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.
- What to do about Moles - A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that I’d got some molehills in my vegetable bed. Our garden backs on to some fields and, in the past, we’ve had moles at the border between our garden and the fields and (occasionally) coming down the hedge between us and our next door neighbour. However, this is… Continue reading What to do about Moles
- Apple Harvest, Wildlife & Raspberry Pi - A mix of news in this post, some interesting and some not so interesting. Starting with the interesting. We’ve had (what seems like) an increase in the number of Red Admiral butterflies this year and, looking around the web, it seems this is a by-product of global warming (see its not all bad). Red Admiral… Continue reading Apple Harvest, Wildlife & Raspberry Pi
- 2023: A Slower year for tomatoes - Every year, I try to keep a record of how my tomatoes (and other vegetable & fruit) are harvesting. Its interesting how each year is different. 2023 has been slow for tomatoes and, as I’ve said elsewhere, the tomatoes are ripening unevenly with greenback on many cultivars. So far (24th August) we’ve had around 12kg… Continue reading 2023: A Slower year for tomatoes
- How Much is Growing Your Own Worth? - We grow our own. Not on a large scale and certainly not enough to be self sufficient. Its essentially something to keep me occupied and for fun. However, I’ve always kept a record of what we harvest and tried to assign a value to that. My better half (frequently) gets cross because when there’s a… Continue reading How Much is Growing Your Own Worth?
- Tomato Seed Collection (2023) - Every year I collect tomato seeds for a number of reasons. Its simple to do and means that you only have to buy tomato seeds if you want to (my main reason to buy seeds is to increase the number of varieties I’ve grown in my effort to find the “best” range of tomatoes. Saving… Continue reading Tomato Seed Collection (2023)
- 2023 – First Tomatoes - We were so excited when we finally harvested our very first batch of tomatoes this week. It was such a rewarding moment. There weren’t that many, just a handful, but it still felt like a significant accomplishment. Surprisingly, they ripened a bit earlier than we anticipated. It’s interesting how nature sometimes works in mysterious ways,… Continue reading 2023 – First Tomatoes
- June 2023 – How things are progressing - Until now, June has been hot & dry meaning that the tomato plants in the greenhouses have got away well. Most plants have now got fruit set and, my guess is, we will start to see fruit ripening over the next few weeks (my records show that we get ripe fruit starting mid-July). The dry… Continue reading June 2023 – How things are progressing
- Tomatoes in Pots – 2023 - A little early this year, I’ve potted up my tomatoes into their final pots. I grow my tomatoes in what’s known as “Morrison’s Flower Buckets (MFB’S)”. MFB’S are sold cheaply and, with holes punched through the bottom, they seem to be an ideal size. The benefit of growing them in individual pots is that there’s… Continue reading Tomatoes in Pots – 2023
- Starting to sow other vegetables - The weather is certainly on the up with bright sunshine for the past couple of days. However, its still wet underfoot and the ground is quite soggy & cold. So, for that reason, I have decided not to plant out my potatoes yet, despite the fact that the tubers appear to be well chitted and… Continue reading Starting to sow other vegetables
- Tomato Seedlings on the way - Despite the relatively cold weather over the last two weeks, the seedlings are beginning to push their way forward. Of the seeds I sowed, only one variety failed to germinate at all, the seeds were really quite old but I think I might have another go. The peppers and physalis are slower to get going… Continue reading Tomato Seedlings on the way