Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Allotments

An account of our work and progress on the allotment at Bobs Coppice

White Cucumber – Cucumis Sativus

This year I am going to try and chit Cucumber seeds. I have put four each of White Wonder from Seekay and Long White from T&M in some damp kitchen towel and into a plastic food box. It is sitting on the computer box for a little warmth. They don’t usually take long to germinate any way, about 7-10 days. I have grown the Long White before and have yet to see a white Cucumber. Last year produced the best plants but they were destroyed following the torrential rain that we had here. I have prepared a 7″ pot of moist compost ready for the germinated seeds. The White Wonder are new seeds. Well, no luck with chitting so I have put them directly into pots. I’m worried now that I may have spoiled the seeds. Hope not as they are quite expensive as seeds go. The T&M Long White were £1.99 for 15 seeds. Seekay White Wonder were 20 for 65p. 10th February – all of the White Wonder are about two inches high but only one of the Long White through yet. (7 days) Having got to the end of April and only two seedlings left I have sown another pot of the long white today. The best plant, the Long White, got killed off by a frost when I put it out too soon and the other two, White Wonder, which are still inside, look very feeble even though one of them is already in flower. Well, at the end of the season we had no harvest from the Long White and though there were two strong looking plants from the White Wonder we only had two very small fruits. I’m not sure that I shall have another go next year. Time will tell.

This Half-hardy Annual, Greenhouse type Cucumber Long White is not just a novelty. The firm flesh is sweet and juicy with a pleasant tang that will add flavour to your salads. The tender, white skins are so thin that they won’t need peeling. This attractive variety is a good cropper when trained against supports in the greenhouse. Height 9′
The White Wonder are described as an excellent variety that produces creamy white fruits that reach approx. 20cm.
https://www.thompson-morgan.com/how-to-grow-cucumbers

Sowing Brassicas

I have sown the first trays of Brassicas for the year. One 20 module tray of Brussel Sprouts Evesham Special. I have put more than one seed to a section as the seeds are not new this year. One large module tray including 6 Romanesco, 6 Cauli Autumn Giant, 6 Cabbage Primo, 6 Cabbage Derby Day, 6 Cabbage Glory of Enkhuisen and 6 Cabbage Kilaxy. Sown on the 4th February so I should see some signs of life in ten to fifteen days. They are all brassicas that I have grown before many times. Six Romanesco through after five days. Romanesco potted on today 16th Feb. Cauliflower Autumn Giant potted on too 16th Feb.

The GOE are from Seekay at 75p for 100 seeds. The Romanesco and the Autumn Giant Cauliflower, 65p for 50, are new seeds this year but all the others are at least one year old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have had no luck with the brassica seedlings at all, neither the old seed or the new. Today 29th April, I have sown another tray of seeds but have also bought 72 plants from Webbs They are Cauliflower All Year Round, Cabbage Greyhound and Brussel Sprouts Evesham Special.

Tomatoes

I sowed the first Tomato seeds today, 2nd Feb, a little early but last years didn’t seem to have enough time to mature fully. I have sown four Gardeners Delight, two Black Opal, two Alicante, four Black Russian, four Tigerella and four Ildie. I have sown two to a module. Germination should be 1-2 weeks. Update – All of the seeds germinated at seven days and today, 13th Feb,  I have potted them on.

Tomatoes are packed with antioxidants and are rich in Vitamins A and C and lycopene, all helping to stimulate your body’s immune system.

Gardeners Delight from T&M – This variety has truly tangy flavour. This cordon has long been a favourite for its trusses of bite-sized cherry tomatoes.

Black Opal F1 Hybrid from T&M – I bought these new in 2016, the dark fruits of Black Opal are tasty Cherry tomatoes. This unique cross combines the dark skin and health benefits of Black Cherry with the high sugar content of Sweet Aperitif whilst retaining high levels of anthocyanins and lycopene.

Alicante from Alan Romans – This vigorous cordon Alicante is open pollinated and will grow true from saved seed. A typical traditional tomato.

Black Russian from Seekay – This is a medium tomato with dark skin that has a superb flavour. The fruits darken with age to almost dark brown when fully ripe.

Tigerella from Seekay – This Indeterminate tomato produces a tangy flavoured crop of early ripening fruit that have yellow stripes.

Ildie from Seekay – A large bush type tomato that grows 5′ – 6′ high producing trusses of gorgeous yellow grape sized tomatoes.

Aubergine Mohican – 2017

I bought these seeds, Aubergine Mohican, F1 Solanum Melongena, in 2007. Ten year old seeds won’t stand much chance of germination in my opinion but I feel that I have to give them a go. Mohican look more like an egg than any other egg plant that I have seen. I tipped a few on to my hand, eleven, and have put them into a pint pot of moist compost and sealed them in a polythene bag. Watch this space!!! I have tried to grow these strange plants many times over my gardening years with mixed success and there are several mentions on old blog posts. If I remember rightly they need heat to germinate so I have put the pot next to the radiator.  My old note to myself way back was treat these seeds the same as Tomato. The first time that I ever sowed these they germinated after two days so my disappointment may arrive swiftly.

History – Native to India, this member of the lethal, deadly nightshade family is kin to tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. It was brought to Spain by the Moors more than 1,300 years ago. Botanists in 16th century Europe called eggplant mad apple because some believed it made people insane. In medieval Europe it was considered useful as a love potion. There is a subtle connection there I think.

 

Sweet Pea Mammoth

Every garden should have Sweet Peas somewhere, they are lovely to look at, smell amazing, last a long time if they are dead headed and, when you’re ready, will provide seeds for next season.

I have grown Sweet Peas often over the years with mixed success. The best results that I can remember were from seeds bought from Alan Romans, chitted and started off at home then planted around an obelisk at the allotment. This year I have bought seeds from Seekay and from Higgledy so it will be interesting to see which seeds perform best. Both are Mammoth Mixed. The Seekay seeds were delivered quickly but the Higgledy haven’t arrived yet.  My plan is to grow some at home in the garden and some at the allotment.

Today, Saturday 14th January 2017, I am swishing ten seeds in a little warm water to soften the outer shell. I shall sow them tomorrow or Monday. Five each to a small pot of compost, It’s a start. Update:- It’s been a rainy grey Sunday but the ten Sweet Pea seeds are in their pots and ten more are soaking. Another ten seeds went into the compost today, Monday 16th January. update 20th January The first pot sown 15th Jan are pushing through today. 5 days to germinate as promised by Seekay seeds. All three pots are through now and the single pot of Beaujolais are pushing through too. 26th Jan.

Growing sweet peas couldn’t be easier. You can sow them into small pots of compost in Autumn and overwinter the young plants in a cold frame or cool greenhouse.  Alternatively you can wait until Spring and start planting your sweet peas in pots, or sow directly into the ground.

Before you sow them soak in tepid water to rehydrate them. It helps them get off to a quicker start but it isn’t essential as they will still germinate well in moist compost. If you soak them overnight you will notice that they swell up and turn a lovely chestnut colour. Use a good quality compost and sow several sweet pea seeds to a pot. Sow them about 1cm deep, cover the seed with compost and water them well. If sowing Sweet Pea seed seems like too much effort you could always buy sweet pea plug plants. Place them in a bright position and when the shoots appear keep an eye out for slugs as they love young sweet pea shoots. Information from Sue Sanderson at T&M.

Seeds of Hope

Eleven packets of seed arrived today and they look very healthy so I am optimistic about growing some productive plants. I have used a company that is new to me. It is called Seekay and is trading on Amazon. Cost and delivery has been good. Seeds arrived packed well and in individual sealed polythene packets. I will report on success and failure but will allow for grower error.

Tomato Ildie – I grew this tomato back in the day. It is mentioned on the old blog posts. I used up the last of my old seeds last year so have bought new for the coming season. I received 20 seeds at a cost of 65p. Sweetcorn F1 Wagtail – This is a new variety for me. It is listed as super sweet and at 99p for 32 seeds the price is sweet too. Climbing French Bean Blue Lake – 90 seeds for 65p. When I was able to go back to the allotment at the end of last season I was given a bag full of this prolific bean by our plot neighbour. I was very impressed and determined to grow them myself this year. Imagine my surprise when reading back over old blog posts to see that I had actually grown these before. This demonstrates to me how ones mind can be completely taken over when it is coping with a personal tragedy. New priorities move in and dominate our thinking. Parsnip Guernsey – 100 seeds for 55p. Another new variety to me. The Guernsey variety was the most popular parsnip of the 19th century. Introduced prior to the 1850’s, this variety is medium-long, and has thick shoulders and smooth white skin. The flesh gets even sweeter after a good frost in autumn. It’s not as long as the Hollow Crown and has a sweet and delicate flavour.  Information from Baker Creek.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wishing The Winter Away

I have always found something to love about all of the seasons but today I found myself wishing away the Winter. SInce Adam died I have been keeping myself sane by trying to bring the garden back after years of neglect. It’s had to be step by step and there have been a few steps forward and quite a few back but I have persevered. I have grown things from seed and bought bulbs and roses and new containers. This week we have had torrential rain yet again and the pots have become waterlogged. The possibility of lowering temperatures means that a lot of my precious plants are at risk.   Therefore my desire for the speedy arrival of Spring. To know that the bulbs are sitting in the wet and the roses,that have shown such good growth since planting, are at risk is very daunting.

After the garden flooded as a result of heavy rainfall in June when I lost a lot of seedlings and young plants we then had a burst water main under the garden. The garden then became an excavation site and we were surrounded by water outside but had no water supply inside. Last week we had a burst water tank in the airing cupboard and then more torrential rain outside.

Update Wednesday 23rd November …..plumber here putting in a new cold water tank…rain stopped….feeling more positive….maybe it’s not the winter I’m wishing away……just the excess water. On a positive note the old water tank will make a great carrot bin down the allotment…. After all it already has good drainage holes.

Windy Sunday Morning

We had a good couple of hours at the plot today. All the tomatoes are now in place in the lean to. The courgette plants are in their bed. Rob earthed up the potatoes which had put on a lot of growth following the torrential rain yesterday. We also topped up the potato bags. We came home with a cabbage, some spring onions and a bunch of raddish.

Rain – Courgette and Squash

After weeks of dry weather the rain came with a vengance last night accompanied by thunder and lightening. It is still raining steadily today but a nice fine rain that is ok to work in.

I have put the flower seedlings into their final bed now and they look happy and will bed in nicely if this fine rain continues. They are Nasturtium, Lupin and Campion. I have also filled an oblong planter with Nasturtium and placed it alongside the rose bed. They will attract Hover Flies which in turn should keep my roses free from green fly.

I have potted on the biggest of the tomatoes now. Four are in place at the allotment in the lean to and the other six are at home in the garden. Today I have sown nine Butternut Squash seeds saved from last year. They look a bit feeble though so if they don’t show through I shall have to buy some fresh seeds. The two courgette plants seem to be doing well and I have put them outside to harden off a bit. The four Cucumber plants are still on the window ledge and look very frail. They are the long white bought last year from T&M. I don’t hold out much hope for them.

William & Catherine

 

What a spectacle the wedding has been. They both looked beautiful and it all made me very proud to be British. I am not a religious person but the ceremony was very moving and I hope that they have a good loving marriage. Princess Diana would have been so proud of the boys as I am sure Prince Charles is.