Leek, apple and autumn harvests

The first leek harvest. Nice.

No evidence of the leaf miner this year. I made a lovely vegetable casserole with it and the turnips.

Not a lot of apples this year. I think a lot fell off. But I can't eat them all anyway. Plus, I still have stewed apples from last year.

I'm still harvesting beetroot and turnips with plenty of leeks, parsnips and kale to look forward to.

Turnip harvest

I didn't make a note of when I sowed the turnips but it doesn't seem that long ago. Anyway, I picked some this weekend and very nice they are too.

As with the turnips, I can't recall when I planted kale but they are growing strongly despite me picking off caterpillars regularly.

I planted some more garlic as I think what I had planted may have been dug up.

That's about it. I'm mainly tidying the beds and mulching with the spent compost from the tomato buckets.

Netting brassicas against wood pigeon attack

Starting with the weather, as I seem to do most of the time in these blogs, it's been very dry and sunny. The turnips are growing well as a result, even though I sowed them late. The pak choi would be alright but something has eaten them.

I lapsed in using the netting and the pigeons have had them I think or maybe it's slugs.

The purple sprouting broccoli has grown large; should be a good crop.

The strawberries are looking great and are even flowering.

Garden work now is tidying up and managing the compost bins. I'm moving the contents regularly to end up with some material that I can use as a mulch over winter. So far it's working.

Other chores are picking the apples, blackberries, beetroot and courgettes. Then I want to prepare an area near the fence to plant a Kerria hedge. Busy busy.

Potato harvest

I'm not that impressed with my efforts this year. I got poor yields of the onions, outdoor tomatoes and dwarf beans. It maybe due to me trying the no dig method and this combined with the dry weather didn't allow for good root growth and therefore poor plant growth. The soil dried out and cracked open, I'm not surprised that the roots can't penetrate the baked hard clay. So it comes down to me moaning about my soil again. I will add the compost as a mulch this autumn as where I have done this, there has been less drying out of the soil.

On a positive note, I dug up the spuds and the yield is ok given I didn't dig trenches. So I'll do the same next year.

That's not all of them either.

The sweetcorn should be ok too.

Summer heat and greenhouse tomatoes

The garden is much in need of rain. My son is gainfully employed in watering the garden whilst on his school holidays and waiting for his GCSE results. Even then, there are large cracks showing as the heavy clay bakes into something resembling concrete. However, where I have mulched, then the soil has not dried out so much. So I need to keep applying the compost. It's a familiar story that I've told before.

In the greenhouse the plants are suffering too. Even with their feet in water the tomatoes have pale leaves and slow growth. It may be because I haven't fed them so much. I'll get some fruit though and have picked a nice cucumber.

I've also picked some nice lettuce.

And some climbing beans.

And tomatoes which were good with the lettuce and cucumber In a salad.

The outdoor tomatoes are rather pathetic truth be told, so it's good to get anything.

Gooseberry glut

I have a glut of gooseberries, but what to do with them? There's only so much crumble you can eat right? Why not try ice cream then? So I did and wow what a deliciously refreshing dessert it makes. I recommend it dear reader. You are reading this aren't you, I wonder sometimes?

The harvest continues with the strawberries, red currants and blackcurrants with which I made a very nice cordial using the big allotment challenge recipe.

The strawberries are not so good this year, I'm going to dig them up and buy new plants but good enough for flavouuring ice cream and cordials. 

Tomatoes are on the way.

And the peas

And the broad beans are probably ready.

The kohlrabi are fattening up. Such a lovely colour.

Finally, I dug up some spuds (kestrel). Yes, there's a good yield and tasty with salads.  

The garlic has been dug up, it's variable with good sized bulbs but also very small ones too.

I've planted some purple sprouting broccoli in the gap.

I have next week off so I'll be harvesting and cooking ... a lot.

A new hoe

I got a nice shiny toy for Father's Day.

I had my eye on this combined hoe and harrow tool for some time knowing that it could deal with my clay soil. Moreover, it's a Wolf tool which is expensive but built to last. Trying it out this weekend was a joy; it ripped through the weeds and I weeded the beds and the front garden in no time.

The tomatoes in the greenhouse are benefitting from the watering system and look healthy and strong.

I dug up one of the garlic plants to check that there is a good bulb, which there is.

I've read on the gardening forums that the garlic isn't so good this year and certainly mine have grown strangely with split stems.

Also, the onions have collapsed stems.

I'll have to wait and see but the garlic is OK. I'll be digging it up soon to make room for the purple sprouting broccoli.

At least the courgettes seem quite normal.

But the tomatoes I planted outside are struggling and have hardly grown but there are flowers at least. Perhaps it's a consequence of the no dig method and the roots are struggling to establish.

The plums are plentiful and I must check how to thin them which I need to do otherwise I'll end up with broken branches and mouldy fruit again.

I'm contemplating digging up my asparagus bed as it isn't giving good yields and is growing poorly. I am considering planting rhubarb there as my plants produce nothing much under the trees.

No dig method

There's been plenty of rain of late which is a good thing for me.  It has softened the soil up so that I can plant the veg out.  This year I'm trying to save backache and just planting holes with the trusty dibber.  The soil is too heavy to dig over each year, well at least for me who now seems to find gardening quite hard on the muscles.  So I just stick in the dibber remove the soil and pop in the plants. Then, if I have some spare compost I will mulch.

The dibber!

I've planted the tomatoes into their containers for the greenhouse and they are sitting in the trays with the automatic watering system set up. 

I've planted out a lot, most have been hardened off in the new cold frame for a few days. I'm never organised enough to leave them longer and anyway the soft soil dictated when was the time for planting.



Beetroot and kohlrabi

Climbing beans


I've planted the peas where the carrots were sown which didn't germinate. I still struggle to be successful at carrot sowing, I think I sow when the ground is too dry and cold. Perhaps I need to wait until mid to late May. Or just not bother.

The wet weather has brought on the potatoes

and the broad beans

The fruit is coming along nicely except for the greengages. The pigeons have had them (again). Any ideas how to keep them off?  But there are a good number of pears which is an improvement on last year when they all got blown off.

A new coldframe

A shiny new cold frame arrived. It didn't take too long to assemble. It is kinda urgently needed for the cactus to live in through the summer whilst the greenhouse is occupied with tomatoes and cucumbers.

Mouse attack and seedlings emerge

May already!  I've got a mouse in the greenhouse. I've sown peas twice now and each time there are little holes in the pots the next day. I naively thought the sweetcorn would be immune but I was wrong. Here are the tell tale signs.

But the watering system is working well and the tomatoes look fine.

I've also sown radish

and cucumber and courgettes.

I've spread compost between the veg in an effort to improve the soil and keep it moist.

The blossom is lovely at the moment. The apple has a lovely red hue.

And there's plenty of cherry blossom.

Potatoes planted

The spuds are in. I've given them plenty of space this time and I've not dug trenches, just popped them in a hole and earthed them up a bit. I'm growing the reliable Kestrel and new for me, Romano which are red skinned and waxy for salads.

17th April, 2014

I spotted a special offer on the easy2Go watering kit from Two Wests & Elliot and immediately ordered two.  I've seen them before as a kit that included two planting pots which I fancied using to grow tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouse but thought they were too expensive.  What I really wanted was just the siphon device that I could place in some trays and stand several pots in.  So this is what is on offer now, just the siphon units with tubing and adapters to connect them to a water butt.  Great!

No more worries about the temperamental drip feed system that was very inconsistent in the amount of water it delivered to each pot and took me a long time to get balanced. Plus this system uses water from the water butt which saves on domestic water usage. It's environmentally a better option too, so I feel good about that.

I'll see how these work out. I'll need to evaluate them to see if I can get away with just two and use larger trays or link trays with capillary matting.  At the moment I only have trays large enough for one side of the greenhouse whereas I want to grow on both sides. One per tray ought to suffice.

The drip system has not been relegated to the bin, I'll dedicate it to the bonsai trees. As they were at the end of the pipe run, the amount of water reaching them was always a matter of luck.  They dry out very quickly so they will hopefully benefit.  And I don't want to lose them especially since they can look as good as the apple tree is now.

13th April, 2014

I'm way behind but with Easter approaching I'll have more time to catch up and get more sowing done. I want to plant the potatoes first and foremost and get the beds weeded and ready for planting. 

The Pear tree blossom is out and looking lovely.

The Broad beans are in the ground and looking good.

And I had my first asparagus today. Always a treat.

Anyway I have some time off for Easter during which I hope that I can really get on top of things.