Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Vegetables

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leek – Musselburgh

I have sown a deep tray of Leek Musselburgh and put the tray into a polythene bags to preserve moisture and heat. I have grown this variety before with varying success which has more to do with the gardener than the variety. I shall grow them on until they look sturdy enough to plant out on the allotment. They will probably be put into the ground that the potatoes come out of where they will stay until early next year.

Brassicas – Sprouts and Calabrese

I have sown a batch of Brussel Sprouts Noisette.  Noisette are an old French variety that produces small to medium sized sprouts with a nutty flavour. Tip – Cut the top from this plant as soon as big enough to eat. This encourages the rest of the sprouts to mature at the same time rather than gradually but can reduce the crop slightly.

I have also put in some quick growing Broccoli Autumn Calabrese seeds. I have sown them thinly in a tray of moist seed compost and enclosed the tray in a polythene bag. I shall keep them indoors until they germinate which should be 14-21 days. They will need potting on and hardening off before planting into their final position but I am more confident with that now. At first I was very nervous when growing brassicas and lost a lot of seedlings.

Tip – Once you have cut the large central head from Broccoli leave the root in and you will more than likely get some tasty side shoots.

Overwintering Cabbage

 

We have sown seeds of two overwintering cabbages. Spring Hero F1 Hybrid and Durham Early. Both sets of seeds have germinated successfully and have been pricked out into bigger pots

A ballhead cabbage, Spring Hero has good frost hardiness and forms solid heads from late April through to May.

Durham Early produces firm, pointed, well flavoured hearts.

 

 

 

Transplanting Leeks

 

Rob came and met me at the plot and we planted forty Leek plants. The long awaited rain came just as we were finishing. We use the popular method of planting Leeks which is  just dibbing a good hole and dropping the plant in while pouring water in to settle the roots but not back filling with soil. We are fast running out of space and still have more leeks, onions, pumpkins and the Gardeners Delight tomatoes to plant.

Cauliflower Skywalker F1

Today, 28th May, I have received the cauliflower plants that I ordered from T&M and they look brilliant. Healthy and ready to be planted out as soon as the beds are ready. They are an F1 variety called Skywalker and should be ready to harvest in October. Update – we planted these yesterday, 2nd June, under a covered tunnel along with nine cabbages given to us by a friend. Update 12th September – we have harvested several of these already and they have been outstanding in size and quality. Maturing in October this outstanding hybrid gives fine, deep white curds of excellent eating quality.

 

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Progress

Rob’s first week off is over and we have been very lucky with the weather. Although the lack of rain has meant lots of  walking back and forth carrying full watering cans we have been able to get loads done on the plot and at home. Both the brassica tunnel and the new cage are fully planted now with sprouts, peas, onions, cabbage and cauliflower. The Asparagus is planted and the fruit tunnel has been tidied, a new path laid and the plants fed.

We have almost completed the digging of the beds and not many weeds are left now. Two loads of wood chip have been dropped and we have made good use of them to refresh paths.

 

The salad tent has been secured and is now fully seeded with spring onions and lettuce.

As the soil on the outside beds become finer we are getting some seeds in and to date have beetroot, onions, celery, a bit early I know, carrots, parsnips, raddish, spinach and chard. We have to prepare a bed for the sweetcorn which should go in next month and another for some overwintering brassicas. The bean trench has had another dig over and looks ready to receive the plants as soon as all threat of frost has passed. The carrot bin has been sown with a mixture of varieties and the courgette bin has had three courgette plants put in under a polythene cloche. All the potatoes are in both in the ground and in bags.

At home the tomatoes and cucumber are planted on into their second pots and a start has been made on the squash and pumpkin seeds which are at the second leaf stage. The melons are not doing too good again this year but I will persevere with them as we have made a hot bed for them at the plot.

A Few Hours At The Allotment

We spent a lovely few hours at the plot this morning and caught up on loads of jobs. We put in the last of the potatoes which were the second batch of Charlotte and British Queen. We planted up the three courgette plants All Green Bush and put a polythene cover over until the plants are a bit hardier. I had left a tray of runner bean plants White Lady in the fruit tunnel to harden off and I noticed that most of them had been eaten by something so I am putting another batch in today to try and catch up. Into the brassica tunnel we put twenty five cabbage Greyhound plants, thirteen cauliflower All The Year Round and ten onion Marathon. Onion – The regular consumption of onions has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure  helping to prevent atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, and therefore reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.


 

 

 

 

A greyhound cabbage from last year

Second Batch of Brassicas

I have sown another tray of brassicas today with a mix of new and old seeds. Another row of Cauliflower All The Year Round; Broccoli Autumn Calabrese; Cabbage Derby Day; Cabbage Brigadier; Cabbage Greyhound and Cabbage Offenham ll. They should show in 7-10 days.

Cabbage Brigadier F1 Hybrid (Autumn/Winter). Ideal to grow a quality giant cabbage, producing heads up to 14lbs. Delicious eaten raw, with a high sugar and Vitamin C content, but also excellent when cooked, Stands well in good condition, with Fusarium.

 

Cabbage Greyhound Reliable and early maturing, Greyhound produces compact plants with very few wasted outer leaves. The tasty, pointed hearts can be cropped from mid summer well into autumn. Alan Romans.