Tag Archive | Growing perpetual spinach

Strawberries And Cake

I thought I would start with a look in my greenhouse at home:

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The tomatoes and cucumbers are doing well and I have my first fruits forming.  I will now start to feed my plants with a high potash comfrey feed.  You can see from the photo above that I use old Blood, fish and bone tubs as pots for my plants.  I just drill a few holes in the bottom and use the lids as saucers to catch the excess water.

I am also still removing the side shoots from my tomato plants as they form.

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The hanging baskets that I planted up myself at home are starting to flower well too and I will also be starting to feed these this week, with the same high potash feed that I use for my tomatoes and cucumbers.  Soon the flowers will cover the sides of the baskets and you won’t be able to tell that I used a ‘compost bag’ to line the basket.

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As the weather has been lovely here this week I have managed to finish planting the majority of my vegetables at the allotment.

I planted some beetroot that I started off in newspaper pots:

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  I remember reading that beetroot doesn’t transplant very well, but it is fine when I grow it in newspaper pots as there is no root disturbance when I transplant them, as I plant the whole pot into the ground and it just decomposes.

Just in case anyone is unsure if this will work, below is a photo of some beetroot that is growing at my plot that I planted last month in a newspaper pot and as you can see it is growing well.

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In front of my beetroot I have planted my parsley plants.  I keep hearing that parsley is hard to grow, but again I never have a problem.  I sow a pinch of seed in newspaper pots filled with compost and they germinate well.  I just remove any extra seeds that germinate and then I transplant them again when they are big enough (I plant the newspaper pot into the ground as well).

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This week I also planted my swedes, kohl rab’s and turnips.  Again I’ve read swedes don’t like to be transplanted, so get around this by using newspaper pots and I have great success this way.

The birds love to eat these so I have built my usual cane and bottle cage around them:

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I also planted my perpetual spinach plants.  I think perpetual spinach is such an under-rated plant.  It doesn’t ‘bolt’ like ordinary spinach does in the summer and it lasts for months and is hardy so it can be eaten in winter when there isn’t much else around….but most importantly it tastes nice like spinach and can be used in exactly the same way.  I love adding small, new leaves to salad and the larger leaves are great to cook with.

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Also at my allotment, the pansies and violas are looking stunning now at the front of my plot.  These were all reduced a few weeks ago from Tesco and I paid just £3 for all of them.  I don’t usually like these plants and I only bought them to fill a patch before my own bedding plants were ready, but I think I have finally been converted as they look stunning:

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This week, I picked my first broad beans.  I love to open the first pod and eat the beans raw.

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I gave the above beans to my ‘in-law’, as they absolutely love broad beans too and I must say there are loads more nearly ready to harvest.

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And we are having salads nearly every day now, as I have so many ‘webbs wonderful’ lettuces in my polytunnel and I have mixed salad leaves in my greenhouse at home, which is great.  I am also picking radishes and spring onions from my polytunnel.  I particularly like to add coriander to a bowl of salad, which I have also been growing in my greenhouse too.

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My strawberry harvest is going well too this week.  On Wednesday I managed to pick a whole carrier bag of strawberries (and I probably ate another bag while I was picking them lol).  There really is nothing like freshly picked juicy strawberries, that are warm from the sun.

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While I was wondering what to do with all the strawberries, I decided to try some of them with the homemade vanilla ice cream I made this week and it was delicious!…

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….And a few hours later my eldest daughter made this cake (which was even more delicious)….

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I felt like a queen, having a cake made for me.  Though I am going to have to stop eating all these lovely things if I don’t want to end up enormous!

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Finally this week I made some ‘Dark Chocolate Rum Truffles’ and some ‘White Chocolate, Apricot and Brandy Trufffles’ for fathers day.  The recipes can be found here.

I think they make super presents and I would love to receive them.

“I always say a homemade present comes from the heart and not just the bank account and thats what makes it special” 

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So over all, it has been a productive week from the ‘Notjustgreenfingers’ household….and it’s been one of those weeks that I am glad to live the way we do.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back next Friday at my usual time.

Have a good week!

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Winter Salads – A Winters Delight

Hi all.

Today I thought I would talk about the winter salads that I grow at my allotment, especially now that Autumn is approaching.

On the 14th August I sowed some winter hardy lettuces, mizuna, corn salad, perpetual spinach and winter hardy spring onions.  As the weather was still warm then, they germinated in just four days which I was quite amazed at:

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This week they were big enough to plant out:

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I cleared away some of my old crops in my polytunnel and then raked in some ‘Blood, fish and bone’ before planting them all out.

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All the above salads are great to grow all through the winter.  All they need is a bit of protection i.e. under a cloche, cold frame, a cold greenhouse or polytunnel.

I tend to treat the salads like cut and come again leaves, as I just pick a few leaves from the outside of each plant each time we want a salad to go with our meal.  This way the plants continue to ‘heart up’ in the centre.

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The photo below shows some different leaves I picked on a winters day at the beginning of the year.  There are two different winter hardy lettuces, corn salad leaves, mizuna, winter hardy spring onions and ‘baby’ perpetual spinach leaves.

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They all make a lovely salad mixed together:

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The two photos below show the salads growing last year in my polytunnel:

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The photo on the right shows the corn salad, mizuna and some younger winter lettuces.

I like growing mizuna as I particularly like the peppery taste of it in a mixed salad and as it’s a brassica, it looks beautiful when it eventually flowers in Spring and attracts the first butterflies of the year:

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Winter salads are usually sown in August and September and grow slowly over the winter under protection.  They have a lower proportion of water than summer lettuces, which is why they survive after being frozen.

A few winter salads you may like to try are winter hardy lettuces (I use a variety called ‘Artic King), mizuna, rocket, corn salad (lambs lettuce), mustards, winter purslane, land cress and winter hardy spring onions.

If you haven’t tried growing winter salads then have a go and I’m sure you will be pleasantly surprised.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday at the usual time.

Completing Planting And A Bumper Harvest

I have so much to write about today, as I have been working so hard at my allotment this week.  I wanted to finish planting all my crops before the long school holidays begin, in exactly one weeks time.  The schools here in Leicestershire break up earlier than the rest of the country.

I started by planted some more perpetual spinach:

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….And some more spring onions.  I sow my spring onions in modules as I always had a very bad germination rate when I sowed them straight into the ground (though I don’t know why as they are supposed to be an easy plant to grow).  By sowing a few seeds in each module, I find it almost guarantees a high germination rate.  I don’t thin the spring onions either, I just plant them as they are when they are ready:

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In the right hand photograph above, you can just see the newly planted spring onions and you can see the ones I planted out three or four weeks ago growing nicely behind.

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I also planted out my spring broccoli, curly kale and some more khol rabi.  All of the brassicas were planted in firm soil which I had dug and manured last autumn.  I also walked over the area before planting.

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As the ground was dry when I planted the brassicas out, I dug a hole for each plant and filled it with water.  When the water had drained away, I then planted them.  This allows the water to go deep into the ground to encourage the roots to also grow deep to find the water.  It also helps to stop the water from evaporating quickly after planting.

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I also planted some quick growing turnips too, but you may have to enlarge the photograph below to see them:

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All my brassicas have nets over, to stop the dreaded pigeons eating them.

While I was working in my brassica patch, I removed any yellowing leaves from my remaining spring cabbages. This will help to stop the build up of any pests or diseases lurking in them.  These cabbages were planted a month after my first spring cabbages and they are now starting to heart up nicely, so I will start to use these now.

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I have now officially ran out of room in my brassica beds and so I can finally say I have finished my summer brassica planting:

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This week I cut my comfrey down.  I prefer to cut my comfrey down before it flowers, but I just wasn’t quick enough this month.  If you have been reading regularly, you will know that I have already made comfrey tea this year (which incidentally is a wonderful high potash fertiliser used for all fruit and flowers e.g. it is a great tomato feed).  You can read how to make comfrey tea here.

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I have also added a vast amount of comfrey to my compost bins already this year.  So when I cut it down at this time of the year, I lay it down between my main crop potatoes instead.  This acts as a mulch to help to stop water evapourating from the ground and also helps to stop annual weeds from germinating.  When the comfrey breaks down, I just dig it into the ground to add nutrients to the soil.

I think comfrey is a wonderful plant!

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This week  I also cleared my old perpetual spinach that had ran to seed and planted my french beans in it’s place:

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I cleared my broad beans in my polytunnel that had finished producing beans:

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And I cleared my poached egg plants that had finally finished flowering either side of my path.  I transplanted some self seeded calendula plants in it’s place, though it looks quite bare at the moment it will soon grow and look pretty and be a bonus for the bees:

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Another thing I have started to do is to ‘nip’ the tops of my runnerbeans off as they reach the top of their supports.  This helps the plants to ‘bush out’ further down and produce more beans:

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This week’s harvest:

Plants have been growing slowly due to the cold spring we have had.  However, the plants are finally now producing and I seem to be having a bumper harvest.

I’ve started to pick my outdoor broadbeans this week and I have needed to pick them every other day:

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I have found my peas are just great, even though they a month behind.  My back has ached just picking them:

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So too is the mangetout (even though some are a little larger than I would have liked, as I didn’t notice they were ready):

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My potatoes taste delicious (especially with a knob of butter) and we are eating lots of lettuces, watercress and spring onions….I love summer so much.

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And my strawberries…well what can I say other than it really is a bumper crop and I’m picking carrier bags full every two days:

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Of course the down side is that I had to defrost my freezer ready for all the fruit and vegetables that I have been bringing home….

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.,….but it will be worth it when we are still tasting ‘summer’ in the long cold winter months.

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I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday with some Jam making tips.

Hope you have a good weekend.