Wednesday, April 05, 2006

There is beauty in straight lines

It's funny really, in fact you've just got to laugh. The above photograph is really what this row looks like, it's not a trick of the lens exaggerating perspective. No it is in fact a bit of a cock-up, they are supposed to be two parallel lines but something went wrong and they ended up, the technical term is I think, wonky!
The only alternative to admission is to try and pass it off as intentional but who would believe that? Everyone who's seen them so far say's something like, "What's gone off here then," before giving me the knowing look.
The really stupid part is I remember watching Monty Don using a scaffold plank to plant garlic cloves, he used the plank as a straight edge and the width of his hand as a spacer. At the time I thought 'daft prat', anybody can plant things in a straight line. How wrong can you be?
I now know it's me who's the daft prat and a big lesson has been learned for next year. Anyone got a spare scaffold plant handy?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Action at last!

Today, whilst negotiating showers, i've finally begun to realise that things are beginning to happen out there after all. The life of spring seeping from the death of winter. Patience is clearly a virtue where gardening is concerned, the parsnips have taught me that lesson. After weeks of inactivity they are finally pushing through, perhaps like me to enjoy the warmth of the sunshine - lovely.
interestingly, the parsnip seeds I protected with a cloche have faired no better than those without the comfort of being kept warm - both appearing within a few days of one another. I will remember this next year, there seems to be no point and it could have been put to better use.

I found myself strangely motivated this week by the BBC 2 programme called something like, 'It's hard being green'. It features a family (which includes the mustachioed guy from scrapheap challenge) relocating to a beautiful if run-down pile in Cornwall. It warmed the cockles of the heart and the combined efforts on the organic vegetable beds I found positively uplifting. I discussed this with Pete my neighbour and we both found the enthusiasm that came through quite inspirational. Several times since it aired I have found myself looking at the Permaculture web site and the fascinating array of courses on offer there. Maybe this year or next I might enroll on one!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The first shoots

Garlic Arnot
It may not be much to many reading this, but to me this is great news and very encouraging. It has been persistently cold in Yorkshire over the past few weeks and none of the things planted so far are showing any signs of life - until now.
Parsnips were the first to be planted and so far there is no discernible indication of success. I realise they are supposed to be very slow to germinate, but define slow!
Anyhow, encouraged by the garlic rising out of the beds I have planted two small rows of carrots (Early Nantes), my onion sets, a row of beetroot and a row of Mangetout. We are keeping everything crossed and hoping that they will be okay.

Monday, March 20, 2006

20th March 2006

Just for the record, the following is the list of seeds I've ordered for this my first year of production. Looking at it now I can't help but think, maybe i'm being a tad over-ambitious. What do you think?

Mangetout 600 seeds
Spicy salad leaves 139 seeds
Rocket Apollo 600 seeds
Beet Bulls Blood 200 seeds
Corn salad 600 seeds
Tomato Gartenperle (tumbling habit)
Tomato Gardeners Delight
Carrot Amsterdam forcing
Carrot Early nantes 5 (seed tape)
Beetroot Boltardy
Butternut Squash Cobnut
Artichoke Green Globe
Radish Jolly
Sweet Pea Winston Churchill
French Marigolds
Garlic Wight Cristo
Garlic Summer Harvesting
Shallots Springfield
Parsnip White Gem
Sprout Purple Falstaff
Cabbage Castello
Calabrese Fiesta
Cauliflower Cassius
Broccoli Bordeaux
Onion Red Barron
Runner bean Enorma
Cougette Patriot
Kale Curly Green

Saturday, March 04, 2006

March 2006

Snow arrives!
In common with most parts of the UK this week, snow arrived on the plot on Friday. Luckily at the moment there's nothing much to spoil though I was a bit worried about the tiny sprouts I've got growing in the unheated cold frame - but more on them later.
This week has been quite busy in terms of deliveries to Veg Virgin, first on site was a waterbutt and also a 300 litre compost bin. These came at a much reduced rate via the local authority and their environmental initiative. Bargins both of them, though my enthusiasm took a bit of a nose dive when I discovered that the waterbutt is also sporting an optional extra split around the seam at the bottom!
I hope to be able to turn this to my advantage when the replacement waterbutt arrives. I'm going to see if I can blag the damaged one (which after all is no use to them) and try and convert it into a second composter. They should endorse the recycling spirit in me don't you think? Keep you posted on that.I would seriously urge everyone to check their respective local authorities because they do have some excellent offers on similar products such as these.
Falstaff sprouts are sprouting.
As you can see on the left the Falstaff sprouts (which incidentally came free on the cover of last months Grow Your Own magazine) are pushing through quite nicely at the moment.
I can't even begin to tell you how this feels though of course I don't need to because you already know. It's a little bit paternal in a way. However, I understand that what I need to do now is nothing much until the little seedlings get bigger and stronger then they can go into 3" pots before finally being planted out in about May or June.
I am a bit disappointed that the books I mentioned in the last report have still not arrived (what did I tell you)! It will all end in tears this one. I had wanted the Sara Raven book in order to use it to inform my next steps however, I think I have more or less decided where we go from here.
What I was going to do was to undertake a little scoping exercise to see what types of veg we eat the most of and then compare costs against supermarket or farmshop prices. In the end though I think I've decided that there's really little or no point in doing that as we simply wouldn't be comparing like for like. There stuff bears no resemblance to the real thing so the comparisons are not valid in my view.
So I'm going for the stuff we enjoy the most plus a small quantity of experimental produce that I think 1 or more of us may enjoy. If we do that it will help decision making next year and so on. When I get a minute I will let you know the full list of what I will attempt this year.
Bye for now...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Week 3

Homemade obelisk
Finial detail

Okay, welcome back. Let me bring you up to speed on a few things: in this week has gone parsnips (under the home made cloche you can see in the photo from week 1 where it was warming up the soil), garlic, chives, shallots and strawberries. The garlic consisting of 5 bulbs split into individual cloves planted 2" deep and 3 bulbs planted whole because I have been told the tops are lovely in salads. Worth a try I thought.
The photos above I thought worth sharing. The hedge in the background is Hawthorne which at one end was being chocked by a Russian vine. I have managed to get most of it out and have found myself with a big mound of material I don't know what to do with. It occurred to me that it it's an immensely strong material that could be woven into something useful. The first attempt is this obelisk, I have to say I'm quite pleased with the results. It will look great later in the year with sweet peas growing up it I think. In the meantime if you can think of another use for the vines I have left, please let me know.

Week 2

These little beauties are busily sprouting away in my dining room at the moment. When the time comes I will be growing them in pots due to space restrictions on the plot. Alan Tichmarsh (Mr T from now on) gives clear advice on just how to achieve this in 'The complete book of gardening'. We will all be able to see just how wise and Gandalf like Mr T really is as time goes on.
Just to balance things up though I have answered an advert in the current issue of Gardeners World magazine and joined the Gardeners Book Society, you know the kind of thing any 4 books from 99p followed by endless disputes over incorrect orders and parcels gone astray. Yes I know what you're thinking but maybe these will be better. Anyhow, I need all the knowledge I can get right now.
What did you order? Well alright then, just for the record:
1. Monty Don - My roots
2. Caroline Foley - The allotment Handbook
3. Mr T - The gardeners year
4. Sara Raven - The great vegetable plot
All suitable for getting the veg Virgin on track no doubt.
On the subject of getting started, you will have seen from the week one photo I have prepared three beds 4 feet by 8 feet. One has been dug and left, this will accommodate the root veg, while the other two have had loads of old farmyard muck dug in. In one of these I will be planting the cabbages, cougettes, broccoli, and cauli. While in the other will go Sweetcorn, mangetout, lettuce and outdoor tomato.

Week 1 February 2006

Welcome to The Veg Virgin.

I've always been keen on cooking but particulary eating fresh veg, all the better when it's straight from the garden. Bob my father-in-law, and Pete my neighbour are both past masters of producing gorgeous fruit and veg and until now i've always felt a bit intimidated by their success. Now, sick to death of one health scare after another i'm determined to go all 'Tom and Barbara' and grow my own.

What's brought all this on, you may well ask. I think it started when I bought a copy of 'Grow Your Own' magazine from the local shop. I'm not sure really why I bought it though I have been watching gardening on tv more recently. Anyhow, within a matter of days the lawn was coming up and the beds going in. Thanks GYO, you've started something now.

I don't have an allotment but am pretty lucky in having enough room at the bottom of the garden for a reasonable sized veg plot. I've consulted a few books and in the end followed Alan Tichmarsh's plan of creating small raised beds surrounded by paths.

My only self imposed 'Veg Virgin' rules for this plot are:

1. Must look good as well as taste good

2. To convert my daughter to the wonders of mangetout etc

3. No pesticides

4. Recycle everything possible

5. To eat seasonal produce - as people used to do before tasteless all year round veg was invented

6. To make friends with the birds and the insects though I expect the odd tiff is inevitable

7. Not to get down-hearted by the occaisional mistake or failure

8. To start in a humble and simple way, main supplier to Tesco is not on the agenda

9. Accept all help, advice, seeds, plants and tools offered with gratitude (thanks for the propogaters Bob)

Well, that's it for now, the seed catalogue order has gone in and I've just picked up some seed potatoes from my local garden centre. More on those next week.

Happy gardening.