Monday, September 16

Summer harvests are waning

We made another visit to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park last week. When we were there in July, the painted dog pups were only a couple of weeks old and still a little wobbly. They have grown up quickly and their unique markings are now present. Sadly their mum died when they were about three weeks old but fortunately another dog stepped in to care for them.
It's difficult to imagine that the cute animal above will grow into a super predator.  We posted a video here.
We also paid a more garden related visit to our local garden centre where we picked up some bulbs which will be planted in tubs and in the garden. We also bought a couple of packs of autumn onions - Radar and Senshyu.
The onions have been planted at the allotment. As usual they have been planted in channels of multipurpose compost which hopefully will give them a better start. Prior to planting, the ground was fertilised and covered with weed control fabric and a wood chip mulch. The sets should have a chance to settle in and put down roots before winter really sets in. Last year's autumn onions did well, in fact we still have a few to use up. We're hoping that these will repeat that success.
I've planted some tete a tete daffodils in amongst the snowdrops, primrose and bluebells that I planted in the garden in spring. The rest of the tete a tete have been planted in pots as the area that I want to plant them is still filled with summer flowers. The ones in pots will be slotted in in spring.
Regular readers will know that I like to sow hardy annual seeds in September in order to have an early display of flowers. Seeds sown now also seem to produce stronger more vigorous plants.

I've sown cornflowers, clarkia, poppies and calendula. They've been sown in shallow trenches of multipurpose compost in the same way as the onion sets. I've draped enviromesh over to deter any creature from disturbing the seeds and hope that it will also help a little towards conserving some moisture.

Earlier, Martyn, sowed some spring cabbage, (the variety is April) and these really needed planting on. He'd been hoping that we would have had some rain to moisten the ground, but that wasn't to be and the plants just couldn't wait so  these were planted out and watered well.
I pruned and tied in both the black raspberry and the tayberry.
The black raspberry, above, was fairly obliging but the tayberry, below, is a monster and fights back. Tackling it each year is one of my least favourite allotment jobs and I am always happy when it is behind me.
Martyn, cleared away the cardoon that had been flattened by the gales. 
In the middle all that woodchip is the new shoot. 
It's hard to believe that this will grow into a huge plant by the end of next spring.

We picked our first bunch of Himrod grapes from our garden greenhouse and the garden also provided us with watercress. 
We pick sprigs of watercress as we need it, but I always forget to mention it, and never take a photo as it doesn't hang around long enough between picking it and eating it.
Fortunately the fish haven't a taste for it.

Just a couple of harvest boxes came home from the plot last week. 

I removed the net from the blueberries and found a few that I had missed earlier. The raspberries are still producing, but the berries are smaller and more are being spoiled. It's drifted from berry time into apple time.
10 September
Despite one or two nights when the temperature has hovered around the 4C mark, (about 39F), we have avoided a frost and so the dahlias are still flowering.
14 September
Martyn trimmed the plum trees and spotted a few plums that both us and the wasps had missed. These were from  Marjories Seedling and were delicious.

It's also a treat to pick our own spring onions after several years of failure. I'm hoping we have cracked it and this year isn't a fluke.

The courgettes are slowing down now, which is a shame as it means my menus will soon be moving into winter mode. We use a lot of courgettes when they are in season and will miss having a supply. This year despite having about a dozen plants we haven't had the expected glut. The yellow, Atena Polka seems to have outperformed the green variety, Defender.

I've posted a video of our plot activity on Friday 13. We came home unscathed but I was careful to leave tackling the tayberry until another day. 

Finally, I managed to grab the photos below on Saturday night. Excuse the quality as they were taken from a moving car, (I wasn't driving!), with my mobile phone. The sky was incredible and exactly as shown.


This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

Thanks to those who responded to my invitation to make a comment. I appreciate you taking the trouble to say hello. I know I get lots of visitors who never comment and I'd love to know who you are - unlike the annoying spammers who can't seem to grasp that their comments go straight into my spam folder and never see the light of day I am getting lots of Anonymous spam comments which go straight into the spam folder and then deleted as there are far too many to check through so I'm afraid that if you comment anonymously this may happen to your comment.

You don't have to have your own blog in order to join in conversations. It may seem that everyone who comments knows one another but bloggers always welcome new commenters, after all that is how we all started.








Wednesday, September 11

Wings and bushy tails










Tuesday, September 10

An afternoon at Clumber Park

We decided on a day out last Friday to Clumber Park where there was plenty of action. The squirrels, like us, were no doubt starting to stock up for winter.
The cormorants were sprucing up their feathers. You can see that they sit on this fallen tree trunk regularly.
A young robin was in the process of acquiring his/her first grown up outfit ...
... and the geese were just having a splashing time.


Monday, September 9

A small triumph

There's very little gardening for me to report this week, as for various reasons I didn't visit the allotment much last week. Martyn was on solo duties on Thursday whilst I spent the day waiting for joiners who once again didn't show up. They were then supposed to arrive on Saturday but guess what? Now they are - maybe- coming on Monday! No show on Monday so now they promise it will definitely be Tuesday. It's beginning to feel like groundhog day!

We managed an afternoon at the allotment on Sunday when Martyn lifted more potatoes. This time the varieties were Kestrel, Cara, Vivaldi and Sarpo Mira. The results were varied. Cara produced the highest yield but most of the tubers had been attacked by pests. On the other hand Kestrel produced some good sized unspoiled tubers but a lower yield in terms of total weight. I'll do a post about all our thoughts on the potatoes that we grew this year at a later date.

Whilst, Martyn was busy lifting potatoes, I cleared and dug over the bed where I sowed hardy annual flowers last autumn. I plan to use the bed for the same this year so need it ready for sowing this month. I've posted a video here.

We are picking plenty of ripe tomatoes, some of which are being cooked and frozen to use in dishes later. It's quite a modest harvest this year compared to what many of you are producing.
2 September
Martyn, came home on Thursday with a good haul of raspberries. The All Gold really have excelled themselves this year. The berries are getting smaller but there are still plenty of flowers and the bees are busy pollinating them.
5 September
Martyn also had a surprise addition to his gatherings - a lovely Clapton cauliflower. Clapton is a club root resistant variety that we have grown for a few years now.
The Python climbing French beans, that were mistakenly bought as a purple variety, have been quite a find and will be grown again in spite of not being purple. The purple colouring tends to be lost from beans once cooked anyway - unless you know of one that retains its colour.
8 September
The squash haven't done well this year. The butternut squash haven't produced a single fruit, Crown Prince have produced about three undersized specimens and the Uchiki Kuri have produced the four that we cut on Sunday. I'm not sure how big these should grow but they seemed undersized to me.
One triumph this year is that we have actually managed to grow some spring onions.  After struggling to grow these for a few years, we decided to try sowing the seed in a crate containing multipurpose compost and it has worked!

No doubt the dahlias are now on borrowed time. Night time temperatures are falling and the first frosty night will bring about their demise. I just love the form of the pompom varieties

Finally, the birds have contributed some welcome colour to the garden. This cluster of sunflowers have sprung up alongside one of our bird tables as a result of some messy feathered diners.





This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

Thanks to those who responded to my invitation to make a comment. I appreciate you taking the trouble to say hello. I know I get lots of visitors who never comment and I'd love to know who you are - unlike the annoying spammers who can't seem to grasp that their comments go straight into my spam folder and never see the light of day I am getting lots of Anonymous spam comments which go straight into the spam folder and then deleted as there are far too many to check through so I'm afraid that if you comment anonymously this may happen to your comment.

You don't have to have your own blog in order to join in conversations. It may seem that everyone who comments knows one another but bloggers always welcome new commenters, after all that is how we all started.

Wednesday, September 4

August in pictures




Monday, September 2

Too hot to plot

There's not much to say about our activities last week on the plot. This is partly because we did very little and partly because what we did would be too boring to relate in any detail. The boring work is, however, essential and involves clearing away spent crops and preparing beds for their next occupants. The beds will need digging over but it was far too hot, with the temperature reaching 31.2C or just over 88F, to even contemplate anything so strenuous. I think the most strenuous job was that Martyn trimmed the apple hedge.

We managed a leisurely walk around and filmed a  tour of the plot  it's quite a long film but, the week before, Martyn also filmed a quicker birds' eye tour.

Another reason for absenting ourselves from the allotment was that we spent a couple of days in Norfolk. The first day we spent at Sandringham, the Queen's country estate.
Maybe our expectations had been too high, but in all honesty we were rather disappointed. Scaffolding shrouded half of the house so strategic photography was required. Even though summer is on the way out we'd expected the gardens would be more impressive. We managed some scenic shots but generally my camera was unusually underemployed.
I also hope that the sandwiches served at the garden parties are of higher quality than the overpriced ones sold in one of the tearooms. I think the makers had been fearful of running out of fillings too.

We didn't venture into the house - photography wasn't allowed in there and neither would have been, Martyn's backpack. Permitted dimensions for bags were given but, although we hadn't brought a tape measure with which to check, we guessed his bag would exceed the dimensions indicated. We did however, visit the small museum that housed many vehicles owned by various royals in the past.
One thing that struck us was the vast number of wood pigeons in residence. Everywhere we went the sound of their calls assaulted our gardeners' ears.  Maybe they weren't aware of the royals' fondness of shooting parties, or maybe pigeon pie isn't to royal taste.

The second day was spent at the North Norfolk Railways steam gala.
As well as some train rides we enjoyed a coastal walk and a chance to give our cameras a good workout.

No wood pigeons were observed but less raucous feathered friends were on hand to offer photo opportunities other that those provided by the steam exhaling iron beasts.


Last week we did manage some harvesting from the garden and the plot.

The garden greenhouse provided us with our largest tomato of the season. The tomato was an oxheart type called Albenga which was recommended by Roger Brook.
It's not the largest tomato that we have ever grown but was better looking than most large tomatoes.

Other tomatoes were also harvested but our total tomato harvest will be down this year, largely due to our compost problems having more or less wiped out three fifths of our allotment greenhouse tomatoes. Incidentally I have received a request from the compost company asking for a batch number from the suspect grow bags which has been provided.
The harvest boxes more or less speak for themselves, however one crop worthy of note is the Python climbing French beans which are giving Cobra a run for its money. Funny how both varieties are named after snakes. 
26 August
The sweet peas have been disappointing this year, however, I am still managing to pick a few to provide scent for the house. The gales really didn't suit them at all.
We decided to dig up a few carrots. Our carrots are never going to win any beauty competitions but they are tasty and that's what counts in our books.
The blueberries have just about come to an end now and the bushes will soon be sporting their beautiful autumn colouring. They have certainly earned their winter rest this year.
29 August
The All Gold raspberries have been stars which has been surprising given that I didn't get around to thinning out the canes and also that usually the berries are spoiled in wet and windy weather. This year, however the berries have been larger, unspoiled and just keep on coming. The photo above is missing a large punnet that was given to a plot neighbour.
1 September

On Sunday we picked a small Clapton cauliflower, hopefully the rest will come in a steady stream. That's maybe wishful thinking and in reality they will all be ready at the same time, a bit like the outdoor cucumbers are now in full production mode.

We picked our Tickled Pink apples which not only have a deep red skin but the flesh is red too.

Finally I'll leave you with some of the dahlias picked on Sunday The other half went to my sister. The dahlias have filled in the cut flower gap left by the sweet peas this year providing colour if not scent,




This week I am linking to harvest Monday hosted on 

Dave's blog Our Happy Acres

Thanks to those who responded to my invitation to make a comment. I appreciate you taking the trouble to say hello. I know I get lots of visitors who never comment and I'd love to know who you are - unlike the annoying spammers who can't seem to grasp that their comments go straight into my spam folder and never see the light of day I am getting lots of Anonymous spam comments which go straight into the spam folder and then deleted as there are far too many to check through so I'm afraid that if you comment anonymously this may happen to your comment.

You don't have to have your own blog in order to join in conversations. It may seem that everyone who comments knows one another but bloggers always welcome new commenters, after all that is how we all started.