Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Winston Churchill's Vegetable garden

I visited Chartwell the other day, in Kent, England, where the gardeners are striving to recreate the vegetable garden as it would have been when Winston Churchill lived there. Although some of the areas are clearly very much in the 21st century, designed very much with young gardeners in mind!!

And I have never seen Fennel like this - I have never been able to grow these successfully myself!

Friday, 9 September 2011

The Big Society - In Bloom awards - allotment gets a mention!!

We've just come back from the South and South East In Bloom Awards 2011 at Fontwell Racecourse and our village has won a Gold award - that's great on its own - but best of all our allotments had a mention - particularly impressed the judges!! That's really great!
And in the summing up we were all congratulated for the tremendous amount of work we all put into making our villages and cities and parks and allotments look lovely and colourful, tidy and clean, and for involving as we do the local schools, churches, communities etc. They calculate that over 7 million people are affected in some good way by these initiatives in the South East. Now that's David Cameron's BIG SOCIETY writ large.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Autumn on the allotment part 2

Spent a couple of hours up at the allotment before breakfast today in lovely sunshine. I was anxious to get on with all the work still to do up there, because the forecast is not good for the rest of the week and already it has blown up breezy and it feels like rain is on the way.

So I picked the gorgeous yellow cylindrical courgettes, runner beans, french beans, spinach, raspberries, the small alpine strawberries (delicious but fiddly), and a small squash. There are still two rows of main crop potatoes to harvest, but with rain threatened now is not the right time. And the foliage still looks very healthy and not blighted (I buy blight resistant strains).

I pulled up the remaining radishes and put them on the compost heap. They have gone woody now - shame because the early ones I pulled were lovely, but they go woody and unpalatable very quickly. I sowed a winter cabbage in the soil thus vacated. Will have to remember to protect these from pigeons when they come through. The brussels sprouts I transplanted last week are doing well, although one had been badly eaten by slugs - so I scattered a few organic slug pellets around. It will hopefully recover - I think the growing point is still intact.

Then I carted 4 barrow loads of manure to the plot and spread it all around the perennials in the flower patch, between the rows of strawberries, and generally wherever there was any bare earth!

One year's seeding is seven year's weeding. I must do a big poster to put on the notice board up there. Looking around the other plots, I notice that people are making so much work for themselves, not pulling up the thistles, dandelions, chickweed, groundsel, etc etc that are now all flowering and seeding freely. It only takes a half hour or so to hand pull them all up and put them on the compost. That time well spent would save so much work and frustration later.
And of course the compost heap must heat up properly to kill those seeds, otherwise they are best burnt or taken to the local recycling centre instead. My closed wooden compost bins and plastic bins seem to make the best compost. People have made heaps out of wooden pallets, but they allow the stuff to dry out and not heat up properly so the compost is not so good and takes much longer to make!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Autumn on the allotment part 1

It has been an incredibly busy month on the allotment - harvesting the results of my labour, keeping the weeds in check, carting loads of farmyard manure from the communal heap by the gate (hard work that!!) to spread on any soil as it becomes free of crops. That's the secret of weed control - keep the blighters smothered - don't give them a chance to grow when the soil is bared!
We had to get a new motor mower - each of us thought the other was keeping the oil topped up in the old one - whoops!! Don't try that yourself! So the shiny new one arrived - trouble is I cannot start it! Never had any trouble at all with the old one, even in its dying moments - in fact I can still tickle a little life out of it. But the new one? No way! What is so frustating is that hubby starts it first time every time.

Took it up to the allotment the other day anyway - but after 30 attempts and me totally exhausted, I gave up. A fellow plotter arrives - starts it first time for me!!  So I did get the grass cut.
Yesterday I thinned out the brussel sprouts plants and replanted the thinnings. I did the same with the Swiss chard, "Bright Lights" so hope to get some good crops off both through the winter, although the latter won't oblige if it snows.

Anyway, these are some photos of what it all looks like now.