Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Creature Feature - A Mysterious Burrow

St Ives Allotment - Animal Burrow
As I was conducting my usual inspection of the plot last Sunday - I noticed something new and unusual.

There was a pile of newly dug earth at the side of one of my beds.

At first sight it looked like a rabbit or similar creature had been digging about. Or maybe I had a mole in residence ! ......

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Sunday On The Allotment - 25 Nov - Rain Stops Play

St Ives Allotment
I headed out as usual this morning for my Sunday visit to my St Ives Cornwall allotment.

A pretty bleak morning - after the torrential rain we've had in Cornwall over the last few days I decided to limit myself to a tour of inspection. The ground was too wet to do much else.

At least we're probably better off than many allotment holders - our site is pretty well draining and there wasn't too much standing water - apart from in the car park - as usual ! ......

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Growing Willow

Willow - St Ives Allotments
Willow is an absolutely wonderful thing to grow - it looks beautiful - is easy to establish and manage - and has some useful functions. It is also highly productive, sustainable and grows well in most conditions.

I'm growing it all around the edge of my allotment plot in St Ives. I'm aiming - eventually - to create a windbreak as well as an ornamental boundary. Strong winds - particularly from the West - are a persistent problem on our site ......

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Composting Starts At Home

St Ives Allotment - Compost Bins
Compost is one of the most important elements of any allotment or garden. Its obviously a good way of recycling waste - but also provides a fantastic resource.  Given a bit of time and care - free fertiliser and soil improver for the vegetable and fruit beds.

I'm planning a series of posts on the topic

I currently have two compost bins on the allotment - but I'm starting starting with Composting At Home - before I move onto what I do out on the plot ......

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Autumn Growing - Peas - Backup Plans

Autumn Sowing Peas
In October I did a post about:
Autumn Growing - Peas

I sowed four rows of peas out on the allotment under fleece cloches.

It may be my background in business analysis and project management - but I am a great believer in backup plans when it comes to growing. Some of the seeds sown in the ground - whatever the conditions in the garden or allotment - may fail to germinate or grow on ......

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sunday On The Allotment - 18 Nov - Strawberries

St Ives Cornwall - Allotment With A Sea View
I woke up to a brilliant sunny morning in St Ives Cornwall. A bit chilly - but nowhere near as cold as last night's weather forecast predicted.

My usual three mugs of tea and several cigarettes to get started.

Followed by a warming breakfast of porridge with golden syrup and honey - ready to head out to my allotment ......

Friday, 16 November 2012

Autumn Growing - Potatoes

St Ives Cornwall Allotments
Back in March I planted my seed potatoes out on the plot - Home Guard first earlies - and like everybody else looking forward to a lovely crop of new potatoes in June.

Then - again like everybody else - the awful weather caused poor growth - then blight - and a rubbish crop that fed us for about 2 meals.

I harvested what I could and cleared the plot. In August I noticed that a few plants had re-emerged - this is normal as its almost impossible to clear a bed entirely of potatoes. I decided to let them grow on a bit on the off chance that I might get a small second harvest. In September I did indeed get a few more of eatable size out - then sowed Mustard Green Manure ......

Monday, 12 November 2012

Autumn Growing - Broad Beans

Autumn Sown Broad Beans
Last month I wrote a post about -
Autumn Sowing - Broad Beans.

Four weeks on - and the beans are doing well. They have almost all germinated and are growing on nicely on my St Ives Cornwall allotment.

But - as the pic shows - this weekend the bed was in urgent need of weeding - so I got that done yesterday .......

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Sunday On The Allotment - 11 Nov - Odd Jobs

A beautiful sunny morning out on the St Ives (Cornwall) allotments.

I headed out mid-morning to get a few jobs done and to generally enjoy pottering about in the Autumn sunshine.

I started with a cigarette and my usual tour of inspection - and things are looking fairly good.

The peas are still growing on well - under their protective fleece cloche.

A bit of weeding will be needed in a week or two - but otherwise all fine ..........

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Leaf Mould - A Free Resource

In a previous post I wrote about making leaf mould (leaf mold) from the fallen leaves in my garden:
October - Making Leaf Mould

When I was on one of my regular walks out to the fields - below the Penwith Hills north of St Ives - I noticed just how many fallen leaves there were along the path. Suddenly the light bulb went on in my head - free compost !

There is nothing I like more than free stuff and this was a fairly obvious one.

After that I took a couple of black plastic bin bags with me every time I went out - and filled them up.

These were mostly deciduous leaves - from the trees lining the boundary of St John's In The Fields Church and Vicarage ......

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Growing Giant Pumpkins

As things get quieter on the allotment I'm planning some posts looking back over the growing season.

As has been mentioned many many time here and on other allotment blogs - it hasn't been an easy season here in the UK and Cornwall. Wet and cold weather has persisted through the Summer, though Autumn here in Cornwall hasn't been too bad.

One thing I've had a bit of success with is growing pumpkins and squash.

These included Giant American Pumpkins that I wanted to grow especially for Halloween. Or maybe that should be "Pumpkin" singular - as in the end only one survived to become a magnificent Halloween lantern ! Read On ......

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Sunday On The Allotment - 4 Nov - Tidying Up

A slightly bleak but beautiful day out on St Ives Allotments on the edge of the Penwith Hills. I headed out west late morning into uncertain weather.

Today's plan was to do a bit of general tidying up, sort out and clear one of the beds where I harvested pumpkins last week and check progress on the Autumn sowings.

The skies soon cleared to blue and the sun came out to cheer my mood further. I've not been able to get out on the plot for a week - due to a combination of car problems and website projects that needed finishing.

Both now sorted - for now. So time to enjoy some time out on the allotment ......

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Green Manure - Mustard

Green manures are sown onto beds after the main crop of vegetables has been harvested - usually in late Summer and early Autumn.. They are not intended to produce another crop to eat - but do deliver some really worthwhile benefits.

They suppress weed growth and hold nutrients in the soil that might be washed away by Autumn and Winter rains. Some - particularly if from the bean family of plants - actually add fertility to the soil by fixing nitrogen - just like beans grown to eat. When they have done their work, start to flower or die back - they can either be dug into the soil to improve its structure, or provide a useful addition to the compost heap.

Finally - my personal view - I prefer to at least have something growing on my plot rather than empty beds. As long as it adds to the plot within broadly "green" principles - I'm keen on a Stakhanovite level of allotment plot productivity that would put a Stalinist collective farm commissar to shame ! ........