Thursday 26 June 2014

The Never Ending To Do List

It's all well and good preparing the soil and keeping the weeds down until you plant your precious seedlings out however work on the allotment never stops.

We have done what we can now, preparing the soil, keeping the weeks in check and planting out our precious little greenhouse grown seedlings and are now in the hands of the weather fairies!

However there is always something to keep us busy on the allotment.  I started painting the shed and managed to paint one end.  Next time I will do another side until I get it done.  The shed hasn't been painted in ages and was a very thirsty shed indeed!
Mr R getting stuck in with the weeding using the Wolf-Garten claw tool with the new short handle we bought to make it into a hand tool instead of a long handled tool.  This is a very versatile way to get the most our of your garden tools.

There is a long list of projects to keep me and Mr R busy - clearing the area to the side of the shed, cutting back one of the trees in a garden that backs onto our plot, making a new compost area and so much more!

First few harvests

How exciting! The first few things we have brought home from the allotment.

The plot next to ours is idle so I picked some of the raspberries.
I have also started harvesting the rows of lovely summer lettuce.
And a rouge garlic which survived since last year!

Now to look forward to the courgettes, peppers, chillis, aubergines, tomatoes, beans, squash, carrots and potatoes!

Sunday 1 June 2014

Final Countown to Planting With Help from Wolf-Garten

Last weekend was the final countdown to the planting and we were very busy getting all the beds ready. I had loads of plants that I have started off from seed in the greenhouse and last weekend I wanted to plant most of them outside.

It is always a gamble that the weather won't drop below freezing over the next two or three weeks but you just have to take a chance and go with it.  The sooner the plants are in the ground the sooner they can become established and get on with growing!

Wolf-Garten have sent me a new piece for my collection - the rake. This came just in time to rake the prepared beds prior to planting out and to get a nice level surface.  These tools are so handy and clip on and off easily.  I think I will get another handle so we can both use the tools at the same time though.
After all the hard work digging the soil in preparation, adding in the compost and horse manure - using the Wolf-Garten soil miller to get it nice and evenly chopped up we needed to rake it level ready to plant.

These garden tools are so handy. We have one handle and now have three pieces to mix and match. they clip on and off easily and make storage easier.
At the Edible Garden Show we bought the three pronged fork and this one is fantastic for weeding in between rows. We pop it onto the long handle and do our weeding. Since there is a range of handles, long ones like in the photo, shorter ones and the sort of handle you have on a digging fork I thought I would like to get the handle that is about arm's length which would make it easier to fork the weeds if you were bending down. This will be my next addition to the set!

By the end of the weekend we had yellow courgettes, green courgettes, yellow dwarf french beans, green dwarf french beans, plum tomatoes, runner beans, beetroot, pak choi, carrots, butternut squash, potatoes and more.

Thanks to Wolf-Garten for the rake attachment for my system. I was not paid to write this post and all opinions and photos are my own.

Sunday 27 April 2014

Grow Rings - Extend your growing surface

Another great company I met at The Edible Garden Show recently was Grow Rings
These are sections that are easy to snap together and give you instant raised beds and no tools need leave the tool box!
I was given a Ring which I plan on planting my pak choi and a Mini Green House which consists of two pieces, a ring and a lid.  I am planning on growing my purple carrots in the Mini Green House which will help to keep the carrot root fly away.

These rings are perfect for someone with a small garden or patio or where space is a premium.  I plan to use them initially on the part of the allotment that we haven't prepared yet.  This way I will be growing things on an area I haven't cleared yet getting the most out of the space.

It takes a fair amount of soil and compost to fill up the ring but once you have done this you have an instant raised bed. It can be moved to anywhere you want. I have placed the first one on some of that black weed control fabric. This will help to kill off the weeds underneath which will help get this area ready to cultivate at another time, then the grow ring can be moved to another place.
I have planted my pak choi in half of the ring and not sure yet what will go in the other half but thinking maybe my purple tomatoes in a few weeks time.

You can go on the web site and watch a video about the Grow Rings if you want.

Thanks to Grow Rings for my two rings, I am really looking forward to growing some of my range of vegetables in them.  I was not paid to review them and all opinions and photos are my own.

A new tool - Wolf-Garten

At the recent Edible Garden Show I met the lovely people on the Wolf-Garten stand.  They have a really interesting concept for garden tools.  You buy a handle and then the individual garden tools and they snap onto the handle with a unique 'click system'. The products are made in Germany so are sturdy and carry a 10 year guarantee.

The lady on the stand, Yvonne was demonstrating a rather interesting looking tool designed to evenly chop and mix the compost, manure and ground soil together to make a fine soil to plant the seeds.  Well, I wanted one of these for sure!!

How happy was I when Wolf-Garten offered to send me a Soil Miller to try on the allotment and write about how I got on.

The Soil Miller breaks up dry, compacted soil into a fine tilth. This helps both the sun and the rain get to the roots of your vegetables as well as mixing up soil, compost and manure.

We have been digging and preparing our beds and mixing in compost both bought and organic from my compost heaps and loads and loads of locally scourced manure and this tool would be just perfect for us to use.

We went to help my daughter-in-law with her allotment and took the Soil Miller with us in the car as it is so easy to take with you and used it there too.

It took me a minute to get the feeling for the Soil Miller but once I got started I couldn't stop.  A bed went from this:-

In a matter of minutes to this:-

Because this is such a great piece of gear I wouldn't leave it at the allotment and once you detach it from the handle it fits really nicely into the car.

My plan is to add to the collection of tools to go onto the handle as the season progresses and I will of course post about them on here.

Many thanks to Wolf-Garten for starting me off with this ingenious system of tool. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions and photos are my own.


Sunday 13 April 2014

Keeping it in the family!

This is the second year of my allotment life and I wouldn't swop a moment. I have had great fun growing the vegetables we ate last summer and we are now getting ready to plant this year's vegetables.

I was really happy to learn that my son and daugher-in-law (DIL) were offered an allotment plot near to where they live.  As my son works most weekends it will be up to DIL to do most of the work.  Knowing how hard it is to get started your first year I wanted to offer my help digging to give DIL a helping hand in her preparations.

Since the weather forcast was good for this weekend we popped up on Saturday (after getting stuck on the M1 due to an accident) we eventually arrived, unloaded the car of our tools and wheelbarrow and got stuck in.

DIL had gotten there before us and was working away burning some rubbish.

A bored granddaughter was enticed to help us from time to time but got excited when I asked her to show me where the allotment shop was so we could get a couple of sandwiches!

We worked for about 3 hours on a beautiful Spring day and left feeling we had been helpful!

Mr R brought my Wolf-Garten Soil Miller with us and gave it a workout.

I did thank Mr R for giving up his Saturday but he agreed with me that it is always good if you can help family when it is needed.

I expect we will be back up there again before the end of the digging and planting time is up.

Saturday 29 March 2014

The Edible Garden Show 2014

Today I went back through my old stomping grounds to Alexandra Palace in North London to attend The Edible Garden Show.  I was given two tickets to attend and managed to persuade Mr R to come with me.

The Grand Hall was filled with rows and rows of stalls all selling things or educating people about the world of growing your own food.  The show itself was sponsored by Maldon Sea Salt who have been harvesting salt from the sea in Essex for over 130 years.

Maldon Sea Salt sponsored the kitchen theatre and I watched chef Phil Vickery turn a bag of frozen peas into three delicious recipes to celebrate Spring!

We wandered around and met some lovely people and I was given some very interesting products to trial on the allotment and reiview for you at a later date.

There were loads of stalls with chickens and every thing you need to keep them and look after them and then enjoy your own home produced eggs.  I really fancy keeping chickens (there are a couple of people keeping them at the allotment!) but Mr R says absolutely not! But of course watch this space - I never take no for an answer!! There was also this beautiful fellow to say hello to!

Mr R was particularly taken with the Wolf Garten range of gardening tools. One handle and interchangeable tools. We bought a grubber and handle but the sad thing is that Mr R leaned the handle against something when we sat down and forgot to pick up the handle so we won't be trying it out tomorrow on the allotment!

I had a chance to listen to Christine Walkden giving a talk about making the most of your vegetable patch and learned a few new tips. It was nice to say hello to Christine after her talk because we worked together many years ago at Capel Manor Horticultural College. 

After quite a few hours of walking around and talking to loads of very interesting people Mr R was ready for a refreshing cold drink and a sit down.

I will be writing in more details about some of the products we got at the show and I will also be cooking with the Maldon Sea Salt over on my food blog.  But for now, a cup of coffee and a browse through all the catalogues I picked up today!

Sunday 9 March 2014

First tasks

This time last year I was asking myself what on earth had I ever done getting involved with my allotment however today is our first day there for the season and it was absolutely beautiful day, the  sun was shining it was warm about 16°C.

We went up there with a few tasks in mind but first we stopped off at Homebase and I used my Christmas voucher and bought myself a little rotary push lawnmower which I've wanted for keeping the grass down around the areas we have yet to cultivate.  My two jobs for the day were to plant out the early potatoes and to plant at the raspberry canes, both of those jobs are done and a whole bed was forked over and fed some compost and some local horse manure. I gave it a quick once over with the new mower in between the veg beds which is going to make keeping neat and  tidy a lot easier.

I'm looking forward to really getting stuck in and growing all our vegetables for the coming season!