Saturday, 22 November 2014

Garden Connect review.

Today was one of those days that I was really in the mood for spending time on the plot and I feel it was a productive day. But to tell you that I moved a few slabs about, dug up some weeds and tidy up sooner than I wanted to because the rain got heavier won't make for very good reading. There is only so many times I can add that sort of stuff to my blog before I'm tiered of it. You now know what I've been up to today, so I'll take this opportunity to review my first year taking part in Garden Connect. For those of you who are not quite familiar with it, here's a brief description. It's the idea of Matt Hiemstra, a young Canadian studying horticulture. In a bed that is 6'x2' and divided into 12 equal squares, myself and many other gardener's across the globe grow the same plants and vegetables in the same order as everyone else. Posting comments on various social media, good or bad, for others to compare and learn from each other. For a more in depth description, you could click on the GC link. This was the planting scheme for the very first year of Garden Connect.

First we have kale. I've never grown it before and as far as this single plant goes, it seemed fairly easy. The seed was sown straight into the soil and seemed to be quite happy in its little corner. I got to eat this little beauty in a soup and I'm pleased to say that I plan to grow more next year.

As you can clearly see, what is growing is not a lemon cucumber, just regular cucumber. These seeds came all the way over from Singapore and although they germinated really well, the British slugs seemed to like them far too much. So much so that from over 40 seeds, only two plants survived the little bugger's. Just as well really, because I was planning on growing as many as possible and then passing them on to fellow gardeners for those that wanted lemon cucumber.

This is supposed to be bush beans, or as we know them in the UK, French beans. But could I get them to grow? It didn't matter whether I tried them in the greenhouse, or directly to the soil, nothing happened. So this is my effort.

All my life while growing up, I was told 'Don't eat flowers, you'll die!' A bit dramatic I know, but it turns out you can eat some flowers. Nasturtiums are edible and after a few weeks of wondering 'Should I, shouldn't I' I finally took the plunge. I wish I'd stuck to the original advice and not bothered, it was awful. What's more, it grows like a weed and self seeds. I think I'm going to be busy trying to get rid of it.

My apologies, this is the best shot I have of the tomatoes. What's worse is that I couldn't get the plum tomatoes to germinate, so I got some yellow tomatoes, golden sun. Considering they were outside and unprotected, I managed to get nearly a pound in weight of tomatoes from one plant.

This is as good as the sweet pepper's ever got. I really didn't expect any more that. It just doesn't get warm enough. A greenhouse is definitely needed.

Parsnips have been my best success this year by far. I had more parsnips in this square foot than I did in all of last year. Four of them were so unbelievably big that I put my fork through them. The seeds where started off in a clear sandwich box, on a wet sheet of kitchen paper. Once they started to sprout, they were sown. This is something I will try again.

Spinach is another vegetable I have not grow until this year. Not knowing what to expect, I let them go to seed before I realized. Oops!

I've never done too well with lettuce in the past due to slugs. Not much has really change, but I got a few to eat.

You see, this is what happens when you don't thin out your carrots. It's something I need to learn to do. I'm just glad to have grown carrots.

I like to think that I've not really had problems with onion sets sown in the spring. I put them in, they got big, I dug them up.

I've never been a fan of beetroot, but this year I've sliced them thinly and fried them. Thank you Garden Connect.

So that was my first year taking part. I'm looking forward to next year to see what I mess up and what I do well with. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Road works.

It has been a couple of weeks since if made an appearance on the plot, but honestly do have a very good excuse, you see I spent last weekend in Suffolk with a few gardening friends I've been wanting to meet for a while now, Phill (AKA @suffikboi), also Sally and Michelle from the 'Big Allotment Challenge'. Three of the nicest, down to earth potty mouthed people you could want to meet. Although it was gardening that brought us together, it was a subject that sometimes came into conversation it's fair to say. We were like a bunch of kids on a school trip that had broken away from the main group. My cheeks have just about recovered from all the laughing.

So with apologies out of the way, this is what I've been up to this week. With the path that was laid two weeks ago, the rest looked a bit shabby. It was only ever a quick fix after getting rid of the grass paths, but a sort out that needed doing. The picture above shows you what it looked like and it doesn't seem so bad, but when you get up close, it's a health and safety nightmare. If anyone goes onto my plot and along the path, they would surely trip over and I would be sued. It was a good job I had my steel toe capped boots on, it was a most useful tool to rest the slab on my toes to then remove or add more soil to make it all level. This is how far I've got with it. I'm nearly at the end of the plot, but that's not even half the job done. 

I didn't just mess about with the slabs today, although by the time I got home I wish I hadn't started, I also dug up a parsnip for our tea. An ugly bugger I will admit, but also a bloody heavy one too. I recently bought some scales and this was my first opportunity to try them out. Can you believe it's just under a kilo in weight, or just over 2lbs in imperial measurements. Till next time and thanks for reading.