Wednesday, 27 February 2013

let the chitting Commence…..

IMG_0869Well were off, yesterday saw the first action for the new growing season, I went to my local garden centre and selected my seed potatoes for the coming season, I am being a bit more conservative this year as last year I conducted a trial into old heritage variety’s selecting 10 different potatoes but the weather was not the best for it really but still ended up with a decent crop.

I am not bothering with First earlies this year, the last few years I have been disappointed with the yield from them so I am opting for just a single Second early and 3 main crop varieties. I am going with what has produced well for me over the years this year to try and guarantee a good crop (if there is such a thing as a guaranteed crop)

The variety’s selected this year are:

British Queen, second Early this produced a great crop last year and tasted wonderful

Santé, main crop grow this every year really reliable and good cropping

Cara, main crop great for the allotment blight resistant and can cope with lack of watering

King Edwards, main crop this has been a reliable crop for me in the past.

I Really wanted to grow Dr Macintosh again this year but cant find anywhereIMG_0870 that stock it so may have to keep a look out because if i find it i will grow some because they were the best crop by far last year for taste and yield.

That’s it for this year just the 4 types hopefully I will get a good yield and should see us through the year for potatoes and that’s a goal of mine to not by potatoes for a whole season and just use what’s produced at the plot.

Let’s hope the weather is better this year for the allotment.

Thanks for reading…

Monday, 25 February 2013

My first Purple Sprouting Broccoli

IMG_0858It was a big day this week down the plot, as I knew my purple sprouting Broccoli would be ready to pick; I got a bit excited on the drive to the plot! Last year my PSB was a disaster firstly I planted them far too close to each other, then they were struck down by white fly LOTS of white fly and to crown it off the didn’t produce any broccoli heads.

So I did a lot of reading on the best ways to grow them and I had some great advice from my friends on twitter and other bloggers, so armed with the knowledge I really went for it last year.

I started with 7 plants but 2 were killed off with the wet weather (rotted) then the birds got to 2 of them so I ended up with 3 which I nearly lost at the turn of the year because I forgot to cover them and the pigeon’s stripped all the large leaves but thankfully they didn’t get to the heads before I covered it over. IMG_0783

PSB I feel is a special vegetable as it’s only available in a short window of 4-8 weeks. I know you can get it all year round but to be “in season” in this country it’s a short window.

To me PSB is a real treat to have and when I have it I like to do something special with it. Be it a flavoured butter or topped with Bacon lardons, but my favourite thing to do with PSB is to make a cheese sauce with Gorgonzola and drizzle it over the broccoli it’s a match made in heaven! And it’s a classic you can’t beat broccoli with blue cheese.

To make it you need:

25g salted butter

25g plain flour

250ml milk

Salt & pepper


English mustard

100g Gorgonzola

50g Bacon lardons (optional)

Warm the milk in a pan but don’t boil. Melt the butter but don’t colour it then add the add the flour cook for 1 min then add the milk a little at a time use a whisk to stop it going lumpy then season with Salt & pepper and add a small pinch of nutmeg and ½ teaspoon of English mustard cook for 5 mins to cook out the flour then add the Gorgonzola save a little back to sprinkle over the top at the end.

Then just cook your broccoli brain off all the water and pour over the cheese sauce.If you want to you could add some crispy bacon lardons to really make it.

Thanks for reading…

Sunday, 24 February 2013

planting plan 2013

Today I have added the planting plan for 2013 I have tried to keep it simpleIMG_0267 this year and grow less varieties and this year I will only grow what I know will do well.

I am going to do a trail with a giant pumpkin for my children because they want to grow a “massive” pumpkin so they can use it at Halloween as a coach to take them trick or treating (oh to be 5 again!). Plus daddy wants to enter the pumpkin contest at the allotment and try to grow the largest, just for a bit of fun really.

the plan is on the tab at the top of the page

Any way let me know what you think of the plan and what are you growing this year???

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Compost Plot 58 Style…..

I want to talk compost in this post, like most plot holders,IMG_0836 I make my own compost recycling all my waste materials from the plot, but I also compost at home, and have dome for a number of years now, but there is one big difference with what I do with my home compost.

When I clean out my chickens I add there waste. Chicken poop and straw mixed together. I also add Percy’s (my children’s Rabbit) hutch waste the sawdust and rabbit poop.

It makes fantastic compost and my allotment crops love it because I mix it in with the compost from the plot to make a mix that’s rich and full of great things for the vegetables. I also mix in lots of crushed down egg shells to some of it this adds a calcium boost to all my brassicas to get off to a good start. I collect the egg shells from work and dry them out and crush them down to almost like a powder, admittedly you need a lot so working in a hotel that does hundreds of breakfast helps this cause!

IMG_0835I add it to all my plants that I grow in pots and when planting out I put a little in each hole.

I leave my mix a full year to do its thing but it’s normally ready in 3 months but I like to leave it to really turn black and crumbly. I take the top layer off, that has not composed down yet then you reach the good stuff.

If you use chicken poop you must not use it fresh as it is too rich and will kill off your plants you have to leave it to compose for a while normally about 3 months. I don’t have enough chickens to make a pile of just poop and straw so that’s why I add it to my compost it turns my good compost into Super compost.IMG_0839

This year is going to be a bumper crop of compost I would say when it’s all mixed up together and ready to spread on the plot I would have about 40 wheelbarrows full!

Thanks for reading……

Monday, 11 February 2013

what's your new Season Resolution?

This time last year I had begun in earnest with sowing and getting things readyIMG_0319 for the coming season on the plot. Potatoes were chitting, broad beans sown, onion seeds had shown their heads and I had planned what I was going to grow for the year… this year I haven’t done anything yet apart from flick through a few magazines to find what I want to grow. This had lead me to ask myself what is my new season resolution?? Last year I had some big plans for the plot but my change of job and the weather put pay to some, so this year I want to keep it simple because as a chef we don’t lead a “normal” working life. The stereo typical Monday to Friday 9 to 5 job is a myth in the catering industry, and some weeks, it’s just imposable for me to get to the plot. So I am just going to grow what fits round my life style, vegetables that need water every day will be off the list and things like baby corn will not be grown, as I typed that it saddened me because that was one of the reasons I took the plot on to grow the things I love, but the truth is baby corn needs to be picked quickly and if left even for a few days they become too big and turn woody, as I found out last year.

So back to my question what would my new year’s resolution be?? Well the answer is keeping it simple. Grow less but give the less more attention don’t get me wrong I am still going to have a full plot but IMG_0425a full plot of what I love that fits in with me.

I read a lot of blogs from people that have taken on their first allotment plot and I know the tendency is to grow it all but what I have learnt is unless you can be at your plot 3 or 4 days a week it simply is not achievable. So my advice is, grow what fits with you.

I also what to keep my promise when I started my blog and that was to share some recipes from time to time with the things I grow on the plot so this year I will do more to share this.

So my question to you dear reader is what is your New Season Resolution?.................

Don’t forget you can follow me on twitter @plot58 or on Facebook.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Raspberry Care

I just been looking back at my blog post “Fruitilicious” last year, it’s aboutIMG_0347 how I don’t really have any success with soft fruit or any fruit for that matter!

I was looking back because over the last week I have tied up the raspberries & Tayberry bushes. I have summer and autumn fruiting raspberries and they have to be treated different, as summer fruiting varieties produce there fruit on last year’s new growth and autumn fruiting varieties produce there’s on this year’s growth,

So summer varieties have to have the fruiting stems removed from last year and the new shoots from last year left. How can you tell the difference this time of year?? I hear you all shout… Well I have a simple system really, I tie a peace of garden twine loosely round the stem of the new growth that appears throughout the fruiting season and these don’t get the chop whereas all the others do, you can also tell the difference as the stems that are older don’t look as green but instead look much more woody.And my Tayberries are also treated like summer fruiting raspberries and the old growth chopped back.

IMG_0819     IMG_0820

        Before                                                             After

The autumn fruiting varieties are a lot simpler to sort them all just get chopped back every year.

IMG_08222012 was a funny year for my raspberries as they were not producing fruit when they should be; I have 6 varieties of raspberry’s ranging from Very early to very late giving me a long season. Indeed I was picking raspberries in mid-November last year! But the season didn’t start when it should in fact all the raspberries were a good 5-6 weeks later than they should have been my first raspberries were not ready until mid-July I had quite a good crop though except from the very early variety’s as I think it was just too cold for them to do anything.

My Tayberry was a big flop though I just had 1 berry but my, it was a big juicy one. I am hoping this year will be better.

My strawberries were absolutely brilliant last year the best I have ever had IIMG_0821 would say I had 5-6KG in total and that’s being conservative! I put it down to the preparation I put in the year before I dug them all out and dug in a load of my homemade compost (with my chicken’s poo in it)then put them back only selecting the healthy plants and the young plants also. And I netted them from the start to stop the birds.

I had no joy also with my new pear tree I planted it was looking magnificent in early April but we had a cold snap and all the blossom fell and thus no fruit! Hopefully this year will be kinder to us allotment growers.