Wednesday, February 22

Monday, February 20

Almost same old, same old!

I don't want to bore you by harping on again about sprouts, parsnips and carrots but the fact remains that they are just about the only things that we are still harvesting although this week we also pulled some leeks.
We did pick something different though - some Pak Choi leaves. The plants hadn't grown very big from last year's sowing but there were signs of flower buds so I picked the best leaves.
Probably our first and last pickings as something has had a go at the leaves and most are a bit holey. Still we had a taster!

Whilst we were at the plot this weekend we didn't only harvest. The weather was quite mild for February so we managed to put in two full afternoons' work. 

Martyn has made a video showing some of the activity which he has posted on his blog today here if you would like a peek.

Today I am linking to Harvest Monday over at Dave's blog  Our Happy Acres

Sunday, February 19

There's tidying and there's TIDYING

Just recently when we have managed to get out into the garden or onto the plot it's been a case of doing some tidying.

Partly the tidying has been carried out on three flower beds.

In the garden:

Task - Tidy two flower beds

Time taken - one afternoon
Workforce - one person
Details of work:
  • Cut back dead top-growth from faded perennials
  • Tie in climbing roses
  • Remove a few weeds
  • Take care not to step on emerging bulbs

Top photo before and after photo underneath

On the plot:

Task - Tidy one flower bed

Time taken - six afternoons
Workforce - two people
Details of work:
  • Remove top growth of weeds
  • Remove as many weed roots as possible
  • Dig up plants and decide what to keep and replant
  • Barrow compost from the other end of the plot
  • Spread homemade compost on the bed
  • Cut back hard two sambucus nigra
  • Hard prune shrub roses
  • Tidy edges
  • Try not to get two muddy
I've put together some before and after photos in the video clip below to show the scale of the task.

There's plenty more tidying still to do!

Friday, February 17

Something new for 2017 - part 6 (Allotment Annual Flowers)

Regular readers will be aware that we like to grow annual flowers on our plot. Our reasons are threefold, for cut flowers for the house, to provide a nectar bar for insects and lastly, but by no means least, to add colour to the plot and give us something of beauty to enjoy.

Last summer we have two main beds.
The plants in one bed were raised in modules and planted out and the left over seeds were mixed up and later sown directly in another bed. We enjoyed both beds but were pleased at the success of the direct sown bed.

This encouraged us to try some direct late summer sowing of hardy annual seeds to try and produce some early flowers next year. Self sown annuals that successfully overwintered and flowered early added further encouragement. We sowed, cornflowers, a mixed packet of seeds, calendulas and some larkspur. Germination of the first three was excellent. The larkspur was old seed and didn't do as well. At present all are protected by enviromesh and, although it is early days, so far so good.
Some wallflowers, sweet Williams and sweet rocket will also sit out winter and hopefully provide early flowers.
As I browsed the seed catalogues my mind turned to which old favourites I would continue to grow, which varieties I would drop and which new varieties to try out.

I ended up with three new types of flower and one that didn't fare too well but which I thought was worth trying again.
I've grown the low growing ageratum in the past but I didn't realise that a taller variety existed and that it is supposed to be a long lasting cut flower.

I was attracted to the shape of the amberboa - these are related to cornflowers and are a type of sweet sultan. The are supposed to be aromatic, make good cut flowers and be loved by butterflies and bees - sounds perfect.

I liked the colour of the gaillardia which is also another that claims to be a good cut flower. A few red flowers seem to add zing to a flower patch.

Another plant that claims to produce good cut flowers is the didiscus or lace flower. It didn't do too well last year but the odd flower that were produced made me keen to give it another chance.

Our full list of flower seeds (so far) is here. Flower seed order.

Wednesday, February 15

I wonder whether that feeder is safe?

Saturday, February 11

Something new for 2017 - part 5 (peppers)

Our sweet pepper harvest is always unimpressive. We harvest a few fruits but they take a long time to ripen. 

This year we bought some mini peppers from our greengrocer.
We've always overlooked them on the past on account that we  presumed there would be more waste than anything else. On this particular day I was looking for some bits to put in an omelette and a large pepper would have been too big so I bought a pack. This lot cost just £1.
There's no denying that they are very cute.

As it turned out they have very few seeds and if anything are easier to prepare as when preparing their larger cousins I end up with seeds everywhere.

They are also very sweet and good eaten raw so some sneak into our sandwiches.

The revelation made me wonder whether mini peppers would prove more successful for us and so I searched the seed catalogues looking for something similar to those we had bought. As it was most catalogues had a version that matched. In the end I added a packet to an order that we had already prepared and ordered these.
We are still going to grow a couple of the larger varieties and have ordered.

Maybe 2017 will be a good year for peppers.