Tag Archives: gladioli

Mint Marauding and Mooli Pods #gdnbloggers

There used to be a herb bed on the plot, only it is now full of mint. Mint truly is a thug, the cliché is true. Unchecked, it runs riot and takes over. With the unbalanced combination of rain and sun, the plot mint has grown quite a bit. This has meant mint marauding, chopping it back to harvest leaves. As you can see, the bouquets were nearly as big as me, and three large bundles of the stuff were harvested. I guess that you can never have too much mint! Having harvested it all and carried it home, Mama F and I spent a few hours at the dining table stripping the leaves so that it could all be frozen. There are several different varieties, with some smelling like spearmint and chocolate mint in there somewhere too. It would take a proper connoisseur to smell out the different mint varieties.

At the moment, I have vague plans to make mint jelly. Usually, the plot mint ends up in chutney; Mum can rest assured, there is tonnes still left for her to use.

The second half of the day focussed on Mum’s mooli pods. She had found that the radishes that she sown had bolted; as such, there were lots of seed pods.

pods1

These are actually edible, and different varieties of radish will produce seed pods of different potencies. For example, seed pods from Japanese radish have a peppery fiery-ness. In the image above, these are pods from an unknown red variety, and these were quite sweet to the taste.  As you can imagine, I was going a little dotty anyway, having plucked away all that mint. However, as Mum had helped me, I was going to help her. All We had harvested less than half of her entire bolted radish crop, yet we managed to fill three troughs of seed pods. How I did not see seedpods in my sleep, I do not know.

Mum plans to cook up the seed pods; the recipe is in sow grow eat!

Other than mint marauding, I was loitering with therapeutic intent as well. I’ve not een to the plot in a while, so have missed the blooms blossom. Shakespeare is well and truly kicking off, and the glads have finally kicked.  I have the standard, as expected six pears on the tree-it’s always six, no idea why-with tomatoes making slow but certain progress. I’m not holding my breath with the tomatoes; there will be a significantly smaller crop than expected, and no puddles of tomatoes like last year. There are fewer plants, and I don’t think the Roma variety will keep their place on the plot. Marmande appears to be the winner as per usual.  All three of the grapevines are burgeoning; lusciously leafy, there are clusters of grapes starting to swell. With raspberries creaking to an end, I was able to harvest a handful of plump ‘darrow’ blueberries. The other two varieties haven’t so much as sneezed this year, the one plant is turning copper and going to sleep.

 

P.S. yes, I know,  need allotment proof nail varnish.

 

 

Not over, not yet. #gdnbloggers

Dear allotment, I have not abandoned you. It might feel as though I have, but I haven’t. Honest.

trugglads

This year’s growing season really does feel different. As though my mojo has dipped, and the erratic weather has made it feel even worse. I’ve also spent a lot less time on the plot due to real-life commitments, and this goes towards amplifying the feel of discontent. I am seriously missing something this year and trying to reflect upon how I might improve things now and also for the future. It’s not all gloom and doom:

There are tomatoes everywhere. Green ones, yellow ones, striped ones and sometimes even red ones. I rather hoped that there would be; last year, we had triffids but no tomatoes. So we have fruit, and I’ve been clipping vines of fruit off so they ripen at home. We do have a few that whilst sat on the window sill, these have ripened. Technically, not all is lost and I have actually been able to make chutney. That did help with the lack of mojo, especially the part where I play with my preserving pan. I have, however, done a lot less playing with the preserving pan in comparison to previous years. The only preserving I have done, is the home brew! I thought I should give that a rest for  a bit, least of all on the blog. So  all is not lost with the tomatoes, at least. There is probably going to a poundage of green ones clogging up the conservatory for a brief period of time. I shall have to decide what to do with them, other than chutney.

You know, I have never ever, managed to get a proper cob of corn from the plot. Until now, that is. Mum had great success, and bounced home with three big cobs that once grilled, were a rather nice tea time snack. Needless to say, I was a bit envious. Especially, as I had sown all the seeds, and then divided everything between our two plots.  I swear, that we have different micro-climates and soil across the two and this means differences in crops.

The one thing that has actually kept me buoyant, would be the flowers. There were sunflowers on the plot this year. So glads and roses have been the main focus. Admittedly, the roses were a little slower and not as productive as they have been previously. The glads are also somewhat delayed. However, it has all been pretty. We have had stonking great big beautiful bouquets for the kitchen. (If I ever acquire a husband, he’ll have to box a bit clever should he ever want to provide me with flowers.)

 

Plot experiments abound! #gdnbloggers

Since I have yet to play with the preserving pan and make jam, jellies and chutneys, I have been looking for experiments do. It doesn’t help that I have a lower than expected courgette threshold.

This week, I have considered two things.

  1. ooh, dehydrator; could do home made chilli powder
  2. And hold on, you have a home brew kit that you have yet to christen.

But first, let’s look at what is actually working on the plot.

Plot tomatoes are sprawling, having absorbed a fair bit of sunshine and have sent out lots of yellow flowers. It is quite easy then to spot the red smudge of tomatoes as they turn red beneath the foliage. I somewhat revel in the going red, as with previous experience I have had to ripen tomatoes at home. The raspberries are a combination of polka, a well established set of canes and newly planted ones. Above, you will see that the trug is rather full. Contained in that trug was coriander and fenugreek from Mum’s half plot and my mint. I still have mint to harvest actually, it really is very productive.

And at last! The plot glads are coming through. It does feel a little delayed in happening, but I have spotted two of the blooms breaking up the green tomato foliage. I do rather like the purple ones. Though somewhere on the plot are black ones, and I’ve never seen those in bloom before.

Now, I said something about experiments.

The experiments are two fold. In the first instance, I decided to find  dehydrator. Primarily as I fancied dehydrating chillies for chilli powder. However, we also have lots of mint and fenugreek. These were the first things to go in, as well as some garlic, red habaneros and also some mango. Garlic, didn’t go so well; perhaps I should have sliced it a little thinner. Ir’s still usable, just very very dry. Red Habaneros, had me sneezing and took over a day to dehydrate. These were shop bought though, from a local Indian supermarket and were effectively a pilot study should I actually get a few chillies from the poly tunnel. The mango was also shop bought, and was a collection of under ripe fruit that I wanted to make mango powder. I use mango powder for chutneys, it has further uses in Indian Cuisine. Again, an experiment; as it took two dozen mangoes to get 100g powder. I shall be reflecting further on the merits of garlic and mango dehydration. What did work well, and took hardly any time at all, was the drying of the herbs. I was rather pleasantly surprised by how green the powdered fenugreek was.

Then there is the second experiment. The rather boozy one.

First thing first, I have parental consent (There are people who will huff and puff at this, I assure you; as an activity that a bollywood young lady ought not to do. So let’s make clear, that :: blows raspberries::  Beyond that, not my roof, there are still agreed understandings). I am old enough-yes, I am-to imbibe it, and I’m not distilling anything. Look, there are far worse hobbies, and with less palatable outcomes. With the parental consent, comes the first refusal of quality control and production management.

(I had actually decanted a year old steeping of Cherry brandy actually, as Pop’s wondered where my experiments had gone from the pantry; so it’s not as though the experiments have noses turned up at them. Was a case of “Punam, you had bottles of gooseberry gin, where did they go?” You’ll have to imagine it being said in Punjanbi).

strawberryferment
Fermenting strawberries

As you may already be aware, I dislike strawberries. However, the strawberry God was kind this year and blessed us with with pounds of the things. All frozen, they were waiting for their fate to be decided. With the preserving mojo a little off kilter, I wasn’t too sure about what to do with them. Then I remembered that I had a brewing kit, yet to be christened, and a second hand wine making book. Not to mention, some rather lovely Grape Family members who are rather experienced home brewers. (My immense and heartfelt thanks to these lovelies who have been so supportive in getting my experiments of the ground.)

It just had to be done really.

Fruit was defrosted and the kit actioned. There was a bit of drama this morning, as it became apparent that we were having a ‘Jaws’ moment.

We needed a bigger bucket.

Over night, as expected there was fermentation; happens when you add yeast, sugar and water. I awoke to the smell of fruity boozy-ness, and found myself fighting strawberries off with a plastic spoon. All in an attempt to not make a mess of the carpet in the garage.

Needless to say, we have found a bigger bucket. There is just over five litres of liquid in there. A demijohn is at the ready, to decant the must in the next few days. This is my first foray in proper home brewing, so you can imagine the nervousness, and the first of a list. But first, let’s get this one done.

Experiments. Always the best way to learn.

(Sat here, it is impossible to avoid the waft of fermenting strawberries.)

Weathering the strangeness

June has arrived, and it has been rather strange in it’s infancy. The weather hasn’t exactly been the best, confused and entirely erratic. We have had rather nice windows, punctuated by cold and chilly days reminiscent of early autumn.

With that, I have been looking at the tomatoes and squashes that were transplanted prior to the end of May bank holiday. (I was adventuring, and more on that later) Ordinarily, squashes grow like triffids; they are rapid, hungry and likely to take over the patch of ground into which they have been sunk. Looking at them though, they do rather look a little developmentally delayed. Perhaps it is early, perhaps I am overestimating them; but they should have started to get a wiggle on. I suspect that the inclement and inconsistent weather has some what confused them.

There are factions of the plot that are doing well, that are resisting the variance in the weather. Waking up from a slumber, the grapevines have started to send out leaves and bulk up on their frame. Small clusters of flowers and fruit have been spotted, and indicates that the vines are so far quite happy. Even the currant bushes are starting to flower and flourish, and look as though they have been strung with green pearls.

June, July and August generally involve garlic being harvested. In spite of the horrid weather, the Marshalls Heritage seed garlic appears to be romping away. It is a little wind burned, which given the windy nature of the site is not all that unusual. The foliage is still lush, green and is now nearly a metre high; it looks rather robust. It may be some time yet before the foliage starts to die back and become raffia like.

 

Potatoes, peppers and prepping Apples

Potatos and prep were the key words this week. As mentioned previously, we have had an abundance of Pink Fir Apple potatoes. This week we harvested the last batch. These have been by far the most productive potato that I have ever managed to grow. My potato growing adventures have not been without incident. so to have such nice good quality potatoes from the plot is something of a surprise. All of the spuds this year were in raised beds, and either in compost or farmyard manure. This does appear to have paid dividends.

In the poly tunnel, we have a mass of six foot triffids. Would you believe, that whilst I was away, Ma harvested a red tomato. Yes, I was upset too. You can also see her picking glads, some of which were as tall as her.

Grapes are on the turn, and whilst there is not many of them this year, they are rather sweet. The autumn raspberry cane has kicked off with lovely large fruit, whereas the blackberries are still somewhat thin amongst the boughs.

Ma has taken up the cabbages, as she was about to declare war on the critters that were nibbling on them. She has shredded them and frozen for winter saag dishes.

Then came the apples. Having spend ages chopping, coring and peeling. I have found a new gadget! This was tested in the falstaff apples, the worcester pearmain are too small as are the home grown concorde pears. if only I had thought of this two weeks ago! Would have saved me six hours of work!

Argh allotment challenge Epi 3

Argh Allotment challenge Epi 3

Opened with a plethora of beautiful blooms. Not a weed in sight.

Competitors but gardeners first. Not so sure about that at all.

Carrot challenge, of three perfect carrots. Uniform, free from pests. No forking. A disaster if inadequately prepared. It’s a bloody carrot! Sand was shovelled in, all very conscientiously. In waste pipes.

And done with precision.

The Volkswagen of carrot growing. Functional, technical, precise. Mention of the carrot fly, we are getting the names dropped now as far as pests go. A tad more realistic. Carrot fly does take on the role of being a comic book villain.

Who’d thought that a carrot would inspire such whispered hushed tones. It’s not a state secret, it’s a root vegetable.

And not eaten by Jim. Come on, a carrot is not going to be a work of art. Surely, the aim of growing your own, is eating it. The proof should be in the pudding. In the eating of it.

I will not be coddling my carrots. Wonky is good enough for me.

Gladioli always remind me of Miserable morrisey, and I like them. I would rather like some bright purple ones. They were lovely on my plot last year. Definitely want some more. As for table arrangement. Not interested.

A bit technical terminology from fern, a nice thing, as she explained about succession growing. That was okay, we like fern.

I like gladioli, so I’m not going to complain about those. Some beautiful whoppers. And some
Vitriol for Thrips too.

Chutney and cordial for eat. Was what the difference was between a chutney and a relish. Always good to see chillies, with their “phwoar” moment. Being a Bollywood, the aubergine chutneys gained my attention, with the different spices being used. Having made a courgette chutney that was very Bollywood, that bit was useful.

Grow your own is emerging slowly. Still very crafty. But getting there. The bearded blokes in ties are rather refreshing as are the mum an daughter team.

Daleks don’t diet

dalek_two dalek_one

Composting shouldn’t be challenging, but I do find it challenging. Mostly as there is a habit to be started and then maintained. I found it very difficult to maintain last year. This year is about making it work. There is a kitchen caddy as well, so we can continue to compost suitable kitchen waste. Yesterday, as the weather was fine, Pops mowed the lawn. Today, off I trundled to the plot with a wheelbarrow of grass clippings and shredded paper. There are simple rules as to how and what you should put into compost, all predicated on layers of brown and green. The daleks were both filled with grass clippings layered with shredded paper. All being well, the daleks will continued to be fed. It is true what is said about the grass clippings being hot, they were certainly very warm to touch as they were piled into the daleks.

A tip given to me today by an allotment neighbour, was that if you are growing runner beans; mulch them with grass clippings to nitrogenise the soil. Not sure if this works, so answers on a post card for that please.

Some peas were sown out today, but not many. A handful of petite pois and kelvedon wonder pea were sown directly by way of experimentation. There is a possibility that I might soak some peas and then perhaps plant out once they have chitted. I would like to see however, if these come. These were sown by the netting that bisects the plot and also by the bean/pea netting. I will leave it a week or so perhaps, before I sow runner beans in modules. After this, there are always Dwarf French Beans  to be sown as well.

Summer flowering bulbs were also sank today. I had last year thought about these, but perhaps didn’t action them as well as I could have. Especially as last year all that was cultivated was weeds and super slugs. The logic behind this was, that since squashes and others require pollinators, summer flowering bulbs would facilitate. Seeing as they were now appearing in the shops, off I pootled to a poundshop and found quite a few. There are a number below that were sown today, before I got brain freeze with sheer number. A second batch will be sunk at a later date. If you have any ideas about the lis below, that would be lovely hear. A handful of the winter pansies and primulas that were planted last autumn have been spotted, so not an entirely lost cause.

  •  Freesias double
  • Acidanthera
  • Mixed Liatris Spicala
  • Oxalis Seppel
  • Gladioli Mixed
  • Purple Gladioli
  • Anemone Mr.Fokker
  • Gladioli Plum Tart
  • Iris Purple sensation
  • Mixed Sparaxis
  • Anemone Hollandia
  • Freesia Red Single
  • Gladioli Tradehorn
  • Gladioli Pink

….think  I have enough gladioli….

Last year, I had also planted some dahlias. Sadly, with the rain and general misery last year, the tubers met their make and were eaten by the clay. A very demoralising event, and an expensive folly. The jury is out as to whether I would like to plant them again, I rather like the  pom pom flower. I know that they are available in Wilkos, as well as a 99p shop!

In other news, Incredible sweetcorn has come through the surface of module dirt as have Crystal lemon and Femspot Cucumbers There are baby sunflowers also coming up.

On the subject of of sunflowers. May I introduce you to:

http://centronuclear.org.uk/theinformationpoint/pages/ways_to_help/the_big_sunflower_project.html

I heard about this from a fellow gardener and was rather intrigued. My seeds have just come through, and I will sowing very soon. All being well, I shall post what happens, so watch this space for that.

All to play for.

Yours in anticipation,

Horticultural Hobbit