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.

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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

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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

The planting begins!

My apologies for this late post, but it’s been a bit busy around the home.

IMG_0917IMG_0918Planting has started down in the allotment and everyone is excited. The other week we transplanted all our onions, shallots and garlic. I know there are some people who directly sow their plants into ground but we decided to grow them inside first then transplant them out. So far this has seemed to have worked very well!

To transplant them we used a pencil to ease them out and then using a dibber, we made holes in turned over soil. To get a straight line we used string.

Along with the onions family, we have planted out early potatoes and sown a row of carrots. As an experiment we are also starting some carrots inside and transplanting them out. We have heard that transplanting root crops can be risky, but thought we would give it a go and see the difference between techniques.

Again being warned off by many people we are going to try Asparagus. I shall be writing a full piece on Asparagus and the steps we took to plant it, so won’t say anymore here.

We were a little late with the beans and peas but have managed to get in our first batch. The broad beans were looking a little sorry for themselves in the greenhouse but have now perked up and are doing well. The runner beans however have flailed a bit. We think it may have been due to a frosty night and us not protecting them, so we are keeping an eye on them to see if we can still use them, otherwise we may cheat and buy some seedlings from a nursery!

 

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

 

Being part of your allotments community

To succeed in your allotment, it is important to not make it a fortress and keep people out. Being part of the allotment community is beneficial for everyone. You can help people who are perhaps less abled or just need an extra pair of hand to put that mesh up. People will also be willing to help you out, whether physically or advice on what works on the site and certain techniques.

 

Friends & Family

Get your friends and family involved too. Don’t necessarily get them to do all your work but get them to help pick a few peas and beans, or like me promise them a beer and deck chair to sit and relax on during a summer’s evening!

 

Working parties

We recently took part in our first allotment working party. It’s where the committee set up a day where they get as many members as possible to come along and do a few of the community chores. At our last one I helped put up some rabbit fencing. There was also a bonfire and some edging up of the communal paths.

These are all chores that are essential to the running of the allotment so it’s nice to have a part in it, and it also gets you to meet other members you wouldn’t normally see. Once the season is in full flow they occur once a month, but you don’t have to attend every one if you can’t and it isn’t for the full day.

 

Social events

A few times across the year our committee organises events to get the members together. We haven’t been to one yet but I hear most of them occur in a pub! All sorts can be organised, ranging from christmas meals to BBQ’s on the allotment. If you are not part of the committee do still put ideas forward.

 

It is a hobby

Remember most importantly that this is a hobby. I know at times when you are pulling out weeds and digging over it feels more like a chore, but the results you get are worth it. Think about enjoying those carrots and potatoes that you lovingly took care of, roasting in the oven with a nice side of roast beef. Or a wonderful summer salad to go along with all that BBQ’ed meat! So make sure you remember to enjoy yourself once all the hard work is done with!

 

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

 

Update on the Berwick allotment

With the height of allotment season just around the corner I thought I would let you know where the Berwick plot is in its preparation stages! 

As you can see from the picture, our plot is finally dug over! It may have taken us a little longer than intended but lazy Sunday mornings got in the way! Plus there was no real rush for this. We added manure to two thirds of the plot to add that extra bit of nutrient to the soils, but keep in mind not all vegetables enjoy the manure.

 

Storage area

Our compost/storage area is near completion. We have levelled the area out as much as possible and added a layer of geotextile and wood chippings to ease long term maintenance of weeding, and this stops it from becoming a mud pile!

We have assembled a compost bin, and left room for another one next year and bought in our pea sticks and canes ready for use on the plot.

The only thing left to do is to make a storage box for all our tools as we are not allowed a shed on site, and to also find a couple of chairs so I can sit there with a beer on a hot summers evening!

 

Potatoes

Last weekend we got round to chitting our potatoes. This was done late but it’s fine as potatoes do not have to be planted straight away and they do not technically have to be chitted, it just gets the process started quicker then it would underground.

They are currently sitting in various points around our house where they get some natural light but stay warm.

 

 

Seed

 

As we don’t have a greenhouse and much room inside we have done the next best thing and bought some pop up greenhouses. For the price you pay you get a lot for your money. We have been able to get crops started as early as possible thanks to these contraptions, and it will certainly help us down on the allotment.

So far we have sown everything that we can plant in March, the one thing we did forget was to stagger the sowing of crops to stop them being ready all at once, but we can tackle that hurdle when it comes to it!

 

 

Propagator

Another little handy tool is the propagator. Because we do not have access to constant warmth inside the house we have hold of a couple of small propagators, not the electric ones just the basic. In these we have planted the more exotic crops such as peppers, chillies and aubergines. They need a little extra push to get started as they are not used to our climate and the propagators really help with this, as we can leave them inside in a sunny spot and they will gain that much extra heat.

 

That is it for us for now. Come the end of the month we will have our plot fully ready and begin the first batch of planting. Once the current seedlings are moved to the allotment the next round of later crops will be sown. I hope that everyone else is on track with their plot and do let us know what you are up to.

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