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.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Sunday On The Allotment - Winter Cabbages

St Ives Cornwall Allotment
Out to the allotment on a lovely warm sunny summer morning in St Ives Cornwall.

Today's main job - planting out my Winter Cabbages - raised from seed and nurtured in the greenhouse for the last two months.

I'm trying two winter-hardy varieties - Tundra and January King. It will be nice to have something growing on the plot through Autumn - and something to look forward to for Christmas and beyond.

Winter Cabbages - Tundra - January King
The seed packet for Tundra showed some huge healthy looking cabbages growing away covered in snow and sheets of ice.

Conditions like that are rare in Cornwall - so I have high hopes for my little plants.

But - as ever - we'll see. I'll post progress reports here.

Winter Cabbage - Tundra
Before planting I added a bit of my home-made compost to each hole, watered.

I then popped each plant in - pleased to see good root development - and watered again.

St Ives Allotment - Winter Cabbages
Finally - I covered the row with a net cloche - to provide some protection from pests - including butterflies, pigeons and rabbits.

My summer planting is now pretty much done. So I can sit back and enjoy for a bit - and look forward to the next harvests. Coming soon - Courgettes, Cucumbers and French Beans.

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Saturday, 10 August 2013

Harvesting Potatoes

St Ives Cornwall Allotment
Potato harvest time has arrived - long awaited and anticipated since I started preparing the ground last October.

I planted two varieties this year - Charlotte First Early and Wilja Second Early. Chosen because they are two varieties that I like to eat and taste great. Also chosen because I wanted to avoid the worst ravages of potato blight by harvesting early - so I avoided maincrop varieties.

My plot and our allotment site as a whole seems to suffer badly from blight. I'm not sure why - we get plenty of wind - maybe its the damp Cornish weather.

Potato Bed
I lifted the last of the Charlotte potatoes a couple of weeks go - so this week it was the Wilja. After looking really good for weeks they were struck by blight about 10 days ago - and it spread fast. I cut off all the foliage and binned it. Blighted potato haulms should not be composted as this risks spreading the disease and storing it up for next year.

Potato Harvest - Wilja Potatoes
I was really pleased with both the yield and the size of the spuds - enough to keep us supplied in the kitchen for several weeks. Also a surplus to share with our neighbours - which is something that I enjoy.

Two beds cleared - one more to go - then I can move on to preparing the beds for the next crop. Under my crop rotation system they will be sown with peas and beans - starting with Broad Beans sown in October.