Category Archives: tips

Harvesting my bamboo

20140416-091516 pm.jpg

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

20140416-080328 am.jpg

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!

Three new Black Currents for free- propagation using ‘layering’.

20140406-084132 am.jpg

Last spring I pegged down a low hanging branch from my black current, in the hopes of getting a new plant from it and it’s worked a treat!

Propagation using layering is as easy as pie, I do like to take cuttings but this method may take longer but works a treat and it’s so simple!

All you need to do is take a low hanging supple branch and either peg, bury or pop a heavy stone on top of it. I covered mine with about 7cm of soil and gave it a good water. You can see in the picture I’m pointing to the original branch that I layered, look at all those fab roots and the wonderful growth! Also be careful not to snap the branch as you bring it down to soil level.

Another point, ensure that it is able to respond to layering! Plants such as hybrid berries, some woody herbs, Hydrangea, Forsythia, honeysuckle, Wisteria – actually quite a lot, all respond nicely to this process. Then when it’s ready dig it up, cut it from it’s parent plant and either pot it up or find it a new home somewhere in your garden or allotment.

I have two plants from a Forsythia which was originally from my amazing Granddad Berty, who gave some to my Mum and then she did the same for me – it’s almost like a family tradition to pass it down! (The lovely thing is, when ever I look at it, especially when it’s in flower I think of my Granddad and his allotment and my Mum in her little veg plot).

It’s easy and gets great results, do it either now in spring or in autumn. And don’t be too impatient, just leave it to it and have a look the following spring or autumn. Although plants such as honeysuckle are loads quicker!

So new plants from old, that’s what it’s all about and it’s so simple… Happy gardening! X

Image

Micro Greens

20140130-061210 pm.jpg

I was asked by a company called Suttons Seeds if I would like to try out some of thier new Mirco Greens kits, well how could any keen gardener say no?

They arrived today, gosh there where loads, all sorts of different kits. They appear to have a brilliant range. And Wow, they really did come at the right time too, as I’m am busting at the seams to do some kind of gardening and the fact you can do it all on a warm light window ledge, it’s perfect for frustrated gardeners.

What are micro greens? Basically they are young seedlings that are grown for their first couple of leaves. It says on the boxes these first leaves contain more nutrients and vitamins and are packed with protein, sounds good to me!

Each of the kits contain 3 generous packets of seeds, 3 growing mats, and a handy container with a lid. So three harvests can be had for a few quid. Basically turning your window ledge into a mini allotment. I like the sound of this!

So today I have sown ‘Twinkle tendrils’ which are pea shoots, ‘Ruby Frills’, ‘Rainbow Bright’ and ‘Peppery Passion’.

The Ruby Frills and Rainbow Bright seeds appear to be some kind of chard/Beetroot. And I’m guessing the ‘Peppery Passion’ must be a kind of red rocket or spicy lettuce maybe?

That’s my only complaint at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of info on what the seeds are. I’m one of those types of gardeners who likes to know a little more about the seed, than a pretty name and a picture. The problem with not knowing completely what they are, if I love them, how will I be able to buy them again without buying another kit? But hey, it’s mid winter and I’m growing something, so that’s keeps me happy!

It says we will be harvesting little salads in 3 weeks, so I will keep you posted.

Image

Kale and allotment snobbery

20140121-014309 pm.jpg

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

Image

Aquadulce Claudia – over wintering broad bean.

20140118-074230 pm.jpg

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!

Image

Pot Marigolds and Sweet Peas

20140102-054322 pm.jpg

My daughter and I were a little bored today so we walked down the garden into the allotment to have a little look what was happening. While we mooched about I was amazed to see the Pot Marigolds have started to flower again!

Their cheery faces popping out from amongst the Brussels and Broccoli was amazing. Flowers in January?

So January 2014, Happy New Year to you!

If you are like me and itching to start sowing some seeds, why not soak some sweet peas over night and pop them in some compost? They like a nice long year, so get them in now.