Tag Archive | Planting potatoes

Planting Potatoes, Peas And More….

Last weekend the weather was very strange and Linda Darby left a comment on my blog to say they had even had snow in Derbyshire.  Snow isn’t unheard of in April, but it is unusual.

Here in Leicester we had hail stones.  Unfortunately at the time myself and Mr Thrift were mulching around my mother-in-laws roses with greenwaste compost, so we had to stop what we were doing and wait for it to pass:

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Incidentally as there were lots of annual weed seeds germinating in the beds, I laid sheets of newspaper between the roses and put the mulch on top…..this will kill the small annual weed seedlings without having to pull them all up, so it saved alot of time:

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This week I went for the monthly dog walk in Bradgate park with our trainer Steven Havers.  Unfortunately this is the last walk in Bradgate Park as the walk is being relocated to Switherland Woods next month.

The Bradgate Park Trust reported this week they have now brought in a new sets of rules regarding dogs in the park, because people have been acting irresponsibly in Bradgate Park recently.  On their website it says…..

“Incidents have included parents filming children chasing the deer, dogs chasing the deer, fights between dogs, dogs bothering people, mountain bikers riding off permitted paths, as well as dogs killing wild birds.  In addition dog poo bags have been left hanging in trees and vandalism recently occurred over night in areas where the Trust’s rangers have been improving habitats and facilities”

Reading this made me extremely sad and I am amazed that people think that it is acceptable to treat the park and it’s wildlife in this way!

The ranger that took us around the park this week together with the dog trainer, told us that the number of deer calves is significantly reduced due to this, which is terrible.

Deer in the distance lying down

Deer in the distance lying down

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Castle Gardens:

 As I have said previously there are lots of places on our doorstep that we walk past frequently without even noticing how beautiful they are, or how they change in the different seasons.

This week I visited Castle Gardens, which is just five minutes from the clock tower in the city centre and I was amazed at how beautiful it was….again Leicester City Council should be very proud of their parks department:

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Everyone that walked past me seemed to be in a rush missing the beauty I was seeing.  Some walked along talking on the phone and others were listening to music through their headphones….I think this was such a shame as they were missing the wonderful birdsong that I could hear.

I honestly believe that when people sit at the ‘pearly gates’ they won’t be wishing that they had worked more, rushed more or spent more money on material things…..I think they will be wishing they had slowed down more and enjoyed the things that life can offer for free.

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Leisure  – By William Henry Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

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This Week In My Garden:

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This week I have been planting my potatoes.  I have planted my usual ‘Marfona’ which are white second earlies and ‘Desiree’ which are a red late main crop.

Over the years I have tried lots of different ways of planting potatoes, but I have found that speading manure / compost over the bed in winter and then digging a trench and using a bulb planter when planting the potatoes works the best for me.  This way I can plant them deep and I only usually have to earth them up once.

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Amazingly, as I was digging my trenches I still found lots of rubble (though I dug the beds well last year) and I even found a big blue brick!

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This week my parsnips germinated.  As soon as the seed leaves appeared above the compost in the kitchen rolls, I moved them outside into my mini greehouse for a few days.

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I then made holes in the ground that were deep enough for the kitchen rolls.  I did this by banging an old piece of guttering pipe into the ground and then planted the kitchen roll into it, making sure there were no gaps between the soil.

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I then watered them to settle the soil around the tubes making sure there wasn’t any of the cardboard tubes showing above the soil (as this acts like a wick and dries the compost out in the kitchen roll).

Then I put mini-cloches made out of ‘pop’ bottles over them to give a bit of protection from the weather and slugs (I use old sticks inserted into the bottles to stop them from blowing away):

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This week I have also been planting my climbing peas.  They are a variety called ‘Peashooter’ which I have been growing for quite a few years now.

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As with all my crops, I  raked in some blood fish and bone a couple of weeks before.

I put up some pea and bean netting using canes and planted the peas.  Last year I grew my peas facing east to west, however the peas at the back didn’t do so well due to the shade from the peas in front, so this year I am growing them facing south to north in the hope they will do better:

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I have given the peas a bit of protection from the weather and birds using old panes of glass that I brought back from my allotment when I gave it up.

You can also see in the photo below that I put weed suppressant in between the peas so it helps to cut down the weeding, where it is awkward to hoe:

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I have continues to deadhead my daffodils this week and nearly all of them have finished flowering for another year, which is sad as they are my favourite flowers….however there is so much more to look forward to in the garden now the weather is warming up.

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We have eaten our first ‘cut and come again’ salads in my greenhouse and today I have noticed that my first radish of the year are ready to eat:

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And the ‘lollo rossa’ lettuce which is growing under glass outside is ready for me to pick the odd few leaves to add to our salads.

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Also the chives I brought back from my allotment in January 2015 are doing brilliantly sitting along my main path and I am picking them to add to every salad we have:

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Also the rhubarb I transplanted from my allotment in Jauary 2015 is also doing well.  I will be picking it sparingly this year so each plant builds up it’s roots system ready for normal harvesting from next year.

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It’s taken me over a year to get used to my small kitchen garden instead of my four allotments.  Finally I am beginning to enjoy working in it, instead of constantly thinking about what I would have been doing at my allotment.

I have had moments during this month where I can honestly say it has been sheer bliss working in my garden, whilst Judy (my dog) has basked quietly in the sun.  One big advantage is I can nip out when I have five minuites to spare and finish a job, deadhead, weed etc. and if I want I can stay out until the sun goes down and the moon shines….. and once again I have felt happy to be alive in my garden, which is how I used to feel at my allotment!

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Thank you for reading my blog today.  I will be back next Friday as usual.

Have a great week!

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An Easter ‘Catch up’

Hi to everyone reading my blog today.  It is nice to be back in ‘blogging world’.

On Friday evening, the temperature fell low enough for a ground frost to occur….I knew it was coming because I follow the BBC weather very closely at this time of year.

There is always some confusion about when a ground frost occurs…people typically think the temperature needs to be below zero degrees for a frost to happen, but this is only true for an ‘air’ frost.  A ‘ground’ frost can happen when the temperature falls below 3 or 4 degrees celcius.

Unfortunately, after walking around the allotment site I noticed that not everyone was aware that the frost was coming and the frost had damaged some of their potato shoots poking through the soil.  You can see in the photograph below that some of the leaves have been blackened by the frost.  If you know there is going to be a frost then it is best to earth your potatoes up to limit the damage.

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I was lucky as I only planted my potatoes over Easter so none of mine are showing yet:

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Over Easter I also planted the peas that I sowed in my guttering a few weeks ago.  This is how I get my peas out of the guttering:

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First I use a draw hoe to make a small trench the size of the guttering, ready to plant the peas.  If it’s been dry I water the trench.

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Then I use a spare bit of guttering and I lift one end of the compost to slide the guttering underneath the roots of the peas.

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The spare piece of guttering ‘pushes’ the peas out into the trench that you made with the draw hoe.  This is much easier when you use smaller bits of guttering instead of larger pieces.

  I then use the draw hoe again to push the soil back around the peas and the compost that they are growing in.

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I like to support my dwarf peas with chicken wire and canes and then I use cages to stop the birds from eating my pea shoots:

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I also planted my climbing peas.  They are a variety called ‘Peashooter’ which give lovely big pods with large juicy peas inside.  I planted the seeds at the beginning of April in toilet rolls and left them to germinate in my greenhouse and they have all germinated well:

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I usually use pea and bean netting to support my peas, but I get fed up of throwing it away each year as it’s impossible to untangle all the peas without it ripping…so this year I have invested in some plastic coated chicken wire in the hope that I can use it again and again, so eventually it will pay for it’s self:

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After planting the peas I used the same cages to protect the pea shoots from the birds…

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Things are growing well in my polytunnel now.  I also planted four spare tomato plants and a spare cucumber too

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In the right hand photo you can see the red lettuce that I sowed last month is growing nicely now together with the Webbs wonderful lettuces in the same photo.

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This weekend I prepared the ground for my wildflowers and sowed them.  I am hoping they give me a good display again this year.

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During the last week I have also planted my parsnips.  I sowed them at the beginning of April in kitchen rolls and they germinated well.  I make sure I plant the parsnip before the root reaches the bottom of the tubes to avoid the roots from ‘forking’.

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When I plant the parsnips I make sure that none of the tube shows above the ground, as the cardboard works like a ‘wick’ and dries the whole tube out underground, so I use scissors to cut off any excess tube above the compost.

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I covered the parsnips in plastic bottles just to give them a little bit of protection while they are small.  I find that plastic bottles need a bit of support so they don’t blow off, so I push a stick in each one at an angle so it doesn’t damage the plant underneath.

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My curly kale is flowering now so I have packed away the netting that was covering it and I will leave it for the bees to enjoy for a while, as there aren’t too many nectar rich plants around yet for them.

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Over easter I had some great harvests from my allotment.  It does take some planning to have vegetables to fill the ‘hungry gap’ but the planning is worthwhile:

'Hungry Gap' Vegetables

‘Hungry Gap’ Vegetables

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The cauliflowers were sowed a year ago, together with the spring broccoli….but they are worth the wait.

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At home my garden is starting to look like a garden centre with all the plants that I am in the process of hardening off!

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And my greenhouse is rammed full of plants too:

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A couple of weeks ago I planted up my hanging baskets.  I don’t bother with proper hanging basket liners, I just use a compost bag with the black side on the outside.  It works a treat because the plants grow over it so it can’t be seen and because it is plastic, it helps to keep the moisture in during hot spells.

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Finally today I thought I would show you something I made for our friends funeral last Monday.  I decided to have a go at making a wreath using the same method I used for my Christmas table wreath.

I bought some white chysanthemums to use, but everything else was from the garden as I knew he loved his garden.  He also absolutely loved Leicester City Football club and had supported them for many years and it’s such a shame he didn’t see them promoted to the premier division, which happened just after he passed away.   With this in mind I used forget-me-nots, so that the wreath was blue and white – the Leicester City colours.

I know it wasn’t perfect like the florists flower arrangements were, but I put a lot of time and thought into it so it was special to Dan….the last gift I could give to him.

I hope he looked down and saw it.

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I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

I will be back on Friday.