Saturday, 18 August 2012

Harvest steps up... just in time for me going away

I am currently on my holidays in Kent, the so-called Garden of England. I drove down on Thursday and before I left I visited the allotment. Somewhat to my dismay I found that production appeared to have stepped up a gear. I harvested cabbage, far too many courgettes (for the first time this year I had a glut!), runner beans, carrots, cucumbers, and peppers.

I am away until September, and it is a pretty bad time to be away. I share allotment duties with my Dad and he is also going to be away for a week. So now I am paranoid that I will come home to find my courgettes all turned into marrows and that the beans and sweet peas (which are finally covered in flowers) will have tired at not being picked and will have given up growing. I asked my Dad to strip the beans and courgettes of everything before he goes away in the hope of keeping things going as I am sure we are going to get an Indian Summer (fingers crossed)!!

As I left my blackberries looked like they were at the beginnings of being ready. This is the first time we have had blackberries. Amazingly this is a 2-year-old bush, it is huge, and is loaded with big juicy berries. Theo has been eyeing them up for ages, so I am hoping that the birds won't have had them all by the time we get back.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Pumpkin's Progress

Look at my pumpkin. I can't believe how much it has grown in the last few days - it has almost doubled in size. I am so pleased as several of my pumpkins rotted for some reason. I wonder how big it will be by next week? This weekend is forecast to be hot and sunny, so hopefully the heat will spur it on.

The issue I was having with my pumpkins and courgettes rotting from the flower end seems to have resolved itself. Although nowhere near as prolific last year, my yummy Lebanese courgette is starting to thrive - with 4 budding courgettes growing on one stem of the plant!

In my quest to keep the children occupied we went for a long walk to our local beach today. It's a 1 hour walk from the nearest road, which means you almost always have it to yourself. How lucky are we? Anyway, while we were there I spotted this lovely plant...

I thought this plant was so pretty. I guessed that it was some kind of sea thistle, however after a bit of research tonight I found out that it is sea holly (Eryngium maritimum). It is protected as it is classed as endangered. However, in the 17th and 18th centuries its roots were widely harvested as they were thought to be an aphrodisiac. According to Plants For a Future its leaves and roots are edible.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Potato Woes

So, this year we got blight. We've never been bothered by it before, but this year it struck us in mid-July. As soon as we realised what it was we cut them back, hoping that the potatoes beneath the ground would be ok, and that they would have had enough time to grow into nice big potatoes.

I dug up the Desiree crop first. So far so good, it wasn't great, but it wasn't a disaster either. The yield was reasonable, but the potatoes were on the small side.

Then I moved on to my favourite potatoes - Pink Fir Apples. I really love Pink Fir Apple potatoes. I have to say that I was gutted. Lots and lots of potatoes, but all of them were really tiny. The top picture shows my biggest Pink Fir Apple, the bottom shows the average size. :-( Really, really disappointed. Out of my whole crop I think I have enough to make enough mash potato for the 5 of us. I was still eating my Pink Fir Apples from 2011 in late Spring of this year. That definitely won't be happening this time around.

By now I really felt like going home, however it was still sunny so I thought I'd move on to the Kestrel crop. Not the best yield, but most of the potatoes were nice and big, unfortunately every one of them has split. I think this is weird because it hasn't affected any of my other potatoes. 

The thing about this somewhat disastrous harvest was that it made me realise just how lucky we are. For our ancestors who largely relied on the food they grew to survive, 2012 would have proved a very perilous year. Hopefully, 2013 will be better.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Carrots a Roaring Success (For Once)

After all the doom and gloom of this year something has cheered me up - carrots. For the last two years our attempts at growing carrots have failed dismally, however this year they have been a real success story. I like them in the same way that I like potatoes, in that you don't know what you're getting until you pull them up! 

These are the first courgettes I have picked this year. My plants are  way behind last year, much smaller, and not producing much in the way of anything. I'm also having a problem with the ends of the Lebanese courgettes (on the left) and my pumpkins going rotten. I don't know why this is happening and its something I've never encountered before. I've already lost 2 of my pumpkins and 1 courgette. With the courgettes I am trying to get round it by picking them when they are pretty small, however I obviously can't do this with the pumpkins.