Friday, 14 June 2019

Surprise Royal Visit

The hungry gap is coming to an end.  Soon there will be new potatoes, peas, lettuces and broad beans to add to the rhubarb already harvesting.  One crop that has taken me by surprise and jumped ahead of the rest seemingly out of nowhere is the flashy globe artichoke.  How could I have forgotten how early this crops?  I am following advice and removing the first heads to encourage the rest to grow to edible size.  Its proper name is Cynara scolymus and it is an edible thistle, but only edible if you pick it before it flowers.  Even then, only a very small portion of the flower bud  is edible and it is not easy to extract from the top of the stem, behind the immature flower. Additional  scrapings can be garnered from the base of each ‘petal’ (or more correctly  bract).  So little of the plant is edible that you wonder how this vegetable found advocates willing to grow it when food was scarce. But it did find advocates, wealthy and influential ones.  If any vegetable is to be called the vegetable of monarchs then this is it.  Exotic, ostentatious, expensive, status affirming. Henry VIII reputedly loved them (As did French,  Spanish and Italian aristocracy way back to the not so royal Theophrastus, Aristotle’s pupil)  When Henry’s sister Mary, Queen of France, got married in 1515 the commemorative picture showed her holding a globe artichoke. As with all scarce exotic fruit and vegetables it was said to be an aphrodisiac.    

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Plot Update

Potatoes - Earlies and Maincrop

Salads - Some slug damage

Brassicas - Not pretty but effective

Peas and broad beans

Garlic & Onions

Potatoes after mounding

Runner beans - It starts here

Carrot protection in place.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Meet the Gang

Here's the motley crew that are just waiting to be set out in the greenhouse.  They are in the green room (shed) while the greenhouse is set up for the summer season:

Much less cluttered now that the seedlings have been evicted:

We have had so much rain in the last week that watering has not been an issue even for new sowings and plantings at the allotment (of which more to follow).  It is warm enough for even tender plants to survive outdoors so I have been moving everything along apace.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Vermiculture Revisited

After eight weeks it is time to assess the worm farm.

Opening it up it was wriggling with life but worms are shy of light and soon darted 'underground'.

Top Draw
 For the most part they had abandoned the middle draw.  Any I came across were retrieved and retained in the farm
Middle Draw
This is the first time I have seen worms in the bottom draw. Some fell in as I dismantled the farm, but some must have made their way there and drowned.

Bottom Draw

Surprisingly the newspaper laid down as a liner at the bottom of the middle draw was still intact.
Middle Draw Contents Inverted
It's not much to show for eight weeks but it hasn't been much trouble. So now I have tipped out the middle draw and made it the new top draw, where new 'food' is added.

A knot of worms in the top draw.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Swans on the Pond

These chirpy chaps hatched yesterday and were out on the pond today.  A brood of eight. Well done mum.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Cabin Fever - The Musical

 It's raining so I thought I might update a state of play review that I did about a month ago In-cold-storage.  The greenhouse is bulging with plants waiting to be liberated. The forecast for the next three nights is 3 degrees C so it would be foolhardy to plant out.

Stage Left

Stage Right


Outside the greenhouse there are plenty seedlings that would just love to be inside.  I cover these with propagator lids each night at dusk and remove them each morning.

There's no lids to spare and some of the overwintered plants just have to tough it out.


Despite the cold temperatures the recent rain has seen a surge in the slug and snail population.  They quickly home in on these runner beans (and some dahlias suffered too). Reluctantly I have applied a sprinkling of (Organic Approved) slug pellets under each tray.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Overdone Brassica

Of course everything is going hell for leather right now what with spring proper arriving and all that.  Rather than try to list everything here is a representative picture of the sort of madness that is abroad.  This is my third sowing of brassicas (the earlier ones being cabbage, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts).  They have all come good with the exeption of the two Tuscan Kales.  Either they are slower to germinate or the seed (which is years old) has finally lost its viability. 

I find it amusing that blogging drops when there is more going on in the garden.  Paradoxically there is more to report on too.  Busy makes busy.