Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Autumn Sowing - Peas - Germination

Autumn Sowing - Peas
An update on the peas that I sowed just over 2 weeks ago on Saturday 13th October. I chose Autumn sowing variety Meteor and planted the seeds in shallow drills under a fleece cloche.......

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Sunday On The Allotment - 28 Oct - Pumpkins and Squash

It was pretty bleak this morning out on the St Ives Allotments site on the edge of the Penwith Hills - although the views over the sea and hills were as lovely as ever. Autumn is now well underway in West Cornwall and I've been attending to the last of my meagre harvest.

Its the weekend before Halloween - and so the traditional time to bring in the final harvest of pumpkins and squash. 

I've had some success growing these this year. I sowed Squash - Winter Golden and Pumpkin - Mars in pots back in May, then planted them out on the allotment in June.

I also grew a couple of Giant Pumpkins - more on those in a future post.

They are not going to grow on much more - so I've cut the fruit from the plants and brought them back home to the garden. I'll now leave them outdoors for a few days to allow the skins to dry out (if the rain stops !) for better winter storage.

I'll be looking up some different recipes this year - pumpkin and squash can be a bit bland if not cooked with some imagination. I'll also use one or two for Halloween lanterns.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Chilli Pepper - Harvest

Back in May I planted a few chilli pepper seeds in pots in the mini-greenhouse (£9.99 from Poundland Penzance !).

I chose two varieties - Jalapeno as a reliable cropper - Padron (labelled as 'The Tapas Chilli') to try something new. Also - I love Tapas and had visions of looking up recipes and creating some wonderful dishes.

Both germinated ok - but the Padron plants failed to thrive - whether due to the lousy cold weather or due to  a certain amount of neglect on my part I'm not sure. Two of the Jalapeno plants grew on well though  although somewhat "leggy".

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Leaf Mould

October is the time to think about making some leaf mould (or leaf mold - for my North American readers) - making good use of all the fallen leaves on the ground at this time of year.

I'm in the process of tidying up my little garden in St Ives, somewhat neglected after all the time I've spent on my allotment plot lately. My wife Jo has also put in a fair bit of work.

We have a small evergreen tree that seems to shed leaves constantly onto the lawn. I confess - I'm not sure what it is - I think some sort of Tulip Tree. Please feel free to enlighten me if you know any more - take a look at the picture. (BTW - all of the pics on this blog pop up larger when you click on them).

I've pruned the tree back recently, leaving me with several leafy boughs cluttering up a corner of the garden. So I've stripped off the leaves from those and collected up as many as I can find from the lawn and borders.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Autumn Sowing - Broad Beans

More Autumn sowing on the plot - this time Broad Beans.

Based on past experience I've found this well worth doing. The seeds germinate well, the plants get established before the Winter and they are then hardy enough to survive the cold weather.

At least - that works here in Cornwall - where we are generally blessed with milder weather than in the rest of Britain. Further north this may not apply - and it may be necessary to protect the plants with fleece or something similar.

The young plants are then well placed by early Spring - as the weather warms up - to grow on quickly and deliver an early crop of delicious beans. They will only be a few inches high but should be well rooted - and as they grow to full height I'll add some bamboo canes or netting for support.

One important thing though - you need to use a variety of Broad Bean that is suitable for Autumn and Winter sowing. The one I've chosen is Aquadulce Claudia - as I've had some success growing these is previous seasons.

So - onto the practicalities - fairly straightforward in this case.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Digging A Bean Trench

On my allotment plot near St Ives Cornwall I'm following a 4 year crop rotation system.

More details of crop rotation on a future post - but basically this year the top beds on my plot were planted with potatoes - now the beds rotate on to beans for the next year. Having the same crop on the same bed year after year (with some exceptions) can increase the risk of pests and plant diseases - and this certainly applies to potatoes.

It can also exhaust the soil - something that commercial growers overcome by adding lots of artificial fertiliser  - but I'm trying to grow organically - as far as is practically possible.

These beds were manured in early spring - but as spuds are a notoriously hungry crop and use up a lot of nutrients - its probably a good idea to replenish. Also beans love growing on rotting or rotted organic matter. Some crops - such as onions or carrots don't - so the planned beds for those will be left alone for now.

Digging a bean trench is a fairly simple job - helped by the fact that we have a manure heap on-site. Ten tons were delivered to St Ives Allotments early in the year and there is still a fair bit left. Its now really well rotted down after the best part of ten months in the sun and rain - well - mostly rain in Cornwall this year !

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Autumn Sowing - Peas

I've started some Autumn sowing and planting - partly because I'm hoping for some early crops next Spring - partly because I'm an impatient gardener ! I want to have something growing over the winter rather than an empty plot.

The peas may or may not come through and survive the Winter - or the mice, rabbits, pigeons, slugs and other pests that infest our allotment site. But I'm going to give them every chance and if not all I've lost is the price of a packet of seeds - I can always re-sow in Spring. I'll also be implementing my usual contingency plan (my background in Project and Risk Management coming in handy) by sowing some extras in peat pots to grow on in our sheltered St Ives back garden.

If you're planning to sow seeds now its important to choose a variety that's specifically suitable for October sowing - some peas should only be sown in Spring. I've chosen Meteor - not for any deep scientific or horticultural reason. Very simply they were on sale in the half price bin at the local garden centre and it says on the packet that they can go in the ground in October. Simples !

Plus - I've never grown this particular variety before. Last year I grew Hurst Greenshaft - with fair results given the shocking weather. It will be interesting to see how Meteor turns out - its a first-early variety and so should yield some early crops from May. Maybe a bit earlier if the Cornish weather is kind to us.

So - here is my step by step guide to Autumn sowing peas:

1. Hoe over the plot and remove as many weeds as you can. Then sift through the soil by hand to pull out any weeds that the the hoe has missed and as many grass / weed roots as possible. I manured this bed a few weeks ago so I didn't need to add any extra fertility. If your bed needs it add some well rotted manure or compost and fork it in.