Sunday, 31 July 2011

Oh rats!! (...or other small furry creatures)

Popped down to the lottie on Thursday evening, ambitiously taking with me three carrier bags in which to bring back my bumper harvest of broad beans and yummy peas.

Well, the grass paths were a mile high, and the pea bed was full of empty pods, which had clearly been stripped off the plants, nibbled open by rodents and the juicy contents demolished! Hurrumph! Not one single pod of peas left, the little ratbags.

I took the opportunity to chop down the grass paths with a pair of shears - hopefully a helpful local owl will find it easier to predate my little furry residents in shorter grass...I hope there is an owl nearby, or a kestrel, or something...even a cat would do!

I did manage to pick a bag of broad bans, so that was good.

Oh, and I discovered the worst smell in the world...nettles rotting in a wheelbarrow full of rainwater - man alive that is evil!! I bet we're not very popular with our lottie neighbours now!!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Summer Show 2011 Results

Well, despite being on the Gardeners' Society Committee, the Summer Show really crept up on me this year! I'd done very little prep for it which is never good. Friday evening was spent baking a coffee cake, bread rolls and cheesey red onion scones. I decided to leave everything else until the morning, which probably wasn't very clever, especially as I had entered a total of 22 classes!!

By the morning, it was clear that I wasn't going to have any sweetpeas, lillies, peas, broad beans, delphiniums, flowering plants in a pot not exceeding 12"diam, and a couple of other things that I hoped would be ready (or not completely over - like the delphiniums!).

It was a great show, competition was pretty hot, and one member walked away with 11 Firsts!! (not me I hasten to add). So how did I do? In reverse order:

2x Thirds: Cheesey Scones, and a Floral Art exhibit entitled 'Wedgewood' and arrangement in blues and whites.

6x Seconds: 5 Onions, Floating Flowers in a bowl, 3 Bread Rolls, 10 Raspberries, Hanging Container, and Floral Art 'Table Centrepiece'

2x Firsts: 3 Carrots, and 10 Shallots.

Now, my 10 Shallots also won me Best Vegetable Entry in Show, and a Diploma in Horticultural Excellence from the Worshipful Company of Gardeners.

An excellent result, and I'm chuffed to bits. Although I don't 'Grow to Show', it really is worth all the effort involved in preparation.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Collecting rainwater without the aid of a handy shed roof...

We've had our plot for four years now, and I've been writing this blog for 10 months, and it's just struck me that I haven't shared with you our super, homemade waterbutt.

'But surely a waterbutt is a waterbutt?' I hear you say.

Well, I hate to disagree with you, but no, that's not strictly true. For example, we are not allowed to have sheds on our allotments (for aesthetic reasons), so this makes it difficult to collect rainwater in the traditional way. I understand that this is a common problem on allotment sites across the country, and although we have running water on site, wrestling with hosepipes is nothing but a pain, and it's far too easy to decapitate plants accidentally!

Our answer to this problem is stunningly simple, and doesn't take up a lot of space (probably less than an actual waterbutt). Here it is...

(photo to follow soon - promise!)

Yup, its a wheeliebin!
We've stood it on some blocks, and fitted a waterbutt tap to the bottom (which involved MrPB lying inside!). We took the lid off, drilled some holes in it, turned it upsidedown and reattached it (with wire). The lid acts as a collecting device and directs the water into the bin below. I can either turn on the tap (when the nettles aren't in the way!), or lift the lid and dunk my watering can in the top!! I try not to water too much at the lottie, I like to grow things a bit 'hard', so on our small plot, there is always plenty in the reservoir to water new transplants or damp down seed drills.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

....and that's shallot!! ...I can hear you groaning you know!

Popped up to the lottie this evening, to see what will be ready for the Summer Show on Saturday. I wasn't expecting much, but actually there were lots of exciting things going on.

The weeds had gone mad with all the recent rain, so I left MrPB pulling those up while I dug up my onions and shallots. Here we have Shallot 'Jermor' and 'Golden Gourmet' (in one pile), Onion 'Radar', Onion 'Japanese', and Onion 'Shensui Yellow'.

My elephant garlic didn't get as big as I'd imagined, but I have got four little bulbils (the little buff coloured blobs between the garlic and the label), which I guess I might be able to pot up and grow on for next year.

Me and some of my 'Radar' onions

...and one of my biggest 'Shenshui Yellow', What a klonker!

In other news, I planted out my Mange Toute, which were too big to be in a pot anymore. I'd guess that they were all about two foot tall...they took a bit of untangling I can tell you!.

My peas, 'Kelvedon Wonder' and 'Junos' are looking good, and in fact 'KW' has lots of pods forming, but I don't think anything will be ready for Saturday.

...and finally, this is probably the silliest thing I've ever seen on the plot (apologies for the poor focus)...This Broad Bean pod is almost bigger than the plant its growing on!!! Seriously, the plant is only about 6 inches tall...Crazy!!!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011


Okay, this isn't a gardening post, but it is a big thank you to everyone who has ever read my blog. This evening it hit 1000 views since I created it in September last year.

Thank you so much!!!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

My mini allotment at home, and an excellent freebie from my dad

It seems so long since my last post, and I thought much hadn't happened, but there's been a flurry of activity in the garden just recently.

First, I had a problem to overcome...Last year a neighbour offered me some veg bed space, but I didn't take him up on it. At a barbeque recently, I broached the subject again, but unfortunately he hadn't any spare beds available for me. This was a BIG problem! The kitchen garden side of my garden isn't ready yet, I have grown more pumpkins and squashes than ever this year, and my brassicas (touch wood) appear to be doing really nicely. I definitely don't have enough bed space at the lottie for all these plants, and the other side of my garden is slowly filling up with flowers. Well, 'Be Prepared', 'Dunkirk Spirit' and all that, I had to find a Plan B, and here it mini, at-home, allotment

I've got about 9 tomato plants, 3 courgettes, 2 gherkins (a gift from my best friend) and 12 pumpkins and squashes. My only wobble about this set up is that my growbags aren't peat-free. There are still a few cucurbits to got in at the allotment, 10 new gherkin seedlings of my own, (pathetic looking) sweetcorn and tonnes of brassicas, which are all waiting in the wings. Here are the brassicas...

I've also planted up my window baskets for the front of the house...

Using a selection of trailing petunias, trailing lobelia, ivy, geraniums, fuschias, busy lizzies and verbena, in my classic range of whites, purples, pinks and lilacs...I have spotted a rogue red verbena, but I can swap it with a spare one I have.

I did have a major disaster at 10pm last night. My hanging basket is currently sitting on a bucket in the back garden, where its been for a week since I planted it up. However, I thought it would be a jolly good idea to use said bucket to water my window baskets...I lifted up the hanging baskets, rested it on the wall of my raised bed...and watched helplessly as it landed head-first on the patio %*&&^@!!!! Here's the aftermath, and the best replanting job I could do at that time of night, in the dark!


In other news round the garden...

The viola 'Rebecca' are flowering their socks off...soooo pretty!

The Achocha are scambling up their wigwam, as are the two lots of climbing french beans in the longtom.

The Delphiniums have given way to the Dahlias and lavender in the back raised bed...

...and finally, my excellent freebie from my's my mother's old coldframe. It needs some new glass, and a bit of a brush off, but other than that, it's perfect! Roll on next spring, that's all I can say!!!