Monday, January 23

Something new for 2017 - part 3 (spinach)

We don't like spinach or chard. Advice that we would give to anyone new to growing vegetables would be to grow what you like to eat so why on earth would we decided to grow both spinach and chard next year.

Well it does seem that spinach and chard are popular with many of you and they provide greens at times when other green vegetables are not producing a harvest. Also from reading some of your blogs it seems that they go some way to plugging the 'hungry gap'.

Of course even taking this into account it would be silly to grow something neither of us actually would like to eat so what has caused the change of heart?
The answer is we think we have discovered the secret of making the formally despised vegetables into valuable additions to our diet. Over the year when lunching out we have sometimes chosen to eat some vegetarian options that in the past we have avoided as they included spinach. We have eaten vegetable biryani, vegetable lasagne and quiches where spinach is an ingredient and I have even bought some spinach to use in fried rice or stir fries. 
The dish above could have had a bit more spinach in but as it was my first attempt at cooking with it I was being careful just in case.

So spinach has been an ingredient in some dishes that we have really enjoyed. The secret that you have all probably been aware of all this time is that spinach, (and hopefully chard), is a completely different beast when used as an ingredient rather than as a standalone vegetable.

With this revelation in mind we have decided to grow:
Amazon is supposed to produce baby leaves through spring and autumn and Giant Winter Spinach is supposed to be harvested from October. For chard the blurb states that we can harvest from May - September.

So now I am looking to you all to come up with some tasty ideas for using these vegetables and truly convincing us that they deserve our love.

Saturday, January 21

Let there be light

For a week or so now, I have wanted to tidy what we think of as the early spring bed under the magnolia tree.

The bed is home to our hellebores and snowdrops and as it is just outside of the windows at the side of the house it provides us with a cheerful picture early in the season.

I'd noticed that the hellebores were starting to form flower buds and so I needed to cut back last years foliage to let light through to the developing shoots.
The fallen magnolia leaves also lay thickly around and on top of the plants. 

Saturday bucked the trend of recent gloomy weather and and I was encouraged out into the garden by a few rays of sunshine falling exactly where I needed to work.
A bag of hellebore and dry magnolia leaves later the shoots were revealed from their hiding place,
 Some shoots were just beginning to push through the soil.
Others had flower buds ready formed.
Some had made good progress having pushed through where the carpet was at its thinnest.
 I like to leave as many of the fallen magnolia leaves in situ to gradually rot down naturally. As well as adding leaf mould to the borders they create a foraging area for the birds and any other passing creatures.
I did clear away some leaves to reveal hidden treasure.

Wednesday, January 18


Monday, January 16

Replenishing stocks

When we visited the plot last week we only harvested a few things to top up our stock of vegetables.

Whenever possible and weather permitting we try combining our harvesting with a little work. Last week the little work was for me more tidying of our rose/perennial bed whilst Martyn treated our fruit tree to a winter wash. He has posted about this here.
We only harvested sprouts and leeks which will be shared with my sister. As you can see the leeks haven't followed the example of our giant carrots and parsnips.

Last week's carrots and parsnips are still keeping us supplied and so there was no need to dig up more. Just one root is providing us with plenty for two or more meals and in answer to some questions posed last week - yes despite the size they taste good and are not in the slightest bit woody.

The roots keep well outside under cover to keep them dry and we also have our onions, shallots and squash stored in the summerhouse and potatoes in the garage so we will survive even if the weather prevents a plot visit.

I am linking to Harvest Monday at Michelle's blog  From Seed to Table 
Michelle is standing in whist Dave has a well earned break.

Saturday, January 14

Something new for 2017 - part 2 Black raspberry

We started 2016 with a long row of summer raspberries comprising of two varieties - Glen Ample and Tulameen. We were off to a promising start as all the canes produced new green shoots. The earlier fruiting, Glen Ample were producing flower buds and then suddenly the leaves started to go brown and shrivel and the plants just gave up.
It remains a mystery as to what struck the Glen Ample canes as I couldn't find any signs of the usual raspberry diseases and the Tulameen canes growing alongside them were unaffected and went on to produce a good crop.

We are, however left with a planting gap and have been considering what to replace them with.

Tulameen produced plenty of summer raspberries which were supplemented by our purple raspberry, Glencoe. Our All Gold yellow fruiting autumn raspberry kicked in once the summer fruits had finished cropping. Hopefully next year the red autumn fruiting variety Joan J will join the party.
We like to grow fruits that are a little different and wanted something suitable that would grow along our allotments boundary. I came up with a black raspberry. It is claimed that the fruit is a superfruit, packed with health promoting properties, that knocks any other superfruits into second place.
It grows from a single plant like our Glencoe raspberry. Apparently the fruit  is a similar colour to a blackberry but formed like a raspberry. I maybe able to tell you more about it at a later date.

Our plant arrived yesterday. It was a potted specimen but has been popped into a larger pot which will live in our greenhouse until we feel that the time is right to plant it out on the plot.

For now we have to consider how we plant it. Being related to the raspberry I am concerned that whatever led to the demise of the raspberries may still be lurking in the soil so the best plan may be to remove a 'holeful' of the original soil and fill with some new from elsewhere.

Another possibility is that waterlogging killed the raspberry plants and so we will also use gravel to improve drainage in the planting area. I don't think we can do more then than to wait and see how the plant grows.

We won't get any fruit this year as the black raspberry fruits on canes produced the previous year and as you can see from the photos, our new plant hasn't any canes that are likely to produce fruit.

We gardners have to be patient don't we?

Wednesday, January 11

What's in a name?

My blog was named back in 2006 when the aim and focus was completely different. Back then it was a communal blog just to inform plot holders. So it was just called 'Green Lane Allotments'.

When I decided that I wanted to make the blog more personal I wanted to keep it recognisable to the Followers that I had started to attract and so I rather unimaginatively renamed the blog, 'Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments'.
When I started adding posts about our garden, I continued the unimaginative trend and added a '& Our Garden in Ossett' tag.
Lots of my fellow Bloggers have given such interesting names to your blogs. Even Martyn, (I'll get some comments from him about the 'even' bit) has a much more interesting and appropriate name for his blog.

Let's face it, my title would hardly inspire anyone to take a look. I think the time has come to consider a new name but if I do will it confuse things. Obviously the Url will remain the same and I can leave it's official blog name the same but a more inspiring new name on the title banner shouldn't cause a problem should it?

My thinking cap is on and I am open to any suggestions but be warned that I reserve the right to delete any rude suggestions.