Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Home Improvements


The elephant garlic has dried up enough to plait the "keepers".  I am happy to report an improvement on my usual laughable attempts to do so.  This is courtesy of an internet search for instructions. (How did we manage without it?)



My ordinary garlic got the same treatment.  From the picture you would think they were  the same size!  A side by side shot reveals all:


Only the best bulbs are plaited for storage. There are plenty not so perfect bulbs to keep us going for a month or two.

Soon it will be the onions turn.  It is looking like a large crop.  Fortunately they are much easier  to string, because unlike the plaited garlic they are hanging off a string!  


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Spot The Difference





I tried growing potatoes in a sack at home for the first time this year.  Just one sack and three Winston potatoes.  All I got was 8 potatoes - but 8 big potatoes. They crop weighed in at over 3Kg and the largest potato was 686 grams (over a pound and a half).




We only needed one for a meal for two. Next year I might not leave it so long before tipping them out.  2017 is proving to be the year of the massive tattie!

How to Dig Potatoes



Sunday, 6 August 2017

Mid Season Update

Owing to the return of the rain I am indoors this afternoon.  Here's this morning's haul, featuring the first runner beans:


I have already collected in the garlic (giant and normal) which is drying off under cover. It had started to go yellow and was exhibiting signs of rust which I didn't want to spread to the onions next door or the leeks beyond.  So in the picture below only the onions remain - next to the carrot nets.


The Jerusalem artichokes are putting on a massive display at the end!  Also shooting up are the sweetcorn:



From one end to the other things are pretty green.

Brassica Patch beyond Beans

Runner Beans in production mode.
I did also pick rhubarb and broad beans today but they were too bulky to balance on the harvest table and too commonplace to be noteworthy.  An embarrassment of riches (along with the potatoes and courgettes)!

Too Much?

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Pumpkin Parade - Rampant Rhubarb



The Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh have gone pumpkin mad! They have planted too many cucurbits by half.  Above is the view in one direction, below the other.


This bed which has about 10 different varieties supplements a host of other mixed beds in their "Edible Garden Project" in the demonstration gardens.   I reckon they've overdone things and I am also gratified to find that if anything I am ahead of the curve with my own cucurbit patch where the Kabotchas and Sharks Fin Melon are already needing to be hacked back before they succeed in their bit to take over the entire plot.

And here are two beds of rhubarb to be found at Kellie Castle in Fife .







Each row is a different variety.  My mission was to track down the infamous green variety Linneas, which I did. It was a bit of a disappointment as by this time of year there is a slight reddening of stalks. But I have found a new green champions in "Early Champagne" and "Fife Green Jam"

Linneas

Early Champagne - right label?

The Holy Grail of Green Rhubarb?



Kellie Castle Gardens in the Rain


Thursday, 27 July 2017

Ghastly Parsley


This year I have been making an effort to grow what we eat  lot of successfully.   Three notable problematic crops have been carrots, coriander and parsley.  Carrots were the subject of my last post. What about coriander and parsley?  I grew both at home in old supermarket boxes (with holes drilled in the bottom).  The coriander was a success - but short lived as they turned to seed as they always do in the garden, but maybe not quite so fast. A further sowing was dug up by some animal agency and never passed the germination stage.  My hopes were still high for parsley, which looked healthy enough about 4 weeks ago (above).  Half the box is flat leaf and half curled parsley.  Sadly the whole crop has succumbed to a root rot of some kind (Fusarium?).  I had started some light trimming, but then growth stopped, yellowing of leaves and stalks was followed by reddening/browning.  So I pulled them up and examined the roots.  Not a pretty sight!!!


The parsley in the raised beds also succumbed.  It seems the recent wet weather is the immediate cause.  Time to start again, using sterilised compost, lots of grit ensuring no waterlogging occurs under any circumstances.  Of course parsley takes ages to germinate so I think I will pot out a supermaarket  "living herb" pot.  Ho Hum...


Thursday, 20 July 2017

Here Come The Carrots


There is a notable addition to the harvest table this week: carrots. It is also the final picking of the gooseberries, broad beans, potatoes courgettes are all going like the clappers, but it is the carrots that take star billing.  That's because of their problematic history.  We eat carrots all the year around and lots of them.  Only organic shop bought carrots will do, but even these cannot compare with home grown. Yet mastering the carrot is not so easy: They don't like a rich soil (or they will fork). Sandy but not stoney soil is best. Germination can be poor if sown too early or with old seed. Watering is left to nature except in drought conditions (like April this year). Above all you have to take measures to keep the carrot root fly off or you will get a useless tunnelled crop. Fine thrip netting (see below) is the answer but even then there is the danger that weeds will overrun the carrots. Out of sight is out of mind and you will find many warnings about carrot root flies just waiting for you to lift that netting so that they can get access.  It is said that they can smell thinnings from a mile away.  So a lot of people sow sparsely and never thin or weed.  That is what I did last year, and the weeds got the better of a pathetic crop)
After a poor year last year I decided on the double or quits approach and sowed lots. I did thin and weed - just as quickly as was practical. So it was with some trepidation that I dug up the first of the crop. They came up clean, a good size and undamaged by root fly grubs. It looks like we could be eating our own carrots well into next year! 😀

Carrot Protection


Gold


Monday, 17 July 2017

Not Bad For a Newby



I always resist digging up any potatoes until July,  having years ago dug a row that provided only enough for a single family meal.  This year I stuck to my principles, especially given the long dry April and half of May.  So imagine my surprise when this specimen saw the light of day in the first week of July  That's 12 1/2 oz (352g) of Epicure potato and this was not the only one around that size.  The downside with these larger tubers was that there was some hollow centre, which the books confirm is caused by wet weather after dry weather.    There are plenty of not so giant tubers which are unaffected.  The later sown maincrop is now about 4ft high (see below) and I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to be a bumper year for spuds.




(No one mention the b word)


Monster Veg

Friday, 7 July 2017

Pronto Pesto


With all my propagation experiments I have ended up with enough basil...


...to make my own pesto.


Green

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Vegetables Having a Dance


Raspberries for Freezing
Despite the  weather the raspberries continue to ripen. I have been picking them every second day.  It is time to resort to freezing and jam making as we can't keep pace. Although the strawberries have stopped the rhubarb is really appreciating the rain. I had to pick some just to stop the encroachment onto the parsnips and carrots. The second lot of peas are ready for podding and one of the two lots of broad beans (The Sutton) are big enough to harvest.  Add to this the potatoes (not pictured) and the vegetables are having a dance!

Friday's pickings 


 Vegetable Dance

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Psssst - Bottling Fizz

The Elderflower Champagne has been bottled and tucked away in the coal cellar.


The elderflower lemon and sugar solution had spent a week fermenting in a bucket (covered with a muslin) before straining and bottling.



Psssst ?  It is still fermenting a bit so I have been letting the excess pressure off. The last thing anyone wants is an exploding bottle.

Bubbles


Saturday, 24 June 2017

Harvest


When you are digging potatoes and cutting cabbages it qualifies as a harvest!

I have been resisting the urge to start digging spuds until now. Today I set to with a fork and was relieved to find good sized Epicure potatoes. A couple of Greyhound cabbages were ready too. So it is going to be homegrown veg from here on. Woopee!

On checking my records, these (the first row of potatoes) were planted on 17 March several weeks before the other earlies and over a month before the final maincrop which was in by 19 April,  See  Diggin

Potato Patch 19/04/17



Potato Patch 24/06/17


Harvest


Thursday, 22 June 2017

For the Record


It's great when the soft fruit gets going (and some peas)



Just so I can keep tabs here are the last four pickings of strawberry Marshmello on the scales - each at two day intervals:

16/06/17


18/06/17



20/06/17


22/06/17

Not to be left out the raspberries have started ripening:





Time to hone my preserving skills.  Judging by the mess I made of the gooseberry jam (it caught) honing is definitely required.

Mountain?

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Time For a Tonic?


At the allotment this morning and not all is well.  Half a row of raspberries has veined leaves like this:
Raspberry Leaves showing classic symptoms of iron deficiency.
and early cabbage Greyhound is also a bit blotchy.

Cabbage with blotches - Manganese deficiency?
Returning home with pictures and consulting the books both seem to be mineral deficiencies. Given recent climatic conditions it could simply be waterlogging showing up in different ways.  All the same I will be looking for a suitable tonic for each.  The iron deficiency might benefit from a sprinkling of ericaceous fertilizer as this  states "Extra Iron For Richer Green Leaves". Manganese sulphate might be harder to come by.  The advice seems to be not to over lime susceptible soils.  This seems harsh for a brassica patch!  If there is an organic trace element cocktail in the shops/garden centre I will probably get it as an insurance.

Now on a more cheerful note, I also picked the first strawberries of the season today. Now when is Wimbledon?



Fix

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Three Weeks is a Long Time in Propagation

Coriander now:


(I had already harvested some plants yesterday before I took this picture today)

Coriander 3 weeks ago:


And I did promise to update progress on the water cuttings of mint and basil


Mint cuttings now:


3 weeks ago:


Basil cuttings now:



3 weeks ago:



The growth on these cuttings is easily outstripping the progress of seedlings sown at the same time or earlier, 

Then and Now