Garden And Gardener

Everything for the Gardener and their Garden

Starting to grow vegetables from seeds

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

This is just a few thoughts on what I learnt last year from our first year on the allotment. The main thing I learned was slugs really will eat everything you put in. In fact let that be the main lesson of this article. The slugs and to a minor degree other pests, are the enemy of the gardener. The domain forced off having allotment is a constant battle between you and the slugs. You grow plants in pots to stop the slugs eating the seedlings as soon as they come up, and the slugs eat them as soon as she put in the ground. If you sow directly into the ground the slugs will just eat a lot. That’s not true actually I did have several rows of beetroot, or, and my rats tail radishes came up really well. The parsnips came up quite well to, the carrot is not so good. But I did notice that everyone our screw their carrots in containers up on a shelf somewhere or on top of a compost heap.

The peas and beans needed to be grown in pots. Slugs just love beans and even when they were planted out in pots and quite big plants the wind got them. Although they survived enough to give me quite a lot of beans in fact half a freezer full, I did feel that the should’ve been an easier way of stopping the slugs from getting them. I’m not quite sure what that is though.
I did use the slugs pellets, I tried a couple of brands.. But the slugs seemed to quite like both.

I do know however that seeds need a really fine seedbed if you planting them directly out into the ground. That means plenty of raking to make the soil very fine. I suppose for plants that don’t mind being disturbed, a pot is probably the best way to start them off. If you get those trays where you stand the pots in, then it is easy to move them about in the greenhouse or in a cold frame. Just try to manage a large number of pots moose would be a nightmare.

Someone on the allotment had started off a lot of seeds for me, which I found very useful book I haven’t given enough thought about what I wanted to to be growing. I ended up with some cabbages, when I really published of grown red cabbages. However we live and learn. I was also given a margarine tub filled with leek seedlings. These grew really well into leeks and I was very pleased with them.

I also like to have another go at growing butternut squash. I really like the taste of butternut squash, but apparently not as much as the slugs like the leaves. They were completely by the slugs. Although I did have one plant which flowered these never lasted and I never produced any squashes.

We really did enjoy growing tomatoes and will be doing this again for sure. The taste of freshly picked tomatoes is just something out. And although they take a lot of effort looking after and watering I think the taste is justified. I can barely stand to eat supermarket tomatoes.

It is a lot of work with the allotment, I’m sure you could do quite a lot in a small garden if you tried. You just have to be imaginative space, and decide what you want to grow. I’d very much like damson tree at home, although I think it will take up quite a large bit of garden stop I’ve just started on a jar of jam that I made from damsons grown on my allotment and it is utterly delicious.

Allotment update

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Have had a busy week and not got down to the allotment as much as I wanted to. Have pulled a few weeds, picked lots of runner beans, some more raspberries and some tomatoes and a huge courgette.
I’m going to pass on some runner beans to a neighbour near me who adores them but the slugs got all but one of his plants this year so he’s not got as many as he wanted!
I’ve frozen the raspberries. I’m going to make jam with them soon – I think I’ve got a couple of pound of fruit now. Some lovely big berries picked tonight.
The nights are now getting dark early! It was nearly dark at 7pm when we left the allotment site.
Must get down during this week to pay for a load of manure and get some of the weeds dug up!

Some gardening news

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Not from me this time, but a story I’ve just seen on the BBC about a huge meat eating plant! You know venus fly traps and pitcher plants catch flies and other small insects, well they have recently discovered this huge plant in the Philipines which is a new special – see the bbc news story here

Plus also on the BBC news site this week a report about waiting lists for Allotments around the UK. In one London Borough there is a 40 year waiting list for an allotment. That’s pretty shocking news but not a complete surprise to anyone one of the thousands of people on the allotment waiting lists. More should really be done to encourage people to grow their own,.

Tomatoes going red

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

We were looking yesterday at how big some of the tomatoes were getting in the greenhouse and I noticed some had started going red! This really was a fantastic moment! Red tomatoes! Amazing!
OK it’s not fully ripe yet but getting there.

I’ve been picking raspberries and strawberries (Although strawberries have all gone virtually now, so I’m hoping they’ll have another flush of flowers!) all week and have made some jam. This has been my first attempt at making jam and it tastes excellent!

We’ve pulled a couple of carrots and have eaten one on the allotment! Same with some peas! Next year we’re going to do a huge row of peas and try not to let the slugs eat them! There are some lovely red flowers on the beans so that’s a good sign and I’ve picked some broad beans too!
My neighbour at home has given me some onions. He’d forgotten if he’d put in spring onions or proper onions and had probably left them a bit long for spring onions. I had thought he’d bought sets though! Interesting all the same!

Carrots in tubs

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

We didn’t put our carrots in tubs. But maybe we should have done. It appears an awful lot of people on our allotment site plant their carrots in containers. There’s someone with three huge dustbins packed full of them. I’m not sure how big they get – but I’m going to be there when he pulls them up!

Here’s some in a washing up bowl! It’s not a hugely deep container – but they’ve certainly done better than our carrots which seem to be buried in the chickweed!


At least I think they’re carrots! They certainly look like them to me!  If they’re not – then please get in touch and tell me what they are!

Allotment was damp and cold this morning but busy. Our weeds are causing a nusiance and my other half has finally ordered a petrol strimmer which should be here on Wednesday – so he’ll be reviewing it then! And I’ll also show you some photos hopefully of our tidier plot!

We’ve got plenty of pea flowers, broad beans flowering nicely and the runner beans have started budding their pretty red flowers too!

The tomatoes are swelling gently in the relative warmth of the greenhouse and they got fed again today.

The basil is looking more promising and I have stuck some vine stems in a pot of soil in the hope of getting some to root so I can inflict them on friends and family!

The butternut squash at the allotment looks suitable blown about, but the ones at home are looking much better – they’ve been a bit more sheltered from the last days weather and were a bit bigger too. June should be ok for putting everything out, but it’s a bit cold and bleak today.

The onions look great – will definately be doing some different types next year, so maybe two beds of them!


Looking green and healthy – and we weeded this entire bed before we came home – we could sense the rain was coming in and we did get back just in time.

So much chickweed this year it’s quite shocking. Even the tray of plants a friend gave me had some in! So it’s not confined to the allotment plot! I was given some chinese vegetables which I put in the bed with the broadbeans, leeks and a new row of carrots. It’s a very mixed bed – which might or might not be a bad idea yet.

Allotment sharing

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

On the allotment everyone is really friendly and helpful. The old timers are happy to share their years of experience.  One man started on an allotment in 1953!

When people have too many plants to put out they offer them round, and people like to have a nosey in your greenhouse and see what you’ve got on your plot.

John gave me a packet of soya bean seeds – I’ve planted a couple of rows and am going to put in another row if I get chance this week.

Steve from across the way popped over today to ask me what I had growing in a tray in the greenhouse. It’s a flat tray of leaves from a money plant that I’m experimenting with as to how many will root. I’ve already gor 18 tiny plants potted up for the allotment open day plant sale but wanted to know if I could get some leaves to root. I have done at home before now and got some great plants from it, so I stuck about 50 leaves in a tray.  The mother plant is pretty much unwanted now and looking a bit straggly so it’ll sit under the bench in the greenhouse until Autumn and then I’ll have to decide what to do with it.
I have Steve a large piece of it for him to pot up and see if it’ll grow. It’s normally really easy to take root so he should have a couple of healthy plants in a week or three.

Lots of people on the plots today – car space was heaving – Sundays are very popular and hot Sundays even more so. There were lots of people pottering about with watering cans.

Did a little weeding around a couple of rows of veggies and watered the peas. Spotted the first pea flower today – which is excellent news!

I read that you need 120 ft row of peas to feed a family of four. I assume that it meant for drying some for winter too! We love fresh peas and it’ll be so nice to be able to pick some this year – perhaps some will even make it home to the pan!

Extremely hot weather again today.

Hot weather and the allotment

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

When it’s as hot as it is today there’s a few jobs that definately need doing.

Watering newly planted seeds, and plants that are developing fruit need lots of regular water. Potatoes that are growing need plenty of water too – so don’t forget them!

Hoeing the weeds away when it’s this hot is really effective. The poor things shrivel up and die in the sun – so it’s well worth spending some time doing this where you can.

Chickweed seems to be especially active this year and is everywhere. Several plot holders are blaming it on it being in the compost from last year and are refusing to compost it this year. Old timer Percy is quite happy to accept all compost material donations though – the bigger the heap and the faster it’s put together the more heat it generates and should kill all the seeds.

We’ve filled one side of our double compost bin already. Partly through some old uncomposted stuff being put back in and all the new lovely weeds.

Watered the tomatoes today as usual and added some plant food to the watering can. They’re doing really well – the initial four plants and the extra ones are coming on pretty well too.
We planted out about half the leeks – they were as fat as pencils and getting far too tall so we decided to put them out now. We dibbed holes 5-6 inches deep and put the leeks in. They’d been in pots of compost so we rinsed most of this off to get them into the hole – the book I’d read said nothing about this – but seemed to think you’d just have roots (as did the man on gardeners world!). I’ve not trimmed the roots or tops of them – my book says this old way isn’t really needed.

I also planted out the cucumber plant – I’ve only got one as I know we don’t eat a lot of them. It’s pickling type which should be ok for salads peeled (they’re a bit spiney apparently) and good for pickling! I adore pickles so am looking forward to doing these.

The onions are coming on nicely. Weeded them again today and they’re nearly clear of chickweed. I have very much learnt the need to put them in very straight rows as it makes hoeing so much easier.

A word of advice – wear a hat in such hot weather! and you should put on sunscreen too!