Archive | March 2013

Peas, Soup And A Frozen Yoghurt Recipe

Apparently, it’s the coldest March for fifty years and it definately feels like it.


We have been quite lucky here in Leicester as we haven’t had too much snow, but it’s still impossible to work my allotment.  My potatoes and onion sets will just have to wait.

One day I will get my shallots into the ground!



Before it began snowing, I did manage to transplant some ‘Forget-me-nots’ that had ‘self-seeded’ around my allotment.  I love ‘Forget-me-nots’ for this exact reason, as they self seed like mad and look so natural around my plot.


I transplanted the ‘Forget-me-nots’ around my newly planted Snowdrops, that will remind me of my dear friend who sadly passed away in February.

You can read about the snowdrops I planted in my woodland area and why I planted them here.

‘Forget-me-nots’ are lovely, especially in between spring bulbs, so hopefully they will look beautiful in a few years when they have had time to self seed further in this area.

The RHS give details of how to grow ‘Forget-me-nots’ here.



Another job I did manage to do before the snow, was to prune the Buddlia’s and the Lavatera bushes at the back of my plot, behind my ‘hazel’, which incidently I planted a few years ago so I can grow my own pea sticks and bean poles.

I left the Buddlia’s and the Lavatera bushes quite tall, as they have to compete with the hazel for light.  I planted them there for two reasons.  The flowers are great for the bees and butterflies and when I cut the hazel down, I will have something pretty to show through.



At home, I sowed my first set of peas.  I am a little late sowing them this month but I suppose I’m late doing everything in the garden this year due to the wet weather.

I have tried different ways of sowing my peas, but I find it best to start them off in my greenhouse at home, in small lengths of guttering.

I use small pieces of guttering as I find the compost slides out easier from the smaller pieces than the long lengths of guttering.  I seal each end of the guttering with a piece of ‘Duct tape’, to stop the compost falling out:


I fill the guttering with compost and sow my peas into it:


The peas I sowed are a hardy variety called ‘Meteor’ which you can actually sow in Autumn and they will stand over winter under the protection of a cloche.  I find it better to sow them this month.

Incidentally round, smooth peas are hardier than the wrinkled varieties that are usually sweeter.  I took a photo of the two types of peas, so you can see the difference.

The pea on the left is ‘Meteor’, which is the hardier round, smooth pea that I sowed and the pea on the right is a wrinkled variety:


My guttering will sit in my heated greenhouse until I just see them poking throught the compost and then I will move them into my coldframe.

You can read how I plant my peas here.



Due to the weather I managed to do a few ‘catch up’ jobs at home this weekend.

I made some ‘Pea Pod’ soup for my eldest daughter as she loves this and I found a bag of pea pods lurking at the bottom of my freezer.

You can read how to make the soup here.  This soup is an old wartime recipe that is extremely cheap to make, though it is a bit like ‘marmite’….you love it or hate it!


I finally got round to making some soup with my ‘Jamaican Pumpkins’.  These pumpkins are smaller than the halloween pumpkins I grow, but they are usually bigger than the ones in the photo below (I think this was due to the wet weather over the summer).  These pumpkins are also great for roasting as they hold their shape better during cooking.


I made a spicy pumpkin soup.  You can find the recipe here.  I managed to get four portions out of one of the pumpkins, which I will freeze ready to take to my allotment for lunch, another day:

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I also topped up my ‘vinegar spray’ which I use in my kitchen as a mulitipurpose anti-bacterial cleaner.

I use white vinegar (which cuts through grease and grime) and a few drops of teatree oil (which is antibacterial).

You can read all about the old fashion cleaning methods that I use here.



I then blanched and froze my allotment cauliflowers, that I picked this week.  I am very proud of them.


I cut them into florets and blanched them for 2 minutes.

You can reading about freezing vegetables here.



Finally, I thought I would experiment and make a ‘Healthier Ice cream’.  Technically, I can’t call this an ‘ice cream’ as it’s under 4% fat, but it tastes really nice.


A Strawberry Frozen Yoghurt Ice cream Recipe:


230 grams Strawberries

250 ml Natural Yoghurt

100 grams Caster Sugar


Squash the fruit with the back of a fork


Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix together


Pour into your ice cream maker

(refer to your ice cream maker for timings and how much to fill the bowl).

If you haven’t got an ice cream maker, just put the blended ingrediants into a container and freeze.  Remove from the freezer every 1-2 hours and mash vigourously with a fork to break up the ice crystals.


Transfer the ice cream to a suitable container and freeze for a few hours until completely solid and then enjoy.

Strawberry Yoghurt Icecream Served with Crab Apple Syrup and Sprinkles

Strawberry Yoghurt Ice cream Served with Crab Apple Syrup and Sprinkles


Thank you for reading my blog today.

As it’s Easter I’ll be taking a break to spend time with my family, so I will be back on Friday 5th April.

I hope you all have a lovely Easter.

‘N-P-K’ …What does this mean? Fertilisers Explained.

This is something that mystified me, until it was explained to me at college a few years ago, when I took my RHS Horticulture Course.  When it’s explained properly, it’s not really that hard to understand at all, though some books make you feel like you need a scientific degree just to open the page, let alone read it.

As spring is around the corner, I thought it would be nice to take a look at ‘N-P-K’, in the hope that my explanation will help to unravel the mystery surrounding it.  I’ll apologise now for those who know this already, but it’s great to refresh your knowledge sometimes.



So what is ‘N-P-K?’

A German scientist called Justus Von Liebig (1803-1873), came up with a theory that Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium are mainly responsible for healthy plant growth.

Of course it isn’t quite this simple, as there are lots of things that promote healthy plant growth, such as soil structure, soil pH, and trace elements (I’ll cover them another time).  But mainly, when choosing a fertiliser, it’s the Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (N-P-K) that we look for.

Fertilisers are used to improve plant growth.  If your soil is healthy, you don’t necessarily need a fertiliser, but by using them you may produce a higher yield of fruit and vegetables or a better show of flowers.  Though it must be noted, you can over feed plants too, which can also cause problems, so always follow the product instructions.



If you look on your box or tub of fertiliser, it will have three numbers.

The picture above shows: Fish, blood & bone  (4-7-4)

The numbers reflect the percentage of the nutrient, per pound of plant food. The first number represents Nitrogen (N), the second number represents Phosphorus (P) and the third number represents Potassium (K). 

So you can see from the picture above, the feed is slightly higher in Phosphorus (P).

(Please stay with me  and try not to switch off, as these figures really do mean something to your fruit, vegetables and flowers).




Nitrogen (N):

Nitrogen promotes a good, green leafy growth.  This is particularly important for green leafy vegetables like cabbages, spinach etc.  If you have a nitrogen deficiency, you will most likely see spindly yellow plants and leaves, occasionally with a pink tint.  A nitrogen deficiency will cause stunted growth.

High nitrogen feeds include sulphate of ammonia and poultry manure.



Phosphorus (P):

Phosphorus promotes strong healthy root growth and shoot growth.  It is rare to have a phosphorus shortage in the soil, but it can happen if you have a heavy clay soil or suffer with a very high rainfall.  If your plants have a phosphorus deficiency, they will be slow to grow and have a dull, yellow foliage.

High phosphorus feeds include superphosphate or bonemeal.



Potassium (K):

Potassium helps promote better fruit and flowers and the overall hardiness of the plant.  If your plants have a potassium deficiency, the leaves will become yellow, with brown around the edges and you will have poor fruit and flowers.  Shortages of potassium are more likely to be found on light sandy soils, as a clay soil will hold potassium well.

A high potassium feed is sulphate of potash.



So what is the difference between a ‘Compound Fertiliser’ and a ‘Straight Fertiliser’?


A ‘straight fertiliser’ has just one nutrient in it

e.g. sulphate of potash (which is used around fruit bushes in February / March).

A Straight Fertiliser

A Straight Fertiliser


A ‘compound fertiliser’ is a mixture of different nutrients:

e.g. Blood, fish and bone (organic) or Grow more (in-organic).

A Compound Fertiliser

A Compound Fertiliser


How do you apply fertilisers?

There are different ways to apply fertilisers, but these are the three main ones:

  • Top dressing:  Sprinkle the fertiliser around the plant and hoe or lightly fork into the ground.  Be careful not to get any fertiliser onto the leaves of the plant, as this can cause scorching. 
  • Base dressing:  This is where you rake the fertiliser into the soil before you plant into it.  I usually spread Blood, fish and bone two weeks before I plant into the soil.
  • Liquid fertilisers / soluble powders:  These can be watered straight onto the plant roots.  A good example of this is a tomato feed, which is watered onto the plant roots each week or fortnightly.  The nutrients are available to the plant straight away.  Again, if you water directly onto the leaves, it can cause scorching.


My barrel of 'Comfrey Feed'

My barrel of ‘Comfrey Feed’


To finish off with, I just wanted to remind you that fertilisers should not be used as an alternative to soil conditioners.  Leaf mould, compost and manure all help to break up the soil and improve the soil structure.  This in turn, will help the plant to take up the nutrients, which makes them stronger and able to provide us with our wonderful, fruit, vegetables and flowers.

I had some new organic manure delivered on Tuesday, at my allotment:


  It smelt very fresh!  I covered it, to stop the nutrients leaching out when it rains.

I won’t be using this manure until September, so this will give it a good six months to continue rotting down.


 My husband had the day off work to help me with the delivery, ready to clear any manure that dropped onto the road.  The delivery man was great though and managed to drop the whole load exactly where I wanted him too, which made it very easy for us.


Am I the only woman that gets excited over a ton of manure?

Thank you for reading my blog today.

I’ll be back on Monday.

The Edible Garden Show, Bob Flowerdew And A New Sausage Maker

On Saturday I went to the Edible Garden Show with my two sisters.  My eldest sister paid for our tickets as a christmas present and I loved it.

  You can read the ‘Edible Garden Show’ Website here.

There were plenty of interesting stalls, selling products and giving advice.  It was great to wander around.


There were also lots of interesting talks which I enjoyed.  Alys Fowler talked about growing about fruit in small places, showing photos of her own garden.  She also included some photos of fruits that she foraged from car parks local to her, which was great.


Another really good talk, was given by Bob Flowerdew, a wonderful organic gardener.  He talked about ‘No Work Growing’, which was basically ways to reduce or eliminate unnecessary chores.  He was very funny at times.

Earlier in the day I was really very lucky.  I noticed Bob Flowerdew in a quiet part of the hall and I asked him if I could have a photograph with him.  He was lovely and put his arm round me while the lady with him took a photo for me.  It made my day.


My one and only purchase of the day was…….. drumroll please……


A ‘Meat Mincer ‘ with a sausage making attachment.  A cumberland sausage mix and some sausage skins also came with it.  It cost me £20, but I was assured it works perfectly.

I have noticed since, that it can also be used to make pasta too.
I am really looking forward to using it and I have told him I will rewiew it on my blog, so he can see how I get on.

I hope it works well.


As it’s been such a wet weekend, I haven’t been able to get to my allotment.  So today I thought I would show you a couple of photographs that I took on Thursday morning, when the weather was nice for a change:


This is the robin that always comes over to me when I’m digging or moving compost at my allotment.  I always reward him with some tasty mealworms on my bird feeder.


This is ‘Scraggy Fox’ that is always hanging around my plot.  He had just been drinking out of one of my ponds, he must have been thirsty.

Poor ‘Scraggy Fox’ has a skin condition which has caused some of his fur to fall out and I feel very sorry for him.  I don’t feed him as I don’t like to encourage town foxes, but he has been visiting now for two years and has become a familiar sight to me.



The photo above is something that has surprised me… My cauliflowers were grown to be harvested last August, but because the weather was so dreadful last year, they are only just ready now.  Luckily they were an ‘all year round’ cauliflower.

This cauliflower fed us all for two meals and I have another five cauliflowers still to pick, which is marvelous.



Finally, sadly we had our last homegrown butternut squash this week.  It was lovely roasted and was enough for a couple of meals.

This demonstrates how long they will store if they have the right conditions.  I store them in our bedroom, as it’s the coldest room of the house …so very romantic lol.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I’ll be back on Friday.

Preparing Onion Beds, Brussels And A Creamy Coleslaw Recipe

The weather has been strange this week.  We woke up to a layer of snow on Monday morning and have had snow showers on and off all week.  It has been so cold.

On Tuesday it was -2C outside, which is way below average temperatures for March and the weatherman reported that this time last year, the temperature recorded was 18C!

Never the less, I have managed to get a few jobs done at the allotment.



This week, I managed to pick the last of my Brussels.  I cleared the bed and forked it over.


I was very pleased with my Brussels this year, as I only had one plant out of ten, that had ‘blown’ sprouts on.

 ‘Blown’ sprouts are just sprouts that have opened, they don’t look as nice, but they can still be eaten.  I was always led to believe that this happens if your soil isn’t firm enough.  However, for the last couple of years I have dug the soil in autumn, danced and jumped on the soil around my plants and still they have ‘blown’.

Last year I decided to buy an F1 variety that apparently were less prone to ‘blowing’ and I’m very pleased to say, it worked.



This week, I also managed to edge the other side of my summer raspberries with ‘lawn edging’ from Wilkinson’s.  It looks neater now and I’m hoping it will stop the fox from pushing the soil onto the path next to it.



Another job I managed to do, was rake some blood, fish and bone into the soil, ready to plant my shallots and onions sets, in a couple of weeks.


 Afterwards I re-covered the soil with plastic to keep the soil warm.


My shallots are still sitting in pots in my cold greenhouse at the moment.



Finally, this week I noticed my spring broccoli is beginning to sprout.  My youngest daughter will be pleased as she loves it.



Mother’s Day

On Mother’s day last Sunday, I decided to have my favourite meal, instead of our usual ‘Sunday roast’.  I chose to have a homemade pizza, jacket potatoes, salad and homemade coleslaw.  You can see how I make homemade pizza here.

My Olympic Pizza

My Olympic Pizza


I thought I’d share with you, how I make the coleslaw, as it’s very easy to make and tastes lovely and creamy:


Homemade Coleslaw

½ white cabbage shredded finely

2 carrots grated

1 onion grated

150ml mayonnaise

2 tablespoons of natural yoghurt

Juice of ¼ of a lemon

1 teaspoon caster sugar

Black pepper to taste.


Mix the cabbage, carrots and onions together in a bowl.


Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly.


Enjoy your lovely homemade coleslaw!


I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

I’ll be back again on Monday.


Homemade ‘Wraps’, Laundry Liquid, The Allium Leaf Miner And Seed Sowing Continued.

The Allium Leaf Miner

If you read my blog on Friday, you will know that last week, I dug up my remaining leeks and froze then.

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While I was preparing them, I found something interesting that I thought I would share with you.

I found an Allium Leaf Miner, so I took a photograph to show you.


Plants affected by the allium leaf miner tend to rot, from the damage it has caused on the plant. If you look closely on the picture above, you can see the small brown pupae, 3-4 mm long, embedded in the stem.

This is a pest that was only detected in Britain in 2002. It has been spreading rapidly since and spread to many places in the Midlands for the first time two years ago.

The allium leaf miner isn’t choosy which allium it attacks. Alliums include onions, leeks, garlic and shallots.

Last year I lost quite a few of my overwintering onions to the Allium Leaf Miner, so this year I covered them in environmesh, though it would cost too much to cover all the alliums I grow at my allotment, so I’ll have to hope for the best.

You can read all about the Allium Leaf Miner here.


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Seed Sowing:

The seeds I sowed on the 25th February have now all germinated and are growing well:

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From left to right, I have Celeriac, greenhouse tomatoes, lobelia, lettuce, cabbage and cauliflowers.

The celeriac, tomatoes and lobelia are sitting on my windowsill inside my house and the cabbages, cauliflowers and lettuce are sitting on a heated mat in my cold greenhouse.


The seeds I grew on the 9th January are also doing well now too:

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From left to right I have peppers, basil, broadbeans and onions.

The broadbeans are in my cold greenhouse (as they are an overwintering variety), and the rest are sitting on my windowsill inside.

Finally, the shallots I planted in paper pots on the 6th February, have all rooted and some are beginning to sprout:


So far, my seed sowing is going well.

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Laundry liquid:

I was running short of my homemade laundry liquid this week, so I made some more.


I love this liquid as it saves us so much money and it is really easy to make.

You can read how to make it here.



Homemade Wraps:

Today I thought I’d show you how I make homemade ‘Wraps’.

Homemade wraps are brilliant as they are so so easy to make and I have worked out that they cost just 15 pence to make…this is just under an incredible 2 pence per wrap!

The cheapest wraps I have managed to find are currently 12.6 pence per wrap, so it’s definitely cheaper to make them.



 Homemade Wraps:

250g plain flour

1 tablespoon of olive oil

150ml warm water


Sift the flour into a bowl.

In a separate jug, add the olive oil to the warm water, then add this mix to the sieved flour and stir well until it all comes together into a ball.


Knead the ball for approximately 5 minutes.  Add a little bit extra flour if the ball is too sticky.

Divide your dough ball into 8 pieces.


Heat a frying pan until it is very hot and then turn down to a medium heat.

While the pan is heating, sprinkle some flour onto your work surface and roll out a dough ball into a rough circle shape.


Put into the frying pan (with no oil) and cook for approximately 1 minute, then turn and cook for a further minute on the other side.

(Be careful not to overcook or the wraps will break when you fold them).


Leave to cool on a cooling tray.



How to fold a wrap:


Half fill the wrap with your desired filling


(in the picture I used mayonnaise, cheese and salad, but you can put whatever you normally put in your sandwiches).

Fold the top, three quarters of the way over the bottom


Fold the left side over the right side and turn the wrap over.

Then you have a perfect, homemade wrap…..Enjoy!


I’ll be back on Friday.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

A Frittata Recipe With ‘Leftover Vegetables’ And A Week Of Allotment Work

It has been a very busy gardening week at my allotment.

I started by feeding my fruit bushes and trees with ’sulphate of potash’, which is a good feed for fruit and flowers.  I sprinkled it around the plants and forked it into the soil and then I gave them all a layer of my own allotment made compost:

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I also planted broad beans at my allotment.   I sowed the beans in December and they had sat quite comfortably in toilet rolls, in my cold greenhouse at home.  I raked some blood, fish and bone fertiliser into the soil before I planted them  (it is better to rake this into the soil two weeks before planting, but I was a bit late doing this).  I planted two double rows, each plant 20cm apart and approx. 60cm between the double rows:

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Another thing I planted was the garlic I had sown in pots in my cold greenhouse over winter.  Unfortunately, I lost most of the garlic I planted directly into my allotment soil, before Christmas.  I think this was probably due to the constant wet weather we had.  I’m glad I planted the garlic in pots as a backup now:

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Remember my bean trenches?  I finally finished filling the second trench with peelings etc. and I covered the trench with soil.  The runner beans will love to be planted here at the end of May, as they love deep, moist, fertile soil.

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I also received the snowdrops ‘in the green’ that I ordered a couple of weeks of ago and planted them in my new woodland area.  If you have read my blog recently, I ordered these so I can remember my friend who passed away last month due to a brain tumour.  Snow drops were in flower when she died and the snow fell heavily during her funeral and she would have loved how pretty it looked.  It seemed fitting to plant snow drops in my woodland area that will always remind me of her:

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It has been a really tiring week as I started to prepare my potato patch ready for planting next month.  I started by digging up my remaining leeks and parsnips:

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After this, I forked in loads of manure.  When I am moving and spreading my manure, I always wish I was a 20 year old fit male, instead of a 46 year old struggling female!  I find this job such hard work and I’m glad I’ve finished it now.

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Later, I froze the parsnips by peeling them and chopping them into roughly equal sizes.  I blanched them for two minutes and then froze them on a tray before bagging them up.

By freezing the parsnips this way, I can remove the required amount of parsnips from the freezer and roast them from frozen with my roast potatoes on a Sunday lunch time.

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I froze the leeks exactly the same way.  These will be used in soups, spag bogs, chilli’s etc.

You can read how to freeze vegetables here.

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Today, I thought I’d share a really easy recipe with you, that I cooked this week.  It’s a good way to use up cooked vegetables that are left over from the night before and it is so filling:


Frittata with Leftover Cooked Vegetables:

8 eggs

Leftover cooked vegetables e.g. potatoes, peas, carrots, French beans

1 Courgette (I use ready sliced courgettes that I froze last summer)

1 Onion

A handful of parsley (again I use parsley that I froze last summer)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

A handful of grated cheese

Salt and pepper to taste


 Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan.

Fry the onion and courgettes over a medium heat, until soft.


Add the leftover veg and continue to fry until they are heated through.  Add the parsley.

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Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and add the salt and pepper.

Pour the eggs over the vegetables and cook gently, without stirring, until the egg is approximately two thirds cooked.

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Sprinkle the egg with the grated cheese and put the pan under your grill for a further few minutes until the egg is set.

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Slide the frittata onto a plate.

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Cut into slices and serve hot with a nice crisp home grown salad.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I’ll be back again on Monday.

A Year Of Growing In A Polytunnel – My Review

Last week after one of my posts showed a photograph inside my polytunnel, Anna from ‘Dig The Outside’ asked if I had any more photographs.

I thought it would be a nice idea to write about my first complete year with a polytunnel and what I have learnt, showing you some of the photographs I have taken.

(I apologise that the quality of the older photos are not quite as good as the newer ones, as some of these were taken on my mobile phone, before I started my blog).

January 2012 - My New 4th Plot

January 2012 – My New 4th Plot

The main reason I took on the fourth allotment plot in January 2012, was that it had some wonderful fruit trees and bushes, but more importantly it had a fairly new polytunnel on it.  You can see it in the photo above.

You may have read before, that the plot belonged to ‘Eric’ before I rented it.  I learnt so much from him and he was, and still is my greatest allotment inspiration.  Eric’s family put the polytunnel on his plot for him just two years earlier, after removing the old and dangerous greenhouse that he had.  They did a fantastic job, leaving me with a sturdy, well thought out tunnel.

Eric grew his tomatoes in the polytunnel and even though he knew he was giving the plot up because it was getting too much for him, he still cleared most of his old tomato plants away and left the polytunnel tidy for me…thank you for this Eric:

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I decided right from the start that I wouldn’t grow tomatoes in my polytunnel, as I had my greenhouse at home for this.  I knew I wanted to grow a large range of plants in there, but my main priority was to lengthen the whole growing season, both at the beginning and the end.

This whole year was going to be a trial year for my polytunnel.

I started by digging up any perrenial weeds and digging in loads of compost, which Eric had also kindly left for me:


Then I sat and planned what I wanted to plant.

I sowed my first lettuces and radishes at the end of March last year, covered with a small cold frame to begin with and I planted some early peas that I had started off in guttering in my warm greenhouse at home.

I also planted six early potatoes and covered them with straw instead of earthing them up:

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  I grew many things in my polytunnel the first year.  Each time I harvested a crop, I replaced it with a sprinkling of fertiliser and a spade full of new compost and then replanted it with something else.

Here are some photo’s I took throughout the year:

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And how it looks today:


During the last year,  the polytunnel has been a godsend, producing crops that struggled outside in such a cool, wet summer.


The following crops that did really well were:

Lettuces – (all through the year)
Radish – (no signs of flea beatle, though outside radish suffered badly in spring)

Perpetual spinach

Khol rabi

Cape gooseberry



Sweet Peppers



Broad beans

Celeriac (grew bigger than those outside)


Gerkins (produced far more than those grown outdoors)

Carrots (no problem with carrot fly and germinated without a problem)


Corn salad

Turnips (they seemed to grow in front of my eyes)



Spring onions (both summer and winter varieties)




The following crops that didn’t do so well were:

Courgettes (succumbed to mildew early on and produce fewer than those grown outside)

Patty pans (succumbed to mildew early on and produce fewer than those grown outside)

Chick peas (I think this was down to lack of pollination)

Potatoes (I harvested an earlier, but far smaller crop due to a smaller amount of water)




The ‘Not so good things’ about owning a polytunnel:

Opening and closing the doors – In April and May I had to visit my allotment every morning to open the polytunnel doors and again every evening to shut them.   I did this to keep some warmth in during the night, until the threat of frost had passed by at the end of May.

Watering needed to be carried out every day during late spring and summer.  Luckily for me, I have a good allotment friend who helped out when we went on holiday.

Everytime I left the polytunnel I had to put a caged door on so the local fox didn’t go in.

When it snowed in the winter I would have to knock the snow off before the weight of it did any damage.  In fact, the last snow we did have, managed to pull some of the plastic away from the wooden door frame.




It must be noted that some of the crops that did so well in the polytunnel in 2012, would usually grow well outside, but as it was such a cold and wet summer, it was a godsend.

Some things I tried in the polytunnel were because I had one or two plants left over, after planting the majority outside.  These plants always grew quicker than the ones I planted outside on the same day.

I planted Tagetes in the polytunnel to attact beneficial insects into it and it worked brilliantly and looked great.



It was great to have earlier crops and later crops, in fact we were still eating my summer lettuces (not winter hardy ones) at the beginning of December, which I think is amazing.

I loved my first year with my polytunnel, but watering was such hard work.  I am now looking into the possiblility of somehow attaching a soaker hose to a large water tank I have, but I’m not sure if this will work?

It was lovely to work in the polytunnel when it was impossible to get onto my plot, due to last year’s wet weather.  In fact, I can honestly say it was a pleasure weeding and planting in there, listening to the wind and rain outside.

And finally:

The benefits are so great to me, that I am planning on adding another polytunnel to my plot eventually, when I can afford it, in the hope to have more winter/spring crops ready earlier.


Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Friday.

What To Do In the Kitchen Garden In March

When I first started to grow vegetables I really needed the information to be in one place, so I could look it up easily. However, I found I had to search for lots of little bits of information, scattered between internet sites and books. It used to take me a long time to find the information I needed.

I thought it would be useful to have this information altogether in one place. So for the benefit of the UK gardeners, I write a list of things to be done each month and any useful information I can think of.

It is worth remembering that different parts of the UK have different weather conditions e.g. the last frost is expected earlier in the south than the north. Therefore, this is a general guide.




March can have some beautiful spring-like days.  Don’t be fooled as it can also turn very cold, snow isn’t unheard of in March and frosts are still common this month.  If you sow too early in cold, wet ground you will probably be disappointed, as your seeds will just rot.  So be cautious in March, or sow in pots and trays in a cold frame or greenhouse for earlier crops.

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Vegetables and salads to harvest:

Harvest your last celeriac, swede, parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes, if you haven’t already and continue to harvest kale, leeks, mizuna and corn salad.  Harvest your first rhubarb, winter lettuces, Swiss chard, spring broccoli, cauliflowers, hardy spring onions and loose spring cabbages.



Vegetables and salads to sow:

Broad beans, Sprouting broccoli, spring onions, cabbages, early cauliflowers, spinach, peas, lettuces, leeks can all be sown outside towards the end of the month, if the soil has been covered to warm it up, otherwise, sow in cloches or in cold frames or indoors if it is really cold.

Lettuces, spring onions, radishes, rocket and herbs such as chives, coriander, fennel, oregano and parsley can all tolerate low temperatures, but cover with fleece if a frost is forecast. Again, the protection of a cold frame is advisable for germination.

Brussels, globe artichokes, cabbages, cucumbers, celeriac, chilies, sweet peppers, kohl rabi, sprouting broccoli and tomatoes can all be sown indoors, either on a windowsill or in a heated greenhouse.  Look at each seed packet for the temperature required for each individual vegetable to germinate.



Things to plant (if the soil is not frozen or waterlogged):

Peas and broad beans can be planted outside if you started them off in pots in a cold frame.  Shallot sets can be planted this month and onion sets can be planted this month or next month.

First early potatoes can be planted this month in well prepared soil.  Also, asparagus crowns can be planted in pre-prepared trenches.

Rhubarb sets can still be planted now and cold stored strawberry runners can be planted.


Jobs to do:

Feed overwintering crops with a top dressing of fertilizer such as blood, fish and bone or a seaweed fertiliser.

Rake your soil to a ‘fine tilth’ before sowing directly.

Apply an organic fertiliser approximately two weeks before planting crops such as shallot sets, broad bean plants etc.

Split chives every three or four years to make more free plants.

Weeds will start to grow more this month so it’s time to bring out your hoe and dig out any perennial weeds before they take hold.


Finish winter pruning of blueberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants.  Autumn raspberries should be cut back down to the ground if this wasn’t done last month, as autumn raspberries fruit on the new year’s growth.

Feed fruit trees and fruit bushes with a high potash feed.  Sprinkle it around them and cover with compost or manure.

Keep removing yellowing leaves from brassica’s as they can spread diseases and harbor pests.

If possible, cover cherries, apricots, peaches and nectarines with fleece when a frost is due to avoid frost damage

Complete your winter digging and warm the soil with plastic before planting.



March pests and diseases:

Mice and rats love to dig up and eat newly planted broad beans, early pea seeds and garlic.

Slugs can be a problem even in Early spring.

Pigeons are hungry and love eating brassicas so keep them netted.

Bull finches love the new buds on gooseberries, so net them early.

Cabbage caterpillars can appear this month if the weather is mild and they have overwintered.  Inspect the leaves of brassica’s and pick them off if you find them.

Continue to check for ‘big bud mite’ on blackcurrants. The buds will actually look big and swollen if affected.

Cover nectarines and peaches with a rain-proof sheet to protect against peach leaf curl.


I hope this information has been helpful.

Thank you for reading my blog today.