Purple Sprouting Broccoli

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It’s tastes and looks amazing! And now is the time to start sowing it for your bumper harvest next spring!

It’s easy to grow, and just gets on with it’s business throughout the year. But then next spring it will explode with amazing sprouting fab purple stalks.

I have never understood why the supermarkets charge so much for it, as it’s so easy to grow and just a few plants will give you such a tremendous harvest. Freshly picked, gently steamed it’s simply wonderful!

I have about 5 plants and today I harvested so much we had enough for our dinner, as did all of my neighbours (I’m very popular today!)

But that’s what it’s all about eating super fresh, no silly chemicals and sharing your harvests with your friends and family!

Happy spring to you!

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

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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

Honeyberry

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This is my Honeyberry, I bought it two years ago from a shop that was selling it off cheap. I felt so sorry for it I had to buy her and bring her home, (this happens to me a lot).

Honeyberry are actually a form of edible honeysuckle ‘Lonicera caerulea’ some people call them blue honeysuckle or edible honeysuckle. They originally come from Siberia, Northern China and Northern Japan. Like blueberries they are extremely high in antioxidants and vitamin C, but unlike blueberries they aren’t picky about their soil and will grow quite happily in most soil types. The berries make good jam or can be eaten fresh.

So far I have to say ‘she’ is a ‘tough old boot’. Last year whilst we were having work done on our house, the boys threw a load of top soil right on top of her in the raised bed. I didn’t fancy her chances, I thought she was gone. I finally found her whilst digging around with my hands carefully feeling for branches, which I gently brought to the surface as best as I could. Needless to say last year she didn’t do much of anything, a few leaves and certainly no flowers. But today whilst I was checking around the plot I spotted she was blooming away, Result!

I am painfully aware she doesn’t have another mate to pollinate with, maybe I will find another one another day, but for now I thought I would see if I could hand pollinate and just maybe this will fertilise the flowers. I have no clue on earth if this will work. But it’s a worthy experiment whilst I keep looking for another one to put nearby.

So in the spirit of experimental allotmenting I took my little paint brush and tickled all the flowers. Just maybe this will do the trick… Time will tell
!

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Cyclamen seed and propagation.

In the depths of winter when everything is in it’s deep slumber, the trees look like great looming bones and not a flower is to be seen then a cheery cyclamen pops up pink, white, purple or red their bright colours seem to defy the darkness.

I think they are wonderful their patterned leaves and beautiful colours warm my heart. My mum treated me to some last year and they have been flowering all winter and even now in spring.

I was very excited to notice they have seed pods developing so I will be keeping a close eye on them and will wait to collect them. (I adore collecting seed it’s saves so much money, and I will be honest, it’s like collecting treasure.)

As you can see from my picture they aren’t quite ready yet, I have heard, when the time is right to collect as the stem which holds the seed starts to coil up like a cork screw bringing the seed closer to the ground. A clever little plant indeed! This is how they spread their enchanting carpets of rich foliage and captivating flowers through the woodlands. Clever, because by doing this they bag the space shadowing out the other seedlings with their foliage.

But what to do once the seed pod is ready to be picked? The seeds within will need soaking for 24 hrs and rinsed. Then pop them onto the surface of moist free draining low nutrient compost, covering with a moderate layer of compost which which help push the seed coat off the emerging seedling. They tray should be covered with black plastic as they require complete darkness for germination and a constant temperature, no higher than 15C. Once the seedling appear you should put them into a light position again maintaining a constant temperature. Also they like a bit of humidity this helps the pesky seed coat to fall off.

Fingers crossed these little fellas should be pricked out 8-10 weeks from sowing again into a low nutrient well drained compost. It’s important at this point that. The newly developing corm is just visible above the compost.

After about 8 weeks they should be pricked out into pots, don’t leave it too long! As their leaves will get all tangled together. Again when pricking out ensure their corm is just seen at the top of the compost and watering in will help. If they are too deep the corm may suffer from Botrytis. Be gentle when potting them up and place them into a well structured compost. The important thing is to keep them moist, not waterlogged; after all your hard work you don’t want the crowns to rot away.

To feed 2:1:1 NKP weekly, then once buds appear change to a 1:1:1 increasing to a 1:1:2 as the flowers develop.

Ok this might sound like a lot of hard work, but sometimes it’s good to have a little challenge, something to set your mind to; and when everything looks dark and grey in winter you can look forward to their majestic blooms to see you through to late spring.

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Popping up

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Isn’t it a wonderful feeling when your seeds start popping up from their little pots? A little seed, a pot, compost and a drink of water and up they come. Obviously a little warmth helps too, but it’s not rocket science.

Here’s are a little collection of flowers and vegetables from my allotment poly tunnel. I check them everyday and get so giddy when they emerge from the soil. It’s so exciting to watch them growing bigger and stronger.

(Don’t tell anyone, but I even say “good morning” to them when I walk into my poly tunnel). Hey what can I say? I was brought up to be polite!

Finally purple sprouting broccoli and Spring supper is served.

My 6 year old daughter has waited for 50 weeks and finally the day has come! She can fill her little face with Purple Sprouting Broccoli. Funny how a 6 year old can get so excited about eating vegetables, but she does.

It’s one of our favourite meals for two reasons, one it’s simple and tastes lovely and two it means spring is finally here!

Quick and easy Spring Supper.

Purple sprouting broccoli
Curly kale smallest leaves are the best
Chard
Fresh oregano
Garlic
Olive oil
Pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
Smoked salmon fillet, but it works wonderfully as a vegetarian dish too!

Cook the pasta, gently wilt the veg in a frying pan with olive oil, add the herbs and garlic at the end, toss pasta into the pan and serve, easy!

And not one drop of chemical was used making these vegetables grow, honestly you simply don’t need them! A tiny bit of effort is needed with hoeing and watering and you can feed your family and yourself vegetables which aren’t laced in filth!

The time is now – Go and plant a seed, it’s easy!

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Guess what I’m about to do…

The sun is out, but the wind is still nippy in the North West of the UK. But I cannot wait any longer. It’s time to sow peas! Actually not just peas, there’s plenty to get going right now.

I’ve been busy sowing plenty of things

Tomato – Tigerella and Money Maker
Red Brussels Sprouts – Red Bull
Red cabbage – Primero F1
Sunflower – Velvet Queen
Purple sprouting Broccoli
A spicy salad mix (sown into a bed in the poly tunnel)
Sweet pea – Giant Wave and Perfume Duet (grandiflora)
And of course my daughters favourite Peas – Greenshaft

Don’t forget little and often when your sowing, otherwise you will everything at once! (I’m very guilty of sowing too much at once) this year I’m going to be good, a tray every 2 weeks! – well that’s the plan…

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