Down on the Allotment

Matron grows vegetables and fruit in a courtyard garden. Which edibles will tolerate less than ideal growing conditions. Discovering how veggies can grow in partial shade.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Matron's New Garden

 Only 2 more days to go before I say goodbye to my old patch.  Fear not! I am starting a new challenge.  I have transplanted some fruit plants into my new courtyard garden, where I can grow fruit and veg that will tolerate a little bit of shade.  I dug up some Rhubarb crowns from my old garden - normally you wait until Winter dormancy to do this, but the leaves had already died back on some of these crowns so I hope they will like their new home.
 Ditto this Tayberry that I planted just 3 years ago as a small plant.  This Tayberry put on some amazing growth throughout the Summer so I pruned it back a bit and took these two leaders for transplanting.  A Tayberry is a fairly new cross between a Blackberry and a Raspberry.  It will tolerate a little bit of shade so I can train it up this brick wall.  I hope this transplant works, I couldn't bear to leave it behind so it was dug up and replanted within a couple of hours.
 I also took some raspberry canes from my old patch too.  I hope they will be happy in this raised bed.  If the shock of transplanting isn't too much, then I can provide ideal conditions for them.  So, Rhubarb crowns on the left, raspberry centre and tayberry on the right.
It was a magnificent harvest of my family fruit trees!  I picked these apples yesterday, hope to store some of the best ones, and eat and juice the others.  Onwards and upwards!

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Matron Lives!

 We're still here!!  Leo and I have been clearing up and saying goodbye to my allotment patch, but sadly after 35 years on this site I am moving on.  But I have come up with an exciting plan!  Matron is moving her patch to a new and exciting venture.  Matron Lives! More details in the next few days.
 I have been lovingly tending this soil and adding organic matter for 35 years so I have decided to bring some of the garden with me - a garden transplant!  This is gorgeous soil, and whilst repairing a broken raised bed there was about a ton of soil to distribute and tidy up before the new tenants come in next week.
 So I am bagging up some of the soil, complete with all the wiggly worms, into some strong rubble bags and bringing it to my new garden.  I will be revealing my new project in the next couple of days. I just cannot bear to think what it would be like without growing my own veggies.  Tending a plot and getting your hands dirty in the soil is one of my greatest pleasures - second only to eating what I grow!
So, I'm emptying the greenhouse and starting afresh on another new adventure.  Only 6 days to go now!

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Final Harvest

 This will be one of the final posts from my current location.  After nearly 35 years on the same patch of land I am having to move elsewhere.  The pumpkins weren't great this year.  These Rouge Vif D'Etamps pumpkins should have been much bigger. Don't know why.
 I grew melons for the first time this year.  These are a small variety grown outdoors called Minnesota Midget.  I'm just waiting a little longer for them to fully ripen.  Just a little press on the end of the melon to see if it is ripening, and a little sniff to see if I can smell the perfume.  Fingers crossed.
 Chillis are ripening nicely in the greenhouse.  These are some of my Joe's Long Cayenne peppers.
 Another variety I grew is these Spaghetti Chilli.  These are fun!
 I grew these Giraffe Sunflowers to try to attract bees and pollinating insects to my patch.  Hopefully in the weeks ahead the birds will get something out of them too!
 Tomatoes are looking good this year, no problems with tomato blight, it has been fairly dry, but I'll keep a lookout.
Regular blog readers will like to see another picture of Leo.  My garden assistant is 15 and a half years old and still plods down to the allotment with me. What a brilliant garden companion!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

August on the Plot

 These last few memories are going to be precious. This is one of my Country Taste beefsteak tomatoes. Really lovely, smooth tomatoes.  Coming along nicely.
 These Gardeners Delight tomatoes always seem to grow in a double string of pearls. Just perfect for one mouthful!
 Meanwhile, in the greenhouse these Joe's Long chillis are weighting down the branches of the plant.  I'm getting near to the time when I will measure them to find my longest chilli to enter into the Guinness World record attempt.
 Just a small one here, this is a variety of Pumpkin Rouge Vif D'Etamps which turns a gorgeous Autumnal, dark orange colour.
And for the first time, I am growing melons!  Minnesota Midget melons are a small variety which have a short growing season, so they seem to be doing OK outdoors here in the UK.

Everything just seems more precious than usual at the moment.  I am savouring every last minute of the joy of growing fruit and veggies.  In the next few weeks I will have to say goodbye to more than 30 years on this patch... I'm coming up with an alternative plan... so Matron is not going away...

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Bountiful Harvest

 This post is written with some sadness.. 9 years of blogging about my allotment.. more than half a million page hits (I can't believe it!) and a world full of friends. Things are about to change.  The aforementioned allotment is actually at the end of a very large garden, my Mothers garden.
 It very much looks like this harvest may well be the last at this location.  The house is being renovated to be rented out as we speak.  Care home fees must be paid for.  I have never been without a patch of land to grow my own veggies.. and that time is coming.
But fear not my faithful readers!  There is much to blog about! Even if it is a growbag on a balcony, or a tomato in a pot, Matron will strive to keep you entertained.  When the next few weeks or months is done with I will set about finding a REAL allotment!Let's hope the waiting list is not too long.  Growing veggies is a way of life for me, so is blogging.. now!

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Five a Day

 Well, this is the time of the allotment year when everything is coming along in gluts!  There is no need to worry about getting your 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day.  One very useful lesson I learned is about choosing which seedlings to plant out.  When the advice says sow 2 or 3 seeds in a pot and plant out the strongest.. THIS IS GOOD ADVICE.  Being a bit of a scrimper and a saver I planted 3 Defender courgette seeds in the Spring.  One came up strong and healthy, the other two took ages to germinate and always looked spindly.  Nevertheless, I planted all 3 out and guess what?  The other two plants continue to be a waste of space. Never really looking happy and not producing very much at all.  Note to self... Choose the healthy seedling and get rid of the time wasters!
 Lovely Sungold tomatoes in the greenhouse are ripening every day.  This really is my favourite tasting tomato.  I've tried lots and lots of others... this is the best tasting.
 This is another good variety of beefsteak tomato called Country Taste.  Beautiful round, nicely shaped tasty tomato.  This is the one to have with sliced mozzarella, olive oil and fresh basil leaves.
 Meanwhile my greenhouse chilli Joe's Long is getting longer.  I am growing this as part of a competition to get in the Guinness Book of Records for the World's longest chilli.   Being organised by Joy at Sea Spring Seeds, it is worth having a go !
 Lovely greenhouse cucumber Dalizia is cropping well, but I have another attack of the dreaded spider mite in the greenhouse.  I thought I had conquered them last year with my greenhouse hygeine measures and with some natural predatory mites.   Oh well, lesson learned!
Meanwhile these Rouge Vif D'Etamps pumpkins are plodding along.  Keeping them watered and fed with home made comfrey liquid.  Note to self... keep bucket of smelly comfrey juice out of reach of thirsty Labrador!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

July Harvest

 The greenhouse tomatoes are quite a few weeks ahead of those planted outside.  These Sungold tomatoes are still my favourite.  The taste is the best of any tomato I have ever grown. That is the best reason of all to grow your own fruit and veg.
 My Joe's Long Cayenne chilli are coming along nicely.  I am growing them this year to try to compete in a Guinness World Record for growing the longest chilli.  As yet there is no record, so whoever wins this year gets in the record books!  Worth a try at least!
 Elsewhere on the patch, these Rouge Vif D'Etamps pumpkins are coming along too.  They will ripen to a lovely rich, golden colour just right for making pumpkin pies!
 I have never tried growing melons until this year.  This is a small variety which matures quickly.  This is a Minnesota Midget melon.  Fingers crossed if the weather stays warm that I will be harvesting my first ever melon!
 This is a brand new variety of courgette called Shooting Star.  It is supposed to be the first, ever yellow climbing courgette.  I am not that impressed actually.  The courgettes are thin and tasteless. Not nearly as prolific as my Black Forest climbing courgettes grown in the same conditions in previous years.  Worth trying new things from time to time, but not this one.
My perennial favourite bush courgette is Defender.  Always a good do-er, extremely prolific and goes on for ages!  Just what a girl needs!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Gourmet Delights

 Everything is going crazy on Matron's allotment at the moment. These lovely long days are making the fruit and veggies just grow and grow.  These Dalizia cucumbers in the greenhouse are lovely. Short, pale green cucumbers are delightful to snack on. Thin skinned and very refreshing.
 I am growing extra long varieties of Chilli this year to enter the Guinness Book of Records 'Longest Chilli' competition which is being organised by Sea Spring Seeds.  There is currently no existing record, so whoever grows the longest chilli this year will get the record.  I am growing two varieties; This one is Joe' Long Cayenne and the other one is called Spaghetti.
 The greenhouse tomatoes are a little bit ahead of the outdoor plants.  These Sungold tomatoes are ripening well now.  Definitely my favourite tomato variety.  The taste is wonderful.
 Pumpkins have started to trail now, I have put a wooden board under one of the developing pumpkins to keep it clean.  This variety is Rouge Vif D'Etamps.  A lovely, dark golden Cinderella type shape.
 This is the first year I have a crop from my Tayberry plant.  Tayberry is a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry. It fruits on the previous years' growth.  At the moment it is putting out great big shoots for next year.
I know that Matron does not do flowers... well times change and even though I still hold true to this ethos, I must do my bit to encourage pollinating insects into my veggie garden.  These Sunflowers are a variety called Giraffe.  The bees just love them, and I hope to keep them over Winter for the birds to eat the seeds too. (if those pesky Grey Squirrels don't get them first)

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

How to Make Felafel

 I should have picked these Broad Beans while they were small and tender.  Quite a few have grown fairly large, and if steamed and eaten the skins are tough and leathery and the beans have a bitter taste.
 But I have always wanted to make Felafel, a Middle Eastern or Southern Mediterranean dish usually made with chick peas, but in some places like Egypt, they also add Broad Beans.
 So after steaming them, they can be skinned easily. The green inside just pops out.  Try to get them as dry and firm as possible and the recipe recommends leaving them in a refrigerator overnight to harden.  These can be mashed or blended with finely chopped onions, garlic, a tin of drained chick peas.
 The spices I used were salt, cumin, coriander and chilli.  These are blended together with some self raising flour until the consistency holds together in a firm paste.
 The paste is moulded into shapes and a little more flour used to stop them sticking.  Some Felafel are shaped into golf ball sized  lumps and deep fried.
 I thought I would shape mine into little patties.  So again I am leaving them in the fridge to dry and firm up overnight.
They smell divine already!  I will let you know how they taste tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

I had a brilliant day yesterday at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show - actually it's not JUST flowers I am glad to say. There is much more to see.
 It is just enormous!  Highly recommended for a brilliant day out, even if like me, you are not that in to flowers or gardening, there is plenty for the allotment grower, outdoor living, garden design or for the history buff.
 I rekon you could design a beautiful show garden using vegetables and fruit alone!  Someone should make an edible show garden.  Any volunteers?
 Certainly more attention to edible gardening at the show this year. Growing your own fruit and veg is a serious business and lots of people are seeing and tasting the benefits of traceable, healthy and very fresh food.
One of the most beautiful gardens was from the Turkish Tourist Board.  This garden was lined with pomegranate trees!  I have seen these growing quite well in the UK, If you can get a plant established they might do well in a sheltered spot.
Pomegranate trees have wonderful orange flowers that look a bit like a carnation - they die back and develop into a fruit.
And Monty was there as well! The weather is set to be really hot this week, up into the 90s so keep watering!