Tag Archives: scarlet emperor

Super Sunny Sunday with seeds! #Gdnbloggers

Hold on, this could be a bumper blog. I have lots to share!

Today started off with a seed check in. I was thinking about what seedlings I have, how i might keep rolling with growing season and what I might sow next. It turns out that there were quite a few and at varying stages of development. I would have expected that the chillies would be a further on. However, they have been growing with less light and heat that they might want. The plants have only just been moved to warmer and more light part of the house, so I am hoping that this will go someway to nurturing them a little more. Tomatoes are actually quite fluffy and feathery, and could probably do with being potted on. They are few in number, in comparison to previous years. Last year, there were thirty something plants and we have lots of green tomatoes. Hopefully, these will be enough; but me being me, there will be probably be further plants bought and in a episode of hysteria. Today really was going to be about taking stock, reflecting and remembering to enjoy the allotment.

 

(You can see the youtube version here)

Remembering the allotment, started with a Rhubarb rummage. Okay, so it happened on Mum’s plot, but it was a rather positive experience. Mum inherited quite a bit of rhubarb, and today some of it was harvested.

This looked like fairly heavy duty, industrial strength rhubarb; I am convinced that my hands were zinging with its acidity after I had finished chopping it all up. I am not yet sure as to what I might do with it, and there is a something like eighteen pounds now in the freezer. That could result in a fair bit of crumble, preserves and perhaps a batch of homebrew. That said, there is already some rhubarb wine stashed safely away.

You can also find the youtube video here.

The whole concept of taking stock, also involves reclaiming the plot. This is happening slowly, and I am realising just how much I have missed playing on the plot. This really isn’t going to happen over night. It has, after all, taken me a fair few years to get this far. Again, there are plans. The sort that can be changed, are on a short list and can be done in a manageable way. Having a long list of things to do, just makes it harder to get back into the swing of things. It did help that the sun was shining today! Otherwise, the rather grey and melancholic pathetic fallacy with the weather can rather make it difficult to take a walk down to the plot.

It does look a bit green and leafy yes; there are lots of weeds, patches of grass and patches of bare earth that do rather need to be put to good use. The plot is not exactly a show garden. I wouldn’t want it to be. It is a working document garden; things change and all the time. There are also those amongst us, who might disagree with that I have been doing; if we all had the same opinion, there would be one very stagnant status quo, and no room for innovation.  There is potential for movement and forwards. It might not be immediate or quick, but it will  happen.

I can genuinely say, that I have felt that bit happier and less frazzled in taking stock today and also getting my hands dirty. I have a timely reminder of self care, and how it is important to look after yourself and every part of you. Lately, I have spent alot of time cooped up indoors typing, concentrating on two different school work fronts and not really made-yes, made-the time to play on the plot. Simply going to harvest rhubarb, to take this video has been something of a very bright, very apt reminder that it was time. Even seed sowing took on a therapeutic role today. I felt altogether rejuvenated really, and I haven’t felt like that for a long time. See, Sunday has been school work Sunday and for three quarters of a decade. That had to pause today. I had my work set out, ready and everything; there was even a post it list. Only the plot was what the psyche needed today, it was what the actualizing tendency and organismic self needed.

Person centred theory makes a lot of sense when it comes to the my allotment plot. Go read about Carl Rogers and his potatoes.

His were in a basement, mine happen to be under dirt.

The youtube version  of the video can be found here.

As well as taking stock and reflecting,  lots of seed sowing has been happening today:

The first session involved sowing sweetcorn and some further scarlet emperor. I have previously sown a handful of runner beans as well as some climbing french beans. However, a few of these have rotted away in the modules in being too wet and cold. I always find it a little tricky to get the balance right when it comes to how to much water to use. There are a few survivors though, and for these I am thankful.

(Video on you tube is here)

The second session of seed sowing involved sunflowers and marketmore cucumbers. It has been a while since I have last sown and experimented with cucumbers. So why not have another bash! For now, the polytunnel is out of action, but I would rather have the cucumbers outside anyway. Sunflowers are rather dear to me; again, I haven’t sown them in a while and the last time that I did they all rather keeled over in the cold. The ones sown this year are a single giant variety. In the past, these have been over six foot tall and have a mass of triffid like flower heads. It does feel a little late to be sowing them, but it does all feel like a good chance to do so.

(Video on youtube is here)

Having harvested  fair bit of rhubarb, I then thought about double checking the home brew from last year. Last year, there was a lot of homebrew experimentation and lots of learning experiences had. Most of the experiments have been put into bottles, but there are three demijohns waiting in the wings.  There is the rhubarb, strawberry and currant wine, as well as blackberry wine which is rather recent actually; as well as apple wine, this is taking it’s time clarifying. On the shelf though, we have strawberry wine. This was the first experiment that was ever done; and it does rather taste of cheesecake. Second, there is Blackberry, plum and currant, which is just as claret coloured as the blackberry wine. Thirdly, there is is Rhubarb, currant and gooseberry.  Not quite sure what will happen to them all, and how! I  might have to take stock and see if there are good homes for it all.

 

In other news. Good news; I made a list!

Not the sort that I would be checking twice, but that made by someone else. The lovely people at Waltons have very kindly placed me on their list of adventurous blogs!

You can find the list at https://www.waltons.co.uk/blog/9-more-adventurous-allotment-blogs. It would appear that I am in very good company with a few fellow #gdnbloggers.

It did make me smile, that the blog is more adventurous!   I guess that echoes one of many reasons that the blog exists and also how far it might reach and into the world.

I guess I should continue and with the whole adventurous allotmenteering! If that isn’t a bit of encouragement, I don’t know what is.

 

Unseasonable, but to sow anyway

This rather erratic weather does nothing to improve an already low level of allotmenteering mojo. Already feeling as though I am behind, hearing the hail come down as you return from the allotment  is not exactly encouraging or inspiring. Today was pencilled in as the opportunity to take stock and sow an assortment of seeds. With the frost window in Birmingham open til the end of May, I made the decision to sow squashes. These grow quickly, require potting on if they become too large to soon and will eventually need hardening off before being plugged into the raised beds on the plot.

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The squashes that have been sown are largely summer squashes. We have traditional green courgettes and a marrow, as well as patty pan, yellow scallop, a round variety and another that is white a green but also a space ship sort. The seeds have been sown into pellets, and will sit inside to germinate. What I have yet to sow are winter squashes such as pumpkins and butternut squashes. I am likely to either cheat or sow the seeds in the coming week or so. There are seeds saved from a couple of winter squashes that I will look into sowing again. There has always been a pumpkin on the plot, the plot would not be the same without a bruno.  Whilst I am not a big fan of marrows, my mum is; so that is why I have sown some. I am likely to share the seeds sown with her, so they aren’t all for me!

Squashes have generally been quite straight forward. Sowing and growing Cucumbers on the other hand, has been somewhat of a challenge for.In the past, I have sown quite a few, but slowly, one by one, by April they will have keeled over in a cold snap. April has so far been fairly horrible in terms of weather, so I am somewhat glad to have made a late decision to sow cucumber seeds. Swing is a new variety, have not sown that before. Whereas I have previously sown marketmore and crystal lemon. The latter have cropped, and produce a lovely round and yellow fruit that does actually have a lemony taste to it.

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The previous sowing  of beans was something of a disaster. I think it was just too cold and damp in the poly tunnel; so I making a second sowing and keeping at home. The hope that this will encourage a better level of germination, seedlings will be more robust and once hardened off, these can be planted out on the the plot. The varieties sown are scarlet emperor runner bean; a favourite and previously a very good cropper. The climbing french bean variety is blue lake, and this has also been very abundant.

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Sowing seeds is always somewhat therapeutic. I’ve now ran out of pellets, so the beans and cucumbers are being sunk into soil proper. I did give the compost a brief window to warm up, and then it was moisten with warm water. Otherwise there is an increased chance of rotting if everything is very cold and damp.

You can see the youtube version here.

There are a whole host of different seedlings that now require observation. The observation does happen to be carried out by mum, and is communicated to me along the lines of “Punam, shall I water your tomatoes, they look a bit sad.” Half of the time, she is right, but I do try and make sure that they aren’t over water. The tomatoes and chillies are actually still under fleece during the night time for now. There have been a few nights were where the temperatures were significantly under 10 degrees celsius. So I have been a little wary in leaving the seedlings exposed.

You can see the youtube version here.

tomatoflowering

When I hear the words “Punam, your tomatoes look a bit sad” I do tend to check, and see what Mum is suggesting. There are some varieties, such as ‘Cream Sausage’ that do look a little bit sad as they are quite feathery in appearance. These, I can look at double check that they are still with us. What you don’t expect, quite so soon, is a flower.  A bright yellow one at that. The label appears to have disappeared for the one in the picture, so I can’t determine what variety it is. The plant doesn’t look unhappy, but sending out a flower means that it is either too happy, or a bit stressed out. I will keep a closer eye on the plants and make a decision as to what to do next. It is most likely that it requires potting on, but I am going to hold fire with that for now. The plan is to plant the tomatoes in the open ground of the allotment. Last years experiment of having them all in the poly tunnel wasn’t very successful; and by and large, all the previous success has come from tomatoes being outside. Plants will need hardening off, and I hope that can be done in the coming month or so.

Building and beans

I went down to the plot today! I wasn’t booked to be anywhere, I could have a lie in, and then I was able to go do things on the plot. The last few months, in fact since the start of the academic year, have been rather busy. Between school work and volunteering, there has been a lot going on. So much so, there have been times where going to the plot has been somewhat challenging. I am for making time, and there have been instances where it has just been a quick visit to make sure things are still standing.

Also, it hasn’t rained today. Yet!

The sun is out, it has just nipped behind a cloud, as I type; but it is out. Has lent itself to being used appropriately. I am hoping that my gardening mojo will return as the seasons change and the growing season kicks off proper.

Today, was about tidying up the poly tunnel. Not a lot has happened in there since the summer, I didn’t plant anything in there; though I probably should have. I have had it a couple of years now, and I am still trying to work out how to use it properly. In I went, and tidied up and away the assortment of grassy weeds that had taken up residence. I also passed a hoe around to break up and aerate the soil. A green film had appeared across the soil and needed to be scuffed away. A couple of days ago, I had removed the rather mottled and decaying pots of chillies, there may be a couple more in the smaller greenhouse actually. Free of both weeds and pots, the poly tunnel started to look a bit serviceable again. To make it even more so, I had some shelving to build.

shelving

It does look a little wonky, yes, the ground isn’t particularly level inside and I’m not investing in industrial strength shelving. There is going to be a point where I run out of space at home in terms of window sills. I do have the four tier blowaway and the walk in greenhouse as well to help ease congestion. Thing is, any seedlings sown need to  be mature enough and hardened off before they exist the house. As wonky as it looks, the shelving is okay. Was simple enough to build, it didn’t require any tools; and I have secured the shelves themselves to the frame by tying wool. It is most likely that as the tomatoes and chillies at home get bigger, they will find themselves on these shelves. It won’t be long before I need the window sills at home for squashes.

The next thing to do was to actually sow something. I am still a little behind, or at least it feels like I am. I am still meaning to sow sunflowers, but today was all about beans.

 

In particular climbing French beans and running beans. Beans have been one of the most successful and abundant crops on the plot. I have stayed with the varieties that we have sown and grown in the past. These are:

  • Scarlet emperor
  • Painted lady
  • Borlotto beans
  • Cobra
  • Blue lake

As you can see, the whole tray of modules is full. Yes, that is an awful lot of beans. They do all get used, either fresh or are frozen for use in cooking. When frozen, they do keep well. I don’t actually recall Mum ever blanching them. The crop tends to be washed and diced, before ending up in the freezer until needed. I quite like the climbing french beans, and I would not have been forgiven had I not sown runner beans. Mum asked a couple of weeks ago-she made eyes at me and everything-about when I would be sowing runner beans.

Incidently, it is very hard not to type runner beans….

She is not a big fan of the interestingly coloured borlotto beans,  but I wasn’t going to let them escape the plot. I quite like them, they look really quite nice peeking out through the foliage on the canes. They are pretty much used in the same way as runner beans in the kitchen, so the appearance gets glossed over. Once curried in a pan, you can’t really tell the difference in the appearance. Turmeric will do that to a dish.

In other news, I am working on the next GYO/Plot book. It was a thought that crossed my mind, and stayed there. There is a vague plan, of what might be in it; I will need to reflect further on the fine details. But there will be recipes in there, that much I do know!

Not sure when it will be done, but I will get it sorted soon. This means working on book two and three most likely at the same time over course of the year.

 

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.

Plot Productivity Part one-Early August

The last week has seen teaching finish and exams start; so I have been a little busy with a real life beyond the plot. With evenings and weekends, I have spent some time defoliating the very leafy tomatoes in the poly. Beyond that, parents have been along to the plot. Ma is on her summer school holidays, so has been taking up weeds and digging over as she does anyway. Just with a bit more gusto. I get waken in the morning, with the words “Punam, I am going over road for an hour. back in a bit.” Two hours later, she’ll turn up at home for tea time.

Dad’s engineering training was utilised this week. I am too short to reach the top of the bean wig wams, I have decided to put a horizontal cane between the wig wams to maximise growing. So Dad helped to beam them.

Then he noticed squashes trailing up canes. He decided that I had done it wrong-not sure about the right way and that I shouldn’t use black string-luckily I had gardening twine. So decided to construct some scaffolding for the burgeoning squashes.

My Sunflowers had doing well, lots of blooms appearing. Allowing bumble bees to come by and get a bit intoxicated.

Plot produce kicks off

The plot is starting to kick off now. As you may have seen from another blog post, the poly is well and truly alive. The tomatoes are five foot tall triffids. Yes, these are the things that only week ago were only eighteen inches high. They are now starting to send out yellow flowers, and some of them have started to set. What you see at the marmande and cream sausage varieties. Not in the pictures, but in the poly tunnel we also have the tiniest of money maker tomatoes.

Beyond that, the scarlet emperor runner beans have started to display lovely red flowers. The blue lake and cobra french climbing beans are somewhat behind, and only just starting to climb and live up to their name.

plant out day: Squashes and beans

With the end of May, being the closing of our frost window; today was plant out day. This was the result of plants being hardened off over the last week or so in quiet anticipation. Plus the plants were starting to get a bit too big to be stashed in the 4TB.

First thing first, three of the metre square beds had to be filled up, these were filled with well decayed farmyard manure. Then, sixteen squash plants, yes, sixteen, have been sunk. There’s half and half split, with some being plugged into raised beds, with the others being plugged into open ground. These were the seeds sown the second time around as the first batch had become cold and damp. Compared to what squashes have looked like at the same time in previous years, they are a bit smaller. I haven’t managed to sow and germinate pumpkins or butternut squashes, so this may be a jet episode.

Next came the beans. We had about thirty plants. These were the traditional scarlet emperor runner bean, as well as cobra and blue lake french climbing bean. All of these three varieties have in the past been very productive. I have another tray sat on the window sill germinating, so I may need to make some more wig wams at somepoint.

Beans

beans

The runner beans and climbing beans have germinated and shot up. I think I might need to harden them off in the coming week. This means having to build a frame at somepoint as well. Debating at this moment, whether I would like to sow more. I have scarlet emperor, cobra and blue lake in the picture, and about dozen plants each. They are very productive, when they get going, that is what I do know.

Sowing beans

beans

Mum has been telling me for some times to sowing ‘running beans’ so that was happened today. A batch was sown previously, but as the seeds were too cold and wet; these have more or less rotted away to pulp. A fresh batch has been sown, and placed onto a warm and well lit window sill. These are

  • Cobra Climbing French beans
  • Blue Lake Climbing French Beans
  • Scarlet Emperor runner beans

I have sown all three of these previously and with fair success, so I am sowing them again this year. I think we have only just finished the last of last summers runner bean crop.

I have observed that the Climbing French Beans are far more productive then the dwarf varieties. The dwarf varieties, in my experience, get munched on by slimers. They eat the crop, before you do. I have sown these today, which means I will have to construct the supporting structures for them to grow up. In the past, I have use two types of structure. Climbing french and runner beans, have been grown up either wig wams, or criss-cross frames. The wig wams are meant to be space saving. I can see how the criss cross frames might take up more space. All being well, these will germinate, the seeds won’t get too damp and rot away.

One thing that is certain, is that once you have grown your own climbing french beans, you will see supermarket produce in a different way. Especially, when they don’t grow straight, but curly as the dwarf beans do.  They all crop abundantly, when you have the appropriate conditions for them to grow productively.

Climbing and running beans

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These are always so damp and wet to observe. At the moment the climbing beans have germinated and seem to be okay. The runners are taking their time somewhat. I think a few have started to rot.

These were only an initial sowing. I think I will sow some more in the coming weeks anyway. Need to put up some more wig wams anyway.