Still smiling

Like a lot of people, I can sometimes find this time of year in the garden a little sad.

The optimism of seeding in Spring which turns to the realism and hard work of Summer (countered, hopefully, by lots of lovely, homegrown food!) are over till next year. So I decided to approach things differently this year. I have planted a huge amount of Winter Cabbages, Cauliflowers, Chard and Kale to fill up the empty beds. As I’m not expecting them to survive anything will be a bonus.

It’s more like a science project than gardening.

Winter Cabbages

The sun is shining but its time to think ahead as all good gardeners do!

Think about your winter veg, its now time to sow your winter cabbages, we’ve got ours already germinating in our lovely sunny green house. These young plants will then be potted on and ready for planting out mid to late August.

They will benefit from the late summer sun (if available) and establish their root structure in good time.

Happy growing!!

Compost Bins

Our New Compost Bins

Our New Compost Bins

Finally got the horse manure packed away into compost bins that we have made from old wooden pallets. We’ve made four and just completed the work before the weather really turned nasty!

Will post some photos of the new composts once the rain eases off.

Its been a good growing year, we hope that you’ve enjoyed it and we look forward to letting you know about life and times on our allotment in the coming year.

Happy growing in 2014!

Netting Cages

To net or not to net – that is the question.

The cabbages and broccoli are doing well, we grew them from seed and planted them in with some good compost. We decided to build a netting cage over them to protect them for butterfly eggs and a hoard of caterpillars!

It was a good move as they are now thriving in their cage. Strangely one or two are showing signs of being eaten but the its only the outer leaves that have been attacked whilst the heart is doing well.

Thats what I like to see!!

Courgettes

We’ve had a bumper crop of courgettes over the last few months, we got so many that we couldn’t give them away in the end. All the stops came out with creative courgette recipes to use them up, “Courgette Surprise” was my favourite dish!

But we’ve also managed to process and freeze loads which can be used for cooking over the winter period. They go well with a nice Sunday roast, just throw them into the roasting tray, still frozen, when you put your Yorkshire puds in.

The Unexpected Rhubarb

The plot was a blank canvas when we started digging and putting in the beds at the end of November last year. Around mid spring we noticed a Rhubarb plant which appeared in one of our pathways. Totally unexpected!! But very welcome!

So we’ve nurtured and feed the new comer and now its doing well having produced a healthy crop which will mostly go into the wine making. Its also a reminder of what the plot was like before we got there and it’s very nice to give the plant a new lease of life.

The design

After all this sitting and looking at the plot I have come up with the first stage design which I am sure will change but for now gives me something to work towards.

I have decided not to dig up the whole space but to opt for 6 separate beds with a working area at the top and an area at the the bottom for compost bins.  This design means that I can define the growing areas more easily and have pathways inbetween.

Having  paths allows better access to the growing spaces without having to walk over the soil.  It also means that if there is ever a time when I have nothing better to do I can grass seed them a little at a time but still have full access to the more important vegetable patches.

As much as I’m in this for the food I still want my  plot to look good!

Planning stage 2

I have been down to the plot several times to plan.  I may have looked like a very relaxed person sitting drinking tea and reading a book but I assure you inside I was busy thinking and planning.  It was quite tiring actually on one occasion I had to come home to have a nap!

The other good thing about taking the time to sit looking out at your plot is you also get to look at your neighbours and get some inspiration as to how you want yours to be.  It is important not to get too despondant when doing this.  When comparing my overgrown space to that of the other well manintained, organised plots I did feel a little overwhelmed but another cup of tea soon made me feel better.

So maybe my first piece of advice as to what to buy for your allotment is to invest in a good flask.  No problem is unsolveable when you can take a step back from it,  sit down and have a nice cup of tea.

 

Planning your allotment.

The first visits to the allotment should be used as planning time.  It is a great excuse to enjoy your space with a deckchair, pad and flask of tea without having to do any hard work.  If anyone calls you lazy then just assure them it is a vital part of the process and for me it was the first time I really fell in love with the plot.

Whatever size your growing space, whether a full allotment, half (like mine) or a small patch in your garden, think about what it is you want to achieve.  As yet no washed our summers, army of slugs or pulled muscles have dampened your sprirts.

That’s all to come but for now it’s your time to dream.