Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Overwintering Thai basil, will it work?

I love cooking with fresh herbs! The rooftop garden has some basic ones that I've had for years like mint, oregano, rosemary and thyme. My lavender is lovely in the spring too; the bees like its purple flowers.

I mentioned on an earlier post that I haven't brought some of my containers inside for winter due to concerns about the plants being toxic for the cat.

The only plant that I have been able to bring indoors is my Thai basil as basil is non-toxic for cats.

This was one that I started from seed in early June:

I wouldn't bother if it was 'regular,' i.e. Mediterranean basil. According to internet research, Thai basil is a perennial in the warmer climates of Thailand. In prior years I've left my plants out and they won't survive the cold temperatures. It does have a much tougher stem than Mediterranean basil.

I am a 'try and see if it works' type of gardener.

I brought it in six weeks ago. The wisdom I gathered from the internet was to continue to cut off the flowers to ensure that it doesn't think its growing cycle is done. Sure enough, once per week I cut off the new flowers and it is continuing to make new leaves.

It does have quite a scent though when I trim it, so maybe not one to have indoors if you're don't like strong smells although I don't notice it after an hour.

This was immediately after trimming it, kitty boy will give it a sniff but otherwise he's leaving it alone. As he is curious and gets into anything and everything we might stand half a chance on this one!

Friday, November 09, 2018

Lettuce in the rooftop garden

Heather here, giving Dicky a week off from writing. :)

Whilst most of our crops come from the farm, I am lucky to have a sunny rooftop terrace where I do container gardening. As I'm four flights off the ground I get around six extra weeks of growing time due to the sheltered nature of the rooftop. Also it catches the morning sun which warms up the concrete under my containers.

As Dicky was busy getting the farm ready for winter, I've been planting and getting things sorted up here.

Here is my lettuce as of today, November 8, 2019! On the left is 'salad bowl' and just next to it is 'lamb's lettuce'. They are both hardier varieties. Salad bowl can be sowed into August for harvesting in October, but I'll probably get a few more weeks out of this one.

We just had some of the left one last night; it was tasty with no hint of bitterness.

Here is one of the two remaining chilli peppers that I still have going. The variety is called 'Razzamataz.' This one was a late bloomer compared to the more easy going jalapenos and habaneros.

Then it took ages for them to start to turn red.

I'd like to bring it in to try and overwinter it but I'm seeing mixed research online about chilli plants being potentially toxic to cats. For now I'll leave it as is and take my chances that it will survive the winter.

While we've had a few nights of overnight freezing in our corner of Essex, I haven't had any frost up here yet. It needs to get consistently cold, like a few days in a row where it gets below freezing and not above 5 C during the day.

The eagle-eyed among us may notice a fern-like plant to the right of the chilli, it's dill.

It came in a multi-pack of herb seeds. I don't actually use dill in cooking but I planted the seeds to see what it looked like in plant form.

Apparently it's quite happy up here. It went to seed and I composted it and magically it appeared again....and again....and again.
One more plant to show you today, my avocado! I eat a lot of avocados and put the stones into my compost bin. It gets so stinking hot up here in mid-summer (even when we don't have a 'super summer' like this year) that they sprout.

I hate to see a plant unappreciated so I sold a few on ebay. Then I freecycled some. I took them to my gym as a freebie for members. Dicky put them in the 'free' area of our allotment and thankfully our fellow gardeners took them off our hands. My final avocado plant tally was over 30!

Here is one of the last ones. They do not tolerate frost but it's another one that I am hesitant to bring indoors due to possible toxicity to the cat.

 I hope you enjoyed this little autumn tour of some of the things that are still growing on my rooftop.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Getting Mucky

I couldn't face a full week in the office, how I long for retirement!! So as I still have a good few days holiday left I booked off what looks like the last warm day for a while to go muck hunting and get the plot manured and covered.

Our local stables has a HUGE pile of muck they are happy for people to help themselves to and it's only 5 minutes from the plot. I moved a total of 25 bags like this, that works out to about 3 bags per half bed square. I used rubble sacks to protect the car, as well as covering the interior in plastic dust sheets. . This is the point I wish I'd bought a car with a tow hook and a trailer!!

One advantage of evening up all the bed sizes is that I can now cut my covers to a standard size which means less folding, flapping in the wind and acting like a giant sail to catch the wind and pull the covers off. I like a large roll of he black covering material but that's about £65 and there are other projects in the queue first.

So apart from bits where there are still some crops growing which I'll come back to once they are finished, we are done.

Just this fruit bed to tackle now but I'm still deciding exactly what to do with it.

Happy gardening folks!!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Cross Paths

Don't worry, the allotment paths aren't angry, but I  have finally put in the cross paths that divide the 5 beds into 10. The extra growing space I gained from adding the bed edges meant these paths didn't cost me any growing space but do improve both access to the beds and the look of the plot.

A total of 15 x 6ft lengths of decking were required along with the corner blocks, weed control fabric, 1 1/2 water butts of wood chippings and a total of 140 screws! The generator earnt its money running the power tools for this challenge.

First I had to dig out the 2 channels either side of the path

Then fit the first 2 full lengths of decking 18 inches part, cut the remaining length required for each side and join them.

Once they were all screwed in place, the soil raked back and tamped down the path was covered with weed control fabric and a 2 inch layer of wood chippings. These had been donated to the site by a local tree surgeon, so free.

All sounds very simple, now do it 5 times!

The final result is a lovely a cross path across all the front 4 beds that line up nicely, and 1 across the back bed. The spring onions had to go to fit it in the back bed, but no other veggies were harmed in the making of these paths 

I actually got a full 8 hour day in on Saturday so I weeded, raked, cut raspberries down, strimmed and used soil to try and level and even out the grass paths, the grass should grow through and hold it all in

So while it looks bare the plot looks tidy and in good shape for the start of next season. Just manure it and cover. That will hopefully be next weekend as the temps are dropping now.

Happy gardening folks!!