Sunday, 29 March 2015

Pimientos de Padrón, the race is on.

As you may have read in previous blogpost, my mother had sent me six packets of Padrón pepper seeds, myself and few friends are all growing them. It's been called a competition, but how we are going to judge who wins or looses is anyone's guess. It has been mentioned, mainly by myself, of us all getting together and having a Harvest Fiesta with our pimientos. That is more up my street. Today's blogpost is just about how we are all getting on.


Firstly we have Sally, she was the first to start her seeds off. To say she's a bit competitive is like saying Einstein's a bit clever. Trouble is, she can back it up. As the saying goes "What she doesn't know, ain't worth knowing". So she has started her seeds off in a heated greenhouse with the temperature staying between 15°C and 20°C. These are her seedlings from about two weeks ago. They have now been potted on.


Next is Phill, aka Suffikboi, who started about a month after Sally. He's been very scientific about it all. As you can see, he's used seed trays with one seed in each using multipurpose compost that was left in the kitchen near a window (sunny and south facing) 24 hours before planting to keep warm. Once planted, the compost was kept moist with warmed water so that the temperature of the compost wouldn't drop. Half had a heat mat under at 24°C, 90% germination after a week. The other half hadn't germinated after two weeks with the kitchen temperature at about 20°C. Now that's dedication.


Michelle has had a bit of misfortune, she has her seedlings growing on the kitchen windowsill, doing quite well as it goes, until one of her cats decide it's a good spot for a snooze resulting killing all but two seedlings. These now are well out of reach from the cat, with foil under the pot to help increase fruit with less aphid damage. As for the cat, I suggested a Davey Crockett style hat.


This is Liam's first time growing any type of chilli. He has used one of his herb planters he makes. Once filled with compost and seeds sown, he had left it under the stairs for a few weeks to keep warm, while also keeping the soil moist. Like myself, he doesn't have a greenhouse, so he has them in a utility room windowsill in the sun.


Lastly, myself. Above are my first sowing. Directly into pots, soil kept moist on a windowsill. It took bloody ages to germinate, but slowly they did. Two weeks later I used a propagator, lid and all, didn't take half as long. Clearly I needed to cover the first batch in some way.

Now I did say to Sally that I have a trick up my sleeve. I don't want to let my ancestors down, the only one descended from Galicia and not able to grow pimientos de Padrón. I was given six seeds packets, so I've sneakily added another competitor. Let's call him Mr. Newman. He's a friend from work and by his own admission , he kills everything he tries to grow. Before he knew what had happened, he was holding the last seed packet. I'm not going to loose this one. But the joke's on me. On his shift there is a man know as the Genius, knows everything about everything, he has an allotment as well. Mr. Newman has only gone and given him the seeds to grow on his behalf. Oh well! As yet I don't have a report yet on our last grower.

I'd like to thank everyone taking part for taking the time to send the information and photos. I'd also like to apologize for taking my time in putting it all together. Till next time and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Spring is truly here.

For the last few weeks I've been asked and have done a lot of Overtime at work. I haven't done as much as has been asked, because I had to draw the line somewhere. Although the money comes in very handy, there is no point in working all the hours when Spring is the busiest time in the gardeners calendar. What the hell am I supposed to do with the potatoes and onion sets if I have no time to sow them?  Sunday was a day best spent on the plot and what with all the hustle and bustle of King Richard III's reinterment, I knew exactly where I wanted to be. Don't get me wrong, it's a big thing for Leicester and I'm glad he's been laid to rest here, but I'm not a big fan of crowds and me being so small, I wouldn't see anything anyway.

Onion bed No. 1

I was planning on spending most of the day on my own on the plot with my 'Weekend Dad' duties done, but on bringing my daughter back home, there was a change of plan. I had now inherited three helpers, my youngest daughter and my Ex's partners two children. They were the best helper's I've had in a long time. They dug a bed and prepared the soil ready for sowing the onion sets. We had a few onions left over, so they dug another bed and sowed some more. 

Onion bed No. 2

And yet we still had onions left, so the flower bed that I had been preparing for my daughter now has onions. I didnt intend to buy so many onions, it's just what came in the £1.50 bag. The bed's not quite finished, but for the moment, it'll be OK. My daughter assure me she doesn't mind me using it, she'll just put flowers around the onions.

Onion bed No. 3
The children's day was made when the pheasant that patrols the site passed by. Try as they might there was no photographic evidence, nothing very clear at any rate. They would've had a better chance of photographing Nessie. 

The only thing left to do was to was to water everything in, including the row of potatoes I had put in the week before. When we got back, they each got £2 for their hard work. I have since been told that a bag of sweets is the going rate for kids helping out on the allotment. Till next time and thanks for reading. 

Monday, 9 March 2015

It's that time of year again.

Yes, Spring is here. The days are starting to get noticeably longer and not so cold either. Enough incentive for the most bone idol of us (I am aiming this at myself, so please don't be offended) to get down to the allotment and get some work done. But as I've mentioned in the past, life seems to throw up all kinds of obsticals. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. This weekend was the first time in two weeks I've shown my face on the plot. A mixture of fetching and ferrying offspring, putting together my new bike, dodging raindrops and not to mention 'Just five minutes more in bed please'. But this weekend I was determined to make it. Only really managed a total of four hours over Saturday and Sunday, but every little helps. This is how determined I was, on Sunday, my daughter and I gathered everything we needed, tools, food, schoolwork. Opened the front door and turned on our heels as it was pouring down with rain. Put the kettle on, made a cup of tea and in true British style, waited for the rain to cease, then set off again. Luckily, we didn't have to wait too long and we had less to carry too, the food was eaten.

Cardboard laid out

Watered cardboard

The main job and boy am I making a meal of it was to press on with my daughters flower bed. I've dug the soil over lightly, removing as many of the thick woody weeds as possible. Covering over with some cardboard (I've put the box the bike came in to good use) then soil on top taken from various spots from the plot. I've also made use of some lawn edging that had been lying around in the shed for years. It's clearly not quite finished, still plenty of soil to add and the edging needs to be better secured. 

Over the last few weeks of winter I had put a large upturned flower pot over the rhubarb to try and force it and it's worked. I'm hoping to make at least one rhubarb crumble this year with it. It's had a full year on the plot now so I should be established.

The potatoes are finally starting to chit. Nothing seemed to be happening until I picked one up on Saturday and noticed that they'd been Chitting in secret. Ok, hands up, I addmit it, I had placed the potatoes the wrong way around. From now on I'll think of Bingo, eyes down. I'm hoping to put them in the potato grow bags by next weekend.

I do have quite a few seedlings growing and doing very well, mostly Garden Connect seedlings. So another blogpost should be on its way very soon. Till next time and thanks for reading.