Fruit and Vegetables at Home

I used to have an allotment. However, I gave it up a couple of years ago for a number of reasons. It was a 40 minute walk away (the nearest site when I took it on); it wasn’t particularly friendly (or more accurately when I went, there never seemed to be anybody there); with only two of us, the quantity that could be grown far exceeded our needs and to not cultivate it properly if there were other people waiting seemed a waste; and there was relatively constant vandalism of one sort or another (sheds broken into, produce stolen, etc.). (In fact the final straw was when somebody decided that my 10 year cultivated topsoil was worthwhile stealing and removed a spit-depth of soil from some of my raised beds).

So now I grow at home. I’m lucky to have a relatively large garden. Its a right-angled triangle of about a third of an acre including the house. However, as you can see, it is well covered by largely mature trees which means the amount of space which is suitable for growing vegetables is limited. The oak in the middle of our garden is between 100 and 150 years old and the one next door is even larger. The sycamores are 50 or 60 years old and around 50 foot high. 

A rough plan of the garden

We’ve lived in our house for around 30 years, during which time we have planted apple trees, taken out a number of (large) trees, bought greenhouses and a polytunnel (for tomatoes), (the polytunnel has become a netted space after the plastic gave up the ghost). We’ve also bought a couple of 6ftx4ft raised beds filled with compost and topsoil to try and grow better carrots (the ground is clay which is hard to improve).

The purpose of this part of the site is to link together all the bits and pieces that we grow (it may include the tomatoes), explaining why we grow what we grow and keeping an ongoing record of what we’ve harvested.

So, with spreadsheet in hand I’ll start by describing what we’re trying to achieve.

We want to get fresh vegetables and fruit that are nicer harvest fresh and cooked straight away. We can’t see any point in growing things that are easily available in the supermarket and don’t taste any worse because of it. I.e. we don’t grow potatoes, onions, fennel (I’ll explain) but we do grow lettuce, tomatoes (of course), cucumbers, beans, courgettes, radishes, raspberries, apples, rhubarb, strawberries, etc..

We’d like to have something from the garden (or the freezer, or the dehydrator) every week (but we’re not precious about it). We’d like to eat most of what we grow fresh and not have a huge glut followed by a dearth (but again if we have too much we’ll give it away or compost it). In general we want to raise everything from seed rather than buying plants (I think you get a bigger choice and can grow varieties that won’t appear in the shops).

And that’s it, an introduction to this part of the site. Lets see how it goes from here.

  • Planting out Tomatoes – 2022 - So, the plants have got to the stage where they’re large enough to plant out. I grow my tomatoes in a couple of small greenhouses (since my polytunnel failed last year) in “Morissons Flower Buckets (MFBs)”. (For those of you who don’t know about them, Morissons is a UK supermarket and one of the things… Continue reading Planting out Tomatoes – 2022
  • Tomatoes Germinating -2022 - The tomatoes I sowed in the middle of March are (mainly) germinating and growing reasonably well. Of the 29 different cultivars, three have so far failed to show any sign of growth (which shows how old some of the seeds are so I’m unlikely to get Amber Coloured, Carotina, or Kibits Ukranian this year. I’ve… Continue reading Tomatoes Germinating -2022
  • Sowing Tomatoes – 2022 - I selected the tomato seeds I planned to sow this year and found that many of them are quite old. Nonetheless, I’ve given them a whirl and hope that they will germinate. I’ve sown 29 different varieties (30 pots because I’ve grown two different lots of my Oleron Yellow because I still seem to have… Continue reading Sowing Tomatoes – 2022
  • Growing at Home – Last of the Carrots - Growing carrots is something that requires the soil to be of reasonable quality. We are clay and so our carrots never really grow very well, forking and stumpy. However, when I created the raised beds, I filled them with a mixture of garden compost, bought compost and well rotted farmyard manure. The result is a… Continue reading Growing at Home – Last of the Carrots
  • Chitting Potatoes - I haven’t grown potatoes since giving up the allotment. Even then, I really only grew them to fill space. However, this year I’ve decided to minimise the amount of time I spend growing vegetables but I still need to fill the various spaces. So, potatoes get a chance this year. I’ll plant a few in… Continue reading Chitting Potatoes
  • 2022 – Deciding what else to grow - Whilst most of what I write about is my tomatoes, there is also space for other vegetables and fruit, some of which are permanent and others which I have to decide about. I’ve already sown broadbeans which are growing well and will give us something in around May. The strawberry plants in the tunnel are… Continue reading 2022 – Deciding what else to grow
  • 2022 – Deciding which Tomatoes to Grow - At this time of year, I always have a problem deciding which tomato cultivars to grow. When I first started growing tomatoes and recording what I’d grown (a long time ago now it seems), I had plenty of space and an allotment so I grew lots of plants of lots of different cultivars (my record… Continue reading 2022 – Deciding which Tomatoes to Grow
  • Harvest – Mid October 2021 - The days are drawing in, the evenings are darker and the weather is significantly cooler. However, there are still green tomatoes, some of which seem to be ripening others of which are succumbing to blight. Since the last harvest post we’ve picked another 9kg of tomatoes, four cucumbers, 2kg of carrots, half a kilo each… Continue reading Harvest – Mid October 2021
  • Harvest- End of September 2021 - The season is beginning to come to an end. We’re still getting tomatoes (another 9kg since our last post) but the plants are looking decidedly sickly with botrytis/grey mould killing off the ends of the plants, the leaves and (more frequently now) the fruit. It looks like the problem has affected even the fruit that… Continue reading Harvest- End of September 2021
  • Harvest – Mid August 2021 - The year progresses and (at last) we’re getting tomatoes with the total (as of today) at just about 4kg. What’s interesting is how it varies from year to year. 2020 and 2018 by now had around 15kg but 2019 was only 1.5kg (that’s all I’ve got weekly totals for). In a week or so, I’ll… Continue reading Harvest – Mid August 2021

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