Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Long time no see

Remember me? It's been such a long time since I last posted, I bet you'd forgotten about me.

There are no excuses for my neglect so I will just get right back on into it and update what's been going on. I apologise.

But first.

Myself and LadyWayne are growing something extra special this year, and with a bit of luck and a prevailing wind we'll be parents in February next year - real parents!!!

Exciting and nervous times ahead, and I fear that the plot/blog may suffer as a result. I will do my utmost to ensure that neither are completely neglected, but priorities in all aspects of our lives will change from now on.

Now then, back to my other growings on...

With the recent mixed bag of weather we've had - typical British weather in it's most varied form, my ventures to the allotment have been equally sporadic. Law of the sod that when the weather is good, I am unable to get to the plot for one reason or another.

However, I have also found new joys in all things floral - and a combination of garden and plot floral displays have lifted the spirits and kept me going.

Having thought some time ago that our garden was too green (in terms of colour not environmentalism) I decided I would create a flower bed - something I'd been threatening to do for some time. Anyway, it all started off quite simply, mark out an area of lawn to be sacrificed and get digging.

Then plant like mad a series of bulbs, seedlings and the odd shop bought plant and you're left with...

Ok, it doesn't look particularly great as a whole yet, but there are elements within.

Short stemmed lillies.

Love in a mist (seeds donated by Hazel on the Hill - Grapevine friend)

There are also some Marigolds, some ground cover plant I've no idea the name of (LadyWayne bought them and threw away the label) and some red hot pokers grown from seed, some foxgloves grown from seed and some other bulbs including gladioli and sparaxis (all of which I think must have died or gone into hiding as there's no sign of them.

Of the seven Astilbe bulbs planted only one has grown. Looks quite pretty in the sunshine though I think you'll agree...

We also planted a Jasmine about 18 months ago and it didn't really do much - I even thought about moving it as it's in the shaded part of the garden. It never really grew and some of the leaves started to yellow. Over the last 3-4 weeks it's had a new lease of life. Beforehand it never grew any higher than the wall it's in front of, but as you can see from the picture it's started to work it's way up and through the trellis we put of top of the wall for this very purpose.

Now all we need is plenty of flowers and a few balmy evenings to really get the scent going!!

To the plot...

Over the past couple of months (yes, it's been that long), a number of things have happened - namely the weeds have grown and are putting up a good fight. However, a few things have settled in quite nicely that can be harvested. There are a few acceptions - the Stephens peas after a decent start are now showing signs of deteriation after only a couple of crops. The mange tout never really got started (I may yet get some early cropping varieties in).

I've lifted both the first and second early potatoes - the main crops are almost ready, so they'll be lifted within the next week or so.


Melons that looked quite healthy when I planted them (I bought and erected a rose arch to grow them up) died with the sudden chilly/windy snap we had.

Every garlic bulb bolted, along with the red onions (onions were made into onion marmalade courtesy of recipe posted by pigletwillie on the Grapevine:

Red Onion Marmalade

6 large onions, thinly sliced
3 cups sherry or red wine vinegar
3 cups sugar
2-4 bay leaves
20 black peppercorns, cracked (mixed ones work too)

Place all ingredients in a non-reactive, thick-bottomed pan over low heat. Simmer until almost all liquid has evaporated and onions are translucent. Set aside to cool. Place in sterilised jars and seal. Will keep for up to six months.

If you dont have red onions, normal ones will do just as well.

One of the easiest things to make, so if you have a surplus I'd thoroughly recommend it.

I planted 5 Achocha seedlings some time ago and again these were healthy plants when I put them in, but they seemingly all suffered our inclement weather - or so I thought...

One of the plants only just survived - there was a tiny bit of greenery visible above the soil. I decided to leave it and see if anything would happen. I wasn't very hopeful.

I should have been. The plant as you can see, is now doing really rather well, so much so that I need to put some larger stakes and netting in to help support it. It has the most fantastic little spirals shooting out in search of somewhere to grab hold of.

If you look closely at the leaves, they do look remarkably like a certain plant that thrives in warm loft spaces across the I'm told.

You can also see the asparagus peas have filled out the rest of the bed behind the achocha. These are cropping nicely - although I've been too slow to harvest them and they grew too large to eat. They should be harvested when the pods are and inch or so long.

I had a similar situation with the squash that I planted the same time as the melons - they seemingly disappeared and I gave up hope.

They too proved me wrong.

There are even a couple of flowers forming which in time I'm hoping will become squash.

Sweetcorn is now nicely established too - I've only grown 12 plants as the harvesting period is quite short, and likely to be whilst I'm away on holiday, but we live in hope. Over the past couple of weeks they seem to have grown significantly with the little "tufts" now clearly visible.

You can also see alongside the sweetcorn that the celeriac is doing quite nicely. I had fears that this would be a difficult crop to grow, but it seems my fears were unjustified - touch wood. The foliage looks good and healthy and the "bulbs" or roots are starting to swell nicely.

All my onions were pulled up on Monday - and to be honest I should have done this a couple of weeks ago and let them dry out properly. As it is, I've had to put them in the greenhouse to dry out. I might be making some more of that marmalade!

There have been three lots of beetroot harvested and my brother-in-laws girlfriends father (still with me?) boiled them up for me, and today I will have my first taste - in my sandwiches. I'd like to get some more in the ground, but I'll need to be quick I think!

Here's the first three I harvested a few weeks ago - along with my first courgette, some potatoes and broad beans (Aquadulce Claudia).

Parsnips are also going really well, having adopted the toilet roll centre method to get them germinating I think I'll do the same thing next year! I'm just hopeful the slugs don't get hold of them. I pulled a few carrots the other night and they are showing some slight slug damage, but I still think they're salvagable. I'll use one of them when making a chilli tonight.

Don't look bad from a distance though do they?

Those are asparagus peas you can see beneath them.

Not long to go now, I promise - it's been a long time, I've lots to say.

The pond is starting to establish itself nicely now too. I've let the plants around it run a little wild in the hope that it will provide some decent shelter for the wildlife. I had my first glimpse of one of my frogs (at least I think it was mine - it was tiny) but I was too slow with the camera so you'll have to take my word for it. Here's where I hope he calls home though.

Another little wildlife "project" was my mini meadow. You may recall my seeds that I bought from The Eden Project and the little bed I made to sow them in last year. Well, I sowed the seeds and waited, and waited, and waited. I'd almost given up hope, when all of a sudden - within about a week or two, this happened...

I've taken a few close ups - mainly because I'm so happy they flowered, but also because I think they look quite spectacular individually.

Finally, I'm glad I gave my apple tree a good hard prune during the winter. Last year I think I managed to get about 5 apples from the tree. This year however....

I haven't counted them (I don't have that many fingers), but I think there are more than five!

Ok, that's me done for now. Hopefully I'll be able to update a little sooner than 2 months from now!

Until then.


Clare Channing said...

Great blog Wayne, as usual. The flower border in the garden looks wonderful and everything at the allotment too.
'specially like the meadow area and wildlife pond - must get around to doing one of my own sometime.

Veg Heaven said...

It's nice to see what you've been growing Wayne. They all do quite well even if you don't watch, don't they (especially the weeds!) I edged my tomato bed at the allotment with nasturtiums - the same ones that are behaving so nicely in my herb bed at home. The allotment ones have run across the paths, up the bean frames and are grabbing at passers-by. I think I'm going to have to cull them!

Well done, and especially on your forthcoming 'special delivery'.

HappyMouffetard said...

Your sweetcorn's looking good - mine has been a failure this year.

Hazel said...

Nice looking flower border there, HW - and what I wouldn't give to grow carrots like that - don't seem to have the knack somehow...

Good to see you appear to have a play pen ready made - you just have to hoof that picnic table out of the way by the looks of things! tee hee!