Tag Archives: butternut squash

Plot Plunder, winding down

“Oh, Punam, I went to the Plot, your grapes were flat again. Tomorrow we need to fix them.”

“Right, okay.”

“Oh, Punam, we didn’t see these. All of these marrows. We must have missed them.”

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And so started the conversation, and I suggested we take a walk and see what the deal was with the plot. This week has seen a return to work, and teaching has started. I was in something of a daze yesterday at six in the evening, having finished teaching; so a walk this afternoon was scheduled as being necessary after a day of training. I am hoping to do some volunteer work in the coming year, so a large proportion of my day had already been spoken for.

“Mum, there’s seven of them?”

That means chutney at some point this week.

We took a walk, and removed the last of the patty pan, sunburst courgettes. There are a few other yellow courgettes remaining; and soon they will slow down. Once all of the squashes have started to die a death; the aim is to take up the plants and compost them back into the ground. I know that I shouldn’t plant more plants than necessary, it is however difficult to not comply when your mum wants more than one plant. Yet we both get fed up of seeing frequently appearing squashes by this time of the year.

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The climbing and runner beans are also starting to slow down. The last of them-she says-are now waiting to be chopped up and frozen.I had forgotten just how much you end up with, if you sow quite a few plants. We have had a combination of blue lake and cobra climbing french beans, as well as borlotto beans, scarlet emperor and painted lady runner beans. These had been sown in two batches, as I had been convinced that the one tray simply wouldn’t be enough. I think mum is quietly fed up now of chopping and freezing them. She is still to get used to the colour of the borlotto beans, I think they add character to the wig wams.

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It has been a while since we have successful cropping of a butternut squash on the plot. The very first one was called Gladys, and this one would be gladys mark three. After all, even the ghost rider pumpkins are always called Bruno. I cannot remember now whether this is waltham or hunter. It is butternut squash nonetheless. There have been yellow butternut squash type thing harvested during the summer, more spherical in shape. Not too sure as to what will be done this with yet, but I am sure that it will be put to some good use.

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Newly arrived today is the box of over wintering garlic that will be waiting to be sunk. I think the latest that I have ever planted is the end of November, so I am aiming to do sow sooner than that. This will mean clearing raised beds of the assorted plants before plugging in. I don’t plan to sink into open ground as the heavy clay tends eat the cloves and I also find it harder to monitor weeds.

Summer to September: Changes

Whilst many of my teaching colleagues will be returning to school, I have a few weeks before I do. This means that my attention is taken up with the plot, and recuperating before the new academic school year starts.

Some of the plot has been wonderfully abundant. Other parts less so. Whilst the tomatoes are five foot leafy triffids, there hasn’t been a great deal of fruit. What fruit I do have, is being placed upon a light and warm window sill to ripen. The raspberries were very hit and miss, and I think the same is to be said of Blackberries. I have harvested a few blackberries, but there doesn’t seem to be as much as previously seen.  This time last year, I had harvested a great deal of plums. Despite what the a picture above might suggest, that is a fraction of what last years bounty was. The above plums have been stoned and frozen for use in the autumn.

The squashes are quite abundant, and today I have been chopping courgettes and squashes that are most likely going to be turned into chutney.  You can see a baby butternut, a bit developmentally delayed; I think this primarily because of the erratic conditions this year.

Chillies have been very good in that lessons have been learned. I am very proud to have had a handful of orange habaneros. I have been desired such a crop for years! Whilst the plants are small, I cannot say that they haven’t been plentiful. These are after all, a very potent chilli. I had to wear gloves whilst chopping, as a preventative health and safey measure. The hungarian hot wax-the label is wrong- are fantastically productive, and the orange pumpkin chillies are a really nice surprise. They have ripened incredibly quickly. As eve the cayenne chillies are doing well as well.

As well as the plums, I have apples to play with. These were donated by a plot neighbour. Again, like the plums, these have been chopped and frozen to be used over the autumn.

Gladys-the Butternut Squash Triffid

Six foot tall, triffids are terrible tyrants.

Perhaps that is an exaggeration.

Armed with a packet of seeds, last year I tried to investigate just what makes triffids tick. So Gladys the Butternut came into being. At that time, last summer, space really was at a premium in Dad’s back yard. Gladys was grown up, rather than out.Seemed a good idea at time, And boy, did she grow.

Growth was incredibly rapid, and for someone who knows nothing about growing curcurbits, that was scary. I have since learned that curcurbits are incredibly greedy feeders. They benefit from pooh in their beds to help them do their thing,

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All seemed well, there were flowers.I think all in all, five blooms arrived. I may have used a couple to play with Bruno actually. There were fruits, but these were fruits that were simply not working. A failure to pollinate the most likely reason. There were prior to this, many many male flowers, the girls took their time arriving.

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I do think I will try again. Just need to consult my notes this time!

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

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.

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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.