Category Archives: Veg

The allotment in June…

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I am rather behind this year due to having a number of failed seedlings and life just generally taking over, however, we have been down at the allotment quite a lot over the past few days and it is starting to look back up to speed.

The onions are progressing well, although as usual the red onions don’t seem to be doing quite as well as the white onions, still better than previous years.  My sweet corn seedlings failed dismally, so I must admit that I cheated and bought some excellent specimens from our local garden centre Golden Days.  They are now planted out and seem to be doing well.

Peas and beans have also been planted.  For my main crop of peas I am using a variety called “Telephone Peas” that I have bought from The Real Seed Catalogue.  I have used them previous years and found them to be very successful, producing very tall stems of plentiful tasty pods.  You do need to be careful when picking as the pods seem to swell before the peas are very large, so patience is the key when growing these.  I would definitely recommend this variety.

Similarly I have planted a purple climbing bean called “Cosse Violette“, once again from The Real Seed Catalogue.   I have also found these to be very prolific with an excellent taste.  They are really simple to freeze as well so great for long term storage.  You can also simply tell when they are cooked as they turn from purple to green when they are ready to eat!

We have also sited two compost bins at the end of two of our beds as our cold compost areas are getting full.  Our home compost bin has been very successful producing wonderful rich compost for potting up plants.  Generally I regularly water the compost bins and every so often add compost activator.

I am really pleased with our herb garden.  We have lost a few plants over the winter, but those that have remained are thriving and I have been left with a small space to plant a couple more herbs.  At the moment I am considering Feverfew and Sweet Basil.

Carpeting the paths has been really useful this year as we have had limited time at the allotment.  It has really helped to suppress the weeds in these areas which has meant our time at the allotment has been spent completing the priority tasks of weeding and planting beds.

Planting potatoes…

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Today I have been finishing planting my potatoes.

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Almost 2 beds are full, with 2 rows of potatoes in each.  We used to dig trenches which was back-breaking work, but last year I purchased a long handled bulb planter which worked really well and makes light work of the potato planting task.

I buy my seed potatoes through the allotment society which means I get a great selection at a great price and place the order in October / November time.  They are ready for collection from the Allotment Shop in February / March.

Potato varieties I am growing this year are:

Charlotte – Salad Potatoes  BBC Charlotte Potato Recipies

Aaron Pilot – First Earlies

Kestrel – Second Earlies – a firm favourite which lasts exceptionally well in storage or if left in the ground

Markies – Main Crop  Markies Potato Information

King Edwards – Main Crop

For a great resource that tells you all about the many varieties of potatoes  try the potato council website www.lovepotatoes.co.uk.

Potato plant fruit looks just like green tomatoes!

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This is something that has amazed me since the first time I saw it!  Potato plants produce flowers and fruit.  The fruit looks just like small green tomatoes!  They are not edible though.

The reason for this is that potatoes are related to tomato plants!  They are both from the “Solanaceae” family which also includes aubergines and chilli pepper plants.

Problems with my veg…

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I spoke in my earlier posts about loosing some of my onions to mould.  Here is a photo of the white mould on the bottom of an onion after I pulled it out.  Additionally, this year, on all the mouldy onions I also saw these little creatures!  I think they are baby centipedes, or possibly millipedes.  If you can not see them, try clicking on the photograph below to enlarge it.

If they are centipedes then they should be encouraged, they are carnivorous and eat a wide variety of pests, including slugs.  I am just not sure what so many of them are doing on the bottom of this onion!  Down Garden Services provides a list and pictures of common garden creatures which is worth looking at.  The creatures are grouped into 3 categories:  friends, enemies and those that have some “bad habits”.

It is also possible that they are millipedes, this would make more sense as they feed on decaying vegetation which is in line with being on the bottom of a rotting onion.  This makes them very useful for recycling organic matter on the allotment.  However, they also have some bad habits.  They can damage seedlings, as well as beans, peas and carrots.  They like to eat soft tissue plants such as cucumber plants and strawberries.  They also enlarge wounds created by slugs in harder veg, such as potatoes or bulbs, however, they are unable to cause damage to these plants on their own.

After considering all these points I think they must be millipedes.  I have found them living in slug holed potatoes in the past.  As they are just eating rotting veg I do not see them as a pest.  They have not caused any damage to my seedlings or other plants so I am not too worried about them at the moment.

Above is a picture of my first butternut squash which has gone mouldy/rotten.  I noticed it after being away for the weekend.

After some more online research it looks like it is due to “Blossom end rot”.  There appears to be number of reasons for this to happen, from a lack of calcium in the soil, through to a need for more regular watering.  Apparently if you catch it early enough you can nip it in the bud.  Try these online resources below to find out more information and possible solutions:

Weekend Gardener: Stop Squash Blossom Rot

iVillage Garden Web: Blossom End Rot

Gardening Know How: Squash Bottom End Rot

Bolted Lettuce

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If you get a dry hot sunny period make sure you keep watering your lettice as much as possible or else you run the risk of it “bolting“.  This means it shoots up tall and begins to create flower buds.

Bolted lettuce tastes AWFUL!  It is so bitter that it really is best avoided if at all possible.  When my lettuces bolt I pull them out and compost them.