Tag Archives: Freshest veggies

October 2017

BULBS, ROBINS AND TRASHING LEEKS

Bulb planting time and I am joined by a cute little robin. I had only recently learned why robins like to accompany you whilst gardening. Obviously I have just disturbed the top layer of soil and by doing so made all those tiny insects and worms available to feed on.
But where did this little chap learn that if it hung around with the humans maybe it’ll get a cheap dinner? In ancient times robins used to follow wild boars as they scavenged the top layer of ground for roots, fruits and maybe a truffle or two for tea. Robins learnt not to be afraid of these large animals and so grew confident with their company. Now don’t you go and compare me to a wild boar though my hair has been particularly ravaged on this gusty October day. You could say I’m sporting a wild look, but that’s where it ends.
I’m happy for my little robin to follow me about. It makes a funny little chirp and curious vibrating flutter when it’s about to join me. I don’t hesitate to talk to it either. That’s not because of modern folklore’s theory that it’s a dead relative visiting. It’s a robin wanting a good old feed before winter and I’m happy to oblige.

Oh leeks why for art thou ruined?
The allium leaf miner is the culprit. It has munched its way through my lovely leeks! i done lots of research and basically I need to destroy the lot to break this little critters life cycle. plus in future not only do I need to cover brassicas and carrots in netting but now alliums too. This teeny little thug reached the UK in 2002 and has spread around the country at an alarming rate.

So how am I going to beat this pest?

Autumn leaf miner has ruined the entire crop!

So how am I going to beat this pest?
This beastie appears in March and April having overwinter in the soil. The female flies lay eggs near the base of young leek plants and makes small punctures in the onion/leek leaves in order to feed on the sap. This is where further rot can get in too and so when I harvested my leeks I notice a brown trail where the grub had munched its way into the juicy fleshy bit. When I pulled off the outer layers a small dark rice-grain-sized brown pupae wedged was between the rotting layers.
Preventing the allium leaf miner from causing damage is to prevent the flies laying eggs. I’m going to cover the crop with insect proof mesh / fleece during the two risk periods that is March to  April and mid September to mid October.
Or plant onion sets and leeks after the first danger period has passed and harvest before the second danger period occurs in September / October.

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Here are the pupae. Do not compost, and if you mistakenly put some in there get them out!

Halloween!
You may have noticed that Halloween has revved up a gear this year. Don’t be tempted to buy one of those fake pumpkins down the garden center, please buy a real one and carve it yourself. Its so much fun, really cheap and a chance to be creative. Plus when you’ve finished you can leave the pumpkin out for the wildlife to feed as squirrels love them. It doesnt stop there either you can plant one up with with plants for a dramatic effect and lastly they make good compost. So just do it!

 

Lets end of a high
Or at least on the vertical….

My pink and grey autumn wall planter!

 

 

 

Summer of 2017

Not everything in life is a bed of roses, so the saying goes, and so the day after the Chelsea Flower Show my step father died. It has been awful witnessing someone slowly be destroyed by Alzheimer’s and so things have been put on hold a little bit. I still had to work but suddenly I had also had a new set of carers to organize for my 91 year old Mum. It didn’t go well as I had to sack two. One for taking my mums bank card and PIN number, the other for allowing the carpet man swindle £240 cash from my vulnerable mum.
The responsibility has been overwhelming and took a toll on my health. But I managed to get though it and out the other side. My salvation is to loose myself in my gardening, it really is the best therapy. Things didn’t stop and I still have issues to solve but the garden soldiered on….

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Heucheras, phormium, blue grass and ferns added to the exotic feel nicely.

I did a bit of a revamp in a dull area of my jungle garden.
Then there wasn’t a shortage of cut flowers. Calendulas and zinnias performing brilliantly…..

Veggies started to yield and often I was badly prepared for harvesting but nothing got wasted…

Ok, I did give away some of the cucumbers but the rest were eaten fresh or baked and frozen.
So strange times came and went. I’ve been sad and stressed by other things, my allotment kept me focused. Even though I had to force myself to go there I always ended up feeling proud and positive and darn right happy! 😀

 

JULY 2016

It’s July and summer brought a heatwave then; rain & sun = lush!
We have crops! We have loads of leafy growth everywhere but when its hot its hard to get the energy to tender the garden.
But I have a jungle which is cool….

Agapanthas is about to burst into flower!
Agapanthus is about to burst into flower!

Up at the lottie

Purple Shiraz 'touts
Purple Shiraz ‘touts

Lots of crops are giving up their veggie delights. Mange tout Shiraz has been nice, though not that abundant. But easy to spot, always a bonus. Other peas have just disappeared altogether. but very please with rainbow chard that has self seeded from last year. Every evening I visit the plot for my dinner, little and often is the way I harvest.

Daily pickings
Daily pickings
Onions are asking to be taken home...
Onions are asking to be taken home…
Cosmos Xanthos, sweetcorn and poached egg plant is my yellow theme this year
Cosmos Xanthos, sweetcorn and poached egg-plant is my yellow theme this year
The succulent wreath is nearly two years old. She a bit delicate now and lives in the greenhouse
The succulent wreath is nearly two years old. Sh’s a bit delicate now and lives in the greenhouse

November 2015

Berries featured image

Mirrors, berries and a hitch-hiker snail

Isn’t November beautiful! Fabulous colours and amazing berries. I picked some red and yellow ones from a Rowan tree and spent a fun half-hour arranging them in vases. My pink cosmos had its last picking and now the cold has just got too much for them. They have been an absolute delight, and have pride of place on the dresser.

My never ending worship at the altar of cosmos.
My never ending worship at the altar of cosmos.
Rowan berries below my painting of a red pepper.
Rowan berries below my painting of a red pepper.
The mind of a crazy person. The cosmos looks the biz.
The mind of a crazy person. The cosmos looks the biz.

Reflecting glory
Top of my list this month was to finish painting a mirror and install it on the wall above the patio table and chairs. It’s painted in a colour to match the kitchen and so as you look through the French doors, it looks like the kitchen is extended. It looks even better than I had imagined. The mirror reflects the sunlight wall opposite and bounces the light into this otherwise shaded area.

Mirror brings life to a bare shady wall.
Mirror brings life to a bare shady wall.
Before.
Before.

It is also fun having a display of the season on the table. My pumpkins weren’t that good to carve but look positively stunning used as planters. The orange meant a home for my continuing successful supply of ophiopogon black grass.

A visit to a garden center procured some Blue Cushion sedum. These coupled with Aloe Vera and other grey succulents (that have names that are impossible to pronounce) all make a lovely autumnal display.

When they haven't made the grade, plant them up. Funky hair-dos and crazy plants will last all November long.
My pumpkins haven’t made the grade, but worry ye not, plant them up is the answer. Funky hair-dos and crazy plants will last all November long.

Plotting revenge

Goal post moved, yeah right!
Goal post moved, yeah right!

Up at the allotment it is easy to get distracted as the neighbouring plot holder’s son still continues to play football. This drives me crazy, as the ball has landed on my veggie beds several times. Whenever I complain, however politely, he and his wife are so rude. This time he thought it really clever to move the goalposts to the other side but same distance from my plot. What do I do now? The problem with privately run allotments is that in this case, there are no formal rules. The plot manager says he’ll talks to these people over the winter. I shall keep my ranting to Facebook.

Baby beans!
Baby beans!

Successes abound with my broad beans germinating! How delightful and so encouraging to see new life in late autumn. Leeks are harvesting, and occasionally I’ll bring home a hitch hiker-snail that is highly amusing for the cat. Broccoli is still yielding and the evidence of Brussels sprouts nestling in their hiding places is so pleasing to see.

We can see you, right at the top!
We can see you, right at the top!

Refreshing pots.
I needed to replace some plants on the rack be the front door and so pansies to match the purple door seemed proper. Plus the great thing about having a potting bench as its somewhere to put your entire garden center buys until I have a chance to plant them! Luxury.

Pansies in the porch.
Pansies in the porch.
Ones purchases. Arranged.
Ones purchases. Arranged.
Skirt and welly choice in perfect harmony.
Skirt and welly choice in perfect harmony.

Gill

OCTOBER 2015

ENVY, FOOLISHNESS AND TRIUMPHS

Oh cobblers!
Oh cobblers!

Why has it been extra hard this year at the allotment? Some of it has been my fault, I’ll grant you. Like daring to go on holiday without inspecting the sweet corn. Then discovering that they had rotted on their cobs. Damn! Then I had great hopes for my pumpkins, as previous years have been good. But no, three tiddly ones, and to rub it in the neighbours pumpkin sits there all fat and proud. Grrr!

So what can I do to console myself? Harvest my successes and arrange them dramatically on the potting bench. See now I’m happier.

Hours of fun arranging this lot
Hours of fun arranging this lot
Potting bench cum wood store is a useful space for your pride and joy.
Potting bench cum wood store is a useful space for your pride and joy.

I am pleased with the tomatoes, chilies, peppers, cucumbers, butternut squash and spinach. But feel rotten about the courgettes, parsnips that did not show, or carrots, or French beans, or potatoes, ugly cauliflowers, stringy mange tout and sweet peas that died a papery death.

I haven’t given up hope on the broccoli, or leeks, then onions were OK, but strawberries weren’t. It’s had its ups and downs all right. Not to mention kids vandalizing behavior, aaagh!

All the ingredients for a yummy sauce.
All the ingredients for a yummy sauce.

The glut of tomatoes have been a treasure as I’ve discovered that slow roasting them with a dash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil has resulted in splendid tomato sauce. And last but not least cosmos, you beauty! Weeks of neglect and you still carry on blooming. My lovely succulents, the wreath, all gorgeous.

Phew, there is hope after all. (Had me going just then)

Cosmos cupcake

Succulent wreath is thriving well.
Succulent wreath is thriving well.

Pumpkin plan
It can’t have escaped your notice that pretty soon we will all be carving pumpkins. But what shall I do with such sorry specimens? Hmm, I’ve been thinking and researching and have compiled a board on pintrest. And here they are, no carving but a planters instead.

What do you do when your pumpkins, that you spent all summer growing, don't make the grade? Plant them up and they'll last all though November!
What do you do when your pumpkins, that you spent all summer growing, don’t make the grade? Plant them up and they’ll last all though November!

Gill

OCTOBER 2015

ENVY, FOOLISHNESS AND TRIUMPHS

Oh cobblers!
Oh cobblers!

Why has it been extra hard this year at the allotment? Some of it has been my fault, I’ll grant you. Like daring to go on holiday without inspecting the sweet corn. Then discovering that they had rotted on their cobs. Damn! Then I had great hopes for my pumpkins, as previous years have been good. But no, three tiddly ones, and to rub it in the neighbours pumpkin sits there all fat and proud. Grrr!

So what can I do to console myself? Harvest my successes and arrange them dramatically on the potting bench. See now I’m happier.

Hours of fun arranging this lot
Hours of fun arranging this lot
Potting bench cum wood store is a useful space for your pride and joy.
Potting bench cum wood store is a useful space for your pride and joy.

I am pleased with the tomatoes, chilies, peppers, cucumbers, butternut squash and spinach. But feel rotten about the courgettes, parsnips that did not show, or carrots, or French beans, or potatoes, ugly cauliflowers, stringy mange tout and sweet peas that died a papery death.

I haven’t given up hope on the broccoli, or leeks, then onions were OK, but strawberries weren’t. It’s had its ups and downs all right. Not to mention kids vandalizing behavior, aaagh!

All the ingredients for a yummy sauce.
All the ingredients for a yummy sauce.

The glut of tomatoes have been a treasure as I’ve discovered that slow roasting them with a dash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil has resulted in splendid tomato sauce. And last but not least cosmos, you beauty! Weeks of neglect and you still carry on blooming. My lovely succulents, the wreath, all gorgeous.

Phew, there is hope after all. (Had me going just then)

Cosmos cupcake

Succulent wreath is thriving well.
Succulent wreath is thriving well.

Pumpkin plan
It can’t have escaped your notice that pretty soon we will all be carving pumpkins. But what shall I do with such sorry specimens? Hmm, I’ve been thinking and researching and have compiled a board on pintrest. And here they are, no carving but a planters instead.

What do you do when your pumpkins, that you spent all summer growing, don't make the grade? Plant them up and they'll last all though November!
What do you do when your pumpkins, that you spent all summer growing, don’t make the grade? Plant them up and they’ll last all though November!

Gill