Fun on the allotment.

I'm a student, chef, gardner, photographer and general procrastinator. On the 5th November 2011 I inherited an old battered allotmentand started this blog so people can watch as I work and play to make it my dream larder.
I’ve finally cut down the Leek heads that I left to flower from last year.
On the compost they go.

I’ve finally cut down the Leek heads that I left to flower from last year.

On the compost they go.

Kestrel Potatoes  
Not a particularly good harvest from the 6 plants that actually grew (from 10 tubers). They grew quite poorly from the start then blight got them early. I’ve not had a chance to try any yet so I’m not sure about the flavour. I think I might have planted them out too early, or not didn’t water them enough during the dry spell a month or so back. - Gary

Kestrel Potatoes 

Not a particularly good harvest from the 6 plants that actually grew (from 10 tubers). They grew quite poorly from the start then blight got them early. I’ve not had a chance to try any yet so I’m not sure about the flavour. I think I might have planted them out too early, or not didn’t water them enough during the dry spell a month or so back. - Gary

Back from my holiday in Turkey. Even more tomatoes but still none are ready to harvest. Have to hope for some summer sunshine to ripen them now!

Back from my holiday in Turkey. Even more tomatoes but still none are ready to harvest. Have to hope for some summer sunshine to ripen them now!

Echinacea
I bought some Echinacea ‘Lustre Hybrids’ seeds from T&M last June and grew on around two dozen plants.
Most were given away to family members or other allotment holders, but I planted half a dozen in my front flower borderer.
They’ve started to flower and there’s this lovely pure white one that I’m enjoying. Echinacea plants don’t take to easily from cuttings but I’m going to give it a try.
I’ve also seen Echinacea ‘Summer Cocktail’ in this months Gardening Illustrated and I’m hoping I have some in a similar shade. If not I’ve got more seeds from the packet to sow.
- Gary.

Echinacea

I bought some Echinacea ‘Lustre Hybrids’ seeds from T&M last June and grew on around two dozen plants.

Most were given away to family members or other allotment holders, but I planted half a dozen in my front flower borderer.

They’ve started to flower and there’s this lovely pure white one that I’m enjoying. Echinacea plants don’t take to easily from cuttings but I’m going to give it a try.

I’ve also seen Echinacea ‘Summer Cocktail in this months Gardening Illustrated and I’m hoping I have some in a similar shade. If not I’ve got more seeds from the packet to sow.

- Gary.

Outdoor Tomatoes
Have been doing really well this year so far. They’re appreciating the hot weather and because they’re outdoor and planted in raised beds water hasn’t been a problem (even thought I only get down there once a week). However, they grow a lot in that week so I’m not always able to catch the side shoots before they go crazy. I spent some time yesterday cutting the vigorous growth out and stripping the bottom leaves from the plants to let light and air into the tomatoes. I’m also giving them a comfrey feed once a week. 
Because the English summer can be unpredictable I’ve pinched out the top of half the plants, so they can concentrate on setting the next 1-2 trusses of flowers and ripening the fruit. I’m hedging my bets on a warm summer and leaving the other half to grow to the top of the canes before I pinch them out. 
These plants were given to me by my mum and dad’s neighbour and have been grown on well but they’re not as far on as I would have liked for this time of year, so I’m guessing he sowed them late. Then again I wasn’t going to do tomatoes this year so can’t really complain!
- Gary.

Outdoor Tomatoes

Have been doing really well this year so far. They’re appreciating the hot weather and because they’re outdoor and planted in raised beds water hasn’t been a problem (even thought I only get down there once a week). However, they grow a lot in that week so I’m not always able to catch the side shoots before they go crazy. I spent some time yesterday cutting the vigorous growth out and stripping the bottom leaves from the plants to let light and air into the tomatoes. I’m also giving them a comfrey feed once a week.

Because the English summer can be unpredictable I’ve pinched out the top of half the plants, so they can concentrate on setting the next 1-2 trusses of flowers and ripening the fruit. I’m hedging my bets on a warm summer and leaving the other half to grow to the top of the canes before I pinch them out. 

These plants were given to me by my mum and dad’s neighbour and have been grown on well but they’re not as far on as I would have liked for this time of year, so I’m guessing he sowed them late. Then again I wasn’t going to do tomatoes this year so can’t really complain!

- Gary.

Sowing Seeds
I never thought gardening was for me. 
I’ve always loved food and cooking. To me its very artistic. My love of food eventually leads to thinking more about the ingredients. If you follow that thought process long enough you end up with an allotment. Since then my need to grow herbs and heritage carrots has grown (pun intended) into a fully fledged horticultural obsession (where I even grow non-edible flowers).
My little sister loves good, seasonal food and has the healthiest diet of anyone I know. she has no interest in gardening though. 
While she’s back from university for the summer I’ve convinced her to plant a few rows of seeds. She was keen as the thought of fresh veg is appealing … but just maybe it’ll spark a passion.
She occasionally reads this bog, so if you’re there you’ll be happy to know the Mustard Cress and the Ruby Chard have both germinated.

Sowing Seeds

I never thought gardening was for me.

I’ve always loved food and cooking. To me its very artistic. My love of food eventually leads to thinking more about the ingredients. If you follow that thought process long enough you end up with an allotment. Since then my need to grow herbs and heritage carrots has grown (pun intended) into a fully fledged horticultural obsession (where I even grow non-edible flowers).

My little sister loves good, seasonal food and has the healthiest diet of anyone I know. she has no interest in gardening though.

While she’s back from university for the summer I’ve convinced her to plant a few rows of seeds. She was keen as the thought of fresh veg is appealing … but just maybe it’ll spark a passion.

She occasionally reads this bog, so if you’re there you’ll be happy to know the Mustard Cress and the Ruby Chard have both germinated.

Leek flower about to open. 

I missed harvesting these over the winter and would be horrible, stringy and bitter now. Instead I’m letting them flower for the bees and Co.

Leek flower about to open.

I missed harvesting these over the winter and would be horrible, stringy and bitter now. Instead I’m letting them flower for the bees and Co.

A nice annual poppy that’s come up from nowhere …

A nice annual poppy that’s come up from nowhere …

Planting out my new herb bed.
They’re all either divisions or cuttings that I took last winter. Aka I haven’t paid for any of them.

Planting out my new herb bed.

They’re all either divisions or cuttings that I took last winter. Aka I haven’t paid for any of them.

First of the years strawberries!

First of the years strawberries!

At the back of my allotment I have a messy area where I tend to dump stuff, like unused wood. The wildlife love it, there’s always a multitude of creepy crawlies around, in the best possible way. It’s also a heaven for wildflowers, which makes it one of my favours parts of the of all.

At the back of my allotment I have a messy area where I tend to dump stuff, like unused wood. The wildlife love it, there’s always a multitude of creepy crawlies around, in the best possible way. It’s also a heaven for wildflowers, which makes it one of my favours parts of the of all.

My Oriental Poppies have bloomed, and are a lovely shade of coral.
Does anyone have experience propagating these from root cuttings?

My Oriental Poppies have bloomed, and are a lovely shade of coral.

Does anyone have experience propagating these from root cuttings?

Allotment shot from the front.

Allotment shot from the front.

Allotment Update
The back bed (nearest in this picture) is full of potatoes that I accidentally left in last year. I was meant to clear the bed but never got round to it and the plants are miles ahead of everyone else’s and looking very healthy. 
Next was the brassica bed but the sprouting broccoli had just finished so I’ve dug it over. I desperately need more top soil to fill the beds. I’m likely to fill that bed with strawberry runners for next year.
Then is a thin ‘permanent’ bed that will be planted with sterile Comfrey “Bocking 14." I had root cuttings delivered earlier this spring and they’re growing on in the cold frame at the moment.
The 4 bushes in the next bed are the 3rd year Jostaberries that I took from cuttings when I first got the allotment.
Onions, Sweet Peas and mixed salad leaves make up the 5th bed.
After that is another thin ‘permenant’ bed that has been planted with Asparagus “Pacific Purple,” but they are yet to come up and I’m starting to worry!
I’m leaving leeks from last year to flower in the bed after, as I left them too late to harvest. In a few weeks they’ll be replaced with outdoor tomato plants that are currently in the cold frame. The rest of that bed are “Kestrel" potatoes that I actually planned to grow …
The last of the ‘rotation’ beds right at the front have sorrel that is going to flower (you can just see it sticking up) and my main strawberry plants.
Right at the front is my flower boarder. I’ll post an update of that soon.
- Gary.

Allotment Update

The back bed (nearest in this picture) is full of potatoes that I accidentally left in last year. I was meant to clear the bed but never got round to it and the plants are miles ahead of everyone else’s and looking very healthy.

Next was the brassica bed but the sprouting broccoli had just finished so I’ve dug it over. I desperately need more top soil to fill the beds. I’m likely to fill that bed with strawberry runners for next year.

Then is a thin ‘permanent’ bed that will be planted with sterile Comfrey “Bocking 14." I had root cuttings delivered earlier this spring and they’re growing on in the cold frame at the moment.

The 4 bushes in the next bed are the 3rd year Jostaberries that I took from cuttings when I first got the allotment.

Onions, Sweet Peas and mixed salad leaves make up the 5th bed.

After that is another thin ‘permenant’ bed that has been planted with Asparagus “Pacific Purple,” but they are yet to come up and I’m starting to worry!

I’m leaving leeks from last year to flower in the bed after, as I left them too late to harvest. In a few weeks they’ll be replaced with outdoor tomato plants that are currently in the cold frame. The rest of that bed are “Kestrel" potatoes that I actually planned to grow …

The last of the ‘rotation’ beds right at the front have sorrel that is going to flower (you can just see it sticking up) and my main strawberry plants.

Right at the front is my flower boarder. I’ll post an update of that soon.

- Gary.