The Inca Berry Experiment

So How Best To Plant Your Inca Berry Seeds?

inca berry photo

Three sisters.  Three methods of growing.  Which was best? This year I decided to do the Inca berry experiment from the Home Grown Revolution book.  Because they say they need to be quite warm I grew mine on a downstairs windowsill. But my house is quite cold only at 15/16 degrees in March/April and the berries need to be 18 degrees, at least.

This resulted in taking ages to germinate and then grow very, very slowly. I then put in a second sowing when it was warmer and put them in the bedroom windowsill.  These grew much better. Continue reading

What to Look For in Quality Women’s Wellington Boots

Wellie Boots and Me – Why The Right Wellies are a Must

Dunlop Wellington Boot Photo

Dunlop Wellington Boot

I grew up in the countryside and when we were young wellingtons were simple.  We had green!  They were sturdy and practical and although didn’t cost the earth were made to last.  Dad had ones with steel toe caps as he worked outside.  I remember one year having to borrow my parents boots to walk four miles each way in the snow to get some basic supplies like milk and bread.  This experience taught me the importance of a well fitting boot!

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How to Choose a Garden Sieve

Why Use A Garden Sieve?

There are several different reasons for using a sieve in your allotment or garden.  You may want to remove stones or weeds or make your soil much finer.  Many gardeners prefer fine soil when they are planting out small seeds directly into the soil as this saves the seed from having to struggle against large clumps of soil or stones thus aiding growth.

Another reason is that when things like carrots hit stones they can become flawed or even split into two.  Having a fine soil around them will help them to grow straight and strong.

Not everyone will sieve their soil or compost.  It will depend on your own preferences and if you feel this will help you.

When to Sieve Compost

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Nearly May Already

Well as April draws to a close I am reviewing my  progress on the allotment.  My new half plot is coming on well.  I now have the structure in and some apples that are flowering, raspberries that were tranfered from my other plot and a Tayberry that my sister gave me.

My Pine berries and Rhubarb are growing fine.  The rest has been or is being dug over.  One part I have given over to wild flowers in the hope that it will help the bees.  There is still a lot to do and if my Inca Berries grow they will also be going into this plot.  I have also just planted two Goji Berry bushes one in my fruit plot and one in my other plot.

My main plot is waiting for produce to go in.  The potatoes are in but it all seems very slow this year.  Still it has given it time for the green manure to rot in a bit more.  Mum visited a local farm and has bought some brassicas that are already well established.  Unfortunately she got carried away and bought far too many.  I feel a bit bad in not taking them all but if I did I would have too many growing at once.  I asked for 8 and she has 25!

My experiments (with the exception of the carrots) are under way.  I must remember to photograph them.

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An Exciting Revolution in Homegrown Edibles

I am so excited.  While at my mums I came across some information that blows the normal gardening books out of the water.

This book is a breath of fresh air.

It has a huge range of exciting new plants, fruit and herbs that are not normally mentioned in your usual allotment books, that you can grow.

When I showed this to my sister she went and got one, then my other sister saw it when she visited and was reading it within minutes.  She now has a copy!

Who is it for?

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Why Not Grow Cucamelons? Easier and Tastier Than You Average Cucumber

Discovering Cucamelons

cucamelon pictureWhat Are Cucamelons?

The Cucamelon: The cute, tiny and tangy fruit that looks like a mini watermelon is about to take off in the UK.

Tasty and easy to grow, they are something a bit different to add to your normal allotment crop.

Photo by Poppet with a Camera 

Are they GMO?

These days you never know.

The first thing I did was do an internet search asking if Cucamelons are GMO or not.  I came up with a Daily Mail article that quite clearly says that they are not some GMO weird hybrid.  Thank goodness.

They come from central America and they are a delicacy there.  They taste like a lime and a cucumber combined.  Cucamelons are also so tiny only about the size of your average grape or the end of your finger.  Believe it or not they have also been popular since pre Columbian times.

The Nine Great Things About Cucamelons

  1. They are very easy to grow.
  2. They will grow in the UK.
  3. They do not need to be put in a greenhouse.
  4. They are fairly fast growing (2-3 months).
  5. They don’t need a lot of space and can be grown in grow bags or pots as well as your allotment. (I have seen one suggestion, that they would be great in a hanging basket)
  6. They are easy to harvest as you just wait off them to fall off the vine.
  7. They can be grown in soil, grow bags or tubs.
  8. Butterflies love the little bright yellow flowers.
  9. They are not invasive or aggressive.

Things Not So Great About Them Continue reading

First Visit Of The Year and I’m So Excited!

Yesterday was amazing on the allotment.  Although it is still early January it felt like spring.  With all the high winds I thought I’d better go and check my cloche as when when pinned down it has a tendency to go flying!

It was a beautiful Sunday morning and the sun was out.  Even though the temperatures were said to only be topping about 8C it felt much warmer than being inside.

I did a bit of pruning of raspberries and some weeding and then just sat and enjoyed the day for a bit.

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The Carrot Experiment

carrot photo2014 sees the start of the carrot experiment.

Carrots are an easy to grow root veg.  I didn’t plant them last year as I am not a huge carrot fan.  I use only a few a year.

Also carrots do not do well on these allotments and most gardeners find they are a failure year after year.  They either do not grow or they are attacked by carrot fly.

Photo by charirygirl

However a couple of things have changed.  Since putting in my beds and started crop rotation in earnest I had discovered that I am not actually growing a root veg/potato bed.  So I will have this bed empty.  Rather than that I decided to expand my growing by adding early potatoes and some carrots.  This coupled with a few salad veg will use the spare bed and keep to my 4 year crop rotation plan.

Carrot Issues

Carrots do not do well on these allotments.  Many of the experienced gardeners cannot get them to grow.  This is why I decided to give them a miss.  I wanted my first allotment year to be as much as a success a possible to stayed clear of any problem areas.

There seem to be two problem areas.  The carrots are small or do not germinate. And they have major carrot fly issues.

I have found that most seeds put directly in the ground there do not germinate or grow well so will need to find a way around this.

Possible Carrot Solutions

The carrot fly cannot or does not go about 18″ above the ground.  The standard way to protect carrots is by either raising them up or putting a barrier around them to prevent this.  Unfortunately this does not work on these allotments.  Many people try and try again to grow them with little or no success.

This year one lady was successful.  Her technique was to cover them in a tunnel of fleece with the ends sealed and pinned down for the whole time and being as fast as she could when she had to open the tunnel for any reason.

I have yet to decide whether I will try different methods or just try the last one.

 

 

 

Border Forks, Great For Small Places or Smaller Feet

Border forks are great for borders, weeding, lifting and compost.  They are also great for small places, ladies and smaller people with small feet.  I tend to use mine for all my main digging rather than a bigger fork as I find the larger forks too heavy to work with.

I would not recommend these as your main digging tool unless you are a smaller person and struggling with the larger ones.  I would say anyone with up to a size 5 (38) foot could use one of these if they wanted to.  Larger feet tend to slip off the edges.  Mine do sometimes, but feel this is a good compromise for me personally rather than struggling.

They should be the same in all ways as a larger fork but just not as heavy and wide.  Though of course these days there are stronger an lighter materials even for bigger forks.

Below are some examples of Border Forks from the low, mid and high price ranges along with what you can expect to get and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Great Value for a Budget Fork

Elements Boarder Fork Photo

This is a great tool for someone who is shorter as it is smaller and at just under 2kg which is quite light (about the weight of an average laptop).  This will make it easier to use and work your plot.

This fork has extremely good feedback for a tool in the lower end of the price range.  It is also a traditional ash wood which many people will love.

It is made of heat treated carbon steel and is epoxy coated to protect it from rust which is always important if you are getting carbon steel as opposed to steel.

What drew me to this fork is the shaft is made of ash.  I like many others love the traditional wood finish.  Also I took note of the fact is looks like the grain is fairly straight.

The handle also looks comfy and easy to grasp and well positioned for easy digging.

While it is well made and quite good value for the price I feel that it isn’t suited to the heavier clay soils and would be OK for the lighter soils.

In my view it would be better if you need something stronger to go for the mid or higher range of forks.

Spear & Jackson - Elements Border Fork

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