Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Spring onions or Scallions?

As mentioned on the grapevine, to get great spring onions I sow a pinch of seed in modules and keep frost free till the roots fill the cell. The clumps are then planted about 4" apart with individual onions being pulled as they reach a useable size.
Another sowing in April and again in July will see you right through the year.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Snow, ice and daffodils.

With sub zero temperatures for the past week or two and lots of snow falling in the last week, almost the whole country came to a standstill. In Leicester we had 4-5 " of snow which somehow shut every school in the county. I ventured to the allotments today to get veg for the weekend and found the place as pretty as a picture. The leeks are holding well with no rust this year.

With it being so cold I presumed pulling root crops would require a fork, however the sweded came up a dream, the snow has acted like a blanket, keeping the soil frost free.

And amongst all of the snow, a daffodil decided spring is on its way.

One good thing about snow, it hides the weeds.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Heritage peas by the packet

Being a big fan of heritage peas and climbing french beans I was very excited to be given a whole raft of heritage pea varieties to trial. Being a Leicester boy, the varieties "Mayor of Leicester" and "Lord Leicester" hold particular interest.

The varieties range from "Carters Battleship" to "Mummy White", a variety that in Victorian times was reputed to have been found in an Egyptian tomb, hence the name. All of these peas will be trialed, photographed, the seeds saved with some returning to the very kind doner, Dave "American Gardener" Thompson at Worldwide Seed Trader., some being kept and some passed on to others.
To be honest, I have never been so exited at the begining of a growing season.

Friday, January 23, 2009

This beastie started its life as a "ham" on the 23rd December 08. It has sat, covered in salt and weighed down with a brick for 3 days per kilo in weight. Already it is much drier due to the salt drawing out moisture and it has a cured ham feel about it.

It was washed in cider vinegar to remove any salt deposits, dried and then wrapped in muslin.

Finally, a hook was (with some difficulty) pushed into the end of the ham and it was hung in a dry, airy place which happens to be under our verandah.

It will hang there for another 6-9 months air drying before being thinly sliced and scoffed. Our good friend Di, being of Italian stock, can have first bite as she is well qualified in how our "Leicester Ham" tastes compared to the famous Italian Parma or Sorrento ones.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A cold hardy cape gooseberry

The big cold greenhouse on the plots has been left with the doors and windows open so that any bugs and nasties get frozen out. Despite this, a self set cape gooseberry (it may be a tommatillo) has survived the weather, despite it going down to -9 at times.
Hopefully, I am some way to getting a frost hardy version in my greenhouse. At present we cut the vines down and cover the stools with compost to protect them. Most are 3 years old now and very productive.

The winter herb bed

Our allotment herb bed is not particularly sheltered from the4 cold weather we have been having over the last few weeks but the plants are all in really good condition still.

This bronze fennel is even sendingh out new growth now.

Sage is always very welcome in the kitchen and this plant still has lots of useable leaves on it.

Our oregano, despite needing all of last years flower stems cutting out is again putting on new growth despite the weather

This is one of several thyme plants in our herb bed. All are in great order, despite being picked most weekends for use on the sunday roast with any left over bits being kept in a glass of water ready for use later in the week.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Its Winter, its cold, but stuffs getting ready for spring

Despite the begining of January being very cold and only just rising above zero during the day, the cordon fruit is still getting ready for spring with new buds maturing, ready to break out.

The cold weekend was perfect for pilling all of my leaves into a compost bin. The cold had frozen them into easy to manage lumps which just pitchforked into the bin with ease. Whilst the bin is over full, it will rot down to less than half this level come next autumn.

These 4 rows of Autumn bliss raspberries have now been cut down to ground level and all of the brash and leaves piled onto a bonfire to kill any pests or disease that may be present.

This spring cabbage is looking well and in good condition, primarily due to its location in a cold greenhouse. It keeps the worst of the weather off and most of the pigeons, as an added bonus they will mature several weeks earlier than those I have outside under netting. This gives me some succession with the crop. They are planted after a dozen of spent tomato and pepper plants are lifted.

Well it is winter and it is indeed cold. The coldest I have recorded here on the plots, inside a tunel is -7.5 degrees and -9 degrees outside. All of the dipping butts are frozen solid and the IBC's are likewise frozen to the extent I cannot even turn the taps. The small ponds are also solid but hopefully there will be some water at the bottom which is not.