Monday, 3 April 2017

Sunday On The Allotment - Sowing and Growing

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - Spring - Blue Skies


Lovely weather in Cornwall this weekend - warm with blue skies and sunshine.

I felt I'd one enough weeding and clearing for now - it never ends.

So I focussed on sowing some seeds - Spring is advancing quickly.

Allotment Growing - Carrots

I got two more rows of Amsterdam Forcing Carrots sown - mixed in with some Marigold seed. The flowers will make a pretty addition as well as attracting bees. They are also supposed to help keep carrot flies away - although I'm not sure that this works.

I also made a start on my long planned Wild Flower Patch - by sowing more Marigolds plus some Nasturtiums. This will also look nice in Summer - and attract more bees. I'll be adding some wild flower mix seed in due course. Plus some sunflowers that I've sown in pots to get started.

Allotment Growing - Broad Beans - Sprouting

Excited to see my Broad Beans - Bunyards Exhibition - finally coming through. They've been in the ground for three weeks and I was beginning to get worried. I do this every year - impatience! Hopefully the peas will come through next.

Allotment Growing - Living Willow Structure

More exciting news. My Living Willow Structure - which I planted back in November - is ..... living! Shoots are starting to appear all over so the willow is obviously rooting itself underground.
Can't wait to see how this develops through Spring and Summer.

Allotment Growing - Old Windows - Cold Frames

My friends and neighbours - Tim and Sharon - came out to the plot with some old windows that they've very kindly donated. These will be great for making cold frames. Re-using old materials is a big part of allotmenting for me - and the materials are free!

Spring On The Allotment - Blackthorn - Flowering

Finally - yet another lovely sign of Spring - the Blackthorn behind my plot is bursting into blossom. Can't wait to get out to the plot next week and see what develops.



Read more ......
Allotment Growing - Spring Sowings

Allotment Growing - Sweetcorn

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Allotment Growing

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Sunday, 26 March 2017

Sunday On The Allotment - Spring In Cornwall

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - Spring - Blue Skies
St Ives Cornwall Allotment - Spring - Blue Skies


A beautiful warm sunny weekend in Cornwall - Spring really has arrived!
I'm loving it.

I had a enjoyable if fairly routine couple of days on the plot. Mainly - again - clearing and preparing growing beds for planting and sowing later.

Quote from my post last week:
"Peas - have sown some in cardboard tubes in a sheltered corner of the garden. But sowings on the allotment must wait until April! Or so I tell myself - wonder if I'll stick to that resolution?"
Nope - of course not - I couldn't resist sowing a few rows of peas!
But - actually - the soil really has warmed up over the last few days. I dug in some manure a couple of weeks ago so maybe that's adding to the warmth. Here is the new home for my peas. A "cage" - cobbled together - as is normal on my allotment - from bits and bobs scrounged here and there. Some wire fencing that I found dumped in the wild area behind my plot and a few bamboo canes.

Allotment Crops - Peas


I've cleared some more ground on the "roots" section of the plot, taking out the green manure grown over Winter and adding some compost and chicken manure pellets. This area will be home to my leeks, already germinating in pots in the garden at home. They will probably go into the plot at the end of May.

Allotment Growing - Leek Bed


Turnip seeds have already germinated, only a couple of weeks after sowing. Looking forward to eating some Baby Turnips in May.

Allotment Crops - Turnips


Finally my first crop of the Spring season - some Rhubarb. Personally I hate the stuff, but my lovely wife Jo loves it, so I'll keep it growing.

Allotment Crops - Rhubarb


More news next week as Spring in West Cornwall develops.



Read more ......
Allotment Growing - Spring Sowings

Allotment Growing - Sweetcorn

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Allotment Growing

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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Spring On The Allotment - First Sowings - Turnips - Carrots

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - March Sunshine
St Ives Cornwall Allotment - March Sunshine


More Spring sowings on the allotment - while at the same time I try to reign in my impatience.

Peas - have sown some in cardboard tubes in a sheltered corner of the garden. But sowings on the allotment must wait until April! Or so I tell myself - wonder if I'll stick to that resolution?

Two crops that I feel can go in, with a reasonable chance of germination in 2 to 3 weeks, are Turnips and early Carrots.

Allotment Growing - Turnips - Veitches Red Globe

In line with my crop rotation plan, the Turnips have gone into the Brassica bed - this is where they belong. I'm trying a new variety this year, bought on eBay (reasonably priced and free postage) - from Just Seeds. Veitches Red Globe - which according to the seed packet - are "A small round variety with tender white flesh, ideal for sowing in Spring".

I've also sown one row of carrots in the Roots bed - where they will be followed later by Black Salsify and Leeks. A tried and trusted variety - Amsterdam Forcing.



Read more ......
Allotment Growing - Turnips

Allotment Growing - Sweetcorn

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Allotment Growing

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Sunday, 19 March 2017

Sunday On The Allotment - The Cusp Of Spring

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - March 2017
St Ives Cornwall Allotment - March 2017


Had an enjoyable but routine morning on the allotment- mainly clearing ground ready for Spring sowing and planting.

Slightly overcast weather, but fairly warm, with glimpses of blue sky.

As mentioned in my previous posts, I'm restraining my natural impatience to get seeds in the ground, still a bit too early for most of them.

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - March 2017

So I focussed on yet more preparation work. I continued clearing down some of the Winter Field Beans. Grown as green manure to cover the beds, retain nutrients and keep the weeds down a bit.

They are looking a bit bedraggled, after their sterling work over the Winter. Some are starting to flower, so I'm keeping some growing in the hope of collecting seed, to use next Autumn.

The bed that I cleared is earmarked for Black Salsify seeds in April, baby Leek plants in May and more Carrots. Plus maybe some new root crops, I try to sow something new and different each season. If you have any ideas, please post a comment.

I've also been thinking and planning ahead to next Autumn. My Strawberry bed is looking a bit tired and general advice is to move these every 3 or 4 years anyway. It is also quite weedy. I made a basic mistake when I first planted this bed up. I was in a hurry so didn't clear the weeds or apply mulch properly, so the weeds keep coming back.

New Strawberry Bed

So I've made a start on a new bed, next to the existing one on some ground that I've left fallow for the last couple of years. Or - maybe put more honestly - I didn't get round to / couldn't be bothered to clear and mulch! I'll post more on that as it develops. In particular, I've developed further interest in the "no dig" approach to creating new growing beds. I've found a few interesting blog posts and YouTube videos on this subject and different approaches. Watch this space.

Final note - on my favourite subject (maybe slight obsession!) of compost and composting. I'm clearing this area by cutting out the turf in small manageable slices, simply using my spade. I've found the best way to deal with these is to build a "turf pile" rather than add to the (already full) compost bin.

Turf Pile - Composting

So here is my growing pyramid of turf, next to the compost bins. This is full of thick grass roots, so I'll leave it for a couple of years to fully compost down, then add to the beds.

Final - final note - this is my latest little project - my "Living Willow Structure".

Living Willow Structure

I'm pretty excited about this - constructed and planted back in November - it is starting to grow! First leaves are appearing and so the willow must be rooting itself in. Again - more on progress in future blog posts.Keep coming back.



Read more ......
Growing Willow

Allotment Growing - Sweetcorn

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Allotment Growing

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Friday, 17 March 2017

Chitting Sweet Peas - An Experiment

Chitting Sweet Peas
Chitting Sweet Peas


A couple of years ago I harvested some seed from our Sweet Peas - grown from bought seed - to see if they could be used for future years.

When I did my annual check and clear out of the seed drawer - I found some of these - labelled Autumn 2015.

Chitting Sweet Peas

A couple of years old, so rather than waste time sowing them, only to find they were no longer viable, I decided to try an experiment to see if they would still germinate.

So I tried "chitting" - getting them to sprout before sowing. To to this I placed some damp kitchen paper on a plate, popped the seeds on top, covered with more kitchen paper then sprinkled on a bit more water. I then added a bit more water, as needed to keep them damp, over the following week.

Chitting Sweet Peas

To my slight surprise, most of them did sprout small shoots. So I've now sown them in a container and placed in the porch to grow on indoors. We will see how they get on.

Worth growing for the lovely flowers alone - but I also plant some Sweet Peas with my eating peas - where they look nice but also encourage bees to come in and pollinate the crop.



Read more ......
Sowing Peas

Allotment Growing - Sweetcorn

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Allotment Growing

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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Spring On The Allotment - First Sowings - Potatoes

Allotment Growing - First Early Potatoes
Allotment Growing - First Early Potatoes


On thing that I have to remind myself of every Spring on the allotment is - be patient!

As the weather warms I am always tempted to get seeds in the ground as soon as possible - now!

I've learned from past experience that this does not always pay off. For example - for the last couple of years I've sown peas in early to mid March in the hope of an early crop. Only to be disappointed when they fail to germinate. Wait until April!

Allotment Growing - First Early Potatoes

But - some things can go in the ground now. The topic of how early to sow potatoes is a common source of discussion on the allotment. I get my first earlies into the ground in early March if the weather is reasonably ok. Shoots won't emerge for a good three or four weeks - and can be earthed up in any case - and so protected from any unexpected severe cold or frost.

Allotment Growing - First Early Potatoes

This year I've had a change from my usual favourite variety Charlotte - and have put in Pentland Javelin. Into trenches, then back-filled with soil, a few handfuls of chicken manure fertiliser added and finally a layer of compost.

With luck they may be ready for a first harvest in late June.



Read more ......
Storing Potatoes

Allotment Growing - Sweetcorn

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Allotment Growing

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Thursday, 9 March 2017

Winter Growing on the Allotment - Garlic

Winter Growing on the Allotment - Garlic
Winter Growing on the Allotment - Garlic


Garlic is a crop that can be planted in late Autumn or early Winter - in fact it should go in the ground then, not in Spring, as it needs a long time to grow.

The plants are Winter hardy and can grow on through the season.

One old saying goes:
"Plant on the shortest day, harvest on the longest day."

In previous years I've planted my garlic out in November or December - but have had limited success with growing it on. My harvests have been small - with the bulbs often not fully developed and split into garlic cloves.

This may be because of the mild Cornish Winters - I read somewhere that the plants need a dose of really cold weather to help the bulbs to split and form cloves. It may also be because (as ever) - I've been cheapskating - saving money by buying my bulbs from the greengrocers, rather than a reputable (but relatively expensive) seed supplier.

Winter Growing on the Allotment - Garlic - Planting
So last year I decided to plant out early and got them into the ground in late September. I still got them from the greengrocer though - but chose a UK grown variety of Elephant Garlic. Nice fat cloves that I hope will grow well in our weather conditions.

Winter Growing on the Allotment - Garlic - November
By November they had sprouted leaves and established well. I kept them under net cloches to keep the birds off and provide a bit of protection from the Winter weather.

Winter Growing on the Allotment - Garlic - February
Last week I took off the cloche to give them more light and air - ready to grow on through Spring and Summer. I'm hoping for a harvest in June or July. The plants are still small, but looking pretty good. Also - since I harvested the last of my leeks and salsify - the only crop growing, apart from my green manure.

Things are moving on into Spring fast though. I've just ordered my First Early Seed Potatoes and Broad Bean Seeds. I hope to get those in the ground next weekend.



Read more ......
Autumn Allotment Jobs - Planting Garlic

Allotment Growing - Sweetcorn

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Allotment Growing

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