Archive for September, 2009

If you like dahlias, you’ll LOVE this

Big dahliaOutrageous. Never seen anything quite like this dahlia. It was so huge it could barely hold its head up.

Have just been strolling around the chateau gardens at Flamanville in Normandy. Quite astonishing and breathtaking – the biggest field of dahlias I’ve ever see. All gorgeous.

Field of dahliasMost of them had labels to tell you the cultivar, but inevitably all the ones I liked best had lost their tag. That said, I’ve got a dahlia shopping list as long as my arm for next Spring.

Talking of Spring… it’s a bloody long way off, isn’t it?

Posted on 27th September 2009
Under: Flowers | 7 Comments »

Artichokes in flower

Globe artichoke flowerI should have cut this off, but I didn’t have the heart. Besides, I’m kind of curious to see what it’s like. I’ve never seen a globe artichoke in flower.

I grew these from seed, and they’ve been surprisingly successful. They all got pretty big, and they’re obviously keen to form flowers.

I reckon next year I’ll get a great harvest. If the frosts don’t get ’em, that is.

A bloody big ‘if’.

Posted on 23rd September 2009
Under: Globe artichokes | 8 Comments »

Does size matter (er, in potatoes)?

Enormous Desiree potato

I found this enormous Desirée potato this morning. By mistake: left it in the ground when I was digging the row last week.

Question: How the bloody hell could I miss something this big?

Another question: Can you top it with something bigger?

Email me any pics of huge potatoes (or comically misshapen ones) and I’ll post up the entries for laughs.

Posted on 20th September 2009
Under: Potatoes | 8 Comments »

Overgrown and underloved

Overgrown and weedy plotI may have let things get a touch out of control here. I dunno, though… is that a bit harsh?

Thing is, owning this ‘extra’ bit of land has pressurised me a bit. I’ve simply not had the time to look after it properly.

*Note to self: Don’t be a lazy bastard in 2010*

Posted on 17th September 2009
Under: Weeds | 10 Comments »

Video: How to grow carrots

Here’s another in my library of ‘how to’ videos. This one’s about growing carrots – something lots of folks find challenging. I know I do; it’s a battle every year.

This is just what I do, but I know there are loads of other routes to success. Do chip in with any tips you’ve got to help people grow better carrots.

How to grow carrots from Soilman on Vimeo.

Posted on 13th September 2009
Under: Roots | 16 Comments »

The Real 10 Things To Do In September

I’m not a big fan of the ’10 Things To Do In Sept/Oct/Nov/Whatever’ posts you see in niche publications. They’re well-meaning, of course, but usually patronising.

And the last third (desperately dredged up to hit the arbitrary 10, or 12, or 20 total) are always bollocks.

So here’s what I like to think of as the more realistic 10 Things to Do on the Allotment in September. Feel free to chip in with some of your own…

1. Get stung by a wasp while dead-heading flowers. Highly stimulating, and easily achieved with a moment’s inattention

2. Get stung by nettles… while weeding nettles. The predictability of this one only adds to the sense of achievement

3. Eat shit. The trick here is to get distracted thinking about your tax return, or some such, while spreading manure. Then when you wipe your sweaty face with the back of your shitty glove and lick your lips… bingo

4. Anally incorporate a bamboo cane. The best way to do this, I find, is to use foot-long pieces of bamboo to mark rows of vegetables. When you’re squatting to do the weeding, intense concentration on the task at hand should induce the inadvertent shuffle necessary to achieve a perfect fit

5. Provoke a furious row with your allotment neighbour by pruning the branches of his apple tree that overhang your plot

6. Feel peckish and eat the rotting, misshapen carrot you chucked on the compost heap three weeks ago. You’ll figure that you’ve eaten so much shit already (see above) that a bit more can’t hurt

7. Destroy your shed. Sounds challenging, this, but it needn’t be. When the door won’t shut properly at the end of a hard day, a determined slam should be enough to wrench it off its hinges. Then – and here’s the key thing – be sure to lose your temper and follow up with a series of kicks and/or punches. You’re aiming for a hole in the wall or roof that renders the whole structure unviable

8. Get 3rd degree burns. Again, easier than it sounds. Take a few bottles of cider to the plot on a sunny day and fall asleep/pass out. The secret here is to consciously eschew suncream, knowing you don’t need it in September.

9. [Subs to add another thing]
10. [Subs to add another thing]

Posted on 10th September 2009
Under: Rants, Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

Gravatars are go

Finally got round to enabling Gravatars on the site. Have been meaning to do this for ages, but time’s been against me.

It’s no big deal, but a small improvement I like. If you comment on sites regularly, you may want to sign up for one (it’s free).

Posted on 10th September 2009
Under: Web nerdery | 2 Comments »

What’s grown best for you this year?

Autumn King carrotsThese are coming along nicely. They’re my favourite Autumn King carrots, and they’ll be ready in just a week or two.

It’s been a good year for carrots. Actually, more like a blinding year; I’ve had more and better roots than ever before. Haven’t the faintest idea why.

What’s grown best for you this year? If you have any theories about why, do share them… I could do with the enlightenment. I just blunder around in a fog on my plot most of the time.

Posted on 9th September 2009
Under: Uncategorized | 13 Comments »

Possible… problems

Doing a fairly major CMS update tonight, so certain things will definitely break. In fact, the whole bloody thing may break.

So if you arrive here and everything’s looking totally screwed, that’s because it is. With luck I can sort it quickly. But if it’s totally FUBAR’d, I may have to revert to the basic WP theme (assuming that works) until I can fix my theme. Which means a week or so.

Bear with me. I’m working on it.


Well, I’ve done it. And… nothing. Everything seems to be working. I was so psyched up for imminent disaster that the sense of anticlimax is stupefying.

Do let me know if you find anything that’s not working. There’s probably a hole right in the middle of the site that I’ve somehow failed to notice…

Posted on 7th September 2009
Under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Disappointing maincrop potato harvest

Arran Victory potatoes

Harvested the last of the spuds today. Very disappointing; small tubers and not many of them. Two 15ft rows filled only half a sack. Normally I get a sackful and a bit.

I’m assuming it was the hot, dry June. Great for sweetcorn, but not ideal for potatoes, which do a lot of their top growth in June. Even with that wet July, the haulms didn’t grow as big as usual.

Hey ho. Forced optimism is not – as you may already know – my bag. But the great thing about gardening is that there’s always next year.

PS OMG… things could be worse

Posted on 6th September 2009
Under: Potatoes | 6 Comments »