Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Nice to see the flags flying again...the greenery behind the bed to the left is comfrey which I use for making liquid feed in the dustbin you can just see behind the post.
The green compost bin in the centre of the picture is for forcing rhubarb in the sping.

The yellow plastic is supposed to be protecting decking for the new bed until I get round to constructing it but it has been there so long it is in holes - so the wood may be damp and warped as well. Must move this bed up my list of priorities - it too would be a good bed for brassicas as it has definately not been planted with any for several years.

today I cut the lawn - always a triumph!

Here you can see the courgette/Summer/Winter squash bed. The yellow patty pan squash plant in the centre (at each side) are succumbing to mildew and yellowing leaves more quickly than the courgettes. I will soon do what I did last year when this happened which is to remove the plants to make more room and extra ventilation for the remainder. It is easier to pick the yellow squash this way anyway as the growth is rather congested in comparison the the usual Romanesco courgettes.

Something Missing...?

Is there something wrong with this picture?

Spot the difference! Not as good as the ones Kevin and Irene brought back from Tibet for me but rather pretty all the same.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Apples, plums, tidying up...

These plums still have a way to go before they are ready for picking.

These three Rosemary Russet apples look absolutely beautiful in the late Summer sunshine.

I have made a start in tidying up this area at the back of the allotment - it is the best place to sit as it is the first place you can get out of the sun if it is hot.

Potato apple bean update...

I dug the remainder of the potatoes today after having left them with the haulm removed for a couple of days due to blight...

...some nice ones but they are generally rather small this year.

These beans we had the other day were lovely.

The James Grieve are still wind-falling for fun - delicious fresh though when you cut out the bad bits.

Kale & Hearty...

A couple of days ago I thinned out the Curly and Tuscan Kale after they did unexpectedly well after having been 'heeled in'for a couple of months...

...much better but still a bit more crowded than they ould be if I had planted them out properly - they looked rather sorry specimens at the time and I thoght I'd just see how they did andplant them out elsewhere later if they looked ok...

I kept some plants to put in at my leisure in buckets with a bit of water at the bottom...will probably put a few in where the potatoes came out of today - and hopefully find homes for some of the others - Mike said he was after some kale pants when I saw him the other day but I had forgotten about these at the time!

Asparagus Bed r.i.p.

Today I spent a good few hours at the allotment for the first tile in a long time. I started to dig out the old asparagus bed after the ravages of cold and drought had taken their toll. Lots of dead asparagus roots with perfectly healthy convolvulus entined within. Truly it is said a weed is a plant which grows...

I got a fair way through it so it might possibly be finished tomorrow - am considering covering the bed with carpet so it can just be peeled back to get rid of the weeds without giving them a chance to see the light.

May well use the bed for potatoes next year or brassicas as it has not been used for those for many years. Could grow them through carpet or groundcover as it will be impossible to remove evey scrap of bindweed, couch grass ec and this will keep them in check and keep the soil permanently moist as well.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Here are today's raspberries - 2lb 11oz of flavour!

And here they are mashed and mixed with icing sugar in preparation for a short simmer to turn them into compote.


This is the bed I have just planted the salad crops into...

It took around 15 minutes to prepare the bed - the magic of raised beds...

The cabbage seedlings from Dobbies I rushed in in a panic earlier in the year have started filling out nicely and look like they might be quite a good thing.
I got them due to being anxious about the Curly and Tuscan Kale plants I also put in late but actually those are doing well - I must thin/transplant them soon to get the best of them.

this shows a corner of the plot with apple 'Jumbo' to the left, followed by leeks, sweetcorn I never got round to transplanting so are having to take their chances where they are, Runner beans forming a backdrop and the laden James Grieve apple tree in the left hand corner.

The flowers are self-seeded marigolds and cosmos (originally 'candy stripe').

Fruit again...etc

The raspberries are still going strong and should be for months yet. One problem at this time of year is that the tops can go a bit slimy if not picked in time - if that happens they can be snapped off as there is still time for new growth to fruit before the frosts stop them in their tracks.

The yellow raspberries in the background are 'Allgold', a sport of the red 'Autumn Bliss'. I have one row of each.

This shows the healthy new growth on the acid cherry I pruned last Summer after picking.

Here are the salad rows - maybe the Mizuna and Pak Choi need a little more room than this as they can take up a surprising amount of space when they really get going.

And these are the pea Blaushokker??? ready to go...

Sowing time again...

I have sown some salad vegetables ready for stir-fries etc later on in the year - I was a bit worried I'd left it too late but on browsing the blog I see that I was getting great pickings even in October after some frosts. That was in 2009 the first year I tried this - it really does give the allotment a whole new lease of life later on in the year.
The oriental vegetables such as Pak Choi and Mizuna really need to be sown after the longest day or they tend to go straight to seed rather than producing pickable leaves.

With the Mizuna I harvest the leaves a few from each plant as needed but I tend to pick the Pak Choi whole.

I am intending to plant some chard and some purple Curly Kale for Winter leaves in salads and stir fries too.

I sowed some of the blue-podded and flowered peas this week as well as the salad leaves but it might be too late for these now - time will tell.

Squash update...

The various squashes seem to be putting on good growth in the wet weather we have had lately - I have been cutting back the vines a little more efficiently this year to try and concentrate growth into the earlier fruit.

The courgettes are still lovely and fresh.

Because of the new fruit trees and bushes I have dotted my Winter squash around the place a bit this year but they don't seem to mind.

This bed has 9 plants in it - a Romano courgette at each end with a yellow 'patty-pan' Summer squash in the middle as you can see here and the same on the other side. There are three winter squashes (all 'Crown Prince' if I remember correctly) in the middle as they don't need easy access for picking. Actually though they have even easier access as the vines far outgrow the confines of the bed and the squashes lie on the paths between the beds. Experience has shown that Summer squash in the middle of the bed are almost impossible to pick. Also the extra bulk of the bush-type foliage makes the bed even more prone to mildew than it already is.

Blasted blight....

As you can see the Desiree potato haulm is beginning to show signs of blight and needs cutting in order to try and stop the spores getting into the tubers...

...seems a shame to do it as the potatoes won't get any bigger but it is the only way to save the crop...

...I will leave the ptatoes as they are for a few days before lifting them - watch this space to see what kind of yield we get digging them early...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fruit pics from the archives....

These were the Keswick Codling at the end of June before they started to fall off...

...and the Annie Elisabeth mid-June - there are still three left so we are hoping we will find out what they taste like this summer...

...the blueberry 'Herbert' mid-June...

...and some of the excellent strawberries from the beginning of June.

General update...

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Fruit Update...

This shows a bit of what I've been up to for the last year or so... have been planting a lot of fruit - including eight columnar fruit trees and four gooseberries (various) that you can see to the right of the carpet. It has been very exciting and refreshed my attitude to the allotment as I didn't put any trees in at all 'til maybe 2008 or '09.

The first was a James Grieve apple tree (the one that fell over last year due to so much fruit). I have resurrected it and it is laden again this year but coping much better with its new sturdy post. It is prone to Codling Moth though so I must get the grease bands sorted a bit better this year - it can't have helped last year that so many of the branches were touching the ground and giving the moths a leg up.

(having looked it up codling moth can fly - doh! the way to treat them is with pheromone traps in May and June. The grease bands stop the Winter Moth and others which eat little passages into the leaves of the trees -ed.)

This year we have already tasted some of the new Keswick Codling apples - discovered on a rubbish dump in Ulverstone in the 1780's. They are a luminously pale yellow/green with delicate flesh which yields easily to the thumb - and they have the most wonderful perfume of any apple I have known. Certainly one to look forward to each year which was the general idea of putting such a variety of fruit in in the first place.

The trees in the picture are (from left to right)

*Annie Elisabeth - apple
Grown by my Grandad Wilson at 1 Kenton Gardens when I was a child, as was James grieve
Irish Peach - apple
For eating straight from the tree when ready - allegedly fragrent to the taste
Keswick Codling - apple
Cooks to a froth - wonderful perfume - luminous - ridged like a dog's snout - delicate 'appley' flavour
Gorham - pear
For eating straight from the tree
*Jubilee - plum
For eating straight from the tree toward the end of August (two this year - juicy)
Advertised as an improvement on 'Victoria'

*???? - plum
For cooking toward the end of Sept
*Cox's Emperor - plum
Supposedly wonderful large juicy fragrent fruit but not many of them
*Rosemary Russet - apple
Bought in honour of my lovely sis but also because I really like Russeted apples
(Three on the tree in it's first year this year!)

The last two trees were put in this year in the dormant season whilst all the others were the year before. (9th April 2010 according to my records - ed.) The gooseberries: Early Sulpher, Golden Drop, Whitesmith and Lancashire Lad are also this year's additions.

I also put a half standard apple Jumbo in this year which should have big red and green apples in the fulness of time.

I also container-planted two blueberries 'Herbert' this year and have had a small but satisfying crop from them.

The sour cherry tree I pruned hard last year thinking it would come back and fruit this year. It didn't but is looking excellent again now and I am anticipating a heavy crop next year.

The strawberries were brilliant this year and will be getting a post of their own sometime.

The rhubarb you can see in the picture has recovered well after drying out earlier in the year and giving me a scare. I finally found a compost bin in a skip to force it with - much better than the old green bin from the council - and it is fantastic like that - only the second or third time I have done it and makes rhubarb a luxury and a thing of beauty.

*I must attend to the Tayberry soon and do a bit of weeding in amongst the raspberries

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Odds and Ends....

I shoved a few carrots from dobbies in in a fit of 'got to get something on the go-itis' earlier this year and they have done ok...

...the autumn fruiting raspberries 'Autumn Bliss' are well and truly online now - I made the usual compote with icing sugar but for the first time just mashed it instead of simmering as well - deliciously fresh but doesn't keep as well even in the fridge - really to be eaten on the day...

...the squash plants still look exceedingly healthy without the mildew raising its ugly head yet - but with the damp few days we're having it probably won't be long - Summer 2009 I removed all the diseased leaves concientiously and kept the plants going much longer than usual - although the ideal is also to sow a few seeds directly say at the end of June to take over when the inevitable happens....

....these are going really well in ratatoille etc - even the large ones used fresh don't need peeling and they aren't ripe enough yet for the seeds to be a problem.
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