Tag Archive | Mini cloches out of bottles

A Week Of Planting Tender Crops

The weather has been beautiful this week, making it a real pleasure to work at my allotment.

I’ve had a good week there, as I have started to plant out my tender plants.  These plants are the ones that can’t tolerate any frost, so I have kept them at home until this week.

Two weeks ago, I prepared the soil by spreading some blood, fish and bone fertiliser over the area where the plants were to go.

Unfortunately, the week didn’t start off too well as I had an accident with my first set of plants…I dropped a whole tray of sweetcorn, face down on my path!  Every one of my home sown plants either bent, or snapped in half and they were unusable. Only a ‘gardener’ can understand how upsetting this was for me, I just kept looking at them in disbelief!

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Luckily, a wonderful nursery in Syston came to the rescue and I managed to get some replacements.  They were really reasonable in price too, as they were £2.00 for twelve plants, which isn’t as cheap as growing them from seed but cheaper than buying ready grown, tasteless ones from the supermarket.

I planted the sweetcorn in a block.  Sweetcorn is wind pollinated and by planting them in a block it gives the male flowers at the top of each plant more opportunity to shed their pollen on the female tassels below.

Afterwards, I planted my butternut squash plants in between the sweetcorn.  I do this as it saves space, but also because the leaves of the squashes are quite large they help to prevent weeds from growing and help to keep moisture in the ground (as the ground is shaded from the sun).  I have grown my sweetcorn like this for a number of years and I have always had a good result.

My sweetcorn with butternut squashes between them

My sweetcorn with butternut squashes planted between them

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This week I planted my outdoor tomato plants.  They are a variety called ‘Outdoor Girl’.  I use this variety as they fruit slightly earlier than other outdoor varieties and this gives me a chance to get a decent crop before the dreaded ‘blight’ hits.  You can read about tomato blight here.

If you live in the UK, you can use a wonderful website called Blightwatch UK.  If you register, they will email or text you (free of charge), when the conditions are perfect for ‘blight’ in your area.  It doesn’t necessarily follow that you will suffer from blight, but it will remind you to check your plants.   You can find their website here.

I also planted some ‘Tagetes’ in between my tomatoes, as they are one of the best organic controls against aphid infestations, as their foliage has a scent which aphids hate….and they look nice when they are in flower.

My tomatoes

My tomatoes

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My courgettes and patty pans went in this week and my pumpkins too.  The allotment society is having a pumpkin competition this year and we were all given two or three seeds each to grow.  My daughter won last year’s pumpkin competition with a pumpkin that weighed 24.4 kg.  I wonder if we will be lucky again this year.

Last year's winner

Last year’s winner

This year's plant

This year’s plant

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I like to make sure we always have salad leaves, as we eat a lot of them in our house.  So I sow lettuces often through the spring and summer.  I planted some this week and I covered them to keep the birds away:

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Finally, I planted my celeriac (which incidentally need lots of water to get decent sized plants) and I also planted my swedes.  My swedes were still very small, so I put mini cloches over them (made out of pop bottles), to protect them from slugs, snails and flea beatles.  The mini cloches will also keep them in a sheltered environment until they are bigger.  You can see from the picture below that I also put a small cane in the cloche, this stops the wind from blowing them over:

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Things seam to be growing well around the plot at the moment.  I noticed my gooseberries seemed to have appeared since I last looked:

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and my strawberries seem to have grown just as quick…

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My poached egg plants that attract the bees and hoverflies are looking beautiful now…

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and the flowers in my flower bed have sprung into life, together with my ‘sink’ of alpines:

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I love days at my allotment when the sun is shining and the weather is warm.  Days like these make me very grateful for living the life I do.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday at 4pm.

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Parsley Sauce And Taming A Monster

Today at my allotment, I tamed my monster!….My Shark Fin Melon is now so big, it had sprawled all over the netting that covers my purple sprouting broccolli and it had actually broke the cane holding the netting up, as it was too heavy.

I moved it and chopped some of the leaves off.  It actually climbs over an arch I have too, but I didn’t quite realise how big it grows and the arch has been unearthed on one side!

You can read about the shark fin melon on my blog here.

Also at the allotment today I covered my compost heap, as it was full and I now have the new compost bins that I made last week. This is the compost bin that I filled with all my perennial weeds.

I have weighed the weed suppressant down with bricks and to make sure it doesn’t come off in the wind, I have put my two trusty old wheelbarrows on top.

I just need to wait four or five years for the wonderful compost it will make.

I finally found some cucumbers ready for picking today.  I really thought I wouldn’t get any this year, so I am very pleased.  I have put some glass around them as it’s turning cold at night now, in the hope I may get some more.

I finished by finally putting away the plastic bottles that I used back in May.  The half bottles gave my small plants a bit of protection from the cold and slugs.  The act like mini-cloches.

You can see in the picture below how I store them on top of each other on canes.  In the spring I will wash them and use them again.

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Following on from my post on Friday regarding child poverty, (which you can read here), I have another cheap and easy family recipe.

I think a lot of people will know how to make this meal anyway, so apologies to you, but if I can help just one person who doesn’t usually cook, to feed their family more cheaply, then I will have achieved my aim.

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Today I am writing about Fish in Parsley Sauce.

I buy skinless, boneless frozen fish fillets for convenience and I cook them separately in a foil parcel with a few splashes of lemon juice, for 25 minutes, Gas Mark 4 / 350F / 176C.

I find this way the fish keeps lovely and moist during cooking.

While the fish is cooking I make the Parsley Sauce:

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Parsley Sauce

50 grams margarine

50 grams of plain flour

600 ml milk

2 heaped tablespoons of fresh parsley or 2 teaspoons of dried parsley

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Melt the margarine in a milk pan.

Take the melted margarine off the heat and add the flour.  Mix in until no flour is visable.

Add a little bit of milk and beat it in, until it is totally combined.

 Keep doing this until all the milk is mixed in.  There should be no lumps.

Bring the sauce to the boil, stirring all the time.

When it has boiled mix in the parsley and simmer for two minutes.

Pour over your cooked fish.

I have worked out that the Fish in Parsley Sauce that I made today cost me less than £2.00 for a family of four.  I managed to find a readymeal of Fish in Parsley Sauce and it costs £3.99 .  I would put money on it, that it doesn’t taste as nice.

I served mine with homegrown vegetables.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.