All posts by horticultural 'Obbit

Chronicling the mis-adventures of a would be allotmenteer. Author of 'Playing with Plant pots: Tales from the Allotment' Available on Amazon in ebook and paperback http://amzn.to/1UvWUkb (paperback) http://amzn.to/1QRgVBZ (Ebook) Full buy links at www.horticulturalhobbit.com/books

“Roses have thorns and silver fountains mud”

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“Roses have thorns and silver fountains mud”

Planted out the following roses:
2 xRosa garden princess
2 xRosa dame de coeur
2 xRosa Joro
2xRosa queen of England

These eight roses are purchased not from a poundshop, but the one where you get a penny change from a pound. The ones listed below are from the poundshop.

3 x Red Beauty Roses
1 x Pink Rosa
1 x Kronenbourg rose

In addition there is one each of Blue Moon Christian Dior, Harry Wheatcroft, Silver Jubilee, Dutch Gold, Pascalli, Peace, Lovers Meeting, Double Delight and Ruby Wedding. These are the slightly posher roses, and have been in the ground since the autumn. They are significantly bigger than the cheaper more recently acquired roses. Perhaps as the earlier ones are the product of a sturdier producer.

I never intended having so many roses on the plot. In the first instance, it was a whim, a case of why not. They are pretty. Perhaps they’d form a nice enclosure, and be a barrier against the wind. Then I remembered that certain value shops, have roses in at some point in the year. I had seen them, not thought much of them. There are even a couple in pop’s back garden.

Something of an interesting hypothesis test can be carried out. Whether or not the posh roses can be compared with the ones that are less so. Will certainly have to look at what these varieties need in terms of care. There are many who believe that Rose management is both an art and a science.

For the moment, as snow threatens to descend upon the plot; I have plugged in and will see what happens.

Monday, that’s when Blighty will have snow. Brace yourselves.

Yours in anticipation,

Horticultural Hobbit

Chilli and Pepper adventure 2013

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Last year, I was all very conscientious. By New Year’s Day, I had sown both chillies and tomatoes. The latter, died, as they were sown a bit too early. I had to resow. With the chillies, I was able to get them to the stage where they formed a second pair of true leaves. I had potted them on just after they had gone past their baby seed leaves. Then, I had also sown them in yogurt pots.

This year, the varieties are the same. You can see what I have sown in one of the images. A different variable is that they are being sow into those paper pots that were made. Dampened, they go into the heated prop.

Chilies are not something that I feel are straight forwards. I find them challenging, in that they don’t always germinate. Some chillies have a different ‘cracking’ point in comparison to others. Then you need to have heat to make sure that they are loved. Whilst I say chillies, I’m including peppers in that. There a number of sweet peppers, in addition to the one bell pepper.

To think that it all started way back when, with these things.

I was rather disappointed with what happened last year. These will be taking up window sills in the classroom hopefully, and not be seeing the Wendy house. All being well, they will be joined by tomatoes in a few weeks. If the seeds were sown now, I do think they would keel over.

It would be lovely to get a nice crop of cayenne and bells. A handful were produced in the first year of hobbitry, but none since. Diddly bells have been produced but nothing big.

Here’s to this years chilli adventure,

Yours in anticipation,

Horticultural Hobbit

Paper pots, preparation and potage

Buying pots, can be expensive, You then have to store them as well, when you are not using them. This is the same with yoghurt pots, they have to be retrieved from Pop’s shed. The notion of paper pots, is therefore a little interesting. As cutesy wutsey, as they may seem. They are arguably easy to make-even if Mama H does take it off you and do it properly-I did spend some time making them once she had given me proper instruction!

I had ordered the paper pot maker some time ago, on a whim really, after some positive feedback. Only now, with the New Year and the New growing season, have I given the device any thought. Reaching for an old newspaper, I went about testing it. As you see above, Mama H sought to test it before me. There are somethings that only mothers can do, testing new toys is definitely one of them.

She was kind enough to sort out a few, and instruct me on then. I was then left to my own devices, whereby I fashioned a fair few pots from the leaves of the newspaper that remained. A most therapeutic and somewhat addictive. There was a feeling of being bereft once the paper had run out. All in good time, I’m sure I will soon enough have more paper than is required.

It has been a hypothesis for some time, to have on plot 2a. The issue at hand, is whether or not they would survive. Purchased today, all rescue mind:

  • Chives
  • Thyme Doone Valley
  • Lavender Munstead
  • Russian and French Tarragon
  • Common and Golden Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano

And last but not least, Victoria Rhurbarb. Bit of a bargain, at 75 pence, and therefore a bit of an impulse.

These are now all stored for safety in the four tier blowaway in the garden, before they are planted on the plot. I have no idea where I shall put them. Only that there will be some for herb enclave. My fear is that they will be eaten by not only the clay but also the inclement weather. The herbs are hardy, but this plot takes no prisoners and is likely to eat them if they are not tempered.

We shall see, if they work.

Yours in anticipation

Horticultural Hobbit

Purchases and Puddles: Hello 2013

Having not paid a visit to the plot for the duration of the festivities, today I ventured down. Not before, though, purchases had been made on the behalf of Santa Clause.

Purchased today from Poundland

3 x Red Beauty Roses

1 x Pink Rosa

1 x Kronenbourg rose

2 x Blueberry

2 x Red Currant

I had been wanting to get the roses, I kicked myself last year having missed them. That, and I have now cottoned onto the bargains that certain pound and ninety nine pence places present. There are opponents and proponents of this approach, there will always be naysayers. I would like to find out and explore. In addition to this, I know of a certain value supermarkets that are renowned for their GYO offers.

If it goes pear shaped, it will go pear shaped.  There was also the eight Raspberry canes that were being planted out. These are a continuity collection, in that these are meant to crop from Summer through to Autumn. I bought sixteen, and shared these with Aunty Tish who is planting these on her plot. She had given me a redcurrant last year. I may well have killed it by not planting it properly and then pulling it out as it looked brown and stick-y.

Brown and sticky, is what everything looks like, to be honest. The roses were covered in a thick layer of green wax. I had read about this, and perhaps need to look into that. It will be interesting to see how these roses, each costing a pound each will fare with the other roses. The other roses, are Hybrid Tea Roses and were purchased as the ten items were in a collection that was marked as being half price. So how will a rose costing a pound, fare against a rose that was meant be four times that (The roses were £2.10 each when I found them).

And the puddles. There are still puddles, and puddles of standing water. Slightly wiffy, standing water, I might add. The plot is best described as wonky, entirely uneven and all over the shop at that.

Onions, shallots and garlic have made some progress. There are certainly more garlic shoots than there are any other allieums. I was pleasantly surprised, but the garlic shoots standing proudly and like sentries. That is a sight, that perhaps I had not anticipated. So very, very nice to see. There are may be two, broad bean shoots. These would be the claudia aquadulce. Not surprised by that, though one was very nibbled looking. There are shallots present, and they are sending up shoots. Again, not many, but it is happening.  I had to return a few onion sets to the ground as they were pulled up; most likely by birdies. A couple of sets were littered around, having been snacked on by them horrible creatures that are squirrels.

Leeks, there were a few. I think Aunty Tish had given me 22 babies. I couldn’t put a figure on the number that I saw. Only that there were a few,standing up right and paying attention, amongst the rather moody and muddy looking strawberry runners.

Bulbs. There are some. Sprouting in a border. It was a blink and you missed it moment; but I assure you. They were there. I must have planted hundred in the early autumn. Not many at all, have started to sprout. That may well be because it is still early, and spring bulbs have some time yet to make themselves known. Or, they too have become a casualty of the deluge. It is difficult to make any absolute comment based on the observation of the plot at the moment.

A moment of bah humbag, the headline news this evening that Blighty is going to suffer further extreme weather.  Honestly, tch.

 

Yours in Anticipation,

Horticultural Hobbit

Sow the Seeds of Potential, Happy New Year from Hobbitland

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Without a shadow of a doubt, this year has been shocking. Dire weather, has robbed many of us of a decent crop and enjoyable growing season. It would be easy now, to throw the trowel in. Yes, trowel. But then perhaps, we won’t have learned anything. There is no man, woman, or gerbil for that matter, who can tame the elements. I firmly believe, that whilst weather conditions can be challenging, their effects devastating, there is always a way of making things happen in the horticultural sense. 

Plot 2a has spent more time wet and windy, that it has cultivated and cropping. Though, there was a hearty crop of weeds and slugs, these are not the sort of crop I envisaged. You can’t eat slugs, for a start. I mean, would you want to? It may all have been a wet wash. And I may have nearly gone bottom over top some times in the clay. But the potential still stands.

 

The seed stashers are sat on the side. Yogurt pots have been retrieved from Dad’s shed. All in eager anticipation. Each and every seed is a pocket of potential; and all seeds want to grow. All seeds can come off….all right, parsnips would argue the toss. But you know what I mean!

 

Seed potatos have been ordered. Though that won’t stop me from going to the Potato Day at Ryton. I went last year, and bought a hand full of King Edward Potatos.They all got rained on and eaten by slugs and the clay, but they were sunk.

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Spring garlic and onions have also been ordered. I want some more of these, and I don’t think those planted in October will have survived the winter deluge. So I am adopting a Robert the Bruce and Spidey approach. Trying again. Simples.

 

Wishing The Dirty Shovel club, the very best for 2013.

 

Horticultural Hobbit

 

 

 

 

Gotta a glut? Mama H recipe

Ma hobbit’s koftas

If you find you gave a glut of peas, cabbages and don’t know what to do with the leaves of a cauliflower. Here’s an idea. Kofta’s are basically a veggie version of a meatball.

For the kofta’s:
Peas, cabbages, cauli leaves and caulis themselves; shredded grated, slithers. a
Gram flour
Corn flour if you want crunchy koftas

For the sauce:

Onions
Garlic
ginger
Cumin
Chopped tomatoes: fresh or tinned, up to you. Ma uses tinned. One and a half tins generally
Bollywood masala tin: garam masala, cayenne, salt.
Peas and potatoes if you want
Dash of worcestershire sauce and an oxo cube. Mixed herbs will do the job too.

Chillies if you fancy

Making koftas:
Mix your kofta material with gram flour and water. You want a sludgy mix, sticky but not sloppy. You can make the mix more solid with additional gram flour. Should look a lot like chunky *humous. Add salt, pepper, cayenne for taste. Not too much salt. Else you’ll end up with slushing was that won’t hold it’s own. If you want a bit of tang and crunch, add black salt and some crushed up *cooked chickpeas.

Roll into bitesize balls. Roll in cornflour. You don’t have to, but it does keep them together. Dare you to try it with breadcrumbs and an egg wash…

Fry these off and they should go golden like scotch eggs. Leave aside till later.

The sauce:
Fry off the garlic, ginger, cumin, onions till golden and mushy and paste like. Should have blitzed these too in a blender. Add tomatoes, with the contents of of spice box and chillies. Don’t forget your Worcestershire sauce and mixed herbs. If you are adding spuds and peas do so now. Watch your spuds, to cook through properly. Shouldn’t end up mushy at the end. Add liquid, with oxo cube. You should now be looking at a broth. Let this simmer, infuse for a good half hour forty minutes. Must no go dry.

Go fetch your koftas.

Drop your koftas in. With any luck, they won’t fall apart and go mushy.

Ta-da! You have summat to eat.

Making one’s beds

The plot is wonky, in the lowest bit of the plot, and therein liable to become a pond. The clay, could probably be well worked by a potter; for all it’s nutritional value, it has given me a headache. The remedy, or means to make it practical. Raised beds.

This summer, the boon of online sales of the gardening sales, led to raised beds being purchased. These were addition to the one, bought last autumn. The reason why, was that Mama H nearly clambered into the claggy, heavy clay, and then very nearly couldn’t come back out again. She had sunk nearly a couple of feet. This would not do! Especially, as part of the remit of having a half plot is that there would be indian food grown there. This in the most generic sense, involves Spinach of the Indian variety. I don’t what Indian Spinach is specifically. Only that red cardinal leaves really don’t cut it.

So to keep Mama H safe, and to have a productive plot, the raised beds are warranted. There are 12 beds in total. The vary between 1m x 1m  and 2m x 1m. All were delivered, swiftly by an online shop. All were straight forwards in their construction. The only issues, blisters, and pops making some of them.

I was more than happy to construct them! Alas, pops didn’t want them cluttering his garage, and before I got around to them. He took a screwdriver to the last one. I had managed to construct three, and fully anticipated the fourth one. The four smaller ones, I did construct. However, Pops being Pops, had to reinforce them before they were taken the 80 yards down to the plot. There was blisters, I might add. Though that was not me being a bit feeble. I attribute that to the screwdriver. An old one that belongs to Pops, that has been around since the arc. No good using the newer one, it didn’t feel right. Once constructed, these were placed on the plot on top of newspaper.

As it stands, and the water does-badoom, crash-the beds are filled with leaf mold. This is most likely going to sink over time as it decays. The plan,or half plan rather, is to fill these with compost. There is the poop that Pops shovelled to also put into them.

Yours in Anticipation

Horticultural Hobbit

Onwards and upwards, that means you, jet stream

…yes, sling it. Go away, you’ve done quite enough damage, muchas gracias.

It has been a turbulent year on Plot 2a. With the exception of garlic, over wintering onions and shallots, the only horticultural cultivation has been that of malevolent weeds and ankle deep puddles.  You could argue, that perhaps I didn’t pay attention to various bits and pieces, that the weather played havoc-my money is on this one-or that I really should have listened to various plot neighbours and moved else where. I am standing by the bad weather.

There was much hope for this year. Only for most hope to be dashed. There is no time now to wallow. Though, given the puddles, that would be the fairly easy option. Clay, is very good apparently, full of all sorts of goodies. It most certainly was, it sustained and nourished all those weeds during the Olympics and Jubilee Celebrations.

If one things has been understood this year, then it is not to make concrete plans. Listen, perhaps to the elements, and declare war on slugs. We speak not of small, singular slugs. Oh, no, we speak of fairly sizeable, abnormally large slugs in their masses. It is a case of growing and propagating and nurturing slugs. Beer traps, have failed. Broken ceramic tiles, have failed. Blue pellets, have failed. There is only so much slug lobbing that you can do. Slugs, however, are a mother nature bug bear.Managed perhaps, and tolerated. Just impossible to complete obliterate.

So, we have a damp, dreary, depressing plot 2a. A bit of a muddy canvas. A muddy canvas, that is going to require a bit of thinking about really. There are raised beds, which should help. What remains to be seen, is whether any of the over wintering things have survived.

There are a stack of GYO books, a veggie growing planner, copies of a GYO magazine sat for perusal and reference.

If only that jet stream really would just sling it…

 

Yours in anticipation

 

Horticultural Hobbit

Plans, what plans?!

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With the misplaced jet stream, this year has been somewhat of a torrid affair. Nothing, has quite come off. It is all well and good making plans. Above, you can see the paper and ink plan of what went where. The wendy house, as you’ve already gathered is a shadow if it’s former self. It is an ex-wendy house, it has more or less ceased to exist. In the most simplest sense, the plan does say what went where. I think I drew this about eight weeks ago, I was still feeling buoyed that the there was possibility of the over wintering garlic, onion and shallots coming off.

Now, I do hope that you have enjoyed the festivities. There is always a great deal of anticipation, a chance to rest, reflect, harvest your Christmas dinner.

Alas, the third and final point didn’t quite come off. A lofty ambition, but unrealised. If ever that was realised, one might have to make a song and dance about it.

The run up the Christmas Festivities, has been damp, deluge after deluge, diabolical if such a strong word could be used as adjective for the weather. Already demoralised, this has not helped. I am yet to go wander down to the plot. I may well need super strength wellingtons. Though the ones that I have, will have to suffice. In the next few days, that will certainly be an endeavour. There is most definitely some plot withdrawal symptoms setting in. One must remain positive. All the tellers of the world, suggest that the misplace jet stream was in fact a freak, anomalous occurrence. No solace, in being a first year allotmenteer, but the key there is anomalous. It happens, from time to time.

In addition, there a eight raspberry canes and a blackberry to be sunk. The latter is driving Mama H potty in having resided on her kitchen sill for far longer than she would like. I must remember to ask her to make paper pots. One has acquired the wooden contraption to manufacture them. The purpose of such an exercise?

To sow seeds, and propagate on the window sills of the classroom next to the cacti. The cacti, that you see below, would be their neighbours.

You will have seen how Pops and I have managed to get some horse poop. This won’t fill all the beds, oh, how I was hoping! No, it won’t. It is a start. I will have get some more at a later point. There is off course the builders bags of leave mold. I am rather proud of that! That is the value of taking advice, of learning, Things start to fall into place, and generally for a reason. So those bags can be used to some extent, to fill the raised beds.

Above, are the classroom cacti. Most of which, are rescued from a garden centre. Each one was named by my students, some of the names are from textbooks, some are named after students! They add a bit of colour to the classroom, beyond the green, the flowers are what we all eagerly anticipate. Quite a collection, has been amassed. I can honestly say, that I am not really a fan of the spiky ones. The ones you see here, with the Santa hats. Not sure how long they will reside in the classroom. The removal of the hat, requires the stick that runs straight through the cactus to be  pulled out. So that, and the propensity of the cactus to bit you, my well be the death knell. Only time will tell.

Think I will avoided more cacti in the classroom. As mentioned above, I would like to sow some chillies, tomatoes, peppers perhaps on the window sills. That means rummaging in the seed stasher!

Yours in anticipation,

Horticultural Hobbit

Pops, the poop pile and the plot

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Having found out where the local stables where, I asked pops if he would help in getting some poop to put in the raised beds. The stable is very local, a few minutes down the road; it is home to 18 ponies and horses that for one reason or another their former owners couldn’t cope with. When we went this morning, there were already riding lessons happening for the local children.

I had been advised of this place only this week; and looking at the plot, felt I had to make a start on filling the raised beds. There are 12 raised beds, and these will need filling if they are to made use of. Today, pops and I filled 12 rubble bags mostly full of rotted down horse manure. This is manure that is trusted; it has been there for many many years, and the ‘lotment neighbours have used it for many years. Compared to a retail prices, where one bag would cost approximately £5, this was a bargain! Pops actually did all the hard work, I must say that there was a technique to his digging.

As it stands, I think we have enough to put into but not fill 6 bags. I will most likely have to make a return visit after the festive season. The pile is huge, but i don’ think I am about to take it all! It will have to be slow and steady in filling the beds. These are beds that already contain leaf mold. So I don’t expect the beds to be filled entirely

The bags were positioned on the plot. We’d wheel barrowed them all to the car; and then had to make two trips to pick it up. The plot that is still very very boggy. The ice that has covered it has thawed greatly, returning the massive great big puddles. Still a shame, but one must keep plodding on

Don’t worry, pops has been brewed a cuppa as part reward, the rest would be to actually grow stuff. He hurts, and so do I!

yours in anticipation

Horticultural Hobbit