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More Winter Fun in the Garden, Celery Offsets Rooted

I’ve been enjoying the use of my greenhouse and yes I am already repairing it / fixing it properly so it doesn’t fall down in a light breeze. The gales we had a couple of weeks ago knocked out 4 panes of glass and luckily the only awkwardly sized one, one from the roof, landed unbroken in the soft black loam (if you believe that…) I have been cultivating underneath it. I had some spare panes so the job wasn’t all that tricky. I realised that I had only put a couple of spring clips in here and there so I basically doubled the amount of clips on the panes, realising that it would provide a certain amount of rigidity in strong winds. Read More

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Worm bins and composting

It is deep in the winter and though it is not all that cold the garden is in the doldrums. I’m not wishing my life away, just the next two months. I’ve been subscribed to One Yard Revolution (on Youtube) for some time – I’m a fan – and his climate in the US is colder than mine here in blighty. Yet he is still growing leaf salads, even though his garden is under a foot of snow and he is doing this by using more than one cloche. Read More

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Harvest for 2015

I found my notebook finally, it must have fallen behind something. I’ve entered it all into a spreadsheet and crunched the numbers. This sort of statistical thing really puts things into perspective as well as disperses any myths I have held about my garden. For example, I thought my winter squash harvest was about the same as my Sharks Fin Melon harvest. The SFM had double the weight of my more conventional squashes. Astonishingly it produced 13kgs from two plants and I don’t mollycoddle my plants (though I should). Read More

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Final harvest of 86kg for 2015, Strategies for 2016. Oh and the Sharks Fin Melon is still alive despite the frosts

86kg is double what I harvested last year on my small urban plot. The final burst of 2.5 kg was from a squash that was hiding on my neighbours side of the hedge, as they do. An excellent year but obviously more to do if I am to really make this little patch of land productive. Limiting factors for me this (and every year) are slugs and not enough nutrients. I have taken steps today to remove all the mulch from my garden and bung it on the new compost heap. I will mulch with it again once it is fully composted. I felt it was not breaking down well enough and was robbing my plants of the nutrients they needed. According to Charles Dowding, the no-dig gardening guru, mulching with finished compost provides no hiding places for slugs and my own experience mostly bears this out. Slugs really are the number one annoyance for gardeners in this country (England). Read More

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Celery offsets, the allotment and the Sharks Fin Melon is still alive.

I planted some celery (variety: Victoria) in early summer which, now it is winter, is huge and only lightly touched with frost. Only a couple of leaves have slightly curled and the flavour is crisp, watery, mild and with a hint of saltiness – ie, perfect! This is a surprise to me as the things were bitter and soapy tasting in late summer, but I have to admit I know practically nothing about growing the stuff, I prioritise perennials not biennials, I just had the plants (and the land) spare. Read More

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Greenhouse! Sharks Fin Melon Still alive in December!

I bought a greenhouse from B&Q, a standard 6ftx6ft aluminium job, and it being a clearance sale it was a *really* good price. It was however an experience putting it up – the box had obviously been on the shelf for some time and a snail had eaten half the instructions. But it was a good price and I pride myself on building Ikea furniture so a lump of glass and aluminium was not going to pose me too many problems. Well, it has been 2 and a half days and I still have 4 panes of glass to go in and I need to fix the door because all the ball bearings fell out of one of the runners. It would have been quicker if half the glass wasn’t smashed in the packs and the instructions for glazing that I was promised in the frame instructions would be in the glazing packs, were actually in the glazing packs. But trial and error, a modicum of resourcefulness and the thing is mostly up. It is enormous and dominates our garden in a way I didn’t really want it to, but once the thing is bursting with melons, cucumbers, tomatoes and chillis I will soon get over it. Read More

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Sharks Fin Melon, the hardier squash

The Sharks Fin Melon is not sweet as you would expect from a melon, it has more of a taste of cucumber, slightly sweet when raw and almost completely tasteless when cooked. It does provide bulk in your soups and stews and I like the texture which James Wong assures us is the same as the actual fin of a shark. Even better, the skin and seeds aren’t hard (and I’ve been picking them even up to this evening) so you can just chop them up like a courgette or cucumber and bung them in the pan. Add stock, garlic and other flavourful ingredients and it makes a decent amount of bulk and quick to prepare too. In fact it is the speed of preparation that endears this squash to me, it is easy to reach for and use and doesn’t require the finger endangering knife skills of say a mature Crown Prince. Read More

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Harvest 83 kg so far, more welsh onion stuff and leek bulbils (pips / grass)

83 kilos! That’s double the yield of last year in my little urban plot and without importing fertiliser or  manure. I felt a bit embarrassed about posting that I was calling my backyard a food forest but the fruit trees and veg polyculture seem to be working. About 20kgs were pears and 8kg cherries, which is a significant haul, and amongst the veggies the most significant heavyweights were the squashes. 83 kilos is not the greatest yield possible on this site, inorganic fertilisers would produce much more, even a few barrow loads of horse manure would too. But the fact I have not contributed to wasting fossil fuels on my garden – and in fact have reduced wastage by recycling scraps and cardboard from the house into the garden veggies – means I am very happy with what I have achieved. Read More

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Skirret harvest, dividing welsh onions and runner beans as a nitrogen fixer

IMAG0081I’ve been looking at my skirret for some time now and it is starting to look bedraggled. Soon all its top growth will die back (it is a herbaceous perennial) and it will overwinter if left alone. But I grow it to eat its roots, which taste somewhere between a carrot and a potato with the texture of parsnip. I like this root vegetable, it is an Olde English veg that it seems only Americans eat. Read More

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