Friday, 29 July 2011

Planning ahead for winter and spring

This is now the time of year when you have to start thinking about winter and spring on the allotment so over the last few days I have been sowing seeds for said months. I have sown some florence fennel to grow over winter inside the tunnel, last year I grew this outdoors and sowed it on the longest day as it is prone to bolting if done before. I did not know it could be grown inside tunnel as a winter crop until I read about it in a book that came as a gift with my tunnel from first, I wll keep you posted on results. I have also sown Swiss chard and rainbow chard in modules also for growing overwinter in tunnel along with lambs lettuce. Outside crops I have sown in modules are Savoy cabbage January king3, scarlet kale and cauliflower all year round. Must have a look at dobies of devon website tonight so I can order more seeds I would like more kale, spring greens and another variety of cabbage.

Winter is not a time for plots to lay bare and I truly believe you should have something in the ground 365 days a year, I am not saying every bit of space on our allotment is used all year round but most of the plot is productive even during winter months. Everyone is different and have differing views but that is mine I hate to see so many bare patches of ground on allotment sites during winter months. Areas that are not being used will have a dose of fresh chicken and duck poo which will be broken down ovewinter and ready for planting in next spring.

I will be taking the camera back down the plot in the next few days and hope to take some pictures of the best bits of Stapleton Allotments and show you all my favourite other plots and what other people are doing and growing. I will leave you with a photo of Harry and his sunflowers taken by John last year.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Bed system versus growing in rows?

Right for the first time whilst writing this blog I am going to attempt a bit of education/debate. Anyone who has an allotment or visited one will know the two most popular ways of growing vegtables are either in rows(the traditional way) or Beds which can be raised or flat.

Planting in rows seems to be the most favoured way at our allotments and it tends to be people who have been working their plots for years or the older generation in my opinion. That is not to say newcomers don't do it this way. When growing this way the whole area is worked and you plant your vegtables in rows and gaps are left between each row so you can walk between your plants to hoe and water. I think this way is bloody hard work and if you do not use the correct digging methods or tools you could be in for back trouble later in life. The reason it is harder is you have dig over the whole area every Spring or Autumn as you have compacted the soil down by walking on it day in day out for months on end. I feel you also have to be hoeing more regular in between the plants. I also believe you do not get as big a crop yield through this method, but if anyone would like to prove me wrong please do. The advantage to using this method I find is how aesthetically pleasing vegtables look growing in rows be it big fat cabbages, beetroot or carrots.

On our allotment we use the bed method the top end of the plot are no dig raised beds and the bottom end are flat beds, which we fork over and add organic matter ie compost and manure. Using the bed method we plant our vegtables closer than the seed packet and books tell us but still get fantastic crops. We do use a hoe but most of the weeding is done by hand. Another reason I went for raised beds at the top end of the plot is that it is prone to flooding so this also eliminates the problem of not being able to grow overwintering vegtables in certain areas of our allotment.

To sum it up the bed method is my preffered choice on the allotment what is yours? Maybe its because I'm a lazy git or maybe  not as daft as to want to be digging over 300 square yards every year. Although at our site there is a farmer who comes with his tractor and can plough and rotavate the lot for £30 every year which a lot of people have done. Whatever method you use it is down to personal choice and what suits each individual although you may get a few head shakes from the old boys who know best.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Photos at a very wet plot today.

                                                                Cucumber Telegraph
                                                                 Fruits just starting to form
                                                             Pepper sweet mini red
                                                                   Harvested mini red
                                                                Tumbling toms in baskets
                                                               Cayenne chilli pepper
                                                       As you can see really prolific
                                                           Patio sizzler these are really hot
                                                       More Cayenne plus Halbenero
                                                                Inca bush tomatoes
                                                                   Gardeners delight
                                   As you can see I have not trained my tomatoes its like a jungle
                   You can really see how big the pepper plants are in this picture fantastic!

                                                      Tomatoe Black Prince
                                              The wobbly sunflower with James willows in background
                                                  A self seeded tomatoe what variety?
                                                    Butternut squash Cobnut
                                                     Red onions starting to fall over
                                             Stutgarter onions also falling over not long now
                                                       iceburg and little gem lettuces
                                                                     Leek Muselburgh
                                    Foremost and Home guard spuds now dying back so harvesting
                                                Fisrt harvested cauliflower of the year!
                                                            Jeruselem Artichokes
                                                     Globe Artichokes from seed this year
                               Lupins and various other perrenial flowers from roots planted this year

                                                Runner St George slower this year
                                                     Celery Giant pascal first time growing it!
                                     Climbing french bean golden gate and cobra
                                                  Celeriac this year I will protect from frost
                                                     Zuchinni courgettes

I hope you enjoy the pictures and any comments, questions or tips are welcome speak to you all soon Jamie.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Pictures to take.

Yet again appolgies for lack of blogging, I will take camera to plot tomorrow and get some pictures posted. I must admit I have been adding photos on twitter which I have just started using more so follow me there for more pictures on a regular bascis from my mobile. I will try and put my twitter link on homepage if not I am @Jamie_Milton. We are now getting rain and the plot has had a good watering today, everything seems a little behind this month outside I think it was due to colder June and the fact it has been so dry. The polytunnel is now rewarding us with tomatoes and chillis/peppers which are ahead due to warm March and April in fact the cayenne plants are huge and full of peppers as our the sweet mini reds. Hopefully back tomorrow with lots of pics speak soon Jamie.