Vegetable Garden

A Sunny November Afternoon

The sun was shining today, so we grabbed the opportunity to plant some garlic and carry on with the autumn tidy up.

Recent morning frosts claimed the last of our late summer planting of Czar runners. Before the frost hit, the dense foliage hid some fat bean pods, we always miss some, they’re too tough for eating but the beans inside are fine for cooking fresh.

While Rich got on with cutting down the runners I plunged 60 cloves of our home-grown Red Duke garlic into the soil, wished them well, then tucked them in for winter. I love the smell of garlic, especially when it meets the soil.

Red Duke is our favourite variety of garlic to grow. Over the past 2 years of growing it we’ve now accumulated enough of our own garlic for planting, with plenty of bulbs left over for kitchen use before harvesting the new crop next summer.

We decided to try another variety of garlic this year too, Caulk Wight is a purple striped garlic found in Russia and Eastern Europe. The seed garlic should be arriving soon which means more planting to look forward to!

If you’d like to learn how to grow your own garlic, take a look at our garlic growing guide https://thegardensmallholder.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/how-to-grow-garlic/

Uncategorized

Happy Halloween 2017

Wooo it’s Halloween (eeek!) and it’s a bit chilly outside! I’m having a rummage through seed packets and giving them a sort out, then I’ll be splitting garlic bulbs into single cloves ready for planting soon. Vampires won’t bother me today *cue evil laugh*.

Meanwhile, the latest news from the garden smallholding….the hens are busy scoffing carving out the insides of pumpkins for us. But I’d better be quick to collect the empty skins!

Happy Halloween!

 

Uncategorized

Wordless Wednesday

apple tree garden hen ex battery hen eggs in a wicker basket hens in a garden light sussex veg patchImages from our garden smallholding.

 

 

Product Reviews

Boysenberries from Mow It Sow It Grow It

mow it sow it grow it

I received two little Boysenberry plants in the post yesterday, kindly sent to me to trial from Mow It Sow It Grow It. Boysenberry is a cross between a raspberry, blackberry, dewberry and a loganberry. I’m looking forward to tasting the fruit and should expect a good crop in their first year. I’m really curious what the berries will taste like…will it be raspberry, or blackberry…or a mix of both…or…..exciting!

mowitsowitgrowit

The plants arrived in great condition, supplied in 10cm pots, so there’s no immediate rush to plant if time is precious or your garden is currently covered in snow like mine (yes, I spoke too soon!). Full planting instructions and information regarding the plants were also supplied, which is always handy.

mowitsowitgrowit3

I’ve had the pleasure of being sent other plants from this supplier in the past, yet again I’m impressed with the careful packaging (which is biodegradable) and thoughtful after sales information. I’m reliably informed of some new and exciting plants available soon from Mow It Sow It Grow It, such as a good-flavoured strawberry the size of a chicken egg and another that tastes of bubble-gum!?! Look out for them and others if you’re looking for something adventurous to grow!

boysenberry plants

My little plants are currently sitting in the conservatory until I’m ready to plant them out in the garden. I’m looking forward to picking and tasting the berries, and jam making too.

Many thanks to David Lindsay for contacting me.

If you’d like to try boysenberries for yourself, visit http://www.mowitsowitgrowit.co.uk

Product Reviews

Hen and Hammock Fertilizer T Bag

hen and hammock

I was kindly sent a fertilizer T bag by Hen and Hammock to try.

The T bag is a natural hessian bag with nettles inside, to use it simply immerse in a water butt and leave it there (using the string and stick to make it easy to retrieve), or tie the string to the handle of a watering can to make a nitrogen-rich nettle feed for the garden or allotment to invigorate your plants or veg. Keep in place for 6 weeks in a water butt and change the T bag after about 4 weeks continuous use in a watering can. It works just like making a cup of tea, all the lovely goodness seeps out of the T bag and stays in the water.

hen and hammock

Another great thing is the T bag is biodegradable (including the packaging, except the staples), so after you’re done just throw it on your compost heap. It seems really simple to use and an alternative to making your own nettle tea, which of course is simple to do too.  I’ll certainly use my T bag on my allotment next year to see how it performs.

Hen and Hammock offer a choice of two fillings; a nitrogen T bag (nettle) great for flowering plants, shrubs and salad crops and a potash T bag (sheep manure) ideal for tomatoes, beans and root crops. They’d make perfect gifts for eco-friendly gardeners!

Competition & Giveaways

Royal Horticultural Society, RHS The Garden Anthology Book Release and Blog Giveaway

RHS the garden anthology book cover

I’m excited to reveal the following book release, published 2nd October 2014 by Frances Lincoln (www.franceslincoln.com | @Frances_Lincoln), priced £16.99. Read on to find out how you could WIN a copy!

RHS The Garden Anthology presents more than 100 years of the best writing in The Garden magazine, the respected journal of the Royal Horticultural Society.

Edited by Ursula Buchan, this collection features the work of 80 of the world’s most celebrated gardeners, from Gertrude Jekyll and E A Bowles in the early 20th century to the contemporary commentators James Wong, Nigel Slater, John Brookes and Tim Richardson.

This anthology paints a rich and intriguing picture of what gardening means today, revealing key moments in a time of intense change. The writers tell of plant-hunting and new gardening practises, fashion and growing food, whilst shedding light on the inner landscape of the thoughtful gardener.

From announcing the first news of Gregor Mendel’s experiments on genetics in 1900, to a report on the memorial garden at Ground Zero in Manhattan in 2011, Ursula Buchan selects the most important and atmospheric pieces to inspire, inform and sometimes amuse. This anthology provides the perfect literary companion for garden lovers and gardeners alike.

With thanks to Frances Lincoln publishers you could win a copy! To enter the book giveaway simply leave a comment on this post, one lucky reader will have their name drawn at random on Tuesday 14th October and I will contact the winner so please make sure you leave a valid email address with your comment.

The giveaway is open to UK residents only – sorry!

The giveaway is now closed. Thank you to all who entered!

 

Vegetable Garden

Happy New Year 2014

As a kid I was often told that the years fly by when you’re a grown up, and don’t they just. As a brilliant growing year comes to an end I’m already looking forward to all the exciting things to come for us gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts, such as laying out seed potatoes to chit in egg boxes….

chitting seed potatoes

Spring colour….

forget me nots

Frogspawn….

frogspawn

Bird song…. Tweet, tweet, twittery tweet…….

The first seedlings of the year….

tomato seedling

Blossom….

fruit blossom

And buzzing bees….

bumblebee

Happy New Year to you all, here’s to another brilliant gardening year!

Jobs Each Month

Jobs for December

December is a great month to finish tidying, tackle repairs to structures and generally plan and look forward to the coming growing season!

Some jobs for December:

  • Spread a thick layer of well-rotted manure or fresh compost on empty beds – feed your soil!
  • Harvest Brussels sprouts from the bottom up
  • Harvest parsnips after a hard frost, they’ll be sweeter for it
  • Plant garlic if you can work the soil, otherwise use small pots and plant out once rooted
  • Drool at seed catalogues and plan your veg planting for next year
autumn sow broad beans
Jobs Each Month

Jobs for November

Fading light conditions can make time for the garden almost impossible if you’re busy, now is the time to get motivated to put the garden to bed for the winter. However, there are planting possibilities for milder areas of the UK to be getting on with. It’s well worth removing weeds and spreading manure or organic compost if you can. Being productive now should save time come spring – and your soil will love you for it.

autumn sow broad beans

Some jobs for November:

  • Make a leaf bin and start collecting fallen leaves to make leaf mould
  • Plant autumn garlic and winter onion sets
  • Prune apple and pear trees
  • Prune soft fruit bushes
  • Cover frost tender plants at night with horticultural fleece, don’t forget greenhouse plants!
  • Plant new bare-root fruit trees, bushes and canes
  • Make a note of what your grew and where, include successes and failures – it will help you plan crop rotation for next year
  • Continue tidying and harvesting the last crops
  • Rhubarb is now dormant, propagate established plants or plant new sets
  • Sow hardy broad beans (Aquadulce Claudia) and peas (Meteor) for an early crop late spring
  • Make or buy bug boxes or ‘hotels’ to help beneficial insects survive the winter
  • Check water butts/barrels and drain if necessary
  • Remove fallen leaves from the surface of wildlife ponds
  • Plant spring bulbs for a splash of colour
  • Order seed catalogues
  • Don’t forget to bring frost tender potted plants inside before the first frost arrives!
Jobs Each Month

Jobs for October

Clocks go back, days are drawing in quick and the threat of the first frost looms. Cold biting winds, falling leaves and dreary weather are signalling the end of the gardening year, take a moment to look around you and marvel at October’s autumn colour palette. It sure is beautiful, especially when the sun shines. There are still jobs to be getting on with in the vegetable garden, so don’t put your tools away just yet!

Some jobs for October:

  • Keep picking those courgettes and beans before the first frost arrives
  • Sow green manures
  • Tidy the strawberry bed, pot up stray runners and overwinter in a greenhouse or well-lit shed
  • Make a leaf bin and start collecting fallen leaves to make leaf mould
  • Start planting garlic at the end of the month
  • Keep picking cut flowers for the house before the first frosts
  • Harvest and carve pumpkins for Halloween/Samhain celebrations
  • Autumn sow hardy broad beans (Aquadulce Claudia) and peas (Meteor) for an early crop late spring
  • Start the autumn garden tidy up, try not to be overly tidy though, leave messy areas for wildlife
  • Leave sunflower heads for birds to enjoy
  • Make or buy bug boxes or ‘hotels’ to help beneficial insects survive the winter
  • Plant spring bulbs for a splash of colour
  • Don’t forget to bring frost tender potted plants inside before the first frost arrives!
Jobs Each Month

Jobs for September

Summer is holding on by a thread and nights are definitely drawing in. There’s still plenty to harvest this month including beans and courgettes, autumn raspberries and other berries should be plentiful too. Pumpkins should be swelling nicely, deepening in colour ready for harvesting from next month onwards.

green tomatoes

Some jobs for September:

  • Keep picking courgettes, aim to get them small before they become big and watery
  • Turn your compost heap
  • Pick green tomatoes that show no sign of ripening by the end of the month, bring them indoors to ripen or use them green in chutney
  • Sow green manures
  • Harvest the first apples and pears
  • Keep harvesting main crop potatoes as needed
  • Earth up brassicas to prevent them toppling over
  • Pick autumn raspberries
  • Check stakes and ties for giant sunflower varieties, as the flower heads produce seeds they become heavier. Leave them in place for the wild birds.
  • Earth up leeks
  • Sweet corn cobs should be ready for picking, check by peeling a layer back and piercing the cobs with your finger nail, if the juice is milky they’re ready!
  • Harvest the last of the onions, allow to dry before storing
  • Propagate strawberries by gently pushing rooted runners into the soil or small pots of soil. Sever the runner from the adult plant as the runners put on growth and develop a stronger root system.
  • Place bricks or plastic trays underneath swelling pumpkins to prevent them from rotting on wet ground.
  • Harvest regularly and enjoy!
Jobs Each Month

Jobs for August

All the hard work is starting to pay off, the vegetable garden is producing plenty to take back to the kitchen. Beans and courgettes will need picking daily; blanche and freeze beans to avoid a glut or waste, try to pick courgettes before they become too big and watery. As space becomes available, over wintering crops such as leek, kale and purple sprouting broccoli can be planted out.

runner beans

Some jobs for August:

  • Keep watering tomatoes (especially greenhouse varieties), pinch out side shoots as they appear and growing tips once 4 or 5 trusses have formed. Keep feeding. For ripening tomatoes, tie in main stems to extra canes to support heavy trusses.
  • Cut to the ground all the summer fruiting raspberry canes that have borne fruit, tie in the new green canes for next years fruit.
  • Pick courgette flowers for stuffing or frying
  • Keep sowing salad leaves, radish and lettuce
  • Sow or transplant spring cabbages
  • Plant out the last of kale and purple sprouting broccoli
  • Sow Pak Choi
  • Harvest main crop potatoes, keep earthing up rows to prevent tubers turning green
  • Earth up sweet corn and brassicas to prevent them toppling over
  • Keep cutting sweet pea flowers to bring indoors, remove seed pods to encourage more flowers
  • Ventilate the greenhouse
  • Water regularly
  • Harvest the last of the garlic, allow to dry before stringing
  • Harvest onions if ready, allow to dry before storing
  • Propagate strawberries by gently pushing rooted runners into the soil or small pots of soil. Sever the runner from the adult plant as the runners put on growth and develop a stronger root system.
  • For larger pumpkins, feed once a week with organic tomato feed, in damp weather lift fruits clear of the ground and place onto bricks or plastic trays to prevent rotting.
  • Pinch out the tops of climbing beans to prevent them becoming top-heavy and to encourage new growth lower down
  • Harvest regularly and enjoy!
Jobs Each Month

Jobs for July

 

sunflower

Some jobs for July:

  • If you haven’t done so already, plant out or sow runner beans, French beans and courgettes
  • Plant out Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli for a crop next spring
  • Keep feeding tomatoes weekly, pinch out side shoots on cordon varieties
  • Snap off onion and garlic scape (flower spikes) as they appear
  • Keep the hoe and watering can busy!
  • If you have the space, keep sowing beetroot, kohl rabi, radish, spring onions, lettuce, peas and carrots
  • Keep picking soft fruits such as strawberries, currants, raspberries, hybrid berries and gooseberries
  • Pinch out the growing tips of broad beans once the pods start to form to discourage black fly
  • Begin harvesting main crop potatoes
  • Cut sweet pea flowers to bring indoors, remove seed pods to encourage more flowers
  • Tie in Runner Beans and sunflowers as they grow
  • Ventilate the greenhouse
  • Transplant or ‘dib in’ leek seedlings once they’re the width of a pencil
  • Begin harvesting garlic and onions if ready, lay garlic bulbs out to dry on racks in a well ventilated greenhouse or shed, lay onions on the ground in the sun (or the greenhouse if the weather is bad)
  • Prevent heads of white cauliflowers turning yellow in the sun by pulling the nearest large leaves over and snapping into place
  • Begin propagating strawberries using runners
  • Harvest crops when ready and enjoy!

 

Jobs Each Month

Jobs for June

I love the month of June. The weather is starting to warm, everything is growing quicker, the risk of frost diminishes and interesting looking crops such as coloured beans and squash can be planted out or sown. You may even be harvesting potatoes, broad beans and peas along with salad leaves and ripening summer strawberries.

IMG_3674peas

Some jobs for June:

  • Plant out or sow runner and French beans (if you haven’t done so already), courgettes and squash
  • Plant out sweetcorn, pumpkins, kale and purple sprouting broccoli
  • Start feeding tomatoes, pinch out side shoots on cordon varieties
  • Snap off onion and garlic scape (flower spikes) as they appear
  • Keep the hoe and watering can busy!
  • Keep sowing carrots, beets, salad crops, spring onion and radish
  • Make June the last month to harvest your rhubarb, allowing it to rest
  • Pinch out the growing tips of broad beans once the pods start to form to discourage black fly
  • Harvest peas, early and second early potatoes, autumn sown broad beans, salad crops and strawberries
  • Tie in Runner Beans as they grow
  • Sow Florence fennel where they’re to crop
  • Plant a herb bed
  • Ventilate the greenhouse
  • Transplant or ‘dib in’ leek seedlings once they’re the width of a pencil.
  • Keep sowing beetroot, kohl rabi, radish, spring onions, lettuce and peas every two weeks
  • Weed in-between onions and garlic
  • Plant the last of your seed potatoes
  • Cut out flower spikes from the middle of rhubarb crowns
  • Check support for summer raspberries, blackberries and other hybrid berries, tie in canes.
  • Thin out crowded raspberry canes if you didn’t do it last month
  • Plant out sunflowers and other half-hardy flowering annuals
  • Thin carrot seedlings and consider sowing more rows
  • Plant out sweet pea if you haven’t done so already
  • Harvest crops when ready and enjoy!
peas growing on chicken wire support
Jobs Each Month

Jobs for May

May is the month when seed sowing is in full swing, space in the greenhouse is filling up fast with seed trays and pots. Hardier crops started earlier in the year should be hardened off during the day before planting into their final positions. Tender crops such as beans and squashes can be sown undercover now. If the weather is particularly fine, sow beans direct where they are to crop.

peas growing on chicken wire support

Some jobs for May:

  • Sow French and runner beans either in pots (undercover) or direct, depending on weather conditions
  • Harvest asparagus spears
  • Check growth of greenhouse seedlings and water as necessary. If the weather is warm ventilate the greenhouse.
  • Sow sweet corn under glass or indoors using small pots or toilet roll tubes
  • Continue hardening off crops before planting out
  • Transplant or ‘dib in’ leek seedlings once they’re the width of a pencil.
  • Sow beetroot, kohl rabi and Swiss chard direct (depending on weather conditions). Beetroot will benefit from cloche protection.
  • Sow cucumber, pumpkins, courgettes and other squashes under glass or indoors for successful germination.
  • Plant out Brussels sprouts, summer cabbages and summer sprouting broccoli once risk of frost is over
  • Sow early purple sprouting broccoli direct or undercover depending on weather conditions
  • Keep the hoe busy!
  • Keep sowing radish, spring onions, lettuce and peas every two weeks
  • Remove weeds around onions, shallots and garlic
  • Support autumn sowings of tall variety broad beans with canes and string between each row
  • Plant the last of your seed potatoes
  • Cut out flower spikes from the middle of rhubarb crowns
  • Check support for summer raspberries, blackberries and other hybrid berries, tie in canes.
  • Thin out crowded raspberry canes
  • Earth up second early and main crop potatoes, cover rows with pieces of thick cardboard for extra protection if severe frost threatens
  • Plant out sunflowers and other half-hardy flowering annuals raised in pots at the end of the month (weather permitting) otherwise wait until next month
  • Thin carrot seedlings and consider sowing more rows
  • Plant out sweet pea once hardened off, pinch out the growing tips if you haven’t done so already
  • Keep a roll of horticultural fleece to hand, cover outdoor peas and greenhouse seedlings at night if very cold or frost threatens
  • Succession sow herbs such as coriander, dill and parsley. Undercover if necessary.
  • Check developing gooseberry fruit for signs of mildew.