Chelsea chop

I’ve had a few emails asking about ‘The Chelsea Chop’ what is it and what does it do?  

I’m guessing this has come about after watching the wonderful RHS Chelsea flower show on our TV’s recently. It doesn’t take a genius to work out it’s something that normally done around the time of the flower show (late May or early June). It’s were you simply cut back the stems of some herbaceous plants such as Sedum, Echinacea purpurea, Campanula lactiflora, Rudbeckia ‘herbstonne’ to name but a few cut them back to around one third as their flower buds start to appear.  But why?  Cutting them back will make your plants stockier and bushier and will give you flowers into late summer/ Autumn, also helping to keep your borders looking tidy, without all those stems needing staking.  

If that sounds a little too radical why not try a less scary approach and cut back one in every 3 stems?  If you’ve never tried it have a go and let me know what you think later in the season. I’m about to do it with my sedum they do tend flop out wards leaving a big ugly hole in the middle.

And joy of joys, I harvested my first batch of broadbeans, how can anything beat sitting in the sunshine popping open their big pods, which remind me of huge cozy sleeping bags.

My allotment to do list:

 It’s time to start harvesting those broadbeans

Also early potatoes are getting ready to be dug up to, but keep earthing up your other spuds

Sow little rows of beetroot, lettuce, kohl rabi every couple of weeks

And believe it or not it’s time to think about winter cabbage, these can be sown this month in preparation for later on.

Keep training your peas to climb their supports, keep a ball of string in your pocket, saves walking back and forth to get it.

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May I plant out yet?

Twitchy allotmentiers are weather watching wondering when it’s safe to put out their wonderful crops, It’s a bit like planning to goto war!  

To ‘non-gardening sorts’ this all sounds very silly but to a true grower, timing is everything.  Greenhouses, Poly tunnels and window ledges all groan under the weight of plants and the usual arguments between partners spread across the boroughs with comments such as “I’m sick of seeing plant pots on my window ledges” and “Why do you need to buy so much blimming multi-purpose compost!” or is that just in my house?

Last weekend I started making my bean bed. I use raised beds on my allotment, the trick to raised beds is not to walk of them… Well I break that rule for my bean beds. The thing with beans is, you need to get right in there to harvest them. 

Into this bed will go Runner beans on the right, French beans along the back and hopefully Soya beans on the left wing, I confess, it’s my first year growing Soya beans but I like to try new things. 

At the end of the season I will dig all the roots into the soil to put the nitrogen back into the earth, double dig the wood chip in centre area to avoid soil compaction then lob a load of horse muck over the top and let the worms get stuck in. 

My Allotment to do list:

Pinch out the tops of broadbeans once they start flowering to deter aphids.

Place straw under strawberries to protect the fruit as it forms.

Time to think about moving leeks outdoors when they are around 10cm high. Use a dibber to make a 8cm deep hole drop them in then water in this keeps their stems long and white.

Keep your hoe handy, dandelion seeds are floating around looking for a home, no doubt, right in the middle of your bean bed!

I’m considering moving my sweet corn out, Oh Month of May you’re so fickle with your weather, I will check the long term forecast… again.

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Some lovely news…

I haven’t been as busy on here as usual, something I’m aiming to remedy I promise. But I thought I’d share a little bit of nice news with you if you don’t mind.

Today my very first article was published in The Bolton News. They have given me a column each week to write about allotments and gardening and I’m so excited. It’s a brilliant opportunity and I’m so very thankful to them.

As we say up North “I’m chuffed to bits”.

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Bluebells and purple sprouting broccoli flowers

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Who knew they would look so beautiful together. The yellow flowers from my PSB are simply wonderful I had to bring them into the house to admire and naturally a little fistful of bluebells as I went past! Oh spring it’s so lovely to have you back again! X

Happy spring

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Whether it’s your Easter, or just a Sunday. I just wanted to say have a ‘happy day!’

Take time today to enjoy the flowers, plants, insects, animals and people you share this planet with.

This blog is now a year old, thank you for taking the time to share it with me.

Much love to you and yours.

Vix…xxx

Harvesting my bamboo

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I grow bamboo in my garden, I love the sound of the wind through it’s leaves and the bright green stalks in the sunshine it’s a great plant to have – plus it’s extremely useful.

I harvest the canes to use in my allotment. The great thing about growing your own canes is they have so many more useful bumps and tiny branches than shop bought ones. Which obviously, is very handy for your climbing plants to grab hold of plus the green coloured stalks slowly fade to the familiar beige colour through the growing season, just making them more interesting to look at.

Maybe I take this ‘grow your own’ thing too far, but I wonder what the carbon foot print of the humble garden cane is? I could go out and buy some brittle canes from the garden centre, but it’s so much more fun to grow it yourself!

What’s even more interesting is they are so bendy when green, so you can fashion your own different shaped structures. But take care because they don’t half snap back into shape quick if they aren’t secured properly!

So now I’ve got my newly harvested green bamboo canes… Just need those peas and beans to get a move on! Happy gardening my friend! X

The spring juggle

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My poly tunnel is starting to fill up, trying to find a slot for a seed tray is slowing becoming impossible, I call it the spring juggle. Every inch is filled with a pot or tray – isn’t spring exciting?

Is it me or is there never enough room? Even if I owned the Eden project there wouldn’t be enough space.

April is one of the busiest months for me, sowing and pricking out becomes a full time job. So far I’ve sown (prepare for a huge list):

Soya bean
Runner bean
French bean
Peas
Courgette golden
Marrow
Squash patty green tint
Courgette all green bush
Courgette F1 Atena
Chard Brightlights
Kale Nero di Toscana
Kale scarlet
Kale curly scarlet
Kale dwarf green curled
Leek prize taker
Lettuce little Gem
Rocket
Quinoa
Kohl Rabi purple and white Vienna mix
Tomato gardeners delight
Tomato Tigerella
Sweet Pepper
Multicoloured corn
French marigolds
French lavender
Basil sweet genovese
Basil red Rubin
Coriander fine leaved
Tarragon Russian
Peppery salad
Purple sprouting broccoli
Sunflower velvet queen
Sunflower giant
Sweet pea giant wave
Cabbage primero F1
Calendula Officianalis
Beetroot perfect 3
Good King Henry
Angelica
Pumpkins
Musk melon F1 Emir
Lupin Russell mix
Stock
Tagetes lemon gem
Night scented stock
Nasturtium home mix
Morning glory Rosa Volant

(Told you it was a long list)

I keep records of when everything is sown, the temperatures, and a tick box for if it germinated. Then you can see where you are up to, and it’s lush to look back on in the winter when planning ahead!