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

You might also enjoy:
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 


Saturday, 21 November 2015

Autumn Sown Broad Beans - Bunyard's Exhibition

Allotment Growing - Broad Beans
Allotment Growing - Broad Beans


I've decided to sow and grow a second variety of Broad Bean this Autumn.

As mentioned in my earlier post - Autumn Sown Broad Beans - I have grown Aquadulce Claudia in previous years - and sown them again on my allotment plot this year.

Allotment Growing - Autumn Sown Broad Beans - Bunyard's Exhibition
I am also going to try Bunyard's Exhibition this year. Apart from anything else - I love the name of this variety.
Sounds like something The Gaffer would grow in his garden at Bag End in The Shire.

It is also listed in the catalogues as a hardy reliable cropper, suitable for both Autumn and Spring sowing and a grower's favourite for over 100 years.


Allotment Growing - Autumn Sown Broad Beans - Seedlings
I've already sown four rows of Aquadulce on my plot.

I was a bit concerned when I checked on progress last weekend - some of the young plants appear to have been uprooted or eaten - by something.

So - I'm going to sow some "backups" - in pots - kept in a sheltered spot in the garden. These can be planted out in Spring to replace any on the plot that don't make it through. Or just planted out anyway to produce more crops.

Hence - Bunyard's Exhibition - which will serve two purposes - to provide backup plants and to be sown on a second Broad Bean patch in Spring. Also - its nice to grow a new variety - at least - new to me and my allotment.

Allotment Growing - Autumn Sown Broad Beans - In Pots
I part filled some small pots with my own compost from the garden compost bin.

Placed a seed in each pot - then topped up with more compost - leaving the seeds buried at a depth of about two inches. Added a plant label - as always - with seed variety and date.




We currently have a cold snap of weather in Cornwall - so these will go  in my garden shed for now - to give them a bit of extra warmth to help germination.

Allotment Growing - Autumn Sown Broad Beans - In Pots
I've left sowing these a bit late - would have been better doing it when I sowed the allotment bed with Broad Beans in October.

But its not too late - and hopefully these will grow on - in a sheltered spot in the garden - through Winter and into Spring.






Allotment Growing
Visit my website - Allotment Growing
- for lots more information, growing tips and photos:
Allotment Crops - How To Grow Broad Beans

You might also enjoy:
Allotment Crops - Autumn Sown Peas

Allotment Growing - Calendar - Monthly Jobs 


Thursday, 19 November 2015

Autumn Allotment Jobs - Making Leaf Mould

Leaf Mould Bin
Leaf Mould Bin - St Ives Allotment


Through Autumn I've been collecting fallen leaves - to make leaf mould on the allotment.

It produces a wonderful compost that improves soil structure and - most importantly - water retention - particularly useful for sandy soils - beneficial for all soils.

It has few nutrients in it - much less than in green waste compost or from manure - but is nonetheless very good stuff.

I've built a leaf mould bin to store it - which I've filled up week by week.

This will rot down slowly over the coming months and will be ready to add to the growing beds next Autumn.

More -
Allotment Growing - How To Make Leaf Mould

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Autumn Sown Broad Beans

Autumn Sown Broad Beans
Autumn Sown Broad Beans - St Ives Allotment


I always sow some Broad Beans in Autumn.

It was good to see the seedlings coming through this week - from seeds sown in October.

If sowing in Autumn its important to use a suitable variety - some are only good for sowing in Spring.

I've sown Aquadulce Claudia for the last few seasons - always reliable for germinating in Autumn and producing good crops in late Spring.



Allotment Growing
Visit my website for lots more information,
growing tips and photos:
Allotment Crops - How To Grow Broad Beans

You might also enjoy:
Allotment Crops - Autumn Sown Peas

Allotment Growing - Books


Sunday, 15 November 2015

Sunday On The Allotment - 15 Nov - Autumn Jobs - Preparing Beds

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - November
St Ives Cornwall Allotment - November


A bit of a grim day in West Cornwall - weather wise - but nonetheless I headed out to get some work done. It wasn't so bad once I got out there - at least the rain held off.

Allotment Growing - November Jobs - Compost Bin
My aim this Autumn is to get my plot properly cleared down for Winter and to get ahead with preparations for next Spring. Something that I've neglected in previous years - resulting in more work in the Spring to get ready for sowing and planting.

The main job for the afternoon was emptying finished compost from the bin and spreading it onto the growing beds - cleared ready for next year.


Allotment Growing - November Jobs - Compost Bin
Hard work - but I got the job done and the bin emptied.

November is the time for the messier and less glamorous jobs on the allotment.

But well worth doing - and will pay dividends next year. Also there is not much else to do on the plot in late Autumn.



Allotment Growing - November Jobs - Spreading Compost
I spread the compost onto the beds that I'd cleared over the last few weeks.

I don't bother digging it in - too much hard work and not necessary. I just pile it on from the wheelbarrow and then roughly level it off with the rake.

The "two W's" - Worms and Weather - will incorporate it into the ground naturally over the Winter.

Allotment Growing - November Jobs - Spreading Compost
One of the beds that I covered is earmarked for potatoes next year.

This will add some extra fertility and condition to the soil - ready for the spuds to go into the ground in March.

It should get them off to a good start.

Spring seems a long way away at the moment - but it will soon come.



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

You might also enjoy:
Allotment Calendar - November Jobs

Allotment Growing - Books