Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Christmas

I have just been out gathering some veggies to go with Christmas dinner. Despite the odd summer and such a wet year here in south west England, we still seem to have lots of good veggies in the garden to see us through.

Some of the leeks are also going for a lovely leek and barley broth which is cooking right now, even as I type.

Parsnips, leeks and Brussels Sprouts, gathered this morning

I prepare the sprouts in the garden - letting the trimmings rot back into the ground

Wherever you are reading this blog, and whatever you have on your plate this Christmas, I hope it  is a good one for you and that we all enjoy a good year's gardening in 2013. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Potato Blight

I seem to be posting comments on Twitter more than here, and there was an interesting exchange of tweets including Monty Don, about potato blight, or more especially the voice of corporate thinking, expressing a view on the subject, as reported in the Telegraph:

"Allan Stevenson, Chairman of the Potato Council, told trade journal The Grocer, that people should be buying potatoes from the supermarket rather than growing their own as this may help spread blight."

For more see here

It makes you wonder what kind of world view these people have doesn't it?

There are many options available to small-scale growers, not least growing blight resistant varieties (my Sarpo Mira rows came through, whereas less resistant ones succumbed).

With changes in weather patterns  and perhaps more frequent wet summers, we may spend more time living with "Smith periods" so everyone needs to brush up on combating blight - and no, that does not mean giving up growing potatoes, but is may mean thinking differently.

A site worth looking into (I registered):


Monday, July 23, 2012

Genetically Modified

In recent months I have noticed a trend from reasonable-sounding GM scientists to suggest that GM is just a continuation of what breeders have always done, namely to select for desired features or to exclude others.
Reasonable they may have sounded, but I haven't believed them. Gregor Mendel, did not introduce alien genes into the sweet peas he was studying; a fact I am sure GM scientists will know well. Therefore their assertions appear at best disingenuous.
Don't just take my word for this: people at King's College, involved in GM, have published research about GM and some of the benefits and safety claims made for it. You can find a summary and link to full report here. You may find that everything is not what it seems!

Peat-free compost

Our chance to join the debate, reported on a very interesting blog

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Early Potatoes

We have dug some Charlotte, Accent and Foremost potatoes. This picture compares the crop from one plant each of Accent and Foremost (we've eaten the Charlotte!). They are grown in exactly the same way, in the same bed and each were chitted. You can see Foremost did not thrive here (they may well do elsewhere).

Foremost potatoes on left, Accent on right

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Busy time

This is much more a time of year for being in the garden rather than writing about it, it was even more busy for us, as we took part in the village Open Gardens Day, so we had to do some tidying beyond what we'd normally bother with - we like the natural "lived-in" look! As it happened, it really poured down on the day, though quite a few hardy people still visited - maybe it was Mrs Soggy's cakes that attracted them - probably much more so than my rows of veggies.

At this time of year I am busy succession sowing, even so, I think I may have got the timing wrong on the lettuces - with the outdoor ones not coming on as fast as I thought - we are having strange weather at the minute - feels more like winter - it was down to 6C last night.

Recent sowings:
CARROT Amsterdam Forcing (That was to make up for lots of gaps where something has been eating my carrot seedlings at the 2 leaf stage).
LAMBS LETTUCE Valerianella Locusta
LETTUCE Lollo Rossa
LETTUCE Red Salad Bowl
LETTUCE Valmaine
PAK CHOI China Choi

I also push in extra beans and peas just to get some succession with them too. We have been eating sugar snap and mange tout for a while, but nothing but flowers on some of the climbing beans yet.
BEAN CLIMBING Borlotta Lingua di Fuoco

BEAN, Broad. Aquadulce Claudia (We have been eating and freezing these, delicious)

PEA Asparagus (The flowers look very nice on these)
PEA Mange Tout Norli
PEA Early Onward
PEA Rapido Petit Pois
PEA Sugar Ann
PEA Sugar Snap LARGE

Finally, the bank along the edge of the veggie patch is looking very good now with the trees cut down, lots more light. I sowed two packets of mixed wild flower seeds there, one of annuals, the other of perennials - both from Little Groves nursery. The bees are loving the flowers.

Cottage Flower garden on Open Day - summerhouse full!

Open Day again - see the rain in my compost tray!

The bank, with trees taken down and wild flowers thriving

More of a very soggy Open Day

Friday, May 18, 2012

Greenhouse update

Here's the Greenhouse 3 weeks later, everything thriving, except for the Lettuce Leafed Basil which look a bit sick.
Salad leaves and tomato plants coming along nicely.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tomatoes in the greenhouse

Greenhouse tomatoes

Today I have planted out 3 types of tomato in the greenhouse: Beeksteak, Cossack and Sungold. I have a 4th variety - staying under glass for now - Orkado, which will be planted outside once frost danger has passed. I've pasted some descriptive notes below.

If you look very carefully, in the foreground, you will see the companion planting of French Marigolds and between the tomatoes the early salad leaves. Tomatoes still in pots are the Orkado to go out eventually.

TOMATO Beefsteak – In or Out
Large, juicy beefsteak tomatoes! The vigorous plants are ideal for an unheated greenhouse

TOMATO Cossack
Cordon. In or out
Similar to ‘Moneymaker’ in fruit size, Tomato ‘Cossack’ produces good crops of round, greenback-free fruits, weighing75g (2½oz) each. The first trusses of this F1 hybrid are early to ripen, and good resistance to Tobacco Mosaic Virus, Fusarium and Cladosporium, makes this an excellent garden variety. Suitable for cultivating as a cordon outdoors or under glass

Cordon.  Outdoor
This superb outdoor cordon variety is perfect for growing in unpredictable British summers. The trusses of Tomato ‘Orkado’ are early to ripen, bearing an average of 8 round, deep red fruits per truss. The firm, well-flavoured, medium sized fruits, each weighing up to 140g (5oz), resist splitting and are ideal for slicing.

TOMATO Sungold
Cordon.  Inside
An outstanding cordon cherry tomato for glasshouse or outdoor culture. Tomato ‘Sungold’ has an exceptionally high sugar content, that easily rivals ‘Gardeners Delight’, making its attractive, golden-orange fruit irresistibly sweet and juicy.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Potato Beds

Two of the three potato beds planted, with first and second earlies, the ridges of soil will be used for earthing up as leaves appear.

The varieties are Accent (E), Foremost (E), Toluca (E), Charlotte (2E), Juliette (2E), Marfona (2E)

If you follow this blog, you may remember that last year I was in two minds about growing Toluca again, as they seemed very prone to splitting. However, we decided they deserve a couple of rows because they taste so good.

First and Second Early Potato Beds after planting.

Tools of the trade

 Compost Tray, seeds trays and labels and raised beds in the background. The distant ones still have the last of the kale and purple sprouting broccoli producing quite happily.
On the left, hard to see in this picture, are garlic, shallots, onions, and beyond them, a bed of broad beans.
You can just make out the greenhouse, lined with bubble wrap.
I have 4 water butts, I wonder if that hose is soon to be banned - it has been a very dry spring.
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