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.
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.
- 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
- Perhaps Tomatoes? – August 2021 - With any luck we’re just beginning to see the start of the season with a small quantity (350g) just beginning to ripen. The season is well behind last year (by now we’d picked around 8kg) but not far off what we picked by this time in 2019 so the season is obviously not with us.… Continue reading Perhaps Tomatoes? – August 2021
- At Last! – Tomatoes starting to Ripen & other things - About two weeks later than normal, our tomatoes are beginning to show signs of ripening. Although we normally get a few tomatoes starting around 11th July, this year they seem late. I think its a combination of not growing the cultivars that are reliably early (Bloody Butcher and Maskotka and a cold spring. However, as… Continue reading At Last! – Tomatoes starting to Ripen & other things
- Watering Tomatoes – How to get it Right - Correctly watering your tomatoes through their life can make a big difference to the overall crop. One thing to remember is the old adage “more plants are killed by overwatering than underwatering”. So, what is “overwatering” and how do you prevent yourself doing it? Watering Seeds & Seedlings If we start at the beginning, tomatoes… Continue reading Watering Tomatoes – How to get it Right
- Update – Mid July 2021 - OK, whilst the tomatoes are yet to start ripening most of the rest of the garden seems to be doing OK. The strawberry plants are giving us enough for fruit most mornings with our cereal and we picked the first raspberries today. One of the difficulties that we haven’t had before (or a least I… Continue reading Update – Mid July 2021
- July 2021 summary - Here we are at the beginning of July and our tomatoes are doing well. Most have fruit set and growing and the plants are well established. This year I am keeping the indeterminate varieties to a single cordon rather than as I did last year, letting all of the sideshoots grow. I’m also planning to… Continue reading July 2021 summary
- Mid June Harvest (19th June 2021) - Ignoring the tomatoes for a while (they’re growing strongly and beginning to set fruit), I’m looking at how everything else is doing. Lots of plants are in the process of strengthening, growing and beginning to set fruit & vegetables but the harvest is a bit slow. Some of the difficulty is down to the weather… Continue reading Mid June Harvest (19th June 2021)
- Weird Flowers and the Effect of a late spring - I was wandering around the garden this morning when I saw this. I asked my “expert” what it was and was pointed at a page on the Kew Gardens website (kew.org) from January 2016. It turns out its an example of “terminal peloria” a well known but infrequent spontaneous genetic mutation that occurs in flowers… Continue reading Weird Flowers and the Effect of a late spring
- Home Gardening – June 2021 Update - Despite the cold and wet May, the tomatoes are all planted up unto their final containers. I haven’t done as many different varieties this year (not really sure why) nor have I as many plants as usual. However, a good mix of indeterminate (cordon) and determinate (bush) will see enough tomatoes for the year (unless… Continue reading Home Gardening – June 2021 Update
- Growing Fruit & Vegetables at Home – 7th May 2021 - Although there are lots of things I have written about before, I’m going to treat this as a start-up. As I said I have a spreadsheet, it consists of three parts: Calendar:which lists what I’ve sown, transplanted, and harvested by date. All years are concatenated so I can see everything I’ve done in previous years;… Continue reading Growing Fruit & Vegetables at Home – 7th May 2021