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Can you ever have too many raspberries ???

17 Jul

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I’ve picked over 2kg of raspberries this week !

They really are the best value for money crop I grow on my allotment. At almost £2 for 100g in the supermarket that’s £40 worth !

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And they’re organic and practically carbon free !
All I do is cut out the old canes over the winter, then I just leave them to do their own thing.

I’ll make jam, pavlovas, summer pudding and just eat them straight out of the bowl !

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What’s not to like ?!!

The humble garden shed

28 May

I popped down to the allotment this evening to water my newly planted courgettes and decided to have a bit of a wander.

It was a beautiful evening with low sun casting long shadows across the onions, and catching the windows of the eclectic village of sheds.

I don’t actually have a shed on my plot so I am always very envious of those plots that do have one. My father built me a beautiful cold frame many years ago but that eventually turned into a tool store and then finally bit the dust. I have replaced it with an eminently practical but very ugly plastic storage box that hopefully will last for ever !

So I wander around regularly choosing my favourite shed…

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This one,above , is of the traditional variety but given a lovely make over with black paint and bunting.

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There are plenty like this one, above , that have evolved over the years, depending on what materials were available – old doors, windows, etc. Many seem on the point of collapse, only held up by the piles of ‘useful’ stuff collected around them.

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Some seem very practical , above , with carefully stored bins, and ladders – note the flue pipe , presumably serving a little stove to warm the seedlings or keep the occupants warm on a winters day.

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Others, above, seem more random !

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Even the greenhouses look lovely with a beautiful peony growing alongside.

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Some sheds, above, have gone all modernist.

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And some , above, look architect designed ! Isn’t this one amazing ! So much thought has gone into the detail – I must find out who’s built it and persuade them to give me a guided tour !

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This one , above, is extraordinary too ! Not sure whether it’s by design or just accidentally !

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There are so many little details everywhere – people try so hard to make their little plots special and it’s lovely to enjoy them. And all these photos were taken no more than a minutes walk from my plot – so next week I must explore further afield !

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Pretty as a picture – my allotment today 

24 May

I’ll never win prizes for a tidy or productive allotment but I think today I could take the ‘prettiest allotment’ prize !!! 

   
         

Busy times in my greenhouse

9 Mar

when the weather is a bit changeable it’s nice to be able to dash into my greenhouse where it’s warm and cosy. 

A couple of weeks ago I dusted off my propogator and started the ongoing process of seed sowing. 



My propogator has 10 individual trays with  their own lids so it’s easy to regulate the temperature for each variety I sow. And I find the small trays discourage me from sowing too many of anything ! 



This year , as you can see from the photos , I’ve added a good handful of perlite to my seed compost . I haven’t used it before but it’s meant to help moisture retention and  improve germination. 

I have also sown a box ful of mixed salad that hopefully will give me baby salad leaves in a few weeks time ! 

Fast forward 3 weeks and everything has germinated beautifully. With the exception of the foxgloves – maybe I’m just too ahead of myself as they are biennials and wouldn’t naturally be germinating at this time of year. 







I also planted a tub full of broad beans 



My greenhouse is also full of overwintering geraniums – some of which look happier than others, and sweet peas that I sowed last year. 



And I’ve also rescued some chrysanthemum cuttings that were outside and brought them in for a bit of cossetting. 



I’m now running out of space ! So the geraniums are going to have to get growing quickly so I can throw them out  to make room for all these seeds that will need pricking out very shortly !! 

Busy times !!! 

Wildlife in the garden

24 Feb

A recent trip to the beautiful kitchen garden at Packwood House, Warwickshire highlighted some gorgeous little structures designed to encourage more wildlife such as ladybirds and lacewings into the garden.

A triangular pied a terre for visiting mason bees perhaps.

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A beautiful arrangement of old terracotta pots and pine cones – the perfect overwintering spot for ladybirds.

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A net of pine cones could be perfect for spiders.

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Another welcome animal in the garden is the garden cat who helps keep the mice at bay.

There is however some wildlife not so welcome and this ingenious mole scarer looks amazing ! Whether it works I’m not sure !

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The Kitchen Garden at Packwood House

19 Feb

I made a lovely discovery recently – the beautiful walled kitchen garden. Apparently it’s been open to the public for about four years and I’m sure I’ve been to Packwood in that time, so I’m not sure how I’ve missed it !

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And I have to say, it’s really delightful. Whoever has been responsible for its redevelopment has a great eye for detail, and even visiting in mid February there was so much to see.

There is good basic structure in the form of compacted earth paths , box hedges and pergolas.

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They have retained a couple of ancient fruit trees and planted many new ones – step over and espaliered against the old walls.

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Children will be delighted with the beautiful wendy house and teddy bears picnic.

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Despite the lack of vegetables, there’s much to catch the eye.

Beautiful original cloches sheltering small lettuce.

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Terracotta rhubarb forcers keeping the rhubarb crowns in the dark to produce delicate pink stems.

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A jaunty scarecrow to keep off the pigeons.

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A dipping pond, currently covered, but in the summer apparently they encourage the kids to dip small watering cans in and to water the garden – child labour !!

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An auricula theatre awaiting its treasures in a few months time.

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Plenty of bug hotels to encourage the good insects – not sure how they keep out the less welcome ones !

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Mole deterrent ! Very Heath Robinson !

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I can’t wait to return in a few months time to see all the vegetables in place.

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The curse of my allotment

13 Jan

Mid Jan and it’s time to sit down to review how my allotment has performed over the last twelve months and start planning for the next season.

And yet again I’m having to admit to myself that I’m disappointed – my allotment rarely lives up to my high expectations. Expectations built on glossy magazine articles, weekly newspaper columns and even some lovely posts here on the blogosphere !

I’ve just never found the whole vegetable growing thing easy. Flowers I can do but veg no. Every year I say to myself that this will be the year when I spend much more time on my allotment, I will nurture the soil, I will succession sow, I will water more frequently etc etc. but it just never happens – there’s simply too much going on elsewhere.

Last years performance was mixed as usual – great raspberries, pounds of blackberries, no gooseberries, good lettuce, mediocre onions, amazing cherry tomatoes ( that all succumbed to blight within a week !!!) , so-so beans, plentiful artichokes, miserable courgettes……. Do I need to go on ?

So here I am saying this year will be better. I will do all the aforementioned things – more time, more manure, more water etc etc and if all the stars are aligned and the moon is in the right phase and we have a warm wet summer I just may pull it off this year !

So the next task is ordering seeds – this is an element of the equation that I think I have got pretty sorted – see my post this time last year to see my decision making process.

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I think I’ll be ordering pretty much the same as last year

  • Spring onion ‘Holland Blood Red’ – red spring onions
  • Broad Bean ‘Superaguadulce’ – good for an early sowing, in fact must sow mine soon!
  • French Bean ‘Blue Lake Climbing’ – very prolific
  • French bean ‘Blauhilde’ – purple bean
  • Dwarf Bean – Rocquencourt’ – brigh yellow pods
  • Dwarf Bean ‘Purple Tepee’ – purple bean
  • Runner bean ‘Painted Lady’ !
  • Beetroot ‘Bolthardy’ – the default variety
  • Beetroot ‘Chioggia’ – beautiful stripey pink and white variety
  • Carrot ‘Purple Haze’ – purple and orange roots
  • Courgette ‘Romanesco’ – ridged fruit
  • Lettuce ‘ Merveille de Quatre Saisons’ – crumpled red and green leaves
  • Lettuce ‘Black Seeded Simpson’ – good crunchy green
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    I’ll be turning my propogator on shortly and getting the first of my succession sowing under way.

    I’ve also picked up some interesting flower seeds over the year and will be giving them a go, either for cutting or in the garden at home.

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    Tune back in in twelve months time to see if I’ve finally cracked this vegetable growing business !

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