Go find some bargains!

This point in the year is a great time to grab a bargain at your local garden centres and DIY shops. Thinking for the winter and following year ahead you can pick up all sorts of tools and materials that will be sold cheap as it is the wrong season to be selling them.

For example, we have grabbed some mini polytunnels of varying materials that we can use to help warm a patch of soil next year and protect those seedlings next year from frost and predators, and they were better than half price! Fertiliser is another good bargain find, as it’s not used as much this time of the year, so large buckets go cheaply.

So do get hunting now as it’s never too early to start prepping for next year.

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

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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!

Courgettes and Butternut squash coming out of our ears!

Staying away from your allotment for a couple of days with courgettes maturing is a dangerous thing! We have grown courgettes from seed the last couple of years and have had big success both times. This year is the first time being planted out of containers and down the allotment, and to say they enjoy the extra space is an understatement!

We’ve got just under a dozen courgette plants growing and all are doing really well. We started picking back in July and every few days a new batch is ready. We try to get them at a good size so they are not too watery, but as you can see we do occasionally miss some, but they are still yummy nonetheless!

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A new crop for us this year is butternut squash. Part of the same family as courgette we gave it the same treatment, but thought being a bigger vegetable would make it a bit harder to grow. It has been a great success, and although we haven’t had anything to pick yet we have plenty that are coming through and by the end of next week should be ready to pick.

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For me courgette (and now butternut squash) has been my favourite thing to grow. They both took really well from seed, have pretty much looked after themselves and produced an amazing abundance of crop! The only downside is that we can’t freeze it to save it.

On top of all this they also produce amazing flowers for the pollinators, and of course for us to eat too!

Since getting a good crop we have tried to be inventive with courgette and have made a chutney along with a few dishes ranging from courgette and beetroot soup to courgette and cashew curry. My new page all about recipes using your homegrown vegetables will soon show you a couple of ideas for you to use up your courgette and other vegetables!

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Courgette, shallot & garlic chutney

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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!

 

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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.

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