Archive for April, 2009

Heatwave approaching!

RosebudsHurrah! It’s going to be a long, hot summer. The UK Meteorological Office says so. It must be true!

Bloody hope so. After the deluges that passed for summers in 2007 and 2008, we’re owed a Jamaican-style tropical meltdown, I reckon. Confess I’m daring to hope, because I’ve had a feeling since February that the summer would be good. I can’t point to one single thing on the allotment that’s been, well, ‘different’. It’s just been a feeling.

There’s warm weather in the air. I’m sure of it.

Posted on 30th April 2009
Under: Flowers, Summer | 7 Comments »

More cauliflower crowing

I know I’m getting boring about this. And coming across as an insufferable egomaniac. So this is the last bit of vainglory, I promise…

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Posted on 25th April 2009
Under: Brassicas, Spring | 6 Comments »

Early to rise: Ratte potatoes

Early potatoes: RatteRatte potatoes aren’t strictly first earlies. OK, so they’re not even earlies – by the book.

But if you bung ‘em in with your first earlies they make a decent size by mid July, and that’s when I most like them. They make the most utterly delicious salad potatoes.

By the way, dear reader: do you earth up all in one go at planting time… or earth up bit by bit as the haulms grow? I have a lively debate with other gardeners about this, because I’m convinced you get bigger plants and more potatoes by earthing up gradually.

Anyone gonna persuade me I’m wrong!?

Posted on 24th April 2009
Under: Potatoes | 8 Comments »

Honey, I’m home!

Spring cauliflower

Look what I picked up on the way home from work!

A freshly picked cauliflower is a thing of beauty and gastronomic delight. They really do taste different fresh. Cauliflower cheese tonight…

Posted on 20th April 2009
Under: Brassicas | 15 Comments »

Thick asparagus spears

Thick asparagus spearsMy neighbour made the superfluous observation that these look indecent. He’s not wrong. Brandish one carelessly in a public place and you could get arrested.

Thick asparagus spears are delicious if properly prepared – but woody and chewy if not. If you don’t know how to do it, I made a video last year about harvesting and preparing thick asparagus for the kitchen (mp4).

Posted on 19th April 2009
Under: Asparagus | 2 Comments »

Allotment Hell: other people

New allotmenteers on the siteIf you’ve visited this blog before, you may have read my wafflings about all the new allotments on our site. I may have inadvertently mentioned how welcome they were. It’s even possible I gave the impression of being excited.

I should now point out that any such impression was unintentional and, indeed, erroneous. Far from being a boost to the site and bringing vegetable growing to a wider public, the arrival of new allotmenteers is a monumental catastrophe. I’m gutted.

Why?

Because now there’s always other folks about and no bramble bushes to offer cover for a crafty bladder discharge.

I’d say it’s a pisser. Only that’s the problem. It’s not.

Posted on 16th April 2009
Under: Rants | 11 Comments »

Cauliflowers: The ultimate pain in the arse?

Cauliflower seedlingThe first cauliflower seedlings are in. This is where the hard work starts. Everything hitherto has been buggering about, frankly.

Why? Because if you’ve ever grown cauliflowers, you’ll know what utter bastards they are. Everything has to be just so: the soil, the sun hours, the rainfall, the nutrients, the pest and bird protection.

This fine specimen is wearing a brassica collar. It’s a circle of tar-impregnated cardboard intended to deter the ghastly cabbage root fly. They do work, but of course it’s an added pain in the arse.

Everything’s a pain in the arse with cauliflowers. So why do I do it? Excellent question. Let me think about than one for a few days and get back to you…

Posted on 13th April 2009
Under: Brassicas | 11 Comments »

Onion sets sending up shoots

Onion sets sproutingThe onion sets are sprouting nicely. Only three got pulled up by birds, which is a result; most years I can count on replanting 30% thanks to the magpies.

Less good news is that weeds are already rampant. I’ve decided that the World’s Worst Weed is definitely couch grass.

I know, I know: Marestail is ineradicable, but at least it’s fairly easy to control. Ditto brambles and nettles, which both hate determined cultivation.

Couch, on the other hand, is the Daddy of weeds. I hack it up, grub it up, pull it up and rip it out. I burn it, bury it, hoe it and bin it. Couch destruction figures in my dreams.

But there it always is, waiting for me every time I visit the allotment. On my plot, Couch is King.

What’s your most loathed weed?

Posted on 10th April 2009
Under: Alliums, Asparagus, Weeds | 11 Comments »

Fresh asparagus tips

Asparagus tips

The countdown’s begun. Just a few days now –  a week at most.

The asparagus kettle has been dug out and dusted down. The free range eggs have been assembled for the hollandaise sauce. Air freshener has been bought for the khazi.

Only time stands in the way of the year’s first asparagus pig-out.

Posted on 7th April 2009
Under: Asparagus | 7 Comments »

Early carrot seedlings

Carrot seedlingsI’ve never seen carrot seedlings so early. The early sowing under plastic actually worked!

With a fair wind, these could be ready as early as mid May – as baby carrots, at least. Unheard of.

As so often in gardening, I find myself asking yet again: Where did I go right?

Posted on 6th April 2009
Under: Roots | 1 Comment »