Thursday, 24 August 2017

Growing and Harvesting Backyard Potatoes

Growing and Harvesting Backyard Potatoes
Growing and Harvesting Backyard Potatoes

This year I reduced the space for potatoes on my allotment, as they have been badly hit by blight for the last three years.

Then - as luck would have it - 2017 has been a blight free year, with a really good crop. I wish I'd planted twice as many. Such is allotment growing.

Every year I also plant up a bag of potatoes in my back garden / yard. These tend to be less prone to blight and generally deliver a good crop.

They are grown in a big plastic bag - bought from Poundland. I put about 8 inches of compost in the bottom, place a couple of seed potatoes on top, then add more compost to cover, about another 6 inches.

Growing and Harvesting Backyard Potatoes

The potatoes sprout after three weeks or so. Once the green growth is six inches tall I earth up with more compost. I then continue to earth up every week or so as the plants grow and until the bag is full.

This year (2017) I grew first-earlies - Pentland Javelin. They were ready to harvest by early July - but they were still growing on well, so I left them to grown on, hoping for a bigger crop.

I cut back some of the foliage - and they still kept growing! Also - no signs of blight. I finally dug them out this week - as my store of spuds harvested from my allotment in June and July had started to run out.

Growing and Harvesting Backyard Potatoes

As you can see - a really good harvest. So - "Backyard Potatoes" are well worth growing, particularly if you only have limited space - a small yard or even just a balcony will do.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Allotment Growing - Turnips - Thinning Seedlings

Allotment Growing - Turnips - Seedings
Allotment Growing - Turnips

When sowing fine seed like Turnips its quite difficult to get them evenly sown and spaced.

The results is often dense growth of seedlings that crowd each other out and prevent good sized plants from developing.

So they need to be thinned out by pulling out some seedlings leaving the stronger ones more space to grow on.

Allotment Growing - Turnips - Seedings

Oddly - I always find it slightly painful and counter-intuitive to pull out healthy young plants - but it needs to be done to get a good crop. So that's what I've just done with my turnips sown a couple of weeks ago.

Allotment Growing - Turnips - Seedings

The result is fewer but better spaced plants that will get more light, air and water. I've left in a few more than I will eventually grow. I will see which develop best and then thin out again, if needed, in two or three weeks time.

Allotment Growing - Turnips

They should now grow on quickly and produce a nice crop soon. Turnips are best if picked when fairly small - between "golf ball" and "tennis ball" sized. Having said that - you can grow them on much larger. They will be tougher and less sweet - but absolutely fine for soups and stews.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Saturday On The Allotment - Late Summer Growing

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - Late Summer

A sunny Saturday on my allotment - and a real contrast to today's rainy weather - so pleased that I got out there.

More harvesting - as last week more turnips and courgettes - also another nice Summer Cabbage.

Allotment Growing - Summer Crops - Spinach

Also - my first harvest of Spinach. I sowed seed about 6 weeks ago and I'm very pleased with how its grown. Lovely to eat and easy to store in the freezer. I've cut the leaves and left the plants in - so I hope for another picking a two or three weeks.

Elsewhere on the plot I've also sown some Giant Winter Spinach. This is just starting to germinate, so I hope that will grow on and deliver harvests through Autumn. Part of my plan for Autumn and Winter Crops - more on a previous blog post here ......

Allotment Growing - Autumn and Winter Crops

Allotment Growing - Pumpkins

More Pumpkins and Squash are starting to fruit. I should be able to harvest some squash in the next couple of weeks. The pumpkins will be ready for Halloween. Not the best things to eat in my opinion  - but I love sharing them with the local kids to make lanterns.

Allotment Growing - Summer Crops - Sweetcorn

More Sweetcorn cobs are forming - but I really hope we get some sunshine over the next few weeks to help them to ripen. I've given the Three Sisters bed, where these are growing, a good dose of my home made Nettle and Comfrey Liquid Fertiliser. Everything seems t be growing well - so my preparations last Spring seem to be paying off. See my earlier post -

Spring Preparations on the Allotment

Allotment Growing - Sunflower

Finally - in the wildflower area of my plot - my first Sunflower is opening!

More news soon as Summer fades into Autumn in Cornwall.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Allotment Growing - Autumn and Winter Crops

Allotment Growing - Autumn and Winter Crops
Allotment Growing - Autumn and Winter Crops

One of my new projects for this season is my Winter Garden.

What I hope to do is extend my growing - and cropping - season through Autumn and into Winter.

So I came up with a Winter Growing plan and chose the following crops:

  • Leeks
  • Red Cabbage.
  • Swede.
  • Brussels Sprouts.
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli.
  • Winter Butternut Squash.
  • Autumn King Carrots.
  • Giant Winter Spinach.

Planning for the late season needs to start early - as you need to get seeds sown and seedlings established well before the weather starts to close in.

Allotment Growing - Autumn and Winter Crops - Leeks

First of these crops to be sown was Leeks - sown way back in March. These generally germinate well but take a long time to get going - so they need to go in early. I sow these in deep pots - then transplant into a growing bed when the plants reach "Spring Onion" size - usually around June.

In June I started sowing the other crops -
some in pots to transplant as seedlings, some direct into the ground.

Allotment Growing - Autumn and Winter Crops - Red Cabbage

I grew my Red Cabbage as seedlings in pots then planted them out in June. They are growing on well - not yet hearting up - but they will and I hope to harvest these from October onward.

Next to them I've sown two rows of Swede - the variety is Lomond - which can be grown on and harvested through to February.

Allotment Growing - Autumn and Winter Crops - Brussels Sprouts

At the same time as the Red Cabbage I grew then transplanted some Brussels Sprouts, also growing nicely.

Allotment Growing - Autumn and Winter Crops - Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Last of the Brassicas - Purple Sprouting Broccoli - which should grow on through Winter and start delivering a harvest for picking in February. Growing nicely so far.

Allotment Growing - Autumn and Winter Crops - Butternut Squash

I've grown lots of Squash this year - many will be ready to harvest in early Autumn - but I'm hoping that the Winter Butternut will keep me going with crops a bit later.

I've set aside four of my allotment beds for these late crops - two had Broad Beans and Potatoes growing before - harvested in June. So I'm getting a double crop from the space. I added compost and chicken manure pellets to both beds to restore some fertility.

As my other beds are cleared I'll sow them with Green Manures, as I did last year.

So - hoping for the best for some good eating from October right through to February.
But - as ever - time - and the weather - will tell.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Sunday On The Allotment - August Harvest

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - August

Its been a strange Summer in Cornwall weather-wise. Not only changing day to day but often hour by hour. Switching from August sunshine and warmth to October-like cloud and cold.

So I've had mixed results with my crops - but mostly pretty good so far. A great harvest of Peas, lots of Potatoes, Turnips, the usual glut of Courgettes from just three plants.

Today was another good day on the plot, with some nice things harvested and lots more to look forward to. Today's haul included turnips and courgette.

Allotment Growing - Summer Cabbage

I harvested my first Summer Cabbage, grown from seed - particularly satisfying. This will be on the plate tonight with Sunday dinner!

Allotment Growing - Summer Cabbage

More cabbage to come - they are growing on really well and hearting up very nicely. This year growing them under nets for protection seems to have paid off. The variety is Earliest Of All. I also have Red Cabbage growing on for an Autumn and Winter harvest.

More on my Autumn and Winter growing plans will be posted here soon.

Allotment Growing - Pumpkin

Not ready to harvest yet - but growing well - my pumpkins. The plants are sprawling over the plot which is just what I hoped for. Several fruits have emerged - but this is the largest so far. You'll see that I've built a little cairn of stones under the fruit. I do this with all of my pumpkins and squash. It keeps them dry and so helps to prevent any rot. Also raises them up a bit towards the sun and so helps them to ripen.

Allotment Growing - Sweetcorn

My first sweetcorn cob is growing - won't be ready for harvest until September - but something to look forward to! The corn is part of my "Three Sisters" bed - planted alongside beans and squash - you can see the squash leaves and flowers in the photo.

Allotment Growing - Sweetcorn - Leaf Mould Mulch

I've mulched this bed with leaf mould - which keeps the weeds down and retains moisture in the soil.

Allotment Growing - Wildflowers - Evening Primrose

This year I've grown more flowers than ever. To attract bees, for cut flowers to take home and for the sheer beauty of them. Above is my wildflower bed with Evening Primrose blooming, Nasturtiums, Sunflowers and more alongside.

Allotment Growing - Sweet Peas

Finally - now that my Peas have been harvested - the Sweet Peas that I sowed amongst them are in full flower. Adding more beauty - and attracting more bees - to my plot.

More to come soon - just hope that we get a bit more sunshine and hot weather!

Monday, 5 June 2017

June - Allotment Growing and Planting

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - June Planting

Passed a lovely weekend on my allotment - with lots to do - mainly focussed now on planting out the seedlings that I've grown. Summer and the first crops are truly on the way.

The Broad Beans - sown back in March - are now fully in flower and should deliver a first crop in the next three or four weeks.

The peas are thriving and I spotted my first pea flower thus weekend.
Hope to be picking the pods by the end of June or early July.

My potatoes have a huge amount of leaf growth - and I've already earthed them up several times over the last few weeks. I'm delighted that - so far this year - they seem to be free of blight - which has been a curse for the last three years. Hoping for a good heavy crop - these are First Earlies - Pentland Javelin.

Finally - I've been working on my "Three Sisters" bed - growing Sweetcorn, Climbing Beans and Squash all together. I've got it planted out - with more to go in next week. More about that in a future blog post.

I am so looking forward to another Summer on my plot - more news soon.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Potato Problem - Opportunity

Allotment Growing - Rogue Potatoes
Allotment Growing - Rogue Potatoes

A common problem on allotments is "rogue" potatoes popping up in unwanted places.

I rotate crops around my plot on a four year cycle  - to prevent the build up of pests and to improve soil fertility. So my potatoes move to a different bed each year. I grow peas and beans in the space previously occupied.

But when harvesting it is just about impossible to dig out every single spud - a few are always left in the ground. These then continue to sprout underground and pop up shoots in their old bed the following Spring - and sometimes for a year or two after that.

In the past I've always treated these like weeds and dug them out - but this Spring I've tried a fresh and more productive approach.

I've continued to dig up the rogue spuds - but have then transplanted them to this year's potato bed. They may or may not grow on - but if they do they will add to this year's crop - and for free!

This year I only planted three rows instead of the usual six - I've had potato blight for the last three seasons and decided to focus solely on first earlies. These will - hopefully - be harvested before blight strikes again. The additional space in the bed is now in productive use with these "extras" - and any crop will be a bonus.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Spring - Allotment Growing and Planting

St Ives Cornwall Allotment
St Ives Cornwall Allotment

More planting on my plot over the last week or so - and more seeds developing into seedlings.

Allotment Growing - Courgettes

I've planted some courgette seedlings - kindly given to me be local friend and grower Marcus.
These are protected for now under old supermarket baskets - also donated - by local friends and growers Tim and Sharon. They make great little cloches.

Allotment Growing - Raspberries

I've planted some raspberries - something I've been wanting to do for ages.
Still looking a bit scrawny but most of them should grow on.

Allotment Growing - Peas

Peas are in their "cage" and growing on well.

Allotment Growing - Broad Beans

Broad Beans are coming on nicely.

Spring is most definitely here. One of the driest for years -
but I've been watering as much as I can and all is growing nicely.

Allotment With A Sea View - St Ives Cornwall

Finally - a view of the sea as I approach my plot from St Ives when I walk over the fields.
More posts soon.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Sunday On The Allotment - Sowing and Growing

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - Spring - Blue Skies

Lovely weather in Cornwall this weekend - warm with blue skies and sunshine.

I felt I'd done enough weeding and clearing for now - it never ends.

So I focussed on sowing some seeds - Spring is advancing quickly.

Allotment Growing - Carrots

I got two more rows of Amsterdam Forcing Carrots sown - mixed in with some Marigold seed. The flowers will make a pretty addition as well as attracting bees. They are also supposed to help keep carrot flies away - although I'm not sure that this works.

I also made a start on my long planned Wild Flower Patch - by sowing more Marigolds plus some Nasturtiums. This will also look nice in Summer - and attract more bees. I'll be adding some wild flower mix seed in due course. Plus some sunflowers that I've sown in pots to get started.

Allotment Growing - Broad Beans - Sprouting

Excited to see my Broad Beans - Bunyards Exhibition - finally coming through. They've been in the ground for three weeks and I was beginning to get worried. I do this every year - impatience! Hopefully the peas will come through next.

Allotment Growing - Living Willow Structure

More exciting news. My Living Willow Structure - which I planted back in November - is ..... living! Shoots are starting to appear all over so the willow is obviously rooting itself underground.
Can't wait to see how this develops through Spring and Summer.

Allotment Growing - Old Windows - Cold Frames

My friends and neighbours - Tim and Sharon - came out to the plot with some old windows that they've very kindly donated. These will be great for making cold frames. Re-using old materials is a big part of allotmenting for me - and the materials are free!

Spring On The Allotment - Blackthorn - Flowering

Finally - yet another lovely sign of Spring - the Blackthorn behind my plot is bursting into blossom. Can't wait to get out to the plot next week and see what develops.

Read more ......
Allotment Growing - Spring Sowings

Allotment Growing - Sweetcorn

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

You might also enjoy:
Allotment With A Sea View - Facebook

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Sunday On The Allotment - Spring In Cornwall

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - Spring - Blue Skies
St Ives Cornwall Allotment - Spring - Blue Skies

A beautiful warm sunny weekend in Cornwall - Spring really has arrived!
I'm loving it.

I had a enjoyable if fairly routine couple of days on the plot. Mainly - again - clearing and preparing growing beds for planting and sowing later.

Quote from my post last week:
"Peas - have sown some in cardboard tubes in a sheltered corner of the garden. But sowings on the allotment must wait until April! Or so I tell myself - wonder if I'll stick to that resolution?"
Nope - of course not - I couldn't resist sowing a few rows of peas!
But - actually - the soil really has warmed up over the last few days. I dug in some manure a couple of weeks ago so maybe that's adding to the warmth. Here is the new home for my peas. A "cage" - cobbled together - as is normal on my allotment - from bits and bobs scrounged here and there. Some wire fencing that I found dumped in the wild area behind my plot and a few bamboo canes.

Allotment Crops - Peas

I've cleared some more ground on the "roots" section of the plot, taking out the green manure grown over Winter and adding some compost and chicken manure pellets. This area will be home to my leeks, already germinating in pots in the garden at home. They will probably go into the plot at the end of May.

Allotment Growing - Leek Bed

Turnip seeds have already germinated, only a couple of weeks after sowing. Looking forward to eating some Baby Turnips in May.

Allotment Crops - Turnips

Finally my first crop of the Spring season - some Rhubarb. Personally I hate the stuff, but my lovely wife Jo loves it, so I'll keep it growing.

Allotment Crops - Rhubarb

More news next week as Spring in West Cornwall develops.

Read more ......
Allotment Growing - Spring Sowings

Allotment Growing - Sweetcorn

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

You might also enjoy:
Allotment With A Sea View - Facebook