Monday, 3 October 2022

Tomato Post

 Looks like it's curtains for the tomatoes, given the turn in the Scottish weather.

As in previous years Sungold cherry tomatoes were the earliest and sweetest. They have continued to produce a daily harvest since early August.

A noveltiy this year has been Costoluto di Fiorentino. Costoluto translates from the Italian as ribbed.

These have started ripening about two weeks ago.

The other novelty was Black Russia. Given the black it really is hard to know when these are ripe. Both varieties are ideal for cooking...

...or preserving if they are still green.

Not a bad year for tomatoes!

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Show and Tell


I came across this picture while sifting through my old photographs today.  It tells a story of youth and enthusiasm - and it was taken in 1993.  That was two years after we were allocated our allotment - the first flush of enthusiasm. Since then our four children have grown up and while they still appreciate good fresh veg, the level of participation dropped off rapidly.  My wife got a job which was all consuming, so when I started my blog in 2003 it was called "Mal's Allotment".  

Showing didn't last long as I fell out with the allotment association organisers (FEDAGA ) after they proposed a voluntary hike in allotment rents from £40 to £100. (There has been regime change since, but only after the Council proposed tripling the annual rent from £100 to £300 at a stroke.) We grow for eating rather than showing anyway and with two working parents productivity and keeping ahead of the weeds took precedence over the niceties.  Now retired we could contemplate showing again, but the pandemic has put paid to that.  There has been no show  for three years now. 

The reward I get from the allotment has not diminished at all.  Every year is a new challenge.  Can the successes be repeated, can last years disasters be turned around.  The craving for novelty is stoked up in TV and radio programmes, blogs  and seed catalogues - as well as by competitive neighbours. I like to set annual goals like: Can we be self sufficient in carrots, garlic, potatoes.. etc. Can I grow a decent celeriac (No) Celery (No) Fennel (Yes) Asparagus (the jury is out).  You are pitting your wits against nature, weather as well as weeds, every year. And every year is different. So I can manage without the show.    

Thursday, 11 August 2022

Tom Tom Club


The first tomatoes are ready for harvesting.  Hooray!

You don't grow tomatoes in Scotland because it makes economic sense, although they have a flavour that money can't buy.  Surprisingly these are outdoor tomatoes, from our sheltered back garden:

The ones in the greenhouse are refusing to ripen, probably because it is shaded by a pyrocanthus and holly hedge. (The hedge is home to an extended family of house sparrows so is accepted as a fact of life.)

I still have high hopes of a good crop before summer is out, this year of all years.

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Celery - C'est la Vie

Celery Rosetta

I have been trying to grow a decent celeriac root for about a decade now, with limited success. Rather than accept defeat I have doubled my trouble. This is my second year of attempting to grow celery too!

Last year I grew Victoria, a self blanching F1 hybrid. They were rather straggly an not big enough for kitchen use.  Then I heard that Loretta is the go to celery variety for allotmenteers. (It is also self blanching)  Above is the first picked plant.  It is heading for a minestrone soup pan. Not really a challenge to the shop bought product, it is nevertheless a source of some pride. I grew it close together, next to the celeriac, giving both copious amounts of water.  The plants have turned yellow, leaves included, so clearly there is a nutritional issue still to be address.  Boron deficiency? I have ordered a tonic, and next year I will use a top dressing mix that contains boron.  Yes, there will be a next year for celery. 
 The neighbouring celeriac has been as bad as ever with 5 out of nine plants bolting.  But then again the soil amendment for the celery might work for the celeriac too....

Now how big is the celery? This gives a sense of scale. I do have very big feet BTW.

Monday, 25 July 2022

Dry Heat

Stuck indoors today because of the rain (hurray)  gives me the opportunity  to review recent progress.  The garlic crops, both winter and  spring plantings have been a bit underwhelming.  The autumn planted Elephant Garlic and home saved Early Purple Wight and Doocot I feel more forgiving toward. The spring planted Mersley Wight and  Solent Wight  got all the room and feed they required but turned yellow in early July. Digging them up they were small, showed signs of white rot and in many case developed as two stems intertwined below ground level.  While I will continue to grow my own Elephant garlic I don't think the return on the traditional sized garlic is worth it on my plot. Lesson learnt.  The picture shows the portion of the harvest that  justified storage.  Elephant garlic on the left, other autumn planted middle and spring planted on the right. The more fiddly smaller bulbs are still drying off in the greenhouse awaiting assessment for rot and suitability for cooking. 

Despite the heat and dry conditions the brassica patch seems to be full and ready for the coming (cooler) brassica season. The thin row is Swedes.  To the right are the winter harvested kales.  Now that we have had rain I am confident that they will survive to maturity.

Although a bit out of date this last picture is indicative of what is harvesting now.  Broad beans have been great and I have staggered further sowings.  Courgettes are now harvesting in torrents. Peas have been great this year, and again I have further plantings to come. Raspberries have been ripening daily. That is one days worth of ripened berries.

 So all in all I have been very happy with the produce so far this year, even though drought conditions have prevailed until yesterday.  

Sunday, 10 July 2022

In a Spin

 After many years yesterday we finally got around to visiting the great Millennium project: The Falkirk Wheel.

The Union Canal passes opposite our house in Edinburgh, but this is where it ends, on the top tier of the Falkirk Wheel. This replaced a system of 11 consecutive locks by a single rotational motion.

Here it is halfway around.

Up above all is serene tranquility.

Down below is a basin connecting to the Forth and Clyde Canal where all sorts of water and other amusements (archery?)  are available. 

Despite the delay in visiting the wheel still retained its novelty value!

Thursday, 7 July 2022

Summer Plot Review


A lovely morning of sunshine, after what seems like weeks of wind and cloud - but no rain to speak of.  So off to the plot to water.

Alliums in the foreground. The leeks onions and shallots are green, but the yellow strip is three rows of garlic.  (Digging up the first few they are rather disappointing.) The potatoes behind are looking really happy. 

And what pretty flowers on the Blue Danube!

Beside the alliums the brassica patch is looking a bit sparse, but is nearly full up now and will come into its own later when the seedlings put on some leaf.

The cucurbits are showing plenty of leaf now. Fruit will follow and an avalanche of courgettes is anticipated.

Separated by a row of broad beans that has been cropping for weeks we have celeriac, celery and runner beans. I have high hopes for all three. The runners have just reached the top of the canes and I pinched out the tops today.

One rather unsightly crop is peas  (alongside a second,later, row of broad beans). The pigeons discovered the peas, but not before they had podded. While they decimated the leaves and stems the pods were not to their taste, so we humans got them!  Next year either taller pea sticks or netting will be deployed.

Last word goes to the carrots. Not pretty due to the protective net, but they deliver for months provided you keep the net on and the root fly out.

So, all in all, I am pretty happy with progress on the vegetable plot so far this year.