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Burgon & Ball Review

Recently I had the privilege of reviewing the NEW Burgon and Ball Hip Trug in the large size (RRP £9.99- small and £12.99 – large).

I was excited to harvest my produce on the allotment using this hands free container, as one thing I have noticed is my back aches after an afternoon of harvesting from bending down to place the vegetables in my usual harvest trug.

I was slightly sceptical at how it would feel. Would the hip-trug dig in to my hip, would it start to fall as it got filled with my veg, would it actually be any better than just a conventional harvest trug?

 The answer is simple…

 It doesn’t hurt, it stays put and it is so much better then a conventional harvest trug.

 I was impressed at the ease of putting the hip trug on. The holder simply clips onto your belt (or the waist of your trousers), then you simply slide the trug in, and your off. In fact it is so easy and comfortable to use my 4 year old son even managed to use it to harvest some berries.

What is so handy is that when I got home I emptied my harvest out, and just put the trug into the dishwasher to clean up ready for the next use, as it is 100% dishwasher safe.

 The ease of use, my lack of back ache and the comfy fit, is really worth the £12.99 in my eyes.

 I would highly recommend and the Burgon & Ball Hip Trug and I am going to give it my first ever Mark’s Allotment badge of approval.

 I was provided with this Hip-Trug in return for my honest review. All words are 100% my own

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Allotment Gardening

Bursting into life

If you read my last post, you will know how much I love this time of year on the allotment. Its just incredible to see the changes each day.  There is always something new flowering or a new tomato or runner bean has begun its journey to my kitchen from being a flower just the day before.

I look forward to arriving on the allotment each day and walking around to see what’s new since yesterday. So much changes overnight.

The sweetcorn is firing out its hairy bits from the stem and the male flower has sprouted from the top of the plant, ready to drop its pollen and turn them into lovely corn on the cob. I can see lots of side stems that will bear corn so I’m optimistic for a big crop this year.

I’m really pleased with the spaghetti squash too as each of my 3 plants have at least 20 flowers. Although I’m  still a bit worried that I’ve planted them too close together. I guess we will just have to wait and see. If all goes well, I’m going to need to start planning recipes. I’ve heard that this variety can be used as a replacement for pasta.  That was the whole point in trying it.  I really hope the kids like it. Especially if I end up with a huge crop.

I did make a bit of a judgement error with the brussel sprouts. I kept trying different types of slug and snail repellents, but nothing was working. They still kept getting munched on. After a little more research, I discovered that the culprits of the munching were pigeons! So as you can see in the photo above, I have now netted them. Hopefully they will fully recover now and go on to produce some lovely brussel sprouts.

One of the highlights of my morning on the allotment was picking the first batch of redcurrents before the birds ate them. Last year was very disappointing as I saw that they were ready one evening and decided to pick them the next day while it was warm. But the birds had eaten every single one of them for breakfast. I was not going to let that happen this year. I am already planning on building a fruit cage next year to cover all of my berries and currents.

I also managed to pick some of the ripe raspberries for the kids lunchboxes. Although I never seem to bring many home because they are so damn sweet and tasty. I just can’t help myself when I’m there. They taste so good when they are warm and fresh straight from the plant.

 

After a busy morning on the allotment, I had some editing to finish at home from a recent photoshoot before a beach shoot in the evening. Once I arrived home from the photoshoot, I opened up a bottle of Badgers Poachers Choice and sat on the Rattan on the patio to pot up the pepper plants that were kindly donated by my mum. Without her, I really wouldn’t have a bloody clue what I’m doing. She has grown all sorts for as long as I remember so I learnt a lot about gardening growing up.

As any allotmenteer will know, the allotment never sleeps, so I’ll be back in the morning with the hoe. Then off to the garden centre to buy a replacement watering can as my dear old metal one has finally died.

I’ll leave you with this fabulous selfie of me and my hoe, enjoy!

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Love Thy Neighbours 

I just wanted to write a quick post about how wonderful it is to live in such an amazing village. The sense of community is inspirational.

My allotment is a project and the aim is to do everything on a budget, or for free if at all possible. The help I have had from my fellow parishioners is overwhelming. Whenever I need something, I just ask on the village facebook page and people bend over backwards to help.


I’ve had 4 compost bins donated to me today alone, which is fantastic. I’ve been given 2 water butts, loads of seeds, tools and even a local professional designer creating an animated logo for my youtube channel for free!!

Everyone that has helped me in any way has been promised fresh veg from the allotment as a thank you. What better way to repay peoples kindness than fresh, local, organic, home grown veg 😍

Allotment Gardening

A Weekend Off

Any veg grower will know that at this time of year a lot can happen in just a few days if you are not around to keep on top of things. Well last weekend was my best friends stag party in my favourite city and previous home, Prague.

Whilst a good time was had by all, 4 days away from the allotment has left me with a lot to do. The weather in the South East consisted of rain, sun, rain, more sun, then even more rain. So inevitably the weeds had a growth party and took over the plot. But after a few hours of hoeing and hard graft on my hands and knees, I’m back on track.

I have a long list of things to do this month that I am slowly getting through. Top of that list was to prepare the soil for the Galia Melons, build a polytunnel and get them in the ground. So thats exactly what I did. Melons love weed free, well draining, warm soil. So its important to give them a good start by mixing some potash through the soil. Then the trick is to water the soil well and cover it with clear polythene for a few days before planting them out, but dont forget to keep watering it to keep the soil moist. This will really heat up the soil so the melon plants will feel right at home.as you can see from the photos, I have planted too many for the space, but my plan is to train them in the direction I want them each to travel and eventually remove the polytunnel at the height of summer so they can spread.

The polytunnel itself couldnt be simpler. I had some curved canes and a good friend that works for a plastics company that supplied me with lots of different lengths and widths of polythene. Then I just weighed the edges down with the wood from the old raised beds. 

Top Tip: If growing melons in a greenhouse or tunnel, be sure to remove the tunnel or open the greenhouse door once the plants start to flower. This will allow the pollinators in to make the magic happen. Otherwise you will have to self pollinate by picking the male flowers and rubbing them on the female flowers. That can be a bit fiddly so I find it easier to allow nature to do its thing.

Two other things I had on my list were sowing my winter cabbage and cauliflower. So I looked in my trusty box of allotment seeds from www.sowseeds.co.uk for my all year round variety of cauliflower and winter tundra cabbage. Both have been placed in the greenhouse before being planted out under a netted cloche once they are ready.

Last but not least, I saw a video on Facebook of someone laying slices of tomatoes in pots and they succesfully germinated. So I thought I would give it a try with some cherry tomatoes I had. Im pleased to say that I already have seedlings popping through. So they are currently growing in the greenhouse. Ill keep my fingers crossed that they produce fruit and will keep you updated.

Allotment Gardening

Getting things under control

You may be bored of me banging on about the overgrown end of the plot. But I cant help it. It really frustrates me that I haven’t found time to sort it yet and the weeds are 5 feet high and starting to go to seed. Well my allotment neighbours would be jyst as annoyed as me if weed seeds stsrt blowing everywhere from my plot. Time to call in the cavalry, or to use his actual name, Darren. He’s a good friend and a gardener by trade, so I knew he would have either a cordless or petrol strimmer to lend me. Luckily enough he had both and even offered to strim it for me. Legend!!!

Needless to say he did me a right favour and its looking so much better. Should also keep the moaners off my back too.

The best part of cutting the weeds back in this section is that I can now get to my fruit bushes. Im finally able to see how well they are doing. Im pleased to say they are full of gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries and red currents. Just got to wait for them to ripen

Now that I can see the end of the plot, its given the motivation I need to dig those weeds out so I can utilise every inch of space I have. So although its a bit late in the season, I finally dug a huge chunk of weeds out, dug a bed and planted 2 rows of potatoes. Im so happy that Im getting closer to have control of the entire plot and will keep my fingers crossed that its not too late in the season for the potatoes. Im pretty sure they will be fine and I’ll just get a late crop.

I ticked another couple of jobs off my list today, including thinning out the brussel sprouts. But I dont like to take something out and waste it, so I tried to move them so they were spaced correctly. I think that was a mistake as despite watering them in well, the ones I’ve moved had wilted quite a lot by the time I had left. Hopefully they will be back to normal tomorrow.

The galia melon seedlings are bursting out of the seed tray and deperately need to be planted out soon, so I’m currently preparing the soil by mixing lots of potash in, some well rotted manure and ive absolutely soaked the bed and covered with polythene to get the soil nice and warm before they go in. Im thinking i might squeeze 4 in there.

That’s about it from me today. Still plenty to do. Ill be making a list tomorrow so I can prioritise all my jobs. Ill also be putting lots more on Instagram and Facebook.

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Things to do in June

So, as I do not have much of an update on the allotment, apart from the rain and sun have made the weeds grow a lot, I thought I would just write a blog about what we should be looking at planting in June.

 

Beetroot

Continue sowing beetroot seeds in June – perhaps a few at the beginning of the month and a few at the end so that in September and October you’ll have some to harvest that haven’t grown too large. They can be stored for the winter if necessary.

Sow beetroot direct. Seedlings don’t like being transplanted.

Top Tip – Sow beetroot direct. Seedlings don’t like being transplanted.

Broccoli

Sow late sprouting broccoli seeds either where you want to grow them or in a seedbed for transplanting later. Depending on the variety, you should be able to harvest them in autumn or overwinter them for picking early the following year. This late in the year, calabrese is better sown where it is going to stay as it is a crop that doesn’t like being moved once the weather is warm.

Carrots

This is the last chance to sow maincrop varieties that will be ready for harvesting in September or October.

 

Chicory

All three sorts of chicory – Witloof or Belgian, sugarloaf, and radicchio – can be sown outdoors in June. The former will be ready for forcing during the winter.

Courgettes, summer squash, and marrows

If you don’t already have plants you’ve raised in pots, you can sow seeds directly outside now that the soil has warmed up thoroughly. Sow two seeds together and, once they’ve germinated, remove the weaker of the two. Leave plenty of space between plants as they spread widely and need a lot of room.

Peas

The beginning of June is probably your last chance to sow maincrop peas, mangetout, and snap peas. Towards the end of the month switch to a fast-maturing early variety. These should be ready for harvesting in about September.

Young pea seedlings are irresistible to pigeons and need protecting with nets or wire mesh.

Top Tip – Young pea seedlings are irresistible to pigeons and need protecting with nets or wire mesh.

Cucumbers

Outdoor cucumbers are usually started off earlier in the year in pots or under cover, but if you sow some seeds outside this month they should give you a crop in August or September.

Endive

Sow curly or broad-leaved varieties outside for a crop in autumn and early winter. Germination may be erratic in hot weather.

Lettuces

Sow in situ and thin out if the seedlings are too crowded. High temperatures may hinder germination – which is perhaps why folklore has it that seeds are best sown at the end of the day, when the soil is cooling down.

Oriental leaves

Sow mizuna, mibuna, mustard greens, pak choi, and other Oriental leaves for salads when leaves are small, and for stir-fries when larger.

Swedes

Sow if you didn’t do so last month. Thin out seedlings and if necessary cover with fine netting to keep off birds and cabbage root fly.

Turnips

Sow another batch for harvesting in August or September before the roots become too large.

Florence fennel

Traditionally, the best time to sow fennel is after 21st June, the longest day of the year. It’s said that the plants are then less likely to bolt. Modern varieties are more forgiving, so anytime in June should give you a crop in early autumn. Sow successively and sow more than you need in case some seeds don’t germinate or slugs gobble up your seedlings.

French beans

Sow a second wave of French beans to follow those that were sown outside last month.

Herbs

June may be your last chance to sow seeds of herbs such as coriander, basil, chervil, fennel, dill, and parsley before the weather becomes too warm for them to germinate reliably.

Kale

Sow a second batch of seeds in seedtrays, modules, or pots ready for planting out next month. Alternatively, leave them in their trays – or even in seedbed somewhere on your allotment – and pick young leaves for salads.

Thin out kale seedlings once “true” leaves begin to appear.

Top Tip – Thin out kale seedlings once “true” leaves begin to appear.

Kohl rabi

Continue sowing seeds where you intend the plants to grow. Thin out seedlings if necessary, keep well-weeded, protect against slugs, and net to keep off birds.

Leaf vegetables

Continue sowing seeds of Swiss chard and spinach beet.

Pumpkins and winter squash

These are usually started off earlier in the year in pots, but they can be planted straight into the ground in June. Prepare the soil by adding lots of well-rotted compost or manure.

Radishes

Sow a few salad radishes in small quantities throughout the month for a constantly replenishing crop.

Runner beans

This is your last opportunity for sowing runner beans. With luck, seeds sown at the end of June may provide you with a crop as late as October – or at least until the first autumn frosts.

Sow runner beans direct outside, at the foot of canes or other supports.

Top Tip – Sow runner beans direct outside, at the foot of canes or other supports.

Salad leaves

Continue succession sowing of rocket, corn salad, summer purslane, chard, kale, mizuna, and other mixed leaves to use as cut-and-come-again salads.

Spring onions

Sow a couple more batches of seeds during the month to ensure you have a continuous supply through the autumn.

 

There should be plenty of information there to help you make the most of growing in June. It can seem like a tall order this time of year as the weeds keep trying to take over and you are constantly working on your allotment to keep up to date with everything. Just remember that you don’t have to grow everything. Just grow what you enjoy eating. But most importantly, plan it well. The key to any successful allotment is planning. Do not give yourself too much to do. Lists are my best friend on the allotment. I wake up in the morning knowing I have loads to do, and therefore struggle to get motivated to get it all done. I’ve now learned that it doesn’t all need to get done in one go. just prioritise the most important tasks. If the weeds are in such a state that they are almost going to spread their seeds all over your plot. Then sowing your runners or digging that bed for the squash can wait until tomorrow. The whole point of it all is to enjoy growing. It can fast turn into a chore if you don’t pace yourself and plan in advance.

I’ll leave you with my 2 best tips for this month. Coffee grinds or wool pellets are by far the most effective natural, organic slug and snail repellent you will ever use and weeing in your compost bin will significantly increase the rotting process. Just make sure you do it into a watering can in your shed first 😉