Wednesday 2 October 2013

Something for nothing

I love it when you get bonus veg or fruit. A few years back I sowed pak choi as a catch crop after something else. It didn't really come to much and some ran to seed. Each year since I've had a few small pak choi plants germinate in that same bed, from the seed, which has been nice.

This year, something has really got them going! The bed had early potatoes in which I dug up quite a few weeks ago. I then weeded the bed and planted out the leeks, under enviromesh. The pak choi has loved the disturbed soil and conditions under the mesh. Excellent! 

Sunday 1 September 2013

Anya potatoes

Decided to dig up the rest of the anyas today, in case we get any rain at some point (though is unlikely at the mo). Quite pleased with the harvest, this was about 8 seed pots I think.

We've been eating lots of lovely fresh veg recently, the patty pan squashes have done really well and there are still lots of beans coming, I have dwarf french beans under the corn(which has also done well, plants are small but cobs are well sized and v yummy), runner beans in the back garden, borlotti beans which am leaving to fatten-up rather than eat the pods, and a couple of blauhilde purple climbers that are just getting going. Some of the beans at the allot are from a second sowing as the first lot got eaten-off by snails. The dry weather seemed to give the second lot a chance to get away without being bothered, though alsoy hunting down of nearby snail hotspots probably helped.

Here is tomorrows lunch with all home-grown veg including broad bean burgers. Am looking forward to it already.

Saturday 17 August 2013

Stringing onions

It's been really windy and a bit rainy this afternoon so I thought I'd have a go at stringing my onions in the shelter of the lean-to. Here's the result!

Wednesday 31 July 2013

Today's harvest, very berry

We have a food swap at work tomorrow so I've had a berry- picking session. This is the second annual swap though I didn't know about the one last year. Anyway, you take along excess produce, get tokens for them and then get to choose from what other people have brought. Exciting!

I hope there is some interesting stuff!

Sunday 28 July 2013

Wind woes

It's decided to be windy today, and as a double whammy will dry-up the bit of rain we had last night plus damage leaves etc. This is my runner bean wig wam in the back garden getting buffeted around. In the background are more beans trained up the fence plus sweet peas which I let grow as perennials.

Also a pic of the onions I lifted on fri eve and brought home to dry, rather than leave on the plot to potentially get rained on.

Also the latest cucumber from the lean to. We've had four or five so far. I cheated and bought two small plants a few weeks back when I was in homebase getting some pain. I think it was only £2.50 for the pair. I do have outdoor varieties grown from seed out on the plot but they are only just starting to produce little cukes.

Saturday 27 July 2013

Potato comparison

Lou here, I dug up some pots today. The tops of the earlies had died ages ago, probably as I didn't water them much. Anyway, the early variety sharpe's express are tasty but a poor yield, possibly due to weather. The pink fir apple have done much better, the tops are dying down now. The photo shows the harvest from one pink fir apple vs 4 sharpe's express! Pink firs (left hand side) win by miles. Both are tasty, I lightly boiled then fried with balsamic vinegar and lemon juice, yum

Wednesday 24 July 2013


I forgot to say that our Saskatoon bush produced about 15 berries this year (last year only 2). I bought a plant from a few years back and although I have slightly neglected it, it has continued to grow and, yes, this year has produced some lovely tasting berries - very sweet and juicy. The plants originated from Canada I think and are used to harsh conditions.

The berries are a pretty blue-black. I meant to take a photo but we ate them to cheer me up after slicing my heel!

Two whole weeks away!

We got back yesterday from a lovely holiday in northern Spain, the first few days were spent in the  countryside of Asturia. This is the 'green' part of Spain as opposed to the more arid south, though it was still really hot there.  The reason I mention the hol is because so many people were growing their own veggies, it was so nice to see and made me miss my plot even more, the staple crops seemed to be: brassicas, onions, squashes, beans (lots!, for the traditional local dish), potatoes and tomatoes. At the local markets, many home-growers were selling their produce along with the bigger producers.

I have taken some pics of plots over there and will post them when I get them off the camera. A lot of people kept chickens too.

So we both had an extra day off work today to sort out the house and plot etc. I had a good morning down there. Unsurprisingly some things were looking frazzled after two weeks of no attention and barely any rain. The worst off are the potatoes and raspberries. I forgot to take my big watering can down so prioritised watering a few things. I have now mulched most of the potatoes which are still alive and hope they pick themselves up a bit. The rasps were mulched but I didn't water them before we left as I didn't want them to ripen whilst we were away. This was a mistake! There are now many ripe but tiny and dry rasps, they taste v sweet but there's not much to them. I hope I will still get some better quality ones though, after a good water.

The squashes are coming along well, as are the dwarf French beans inter cropped with the sweet corn. Though the corn plants are all at varying stages for some reason despite all being planted at the same time. I also picked our first courgette which was a bit over-sized but not too bad considering we were away for so long.

The plan was to go back later tonight and give it a proper water and pick fruit but I have managed to catch my heel under the back door and sliced a big chunk of skin off, yuk and ow, so am laid up on the settee, hence writing this post!!

I hope it will feel better a bit later and I can maybe go down In flip flops!!

Sunday 30 June 2013

Strawberry glut

So it has been a good year for strawbs and this is the latest picking. The ones in the pan are from my plot, I heat them through gently to break them down, they can then be frozen in containers or keep for longer in the fridge than if they hadn't been cooked. Very tasty on museli. There is a before and after shot but not sure what order they appear as doing this via a phone.

The ones in the tubs are from my allot neighbour who is not v well at the moment. I've been cutting his paths and picking his strawbs, of which there are masses, that man can sure grow fruit! This is some from his patch, I ran out of time yesterday, so will pick the rest today and drop them round. They keep better if you pick them with the stalks still attached. His are a much redder colour than mine though they are all tasty!

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Rocket Gardens arrival

So, a kind friend gave us a voucher for a Mediterranean Garden from Rocket Gardens. The plants are all organically grown and are delivered as plugs. It includes over 70 plugs of various med varieties of veg such as toms, lettuce, beans, pepper, rocket, courgette. Knowing we would be getting these, I grew less of my own so far this year.

How does it work? As you can see from the pics in the previous post, the plants arrive in a cardboard box, laid on their side and packed in damp straw. Obviously plants don't generally like being in the dark on their side, so they arrive looking a bit beaten-up. Some look better than others....some look as though they would have preferred to have been planted out a while back, like the courgettes with yellowy leaves which are also quite straggly. I guess it must be hard to get all the plants ready at the same time. You're advised to unpack ASAP and give them all a good drink, which I did.

Well, hopefully they will pick up a bit! I have put them in the lean-to so they will get light first thing in the morning and maybe straighten up? By a happy coincidence I have tomorrow off work so the morning will be spent planting out as many as possible.

Don't panic ... what you should do when 70-odd plug plants are delivered to your house and need planting out within 24 hours!

Here are the photos, will explain more when not on a mob phone!

Saturday 4 May 2013


Pea pods starting to form in our lean-to. Sown into last years tomato pots and compost. Having to keep a eye on greenfly now though. Better to keep on top of it and will clean the pots when the peas are finished.

Monday 29 April 2013

Path ponderings

We have quite a few grass paths on the plot and they take a fair bit of maintenance. The other day I thought, hmm maybe we should have less paths or at least maybe less grassy paths?

On reflection, and as there are a hundred other things to try and sort out, I figured the paths are quite good after all. If I keep the cuttings separately I can use them as mulch (which I did last year but had forgotten) - good for putting round the strawbs, other fruit bushes, potatoes and a whole host of other uses. Pile them up and let them dry out, and a short while later, hey presto, free mulch!

The photo below is from a couple of weeks ago. It's looking much more lush and green now though, after a bit of rain. Need to get me shears out!

Click on it to view the full photo (added via a mob and it came across a bit funny)

Monday 8 April 2013

Parsnips, potatoes and parsley

Dug up the last of the 'snips yesterday as the tops had started growing a bit too much. We had parsnip and potato chips for tea yesterday, both homegrown. Funnily enough it was that old coincidence that I sowed this years parsnips yesterday too, between the rows of broad beans, sown with radishes to mark the rows as the 'snips take ages to germinate. The broad beans have finally started to peep through, which is exciting. I'd sown them direct in January under some enviromesh but had almost given up.

The curly parsley sows itself around the plot (originally self-sown from a neighbour's) and yesterday went into homemade falafels, with salad leaves from the lean-to. I have started using split dried fava beans (I.e dried broad beans) to make falafels, produced by Hodmedod's Great British Beans, grown here in Nofolk. Lovely local product and they include a handy recipe book too.

Saturday 6 April 2013

A day in the sun

Today was sunny, hurrah! The site was busy with several people making the most of the weather, including some newbies - it's good to see the derelict plots being used again. Let's hope they keep up the momentum, last year two sets of new comers only lasted one summer before giving up. It's a shame to see their crops going unharvested.

Despite the predicted continuation of poor weather I decided to risk putting in my early spuds - sharpe's express. They won't appear above ground for a while so hopefully they'll be ok. I prepared the bed the other day, dug a trench, added ripped up cardboard and horse poo and watered the trench before filling it back in. It meant today I could just make holes for the individual pots so only took a few mins.

Everything is really dry! Funny, when you think how much snow we had but more recently we haven't had much rain and our sandy soil dries out really quickly, hence adding cardboard to the potato trenches for extra moisture retention. JB weeded the strawb bed which I then watered. I need to add some compost to the bed but didn't want to trap in the cold water, so it should have warmed up in the sun when I go back tomorrow. Same for the asparagus bed and raspberries.

The wind also dries the soil out and can obviously damage crops. I bought some reed screening from Wilkos 1.8m high for £14 I think. I cut roughly in half height-wise to get double the length and also as didn't want to create too much shadow. Have put this along the south-west boundary as this is the prevailing wind direction. Will see how this gets on before buying any more. Am also hoping to make some willow wind-breaks.

Pruning one of the sage bushes I saw my first ladybird of the year, lovely. And a robin and chaffinch were singing nearby. Jackdaws were flying past with twigs in their beaks. JB saw a butterfly but wasn't close enough to see which type. She saw a bumble bee too. Surely it must mean spring is finally here!!

Tea tonight included baby leeks  from the plot (or actually leeks that just didn't grow very big hehe) and some some salad leaves from the lean-to in the garden. Oh and some lambs lettuce that I needed to clear for the potatoes. Quite satisfying!

Sunday 3 February 2013

Seedy Sunday

Sorting out this years seeds into months. Always a surprising number that can be sown early if weather allows. A lot will roll forward from one month to the next though, so mustn't panic! Need to clean out the seed trays too. Better get busy!

Friday 11 January 2013

Seeds and slugs

Thanks to a welcome day off work, today I've finally got round to placing my seed order, hurray! (normally something I would do in Dec and already have my seed potatoes chitting-away). It's one of things I enjoy doing but also feel a bit pressured with...have I made the right choices? ...Stick to the old favourites or try some new?

Well I've gone for a mixture of old and new. Potatoes - I've decided to do a few less this year as they did almost too well last year and we still have loads in store. In the next couple of months they'll start sprouting themselves (as a way of extending the storage am thinking of trying to make my own frozen chips, which sound pretty easy - parboil, dry, freeze).

Anyway, so I've gone for one variety of early (Sharpe's Express 1.5 kg) and a main (Rooster 2 kg). Normally I would have 4.5 kg total but always end up giving a few away anyway due to lack of space. Both of these are new for me. Rooster is meant to be a good all-rounder so seemed worth a try. I really would have liked a variety resistant to scab (as we sometimes get it quite bad on our sandy soil) but the sizes available didn't suit.

So just a few other examples of my selection -

Sweetcorn Sweet nugget - grew this last year and was v tasty. Froze well too. As I have a few seeds from last year, it made sense to get the same variety as otherwise they can cross pollinate and not end up how they're expected, as I understand it.

Squash - still have a few Potimarron seeds left and it wasn't in the catalogue this year anyway, so have added Crown Prince.

Onions - Am trying Sturon (new for me, normally would grow jet set, which do ok-ish but fancied a change). Have stopped bothering with autumn onions too as they don't do well for me though plot neighbours have good harvests)

Runner beans - didn't grow any last year as couldn't find my seeds! Am trying a new variety Lady Di.

Climbing french beans - Blauhilde - a lovely purple bean that normally does well. My climbing beans were rubbish last year though - the wind really damaged them. Am trying to think of ways of protecting from the wind.

Broad Beans - Express - a new one for me, mainly chosen due to the number of seeds in the pack! (60) We did well with broad beans last year so hope for a repeat.

I always order through the organic gardening catalogue and also get a 10% discount as a Garden Organic member

SLUGS!! A bbc news report says that a particularly nasty species of Spanish slug has been discovered just outside Norwich....Yikes! Better keep an eye out on the plot.

Sunday 6 January 2013


The weather this morning was lovely so I ventured down to the plot for the first proper session in several weeks. Aside from a few quick visits to dig up parsnips or harvest sprouts (which I
 did on Xmas day for our roast, mmmm) for various reasons it's been a slow time on the plot recently, especially as I'd usually be down there most weekends in autumn and winter. Anyway, today was too good to miss so I spent a few hours pottering around. Despite the need to do a lot of weeding, I've decided to leave this for a while as I reckon they're possibly doing some good at the moment by preventing nutrients being washed out of our sandy soil. Last year I put down horse poo in autumn and then covered the beds with cardboard but didn't manage to do that this year. Am hoping to get some horse poo soon, so will weed then.

Although it was great to have a warm sunny day to get down on the plot (which then made way to colder damp fog), it's worth remembering that probably the worst of the winter is yet to come!