Veg Patch

To read the story of my Veg/Flower Patch in chronological order use the links in the Blog Archive

Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Sprouts are on for Christmas!

Well maybe not on, but certainly in! About an hour after my last rather brief post on Friday, the rainclouds cleared and for the first time in a week the sun came out. 

I waited until after lunch because the weather lady on the BBC was certain that we were in for another drenching. Nothing happened, and as the garden began to glow in the sunshine it was time to get outside and get the seedlings, that were desperate for a bit more space, into the beds. 

My brussel sprouts were suffering from serious overcrowding so they were first. I was never a great fan of the over boiled pulp that was traditionally, the way to serve sprouts .I think generations of women were taught in domestic science, that if you couldn't suck them up a straw, they weren't cooked! 

Luckily as I taught myself to cook, I became a disciple of Delia Smith. If Delia didn't make it we didn't eat it! once I had found her recipe for Sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Chestnuts  we never looked back. 

So it was with pleasure that I planted my two rows of sprout seedlings.

I have no idea how many sprouts we will get from each plant, but as I have 24 plants in I don't think we will go short! 

Another row of broccoli joined the sprouts, and I managed to finally work out what was a weed and what was a parsnip, so they got weeded as well. 

Last week I planted my first three tomato plants in a grow bag. Well now all three are flowering. 

Not too long now and we will have tomatoes. 

It was only an afternoons respite, overnight friday the rain returned and its still here now. 

The poor chickens have been trying to stay dry but even their house has started leaking. The wind has been blowing against the nesting box at such an odd angle that somehow the water was getting in. Two of the three boxes have been soaked overnight for the past few days and I have managed to get through a lot of straw. 

Jim, ever inventive, made use of a piece of left over roofing felt from the shed, A few quick tacks and once again the chickens are dry.

It does the job nicely and when this awful rain has passed we can easily take it off again. The chickens looked very comfortable this morning when I went down to check on them, dry as a bone!

And talking bones! the puppy. He has been growing at an amazing rate all week. For him today though it has all got a bit much. He really didn't fancy his walk this morning, after seeing Jim take 5 minutes to get dressed for the outside. He rather fancied another sleep, so thats what he did!

Happy Sunday, don't get wet!

Friday, 27 April 2012

News from the garden - There is no news!

Just a quick update to say I haven't given up blogging, but for the past 6 days I have had to give up gardening. 

Rain! so much rain! I am not complaining because we really need it. As I sit typing this the wind in howling and the rain is flying past the windows horizontally. Hopefully the amount of rain we are having now means that we will have a glorious summer. 

The plants that are outside are looking wonderfully green, and the stuff in the greenhouse is growing rapidly. So rapidly some of it still needs to be outside but there is never enough time between showers to get it out. 

The chickens are very fed up. They want to be outside but they don't like to be wet. I have put a tarpaulin over the top of the run to give them a little area that is drier and they spend there days looking longingly outside.

The puppy doesn't care, no matter how much it rains he wants to be outside. Luckily as he is short haired he doesn't take long to dry!

Will get out as soon as I can and get some more new pictures up. 

Saturday, 21 April 2012

And so the battle begins!

I am a mild mannered person most of the time, but I am determined to make sure that nothing will spoil my vegetable garden. 

It would appear that carrot fly is going to be one of my major adversaries. I planted carrots some weeks ago and as usual having never done this before I just got on with it. It now appears that I should have taken steps straight away to protect my plant from this predator. 

After some very useful advice from another gardener named Sue  at Green Lane Allotments , I realised that immediate action needed to be taken. First port of call, a bit of research on the internet. It would seem that the fly is attracted to the smell of the carrots, caused when the leaves are bruised. As I had yet to thin my carrots there was still hope that they had not found my straggly little line of seedlings. Enviromesh seemed to be the answer so once again, online I went and found what I needed. 

It arrived yesterday so off I went to protect my carrots from the fly. 

Before this though, I had to thin them, so after waiting weeks for them to get to a reasonable size, I now found myself pulling most of them out again. As they were so small it wasn't worth keeping them to replant. I was now up against the clock to save them from my new enemy, The aroma of my now bruised carrot leaves was floating away on the wind attracting them to my garden. 

First a frame, I had some of my Lidl poly tunnel supports laying unused , these would be perfect. 

Then after a quick battle with a huge piece of mesh, in the greenhouse, it was cut to size and in place over the carrots. 

So if the fly's have managed to get to the carrots, thats a real shame but hopefully I have done enough to prevent any further damage. 

The next job on my list was one I have been putting off. Time to bank the potatoes. I don't know why I was worried about it because it took me 10 minutes and was pretty simple. 

The tomato plants that were amongst the first seeds I planted, were now getting too big for the pots. Its still far too early to put them outside so I decided to use a grow bag inside the greenhouse. 

This is something I do know how to do as in my last tiny garden this was the only way I could grow tomatoes. A few minutes work and they were done.

Just in case you didn't recognise it I labelled my asparagus, shame we can't eat it this year

Next on the list, as herb garden. I had planted Basil, Corriander, and Dill and they are growing nicely in the warm, but I popped up to the garden centre to buy Rosemary, Thyme and Sage.

They went straight in outside, to be joined by the others at a later, warmer date.

And last but certainly not least, the strawberry bed. It has been nicely wrapped and protected from the elements for a couple of weeks now. But after a particularly nasty storm a couple of nights ago the poly tunnel was looking a bit battered and saggy. I took he plastic off the sort it out and was delighted to see these little beauties.

I don't think we will be supplying Wimbledon but it looks like we will be enjoying some lovely puddings in the summer. 

You may be wondering about my last post, where it appeared that aliens had landed in the chicken house. Well you will be pleased to know that about two days later, they returned to the planet from whence they came, and egg production returned to normal. Margot celebrated by making another bid for freedom. 

And finally Gibson. Our tiny sweet puppy is growing on a daily basis and developing his own personality, which at the moment is heading towards stubborn. As he grows so do his teeth so Jim is having to come up with inventive ways to prevent him chewing the house. His current favourite is a large dog toy called a Kong which Jim fills with his dog food which has been soaked in water to go soggy. It then spends 24 hours in the freezer. It takes Gibson hours to get the stuff out and keeps him very occupied. 

No garden time this weekend as we have a family event, one of our number has reached a landmark birthday so we are all off out for a nice lunch. 

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Aliens in the garden?

The mutant eggs continue to appear. Now, as well as the super huge double yolkers which I get every other day, one of the chickens is laying soft shelled eggs. 

The first time I saw one, was three days ago laying in the straw in the run. It had burst and was laying like a sad, end of party balloon or one of these squiggly children's balls with a little alien inside, in one of the three nesting boxes. The lovely yellow yolk was glistening in the sun as I opened up for the day. 

I didn't worry about it and thought it was a one off, until yesterday evening. I went out at dusk to close up the house and could see something laying on the ground in the run. I reached in to pick it up (With bare hand) and just as my hand made contact I realised it was another burst egg. The yolk was enormous and burst straight away. So there I was standing in the allotment with egg yolk running down my arm. Yuk!

Ok so now it was time to fire up the internet and see what was going on. A google search gave lots of results, but all seemed to think it wasn't a problem and would stop in a few days. The cause was also widely discussed on various sites, but most thought that it could be caused by a chicken having a shock. 

Gibson, the very bouncy puppy has been chasing the chickens every day since he moved in, so he obviously wasn't the cause of the problem. Then I remembered the day before the alien eggs started, we had the most spectacular thunder and lightening. That must be it. 

This morning there was another alien, but also another double yolker! I have made sure they have lots of calcium in the form of oyster shell grit and now I just have to wait for the soft eggs to stop. Lets hope there are no more storms. 

The impressive amounts of rain we have had over the last couple of days have brought the garden to life. I finally have Parsnip seedlings growing. 

These were the very first things I planted in my garden and I subsequently discovered that Parsnips are quite difficult to grow. I waited in vain day after day, as everything else was growing around them. I had given up and was just about to dig the ground over and plant something else when these little beauties appeared. There are lots of gaps in the rows but hopefully over the next few days they will all appear. 

The carrot seeds I planted have come up in a nice thick row, It seems a shame thin them but I know I have to or else they will al be weedy specimens. 

And today I really must earth up my Duke of York potatoes. I have been putting it off because as with all these things, I have never grown them before and so not really sure what to do. I have just found a very useful video at VideoJug. This site has loads of very good little clips showing how to do various garden jobs.  No putting it off any longer. 

I have also discovered completely by accident that I have some edible wild plants growing all over the garden. This week is Food Festival Week at Milford on Sea. I went along with my neighbour to a cookery demonstration given by a chef from a restaurant we would both like to visit. 

He was making something with scallops and started talking about a plant called a Three Cornered Leek. He described the plant and my ears pricked up. I thought that I had wild garlic growing by the gate into the allotment. Every time I passed it I got  an oniony garlic whiff. Now I wasn't so sure. After the chef had finished I went and had a chat and was then convinced that I had the leeks. Once home I found a picture on the internet and recognised them straight away. Here they are growing by my gate.

You can use them in salads and to make a pesto that you can mix with anything, so looking forward to using them over the summer, and best of all, they grew all by themselves!

Finally Gibson news. He is growing at an amazing rate now. we won't be able to call him a puppy much longer. So far no damage and he is very well behaved. He is also becoming a bit of a poser. We have taken so many pictures of him, every time he sees a camera now he stops and presents his best side!

The sun is shining, its a beautiful day so we are off for a long walk on the beach and then an afternoon in the garden for me. Enjoy your Sunday.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

That must have hurt!

One of the chickens has started to lay what my nephew described as, mutant eggs. On Friday I wandered up to the henhouse and had a bit of a surprise, laying amongst the straw was the biggest egg I have ever seen. I had a quick check of the hens and they all seemed fine, but whoever laid it must have wondered what on earth was going on. 

To give you some idea how big it was the egg on the right would have been classed as a large by a supermarket.

It must be a double yolk? the only way to find out was to cook it. Whether he wanted it or not my nephew was having a fried egg for his breakfast. We stood expectantly over the pan, as I cracked it into the fat. 

There they were, two beautiful orange yolks, sizzling away in the pan. They didn't take long to cook and were shortly on a bit of toast and being thoroughly enjoyed by a 10 year old. 

Well that was an unusual event, or so I thought. Monday morning it happened again. Another huge Mutant egg. This time it went home with my nephew so his sister could enjoy it. 

So who was it, I have no idea, but maybe you can spot a chicken with a gleam in her eye in this picture? 

On to the plants. As they do, they are all slowly coming to life, nothing extraordinary has happened since my last post but I have planted the Asparagus and Rhubarb. They both came nicely packed from Thompson and Morgan

I have never grown either of these plant before so I read the instruction for planting carefully. Basically dig a trench and plant them with the roots spread! 

Asparagus first. A couple of the plants did appear to have very small asparagus tips on them already. This has confused me somewhat as I thought you didn't get any tips in the first year. 

Does anyone know what you are supposed to do with the tips the first year? should I just cut the off and throw them away? I will have do do a bit of research. 

Rhubarb was next.

So now its a waiting game. I only have one of my small beds left to plant. Its for my herbs and they are currently growing in pots in the greenhouse. Chives, Basil, Coriander and rocket are all waiting to take up residence alongside the strawberries. 

I need to weed my other beds but it has actually rained here rather a lot over the last couple of days. The sun is out now but I am off for a haircut.

Puppy news. He is growing and this morning is off to get microchipped. he has also had to have a new lead as his puppy collar no longer fits. As I sit typing he is chasing an ice cube around the room and has just licked the TV. Lovely. 

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Hurrah its raining..

I never thought I would be happy to see the rain, but as  we haven't had anything reasonable here since Christmas, I was pretty pleased to see the overcast wet windy day I was presented with when I opened the curtains this morning. It hasn't stopped a hosepipe ban in lots of the South though, but amazingly not here. Well done to our local very small water company. Lets see how long it lasts! 

Not much been going on outside. Thats the trouble with growing stuff, If it doesn't want to grow, it won't. 

The potatoes have come on and are almost ready to be banked. 

The shallots are now at a very presentable height,

and I have more tomato plants than I know what to do with.. ( Lots of Green Tomato Chutney in September) 

I also have lots of trays that look like this, hopefully the next time I take pictures they will have something growing in the cells 

The postman arrived yesterday with a large packet.. Whats this? I had ordered so many things I have lost track of whats arrived.  Rhubarb! and Asparagus. Two of my favourite things. They each have one of the smaller beds for themselves outside the greenhouse. I can't wait to get out and plant them. 

And finally what Gibson has been up to this week. We went for a walk in the New forest an he met his first wild pony. 

He wasn't really sure what to a make of him. Another day he decided he wanted to join me as a gardener, so while I wasn't looking thought he would help out with a couple of tubs near the house. 

Obviously he doesn't like winter pansies. Thinking that he may not have been my favourite puppy, he went inside and decided to post himself back to Florida,  in a box that had recently arrived from my oldest friend in America... 

Happy Easter, don't eat too much chocolate.