Tuesday, December 29

Final entry to the 2009 diary!

I can't believe that 2010 is just around the corner. It doesn't seem long ago that the year 2000 was thought of as the 'future' when people would be wearing silver cat suits and taking all their food in pill form. Fortunately neither the cat suits nor the pill meals ever materialised and we are fortunate enough to have an even wider range of fresh food available to us.

The last entry of my 2009 diary has now been posted on the website. Ironically as talks in Copenhagen focused on a strategy to avoid global warming we were harvesting our Christmas vegetables from under the snow in freezing conditions.

For the final December diary entry and video click here

Special Discount when sending flowers

Flowers by FloristsI've just had an email offering special discounts to customers ordering flowers using this link:
The offers are as follows:
New Year’s Eve  10% OFF
Just send fabulous fresh flowers using Voucher Code NYE10
Voucher Code expires 2 January 2010

Enter the New Year 2010 with brand new bright emotions
Send fabulous fresh flowers only in January - 7% OFF all Flowers by Florists with the Voucher Code JANUARY7
Voucher Code expires 31 January 2010

10% Early Bird Valentines Discount Code from Flowers by Florists
Only this January you can place your early order for the delivery on Valentine’s Day with 10% off. Make use of Voucher Code EARLYVALENTINE10
Voucher Code expires 15 January 2010

Saturday, December 26

A Christmas bathe in the garden in freezing temperatures

It was every bird for itself as these sparrows searched for enough water to bathe in. Keeping the bird bath ice free was an impossible task but we at least managed to maintain some sort of water supply. The blackbirds resorted to walking on the frozen pond and drinking from the running water flowing from the filter.
Click on the video for a larger view.

Wednesday, December 23

Christmas Fare

If you are looking for a delicious trifle recipe the Luxury Chocolate and Fruit Trifle which is here on our website is delicious.

We also enjoy the recipe for Braised Red Cabbage which is also on our website here.

Both made with our own fruit and vegetables of course!

So what will you be eating? It would be especially interesting to know what our visitors from other countries will be eating over Christmas. 

Tuesday, December 22

Not so green at Green Lane!

Definitely not a week for being out and about in the garden or on the plot. A wet beginning to the week was followed by our first snow of the season. In terms of inches of snow we haven’t really suffered as badly as most – a few flurries and a light covering. (Click here for our weather blog). Enough to mean that any gardening work would do more harm than good. Tramping on frozen ground can damage the soil structure and also wear away grass from lawned areas. Click here for the update to our December diary complete with a larger version of the above slideshow.

Also see video clip on our weather blog here

Saturday, December 19

A Christmas Greeting to all my visitors

Photo taken last year in our garden. The birds need a bath even in freezing conditions. Even though we haven't had much snow here only a bit of a sprinkle (see weather blog) it is below freezing so it is a full time job keeping the ice in the bird bath at bay. Each time the kettle is boiled for a drink I have to pop out and thaw the bird bath. It makes me shudder just watching the birds. I think the doves just have a paddle to warm their feet!

Next job is probably making them a Christmas treat or two.
One note of warning though when making fat cakes The RSPB is warning that cooked turkey fat is extremely dangerous to birds. This fat could actually kill them. The RSPB also say that fat left over from cooking meat should also be avoided. For more information click here

Or click on the banner below to support them by shopping at their online shop

Thursday, December 17

Christmas gifts delivery deadline

If you prefer to do your Christmas shopping without leaving home and use Amazon you need to be aware of their Christmas delivery deadlines click below

Thompson and Morgan's last order date for guaranteed Christmas gift delivery is 9.00am Saturday 19th December.

For Haith's delivery deadlines click below

Haith's - Trusted Bird Food Since 1937

Gifts from the RSPB below

RSPB Christmas Sale - order by 17 December for Christmas delivery

For other Christmas shopping pages click here and here

Update of what the crow sees?

Google Maps have updated their aerial photos of our area.

The photo below shows our allotment site as it was last summer.
Using the clues in the photo I would guess that this was taken in June 2009.

Why June? Looking really closely at the photograph I can make out a brightly coloured patch just where we had a bed of Sweet Williams and these were in full flower in June. Click on the photo for a larger image. and see if you can find them.

Some other things that stand out on our plot are:
  • a long row of carrots covered with enviromesh,
  • the yellow carpet of poached egg plants (limnanthes) growing under the roses
  • cardoons.
The sun appears to be coming from the south and the shadows are quite short, only one car is present and I can only manage to spot two people walking around the access road with maybe a dog so I am guessing that this was taken over lunch time when few people were about. Otherwise maybe it is later in the afternoon after most people have left  - any ideas?

South is the bottom of the photo.

There are aerial and bird's eye photos of our site from different years on our web site. Click here to view.

Tuesday, December 15

In the bleak mid-winter

I have updated the December diary on the website. As you may well imagine there has been a very limited amount of activity so to compensate we took some video of our plot. A larger version is on the website. Click here for the web page.

Root vegetables come into their own at this time of year and are great for making soups Transferring soup in batches to a food processor and back to a pan is a messy business so I decided a hand held blender would be a good investment. I spent yesterday trying to decide which one I should buy but there are just so many. Has anyone any strong recommendation or even any a warning about which one not to buy?

Friday, December 11

T & M must be reading my posts!

T & M must be reading my posts as they have drastically cut the price of their amaryllis bulbs click here.

The most common varieties are £2.99 for a bulb. (I'm not a happy bunny as they are two of the bulbs we bought last month).

They also have some more exotic varieties from £4.99 - I'm tempted but my house could end up looking like a jungle. If you do succumb to temptation then send me a picture of your flowers so I can enjoy from a distance!

So why do you grow your own?

For some time I have had a web poll on this blog asking why people grow their own and the results are shown below. If you click on the image a larger view is available

As you can see the top reasons given were:
  • Just a general quality of life choice
  • For health and the quality of food
  • Enjoyment of gardening
  • To avoid pesticides
Generally though we grow our own for a wide variety of reasons. Have you a different reason for choosing to grow your own fruit and vegetables?

A new poll has been added to the sidebar which links with reason four on the list - will you be using manure this year? If you are wondering why I ask this question then you must have missed all the problems caused by contaminated manure over the past couple of years. If so read this.

If you like us are not using manure what will you be using instead?

Thursday, December 10

I may just be becoming obsessive but ...

I may just be becoming obsessive but that's what happens when you can't really get out in the garden.

Little things assume major importance.

This isn't, however such a little thing - just look at my sister's amaryllis (I've now settled on calling it this even if it isn't officially accurate) now! This is after just three weeks.

Not that I am giving up without a fight in the first to get a flower competition.

Both my bulbs now have buds shooting and one of them now has two.

My sister's is a red variety and I have a pink and a white variety. Probably red ones just grow quicker - any excuse!

Read the posts below and here if you are suffering from plant growing withdrawal symptoms and are becoming just as obssessive as me and want to follow the saga.

Tuesday, December 8

Free Amaryllis

Just had a newsletter from T & M Christmas Gifts site.

They are offering a free bulb of Amaryllis Evergreen - shown here - when you order a gift from them. The offer ends at midnight of 13 December (Sunday).

Click here for more details

They also have a discount on Amaryllis Christmas Carol shown below click here for details

Monday, December 7

Where did the year go?

Believe it or not it is December and 2009 is drawing to a close!

December announced its arrival with the first real frost of the year. For the past couple of years this wintery event has followed very close on from bonfire night and has ended our alpine strawberry season.

All is fairly quiet on the allotment site when we pay a visit to collect the weekly vegetable supply. The first entry in my December diary is now posted on my website here.

Much gardening is confined to indoors and our fairly newly planted hippeastrum/amaryllis bulbs are growing well, one having produced a bud - well if you look really closely a bulb is just beginning to emerge.

Can you spot it?

There's more about amaryllis here on my other blog.
Anyone any idea of what this plant is officially called now? It's a bit like the geraniums that are really pelargoniums! Although this plant is commonly referred to as an amaryllis apparently that isn't correct even though it is sold by that name in garden centres etc.  Amaryllis grow in South Africa and these bulbs - Hippeastrum - originate from South America. Hippeastrum is a Greek name meaning 'horseman's star'. There are over 75 species but only about three or four are commonly available in garden centres. Other varieties are available online with quite a good range available from here. More exotic varieties are shown on the posting here.

Advice on how to grow these bulbs is available here

Sunday, December 6

Growing Oysters

In October our plot neighbours shared an order of mushroom growing packs with us. We are growing shitake and our plot neighbours are growing oysters. Our shitake and one batch of oysters came as dowel rods which had been impregnated with mushroom culture. These had to be embedded in holes drilled into a log. We still are waiting patiently for any development. Apparently things should be happening out of sight but it can take a long time before any mushrooms develop.

Our neighbours decided to try for the quicker option and also bought a kit that grew mushrooms on a mini bale of straw. These have started to bear fruit as can be seen below!

Thompson and Morgan have special offers on all of their mushroom kits at the moment click here to view including the more common varieties.

Friday, December 4

Every picture tells a story.

The story that this picture tells is that winter has now really arrived! Up until this week the centres of the alpine strawberry flowers were yellow and fruit was still setting. But on today's visit to the plot there was evidence that the frosts had arrived. The centres of any open strawberry flowers had turned brown. This is perversely called strawberry black eye. This occurs when the reproductive parts of the strawberry flower have been subjected to frost and killed. 

Tuesday, December 1

Amazon Offers

Amazon are currently offering up the 50% discount on some gardening tools and equipment - examples below

They are also offering free UK delivery.

Click above for more details.

Monday, November 30

Final Entry in November's Diary

With the ground really wet and soggy after so much rain there isn’t really very much that we can do on the plot. Our footsteps are accompanied by a squelching noise wherever we tread. The best favour we can do for the soil and grass is to keep off.

At least a weekly visit to the plot is essential in order to gather some vegetables, pick any chrysanthemums and make sure the garlic in the plot greenhouse hasn’t dried out – although at the moment there seems little chance of that happening.

With little else to compete for attention the fatsia is producing its amazing flower stems and as usual I can’t resist taking a photograph - or two!

To visit to complete November diary click here

For this week's entry click here

Friday, November 27


Yesterday's visit to the plot and today's wander around the garden showed that many plants had not yet fully appreciated the time of year.


Lack of any severe frost to date and the fairly mild temperatures meant that even the rosemary was in flower. Also still showing a brave face were roses which were still producing buds, coreopsis, gaillardia, penstemon, cornflower, achillea and poached egg plants. Alpine and cultivated strawberries are still flowering and producing fruit but this isn't ripenening properly. Nasturtiums which tend to immediately disappear at the first sign of frosts are still managing to produce a few flowers.

Nemesia still sported flowers and the French marigolds and cosmos also had albeit small flowers.

For our weather diary click here

Wednesday, November 25

Welly Warmers!

Do you ever still have freezing cold feet in spite of wearing thick socks inside your wellies?

Just been doing a bit of browsing on the Internet and I came across these.

Has anyone tried them and can recommend that they work?

Trouble is that they start at large which I think would be too big for me!

Click here to read more on the Harrod Horticultural website

More gift ideas for gardeners can be found here and here

Monday, November 23

November diary has been updated

Just one visit to the plot this week, not really to do much work as again the weather hasn’t encouraged us to venture outdoors much. We have been lucky in that we haven’t suffered the flooding experienced by some areas but the strong winds make working outdoors an unattractive proposition. The rain has ensured that the soil is still too wet to work on.

Fortunately the only damage – if it can be called that – caused on the plot by the gales was the environmesh being blown off the carrots. We have so far escaped lightly. I just hope that isn’t tempting fate too much.

Click here for the latest diary entry and the larger version of our November photo album

Amazon have launched a pre Christmas Sale which closes on 4 December to browse click here

Sunday, November 22

Choosing garden buildings

I've recently added a couple of items on my "The School Vegetable Patch" website which may of be of more general interest to anyone thinking of buying a shed or greenhouse.

Click here for information on choosing a garden shed

Click here for information on choosing a greenhouse

Wednesday, November 18

Choosing fruit

I've just completed a page aimed at choosing fruit for a school plot on my School Vegetable Patch web site. Although aimed specifically at schools it may have some information of use to others.
To view click here

10% discount offered to our visitors!

Are offering a 10% discount on all their products - no code required as discount is automatically applied (prices are already very competitive) to anyone ordering from them after visiting any of my blogs or websites.
Victoriana Nursery Gardens offer a range of:

and lots more such as water gardening products, flower seeds and plants, hedging plants, books and magazines. Whether you wish too buy or not it is worth a browse!

Tuesday, November 17

Preparing for winter

In anticipation of keen frosts we cut down the remaining dahlias. We haven’t yet had a frost keen enough to kill the dahlia foliage. Testament to this are the two dahlias growing and still flowering on our weed heap. Click here for our weather details.

This year instead of leaving all the dahlias planted in the ground, most have been dug and placed in a heap. The tubers have been covered with straw to hopefully keep the frost out. A large sheet of black polythene covers the whole thing. This not only keeps out the rain but helps increase the temperature underneath. Click here for more.

Beetroot have also been dug and placed in between the rows of carrots which will be left in the ground until required. Like the dahlia tubers, these have been covered with straw. The environmesh that has protected the carrots from carrot fly has been left in place. We have stored carrots in this way for a few years now and it seems to work really well, however it is a first for the beetroot. Click here for more information.

Click here for the November diary update.

Monday, November 16

HELP! RHS website has been updated

The RHS have decided to update their website so links that I have created to their site may not lead to the required pages.

I am changing these as soon as I come across them but some are difficult to spot so please let me know if you find any bad links either on my blogs or websites so that I can deal with them.

Sunday, November 15

The will to survive and grow is strong

Last year we replanted our dahlias. Some tubers were huge and were spilt, some looked to be dead and were placed on the compost. Somehow a couple of tubers must have ended up on the pile we keep for weeds.Even after some cold nights and a little frost these are still flowering.

Wednesday, November 11

Government response to e-petition on reinstatement of aminopyralid licence?

The short government response to the above e-petition can be read here
The e-petition accumulated 2,665 signatures see here
For those of you still unaware of the problem with contaminated manure please click here

If you have any further problems with suspected contaminated manure you must inform the CRD and DOW.
Please let me know too so we can keep an eye on things

So what exactly do you do with 10 medlars?

We didn't really fancy eating them raw as they didn't look very appetising - what rotted fruit would? After careful consideration and much browsing of the Internet we decided to make medlar and apple jelly.

So this:

became this

For the full story click here

Tuesday, November 10

Medlars bletted?

I think that most of our medlars have now bletted. They have turned a darker colour and are soft - but dare we eat them? More about our attempts at growing medlars here.

A new month and it seems like an entirely different country. Autumn now seems to be heading inexorably towards winter as posts in our weather blog show.

It was really just a flying visit to the plot to harvest a few vegetables and make sure plants in the greenhouse had sufficient water. We didn’t even stop for coffee which must have been a first. There is still a bit of weeding that needs to be done but the pull to be outside wasn’t as strong this week.

Click here for the first instalment of our November diary

Monday, November 9

Fungi Expert Needed

I've always found fungi interesting even though I have never really known much about them. I basically understand the lifecycle but have no expertise whatsoever in identification.

Today after a week away from the plot we spent the afternoon there and I now have a puzzle to solve which is where the fungi expert would come in.

I took a photo of some fungi growing in the grass - it's just the sort of thing I tend to do. About a couple of hours later I noticed that the 'umbrellas' had changed colour and had a bluish tinge. Maybe a sign that if you eat one in a couple of hours your will be very ill or worse.

Can anyone solve the mystery for me and identify the chameleon fungi pictured below. The before is at the top and the after is underneath!

If by some good luck I actually manage to attract a fungi expert then to make best use of such good fortune I have posted some photos below of other fungi spotted on the plot.

Of the photos below - the top one actually looked a little like a shitake before it contorted into the shape shown. It was growing on an old slice of tree trunk.

The one above was growing at the base of the slice of tree trunk and the one below was also on a dead bit of tree trunk.

The one above almost looks like a mushroom.

The one below is cheating a little as I photographed it a few years ago at Harewood but have always thought it was particularly beautiful. It was another one making use of an old piece of dead tree trunk.

Click on any of the images to view a larger version.

Sunday, November 8

If you can't beat them ...

Visiting garden centres last week it became apparent that attention had turned from gardening to more seasonal concerns. I also received a couple of gardening magazines this week that also were in an early seasonal mood. As the weather today has been miserable I was spurred on to join them and have created a couple of web pages giving suggestions for gifts for gardeners in particular but not exclusively.

For anyone interested, (just in case for some reason you may shortly be buying gifts), they can be accessed here and here. Other ideas can be accessed from our shopping pages here.

And I haven't even mentioned the dreaded C word!!!

Saturday, November 7

Offers too late for us

Don't you just love it when people do special offers after you have paid the full price? Thompson and Morgan are offering a 25% discount off their selected range of mushrooms.  Ours were planted in October!


Click here to read more about this offer from Thompson & Morgan

T & M have more special offers here

Thanks for the award allotments4you.com Promise to pass it on when I have the chance to browse 

Monday, November 2

Good Gourd!

Just one visit to the plot this week and really more of the same, the mantra at the moment is clear, weed, tidy and burn with little watering in the greenhouse, where the garlic is growing quickly and chrysanthemums producing lots of flower, thrown in for good measure.

We still haven’t had a frost to either sweeten the parsnips or knock back the dahlias so this week half of the dahlias have been cut down and removed along with the ornamental gourds that were growing amongst them. The gourds have been very prolific with some looking exactly like an edible squash variety but we won’t be risking eating any. Dahlia tops have been piled on the compost heap but the question now is what to do with several dozen ornamental gourds?

To read the complete entry for the last week in our October diary click here

To read about how the weather has affected us this week visit our new weather blog here

Saturday, October 31

Feeds added

I have added feeds on the sidebar to our two other blogs:

This way you can keep an eye on the most recent posts made on both of these blogs.

The Green Lane Allotments Weather Diary concentrates on weather records taken in our garden and the effcts that the weather has on our plot and activities.
The School Vegetable Patch focuses on gardening with children especially in a school environment but it has articles that would also be useful to adult gardeners or those who garden with children at home. This blog links to our School Vegetable Patch website just as this blog links to Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments website

Direct links are also given to all these areas on the sidebar of all our blogs. We hope that you find your way around.

Wednesday, October 28

It's a girl!

Just had another message from the animal sanctuary. Our little hog is a female and is doing well but they are keeping an eye on her leg.
She has now been popped in the baby pen and will stay there all winter.

Tuesday, October 27

Our New Weather Diary Blog

As mentioned in the last diary entry winter can be a time when gardeners can be at a loose end and so my husband has decided to take up another hobby – weather recording. He purchased and fixed up all the necessary kit in our garden. We have decided to create a second blog where the weather information can be shared.
To view click here

STOP PRESS - Hedgehog Update

I've just had a very welcome message from The Crystal Sanctuary regarding 'our' little hedgehog's progress as follows:

"The little hog you brought in is doing well now, and since being wormed and had a course of antibiotics is now putting on weight and should begin to thrive.

We have had 13 brought in over the last three days so it has been a bit hectic".

So it was all worth it.

Monday, October 26

Hedgehog Ambulance

Inactivity on the plot has been made up for elsewhere this week.

At the beginning of the week our car became a hedgehog ambulance. Our September diary featured a video of two baby hedgehogs spotted in our garden. As these were obviously late babies I have been keeping watch for them. I was worried that they wouldn’t make the weight - 600g - needed for successful hibernation. One was spotted in our garden last week and ended up having an unexpected journey to a new home.

To read more visit last week's entry in our October diary
The October photo shoot of our allotment has also been added.

Saturday, October 24

Whitefly in my coffee

It just doesn't seem to be possible at the moment to do anything on the plot without whitefly getting in on the act.

Yesterday one decided to take a bath in my coffee. When weeding it is advisable to keep your mouth firmly shut and only breathe when absolutely necessary.

As soon as any type of plant is gently touched clouds of these tiny moth like insects rise into the air. It seems this is very much the pest of the moment but what do you know about these tiny invaders? Click here to read what I have managed to find out. There seems to be lots of ideas for how we may try to control if not eliminate these pests but do any of them work? If you have any tried and tested methods for control on food crops then please share.

Wednesday, October 21

Feed the birds day

You may be like us and feed the birds every day but the official RSPB Feed the Birds Day is this Saturday 24 October. The RSPB web site gives advice on feeding birds and helping other wildlife.

The RSPB are running events linked to this on 24 & 25 October. If you don't usually feed the birds why not start this weekend?

For instructions on how to make a fat cake click here

Haiths and Garden Birds are two online supplier of a wide range of bird and wild life food. Haiths also offer advice on their web site click here
Haith's - Trusted Bird Food Since 1937

Don't forget that birds need water for drinking and bathing too!

Today is Apple Day

Apparently last year the British ate twice as many imported apples as grown in Britain. We have been lucky enough to eat apples straight from our trees this year from both the garden and the allotment and they have been delicious. The ones pictured above were growing in our garden. We planted this tree as a cordon a long time ago. But now it just does its own thing! As we planted several varieties we are unsure of which this is. We think it may be Peasgood Nonsuch - anyway it's a really good apple!
Apple Day was set up as a celebration of the many varieties of apples grown on our home shores and also to act as a warning of what we could lose if we don't support locally grown produce.

For a brief history of Apple Day click here.

Articles from the Telegraph click here and here

Tuesday, October 20

Last opportunity to sign the petition on Friday

The last opportunity to sign the petition is on Friday so if you wish to sign you need to hurry!

October diary has been updated

Our plot neighbours talked us into growing some mushrooms this year – not the common variety that grows quickly and prolifically but something that presents more of a challenge - shitake for us and lion’s mane and oyster varieties for them. We each received short pieces of dowel impregnated with the appropriate spores. These had to be embedded into sections of freshly cut, damp logs. Now it is just a matter of waiting for what could be quite a long time.
Click here for latest entry in October's diary

Click here to read more about this offer from Thompson & Morgan