Aubergines…Awseome, they aint.

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I don’t like Aubergines. Mama H does. Dad does. Me. I can’t stand them. So when I wanted to grow them, raise them from seed; I was feeling altruistic and egalitarian all at the same time. So they started off life, in the heated propogator. The seeds took their time, in fact I may have inadvertently actually snuffed some out in a haze of naivete. Those that did turn up, became those you see above. There were a number of different varieties in this particular experiment

  • tres native de barbentane
  • dancer
  • early long

A few others, I forget now!

But they didn’t have take their time. They had to be the most pampered, precious plants the world has known. Thanks to Grandad Mike, they were fed, watered and tickled. As tou can see, there was a lot of foliage. They didn’t leave the utility room; the sun was able to nurture them. Despite the one variety meant to be quite used to the elements, after last years experiment with Kevin, yes, Kevin the moody aubergine. This year was going to be different.

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The flowers produced were really quite pretty. These were misted and tickled, and still nothing.Not a single aubergine. This could have been down to any one of many things. Perhaps they were pot bound, fed too much, didn’t like the not so tropical environment. I am not at all sure as to which variable caused it all to be such a disappointment. Perhaps I will try again, they seem to grow. Just not fruit. We shall see!

Yours in anticipation

Horticultural Hobbit

Life gives to leaves, make leaf mold

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This time last year, there was only the one builders bag compared to this years for. At that stage, I had started to collect leaves rather late on. Must have been about late November, and the last remaining few were hanging about. This one bag, was filled with approximately eight to ten bags and these were then left to cook. I think may be once or twice, I may have added some compost activator. I don’t think this did any harm.

Taking a matter of months, the leaves decayed and broke down. Forming the dark material that you see wih the magic fork stuck into it. That was summer this year, once I had built the beds; I wanted to fill them. I don’t think, that at that stage it was entirely fully cooked. I have heard variable estimates as to when it is ready to go.So half cooked, it is in the raised beds. Covered with newspaper for some protection against flying weed seeds. The one builders bag, filled four 1m x 1m beds. So all in all, that is quite a lot really. Not bad at all for a first time experiment. This year, there are four beds. There are also more beds. With 12 beds in all, they will all need filling.

This year, as soon as the descent of the leaves started; I was collecting. Well, it was mostly Dad and and Grandad Mike, but that’s technicality. Between us, 13 bags a week were collected and taken to the plot. These were then emptied into builders bags and also the raised beds.

I have yet to understand the fill science of what actually goes on. I think the breakdown is bacterial, and the decay is facilitated by moisture. I really couldn’t tell you the exact details!

So whilst the raised beds are part filled, next year, the aim is to fill these with compost. The builders bags may well be used to top these up. However, the plot being heavy clay; the area not covered with raised beds may benefit from it somewhat. That is, however, if it doesn’t say water logged.

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Yours in anticipation,

Horticultural Hobbit

Carnage, chaos, Courage canned.

What day was it now? Thursday. The day that the heavens opened, the sceptred Isle saw a nation wide band of precipitation cut a swathe through the land. It is still going today, it may well be a different system actually. I forget now, incensed as I am.

And why, am I so angry? Below is the reason why. I wandered down this morning, me, my red wellingtons. Dad’s words that I should at least change into my scruffy jeans before I go, ringing in my ears. I fully anticipated it not to be there. I envisaged,  that the Wendy house would actually be half way across hobbitland and require fishing out from somewhere. It was still there. In dire shape, and in several pieces.  The broom handles-not quite the two ronnies, I know-were still there. One lay, looking rather sorry for itself behind the wendy house. The others needed rearranging a little. It didn’t take too long, to right the wendy house. It’s big enough, it towers over me a little. Trying not trip, fall and land in the mud, I did manage to pull it up. It’s not sitting firm, but sitting as squarely as it can. Tomorrow, there is a further deluge predicted. So it may well end up keeled over yet again.

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The contents have been entirely disgorged. it was never organised in the first place. So that was tidied up a little. Have moved the bag of compost, and will probably store that in Dad’s shed over winter so that it remains dry. The cover itself, it torn to ribbons. Shredded completely. There are serrated edges, that would suggest the elements have savagely gnawed at it. Chomped on, chewed up, and then spat out. Thankfully, there is a second cover that is somewhere in Dad’s shed. I won’t be putting it on just yet. This wendy house has given me nothing but grief since it first arrived!

With the further onslaught from the elements expected, the state of the plot leaves a lot to be desired. That said, on close inspection, green shoots-not many, mind-were observed. Most likely garlic or onions, perhaps the odd spring bulb. However, that means not an awful lot. All those onions, shallots, garlic and tulip bulbs planted are now most likely a write off. There a few bits of shallots that are sat in dad’s shed; I didn’t get around to planting them last month, and space was getting short.

There are puddles every where, and they are only going to get deeper. Other than stand there with a bucket, I’m not entirely sure how it is all going to drain away. The chances of a dry winter are not worth taking a gamble on at all

Yours in anticipation,

Horticultural Hobbit

Puddles, perils and Puzzlement

Dear Mother Nature, what exactly is one playing at? Look what you have done now!

We’ve had blistering and balmy days earlier in the year, followed by Olympic sport type rain. The situation does not appear to be changing any time soon. As such, it is hard to not be demoralised and despondent. The productivity of this year has left a lot to be desired. With the exception of garlic, onions and shallots, not a lot else has come off. In autumn, at least there is an opportunity to get an early start. With overwintering, it’s a bolt on to whatever you might grown in the spring or summer. Arguably, it can be risky. Especially, if as now, the weather throws you all the curved balls it can muster.

Image Am tempted to get a metre stick, and see just how deep these puddles are. I really would, though the worry is, that I fall in, and will have difficulties coming back out again.

Donned the red Wellingtons this morning, to survey the damage done by the over night deluge. A deluge, that has in fact been passing over the sceptred for the last few days. Above and below is the sight that I was met with. Submerged, soggy and really quite slippery under foot. It was a mission to get there, with the path leading up to the plot very boggy. It was not high heel wearing terrain! The half plot is right at the end of the site, and for some time was very unloved. What is evident, is that drainage not just on the plot, but also on that section of the site is an issue. Mine is not the only plot to be somewhere under water.

Image The raised beds are there, in the hope that in being raised; there is a reduced risk of flooding. The ground that does remain, is however going to be sodden. GYO-ing is then severely handicapped. As it stands-the water anyway!-it is difficult to ascertain whether things are drowned, dead and defunct. With the sheer volume of standing water, the persistent precipitation, and the fairly erratic weather; the likelihood is that the clay is going to eat anything and everything. This time last year, it was much drier. The overwintering garlic shallots, onions and even broadbeans had been sown. They were starting to send up shoots. This year, a few had been starting to grow shoots. With the mud and water, any of these are now a little difficult to see.

In the cold light of autumn and winter, the plot does look miserable. The one light at the end of the tunnel, would be that by Spring, there could be change. If there is drier weather between now and then, the greedy clay may not get fed so much. This year. as a first year allotmenteer, has been challenging. It is not just hobbitland, a vast majority of gardeners have faced the same adversities and challenges. And with that, it is no good being morose and defeatist. This year, all being well, has been a fluke. The product of freak climatic conditions.

Let’s just hope the water drains!

Yours in anticipation,

Horticultural Hobbit

The Autumn Term 2012

Can’t say that the Autumn term is my favourite, The days start of dark, and end dark, The window of light between these, is incredibly short. Making opportunities to play on the plot fewer and far between. Even more so, when the climate of Blighty plays havoc with your efforts to do something useful. The Autumn is however useful in taking stock, and planning for the future. With raised beds being built during the course of the summer, this will perhaps contribute to combating the challenging nature of the clay soil. Yes, it is full of nutrients. Its lovely for feeding crops. It is however, horribly frustrating. Prone to becoming a bog when faced with a deluge, and then drying out entirely in the dry weather. There has to be strategy implemented to thwart and prevent falling into pitfalls.

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Shallots, Onions, Garlic:

May have gone slightly overboard with these.

What we have:

  • Radar Onions
  • Electric Onions
  • Shallot Yellow moon
  • Shallot Red Gourmet
  • Shallot Griselle
  • Shakespeare Onions
  • Shallot Eschallote
  • Garlic Purple Wight
  • Garlic Bella Italiano
  • Garlic Sprint
  • Senshyu Onions

The reason for such a variety; is the success of last years over wintering crop. The sheer volume and quality of the garlic in particular, was encouragement to try again. Sowing and then harvesting was really quite simple. That said, the crop may have been lifted prematurely, even if there was rust starting to appear. I daresay that had it been left, the entire crop may have gone to ruin. Lifting them, and drying them for a few weeks, led to in excess of forty something bulbs of garlic. I’m at a loss now, remember exactly which varieties were sown. These all varied in the size, flavour and usability  There were a great many bulbs that had small cloves. Tiny, fiddly little cloves, that meant a whole bulb could be used for cooking, Other cloves, were fat, flavoursome and packed a punch when used. With the sheer number, a great deal were given away willingly to family and friends. The one comment that most people made, was that it tasted different! Nicer, that is, and the garlic also lasted longer than say the shop bought stuff. There were actually a few bulbs that did actually look as though they wouldn’t look out of place at a supermarket.

Yes, shallots have been sunk again. This is despite the numbers that were lost. Unfortunately, in not perhaps weeding the bed as diligently as I could have, this led to many shallots being swamped and squeezed out. The rain and freak weather also caused the clay to eat a great deal. That said, when onions were harvested, some of the larger shallots may also have been lifted!

The onions, well, they were okay. Lifted a tad early, as there was horrible weather conditions heralded. Yet, consumed, and enjoyed. A lesson to be learned here, is to perhaps leave them in the ground later still. To also weed the bed, feed and keep a closer eye on them. The red electric onions last year, were smaller, but still nice to eat. A repeated contender this year, perhaps they will fare better.

Tulips, Roses: There are a number of different tulip varieties, as well spring flowering bulbs that have been planted. There were a few different varieties that were sunk last year, and despite the wonderfully adverse weather conditions; they mostly survived! The experiment is being repeated this year, and spring flowering bulbs have been sunk everywhere. With last year being very experimental, just to see if anything grew; this year most of the borders have bulbs positioned there. There is actually a colour scheme, with red, white and blue winter pansies and primroses being planted. However, and this is altogether depressing. Many of these have been eaten by those devilish of creatures, slugs. So one is not entirely hopeful about any of these actually coming off. In addition, at the moment; it rains most days. Last year, the autumn and winter was relatively dry.The heavy hobbit land clay didn’t get so boggy. This year, it does seem to be excruciatingly wet. One’s red wellies are caked when pottering around. Suggesting, that whilst things may be sunk; the clay may get so boggy as to eat them all whole.

Roses, are always very pretty. What do we have:

  • Blue Moon
  • Christian Dior
  • Harry Wheatcroft
  • Silver Jubilee
  • Dutch Gold
  • Pascalli
  • Peace
  • Lovers meeting
  • Double Delight
  • Ruby wedding

These form a dog leg enclosure on the far side of the plot. The one concern about these, again; is that the clay will eat them. In some vain effort, these have been mulched and will need supervision over the coming season.

Leaf Mold

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Last year, there was only one solitary builders bag that was filled to the brim with Leaf Mold. This year, there are four! The leaf mold that was garnered from last year has been used to fill a few of the raised beds. For next year, the plan is as follows. Four builders bags have been filled with leaves. In addition, all 12-yes, 12-raised beds have also been filled with leaves. With in excess of 13 bags being filled and dragged down to the plot on a weekly basis, there are a lot of leaves! At least with the raised beds being filled at this point with leaves, as this all cooks down; next year a priority will be to top with compost. I appreciate that for certain crops, that may not necessarily be a good thing.

Weedkiller and newspaper mulch:

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Oh, the woe of British Summer! Whilst we all partied, with the Jubilee, the Olympics and the washout that was the Euro’s. The elements set about doing their worst. This has to be the worst year for being a new allotmenteer. The above image is a testament to what happens, when the weather goes wild, and you fail to get a grip on the weeds. Growing like triffids, the weeds rendered the site a far cry from when it a clear plot last November. The full 88 sqm metres was entirely covered. Demoralised and fairly despondent feeling, there had to be a plan. Or at least half plan. Simple. Weedkiller. There was no way, no how, that I would have been able to clear the plot quickly, efficiently and effectively, Whilst many would shake their heads, tut in disdain and choose not to use chemicals. I did not see any other way. It would allow me to have a blank canvas again and within a relatively short time. So, with a short dry window, the job was done. Weedkiller was applied, the weeds taken up. The next stage, was then to think about the naked exposed soil. This is where stockpiling newspaper paid off. The entire half plot was covered with newspaper. The newspaper was then weighted down with dead yellowing weeds. Of course it rained a fair bit, so that also weighed the paper down.

Grapevines

  • Boskoop Glory
  • Madeleine Sylvaner

These are red and white respectively. It will be interesting to see whether these will come off!

Fruity frivolity:

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There are three cordon fruit trees on the plot. Victoria plum, falstaff apple and concorde pear, The pear, this year failed to produce anything. The apple and plum did all right for the first year! Whilst it was hardly a bounty, the above crop was certainly better than nothing for a first year. Again, harvested early through ignorance. So very, very, very tart! Satisfying nonetheless to see the trees crop in their first year when this is not ordinarily the case.

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Yours in anticipation,

Horticultural Hobbit

Placing the seed into the pot may 2011

Having pottered around for the last three years and bumbling around; this would be the debut Horticultural Hobbit blog. So this is very much about getting the show on the road, what with all the accrued knowledge and what is to come.

I transfered today, this years cohort of chillies into larger plants. So that is everything that I have grown from seed, now in it’s summer position and place. And then I stood there, and thought about what I sew or plant next. I was reassured, that I should wait. See what takes off, and what doesn’t, before I got ahead of myself.

Fair point, it is meant to be summer after all. Things should be cooking, and we should at the end of it, get some lovely, home grown goodies. That does not however, stop me from having a look at the gardening book and see what I could when the current crop has ceased. A couple of post its in the relevant pages, and I know where to look in a month or twos time.

The current state of play then.

Courgettes, have been rather productive. At the moment, we have two nicely shaped and sized courgettes a week. We started off with a handful of courgettes, that were a lot like Okra. Small, wiry, but niblet sized. As it got a litle warmer, and the leaves sprouted, we have got some better sized ones. Winning, at the moment, as far as these go.

Carrots, them paris market thingies. Last year, the crop was altogether laughable. Randomly planted, and then observed on an ad hoc basis; the carrots were like little stumpy crayons. There are lots of leaves this year, and there are a few carrots. This years crop, do look a little small again. Next time, will just go with a nantes type thing, and see what happens. There is still some time, however, for the carrots to cook through. There may still be a decent or not bunch yet. It’s the prospect of that pesky carrot fly that causes nightmares.

There are lots and lots of Aphids. Don’t know where they have come from, what they plan to do with the veggies. But they be everywhere. Having seen only one or two ladybirds, I really don’t want the little green blighters to be hanging around very much,

Butternut squash has all these little black ants all over it. They are creepiing and crawling around a mass of leaves, littered with male flowers. There are two female flowers at this point, with the rather bulbous butternut squash bud behind them. I would rather like the flowers to open, and hope that there is some pollination. That worries me a little, since I’ve seen all of one bumble bee. Have learned this week, that some varieties benefit from assisted polination. Keep glancing at it, hoping that the bees do the leg work for me. There is definitely some truth in there not being many bees around.

Now it is a case of wait and see, or good things come to those that wait perhaps. It’s all very exciting, planting things. One must however, take one’s time and let nature take it’s course. There may be a small victory dance if the butternut squash does actually pollinate. Then there is the aubergine. The one flower, is a little spikey,and closed as tight as a scotsman’s wallet. Doesn’t appear to be opening anytime soon.

Yours in Anticipation

Horticultural Hobbit

Summer sights early July

Summer Sights Early July

Everything was where it should be, and things were starting to look pretty. Plants were and are flowering, filled with a promising potential harvest. Scarlet emperor beans have started to cascade with reddy orange flowers from the bottom upwards. Lessons from last year have been learned, the use of seven foot long canes means that a nice wigwam of leaves and flowers is really quite pretty. Baby beans are now being harvested every few days, and the smell as they are cut up is really quite nice.

With the scarlet emperor beans, are those wonderfully curly ones that are the product of the tendergreen dwarf french bean. At first, I was was somewhat alarmed. All the beans that I have ever known had been straight. That was just the way that they came! And how my illusions were shatttered. A beautiful almost puce green with a mottled purple speckling.

The onions seem to be minding their own beeswax as they push up the dirt contentedly. Some of the foliage has started to go whispy and raffia like. There were a handful of bolted onions, mainly red, actually, that formed a would be purple flower. The bud was pinched off, and out came the onion. Have only had one white bolt so far. These are effectively like spring onions. Chopped up and put on cheese on toast, are really quite nice!

Courgetttes are having fun. Are at the moment quite regular, and producing about two courgettes a week. Regular feeding with tomato feed seems to be doing some good.

Moody Auberginee.

It was bad enough that it got attacked with green aphids. But no, this is thing is taking it’s time. One single flower bloomed, for all of thirty seconds. A nice purple colour it was, before it withered away.

I think Kevin the Aubergine is just being oppositional and defiant. Will turn up in his own good time.

Triffid like Butternut Squash sits alongside Ghost rider pumpkin. 

Gladys the butternut is certainly very leafy, There were at one point lots of male flowers, These were edged out by female flowers. Currently there are three female flowers, and whilst there are boy flowers, both tend to open when they feel like it. The buds behind the girl flowers are large, and the flowers open. However, there are hardly any bees around and the boy flowers are remaining closed. Stroppy things. One fruit did go a lovely bright yellow, however, it became a three course dinner for slugs and snails. Thus unviable. Bruno the Ghost rider pumpkin, has leaves as big as dinner plates and requires almost daily watering. There appears to be one bud, so watch this space.

Standing on the touch line, to sow or not to sow:

Have been watching the garden grow, and wanted to see what else could be sown. Sow and have something nice at the end. So have chanced upon sewing some lettuce and cabbage. A little late, but with a potential pay off. Have planted in cells, so that they get a flying chance. Declaring war on slugs and snails, I will not surrender.

Problems and pests:

Green aphids are first on Aubergine and then Black bean aphids turn up on the runners. Have invvested in Slug Stoppa tape for slugs and snails. At the moment, there seems to have been a reduction in the amount of lacey looking leaves. Shall have to monutor the situation. Diluted fairy liquid as a way to get rid of the aphids, did appear to work. It is however a regular thing, and I have been lax enough not to be doing that. Did a quick check, and the aphids had reduced a little.

That’s all I can think of at the moment.

Yours in Anticipation

Horticultural Hobbit

End of Summer term report

There have been Fruitful Beans, tender green and scarlet emperor, as well as courgettes. Beans are harvested on a regular basis. It does however take a while to produce enough for a family sized dish. With the tendergreen, the more frequently you harvest, the more there is produced by the way of replenishment. It is safe to say, that beans are not found of too much heat. They seem to go all sulky when it is too hot.

==Dead aubergine and dead peas == What a drama with the moody aubergine! All seemed to be well. Was producing flowers, leaves were lovely and green. Then wham! Shrivelled up, went yellow. Had thought that the warm weather would do it good, since they do like the warm apparently. But nothing. Kevin the Aubergine, ceased to exist and was an ex-aubergine. This years peas didn’t seem to want to do anything either. Also became mottled and just a bit yucky really. It was the aubergine that was depressing though.

Miserable aubergine

==Aubergine analogue study for next year == Diamond, Dancer, Stiato di Napoli, tondo di Piacenza

Yes, for next year, I want to actually produce something! Have been looking for aubergines that might do well in Blighty. Diamond is meant to be used to Ukrainian summers. So I’ve stumbled across this possible candidate amongst some other candidates. I intend to sew at least one or two of each of these alongside the astia that has so far done very well so far.

Aim: to germinate and propagate an aubergine plant in turn producing a crop.

Hypothesis: aurbergine plant can be germinated and propagated to produce at least one aubergine during or after the growing season. Initial germinate and propagation: Window sill or four tiered greenhouse (to be decided at a later date)

Onions and Shallots

Jamies crate

Onions and shallots were pulled up this month. There was a generic will be ready in july as growing instructions. So a risk was taken. Most of the tops had fallen over, and were becoming straw like. There was one big fat onion! That was enough satisfaction in itself. What I hadn’t realised, or clocked onto rather, was that in putting the onions into containers, that was effectively square foot gardening. Didn’t realise that til today! There were of course, a few that had bolted, a few that were quite small. But many of them were a nice size. Have so far been very nice with cheese on toast and in salads. The shallots were unbelievable! Most had split. The key thing was the smell, a proper oniony smell. So much so, I am looking into over wintering onions so as to keep going.

Radish experiment

An experiment is underway. Some value for money white icicle radishes compared to some freebie red fleshed radishes. At the moment, both have seedlings. The white ones are somewhat leafier. The key is to keep watering, else everything quite literally goes to pot.

==Planted == T he following have been sown since I couldn’t resist the urge to sow. I was rather depressed at the sight of empty containers.

Turnip snowball: Sown post Peas that didn’t take off.

Greyhound Cabbage and Butterhead Lettuce: These are currently in the greenhouse being kept safe. There is no reason why they shouldn’t come out with the cool weather.

Carrots Ideal Mini vegetable

Proposed planting:

Spring Hero Cabbage

Mayflower Cauliflower

Over wintering Onions and Shallot

Schools out Part three

Lettuce

Butterhead lettuce

The butterhead lettuce appear to be doing well, having been transplanted out. The two that in the terracotta pot, do however appear to be doing much better than there family members in the grow bag. Two were sown in the clay pot as I had read somewhere that lettuce were shallow rooted. The pot seemed idea. Transplanting into the grow bag, was better than just leaving the earth bare and not having anything. The leaves of the terracotta lettuce are lolling around drunk, quite long really. What I am concerned about is, whether or not these things will head up and form proper lettuce. I did sneakily, pinch a small leaf. There was a pleasant surprise, one can tell the difference between a shop bought leaf and a home cooked one. Tasted really quite nice.

Cabbage

Greyhound cabbage on the left. Spring hero on the right

I have learned to my cost, that no matter how hard you try, something will get to the cabbages well before you do. To be honest, and to my own fault, I had ignored the warnings. About all the lovely mini beasts that were wont to eat the cabbages. And woe is me, when the blighters have chomped through the cabbage as though it was a three course dinner. The Greyhound cabbages have been chomped to ribbons. Whole leaves have disappeared, the spine stripped bear. I have put down slug pellets, and today; covered with a cheapy warming jacket that is a like a mesh but cheaper. Tis probably most definitely too late. But with only six or seven, I feel altogether precious about them. The spring hero cabbage has to date ::touches wood:: been all right. No sooner is that typed, am I likely to see holes. That said, this has also been covered. I don’t think that for one moment, this will cure the problems. Slugs and snails have their place within the eco-system. They exist for a reason.

I have seen some of those cabbage white butterflies floating around. Even the odd lady bird. Perhaps the only lady bird, as there does not seem to be many around at all. As the autumn draws in, they are likely to disappear anyway. There were also at one point, lots of hover flies. Not many bumblies mind.

Gladys the BNS

Three flowers opened up

Our resident triffid has blossomed yet again. Five babies were identified, and with the absence of male flowers on the BNS. Bruno the Ghost rider pumpkin stepped in to help his third cousin twice removed. Three babies were pollinated having opened first, with the two others following the next day. At the moment, there are five babies still. Though nothing seems to be happening. With the autumn drawing, I daresay it really is monte carlo and bust now. There is probably not enough time to for the fruits to ripen, since these are meant to crop all the way through to November. Gladys has been somewhat of a labour of love.A neurotic labour of love, but a wonderful learning experience. So I am not too sure, if I will try again next year. Especially as I have heard many sad stories about the failure of BNS’s.

Bruno the ghostrider pumpkin

If Gladys the BNS is a curious and fickle creature, her relative is altogether a bit odd and strange. Making him an equally interesting project. Bruno started off with lots and lots of babies. I couldn’t count them, they kept on appearing. He finally settled on three. However, he aborted two. Leaving me with one that kept on growing. At the moment, it is about the same size as football. If Ma is to be believed, the pumpkin is on the turn. There are patches of yellow like tinge. There is however, eight weeks left. So it remains to be seen as to whether or not this particular pumpkin will make it to the final whistle. That said, I have located seeds to try again next year.

bruno pumpkin

babies that didn’t make it

On the right, are babies that didn’t quite make it this year. Sat next to a tendergreen pod.

Radish experiment

This was meant to be a quick and easy thing to do. Just to pass the time, and test out some freebies. Was really quite disappointing. Pencil thin radishes, with the occasional nice one. I do however, have lots of different radish seeds that have been collected. Not to mention some mooli type ones. So those will be the next experiment for next year.

Courgettes

I really don’t want to see any more till next year. All right, enough said!

Allotment update

Six months ago, I joined the waiting lists for the local hobbit land allotments. From what I have read, Brummieland has a massive number. These are, however, difficult to actually obtain. I was advised at the time, that there was a waiting list. That I would have to ring back in September. I was number five or six. It changed on when I rang! So as you can imagine, I’ve been doing a silly dance ever since. Whilst I like growing things in containers in pop’s garden. There is a whole of untapped potential. Not to mention an ever increasing seed box. As it stands, I could possibly get an allotment ‘in late october’. Grandad Mike was kind enough to ask the allotment secretary. The site is something like 80 metres away, and the allotment secretary lives right next door to it, and is across the road. September is what, a few days away. That is when I will ring! As I know it, the site has loads and loads of weeds. It has been neglected for a long period of time. So there will have to be some weed whacking before anything gets sown.

Schools out part two

Why is that as soon as the end of term bell goes, one’s immune system crashes through the floor? The summer holidays are mean to be a time for rest and recuperation. It has however been rather busy and time has been snatched her and there. At the half way point of the summer holidays, we have seen erratic weather that still cannot make it’s mind up. There are days of fine sunshine, at times uncomfortable sunshine, followed by days of abject miserable weather where it doesn’t stop raining. I cannot remember a straight forwards summer where it did one or the other.

Pumpkin and butternut squash

Gladys the BNS is increasingly more triffidlike. She is now about five foot tall as she is grow up rather than out. Previously, there had been three fruits, all of which had failed to be pollinated or were over water and withered away. Today I spotted one very small baby. I had in in all honesty given up hope and was starting to wonder about Gladys. Being all very gangly and leafy, my concern is that nothing will actually happen. Gladys has been cooking for what seems a very long time, and with the absence of fruit, her continual viability was looking questionable. I am now going to wait and see. There is still some time before Autumn officially arrives.

With Autumn, one would expect pumpkins at halloween. There are currently three babies that are swelling on Bruno the Ghost Rider pumpkin. There have in fact been lots of babies on Bruno. There has been a challenge however, in making sure all of these are being pollinated. There were at first, lots of girl flowers, with no boy flowers. It took a while for them to appear, and then to appear and open at the same time. When they did, there was something of a mad dash to pollinate with a cotton bud. There was a lot of dibbing dabbing, not knowing which one had been dibbed and dabbed, and which one wasn’t. Some of the dibbing and dabbing may have been successful. Many of the babies have formed buds, and could have been dibbed and dabbed, but then just yellowed and withered away. Bruno the ghost rider will therefore be observed very carefully. Getting one’s hopes is very easy. We’ve gone from kiwi sized, to apple and orange sized to what looks like the size of a small grapefruit-ish. The next three months will be interesting. We could still end up with nothing.

Courgettes, courgettes and more courgettes. These guys can be seriously mis-underestimated. With the warm weather, the courgettes were increasingly more productive. At it’s most productive, there were four courgettes a week. These were not tiddly ones, but quite long and meaty. A beautiful dark green colour, i think we had them with anything bar breakfast. There is however a trick to establishing how ripe they are. With one meal, I remember sitting there and seeing alot of seeds in the courgette. It was a nice moment though, knowing where there courgette had come from and what had gone into producing it. At which point, I smiled knowing that it didn’t have so much as a carbon mile as much as a couple of feet. A sobering thought that, knowing how far some foot travels. A couple of feet doesn’t seem altogether that bad. In the last few days, there have been a few courgettes that have failed to get bigger than a sausage. Most likely due to poor weather. I’m not sure it’s about the pollination, as there are no male flowers on the plant. Being an FI hybrid jobbie, that is probably why.

Cabbage Carnage. Having killed the previous batch in leaving them to cook in the sun, a second batch were sown. At the moment, these seem to be okay. With regular watering, these are pretty much left to their own devices.

Caulis not taking off. All year around caulis were sown in small pots, and have not sprouted at all. Of course, there could be any number of reasons why. I will hopefully try again next month. Was rather hoping to have a go. With the arrival of overwintering onions and mushrooms, I might try and have a another attempt at them. Ma found some freebie coriander, a small packet from a place that is named after a house elf. Then found a whacking great big bag and proceeded to scatter some in a pot with some mustard, just because she could. Had nothing to do with my curly parsley had gone yellow and withered, having had it’s day. Curly parsley had served us well. Along with chives, made some nice salsa verdes and ended up in various dishes.

Tender green beans and scarlet emperor have done their time. Both were pulled up over the weekend as they had more or less stopped producing anything. Both have had a productive term, with lots of beans produced. There a couple of pods actually, long ones that are half dried. These seeds can be saved, at least in the case of the scarlet emperor. It is probably easier to buy them, but I rather like the scarlet emperor. This particular seed has served me well. As the first runner bean I planted, the experience has been rather fruitful. Especially as this year, the crop was sown to the word . That is to say, sown around saint Patricks day, and up a seven foot cane. The only blip was of course the black aphids. These must have been blasted once with the fairy liquid, but i just didn’t keep it up enough. That said, I didn’t see that many black patches.

Mystery chilli plant is still a mystery. Doesn’t seem to have moved in any direction at all. The other chillies on the other hand, are producing fruit. These are somewhat different to previous cayenne crops. These are somewhat smaller and stumpier. Previous crops have been long and thin as would be expected.

The radish experiment has so far produced a little stumpy white radish. It certainly tasted like a radish! Wonderfully potent. As it stands there is a lot leaf. Not too sure as how long it will before there is a discernable radish like crop to be harvested.

'obbitry of the horticultural kind

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