Tag Archive | Pumpkin competition

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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A Pumpkin Competition And A Pumpkin Recipe Week

What do you do with the flesh that you hollow out from pumpkins on Halloween?

Years ago, I used to just throw it away and I bet loads and loads of people still do.  Nowadays, my life is very different and every single bit gets used.  I grow my own pumpkins and do not want to waste any of it.

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All of this week I will be looking at ways to use pumpkins, so they are not wasted.  The first recipe of the week is a really nice Pumpkin and Apple chutney.  You can find the recipe further down this page.

But just a quick reminder, don’t forget the Pumpkin and Orange Cake recipe that I have already written about on my blog.  It is also a good way to use up your pumpkins too.  You can find the recipe here.

Pumpkin & Orange cake

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Firstly though, I would like to tell you of my daughter’s success at the weekend…

On Saturday it was our annual allotment pumpkin competition.  Last year my youngest daughter came joint first, with the pumpkin she had grown.  This year, she tried really hard to grow an even bigger one, even though the weather conditions were not good for pumpkin growing.

Back in April she sowed six pumpkin seeds in the hope of growing a large one for this year’s competition.  She potted the pumpkins on, at the beginning of May and finally planted two of the pumpkins in a piece of ground that we had prepared.

The pumpkins didn’t seem to move until the end of July, due to the weather and then finally one of the small pumpkins grew and grew.

She was really excited when the day of the competition arrived.  There were different catorgories in the competition.

The picture below shows the pumpkins that were entered into the smallest pumpkin catorgory:

The other catorgories were the heaviest pumpkin, the widest girth and the funniest shaped pumpkin.  You can see some of the entries in the photo below:

I’m very proud to say she won two categories, the heaviest pumpkin category and the widest girth category.  Her pumpkin weighed 24.4 kg and the width was 58 inches.  We came home with a very happy girl!

Afterwards we carved the pumpkin ready for Halloween on Wednesday:

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The chutney recipe below uses the pumpkin that is left over from your Halloween pumpkins and some Bramley Apples which are in season at the moment.  It tastes really nice.

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Pumpkin and Apple Chutney

1.4 kg Raw pumpkin chopped roughly into 1cm cubes

4 Tomatoes roughly chopped

500g Bramley apples, peeled and chopped

1 Onion chopped

125g Mixed dried fruit

125g Soft brown sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon Ground mixed spice

1 teaspoon Ground black pepper

750ml Cider vinegar

A handful of fresh coriander chopped

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Place all the ingredients, except the coriander, into a large pan and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.

Stir in the coriander and continue to simmer for a further minute.

Spoon into hot sterilised jars.

(To sterilise jars, just pop the jars and lids in the oven for 5 minutes Gas mark 4).

Leave for three weeks before using.

This chutney can be stored unopened in a cool, dry place for six months.  Once opened, keep it in the fridge.

Thank you for reading my blog today.