Monthly Archive July 2013


Alliums, perennial brassicas, good weather, yields and adaptability

I have to be adaptable, slugs ensure this by setting my plants back, so I roll with the punches and change plans for the garden quickly and decisively. The good weather is making any old pot plant leap into action the moment I plant it. It’s not just the slugs and snails either, it is the caterpillars that are really doing my head in, and they are now well and truly in season. I have three types of non-flowering perennial kale (Daubenton, Taunton Dean and Ewiger Kohl), four types of flowering perennial brassica (Kailaan, Wild Cabbage, Nine Star Perennial Broccoli and “9 ans Portugese Couve”) and 2 types of traditional biennial brassica (a nice hispi type cabbage and a bog standard purple sprouting broccoli) which I am attempting to reproduce vegetatively. All of these brassicas are getting slaughtered by the cabbage butterflies, but I won’t have a net in the back garden (I use nets on the allotment) for aesthetic reasons. If the damage gets worse I may change my mind. Read More


Easy “Grow Your Own” For Beginners

I was listening to Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time today and one article struck me as a problem that could do with a blog post. The panel were discussing whether or not the craze for “Grow Your Own” (or veggie growing) was dying off and why, the consensus being that veggie growing is really difficult and lots of people failed and so gave up. Veggie growing is really difficult but there are short cuts that can be used to give you a garden full of food. Read More


Sustainable Techniques for Leeks

This article is pretty much a collation of posts I wrote to do with propagating the good old fashioned leek. Propagating without collecting and germinating seed, techniques that are easy and quick to do and basically make the leek a permanent resident on your plot or in your back yard. I have done this as my part in the movement to get us all producing significant amounts of our own food without costing the earth. These techniques I have tested myself and work, but the inspiration for trying these techniques come from Medwyn’s of Anglesey and Leeks for the Lazy Gardener. Read More


Sustainablity Lessons Learned

My sustainability project is to reduce outside resources to as near as nothing as possible. The small area I have available – about 1000 square feet – is never going to provide me enough food on its own, but I intend it to feed itself. The techniques I am using are Biointensive gardening, permaculture forest gardening and organic gardening. Specifically, I am setting aside 60% of my land to grow biomass that I compost and which feeds the whole area. Using forest gardening techniques (without the trees, doh!) I am using nitrogen fixing perennial plants to feed the soil and substituting as many annual vegetables with perennial versions as I can. The specifically organic technique I use is digging in green manures. Read More


Nine Star “Broccoli” Cuttings, Basil Cuttings

Nine Star “Broccoli” is in inverted commas because it resembles more the cauliflower, being white and having largish curds. I bought five from Pennard Plants, three expired over winter, one grew big but didn’t grow curds and the last one grew lovely big curds that were delicious but was clearly set back by my cutting it. It was immediately set upon by slugs, stopped growing and has mostly expired. I say mostly because I went to dig it up and found new growth just under the surface of the soil where there was woody stalk. This too has been nibbled by slugs so it may not be good enough to take cuttings from. Read More


Harvesting and Selecting Shallots

If anyone is not aware, a shallot is a type of onion that is small (between half an inch and an inch and a half) and is grown from sets and not seed. If you are growing from seed it is not really a shallot at all, even if it looks like one, but a hybrid / onion shallot. I’m backing the French in their outrage against the new seed shallots which, for agricultural convenience, threaten old and flavourful traditional varieties. A real shallot divides into between three and ten new shallots, one of which you keep for planting for next season. Read More

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