Grow Your Own

Update October 2015

I am aware that unless you follow me on twitter you would have missed out on any produce or allotment update since July 2015. Sorry for that, but I have to admit I have been a very amateurish allotment gardener since then – in fact, other than harvest produce I have done very little.

I'm ashamed to say I am still harvesting Potatoes which are coming up surprisingly clean and last week I was still harvesting Chillies, Bell peppers and Aubergines (Fig 1) along with Beets etc..
At the weekend I picked my grape harvest (Fig 2), some were not ripe but I doubt they will ripen any more now, so they are mulching at present ready to make wine. I'm also starting to harvest those late Carrots I planted in July, they too are coming up nice and clean.

 

Figure 1 Figure 2

 

I need to prepare some soil for the setting of my over winter Onions (Radar), Shallots (Jermore) and Garlic (Elephant and Italian Red) but it's raining outside at present and I plan to retire in March, so I keep telling myself, loads of time.

Of course there never is enough time and there is always things to do, but I'm hanging on for those precious days of retirement; meanwhile, here are some pictures of this year's harvest.

 

Harvest 1 Harvest 2 Harvest 3 Harvest 4

 

Harvest 5   Harvest 6   Harvest 7

Update May 2015

After the wonderful April we had in the south of England (see blog published April 27th), the month of May became a bit of a disappointment; the seeds germinated in the greenhouse, but slowly, I can't say they burst into life with vigour, they were more akin to a teenager waking up on a morning; they sort of scratched their heads, looked around bleary eyed and went, whatever... May feels as if it has been more like March rather than almost summer and the last few days did see dreadfully high winds and hard rain.

Read more: Update May 2015

Update July 2015

Not much to report this month, I have been harvesting produce when I can, trying to keep the weeds down as well as possible, but failing most of the time, however, at this time of year things can get a little crazy in the garden.

The Onions and Garlic are dried and ready for harvesting (Fig 1&2), I have managed to lift the Shallots and they are hanging under shelter. I am regularly harvesting a mass of produce every weekend now (Fig 3,4,5 & 6) so everything is starting to feel worth while.

Read more: Update July 2015

Aug 2014 Update

It's quite a short one this time, I could say all I have done is harvest this month but that's not completely true, but it does more or less cover the month.

The garden has been providing an overabundance of Courgettes, Patty Pans, French Beans, Aubergines, Peppers, Chillies, Lettuce and Tomatoes, some are now frozen either individually or in meals, or alternatively they have been eaten by us or given to friends and colleagues (Fig 1).

 

After having some rain, the soil is now more manageable, so after struggling for a month to dig spuds it's now easier.

 

The Onions and Garlic have all dried well in the greenhouse and hanging under cover, we are using them as and when needed. The Carrots are just starting to be harvested now.

  Figure 1

Read more: Aug 2014 Update

Update June 2015

Not much to report this month, other than we had a fantastic 2½ weeks in Italy, and whilst I was away the weather apparently decided to get hot. Thankfully, the lads on the allotments watered my plots and greenhouse while I loafed about Tuscany (that's another article yet to be written).

The same as last year, upon my return, I found the weeds had taken over to a certain extent, however, because of all the weeding I had done before I went away, it was not quite as bad as last year (Fig 1 & 2).

The over wintering garlic, shallots and onions are all drying off nicely and are ready to come out of the ground, I am now picking lettuce, courgettes, beetroots and kohlrabi, plus the new potatoes are delicious. This is a picture of the first harvest after my return from holidays (Fig 3).

My Italian garden is starting to shape up, as I have said, the courgettes are already coming in abundance, the outside tomatoes are doing ok, the fennel is shooting up now and I have small peppers on some of my plants – it's too early for the aubergines yet. After all of the worry I had last month, the borlotti and dwarf green beans are looking good now, along with the climbing beans which are now starting to climb.

The greenhouse is performing well, the "Marmande" and "Big Boy" tomatoes have some promising fruit on them, the cherry tomatoes have some big trusses on them and the cucumbers are starting to form little fruits. The greenhouse aubergines have flowers and so do the greenhouse chillies and sweet peppers, so all in all everything is doing ok.

So far, the birds have not noticed the large cherries on my cherry tree, the grapevine is massive and needs to be thinned out, the redcurrants have gone crazy (Fig 4) and the blackcurrants are starting to ripen.

Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4

 

Lots of weeding to do yet, I must get my sprouts, broccoli and other greens along with the leeks into the ground.

I have some late onion plants to put in, I set the seed away late with the intention of picking the plants while they are young, small, sweet and fresh; I will also set away some more carrots in July for a continuation of cropping. I will continue to sow kohlrabi and lettuce to ensure a continuation of cropping, and more dwarf beans to ensure the supply of green beans is constant too.

Peppers Spuds Fennel Kohlrabi

July 2014 Update

Summer has arrived with a vengeance in Hampshire, loads of sunshine, no rain, which, if you're a holidaymaker is fine – in the garden it brings its own challenges. The soil has gone from a lovely soft fine tilth to a bone dry, rock hard, difficult to work crust in a matter of days.
I managed to get the Red Currants and Black currants gathered before they went over and turned to pulp, despite pruning hard back last year I eventually gathered 12 pound of Red and 8 pound of Black currants.

New potatoes are continuing to yield a good crop, however, because they are the only source of moisture in the soil the slugs are finding them very tempting also the hard soil means they are hard to dig up at present.

I have started to harvest Tomatoes (Fig 1), the Aubergines (Fig 2) along with the Cucumbers are almost ready to be picked (Fig 3), I am just leaving them to get a little more size to them.

Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3

 

The Courgette harvest has started, the Tondo Di Zucchino (Fig 4) or round courgettes are doing very well, I have had about 4 Bolognese courgettes (Fig 5) and a couple of the Rugosa variety (Fig 6).

Figure 4 Figure 5 Figure 6

 

I have tried growing the Tromba of Albegna up a frame (Fig 7) to see if I can get some straight ones this year rather than the curved crop I usually have. The Patty Pans are starting to show now with a couple ready to pick.

The Chillies and peppers are doing well, I have had my first red chilli and wow was it hot, I am waiting for the sweet peppers to go red. The Basil is also doing very well, nice and healthy (Fig 8) I continue to pick Sage and Oregano.

The sweet corn are growing well, another month or so and we should be eating cobs, that will be nice (Fig 9).

Figure 7 Figure 8 Figure 9

 

Beets (Fig 10) are doing ok, just about ready to eat as Baby Beetroot, the Carrots need a little more size to them yet, but they should not be too long now.

I picked some Runner Beans (Fig 11) last weekend so they are starting to come, the Borlotti (Fig 12) and the dwarf French beans are on the way and so are the climbers.

Figure 10 Figure 11 Figure 12

 

The Grapes are looking really good again this year (Fig 13), therefore, I am definitely going to make some wine at the end of the season.

The Onions are up and drying in the green house (Fig 14), I decided to try doing that this year rather than hang them; the Garlic is hanging up to dry (Fig 15).

Figure 13 Figure 14 Figure 15

 

I have planted out all of the greens for the winter, so all in all, it's been a productive, if very hot month; looking back on last year, I think we are ahead with our produce by at least 3 weeks (Fig 16).

Figure 16

 

That's it for this month.