Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Bean Trenches - Over-Wintering Broad Beans

Bean Trench
Bean Trench

Now is the time of year to be sowing over-wintering Broad Beans.

Well worth doing as this will help to deliver an early crop of lovely beans in late Spring. One of the first crops of the season,

You need to choose a suitable variety - I always use Aquadulcia Claudia - as these have delivered excellent results over the past few year.

Bean Trench
One of the things that helps all beans along - Broad - Runner - French - is a bean trench.

Simply dig a trench - one spade deep - along the row where you will be sowing or planting.

Then chuck in some organic material.

This can be fully or partly rotted compost  or manure. You can also add old newspapers as an aid to water retention.

This year I'm using manure from the site heap - a delivery was arranged to the site in Spring - so this is good stuff now after a few months of rotting down.

Bean Trench
Then simply backfill with soil.

Final tip - plant a stick at either end of the trench so that you know where to sow your row of beans !

All I need to do now is get the seeds and get then in the ground. One of my favourite sights of Winter is seeing the young plants breaking through - a reminder of another allotment growing season to come.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

A New Plot - Still With A Sea View

St Ives Cornwall - Allotment
Allotment With A Sea View - St Ives Cornwall

Allotment With A Sea View has moved !

Not far though - just one plot across and two up - next to the boundary hedge and so more sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds. Still with lovely views to either side - of the Atlantic Ocean and the Penwith Hills.

This came about when a neighbour on the site decided to retie from allotmenteering - and kindly offered me his plot.

I though about this for a while - as I've put three years of work into the old plot - composting - manuring - improving the soil - building up a strawberry bed - planting willow.

But the new plot has a lot of advantages - its been very well cared for and the soil is in excellent condition. It has its own boundary fence - and the clincher - I now have my own shed !

I've transferred my compost bins over and transplanted most of the willow. I've been out today and dug bean trenches ready for my over-wintering broad beans to go in.

Looking forward to another productive year on my plot.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Sunday On The Allotment - 16 March - Spring Is Coming

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - 16 March 2014
At last - both time and weather have allowed me to get back out to my allotment on the edge of the Penwith Hills. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy it.

Spring is very much in the air - and I can't wait to get things in and growing.

But - a misty day today - while the rest of the country basks in sunshine - West Cornwall is shrouded in fog.

After the Winter storms and rains - the plot is in fair shape. We have really well draining soil.

Seed Potatoes - Charlotte
The first rows of seed potatoes are in. After a wonderful crop last year - which we have only just finished eating - I decided to stick with the same varieties.

Charlotte first earlies and Wilja second earlies.

Looking forward to potato salads in June.

Broad Beans - Aquadulcia Claudia
My broad beans - Aquadulcia - sown back in November - are looking a bit bedraggled after all the foul weather we've had in Cornwall.

But past experience shows that these tough little plants will grow on well as things warm up - and deliver a tasty early crop.

Won't be long before they need staking up.

The perpetual spinach - to my surprise - is still growing well - it was sown way back in June 2013. I picked a nice harvest for Sunday dinner. This has proved a real winner - and it freezes well when I have a surplus - so I'll be sowing more this year.

Pea Seeds - Hurst Green Shaft
My final job of the day was getting some peas sown.

This year I'm sowing a variety that I've grown before - Hurst Green Shaft. After a terrible crop last year I'm hoping for better results.

One thing that I'm planning to do is protect the plants with some horticultural fleece.

Strong winds are a constant problem on our site - so this should help.

More news from my St Ives Cornwall Allotment soon - as Spring and another year unfold.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Sunday On The Allotment - 6 Oct - Clearing and Crops

St Ives Cornwall Allotment
At last - the arrival of some decent allotmenting weather in Cornwall  - and I hope - elsewhere.

I headed out in the sunshine to my plot beneath the Penwith Hills.

Lots to do - one key "lesson learned" from last year is that time and effort invested in October and November - before the worst of the weather closes in - pays dividends in the Spring.

Autumn Allotment Crops
As ever - one of the main jobs today was clearing weeds. I have a number of beds that need clearing for Autumn sowing. But I'm a great believer in prioritisation - so today I focussed on my Autumn and Winter Crops.

Clearing the other beds can come later - I've got carrots, spinach, cabbages and leeks that I hope to be harvesting between now and Christmas - and beyond.

Winter Cabbages
Once I'd weeded my Winter cabbages they were looking pretty good.

I've been growing them under a net cloche to protect them from pests.

The threat from butterflies and caterpillars has now passed. But our perennial allotment pests - bunny rabbits - remain.

So the cabbages are now safely back under cover.

Allotment Crops - Leeks
My leeks were not looking so good.

Partly due to my neglect - I haven't done anything since they went into the ground in June.

They were choked with weeds - mainly chickweed - and soaking wet - as the weeds were blocking airflow through the crop.

Allotment Crops - Leeks
Once weeded - they were still looking a bit sorry for themselves - and like spring onions in size.

But I firmed them back into the soil and replaced the cloche - hopefully they will dry out and grow on.

As ever - we will see.

Autumn Crops
Finally I gathered in my crops for the day. The last of the cucumbers and the first of the Autumn carrots.

Plus some Pumpkins - which I'd hoped to grown on through October to Halloween. But when I tried weeding - they all just fell off the plant - so ready for harvest.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Sunday On The Allotment - 29 Sep - Autumn Crops

St Ives Cornwall Allotment
Out to my St Ives allotment this morning to get more work done - despite the mizzly conditions.

Autumn has most definitely arrived in Cornwall.

The Summer plants are starting to fade - although there are still some good crops to be harvested.

Borlotti Beans - Firetongue
I've deliberately left some of my French Beans - particularly the Borlotti variety Firetongue - to grow on to produce beans for drying.

I had a glut of beans last month - so harvested the pods - filled the freezer - and left the rest on the plants.

These are now harvested - podded - and on a tray in the kitchen to dry for storage.

Perpetual Spinach
I've also harvested a good crop of Perpetual Spinach - sown in June and grown under a net cloche.

That is all now cooked and in the freezer - looking forward to some nice Autumn meals.

The plants are still looking good - so I'm hoping for further crops.

Green Manure - Caliente Mustard
Now is the time to start thinking ahead towards next years sowing, planting and - hopefully - harvesting.

Last Autumn I sowed Green Manure - Caliente Mustard in my cleared beds - which provided ground cover to exclude weeds. It also protected the soil and reduced the amount of nutrients washed away by the Winter rains.

Green Manure - Caliente Mustard
This worked well - so I'm doing the same this year. I weeded, hoed and raked the bed to level it.

Then simply scattered the seed and trod it in. Should germinate in a couple of weeks.

In late winter I'll cur it down - then either dig it in or add to the compost bin.

Allotment Crops
All in all a satisfying and enjoyable weekend on the allotment.

And some lovely crops to eat !

More news coming soon.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

St Ives Allotment - Summer Crops

St Ives Cornwall Allotments
After a slow start to the growing season - due to the exceptionally cold Spring weather - things are now looking pretty good on my plot.

Lots of plants starting to come through. Potatoes are lifted and stored - soon I'll have more crops.

Enjoy the pics - click on each to enlarge.

Allotment - Cucumbers
The first cucumbers are appearing - ready for first picking in a week or two I think.

Allotment Growing - Courgettes
Some courgettes already picked (and converted into ratatouille) - more - probably lots more - on the way.

Allotment Growing - Carrots - Autumn King
Carrots - variety Autumn King - coming on well for an October / November harvest.

Allotment Growing - Pumpkins
Pumpkins starting to swell out - hopefully will be ripe and ready for Halloween.

Allotment Growing - French Beans - Blauhilde
French Beans - variety Blauhilde - flowering nicely.

I also have Firetongue Borlotti Beans growing - slightly behind but flower buds appearing.

Looking forward to the harvest - must start emptying the freezer !

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Storing Potatoes

The Potato Harvest is coming in - and unlike last year I've got a really good yield.

So time to get them safely into storage - so that we can enjoy them over the coming weeks. Also - one of the reasons why I grow stuff - to save money - as we can cross spuds of the shopping list - hopefully until Christmas at the earliest.

The potential problem with potatoes is that they may sprout, turn green or rot in storage - so its worth taking a few steps to keep them in good condition.

Drying Potatoes For Storage
Step 1 - get them dried out - preferably in full sunlight.

I lifted mine the evening before a day forecast to be hot and sunny - and was rewarded with a nice morning as predicted.

I spread the spuds out on a tray set out in the sunniest part of the garden and left them for a few hours.

Potatoes - Fork Damage
Step 2 - remove any tubers that are damaged - either with "fork damage" - inevitable when lifting the crop - slug damage or anything else.

There is a danger that these will be susceptible to rot and spread this to their neighbours. Keep them for consumption in the next few days.
Potato Sack
Step 3 - Transfer the potatoes to hessian sacks - then store somewhere dry and dark - mine are in the garage.

They should then store ok for a few months - but do keep checking the sacks regularly. If one potato starts to rot this can quickly spread to the others - potentially ruining a whole sackful.