Vigorous Veg

I wanted an early start this morning; there’s so much to do and not enough hours in the day. So with a rucksack brimming with gardening toys, my radio and a flask of coffee, it was off to the allotment. I also managed to sneak several biscuits from the house without Agent Soph getting suspicious. (Shhh… win!)

I had checked the weather yesterday, was assured it would be a sun-filled day, and I wasn’t disappointed; with the golden rays warming my soil, this would be an opportunity to get a few things into the ground.

When I arrive at the allotment, I always make for the polytunnel first. It’s such a thrill when you unzip it to see what’s new, and I wasn’t disappointed today. As well as the usual vegetable suspects, this year’ I’m growing a lot more flowers from seed for the garden. I’ve got Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Cosmos, Delphiniums, various varieties of sunflowers and Bishop’s Weed. It’s fair to say my polytunnel is packed, I don’t think I could grow anything else in there if I wanted too. 8

First off, my peas. This year I have gone with a variety called Ambassador from Suttons Seeds. Not only is it vigorous, but it has a high resistance against disease. Although last year’s peas were a great success, they did succumb to Powdery Mildew in the end. 1 Collage

I started my peas off in the polytunnel in deep modules earlier this year, and now with nearly a several inches of growth and a well established root system, they were more than ready to go into their final space. However, my MacGyver skills were called upon to fashion something for these plants to clamber up. Last year, I used hazel twigs, but these were now dry and brittle. Furthermore, I wasn’t entirely happy with the twig supports as they broke easily and sent the peas shooting in all directions, so come harvest time, it was a real hunt to try and unpick the sticks from the swelling pods! This year, I decided to go for something a little more straightforward; bamboo sticks and pea netting. 5

It might not make the cover of Gardens Illustrated, but it does the job, it’s sturdy and for me it’s all about the final harvest results.

With the peas in, I knew I couldn’t put off the inevitable, the day had come: today I would send my onions out into the cold world. I’m not going to continue bring up the onion disaster of 2015, but I am a little nervous. As far as vegetables go, I’d always regarded the onion as a loyal, no fuss, tough as old boots kind of fella.  Whether wind, rain or shine, my onions would thrive. So when I turned up to the allotment last year to water my crop, you can imagine my distress upon seeing a bed of slaughtered onions, ripped apart by that lava-laying sadist, Onion Fly. 11

This year would be different. I grew them in the polytunnel, trained them up, made them strong. It was like something from a Rocky montage, the polytunnel had become Mickey’s Gym; I had given a new meaning to sweating onions. This year my alliums would come out fighting. They were stronger, again with a root system and plant growth I had given them a good start. So I took my time, cultivated the bed, firmed it down planted my onions on alternated rows, Red Onion (Red Fen) then White Onion (Fen Early). If the Onion Fly was hoping for his horror sequel, I had one more trick up my sleeve, Enviromesh. I use this as a barrier against the Carrot Fly and it works wonders. This year, I’m not taking any chances!

It’s amazing how quickly time goes, it was already 6pm and I hadn’t got to planting out my brassicas.. Looks like I’ll just have to come back tomorrow and do it then… what a shame, eh?AdeSignature

There’s A War Coming

So here’s the thing, there’s a war coming.

For a time we thought we were winning, pushing our enemy back using whatever was at our disposal: beer traps, copper rings, the high ranking deadly nematode assassins. But we got careless, took things for granted. We were caught in the haze of high summer’s warm embrace and took our eyes off the prize.

When we should have carried out soil surveillance for unwanted critters, we were consuming our bounty of fresh vegetables. Damn our forgetfulness to refill those traps!

It was this human error that gave them the opportunity to try and turn the war. They came in threes, fours.. even fives. Wherever I lifted a cabbage leaf, they were there.  Cold, emotionless, unmoving.  They cared for only one thing.. to eat my vegetables.


On another note, taking a leaf out of Monty’s book, I embarked on several experiments when I began my allotment this year, and here’s the result of my first. As well as growing my carrots from seed, I also bought several carrot plugs from a local garden centre. I wanted to know which would grow better and if any would be affected by carrot fly or forking. Well today I lifted two carrots from the plugs I bought and two I grew from seed.

To my surprise, the ones from the garden centre couldn’t have done any worse. Not only were they full of carrot fly, they were mutated and forked. See:

carrot fly

And then we turn to the carrots I grew from seed.. I couldn’t be happier. Although I’m yet to taste them they look great, especially alongside a selection of veg I lifted from my allotment: nice veg 2

They were grown in the same patch, all receiving the same water and attention.

So keen reader, my question is this.. Why have they turned out so differently?  I have my own theories but I would like to hear yours..

And with another day over, all slugs firmly removed from the allotment, I close the gate to my patch and head home with a bag full of freshly grown veg..

I wonder what Soph will make of this lot?