Posted by: sweetpea | August 21, 2006

seed sowing and tidying up the lottie a little!

I spent far too much time at the lottie over the weekend mainly due to the fact that the weather was so much better than expected so I just couldn’t drag myself back indoors!

Friday morning I headed over with the intention of just harvesting some veg to give to Kim later, however I ended up staying until lunchtime.  I had a go at pollinating a ‘trombolino’ and butternut squash.  I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong but I seem to be having very varied rates of success with hand pollinating, mostly failing.  I shall have to ask on Allotments4all to see if anyone can give me an idea of what might be wrong so I know for next year.

Once I’d finished trying to gingerly pick my way through the sea of squashes I turned my attention to the bramble hedge down the side of the lottie.  I love having it there as it means I have my own personal supply of juicy blackberries, but it does need keeping an eye on.  I’d noticed that it was starting to get a little too rampant so out came the secateurs and I worked my way along cutting back the new growth.  Whilst doing this I also noticed that there was a lot of bindweed growing through it, so out that came too.  I will need to go back over it more thoroughly next weekend as I only did a rough job of taking out the bindweed.  I wish it didn’t spread so much as I do like the flowers.  I think the bramble hedge could do with thinning out a little as I noticed a lot of fruit going mouldy which I’m guessing means that perhaps there isn’t enough air circulation.

On Sunday I was on duty at the lottie store for 2hrs so I arrived at the plot just before 10am to drop off some things in the shed.  I ended up having to pop back to fetch one of my chairs as I soon discovered that the chair in the store was soaked and I really didn’t fancy standing for 2 hrs!  It was a pretty quiet morning, but I had a couple of customers, and I did get to read my copy of ‘Kitchen garden’.  In fact I love it when there aren’t many customers as it’s often the only chance I get to read.

Eventually it was time to lock up and I could head over to the plot to catch up with more jobs.  First on the list was seed sowing.  I have been meaning to do it for weeks, and I’m pretty sure that I’m too late sowing some of them but I thought it worth a try. 

I sowed:

  • Purple sprouting broccoli (I know for a fact that I’m probably much too late sowing this as I am every year, usually I decide not to even bother, but thought I’d at least give it a go this year and see what happens!)
  • Nine star perennial broccoli
  • Kohl rabi ‘Quickstar’
  • Turnip ‘Rubin’
  • Pak choi ‘China choi’
  • tatsoi
  • Chinese cabbage ‘Nikko F1’
  • Red orach
  • Florence Fennel ‘Sirio’
  • Giant winter spinach
  • Lettuce ‘Can can’ and ‘Little gem’
  • Beetroot ‘Forono’ and ‘Kestrel F1’
  • Sweet cicely
  • Eryngium (this and Sweet cicely won’t germinate until the spring, but they need a few months of cold temperatures before they will germinate hence sowing now)

These were all sown in modules, covered with the clear plastic lid and put in the cold frame.  I also sowed a couple of rows of white Lisbon onions and Autumn King carrots after having dug up the remainder of my ‘kestrel’ second earlies.  I think next year I won’t plant as many first earlies as I’m finding it hard using them up, somehow in the summer I seem to want to eat more stir-fry type dishes with noodles or rice rather than potatoes.

The sowing done, the next job was to try and cut back some of the leaves on the squash plant in order to expose the fruit to the sun and hopefully speed up the ripening process.  I’m having to keep a close eye on them to avoid the rat causing too much damage.  The rat poison doesn’t seem to be working, probably as there are far too many other nicer things to be eating!  So far it seems most interested in the Trombolino squashes; I just hope it doesn’t decide to start nibbling the others.  I’m not sure how you can avoid this problem, I think my idea of making cages for the fruit would work, it’s just that it takes so much time and is fiddly, but maybe I can have a go at making some over the winter as I’m sure it would be less tricky making them away from the plants.  I think I will pinch out the growing tips pretty soon too so that the plants can concentrate on the fruits.

I checked on things in the greenhouse, and noticed that some of the sweet peppers are starting to turn red 🙂  The aubergines are coming along nicely although the Mohican ones are looking a bit of a funny shape, and the plant doesn’t look too healthy, I suspect it’s in too small a pot as I’d run out of larger ones.  The ‘Ring culture’ method has been great, especially the ones in builders buckets, so next year I shall be investing in more buckets and will probably invest in some plant pots and cut out the bottoms rather than buying more of the ring culture pots I bought this year, that way they can be re-used every year.  Two of the melons still seem to be growing, whilst the largest Petit Gris de Rennes and Watermelon seem to have stopped, but I’m still not sure if they are ready to pick.  I noticed that the tendril closest the watermelon is starting to turn brown, which I think is a sign that it might be almost ready to pick, so hopefully I won’t have to wait much longer.

One thing I won’t be doing next year is building my climbing French bean support using mostly twine.  I decided to use bamboo canes to make the main scaffolding of the support, but then use twine to provide support for the beans to climb up.  I’m finding that this was not a particularly good idea as the weight of the beans is now resulting in the frame sagging and becoming slightly lopsided!  So next year the whole frame will be made out of bamboo canes.  Another thing I’ve noticed is that some of the beans are ending up twisted in shape rather than nice and straight, and I have no idea why.

Before heading home I picked 2 tubs of blackberries, a couple of apples, a couple of courgettes, some beans, a carrot and a huge turnip.  I roasted the turnip and carrot last night to have with chicken and mashed potato…mmmm.  I also made an apple and blackberry crumble but it was too late to eat it so I shall be having that tonight.  That’s the only trouble with growing your own, there’s never enough time to cook and eat it all!

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