Monday, 17 October 2011

Ryton Gardens Heritage Seed Library

I was interested to hear on BBC TV’s “Gardener’s World” about Garden Organic’s Heritage Seed Library at Ryton Gardens, Warwickshire. Garden Organic claims to be the leading organic growing charity in the UK and researches and promotes organic gardening, farming and food. The Heritage Seed Library aims to conserve and make available to their members vegetable varieties not widely grown.

As for my allotment (also aiming to be as organic as possible), I’ve been getting some more work done. I’ve found room to fit one more small bed into my half-plot, next to the compost bins, and as with the other beds, edged that with timber last week. Originally I thought this would be a “nursery” bed to bring plants on, but now I’ve bought one of those mini-greenhouses with the zip-up polythene covers, which I’ll keep at home for propagating seeds. Next year I’ll probably plant sweetcorn in the new bed, but for now I've transplanted some of my winter cabbage plants into it, to give the others more room.

The weather seems to have caused some confusion (not just because I covered vulnerable crops with fleece, only to find autumn turning back into summer). One of the cordon apples has blossom on it. I’ve also had aphid on my late broad beans (as well as the chocolate spot I previously mentioned), so I sprayed them with soapy water. They seem to look better. Anyway, it looks as though cool weather is on the cards this week, so maybe the seasons will get back on track.

I grew some globe artichokes in my flower border at home this year, and some of these I put in the permanent beds at the allotment. They make a striking ornamental plant, but now those I left at home are forming heads (a bit late, I think, but they were a little crowded earlier in the year). It’s difficult to know when to harvest them, not having grown them before. The only thing I have to guide me are articles on the Internet. All this vegetable growing is leading to new adventures in the kitchen.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Winter Preparation

It’s been a while since I found time to blog - it’s been busy, busy at the allotment. After having some chillier mornings and covering the beds that need it with fleece, we had that very hot spell (well, what else can you expect?). It won’t be long, though, according to the weather predictions, before the covers are needed.

We’ve been eating well from our crops. The raab (great in stir fries) has now finished, and the pak choi is almost over. We’re trying to ripen the last of the tomatoes, still cropping various types of lettuce, and having delicious beetroot and turnip, as well as using curly and black kale, and Swiss chard as cut-and-come-again. Not bad, considering it’s only 10 weeks since we started digging and planting.

We’ve had lovely butternut squash, too, that I grew in a pot on the patio at home. These were great roasted with onion, potato and turnip, and also made delicious soup cooked with chopped ham, fresh ginger and cumin.

The shallots, garlic and onion sets I’d ordered for the allotment have just arrived, so I must get those in soon, once I’ve cleared enough space for them, keeping in mind my planned crop rotation for each bed. The plans are pinned to the back of my shed at the allotment, as a reminder, as well as my wife’s spreadsheet which shows what has to be planted, when, spacing, whether it needs winter-protection, and when it should be harvested.

My first sign of disease has begun to show on the late broad beans I sowed back in August. It looks like chocolate spot (I’m not the only plot-holder to find this, and we suspect it could have spread from common vetch, which I’ve seen nearby). So far it doesn’t look too bad, but I’ll keep my eye on it. I don’t think my plants are over-crowded, which can also make the condition worse, according to the RHS.

Well, enough of my hobby. I must get on with some “real” work...