Sunday, 13 December 2015

Sunday On The Allotment - 13 Dec - Winter Harvest

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - December 2015
St Ives Cornwall Allotment - December 2015


At last - today - a break in the stormy weather in Cornwall - and I managed to get out to my plot for the first time in a couple of weeks.

 St Ives Cornwall Allotment - December 2015
I even caught a glimpse of sunshine over the hills  !

I checked the weather forecast early this morning - and saw a window of opportunity - so headed out to my St Ives allotment.

More rain on the way soon - but for now - a nice Sunday.

 St Ives Cornwall Allotment - December 2015

The plot is looking fairly good for December - and I'm pleased - or maybe a bit smug depending on how you look at it - with the work that I managed to put in during October and November. See my earlier post::
Autumn Allotment Jobs - Preparing Ground

One pleasure today was harvesting a few late crops - including Cabbages, Brussels Sprouts and Potatoes.


 St Ives Cornwall Allotment - December 2015
I harvested the bulk of my maincrop potatoes - Pink Fir Apple - back at the end of Summer.

But I "clamped" one row - that is removed the foliage and covered it with an extra layer of soil - to hopefully store and preserve the crop in the ground.

This has worked - and I dug up a nice bagful of good looking fresh potatoes.

St Ives Allotment - Brussels Sprouts
I've been hoping for a crop of Brussels Sprouts for Christmas - and the plants have been growing on through the Autumn.

These are looking fairly good - though some of the sprouts are a bit small - given the amount of growing time that they've had.

But I harvested enough to go into the freezer if needed for Christmas dinner - and I'll harvest some more nearer the time if I can.

St Ives Allotment - Savoy Cabbage
Final harvest of the day - a couple of cabbages - almost the last of the Summer crop.

These are Savoy Cabbages.

Next year I hope to grow some Winter and Spring varieties to extend cropping through to April or May.

St Ives Allotment - Compost Heap
The last job of the day was simply digging out more of my compost and throwing it onto the beds.

I'm already planning for more crops - and more blog posts - next year.

Can't wait for Spring !




Allotment Growing - Sweetcorn

Visit my website - Allotment Growing
- for lots more information, growing tips and photos:
Allotment Growing

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Allotment Growing - Calendar - Monthly Jobs 


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Growing Christmas Potatoes

Allotment Growing - Potatoes In Bags
Allotment Growing - Potatoes In Bags


Back in Summer I harvested a small crop of potatoes grown in bags in my garden.

I decided to have a go at growing "Christmas Potatoes" - sown in mid to late Summer in the hope of getting a crop of fresh new potatoes for Christmas dinner.

Allotment Growing - Potatoes In BagsI half filled a potato sack with compost - planted a couple of the smaller potatoes from my summer crop - and covered with another few inches of compost. I placed this in a sheltered corner of the garden.

After a month or sow green growth began to emerge, which I regularly earthed up with more compost as the plant grew on through late Summer and Autumn.


Allotment Growing - Potatoes In Bags
It was looking really good all through October and November - until a cold rainy spell struck Cornwall and the potato plant began to die back.

I decided that my dream of fresh potatoes for Christmas was over - and decided to dig up the crop before it began to rot in the wet weather.



Allotment Growing - Potatoes In Bags
The result was pretty - no very - disappointing. Just a few very small potatoes.

Not sure what went wrong - possibly just the weather. Maybe it was potato blight - although the season for that is supposed to be over.

In any case - this is definitely something that I'll try again next year. Its easy to do, doesn't cost anything - and one day I will have my own home-grown new potatoes for Christmas !

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Sunday On The Allotment - 6 Dec - Ideas For Next Summer

St Ives Cornwall - Allotment With A Sea View


Another cold, blustery, rainy, stormy Sunday in West Cornwall.

So today - again - I'm not actually on the allotment - but indoors in the warm and on my "virtual allotment" - the online version.

Tending to this blog and to my:

Allotment Growing - Website

Allotment With A Sea View - Facebook

So - I'm pondering ideas for the new growing season next year - and surfing around the Net to get ideas and inspiration from some of my favourite websites and blogs.

Next year I want to try a few new crops and new growing methods.

One of my key principles is to grow stuff that I actually enjoy eating. Hence - unlike many allotmenteers - I don't bother with Beetroot or Rhubarb - because I absolutely hate both !

Horseradish
Pic - Claire's Allotment
One thing that I do like - very much - and do not have growing - is Horseradish.

Planting this will also support a second guiding principle - grow things that are not readily available and /or expensive in the shops. Yes - jars of Horseradish Sauce are readily available - but fresh Horseradish Root is not.

Plus - the fresh root is reputedly much nicer - and hotter - than the shop bought variety.

So - this particular idea for next year arose from one of the best blogs / websites / video diaries that I've come across -
Claire's Allotment.


Here are some links to her pages:

Harvesting the Horseradish - Claire's Allotment - YouTube

Claire's Allotment - Blog

Claire's Allotment - Facebook

I'll be featuring more of the best allotment growing websites and blogs in due course.



Allotment Growing
Visit my website - Allotment Growing
- for lots more information, growing tips and photos:
Allotment Growing

You might also enjoy:
Allotment Growing - Calendar - Monthly Jobs 


Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Memories Of Summer on the Allotment

St Ives Allotment - Summer 2015
St Ives Allotment - Summer 2015


The weather has been pretty grim in West Cornwall for the last few days.

So I've not been able to get out to the allotment.

Fortunately the plot is in fairly good shape for Winter - thanks to the work I put in during
October and November- including:
Clearing and Preparing Beds for Winter 

St Ives Allotment - Summer 2015 - Corn
So - I decided today to take a look back at Summer 2015 - and set up a photo gallery of my pics from the plot.

Summer 2015 was a real mix of weather - sometimes beautifully sunny - sometimes gloomy - never predictable.

Also - at least here in West Cornwall UK - one of the coolest summers that I have experienced - with temperatures rarely getting above 20°C / 70°F.


St Ives Allotment - Summer 2015 - Pumpkin
Good for some crops - bad for others - one of the "givens" of allotment growing is that you cannot predict - or influence - the weather !

On the whole though - another lovely Summer on the allotment.

You can view lots more on my website:
Allotment Growing - Photo Gallery - Summer 2015

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Allotment Growing - Storing Seeds

Allotment Growing - Storing Seeds
Allotment Growing - Storing Seeds


Last year I made the mistake of storing my seeds in the shed.

Some of these were left overs from bought seed packets.

Some were seeds harvested from the plants on the plot.

When I got them out in Spring many were mouldy and unusable - and had to be thrown away.

Lesson learned - this year I'm storing my seeds in a drawer in the house porch.

Away from the cold and damp - they should be good for sowing in Spring.



Allotment Growing
Visit my website - Allotment Growing
- for lots more information, growing tips and photos:
Allotment Growing

You might also enjoy:
Allotment Growing - Calendar - Monthly Jobs 


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Allotment Tips - Sowing Peas - Cardboard Tubes

Allotment Tips - Sowing Peas - Cardboard Tubes
Allotment Tips - Sowing Peas - Cardboard Tubes


Peas are generally best sown straight into the ground.

But it is also a good idea to sow some in the greenhouse - or a sheltered corner of the garden - to get them off to an early start. Also to provide some plants to fill any gaps if seeds sown on the allotment plot fail to germinate.

Peas do not like having their roots disturbed - so while sowing them in pots and planting out may work ok - here is another way.

Start collecting cardboard tubes now - in November - from bathroom tissue rolls, kitchen paper rolls or anything similar. I keep mine in a box in the garden shed.

In early Spring - fill the tubes three quarters with compost - add a pea seed - top up with compost  so the seed is about two inches deep.  Add a thin twig or stick to give the seedling some support - I often use wooden skewers.

Stand them in a seed tray. Water if needed - if the compost is dry - and repeat as needed.

When the pea seedlings are a few inches tall you can plant the tubes straight into the ground on the allotment. This will avoid disturbing the delicate roots, which can grow down into the soil through the cardboard. The tube will bio degrade naturally.

The peas will then grow on and up - give them support from netting or pea sticks - and get an early harvest.



Allotment Growing
Visit my website - Allotment Growing
- for lots more information, growing tips and photos:
Allotment Crops - Autumn Sown Peas

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Allotment Crops - How To Grow Broad Beans

Allotment Growing - Calendar - Monthly Jobs 


Sunday, 22 November 2015

Sunday On The Allotment - 22 Nov - Autumn Jobs - Planning

Allotment Jobs - Autumn - Planning
Allotment Jobs - Autumn - Planning


Actually - not on my allotment today - cold, wind  and rain have hit West Cornwall so I decided to stay indoors this weekend.

But - using the time productively - doing some planning for Spring and the next growing season.

Allotment Growing - Crop Rotation
I use crop rotation on my plot. There are various ways of doing this - I use a four year crop rotation plan. Some growers use three or five year rotation.

The basic principle is to avoid growing the same crop on the same bed in successive years.

This helps to maintain and improve soil fertility over time - as different groups of crops have differing needs. It also reduces the build up of pests and diseases in the soil.

I divide my plot  into four sections  - and grow different types of crops each year on each section.

The four groups are:
  • Potatoes
  • Beans and Peas
  • Brassicas
  • Onions and Roots

Allotment Jobs - Autumn - Planning
Some crops fall into a fifth "Miscellaneous" group and can be grown wherever space allows - although I still avoid growing the same thing in the same place two year running. These include Pumpkins /Squash, Salads, Spinach and Sweetcorn.

I started by drawing a plan of the allotment - with this year's crops.




I then drew up a plan for next season with the crops rotated around.

Allotment Jobs - Autumn - Planning
Beans and Peas onto last year's Potato patch, Potatoes onto the old Onions and Roots patch, Onions and Roots where I had Brassicas and Brassicas onto the previous Beans and Peas area.

The next job is to plan specific crops for each of the four areas and start on a list of seeds to order.

More on that and crop rotation in future posts.



Allotment Growing
Visit my website - Allotment Growing
- for lots more information, growing tips and photos:
Allotment Growing

You might also enjoy:
Allotment Growing - Calendar - Monthly Jobs