Where on earth does the time go? I’ve been meaning to update the blog for some time now, but never seem to be able to get round to it. On the positive side though I’ve been managing to get to the plot almost every day after work, weather permitting. I’m really pleased with how things are looking there.

I’ve come to a bit of a grinding halt with regards to sowing and planting. My seed box is decidedly empty and I’m in need of browsing for what to sow next. Any ideas of course always welcome.

Really pleased that my garlic and onions seem to be doing so much better than last years. Fingers crossed for a good crop. Likewise cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. Last year pigeons decimated the whole lot quite soon after it went in so that bit wasnt too difficult, all under netting this year and looking ace. Also have turnips, parsnips, beetroot, spring onions and the usual suspects doing well.

At home I’m overrun with tomato and cucumbers along with peppers and courgettes all doing well.

 

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Have been popping down t’ allotment most evenings this week and really pleased with progress. Been busy sieving a few areas to continue getting rid of stony ground. I think Ive probably gone as far as I’m going on that now. Weeded all the paths and tidied up the edgings, finished off edging the beds with the salvaged fence posts I got hold of last year. I picked up a pair of shears last week and have tidied up all the parts of the plot that borders the “main” path as well. Done a good tip run to get rid of a load of rubbish, the site is looking really tidy now. Which is good news as I also learnt this week that I may be “up” for a bigger plot in September. This brings mixed feelings but all in all I will be pleased to move, mainly to get away from the large Oak that makes a lot of the ground unusable.

Back at home I’ve also been busy in the greenhouse planting up just about everything I have in my seed box. Picked up some tomato plants from a boot sale last week (3 for a quid) and got those in. Also picked up some chillis and peppers from B&Q as I think I missed the boat on them.

I’ve popped in a picture of a cold frame I salvaged/adapted just for the heck of it.

Finally I’ll slip in a picture of Lottie enjoying the grass.

 

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As some will know I have recently acquired a greenhouse. I am a little concerned that never mind how hard I try I can’t seem to keep the surface moist on my pots that I have sown. I have fitted an auto vent that opens during the day at a certain temperature. The question is do I continue watering twice a day, add something like perlite or vermiculite to the compost or stop worrying and wait for nature to take its course. I’ve had mixed success so far, 4 out of 6cucumbers have germinated, 1 out of 4 Melons have, beans no show at all (early days), no toms, peas about 50%, broad beans only 1 out of 6.

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Yep after a long long time I’ve decided I’ve been a little remiss on the update front so here goes for a brief catch up for anyone who may be interested.

Had a fantastic holidy in Marrakech last October. A good time at Christmas with a very Happy New Year.

I let the plot go a little and was quite nervous to get back down there, but after not as much hard work as I’d imagined I think I’m finally back on a level footing. A good quarter of the plot was covered up so not much work needed there, I’ve decided that as its under the big old Oak tree theres a very good chance that it may just remain covered up too. The rest of the plot has now been dug over. I’ve removed the netting structures and decided to replace these with a more temporary and moveable contraption to keep the birds and butterflies from my brassicas. Leeks are plodding away still, not getting very large but still looking healthy. Onions and Garlic seem to be doing better than last years debarcle, looking a little yellow but i’ve been adviced not to worry too muchj about that. I have also just planted out my spuds, a little late possibly but we’ll see how they go. I have some Cabbage, Broccoli and Cauliflower in (covered up) that were shop brought plugs, and finally some broad beans, also shop brought.

Now for the really exciting part. I have a proper Greenhouse at home. Thanks to  guy I used to work for who upgraded I managed to bag this little beauty for a very small outlay. Even found B&Q  sell some amazingly cheap replacement glass (£10 for six panes) so with the gravel it probably cost me about fifty quid for an 8×6 house. I’ve been planting like a mad man and have too much too list coming on in there.

Thats it for now,  but I’m hoping to get back to regular posting. In the meantime heres some pics of my little beauty!!!!

 

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Well after reading the latest edition of Kitchen Garden I paid particular interest to the “Filling the Hungry Gap” feature. There was some good advice there, with some trials performed by the writer and some recommendations for particular varieties to try. So with the  magazine by my side I logged onto www.vegetableseeds.net to place my first order with them. I heard feint cries in the background of something like “Don’t spend a fortune love.” But unperturbed I carried on. I had ordered Borecole Dwarf Green CurleCabbage Durham Early,  Cauliflower Aalsmeer before the blink of an eye (from the recommendations) but it didn’t stop there. In the next heart beat I went on to order some other veg seeds that took my fancy but again I hadnt finished yet. I’d wanted to plant a few cut flowers just for the heck of it, so into the basket they went. All in all 12 packets of seeds went in, and the final price??? A little over a tenner? Thanks to the guys over at Vegetable Seeds for a wonderful offering, bring on the free allocations!!!!

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So we are well into the first year of our adventure into “self sufficiency” and I thought it was time to take stock and sum it up.

Firstly its been mostly fun and I’ve certainly enjoyed the extra work the allotment has thrown at me. I’m an expert weed grower, but at least I get plenty of exercise knocking them back down again. So far we’ve eaten home-grown Spuds, Lettuce, Cucumbers, Tomatoes (not many), Courgettes, Broccoli, Carrots and Chilli Peppers. Failures include Cauliflower, Beetroot and Spinach. The onions and garlic were disappointing to say the least but I think I’ve learnt a lesson or two on those and will certainly try them again. In fact I’ve already purchased my Garlic bulbs from the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm who had a stand at the recent New Forest Show. Still to come and looking good there are Sweetcorn, Runner Beans, French Beans, Peas and Cabbages. Having the allotment has also encouraged us to get the garden at home sorted out, with a mass shed clearing event taking place at the weekend, I even have a little potting area now too. I’ve also made a large cold frame area to sit alongside the greenhouse, next year is looking like being a roaring success.

In summary I’m pretty pleased with where we are at the moment, yes it could have been a lot better but it could also have been a whole lot worse.

I also wanted to see what anyone else thought about the midges that you inevitably find down on the plot! What is your best form of attack/defence to the little blighters? I was thinking about using some citronella candles dotted around the plot to warn them off. Anyone else tried this with any success? Do you use sprays or other remedies, or just avoid being there in the early evening when they are moving around? I have to say that the remedies like Pirateze and other supermarket own are amazing!

Thanks for reading

Heres a pic of the candles I was thinking of

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WOW – Just WOW!

After a long day at work I got home to a beautiful roast dinner cooked beautifuly by my wondeful wife. Nothing unusual there, shes a great cook and most evenings theres something cooking or ready to be cooked sitting in the kitchen. No the unusual thing tonight was the large proportion of home cooked veg we had on our plates. Last week the broccoli we were growing started to bolt, this happened very quickly by my reckoning not too sure why, but that was picked blanched and frozen. All the potato plants developed blight so were dug up yesterday, the larger ones made beautiful roast potatoes and the last of out carrots grown at home in a planter were pulled to be cooked up for our dinner. Even the garlic and rosemary for the raosties was grown here in the garden. I have to say it all tasted so much better!

We’ve been eating home grown lettuce for some time now. Then there are the few broad beans we harvested and a couple of courgettes (one overgrown and more of a marrow) that were harvested yesterday. Not too sure what to do with those yet, think they may go into a tomato based sauce that we make and keep in the fridge for pasta meals etc.

Anyway a couple of pics this time of the potato harvest and two of the three “courgettes”  I harvested yesterday.

Just about to gather the seeds needed to start my late sowings for the “Hungry Gap” that I was reading about in this months Kitchen Garden magazine.

All the best everyone and happy digging!

Matt

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Its been a while since my last post, way too long in fact. We had some pretty terrible news recently, I lost my Aunt Sue all too soon and very suddenly. It knocked me very hard, and unfortunately blogging was the last thing on my mind. I had great support from my wonderful and amazing wife and fantastic children all of whom made the pain a lot more bearable. Sue was a very very special person to me, probably the one person who understood me more than anybody else apart from my wife. She is and will be sorely missed by me every single day, but as I have learnt life goes on!

Anyway that’s the explanation out the way now on with the blog.

I did also let the allotment slip a little but it still does remain a passion of mine, I absolutely love my time down there, I just need to get back into the habit.

I went today to continue tidying up and weeding after leaving it, boy has that taken a long time, but I’m pleased to say I think I’m just about their now. Also today was the day to start harvesting some produce. A Lot of the broccoli’s had started to bolt so they were picked and have now been blanched and frozen. Enough for about 8 weeks of Sunday roasts. Lettuce is coming out of our ears now so a load more of that was picked, washed and bagged up. I also go to a slimming club once a week so a load of that will go there on Sunday as my contribution to the Slimmer of The Week Prize and finally I dug up a couple of plants worth of potatoes ready for our Salmon, New Pots and Salad tomorrow.

Had a nice chat with my neighbour also, he gave me some leeks to pop in, which was much appreciated and he educated me about potato blight, thankfully I’m not affected as yet.

Anyway sorry for the waffle this time, I need to get back in the swing of this blogging but thanks for reading anyway.

Matt

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Well what another wet week we’ve had here in “Sunny” Bournemouth. Haven’t been to the plot at all this week, just been pottering away with what we have growing at home. Tonight though I did manage to get down there, and kind of wished I hadn’t!

Most of the seedlings we planted last week, that is the cabbage, cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts have been decimated by something. They all had the alledged slug repellant brassica collars on so I dont think it was slugs or snails. Having read up I’m guessing it’s butterflies been having a feast, we have pigeons around the site but I wouldn’t think they would bother with such small plants?

So now I’m on the look out for some debris netting to give them protection, or if its too late for this batch then the next. (I did pick up some discounted cabbages from B&Q, 50p for 9 plants!)

I plant to make a frame from canes and the plastic ball pit type balls, with the netting draped over.

As always any tips and advice would be very welcome

 

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Yes you read it right, we actually managed to get to the allotment today without a hint of rain. Actually its been pretty good here for a couple of days, and the rain that we were threatened with this weekend hasn’t yet materialised. Lets hope tomorrow stays nice too.

So Kelly and I spent the morning there today, having had the obligatory cup of tea/coffee in Cafe Lottie first. We planted out the remainder of our brassicas that had been growing in the cold frame at home. So we now have Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, and Cauliflower in our two Brassica beds. I brought some brassica collars and popped these on too. They’re the ones impregnated with copper so should hopefully keep the slugs off as well as battling the root fly.

We popped off once done on the lookout for suitable pots/containers for tomatos and chillis back at home in the greenhouse. We found that Wilkinsons carry a good range of re-usable grow bags, they have lots of different sizes priced between £2.90 and £3.50. The best bit is they are currently on a special offer of 2 for £3, YES that is even the ones priced over £3 each!!!! BARGAIN BARGAIN BARGAIN

So with a bucket load of grow bags back home to plant them up, just a shame we ran out of compost part-way through.

A few pictures of the Greenhouse looking nice and stocked up now (if a little bit messy)

 

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