Alliums galore!

This year we planted as much as we could in the way of onions and garlic. Being our first year, we played it relatively safe in the types we went for. We planted white and red onion, shallots and garlic.

They were definitely worth it as we got a tremendous crop from all of them, and not a single one lost. I would love to say we had a secret to the success but it was just the basics of keeping them moist, weed free and giving them a feed of standard fertiliser.

They are certainly a rewarding crop as you don’t have to do too much to keep them alive, and you physically see the crop coming out of the ground!

 

We started them off in trays first in a greenhouse

We started them off in trays first in a greenhouse

Some were 10 times there original size

Some were 10 times their original size

IMG_1248

Not one single onion was lost!

We were told that garlics would produce multiple cloves this time of year, but how wrong they were!

We were told that garlic would produce multiple cloves this time of year, but how wrong they were!

Failing tomatoes

Tomatoes are probably one of the most rewarding crops to grow yourself. Not because they make it cheaper than buying in the shops, we’ve definitely learnt that is not the case this year! But because unlike the shops you get amazing tasting tomatoes and can get all sorts of varieties ranging from beef tomatoes to black cherry tomatoes. For us it was one of the first crops to be allocated space in our plot.

 

We have since learnt the hard way that growing tomatoes outside is a tricky affair.

IMG_1348IMG_1349

Every single tomato in our allotment got blight! Being the first time planting tomatoes we didn’t know you could get blight on tomatoes, and thought maybe we were silly to have planted some next to potatoes, but that turned out not to matter as other tomato crops that were planted nowhere near potatoes got it! So each one has come out.

There is hope for us yet though as we have also planted some in our garden at home. These too are outside but they are isolated from anything else growing in the garden and are planted against a wall in a sheltered area. So far they have an abundance of green tomatoes on them and no sign of blight, so we still have a chance of getting homegrown tomatoes.

So we’ve learnt for next year to invest in some tomato greenhouses, and keep them away from everything! You’ve got to try everything once I guess!

Edited by Laboro Marketing Solutions www.laboromarketingsolutions.com

A good crop of potatoes

In our first year at the allotment potatoes were a must for us. They can be reasonably hard work at times, but are normally guaranteed to succeed. We planted three varieties, giving us a crop early in the season, mid-season and late season.

Mound up soil as soon as they are at a good height.

Mound up soil as soon as they are at a good height.

 

Before anything we made sure the soil was well turned and fed, and gave our sprouting seed potatoes a good chance to grow before planting them. We made sure that we mounded up the potatoes at every opportunity we had, and kept them well watered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1249

Try and not interfere with your foliage too much while the crop is maturing.

 

We actually missed the flowering of the early season potatoes and didn’t  realise until a few weeks after that they were ready! Luckily they all came out fine and nothing had munched them. This meant that there was a slight overlap with the mid-season potatoes, so we had a lot ready at once!

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1350

Cut back the foliage when the crop is ready to harden the skins

 

We didn’t want to pick everything at once so went about digging out every other potato plant. We were then told that cutting back the foliage of the potato plant would help harden the skins of the potatoes, so we gave it a go in the hope that it would help the potatoes keep longer. Since then all the potatoes have been picked and they all came out great, so this is a technique we will definitely use next year.

 

 

 

 

IMG_1251

We did have problems with the late season variety of potato. Almost 75% got munched by creatures, and they came out very small. We think we may have put them in the ground a bit soon, exposing them for a longer period when they wouldn’t normally be active. But it might also be that everything is becoming ready a month early at the moment!

 

But part of growing your own is having failure among success. Even with the last batch munched we got around 10kg of potatoes to last us!

 

Edited by Laboro Marketing Solutions. www.laboromarkeingsolutions.com

 

We found gold!!

IMG_0957On our allotment we briefly shared a small section with the previous tenants while their winter crops were finishing. They fully moved out a couple of months ago but we hadn’t got round to weeding and turning the soil over in that section until last week.

Up till now we have come across a few potatoes while turning the soil over, but otherwise it has just been weeds. Little did we know that there was a rogue vegetable growing away unnoticed. On digging up the last few weeds I came across a weed that was fighting, so I got my fork to dig it out, and a parsnip popped out! We ended up with a dozen parsnips which because they had been left in the ground  longer then they normally would have were huge!

So keep digging because you never know what you will find!

 

Edited by Laboro Makreting Solutions http://www.laboromarketingsolutions.com

Make your own compost bin

To save money we are trying to make as much as possible ourselves. This coming weekend I will be making a storage box for our tools (We aren’t allowed a shed on our plot), but last weekend I constructed my compost bin. With a bit of muscle and squashed toes we did it!

There are a few different ways you can tackle a compost bin, but the best results have been the ones built using wooden pallets. These are good because they are normally hardwood so will last longer, and are well constructed as they have to take a lot of weight.

Ideally if you can get hold of a pallet with sides it makes it a lot easier, but you can use flat pallets too. Your best bet to find pallets are to pop down to a local builders merchant or nursery. They tend to have an abundance of pallets lying around as they can’t use them all, so you will normally be able to take them for free.

This guide is based on pallets with sides.

 

Step 1

Source your pallets. You will need two for this. Don’t worry if it comes with bits of plastic or other material on it, it doesn’t need to be spotless! You want to get two pallets of the same style so they will sit on top of one another comfortably.

Image 1

 

Step 2

Find bits of wood to place in the bottom of the pallet. It doesn’t have to be a perfect fit, and can overlap. It gives the compost a base, so when you come to putting waste in or turning it over there are no holes for it to fall through.

Image 2

 

Step 3

With the second pallet remove its base. Use any tools you feel will do the job. We used a saw, claw hammer and crowbar. Most pallets will take a bit of elbow grease to remove the bottom, but they should come off as one lump. Try and leave it so there are a couple of strands of wood overhanging. This will help connect the two pallets when you put this one on top of the other. Also check for any nails left, as you don’t want any potential for catching yourself on them.

Once you’ve removed the bottom then depending on the final height of your compost bin cut away a bit of a door. We did this for ours as the bin would have been too tall to make it accessible.

Image 3

 

Step 4

Place the pallets on top of one another. It’s up to you whether you secure them to one another with screws or not. We haven’t done this at the moment as it means we can lift the top pallet off when we want to gain access and while the compost is low the top pallet isn’t needed.

Image 4

A compost bin can be a very easy and cheap thing to make for your allotment. Be inventive and use any materials you find. If you’ve made compost bins using other methods let me know and I can share it with other people.

Edited by Laboro Marketing Solutions. http://www.laboromarketingsolutions.com