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!