Archive for the ‘Allotments / Community Gardens & Plots’ Category

I have been making Apple Cider (even a semi Pear Cider) and Cider Vinegar using a very very very veeerrrry simple recipe now for 3 years running, so simple in fact that you Do Not Need a Fruit Press!

Young Organic Apple Jonagold on an urban Permaculture Farm

Organically Grown Jonagold Apples – Cider & Vinegar Making

What you need is: Apples, Water, Container/s (5ltr / 1 Gal), Sugar (1 Cup), Knife with Chopping board … and Time – That’s It!

What I recommend is to get hold of a few different varieties of apple (even some pears), try your best not to use only one apple variety.

Click the Link Here for the full recipe with explanation between Cider only and Cider Vinegar as the final result.

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This should be the second, perhaps the third video I have posted with Mike Feingold (an Old-School UK Permaculturist) Here he gives a tour of the Allotment he manages in Bristol.
I like this guy’s style, a friend of mine told me about the Permaculture gardens at the festival and so it is now good to be able to see what she was talking about … follow Mike around the site which includes explanations of eco construction, Heugelkultur beds, raised beds etc.

 

I’m not entirely sure why it is filmed with almost 90% black and white filter (it must have been a hipster filming! 😉 but I’m sure you can sit through it till the end as it is worth it.

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For more info:

 

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Mandy and her partner run a section of a cooperatively bought piece of land and run their Incredible Vegetables enterprise, as much as I would like to explain some details about their project, I will most likely be mirroring exactly what is already in the interview. Here are a few previous posts (Post 1) & (Post 2) regarding Incredible Vegetables for those who haven’t seen them yet.

What was your inspiration to create your enterprise? did you already have this in mind when you obtained your little strip of land or was it later on?

We didn’t have an enterprise in mind when we first obtained the land. We wanted to be self sufficient in vegetables, that was our main priority. The enterprise essentially developed from sharing what we were doing on social media and people starting asking us about the plants we were growing. There is such an interest in perennial vegetables that once people heard we were experimenting with such plants we had a huge number of requests. We thought why don’t we try and grow and supply a few of the harder to find edible perennials? It all developed from there and Incredible Vegetables was launched!

What is your reason for concentrating on unusual / bizzarre vegs and edible plants?

We spent many years as  ‘regular’ growers. By that I mean growing stuff in the back garden, including all the things you would normally find in a vegetable garden. We thought there must be more to eat and grow and there must be a different way of doing it. There are a myriad of edimentals and perennial vegetables out there and once you start researching them it is pretty hard to stop. Also we wanted to move away from enormous amount of work that annual growing involves.
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This past Summer (Yup it’s Autumn already) I finally got around to growing some plants which I failed in previous years to cultivate properly, namely Okra and Aubergine (Eggplant / Brinjal).

I will however, have to stop experimenting too much with germinating times! While I have had good success starting sun loving annual veg’s and fruits as early indoors as Late January, this last Spring with the very last minute April shock frost took out more than half of my pre-germinated seedling stock and severely damaged at least 30% of the remaining half! From now on, I think it’s safe to commit perhaps 20% of all planned varieties / species to early sowings which can be sacrificial in the case of more late frosts.

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The Beatuiful Okra Flowers in Mid Spring

Out of 4-5 Okra plants, I managed about the same amount of fingers! I attribute this to worrying too much about cold as well as pest damage and got around to planting them far too late, But the flowers are awesome!

On another note, I promised myself that this is ‘The Year Of The Salads’ and in the below photo, you can see how easy it is to find random suitable spaces to squeeze them in around your garden or plot, please stop regimentalising yourself thinking everything has to be monocultured in rows … NATURE DOES NOT WORK LIKE THAT!        Rant over 🙂

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‘Jack ice – Crisphead” Lettuce at the base of Pepper Plants

Lettuce are shallow rooted and short seasoned from germination to harvest, hence why greens (cooking, salads etc.) do outweigh heavier crops such as maize, tomatoes etc. in yield due to the amount of plants you can successionally grow in one space during the full season (There are winter Lettuces and other greens like Kale which overwinter – but no Maize, Pumpkins, Tomatoes etc etc.). Being shallow rooted, they need less nutrients compared to the heavier croppers so can be grown at the base of other plants as well (Pay attention though to Companion Planting Guides).

Soon I will post about Aubergine success and tips I got from side-shooting which seemed to increase yield! I got these tips from the awesome Charles Dowding, I do recommend to get a book or two of his if you are interested in growing your own vegetables! From a person who has around 34 years growing organically in no dig systems, you would not be making a bad move in following his tips and advice in my opinion …

 

I just wanted to say that with only a few years under my belt growing Onions, I can personally claim that Onion from seed (Preferrably from a good Heritage seed supplier) does far better than from sets (mini bulbs pre-grown to a small easy-to-handle size).

Yes, onion from seed are (or at least Seem to be) quite finniky / delicate to handle but Don’t let this put you off! The results are far better in my opinion.

Onion seed vs sets

Heritage Onion from Seed (LEFT) vs Commerically Available Onion Sets (RIGHT)

Take note that in the above photo, I grew Two types of Onion set and both were just as bad in terms of bulb swell and overall failure (Red Karmen and Stuttgart)

Why do (did) I still grow Onion from sets if I seem to have such better results from seed? Because this was my first proper season from start on my ‘new’ allotment and I came across a good deal in Lidl I think it was, for a bag of around 100 bulbs it was something ridiculous like $0.69p. So I decided to do a comparison test since I now have a much larger space to play around in.

Pros and Cons for both parties (Pro’s highlighted in Bold):

  • SETS:
    Can be contaminated with fungal growth or spores from storage or the production facility,
  • Most (probably 50-80% in my experience) didn’t get much larger than the little bulb that went in! (Don’t throw them away, make pickles!),
  • Need netting in the first weeks to prevent birds etc. from pulling them out before they establish,
  • Will need constant watering until they establish,
  • Are convenient if a Gardener is overwelmed with small seedlings on all available windowsills etc,
  • Save on plastic pots and compost,
  • SEEDS:
  • Are quite delicate when small,
  • Need one pot and compost per plant (or group of plants if following Multi Sowing),
  • In one year I had all of my onion seed attract aphid really early (February / March if I remember correctly?), however, that was well before I found out how to control them,
  • Have a much more well developed root system and romp away shortly after planting,
  • Swell up quicker too,
  • Far more disease resistance when compared,
  • Better options to choose from (such as storage length, taste, size etc.),
  • Establish quicker so need less tending,
  • Do not need netting,
  • Higher bulb-swell success rate as per observation (larger bulbs),

This is just a quick one to remind everyone that Summer is not the only time of year to grow vegetables for yourself and family, many leafy crops can be sown now or soon for over-wintering or supplying fresh greens during the cold months!

beets

Leafy Crops for Winter Vegetable supply

Some plants are intended to over-winter so that in spring after they have been spending the last few months establishing an extensive root network, they take to the new warm weather and pump out loads of delicious crop for us well before the Spring sown annuals are even out of their nursing trays! However, there are plants that will also supply food during the course of Autumn and Winter …

  • Garlic:

There are quite a few things you can plan for now, the best time to sow Garlic is in November as this ensures larger bulbs. There are specialist companies that provide Garlic via online mailorder but you could also just try a small patch of store bought cloves to see how they do! All 50-60 of the Garlic I grew this year were from Fruit and Veg shop bought bulbs, they did okay in my opinion. Plants which can follow Garlic include Tomatoes and even Pumpkins in the place of the harvested bulbs, I do however advise my readers and followers to research more options if possible …

  • Broad Beans:

Broad Beans ‘Flava flava’ can be sown September / October to over-winter for an early harvest in Spring, this mostly means that they should not be heavily affected by Black Aphid as Spring sown plants usually are. You can plan another Summer crop to grow in the place of the Broad Bean plants which you will remove after harvesting the bean pods, this is known in Vegetable Gardening as ‘Catch Cropping’ – effectively using a space for more than one crop over one year / season period.

  • True Spinach:

True Spinach, as opposed to other similar plants such as Perpetual Spinach (Another one to sow before Autumn for possible winter harvest) or Leaf Beet can be sown early to mid August for possible Autumn harvests (depending on your climate), anything sown later will mostly provide good yield in early Spring.
Similarly, Swiss Chard or Rainbow Chards should supply leaf and stalks in Autumn and perhaps Winter as well.

  • Round Seeded Pea varieties:

Round Seeded Peas (there are two types of dry seed, Round and Wrinkle Seeded) Round seeded varieties are hardier and the dry seed does not have any signs of a wrinkled skin. These can be sown September / October for an early harvest in Spring or in January onwards if you missed the Sept / Oct sowing period.

  • Winter Lettuces:

There are a decent number of Lettuce varieties which are quite hardy not only in unheated polytunnels and greenhouses but also outdoors, the best place to look for seed of this sort would be a heritage / heirloom seed supplier as they are likely to stock a few varieties, buying a cloche or mini polythene tunnel won’t be a bad idea as it keeps the cold winter winds from harming your plants. Check Salad Endive out for a year round easy to grow crop, another favourite with some gardeners is Lamb’s Lettuce AKA Corn Salad, this is a great plant to grow in a self-seed bed (A bed where you allow the plants to self seed as to reduce your own workload and allow nature to decide the ”sowing date”.

  • Oriental Greens:

Many oriental leafy vegetables are good for growing and supplying a decent yield in winter, varieties such as: Mizuna, Pakchoi,Tatsoi, Mispoona, Chinese Cabbage and Mibuna are all good.

  • The Hot / Peppery Greens:

Mustard Greens are very hardy, Rocket salad (Arugula) are a great plant to grow late Summer onwards as  the cooler weather will decrease the chances of the plants bolting.
Another good All Year, easy to grow green is Land Cress, placed in this category as it is a little spicy.

  • Windowsill Plants in Pots:

I always say people MUST experiment!! A few years back I grew a couple Tomato ‘Minibel’ (Small Cherry like, Pot Bush Tomatoes) in Terracotta pots indoors on my sunniest windowsill. I got perhaps 20-40 small mini-cherry tomatoes off of each plant during the season in your typical English Winter!

This year I will be growing a Cucamelon (As well as two Minibels again) in a slightly larger Terracotta pot on the same windowsill although with a mini bamboo trellis frame to support this Cucumber relative (Climber) keep an eye or follow this blog to see the results.

I know this list can still be expanded … however, I got lazy 🙂

I a finding myself unable to store any more Courgettes (Known in other countries as: Zucchini and even Baby Marrows). My fridge is FULL!
Everytime I either go into my garden or visit my allotment (every 2-3 days at this time of year), I am bringng in at least two decent sized Courgettes.

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Courgette (Zucchini) Cake Loaf

I am re-sharing an old recipe I added a while ago, this is the right time of the season to share this as most people are starting to wonder what else they can do with them …

Click here for an older post for the Courgette Loaf (more like a cake due to the higher sugar content). These are definitely great Healthy Alternatves in place of the everyday cakes we scoff down on a regular basis, the courgette gratings really moisten up the mix very well and make this a delicious tea time / coffee break snack.

Coming up and to look out for: Elderflower Wine Recipe, Elderberry Cordials and Syrups etc.