Wednesday, 22 April 2009

What's growing on the home patch?

As well as having the space at the allotment to probably feed a football team, we also have our own little back yard with it's view over the Orwell estuary.......and the plebs on Ashley Street! After many years of dithering over what to create in this terraced space, with many a false start and the removal of many a patio I finally decided it would be more useful as a production area - hence the greenhouse we built this year. That said it's easy to get carried away - there are currently seedlings crammed on every sunny windowsill in the house too.

I think I have about 60 tomato plants growing away quite happily - Gardener's delight (cherry type, good yield, very productive - eat them straight off the vine when warm in the sun and yum!), Tigerella (unusual stripy skin, seem to remember has a good flavour), Matina (performed well when I grew it last year at the place I worked, good skins not easily split) and Marmande (think this is a beefsteak type and again performed well for me last year - how it will perform in my garden remains to be seen).

I don't expect to harvest from 60 plants - that would be crazy - but I'll have lots to give away, which is another great pleasure of gardening and one that tends to be reciprocated! Gardener's are commonly, generous people - well the ones I've met are! Whenever I get chatting to a fellow plot holder ('the wall' seems to be a common talking point), invariably I get offered a little something - a few beetroot, some cabbage seedlings, the use of a hose, a few sticks of rhubarb.
It seems we all grow too much of one crop or another or experience gluts but would rather happily give it away than have stuff going to waste - though waste, in theory, does not exist on the allotment as it can all be composted and re-used.

Other seeds bursting into life include -

Borage and Ipomea or 'Morning Glory' -
both being grown to attract pollinators but the borage has additional benefits of being used for culinary and medicinal purposes - both of which I am yet to experiment with!

Pak Choi -
just planted some out in the greenhouse, and have some to give away. I've found them very useful in stir-fry's, and particularly tasty with fish. You never know - I might let you in on a few recipes!

Chives and tarragon (french type - said to have a better flavour, though not hardy. However - has survived several winters on our patio) -
I divided these up and re potted them, so now I have even more plants!

Parsley and coriander -
this is how they are grown for supermarkets. Lots of seedlings in one pot. Quite wasteful really when you consider that one seed will develop into a whole plant that can have leaves removed as and when you need them rather than the short life span of the pot on your windowsill. It may be possible, though I've not tried it myself, to take one of those supermarket pots and gently tease apart the roots to make lots of individual plants - you will get more for your money and are saved the agonising wait for them to germinate (parsley being particularly slow!). I may give that a go so watch this space......

Broad beans -
somewhat late but what the hell - let's see what happens. Just planted some in the back garden and I'll try the rest at the plot. Always sown them direct before and too thickly which encourages fungal disease and can make them difficult to harvest if there is a small forest of them. They are spaced roughly a foot apart in a double row - more pics to follow if they get going!

Remember these? The first salad leaf crops. Well - they are a bit bigger than this now and with more holes in the leaves (grrrr), but reasonably successful. Not as successful as they would be in a polytunnel, I think. The ambient temperature in a polytunnel seems to be a lot warmer and is also moist so salad leaves tend to grow really quickly - which is good for cutting. An indoor environment also tends to keep flea beetles at bay which can damage the leaves of brassicas - rocket, mizuna and chinese leaves being of this group - radish too! There was a row of salad onions but they seem to have failed - the seed may have been too old. Ah well - you can't win every time!

Yet to find a spot for them on the plot. Speaking of rhubarb though - we plan to have a go at rhubarb wine soon so watch out for the trial and tribulations of that!

My small potted herb garden -
the sage and rosemary are due to be planted at the plot, when there is a place for them but the mint is much better contained in a pot and divided up every now and again as it will take over in open ground!

Echinacea -
really excited about this. Never had any success germinating the seed before. I'll soon be dishing out cold remedies before you know it!!

There has been further activity since taking these photos - just not enough time to document it. I'll do my best to keep up between my hubby's entertaining video diaries.
So far he has managed to avoid getting his hands dirty!!


Crash said...

Don't waste your time with Rhubarb wine... It's bloody awful! Use your spare rhubarb to make rhubarb crumble ice cream.

stephanos_lemon said...

Watch the borage, its tendency to spread is worse than mint!

sydney f curtis said...

Havent you been bussy. cant wait to see your greenhouse used to it'd full capacity. I bet that was a shock to it's system, never ever being used before as a greenhouse.

Mafro said...

Your crops look lovely Emma. If only we lived nearer and could swap young plants / crops.