It has been a showery week at my allotment. On Tuesday it lashed down with rain for half an hour and even hailed. I sat in my car and had lunch watching it, but soon afterwards the sun was shining again:
Yesterday was officially the first day of spring and spring flowers are looking beautiful. I noticed my Hyacinths at my allotment are flowering lovely in my flower patch. I bought these bulbs for just 10p in a sale, approximately four or five years ago and they have given a good show each spring:
This week I have been concentrating on tidying up last year’s brassica beds, where I will shortly be planting my shallots and onions.
I started by digging up my remaining brussells and freezing them. I am very pleased with my sprouts this year, they are an F1 variety called ‘Igor’. For years I couldn’t grow sprouts without them ‘blowing’ (which means loose, open sprouts), even though I tried everything that the experts told me to do. In the end, I tried growing an F1 variety and I now have success:
I washed and prepared the brussells, blanched them and then ‘open froze’ them (if you are unsure how to freeze vegetables, you can read about it here).
I also lifted my remaining swedes this week. I have lots of people tell me that their swedes become ‘woody’ if they leave them in the ground too long. I have never had this problem, but I have read that two reasons for ‘woody’ swedes are either a lack of water at some stage while they are growing or a lack of nutrients in the soil. I must admit I only ever water mine if it’s really, really dry, but I do plant mine where I have manured the autumn before and I give the ground a feed of blood, fish and bone a couple of weeks before I plant my swedes out (I sow my swedes in mid-April in newspaper pots).
I noticed the kale at my allotment is about to flower. It usually lasts a bit longer before it flowers, but I can only assume it is because it has been mild for the last couple of weeks. I chopped the flower buds off in the hope it will last a bit longer as it doesn’t freeze very well and I have so much of it left for us to eat.
I also noticed that my spring broccoli is nearly ready to pick (my youngest daughter will be pleased as it is her favourite vegetable):
I spent time this week making the edges of my paths neat, where my ‘poached egg plants’ grow. I love the poached egg plants I have, as they have a pretty flower (that looks like a poached egg) and they attract hoverflies which eat aphids. They also attract lots of bees too:
But on top of this, the plants are also useful, as excess plants can be dug into the soil like a green manure. So I think it is a very useful plant to grow and self seeds easily every year.
Finally this week at the allotment, I forked my old brassica beds over lightly, ready for this years crops:
At home this week I sowed some spring onions.
We all have one crop that we can’t grow at our allotment and Spring onions is my crop. I always found that hardly any seeds would germinate, even though Spring onions are supposed to be so easy to grow. I eventually learnt a trick to get around this…I plant a small pinch of seed into modules full of compost, which I grow on until they are a couple of inches high. I then plant them out in bunches and they grow just fine this way:
I also spent time ‘pricking out’ my seedlings that I sowed on the 6th March. These are red cabbage, white cabbage and some brussel sprouts.
I planted the seedlings in paper pots that I made:
Newspaper pots are great to make as they are extremely cheap and environmetally friendly to use, as the recycled materials decompose when you put them in the ground. This also helps the plants that do not like root disturbance, e.g. swedes, that can be sown in the pots and then planted a few weeks later, still in the newspaper pots. The plants find it easy to grow their roots through the damp pots when they are in the ground.
I was once asked if I used a special tool to make my newspaper plant pots…the answer is “no”. You can buy a ‘Newspaper Pot Maker’ for approximately £10, but I prefer to make my pots using either a baked bean tin, or a soya sauce bottle, depending on the size of pot that I require and some masking tape…(the masking tape decomposes along with the newspaper in the ground).
I thought it would be useful to write how I make the pots again, as I have a lot of new people reading my blog now. So this is how I make easy newspaper pots:
How To Make Newspaper Pots:
You need a newspaper, some masking tape and a soya sauce bottle for small pots or a baked bean tin for larger pots
Fold a sheet of newspaper into thirds
(if the newspaper is very large you may need to fold the sheet in half first)
Roll the paper around the bottle, so the newspaper is over lapping the base of the bottle
Ensure you don’t roll the newspaper too tightly, or it will be hard to remove the paper from the bottle.
Use a small piece of masking tape to secure the paper at the top and then fold in the newspaper over the bottom of the bottle.
Secure the bottom of the pot with a small piece of masking tape.
You can use different sized tins and bottles depending on the size of pot required. For example, I use a baked bean tin to make pots ready for when I ‘prick out’ my tomato plants.
I find it’s best to make the pots and use them straight away, as sometimes the masking tape becomes ‘unstuck’ if you make them too far in advance.
When your plant is ready to go into the ground, make sure all of the newspaper is under the soil, or the paper will act like a wick and dry the compost out.
I hope this has been useful.
Thank you for reading my blog today. I will be back on Monday at my usual time.
Have a good weekend!