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!

The strength of container grown vegetables

Last year before we got our allotment we had a small hardstanding courtyard to use.  So everything we planted was container grown. This year having the allotment everything has been grown down there, and its been interesting to see the difference between crops.

Last year we had peas and Broad beans in containers. Compared to the ones planted down the allotment this year they were a lot smaller and produced less crop. We also had courgettes in containers, which were very successful and a space saver. They didn’t produce as much of a crop compared to the courgettes down in our allotment, but we still got a good haul from them.

This year we haven’t had to do as much in containers, but we still did to do a few things up at the house. We wanted to keep aubergines and chilli plants up at the house in containers. While seedlings they can very quickly suffer and both enjoy the heat of Summer, so having them planted on a patio allowed for that extra heat to reach them and keep a sustained heat throughout the day. We did buy seedlings late this year but as you can see we are getting a good number of aubergine and chillies through at the moment.

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Salad we have found beneficial to grow in containers at the house. Mainly because you tend to want to use it there and then when cooking so it makes it more accessible, and because it can come and go so quick it doesn’t take up space down the allotment.

Its not to say you can’t have containers down the allotment. We have people down our allotment who have created paths on their plot to make the beds accessible then planted containers along them to still use up the space. One plot owner has a huge bulk bag where he grows potatoes, so they can come in all shapes and sizes.

Let us know what has worked for you in containers, as next year we want to utilise our garden to produce more crops, so it would be great to know what works really well in containers.

Edited by Laboro Marketing Solutions. http://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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

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