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Ready Steady Grow

It’s finally here. Winter will soon be coming to an end and Spring will be upon us before we know it. If you didn’t find time over winter to tidy up the plot and prepare it for the growing season, then now is your last chance.

Get those greenhouses and cold frames cleaned ready for new plants if they’re not already occupied by winter veg. Get your beds dug over and get some good compost and well rotted manure mixed in. Now is also a good time to regularly dig over and cultivate the soil to break it down to a fine tilth, ready for sowing.

One thing I often forget to do, is check that I have everything I need for what I plan to grow. There is nothing worse than planting out all your brassicas, for example, to find you don’t have enough netting to protect them from those dreaded cabbage white butterfly.

Here is a basic checklist of things you may need for the upcoming growing season….

  • Canes of different sizes for support
  • Hoops for cloches
  • Netting
  • Garden twine
  • Polytunnels/plastic greenhouse
  • Clean, undamaged garden tools
  • Space for composting
  • A trug
  • A flask (very important)
  • A plan

The last item is very important in my view. If you don’t have a structured plan, you risk either growing too much for your plot, or overlapping growth periods. You need to ensure you know what is going where and when each bed will be ready to harvest. This way, you can sow the next crop at the correct time to plant out after the previous crop in the bed has been harvested, in order to fully utilise the space you have. A sowing calender is a really useful thing to have for this purpose and as long as you have a pen and paper, you can easily create an allotment plan. Or if you’re a little more high tech, you could purchase some computer software that will help to plan every aspect of your allotment and sowing calender.

Most of us have already begun sowing seeds indoors. I find this a good way to motivate me to make sure my plot is ready for planting out. It puts a bit of pressure on you to get yourself and your plot prepared. Again, make sure you know where those seedlings are being planted out on your plot and prepare the soil accordingly, depending on the specific plants requirements. You should find this information on the back of the seed packet or online.

The last and most important thing you must do in preparation for a busy growing season, is to relax. Don’t stress. That’s not what growing veg is about. If something isn’t right, some of your seeds don’t germinate or some mini beasties munch all your cabbages. Don’t worry. Just work out what went wrong and do it differently next time. You will still have plenty of other veggie delights growing well. Every day is a school day and even the experts get it wrong. I bet even Monty Don has lost the odd cabbage to caterpillars.

Happy Growing..

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The New Growing Season

To say I am excited about the new growing season is an understatement. For some, it feels like such a long time since we were able to grow our veg. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

There are ways you can enjoy fresh, homegrown produce all over the winter period. Putting your allotment to bed for the winter isnt always necessary. Over wintering veg is a good way to keep growing and keep those beds occupied during cold period when a lot of people think they can’t grow anything.

In the Autumn I planted cabbage, cauliflower, onions, kale, rocket, sorrel and garlic. All of which can survive frost, but if you’re worried, you can always put some fleece or a cloche over them for extra protection.

Below is a link to an article by Thompson & Morgan with a list of good overwintering veg thst you can try at the end of year.

https://www.thompson-morgan.com/top-10-winter-vegetables

Just remember, unless you want it to, the growing season never has to end.

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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

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.