Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Allotmenticity - Tuesday 31stJuly

"The early worm catches the bird!!!" I made an early start the other morning, and there sitting on my shed was the Kestrel. I crept down the next plot and managed to get a few shots. It just sat there and looked at me before finally flying off. "Brilliant!"
I'm keeping up to date with weeding and I've sown some more Spinach and Coriander in the bed where the peas were. A lot of the Lettuce are starting to bolt now, so they are bulking up the compost bins. I opened one yesterday to be eye to eye with a little mouse. I'm not sure how I feel about this as they can be a real pest although I don't really want to spend time trying to catch it.
I'm in the process of reshaping the plot. I want to demolish the old shed at the top and make a space to put the car and also redesign Compost Corner as it's pretty old and all the original pallets have rotted. I plan to use some of the wood from the top shed to build the sides although most of it is bound for the tip. (Pics to follow)
I read a piece in Celia Brooks-Brown's blog about the green Tomato-like fruit on her Potatoes. She wasn't sure what they were. Well exactly the same thing happened to me the other day and I asked my neighbour Ken as I spotted the above on some of his spuds. The answer is leave them alone. I found this explanation on another website:

"Occasionally gardeners are surprised to find small, round, green, tomato-like fruit on their potato plants. These fruit are not the result of cross-pollination with tomatoes. They are the true fruit of the potato plant. The edible tubers are actually enlarged, underground stems. Normally, most potato flowers dry up and fall off the plants without setting fruit. A few flowers do produce fruit.
The potato fruit are of no value to the gardener. Potato fruit, as well as the plant itself, contain relatively large amounts of Solanine. Solanine is a poisonous alkaloid. The small fruit should not be eaten. Since potatoes don't come true from seed, no effort should be made to save the seed."

So now we know! Oh and the purple cabbages in the row of Greyhounds appear to be Red Cabbage. Obviously the seed packers at Suttons have the occasional lapse of concentration or maybe the odd joke with the punters. So I've got half a dozen Red Cabbage for next year, provided they manage to avoid the phantom Cabbage stripper. I've stepped up the Nettle Stew spraying and watering and so far it does seem to be having a positive effect, especially on the recently sown Broad Beans. They're following the early spuds as a catch crop and are really dong well.

I've picked some of the Rocket and Mustard Greens I got in one of the mixed seed packets given to me by Mrs Moose. They are so tasty, especially the Mustard Greens. It's like have a spoon of Colemans on a green leaf!

Well it's time to make a move. I'm borrowing a Volvo estate to take the wood to the tip today. I've had my bowl of porridge so I'm ready to rock.

Captain Tongo reporting for duty,

Over & Out!

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Allotmenticity - Sunday 22nd July

Well I'm finally back on Plot 87. I've just spent a fantastic week sailing in the Solent with 2 very good friends, Skipper David and The Polish Princess, aboard the yacht Bonamy. We set off from Port Solent and went to Lymington, Poole, Studland Bay (where we caught 9 Mackerel and ate them from the Barbie within 2 hours, now that's fresh and they tasted unbelievable!). We then sailed to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight in a force 7 (Yes I did say SEVEN) gale. Well that WAS an experience! I'm not sure if the word "exhilarating" sums it up correctly or just Scared Out My Bloody Wits is better. Still we arrived safely. The next day was brilliant with hardly any wind and I actually took the helm and we sailed to Priory Bay which can be seen in the top photo at sunset. The final day we went back to Port Solent and saw a dolphin just off Portsmouth.
The weather was great all week, so image my surprise when I was caught up in an hour and a half of standing traffic on the way back because the M40 was flooded. It was as if the world was coming to an end when I finally got back to Birmingham. Torrential non-stop rain.
Fearing the worst I visited plot 87, but everything was fine. No flooding and all the seedlings and cabbages doing really well. The only thing is the Coriander is in full flower (2nd picture).
I must admit I'm puzzled as to why the Greyhound cabbages I sowed have included a couple of purple specimens. Lovely colour, but is this normal? More to the point can I eat them?
And specially for Primrozie my friend from the US, I've added a photo of the Nettle Stew. As you can see I've used an old water tank like you find in the roof and used a large green garden bag. (An onion sack would be better) This is then punctured with a knife and suspended in the tank.
I've picked a heap of peas which I've frozen and some of the good Hispi cabbages.
So it's dinner tonight with fresh Spinach as well as Spuds.
Bye for now,
Happy Allotmenteering,
The Captain.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Allotmenticity - Sunday 8th July

Welcome to the new addition to the No 87 family of tools. He's called Joe. (Birmingham Calling!) It's been difficult to find the gaps in the weather just lately, but the good thing is we don't have a problem with drainage down here, so I'm quite confident that the spuds will be OK. I've already had some very tasty early Arran Pilots. I'm sowing Brad Beans as a catch crop each time I dig them up. Pic 2. The cabbages hopefully seem to be free of Club Root. Now whether that's down to the liming, the fact I planted each one in a cocoon of compost I'm not sure. It will be interesting next year when they go onto this years spud patch.
The up and down weather has caused the Coriander to flower as can be seen from picture No3, but I've had great success with the Parsley and the Cos Lettuces are fantastic.
The Peas are doing great and now starting to form good pods. I've learnt that it's not a good idea to grow them up either side of nets as they quickly grow into each other and it makes picking them difficult. I've also gained an attractive newcomer to the pea patch. Could this be my entry into the drug trade!!!
I've sown some Spring Cabbage and also some more carrots, Tarragon and some Rocket and Mustard Greens so the production line continues.
With a bit of luck I might be doing a bit of sailing in the next week or so, but I'll have to get some work done before that.
Well done Lewis Hamilton, shame he couldn't win but another podium!
Until next time,
The Captain.