Eat, Think and Be Healthy

We’re a week into the new year and already resolutions have been quietly forgotten, abandoned Christmas trees lay strewn across grey city streets like an apocalyptic scene from The Walking Dead, and we’re eagerly wishing away the winter and longing for spring’s gentle touch. street trees

For now, it’s all about wrapping up warm, eating comfort food and drawing up plans and seed lists for the upcoming months.  I often have visions at this time of year of gardeners heading down to their sheds which have been converted into military map rooms.  After entering a top secret code into the shed door’s security panel, and passing through voice recognition and retina scans, they step inside to be greeted by half a dozen gardeners in wellies.  Some use hoes to push around model vegetables on a large allotment blueprint, whilst others are barking orders or tuning into the two-way radio awaiting further instruction.

At the moment, we have regular excursions to our sleeping giant, plot 23d, where it lays undisturbed under its thick blanket of manure, enjoying its rest and growing strong and fertile for spring.  The days are slowly getting longer and soon we’ll all be moaning about slugs as we do every year.

But it’s also been a week of celebration for three reasons.  Firstly, keen to keep busy on the plot, I built myself a compost bay.  And if I do say so myself, it’s not too bad.  Not only will it hold the compost, I’m also hoping to grow a few squash plants in it later in the year (a tip I picked up from Gardeners’ World!).compost

Secondly, we harvested and ate our bijou Brussels sprouts!  And although they were nearly lost on our dinner plates (they looked like peas!)  they still tasted fantastic.

And thirdly, I’VE ALREADY SOWN THE FIRST CROPS OF THE YEAR! That’s right, last weekend I sowed both the chilli seeds (F1 Gusto Purple) and pepper seeds (F1 Gypsy Hybrid) into their propagators and placed them on the windowsill.  And like an over-fussy mother I’m checking them regularly, ensuring they’re happy and convincing myself I can already see shoots. Chilli CollegeA few years ago we began growing peppers but always found they never really got going until late summer, so it was always a race against time to get any fruit. However, in one of those special father and son moments when my dad saw me staring enviously at his bumper collection of maturing peppers a couple of years ago, he let me into his little secret: ‘Son, I always sow them just after Christmas’.  Early sowing is key. Finally, the apprentice becomes the master!  Since then I’ve never looked back.

Winter might be biting, but inside I can already feel the warming glow of spring. AdeSignature

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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.

DAMN THOSE SLUGS!

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?

Gate
AdeSignature