Six on Saturday – June 30th

Back to the allotment this week for my Six on Saturday, with some successes and some utter failures!

  1. First up is a semi-success – I replanted a lot of my original strawberry plants, and unfortunately most haven’t survived. However, the new strawberry plants seem to be making up for it (Sweet Collossus and Just Add Cream have several runners).

    If only I could stop whatever’s eating a hole in the net getting in and pinching the strawberries before I can pick them!
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  2. Next we have an annual semi-disaster, which resolves itself by the time these autumn fruiting raspberries are meant to bear fruit…
    Yes, that’s raspberry beetle grubs yet again 
    But looking at the raspberry jungle, I’m hopeful that once we get past summer fruiting season, the autumn fruits will be grub-free!

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  3. Remember that mystery plant in my wild flower patch? I’m taking an educated guess that it’s some form of thistle!

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  4. The celery’s been planted out, and looks like it’ll grow well – maybe it’s a bit hot for that to grow too much this week

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  5. A complete disaster next, the Broad Beans had blackfly (Black Bean Aphid), Pea and Bean Weevil, Rust and Chocolate Spot… but that did give me a chance to write a blog post on it

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  6. And to finish on a success, this is just part of the blackberry bush.

    I think I can safely say it approves of the support we made for it this year, as there’s shed loads of fruit forming!

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday  and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Blooming Broad Beans….

We’ve grown Broad Beans on the allotment every year – I plant some seeds directly on the allotment in late October / early November, and the rest are sown in pots at home in late February, ready to be planted out in the spring.

Generally speaking, the second batch of beans gets caught with Black Bean Aphid (blackfly), whereas my first crop are fine. This year however, was a bit of a disaster…

According to my vegetable books, Broad Beans can suffer from four main problems:

    1.  Black Bean Aphid which suck the sap from the plant. Ants then gather to feed on the sugary residue, and also eat the larva of ladybirds, so there’s less predators for the aphids.

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    2. Pea and Bean Weevil munch notches around the outside of the leaves, making them look serrated.
      Signs of Pea and Bean Weevil – they chomp notches into the edges of the leaves. Plus an ant as a result of a Black Bean Aphid infestation.

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    3. Broad Bean Rust certainly lives up to its name – there’s no mistaking this on the plant! This is caused by fungus, and apparently isn’t as damaging as chocolate spot, but can cause the plant to be left with no leaves. Leaving more space between plants is said to reduce the chance of rust by increasing the airflow, as is avoiding damp and humid sites. These broad beans are on an exposed north / northeast facing sloping site so I’m surprised they were so badly affected. However, the spores can survive over winter, so this could easily be the result of a previous year’s damp weather.

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    4. Finally, we have Chocolate Spot, which is also caused by a fungus, but this is worse in cool damp conditions.
      The round browny circle on the leaf to the bottom left is Chocolate Spot. A combination of all four problems would appear to have seen off any chances of this broad bean plant producing edible beans

      Chocolate Spot not only can overwinter in the soil if infected plant matter was left to rot, but can also lurk in seeds – another good reason to not save seed from any plants which might have been affected!

     

  1. Overall we have four out of four, and indeed a couple of plants have all four problems themselves. By the time the plants are at this stage, there’s no real hope for them, so today we’ll be pulling up all the affected plants and binning them. We have picked some broad beans from the decent plants, but Mum described them as “small” and “stunted” so I need to look closely at every plant and check if it has a problem or not, before deciding if it’s allowed to stay!
  1. I have no idea what this is on the bean leaf, but after looking closely at the infestations on the other Broad Beans, I can’t imagine this is a positive!

    After clearing those Broad Beans, I’ll feed the ground to ensure there’s plenty of nutrients, and sow the Florence Fennel seeds I bought earlier in the year.

  1. Next year we’ll take a break from growing Broad Beans so I’ll be browsing through the seed catalogues to try and pick something more suitable to grow.

     

Six on Saturday – June 16th

Something a bit different for my Six on Saturday this week – we took a wander through a local Church’s ‘quiet garden’, so here’s six we spotted there (or at least there and on the walk back home!).

  1. First up we have some sort of Iris…. I really wish they had some plant labels on these!

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  2. Next up is a Rosa Glauca (thanks Mum for identifying that one!), which I wouldn’t have recognised as a rose at all….

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  3. One plant I can definitely identify is this Oriental Poppy, which was surprisingly hard to get a photo with accurate colours – the strong sunlight made it a bit bright for the camera!

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  4. Daisy something-or-other (yes that is the technical name, honest!)… and can anyone identify the insect sitting on it?

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  5. Ok, this one is cheating slightly as it was in an unofficial ‘wildflower area’ (in reality, the only wild flower in a grassy area the council haven’t bothered mowing). According to my Mum’s wildflower book, this is Fox and Cubs which is a pretty odd name, but quite a nice looking plant!

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  6. And another ‘cheat’ to finish – on the walk back from the garden, we went the scenic route and came across a lot of flying insects on the wildflowers in the grass verge.  
    I haven’t a clue what plant this is, other than it being an umbellifer (the flowers / stems look like an upside-down umbrella)…

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday  and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – June 9th

The weather doesn’t seem to be able to decide if it’s going to be warm & sunny, or fresher and drizzle, but so far today it looks sunny – let’s hope it stays that way! Welcome to my  Six on Saturday!

  1. First up, one of my “unknown” plants on the allotment. Several years ago I scattered wild flower seed (labelled “British Wildflower Mix”) in this patch, and this year we have this plant growing…. it’s quite tall, but shorter than the Teasel.

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  2. Some of the second early potatoes are in flower – the first earlies are growing quite well considering their lack of chitting progress, but I have a feeling some of the second earlies might be ready first!

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  3. Moving on to the herb patch, the sage is flowering away – I was considering cutting the flowers off, but after seeing just how many bees were collecting pollen, the flowers have had a reprieve!

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  4. Just Add Cream is next – while those strawberries look small (in fact they’re smaller than the ones from my original plants), they’re said to be particularly tasty…. just need to wait a day or two for these to be ready & we’ll find out!

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  5. We’ve never had a particular success with growing peas before, but this year I planted some in a partly shaded area of the plot…
    …I think we can safely say the peas approved of the partial shade!
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  6. An unusual photo to finish, but a classic one from an afternoon on the plot.    
    One bag of rubbish ready to carry home…. if only the wheelbarrow wasn’t currently out of action, it would be a lot easier to get it back home!

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday  and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – June 2nd

Where did May go?! The start of meteorological Summer and it’s grey & dreary out there…. I guess that’s about right for a British Summer’s day though. Welcome to my  Floral Six on Saturday!

  1. Another Morrison’s supermarket bargain buy, this Bromeliad was past its ‘sell-by’ date, but still has plenty of flowers to come by the looks of it.

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  2. I’ve bought lots of cacti over the years, most of which were sold as a Christmas Cactus. But looking at the leaves of most of my plants, and checking the RHS site and Wikipedia, it looks like these are actually Easter cacti (Hatiora gaertneri – although the cactus book I have lists it as Rhipsalidopsis) – the one solitary plant I have with pointy leaves and a different shaped flower (not currently in flower) is a Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera Truncata).

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  3. Moving out into a relative’s garden, the roses are looking great despite the heavy rain we had this week – the bees certainly are appreciating the pollen.

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  4. And while the insects are having fun on the plants, the local Blue Tits are having a lovely time eating the insects!

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  5. While I was taking photos, the relative looked over my shoulder and pointed out her favourite view in the garden, saying “I like the colours”. So here’s the “purpley pinky plant” with another rose in the background!
    who says you have to know the names of every plant?! ….although I reckon when she reads this blog post, she’ll immediately tell me what the plant is called

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  6. And last but by no means least, we have the resident Mole, who is currently looking after a trough of pansies. We did think maybe they were planted a little deep to be able to see (as the trough is raised up quite a bit), but they’ve grown tall enough to let them look over the sides.

 

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday  and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – May 19th

While everyone else seems to be watching the build up to the Royal Wedding, I’m planning what’s heading onto the allotment next, trying to work out a way of ‘bulking up’ the soil in a raised bed (the multi purpose compost I put in is just like dust!) and hoping that the runner beans will get on and grow faster! Welcome to my  Six on Saturday!

  1. We finally got the new blackcurrant in the ground – I treated it to a lot of homemade compost, so hopefully it’ll be more successful than the failed redcurrants were!

    And here’s the original blackcurrant, in the hope the new one will thrive in the same way.

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  2. And speaking of fruit, the gooseberries are looking really good. Anyone know an idiot’s guide(!) of when they’d be ready to pick if they’re going to be cooked rather than eaten raw?

    no idea what variety this one is, as it was a gift from a fellow allotmenteer!
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  3. The lemon thyme & oregano have been let loose in the flower section (mainly because my original herb section is now shaded by a neighbour’s shed)….

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  4. ….but the rosemary seemed to like the shaded part of the garden, so that’s gone into the shady herb section in the hope it’ll approve.

    ….all I need is parsley, and I’ll be growing parsley sage, rosemary and thyme (and I bet you’re all humming Scarborough Fair now!)
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  5. Thanks to Granny’s Garden for the tips on how to resolve my dead-looking penstemon after the snow in early spring – it obviously approved of its severe ‘haircut’ as it’s growing new leaves like crazy.

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  6. And you couldn’t have a Six on Saturday without the customary strawberry flower photo….

    Some of the new plants were flagging a little, so I think the soil in that raised bed is a little too free-draining compared to the others. These are in a different brand of multi-purpose compost (with some homemade compost, topsoil and grit sand mixed in as well), and we’re a bit more sorted with just how much water they need.

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday  and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – May 12th

It’s a strange combination for my  Six on Saturday this week – a mixture of harvest, flowers, tiny seedlings and a giant unknown “something-or-other”!

  1. First up, cabbages! A relative assured us they were ready for picking….

    but before you look at that photo and think “cor, that cabbage is huge!” that’s actually three together….

    that is one single cabbage!
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  2. Next up is another mystery plant / weed…. I scattered wild flower seeds in this patch a few years ago, and that’s how we got the Teasel. But what on earth is the large bushy “thing” to the right of it?!
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  3. Despite our lack of confidence in these seeds germinating, the Cucamelons are starting to peek through the soil…. maybe it’s not warm enough for them to be growing quickly (they’re in an unheated plastic covered grow house thing), so I might bring one into a heated area just to see what happens….

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  4. The mint is taking over the universe…. well, the plot at least.


    All this is mint that I dug out from the flower patch (I haven’t tackled the herb patch yet) – I think I need to replace the pots it was growing in, as it’s obviously managed to break through them!
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  5. My potato plants have browned on the ends – is this down to a lack of water, do you think?

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  6. And finally, strawberries!
     
    We came across these at Homebase – the Snow White ones look really healthy & much more established than bare root runners I bought last autumn, so I decided to take the plunge to replace some of the ones that didn’t survive.

    Most of those are now in my new plastic raised bed (Snow White is in a different raised bed, along with my other ‘unusual’ strawberries), complete with a new framework & net to keep the deer off the berries. And of course a rogue chive plant which I obviously missed when I moved it to a different raised bed a couple of months ago.

    And the Just Add Cream are flowering like crazy, so I’m hopeful for a decent crop of strawberries from them!

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Six on Saturday – May 5th

Hang on a minute, it’s a Bank Holiday weekend, and it’s dry & sunny?! I’m sure that can’t be right…. anyhow before the weather realises it should be cold & drizzly, welcome to my  Six on Saturday!

  1. Let’s start with a collection of three bargains from Morrisons supermarket…. I went with the aim of getting some more strawberry plants – they only had one variety, but the plants looked nice and healthy so I chose a couple to head to the allotment this weekend.

    While I was there, I spotted a blackcurrant for £2 – well I was looking for a new plant to replace the ‘failed’ redcurrants, and £2 was a much better sounding price than £10 we’ve seen elsewhere. The ground isn’t (quite) prepared for it to be planted on the allotment yet, so this one’s been repotted into a slightly more generous pot for the time being.

    And lurking in the houseplant section, I found the “bargain basement” selection of plants, which included a pack of 20 sorry-looking pansies for 45p! They’ve now been picked over to encourage new flowers, and will either be planted into a pot, or straight into the garden.

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  2. The broad beans are settling in well on the allotment, which means there’s more space in the garden for another tray of runner beans to be sown (so far only two runners have germinated).

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  3. Finally the blackberry support is finished! It’s almost impossible to get a decent photo of that, but you should be able to make it out. I just hope the deer don’t develop a taste for blackberries, now it’s easier to reach!
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  4. It’s not the most picturesque view of the allotment, but meet the “three bears” – so called, because it looks like ‘Daddy bin, Mummy bin and baby bin’.

    These are open-based and just sit on the soil…. I do need to cut the grass surrounding them to try and stop those weeds from sneaking in under the bins, or maybe I should put something at the base of the smallest bin (where the mint was growing) to try and prevent anything from growing through.
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  5. Next up is the gooseberry, which seems to thrive on semi-neglect! I think we’ve been leaving it too late to pick the fruit in previous years – it’s ended up mushing as we picked it. Am I right in saying the gooseberries should be quite firm when they’re picked, if they’re going to be cooked?
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  6. And finally, we have a little “guess the flower” which I’m sure most people will be able to figure out without too much hassle….

    the answer is at the very bottom of this post next to the comments section, so guess before you scroll down!

 

 

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator’s Six on Saturday and read through the comments section for more blogs to check out!

Continue reading “Six on Saturday – May 5th”

Stationery Six on Saturday – April 28th

I’m back with a slightly off-piste Six this week, as I’ve started a ‘little’ project which isn’t yet ready to feature on this blog! So, welcome to my  Stationery Six on Saturday… that’s my pick of 6 stationery items for the allotment, not stationary as in a Six on Saturday which is standing still!

    1. I mentioned this earlier in the week, but my main stationery item for the allotment this year has to be my allotment journal.

      Every year I think “next year I will make a note of what we planted when” and always fail to achieve it… but this year, I’m hoping the journal will encourage me to get writing, and give myself a decent record for future years!
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    2. Obviously, to go with the journal, you need a pen. When I write with a biro, I tend to end up with a scribbled mess, but along with my favourite fountain pens I mentioned on Monday, I’m also partial to a simple gel pen. Even better if it’s a fine black, or even micro black for a perfect almost spider-like thin line.

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    3. An allotment journal is all well and good, but it’s a bit bulky to take to the allotment with me. What I needed was a small notebook which didn’t matter if it got caught in the rain, or ended up covered in mud. Cue the waterproof notebook I was given as a Christmas present a couple of years ago – that’s come in incredibly handy so far.

      I copied some notes from a gardening book on the new plants we’d tried, so I had a basic guide of how long it should take to germinate, and any extra care and attention the plants would need. Having that in my jacket pocket on the allotment is definitely better than trying to remember it all! It’s also come in handy for noting down a measured sketch of parts of the plot.
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    4. Of course a waterproof notebook wouldn’t be any good if the ink runs! A waterproof permanent pen is essential, but bonus points if it comes in a pack with other colours too.

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    5. All these fancy pens are very useful, but sometimes you just need something that doesn’t matter if it breaks, or accidentally gets buried under the soil on the allotment. A cheap pencil is always handy, but just remember to keep that point sharpened.

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    6. But what happens when you make a note and realise you’ve copied it out wrong and need to correct it? Yep, you’ve guessed it, my 6th stationery item is an eraser.

      And before you say, yes I know the eraser is bigger than the pencil!

 

I’ll be back with a “normal” Six on Saturday next week, but don’t forget to check out National Stationery Week and of course the Propagator’s Six on Saturday – there’s plenty more blogs to check out in his comments section!

 

National Stationery Week – Make a Note Day

Did you know that today is not only the start of National Stationery Week, but is also Make A Note day? I set out with good intentions each year to write a note in an allotment diary, so I know what was planted when, and how each plant fared on the plot… but I never manage to complete an entire year’s worth of entries – it always fizzles out in May (or sometimes before)!

This year, a friend surprised me with a fancy hand-made allotment journal, and I’m determined to keep it updated all year long. She made sure I had plenty of pages, and the ring binding means I can swap pages around to give myself more space for the summer months when there should be more to write about – there’s no excuse to not fill in as much detail as possible.

I haven’t (yet) managed to draw out an accurate plan of the entire allotment plot. The sides taper in towards the base of the plot, so it’s not something that is easily drawn out on the computer, and requires slightly more accurate measuring than just pacing it out like I did previously. I do have some plans of small sections though, and those will be drawn onto grid paper in the journal, so I have an idea of the dimensions of each bed.

Part of the failure of my previous diary attempts was the lack of bulletpoint references for each month. Trying to check when something was planted, required skimming through pages to find a slight mention of the right seeds. The advantage of a journal like this, is the calendar page at the beginning of each month, for a quick-check reference to what we did when. Each month also has a handy tab on the side, so it’s simple to find the right section.

But a journal is no good on its own – you need a comfortable pen to use in it. And true to form, I can’t just decide on one favourite pen… I actually have three! Eventually I’m aiming on the pens having different coloured ink in each, but at the moment both Parkers are using blue ink cartridges.

  1. First up we have a fine-nib Lamy All-Star in Black Purple with black ink, with a handy way of checking how much ink is left without having to unscrew the pen.
  2. next is an old favourite which recently went back to Parker to have the standard medium nib swapped for a fine nib – a 2006 Parker IM (also known as Parker Profile, Vector mkII, or Parker XL!) in Amaranth Purple, with blue ink. The assistant in the stationery shop claimed he didn’t recognise this pen when I took it in to buy a fine nib, but to my amazement Parker was willing and able to to exchange the nib for free (even though it was obviously older than the 28 day limit for their Nib Exchange Programme).
  3. and last but not least, a new Parker Jotter with a fine nib courtesy of the Parker Nib Exchange at my local stationery shop. This one will eventually have purple ink once I can track it down – so far I’ve only been able to find it online!

Parker nibs are slightly wider than Lamy, so the fine Parker is verging on medium when comparing the two… but the medium Parker was so thick and heavy it just reminded me of my school handwriting – my style has developed a lot since then!

So for all those allotmenteers and gardeners out there, if you don’t already keep a good old-fashioned style journal, maybe National Stationery Week is a good excuse to get yourself a new notebook, turn off the computer, and start writing!


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