Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Spuds and Pots

Now I bet you're thinking aren't those the same thing, he's got it wrong!! Fear not readers, the pots I'm referring to are the plastic kind, not the sprouting kind.

This years spuds will be Rocket for earlies and King Edward for mains. Last year I planted Foremost early and Harlequin salad, and didn't have room for mains, which wasn't ideal for later in the season. In fairness Heather did warn me. So this year hopefully I've got it right with 2,5kg of each and there won't be too much overlap. That said I've only recently finished the Harlequins.

Usually I'd buy the seed spuds from one of the usual online retailers, but because of the weight the delivery charges seem a bit steep, so this year it was the local B&Q. There were quite a few varieties on offer at a good price (2 bags for £6). I visited Homebase the other weekend and they seem to offer even more varieties, including some less mainstream. I was tempted but really don't have the room.

These will be chitting under the bed where they get a bit of light, not too much heat and are easy to check on.

The pots part is a self treat, a 2 tier greenhouse just the right size for these pots trays. Last year the kitchen window sill got a bit overloaded so this should help. It can stand inside the patio door then go outside when it warms up. As its a low height hopefully the wind won't batter it, but B&Q do do replacement covers. 80 pots should be a good start.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Seeds Arrive - So how much did you spend?

I got home to find two well stuffed Jiffy bags on the mat on Tuesday, the unmistakable arrival of the seed order. Somehow it always gives me the urge to start planting but a quick look at the weather and the fact we haven't yet bought a bag of potting compost soon puts  stop to that idea, as the accompanying "Success with Seeds" booklet says, don't be in too much of a hurry to get things started, wait for the weather.

If you add this little lot to the leftovers from last year, (see 4th Jan), and the 2 bags of seed potatoes in the garage and it could be a busy year.

This years seed bill was a higher one, mostly because we dumped a lot of old seed and decided to try some new varieties, a total of £57. Heather is thinking of cataloguing our produce this year to see how much we make back. The asparagus certainly pays for itself lets see what else does.

So how much did you spend and have you added up how much your crops are worth?

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Good Life

There are 2 reasons I got into veg growing, firstly when I was a kid half our back garden was my dads veg plot and I watched as he managed to grow huge amounts of veggies, and secondly I used to love watching 'The Good Life', for the gardening and the comedy.

Heather had heard of the program (she's from the US remember) but had never seen it which prompted me to try and find it for her. A quick Google later and success, the whole lot on 5 DVD's for the princely sum of £11.99!!!

It's still as good as ever, perhaps I even appreciate the comedy more now, there are some great one liners in there.

Any else a fan?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Current State of Play

The best way to describe the plot at the moment is ‘ cold, soggy, boggy and foggy’. As the pictures show it all looks a bit sad down there at the moment.

That said, the site of the autumn planted crops slowly doing their thing while covered in frost does remind you that things are still moving along. The warm autumn here gave them a good start and the broads in particular look like they stand a good chance of a decent crop next year. Hopefully the garlic will produce a decent sized bulb too. We do get a bit of a ground frost as we are in a dip near a river.

There’s not a lot we can do at the moment but we pop down with compost, check the crops/covers/shed and pick a few bits and pieces. This was the first winter veggie haul. Some of the leeks are still a bit small, as are the sprouts, I’m putting that down to the hot/dry summer last year. The parsnips have done quite well when you consider these weren't planted until May, the first sowing having been washed away in heavy rains. 

We spent a long time getting the plot ready for winter, my poor old car hauled lots of boxes of manure from the local stables (much to the delight of the local valeting centre) which was tillered in before covering up for weed control over winter

Roll on the covers coming off in the spring!!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Those Crafty Seed Companies

I was working at home between Christmas and new year when with an almighty crash something large came through the letterbox. I wasn't expecting anything and to my surprise I found not one, but two seed catalogues on the doormat. Heather got an excited email!

The competitors for the seed fund
 How do they know that I was just thinking we must do next years seed order, did they communicate to have the catalogues arrive together in such a timely fashion or did they just draw in some kind of race for our cash. To be honest I didn't care, it prompted me to dig out the seed tin, open up  a new spreadsheet, I know it's sad but I'm a techy, and start the annual seed order.
The contents of one seed tin. There is another just like it
I'm sure we aren't the only ones here who get all excited and start marking off everything in the book like a small kid with the Argos catalogue at Christmas, or that we are the only ones who suddenly realise that we may have gone a bit over the top, especially given the stock seeds from the previous year and the fact we are not trying to replant a rain forest here.

There are a few changes for this year based on last years successes and failures, likes and dislikes, we settled on purple dwarf beans, different cucumbers with a better skin, French beans that you can use as haricots, and by the way of new varieties cape gooseberry, celery, chocolate cherry toms and fennel. Really this year is just a tweaking of last years varieties. With practise and experience we'd like to go a little off piste with some crops, heritage varieties etc.

One tip is compare the catalogues carefully, look at the price and number of seeds you get, from each supplier. I found that this way you can make some good savings and get more seed. Don't forget the pesky delivery charges though.

Roll on planting season!

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Guardian Gardening

Happy New Year!!

While doing a bit of general gardening reading I came across a whole section on the Guardian website. Googles fault, I don't normally read it.

There are some really nice pics and articles in there, but also some worrying ones regarding changes to the rules that allow councils to apply for permission to build on our plots.

Maybe its only the larger city sites that would be in danger but the stats on the number of approvals from government to do this are not encouraging.

Worth a read!    Click >>  Guardian Allotments Article