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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

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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 😍

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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 😉

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Tomatoes and coffee

Had a nice relaxed morning on the allotment today with my eldest boy Reggie. He is currently off school with a broken arm so I thought he could come and find bugs and help me putting out some slug and snail deterrent that I’m trying. He wanted to do a video so he could explain to everyone what we were up to.


The tomatoes also went in to the new tyre beds today. I was a bit worried that having 3 in each tyre would be too much. So I asked the question in an allotment group that I’m a member of on facebook. The response was 50/50, but as I have 6 more plants at home in large individual pots that will most certainly yeald fruit, I thought I’d take a chance. Lets wait and see what happens.

I’ll leave you with another short video of everything we got up to today.

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Planting Out

Away from the allotment, things are getting exciting at home in my little greenhouse. This is where the magic happens. Everything that ends up on the allotment, begins life in this little 3 tiered, pop up greenhouse.

Because space for seedlings and potting out is very limited, everything I grow is meticulously planned to make the most of the available space. 
The next things to leave the safety of the greenhouse and go into raised beds on the allotment, are my grand marmande tomatoes. All I need to do is clear the rest of the area on the allotment so I can get them in the raised beds. They should have probably gone out weeks ago, but I just hadn’t got round to preparing the raised beds until now.

Once I have cleared the area for the tomatoes and moved the raised beds, I should then have a good space for my galia melons. I have grown far too many but have a number of friends that would like to take some on. I’m also making my own 2 metre wide polytunnel for those, using some polythene donated by a friend that woks for a plastics company. So that was very kind of him and will prove very useful.

I’m in two minds about the spaghetti squash that I’m growing as I have already dug a bed thatch had intended to transfer them too. But have seen on YouTube that people seem to be climbing them. I have a criss cross wire fence at the back of the plot that I guess I could grow them up. This wouod free up a lot of space for other veg. I have 3 of those to plant out as a trial as I’ve not grown them before.

I’m a bit worried about my peas as I may have sown them a little late. They are now starting to come through, but I really need them to hurry up and grow a few inches so I can get them in the ground soon. The support and netting is already built on the allotment. So hopefully I can get them in the ground before its too late.

I always like to finish on a positive. I have lots of mixed lettuce leaves growing in the garden as, despite my belly, weceat a lot of salad. Tonight I cooked fajitas and there is just nothing better than having some crisp, fresh lettuce with them that you have ground yourself.