Wednesday 23rd April 2014 – Back to the hard graft…but it’s fun!

Both the kids are back to school, so it was done the allotment to see what had been happening since I’d last been. Not much to be honest, except the fact that the weeds and grass had grown more. We’ve had some rain recently and some lovely warm weather, so the perfect combination to make plants grow, especially the ones you don’t want to grow like weeds. Now all the potatoes, onions and various other bits are in, there isn’t much more sowing to do for the moment. So now it’s time to clear any beds of weeds and get them ready for June when all the tender crops go in. I’ve got lots to do, so I’d better get on with it. I did do 2 beds today, so that’s a start. Out of the seeds that I’ve already sown straight in the soil, the Radish, Carrots, Parsnips and Spring onions are all coming up very slowly. I think I may buy some more Carrots next time I pass the garden centre as I didn’t buy as many as usual. The Broad Beans seem happy and the Garlic and growing well. So all in all I’m a happy bunny. Hopefully the weather will allow me to go down again tomorrow, so I can continue clearing weeds. I did 2 barrow loads today, hopefully the same if not more tomorrow.

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The Big Allotment Challenge – Episode 2

This week they started off with Runner Beans. You had to show 6 perfectly straight ones, and none of them were allowed to be past their prime. It’s much harder than it sounds. I love growing Runner Beans, they are very giving, and keep producing until the first frosts. They are a little high maintenance, as they don’t like the cold, one little bit. A bit like me really, I prefer to be all snug and warm. There was no mention of when to sow the seeds though. To decide when is the best time to sow them, you have to work backwards. Let me explain. Find out when your last frost date in your area is. Beans don’t like frost as it will kill any bean plant that it comes in contact with. Where I live in the SE of the UK our last frost date is 31st May. Then work back 4 weeks and sow your seeds then (the beginning of May). Make sure you keep them in the greenhouse as this protects them from the frost and cold. Then 7-10 days before you plan to plant them out, get them used to the scary world outside, but putting them outside during the day, and bringing them in at night. If high winds are forecast during the day don’t put them outside as the wind will damage their leaves and maybe their buds. The day after your last frost they can be planted outside, and supported by canes. Four weeks in the greenhouse is enough time for the plants to become sturdy enough to be ready for planting outside. They won’t be too tall and start to twist round each other. They should be about 12 inches tall, which is manageable to more without damaging them.

Here are my videos on How to Sow Runner Beans. Then How to Plant Runner Beans outside. Can’t seem to find the video I did on harvesting Runner Beans, but make sure the beans inside don’t get fat, otherwise the bean has gone too far.

The second challenge of the summer wreath was very interesting, I’m not sure I would have the patients to do something like that, but they all looked very pretty. And finally the challenge to make a sauce and relish. Some very interesting combinations there. Not sure if I’d try the really hot chilli sauce the fabulous men with beards made, or maybe I will, but with fewer chilli’s. I think they’re fab to watch. I think they said something like “We do as little work as possible”. Brilliant!!

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Tuesday 22nd April 2014 – One back, the other tomorrow.

Well George is back to school today after the Easter break, and Emily is back tomorrow. It’s been a wet night and morning, so going down the allotment wasn’t really an option. But I had some seeds to sow in the greenhouse, so it was time well spent. Firstly I sowed some Okra “Clemson Spineless”. This can be very tricky to grow in the UK as it needs heat, and we don’t always get it. It may have to grow inside the house on the kitchen window sill, and if we do have a very hot summer, then it can go in the greenhouse. I’ve never been very successful with it, but I’m determined one year to be able to harvest some. I also sowed some Sweet Pepper “Romano Mixed”, these tend to do fairly well, so I’ll keep you posted on how they get on. Then it was time for some Sorrel “Red Veined”. I’m sowing this as I would mixed lettuce leaves, and will grow every month or so, to get a continuous supply throughtout the summer. And finally some Chick Peas, again these need heat and humidity, which sometimes we lack in the UK. I’ve also started these off inside on the window sill, and will have to see how the summer turns out to see if they can go outside or stay in the greenhouse. As Lottie and Dottie sow Carrots is out, I’m making some little films on how to sowing, grow and harvest. I hope they work well with the book. I chose “Paris Market 5″ which are little round orange carrots. Tomorrow is supposed to be good, so I’ll be down the allotmeht for several hours hopefully. Got lots to do.

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Woman and Home magazine May 2014

Just a quick mention that I’m in the May edition of Woman & Home magazine. They’re doing an article about allotments, and it starts on page 59.

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Are we not supposed to do this?

Snails have wings? I didn’t you know they could fly! Oh, we do have to help them a bit though. Fabulous story on the BBC…  But only do when the neighbours don’t notice.

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Swift Sweetcorn – Claire’s Allotment Part 224

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A Tomato Trilogy – Claire’s Allotment Part 223

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