Wednesday 27 April 2011

Summer Nights?

April has been amazing. Temperatures soaring, not much rain it's been just like the best week from a Scottish Summer.  But my max-min thermometer tells me that last night was a close shave. Max: 32C Min just 1 degree C.

26-27th April 2011
 The thermometer is located in the plastic "greenhouse" where I am keeping my beans, tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers and peppers.

Beans in plastic greenhouse
 Today was another lovely sunny day, but all the above are indoors for the night, except the beans as they haven't emerged yet and are too bulky. My experiment may turn out to be short lived!!!

I've been on holiday since Good Friday and have been to the plot for a spell every day. I'm up to my third tent of carrots. 6 varieties so far, but I've run out of thrip netting.
Carrots and early potatoes
 In front of the carrots is my potato patch.  I've started earthing up the rows where the first earlies (Swift) are emerging. They need protection from these cold night temperatures too.

And here's another project. I came accross some discarded plastic piping which I've sawn into three foot lengths. A couple of these sunk into the soil next to the rhubarb patch should provide an ideal home for that horseradish I've had stored in the fridge for a month or two - too scared to plant out in the garden.  A shower would use these pipes grow long straight  parsnips, carrots or leeks, but I want to contain these rampant roots but still have a homegrown supply. Now, what to do withe the remaining lengths.....?

Horseradish pipe

Otherwise I have been busy setting up fencing to protect my brassicas and sof fruit. I've got time for the brassicas, which are still at the seedling stage,  but the strawberries are flowering away already. I'm now regretting having them in four different patches this year (although it will keep the different varieties apart). You live and learn.

Sunday 24 April 2011

I Fought the Law...

You will know from my "Green Taxes" posts that I have been protesting to the City of Edinburgh Council about their Allotment rent increases (which have ben ten times the RPI every year for nine years).  Well since this process began virtually every council in England has started to bump up their rents. 

An even more sinister development (that I have only just discovered)  is that the government have declared a "consultation" on removing the foundation on which allotments are based. This is the law that states that when 6 people approach a Local Authority with a request for allotment provision then the authority is obliged to consider it.

Of course authorities have sidestepped the issue, mostly by establishing "waiting lists" in the good old British tradition of queing politely and awaiting your turn,. And of course it is a wishy washy law, but it is the cornerstone of allotment provision. Doing away with it will not just change new allotment provision, it will change the basis on which any existing allotment is held too. It will free up local authorities to 'hive off' their responsibilites. Allotments will henceforth be privately managed and rent will rocket. As soon as a developer can be found they will be sold off. It will be the end for allotments. 

Here's the link.

The consultation ends tomorrow! Sorry. But there is a web petition that you can add your name to:

p.s.  My own rent complaint has been rejected by the landlord (City of Edinburgh Council) so I have escalated it to the Public Service Ombudsman who has the power to review such matters. I'll let you know how I get on.

Saturday 23 April 2011

Peas Please Me

Kathy at her  Allotment Heaven blog has shown me the way to grow peas ahead of the season and in a way that avoids rodents digging them up as so often happens at the plot. The cardboard rolls are toilet rolls or kitchen towel rolls cut in two. They need to be placed in seed tray modules because this allows the air to circulate and so avoids the problem of mould developing. The ones on the left need to be planted out now. The other two were sown later but have already developed wonderful root systems.

Tomato seedings are about ready to pot on.  The second generation of Sungold (top) look very weedy compared the the F1 Sungold at the bottom. In between the "Harbinger" are doing very nicely.

Last year I experimente with cucumber and was encouraged enough to try mini cucumber this year:

The courgettes are already up and  looking very happy in their peat pots:

Weather permitting, there could be a legume/curcubit bonanza this year!

Friday 22 April 2011

Hot Cross Buns

Good Friday is a traditional day for planting potatoes and eating hot cross buns. With Easter being late this year my spuds are already planted. But I did bake hot cross buns:

Tuesday 19 April 2011

It's bean a long time....

Last year I planted 88 beans in four different orientations defined by the direction the 'scar' was pointing in: Up, Down, Sideways Lateral and Sideways Vertical. The 'scar down' seeds emerged first and had no failures.  The 'scar sideways vertical' beans did worst.  But were my results statistically significant? I don't have the technical ability to judge this.  So this year I'm planting 132 beans (of 6 different varieties). Half of each variety have been sown scar down and half sideways vertical. I will score them by day of emergence and failure to emerge.  Will there be a difference between the two groups this year?

Here we go:

Stand by your labels

In they go.
 Now lets just hope there aren't any frosts from here on....

Sunday 10 April 2011

Spring Roundup

Spring Harvest

Leeks, PSB, Parsnips, Kale and Rhubarb

Brassicas - end of season

SSPPSB - Scottish Society for the Protection of Purple Sprouting Broccoli!


Carrots under way

Next year's brassica patch is beyond the net, waiting for me to put up fencing and nets. The parsnip plant remaining is going to be left to go to seed, for next year's seed.


Potatoes under way

It may not look much but it's weed free! Beyond the post is the "Alliums and Others" patch. The white cube is my blueberry cage.

Red Baron onon sets started in January

Leek seedlings started end of February

I tried sowing some indoors this year and transferred them to the outdoors.  This tray has now been planted out:

Mini tray of lettuces started in February
Here's how they started out:

Lettuces sown

Can't resist rounding off with Friday's sunset:

And so to bed

Friday 8 April 2011


That ain't no toadstool

Just look at those legs:

Nice day out for ther vegetables:

There's onions, peas,  lettuce, fennel, leeks and coriander... and (watch out Tany) celeriac!

And who says a row of newly planted potatoes doesn't look pretty?

And here's big news.  The blueberries have survived the winter!

Thursday 7 April 2011

Carrots & Cancer

It's official  -  (again). We all know that fresh vegetables are good for you. Nobody really knows how!

Sunday 3 April 2011

Rhubarb Rhubarb - Forced Conversation?

We're going to have our first rhubarb today!

It won't need much sugar because it has been forced.

Last year the 'scud' was placed over the clump on the left. Next year I'll be forcing the third clump. The 'outdoor' rhubarb isn't that far behind, but that stolen week or two (and the novelty of the first taste of the season) make it worth it's weight in gold, (which the supermarkets seem to have realised as they certainly charge a premium for it!)

Below is a view from inside the chamber:

I can't help wondering why "rhubarb rhubarb" has become such a derogatory phrase. Perhaps it dates back to the Victorian rhubarb craze and some people got fed up with rhubarb enthusiasts going on and on about their obsession. On that score you can count me in!

The funny thing is that I don't know what variety we have got. It was inherited with the plot. Every five years or so I dig up and divide one clump in autumn,  planting  out the crowns at the opposite end of the plot. It has gone from strength to strength.  Thinking I had a later season variety (we can pick as late as August!) I decided to buy in a new variety to extend the growing season.  Timperley Early, I thought.  So I places a postal order and two bits of bark duly arrived through the letter box.  I potted them up as instructed before planting out.  One produced a single stalk but shrivelled and died when planted out. The other never showed any sign of life at all and just couldn't be coaxed into life. A waste of money. Sometimes it is worth going to a nursary to be assured of the viability of what you are buying and  avoid this sort of disappointment. The cataloge shows you the mature plant whereas they are selling offsets. Subsequently I have read that although Timperly Early is good for forcing, it is also one of the latest growing varieties too! So probably I managed to order the exact same variety as I was already growing!  Nowadays I've accepted that we've got the right variety for our location and our tastes. Mind you if I could find a supplier of the all green variety Linneas I might just be tempted....