Archive for June, 2009

Sweetcorn: Er… why?


Probably should have made this picture black and white for the full artsy-fartsy look. I’m totally chuffed with my corn this year. It’s growing like hell and looking gorgeous.

God alone knows why. Yeah, yeah, I know the weather’s been good for corn. But still. That can’t explain why it’s worked SO well this year.

Honestly, I know I shouldn’t interrogate my successes, but it’s hard not to spend most of your time – as a gardener – living in a state of quasi-senility. Mostly, I’m baffled to hell. Dunno what I did wrong – or right.

Oh shit. Maybe I AM senile already.

Posted on 29th June 2009
Under: Summer, Sweetcorn | 7 Comments »

Leeks 2009: Can’t be worse than last year…

Leeks planted outHot today. First time I’ve been able to type that this year.

Things are coming very early because of the decent weather. The corn is chest high, my first and second early potatoes are all ready – gone over, actually – and there are cauliflowers splurging heads all over the place. Extraordinary.

I hope these leeks will do better than last year’s crop, which was shit. It rained so much the wretched things never really got started. If the sun keeps shining, these will be whoppers.

The weeds are turbo-charged at the moment. I was weeding for 90 mins this morning and achieved two tenths of bugger-all. Turn your back and they grow six inches in 10 mins.

Posted on 27th June 2009
Under: Alliums | 8 Comments »

Video: How to grow cabbages and cauliflowers

The latest in my ‘how to’ video series focusses on brassicas… specifically cabbages and cauliflowers, and how to grow decent ones. As always, apologies to anyone who’s an expert already. Do tell me about any hot tips of your own for brassica success.

How to grow cabbages and cauliflowers from Soilman on Vimeo.

Posted on 23rd June 2009
Under: Brassicas, Summer | 11 Comments »

Eyeing pods: Hurst Greenshaft

Hurst Greeshaft peasThese have been a long time coming. They’re still not ready,  of course, but at least the anticipation can begin.

There is nothing – nothing – so delicious as fresh peas. They’re just stupendous; fresh, sweet and irresistible.

I always intend to make complicated salads and soups with them. Dainty morsels drizzled with this and puréed with that. But I never get round to it.

Peas don’t make it as far as a pan. I shell them and scoff them raw, watching TV with Mrs Soilman on the couch. Usually in vast quantities, such that we suffer noisome digestive repercussions.

Ah, summer.

Posted on 21st June 2009
Under: Peas and beans | 6 Comments »

Building sites, growbags and bent carrots

It’s here, folks: 2009’s most egregiously ignorant example of allotment bandwagon-jumping.

Laughed? I nearly shat. Growing vegetables on a brownfield building site – with or without bags, but definitely with industrial pollution heritage and a grandstand view of a builder’s arse crack – is just what I’ve always dreamed of.

But wait, there’s more. If you get past the first par without splitting a side, check this out:

The grow bags idea came from a music festival where she saw huge sandbags being moved around by fork-lift trucks. “I was thinking how flexible they could be. Grow bags would allow people to grow carrots and peas.”

Growbags on building site

Grow bags are – what? – 4-5″ deep. So the City of London has bred a carrot that grows sideways??

Honestly. I’ve spent 40 years hoovering the dustiest corners of Human Ignorance. I expect human beings to be wankers. But the profound dimness of Homo Stultissimus continues to blow my mind.

Anyone else spotted any good examples of allotment bullshit and bandwagon-ism? Please let me know. There’s a prize, for the best example, of something utterly irresistible (OK, so I’m lying about the ‘utterly’ part, and probably the ‘irresistible’ too. But you get the point).

PS Apologies to copyright holders of the pics I’ve bastardised here. Get in touch and I’ll apologise and pay in full (that’s if you accept payment in leek seeds).

Posted on 16th June 2009
Under: Rants, Roots | 15 Comments »

Lilies in June

Regale lily Asiatic lily

Doesn’t get much better than this. I have six pots of Orienpet and Asiatic lilies on my patio and a flower bed full of Regale species. My pride and joy are the Black Dragon hybrids, which are 7ft high.

The smell at dusk is take-your-breath-away sweet. I’ve been under the weather today, but had to drag myself from my sickbed for 5 mins to breathe it in.

There really is no lovelier aroma in all Creation, fact fans.

Posted on 15th June 2009
Under: Flowers | 5 Comments »

Carrots and Cat

Carrots and catThe first carrots of the season. Took about 10 shots trying to keep the bloody cat out of the picture, but he would insist. So I gave up.

These are the Early Nantes I sowed back in March under plastic. I’d never tried this before, and it’s proven an outrageous success. A hassle, of course, but worth the aggro – fresh new carrots are SO sensational.

Posted on 14th June 2009
Under: Roots | 8 Comments »

New potatoes for supper

New potatoesWell, they’ve arrived. Could be a tad bigger, if I were being picky, but I suppose it’s only early June.

We had the first spuds on Sunday, and in truth I need to wait a little longer. One-plant-per-diner isn’t fabulously economical.

Having said that, small new potatoes are lip-smackingly delicious when fresh. I could scoff them until I’m sick. And beyond, probably.

Posted on 10th June 2009
Under: Potatoes | 11 Comments »

French beans, variety ‘Soilman’

French beansHere’s the last lot of seedlings to go out on the plot. They’re dwarf French beans that started out as Purple Queen but have been selected by me over two seasons.

I’m expecting this, the third generation, to be ultra-vigorous and productive, because I’ve saved seed beans from the strongest, healthiest plants. I’m trying to do more of this a) to save money, and b) to help diversify our vegetable varieties. Find out more about this from Patrick’s pages about seed saving, and the seed savers network.

But it’s all academic unless I can get them planted out… which isn’t easy in this useless rain. Why useless? Because it pitters and patters in dribs and drabs without actually getting down to the plant roots.

We had a ‘thunderstorm’ this morning that delivered precisely half a centimetre of rain. Half a sodding centimetre. I could piss more than that.

Posted on 7th June 2009
Under: Peas and beans, Rants | 10 Comments »

Orla potato flowers… at last

Orla potato flowerAbout bloody time. Jeez. It feels like YEARS since I planted these Orla spuds. First Earlies… my arse.

Anyway, they’re here now. And they’re flowering, so maybe I can risk digging one up.

Tomorrow’s the night. Fresh, toothsome, earthy new potatoes for supper… or disappointment?

Anyone been digging their spuds for weeks already and laughing at my feeble efforts? Now’s the time to crow if you have to…

Posted on 2nd June 2009
Under: Potatoes | 15 Comments »