Sunday, 19 February 2012

First rant of the year!

There is a recent resurgence in the growing of food and gardening and with this there follows that the demand for allotments and other areas of land to be turned over to horticulture increases. This increase in my favorite pastime is welcomed as the more people involved means there are more views, techniques and experiences to share and subsequently a much brighter environment to live in., However there are two types of 'gardener' that i despise beyond all other things. These are the 40+ earthy types that think that because ~I am young I don't know the first thing about gardening offering unwelcome out of date advice that contradicts everything that I am doing and doing well.
The second are the 'One week wonders' who turn up to their newly obtained allotment in there jeans and berghaus hiking boots on a nice sunny spring morning with all the energy and excitement of a toddler in a ball pool, brandishing the polythene clad set of tools that they have just been to Homebase or B&Q to buy at a premium rate who can be spotted a mile off. 
I do not want anybody to think that I don't want people to start on allotments as everyone has got to start some where and out of the band of the enthusiastic there will be a small number that do carry on and develop their plots into crop producing patches of heaven. Its the Jamie Oliver watching, Hugh fearnley whatnot wannabes who watch their latest episode of river cottage and use terms like 'The Good Life' and 'Gardening by the moon'and think they want a slice of rural life not realizing that the two men in question are both millionaires and have a full horticultural and production team behind them.
Just recently I read an article in a popular kitchen gardening magazine about allotment size and allotment sharing. I did not realize but alot of local councils have reduced the average size allotments and now there are half and more worryingly quarter size allotments being offered to people on the waiting list. I can get my head around half allotments and welcomed the incorporation of these onto a small proportion of a traditional allotment site but a quarter plot. This seems unacceptable to me as what is the point of a quarter plot. On my plot a quarter of the plot is for potatoes and another quarter is for flowers with the other half for everything else. If i only had quarter of a plot what would I grow? It suddenly dawned on me who the sort of people asking for these plots and complaining about being on the waiting lists of councils for years at a time were. Where were these people when allotment sites were empty struggling for numbers and being swallowed up by housing developers and the like. It seems to me that these Easter weekend gardeners are just looking for the latest middle class accessory and not a way of changing dietary or food producing attitudes of themselves and their families.

My spuds in my hands!

My potatoes arrived today from JBA potatoes. I ordered two varieties Winston and Maxine for show purposes these are two of the best. I will grow Kestral and a few other varieties for the kitchen but for the thirty show tubers I will use for the show entries I have ordered some new poly pots. Last year was the first year that I had used these pots and what a difference they make to both the finish through the clean sieved peat and the lack of pest damage through he sterile conditions they provide. I have not had a lot of success with potatoes at my local show and this year i am determined to reverse this trend. This batch of potatoes will be chitted straight away in egg cartons, rose end up in my back bedroom where it is reasonably warm and light. The main crop of kitchen potatoes will be chitting in the next couple of weeks.

All potted up and nowhere to go!

I potted up all my shallots and mammoth onions into 5" pots and kelsae into 3" pots today. The grow lamp area is getting pretty cramped as you can see in the picture below. The celery has started to peek through the thin top layer of compost and will need to be potted up in a few weeks. I normally pot these up when the second true leaf comes through.


There I was sat basking in the glory of managing to keep up regular entries on my new blog when a dark cloud loomed and I realised I hadn't posted anything just saved the drafts of my newest posts so today there are three  posts dated for today that were ment to be for last week.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Celery Seed is so small!!!!

Today my first sowing of celery seed got done. I choose two sowing's, one at either end of the month because i have experienced some mistiming in the past. Last year was my first year of showing celery and whilst it was a personal achievement to get the crop to the bench the overall quality of the exhibit was fairly poor and due to a small number of entries I still managed to get a second place card. The main problem was the tightness of the head as alot of the stalks were lacking a bit of thickness. It is important when sowing this seed that you do not cover the seed with soil and have the compost in the tray pre-moistened.
Meanwhile the rest of the seedlings in my loft are doing really well having recovered from the transplanting into pots and are growing away again.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012


The greenhouse is looking pretty full at the moment with overwintering onions, garlic and shallots beginning the hardening off process. This is the first time I have grown them in pots overwinter so will be interested to see what differences there will be come July. Broad Bean 'Aquadulce Claudia' was sown by my mum on a recent visit one seed into an old toilet roll tube full of compost. These are invaluable for sowing the likes of beans and sweetcorn as the roots are guided down but the cardboard becomes week enough to allow the roots to breakout after planting. I should stress that these are not beans for show use just as an early crop of beans for the kitchen, the show beans are sown much later in the year.