ramco, have been out for a couple of weeks now and should reach a good size by the end of July. There’s seven in all aiming for an entry at the New Forest Show.

The stump carrots in two dustbins of sand are coming along nicely.

And after a slow start the long carrots in pipes are starting to take off.

The greenhouse is starting to clear slowly. There’s lettuce, radish and rocket in the bed on the right hand side. And celery, calabrese, cauliflower, brokali, purple sprouting, sweetcorn, runner & french beans, celeriac and leeks on the staging. These all need to planted out over the next three weeks.

And the hardening off area is pretty full. The tomatoes are about two foot tall and ready for planting out as soon as the weather warms up. There’s also marrows, beans, brussels, beetroot, cucumbers, squash and pumpkins waiting to go out. It’s all a bit of a jam waiting for the end of May when I’ll be confident the threat of a late frost has passed. Then it will be a frenzy of activity to get this lot all out into their final positions before we go on holiday!

Hope you’re all enjoying the sunny weather!

Greenhouse expansion & sowing frenzy!

The spate of Bank Holidays have meant lots of work in the garden interspersed with the odd BBQ or three! So I finally got round to building the two mini-greenhouses that Rachel bought for me very cheaply at the end of last season. They’ve joined the one I already have as an overflow to the 8’x6′ cold greenhouse. I positioned them between the greenhouse and the fence, a gap just big enough for them, which also meant blocking off a favourite path for the girls to run round – but running round between a fence and a load of glass wasn’t fun for me watching an accident in waiting! A lot of people have had trouble with these things blowing away, I’ve got mine in a very sheltered position but have also driven an iron rod into the ground and hooked it over one of the shelves so there’s no chance of them going anywhere.

Yesterday I sowed leeks, more dwarf beans, more marigolds, alyssum, poppies and rudbekia. The crunch will come when all of them need pricking out, I’ll be out there for days with the amount I’ve sown!

The tomatoes are looking good, this is the first batch, the first true leaves are just appearing on the second. With the recent weather it’s tempting to plant out some of the tender plants to make more space inside. I think Spring will have a sting in the tail so be warned, don’t put them out too early!

Hope you all have a great Bank Holiday!!

Every Minute of Every Hour “I Love a Sunflower”

In a bid for early flowers I sowed my first sunflower seeds this morning. And it reminded me of a lyric in the late 80s Tears for Fears song ‘Sowing the Seeds of Love’ which seemed appropriate for this time of year as we enter March and a frenzy of sowing activity. That song also included a rant against Margaret Thatcher, ‘politician granny’;by that time the gloss had well and truly come off her leadership with the Poll Tax. We’ve come full circle politically again as we do in gardening every year.

So what’s happening on the Two Chances Veg Plot at the end of February? Well on the plot I’m still harvesting leeks and parsnips with PSB eagerly anticpated. Parsnips were sown in the pipes last week and the overwintered broad beans and onions are coming on well. Tulips are starting to come through in the tubs and in the flower beds there’s crocuses, daffs and more tulips doing their thing and taking advantage of the mild spell we’ve had recently. In the greenhouse the shallots are starting to sprout and I’ve got a loads of brussel sprout seedlings pricked out into small pots.


Daffodils provided a great display last year, although later than usual. This photo was taken on 10th April, I’m hoping for blooms a couple of weeks earlier, in time for our Spring Show.

Indoors the spuds are chitting nicely and the second batch of broad beans is starting to germinate. On various windowsills a tray of lettuce (Webb’s Wonderful) needs pricking out, tomatoes are poking through and the first true leaves are showing the peppers and chillies. The onions look exactly the same as they did last week and I’ve just sown the first batch of sugar snap peas along with cabbage, early and late purple sprouting broccoli and some asparagus peas.

On the ‘to do’ list this weekend is the mix for the long carrots which I need to get into the pipes and sown. More brassicas to be sown – cauliflower and calabrese which can grow on in the greenhouse. So that’s it you’re up to speed on everything going on!!

Hope you all 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!