Long were the Salad Days: A Summer Salad Challenge

Homegrown salad all summer long, that’s the dream huh? Sadly for me it’s never been a reality no matter how enthusiastic I’ve been in the beginning it just takes a row of pigeon pecked lettuces, slug ravaged seedlings or bolted spinach to break my heart and dwindle my motivation.

Continue reading “Long were the Salad Days: A Summer Salad Challenge”

1 May 2014 International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day

1537874_10151964710206817_1879039514_o

Every May since 2006 a group of guerilla gardeners in Brussels declared the 1st of May, International Sunflower Guerilla Gardening Day. A day for everyone everywhere with a cheeky guerilla gardening streak to spread our gardening love beyond our plots, windowsills, gardens (if your lucky!), to plant sunflowers seed in our communities in the hope that they will bring beauty and smile to peoples faces in our neighbourhoods

Continue reading “1 May 2014 International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day”

Bountiful. A review of the season (so far…)

Forgive me, I’ve hardly blogged about the plot this summer. Recent weather aside (it’s a wet and windy Saturday afternoon as I write this), it’s a been a glorious summer and to be honest with you, we’ve just been so busy enjoying it down 18a. After a unseasonable cool start to the season full of worry whether we would ever get any kind of crop going, we approach the end of the growing season with a bumper crop of unexpected allotment loveliness. After a rather crappy first 6 months of 2013 for myself personally, the allotment and the abundance of nature there have helped me overcome my blues and banish my little rain clouds. So what’s been going on down 18a? Well let’s see…
Continue reading “Bountiful. A review of the season (so far…)”

King of Carrot Flowers. My Mocks & Spencer Sweet Carrot Chutney.

Carrots are a tricky beast. Easy to grow yet difficult to successfully grow. Like so many other frustrated veggie growers our carrots are constantly plagued by carrot fly. Pursued incessantly throughout the summer months (most active May to September, so that’s basically ALL summer) by this destructive little fly. On paper the carrot fly sounds monstrous; smelling a thinned or freshly pulled carrot on the wind flying a distance to find your baby carrots, laying their eggs so that their grubs feast on the poor defenceless carrot. All the while the veggie grower is blissful in their ignorance, unaware of what horrors lurk beneath the soil. Not only do we have the carrot fly to do battle with but enter the ant and if you’re really unlucky, a mole. Our plot neighbour insist that ants constantly eat their carrot seedlings (jury are still out on that one). It’s not just the marauding pests but their quite picky about their environment. Lovers of fine sandy, free draining stone free soil. Snubbing any manure splitting and growing knobbly at the first sight of a stone. And we’ve all got conditions like that, right? Continue reading “King of Carrot Flowers. My Mocks & Spencer Sweet Carrot Chutney.”

You’ve Got A Friend in Me : Companion Planting

(Photos all from our allotment plot 18a)

It’s a jungle out there in the world of allotmenteering. The whole world and his slug is after our precious little vegetables. Down 18a it’s our policy to try to be as organic as we possibly can be (before it breaks your heart). We don’t use bug sprays or artificial fertilisers and most importantly no weed killers. It can be tough, harvests small compared to our weedkiller-bottle-trigger-happy plot neighbours. However in our corner one thing has our backs covered, and that’s companion planting. Continue reading “You’ve Got A Friend in Me : Companion Planting”

The Ups and Downs of Being a Throughly Modern Allotmenteer.

Hello. My name is Emma. I live and work in London. Rent a small one bedroom flat with my boyfriend. Like many people our age we do not own our own home and have no outdoor space. And we are allotment holders.

I’m pretty sure were not alone. Allotments have seen a massive boom in past decade. Everyone wants to grow their own. Waiting lists across the UK are fit to burst. Our site alone has a closed waiting list with a predicted wait of at least 5 years. Things are changing fast. Allotment tending is no longer the preserve of the retired gent. With their rows of leeks and tatties. Much to the initial confusion of the ‘old boys’, younger people are taking over the neglected plots. It’s not easy, many drop out. Those that stick at it, like ourselves are head over hills with allotmenteering.

Working fulltime, weekends and snatched post-work summer evenings are all the quality time we get with our plot. Weather, commuting, transport problems and family commitment all get in the way. On an ideal weekend during the lighter months we put in around 12 hours work down 18a a weekend. Continue reading “The Ups and Downs of Being a Throughly Modern Allotmenteer.”

You Look Radishing.

The 2012 growing season is turning into a bit of a mixed bag of success and failure. What with the bonkers weather and summertime false starts, the one vegetable we can technically say we have a glut of is, the radish. Their a no fuss little vegetable, happy to grow anywhere in any soil. Though technically a brassica we exclude it from the rotation and tend to fit it in ad hoc, always happy to go with the flow the humble little radish. We like to grow them to mark where we have sown parsnips and in-between slower growing crops. Up and out just as the emerging parsnips need the extra light and space. Also it makes an excellent companion plant for the cucumber. Reputed to boost the cucumbers disease resistance. Something we tried last year to great success.

So hats off to the radish. However with all the rain we have been having of late they are swelling quicker than we can munch through them. We are over run with the peppery little fellas. As much as I love a radish they don’t always love me back (giving me shocking heartburn) and there’s only so many radishes in a salad I can take. So what else can you do with the humble little radish? Continue reading “You Look Radishing.”