Category Archives: pests

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Kale and allotment snobbery

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I do love vegetables, to me they are the ultimate plant. Many have long histories, they are fascinating to grow and the amount of varieties keeps even the humble carrot interesting, the best bit of it all, you can eat them!

This is a staple in our house, we all love it, Kale.

It’s a meaty veg with a proper bite to it. Tastes wonderful in stews with all sorts of meat, amazing with pasta or just on a plate with butter and cheese grated on the top.

One of the reasons I particularly love it is, well apart from it’s taste is, it looks beautiful. Curly Kale with it’s zig zag edged leaves, it’s adorable – it’s a tough old bird too. Especially the dwarf kind.

She’s not bothered about shade, full sun, soil type as long as the soil isn’t water logged she will grow through it all. I sowed these last spring and she is still giving wonderful harvests in winter too. Slugs don’t really bother it, maybe the odd caterpillar in summer and pigeons aren’t the least bit interested, it’s a tough cookie for sure.

I mentioned allotment snobbery, well that’s because I was shocked to my socks by a comment from another allotment holder last year. I was minding my own business picking a huge basket of it one sunny day, when the bird song and serenity was broken by a woman who invited herself onto my plot.

“Kale I see” she said in a voice which reminded me of a school teacher.
“Oh yes! Isn’t it lovely? It’s really tasty” I replied.
“They feed it to horses you know, I don’t bother with it” and off she tromped in her golfing shorts and head visor.
I sat there for a minute slightly confused, “what was that all about?”

Well The moral of this little tale is thus…

As I walked down the allotments last weekend to have a look what wonders and exciting things people were up to (there’s always something) I walked past her plot, I could help but notice it was barren; nothing to eat at all!

So my golf short wearing friend. ‘I’d sooner eat like a race horse all year round, than like a King just in the summer! (I’m also blowing a raspberry too) X

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Aquadulce Claudia – over wintering broad bean.

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In November last year I sowed some over wintering broad beans called Aquadulce Claudia. I have never sowed them before, but I love broad beans and the idea that I could have a cheeky early harvest in late spring really excited me.

I sowed them in three different locations to see which location would be best for next Autumn.

– The first were sowed in an unheated Poly tunnel

– Second unprotected in a raised bed

– Third where in a raised bed but under a home made cloche made from corrugated plastic.

Results so far:

The first set popped their heads up first, but then disaster struck, when mice snuck into the Poly Tunnel and dug all but two up, then to add insult to injury snails started to nibble on them. They are still growing the tallest, but they do look very leggy, which would suggest, even though the poly tunnel is bright the light level may not be ideal for them.

The unprotected ones came up last but more germinated, although healthy, still small.

The last set grown under the makeshift cloche look brilliant however not as many germinated. The ones that did come up, look fab. Lovely and strong, good colour very healthy. The corrugated plastic is completely clear, unlike the slightly opaque Poly tunnel.

It’s still early doors with regards which way is best, but now spring is approaching things will start to speed up.

It’s quite an interesting experiment. Hopefully in the late spring I will be munching on wonderful bright green Broad Beans covered in garlic butter… Well that’s the plan!

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A curious little plant – Electric Daisy

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Acmella oleracea is part of the daisy family, normally daisies are cute little flowers, innocent souls, but this plant is quite quite different.

Another name for it is the ‘The toothache plant’, it comes from Brazil and has brought me so much fun. Basically nip the large buds off and chew it. First of all it’s very sweet like sucking a lemon, then next minute your whole mouth goes numb and tingles it’s amazing!

I’d say it’s like eating a chilli, but it’s completely different, like nothing you will of felt before. This naturally has caused me to become something of a trickster. Peoples reactions to it have been astoundingly funny. My 6 year old daughter ran around the allotment saying her mouth was on fire, my Dad said his mouth was a slobbering mess and my friends in work were screaming in terror and thinking they were about to die! Then after 15 mins of a numb tingling mouth it disappears…

The only draw back to these amazing tricky little plants is the slugs love eating their leaves and if left unguarded they will strip them in a night. But if you can keep them in a warm little spot protected from evil slugs you will have such a laugh at your next BBQ.

Get some next season for high jinx and if your sensible for tooth ache and sore gums.

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Cucamelon

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How cute is this? My Cucamelon has started to set fruit.

Melothria scabra also known as cucamelon, sandita, Mexican sour gherkin or mouse melon. Is a fascinating little gem and comes all the way from Mexico. I have been told it tastes like a cucumber crossed by a lemon and I simply cannot wait to try them. They grow tiny little fruits which look like mini melons which wouldn’t look out of place sat on a Barbie dolls dinner table.

They will keep going fruiting until the first frost, however you can move them indoor to a cool place and look after them until the spring when you can move them back out into garden or greenhouse etc. I’ve read you can treat them like a dahlia, this excites me, as I will hopefully get an earlier crop next year.

The cucamelon didn’t get into the Botanical books until the middle of the 1800’s! I love a plant with history, to think the Mexican people were harvesting this amazing little fruit way way before Columbus went on his ‘holidays’ around the Caribbean…

I started my plants off in May in the UK and ‘So far’ I have noticed the slugs and snails haven’t gone near them, they also don’t appear to attract green or black fly – good news I love plants that are able to get on without being pestered.

Mine are in a nice deep pot in my poly tunnel and I think I will keep them there, they seem to be doing well, not point in upsetting the apple cart. It’s gets pretty warm in there through the day and cools through the night. I’m definitely going to bring them into the house though before winter hits us. Last year it got to -14 and everything was frozen solid in the polytunnel, I would hate to lose them.

I have been reading some interesting recipes for pickling them, I will share them with you as soon as I get my good crop – fingers crossed

Happy gardening my friend!

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Asparagus Pea

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Don’t miss out on growing this vegetable. If your not growing it this year, then put it on your list for next year!

It tastes just as it’s name describes and it’s lush. I almost didn’t do it this year, that is until I stumbled upon the seeds I collected from last year in an envelope hidden in the kitchen.

Pick them when they a tiny or they are tough, the one in this picture is too big to eat now.

They are worth a spot in anyone’s garden, they cover the ground with pretty leaves and gorgeous deep purple/red flowers, so they keep the weeds down.

With the plus, that you cannot buy asparagus peas in a single shop I know. I’ve never seen it at any farmers market or store. So you feel like it’s a secret veg, when you pick it and eat it!

They really don’t complain, slugs don’t bother with it, I’ve never seen a greenfly land on them they are very low in problems.

Just keep picking the pods small and it will keep flowering and podding all summer long!

Then in the autumn let the whole plant go to seed and harvest the seed pods. The shinny black seeds are a joy to collect. My 6 year old helps and loves this job, it makes such a noise when they roll into the tub.

Shame I cannot get her to enjoy picking weeds from the raised beds… I shall work in that! 🙂

Enjoy your outdoors and garden happy! X

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The results from the tomato leaf spray

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Told you I wasn’t worried, my artichoke was attacked by greenfly and was looking very grizzly indeed so I squirted it with the tomato leaf spray everyday day for 3 days and ta darr!

They all dried up and died and after a good water it’s looking right a rain!

See my old blogs for the recipe! Click here

Happy gardening x

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Breakfast… English strawberries

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Not wishing to upset anyone or cause outrage. I’ve eaten strawberries from all over the world, but I still say English ones are the best.

It’s was a long wet, cold spring and I was worried that this year would be a wipe out for the fruit on my plot, then from nowhere a mini heat wave descended and all that rain and now heat has ripened the strawberries to perfection.

Here is what we collected for breakfast, it’s 7.30 am and my daughter and I are eating the sweetest plumpest strawberries I have ever grown.

My daughters face is stained pink with the juice, she looks like she’s put her lipstick on whilst driving down a bumpy road! This is why I grow my own fruit and veg.

I haven’t used any chemicals, nothing artificial. I have just worked with nature instead of against it and now I’m starting to reap the rewards. I can settle back and watch my 6 year old fill her tummy as she walks about the plot, I’m not worried about poisonous sprays and having to scrub everything before its eaten.

Be kind to your plot and your body, bin off those chemicals, you honestly don’t need them… Promise!

Happy gardening x