Allotment News

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29/08/2008 at 11:34


Sun dried toms are lovely!  Should be a stock ingredient in every pantry

(er, if you have a 'pantry', that is - we just have cupboards in a kitchen).

Blisters    pirate
30/08/2008 at 00:14

Having done toms for several years we now have the secret sorted. That is the question of what to do with the variable harvest. Still no furkin idea why this year has been the carpiest on record, apart from the lack of sunlight, warmth, and excess of dampness.

Anyway, just keep persevering until the first threat of frosts. If you feel it necessary then treat them to the poly tents like it was early spring. Once the first overnight frost is due, harvest the lot of em, green or otherwise. Those with promise can live in the kitchen. Those that are embarrassing go into a spare drawer, lined with newspaper, and get checked weekly for signs of a) turning mouldy or b) turning red. OK they won't taste as good as a truly ripe tom picked off the vine whilst having a beer and BBQ, but you can still cook them into sauce.

Of course there's always the threat of green tomato chutney. We're half way through last year's and it's nicely mature now. It needs three months in the jar as a minimum.

Meanwhile, I'm eyeing up my chard. It's the first year of them for me. Do they suffer in the first frosts?

30/08/2008 at 01:54


Chard (Beta vulgaris var. cicla), also known as Swiss Chard, Silverbeet, Perpetual Spinach, Crab Beet and Mangold, is a vegetable. While the leaves are eaten, it is in the same species as the garden beetroot, which is grown primarily for its edible roots.

The word Swiss was used to distinguish chard from French spinach varieties by nineteenth century seed catalog publishers. The chard is very popular among Mediterranean cooks. The first varieties have been traced back to Sicily.

Chard can be harvested while the leaves are young and tender or after maturity when they are larger and have slightly tougher stems. Chard is extremely perishable.

Chard has shiny green ribbed leaves, with stems that range from white to yellow and red depending on the cultivar. It has a slightly bitter taste. Fresh young chard can be used raw in salads. Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked or sauteed; the bitter flavor fades with cooking.

Cultivars of chard include green forms, such as 'Lucullus' and 'Fordhook Giant', as well as red-ribbed forms such as 'Ruby Chard', 'Rainbow Chard', and 'Rhubarb Chard'.

 Being that it says Chard is 'extremly perishable' I would suggest it doesn't like a frost!

<returns to lurking>

Edited: 30/08/2008 at 01:58
30/08/2008 at 12:54
Has anyone any idea how to pick apples from the top branches of the tree  prob about 15-20 foot up?
30/08/2008 at 20:06

How about sending small children up? Someone else's for preference.

Not PC? Oh well, it was only an idea.

30/08/2008 at 20:11

A less silly suggestion - is the tree robust enough to be roped near the top & pulled to one side so someone up a step-ladder could get to the fruit?

 A question from me now. We're in the same boat as others , we've got quite a lot of green tomatos, but we're getting them munched by pesky catapillars, so losoing them quickly - is there a simle fix for the catapillars?

30/08/2008 at 22:32

Can't  offer any advice but loved reading all this.  Grew toms this year for the 1st time for my 3 year old daughter to understand about growing things as opposed to buying them.  Started them late and  from seed, today have just seen the first 2 fruits.  Hannah is so made up.  May cheat next year and buy established plants and try seeds when I'm more competent.

Off to get spring bulbs tomorrow to fill her own tubs and use her gardening tools she got for her recent birthday. 

Blisters    pirate
30/08/2008 at 22:36

Two options. I'd spray the little bast5678ds and then leave the plant for a week without picking the fruit. Obviously it'll need plenty of washing even then. But I'm not 100% organic.

Or you could pick them off individually and crunch them sadistically under your size 10s.

Do you know what species of bug they are? It's unusual to get caterpillar damage to tommies.

30/08/2008 at 23:23

Hi Blisters - thanks. We picked off what bugs we could find and did the sadistic bit. Didn't identify them, but there were two sorts, bright green & dull brown - doesn't exactly pin it down does it?
Also spotted damage by woodlice and a very small flies on the fruit (although that could have been previous damage)

We've avoided spraying so far and it's only the Shirley's that have been munched  - the Pomodoro seem OK

01/09/2008 at 08:04

JB - Re Your apple problem I have a couple of gadgets that will do the trick.

One is a modern telescopic pole with a cloth bag on the end that has teeth all round the opening of the bag.

The other is the more traditional method I great big long wooden golf club driver type thing called a pancker,for giving them a good whack!

Blisters    pirate
01/09/2008 at 21:37

What's the matter with risking life and limb by climbing it in the traditional fashion?

Live a little die a little.

01/09/2008 at 22:24
For a pound of apples- no ta. Will seek out telescopic thingy.
02/09/2008 at 08:01
Lidl £3.99 about this time last year JB.
02/09/2008 at 10:37

Ahh...homegrown apples.  Lovely.  I absolutely love climbing trees (or at least I did as a kid) so i wouldn't mind fetching them - telescopic thingie's probably safer though!

That'll be my garden project once the veg-growing routine is fully established - sort out the dishevelled bit at the bottom of our garden and turn it into a fruit patch, with a few berry bushes and a number of trained apple trees.

My husband's boss at work has brought in loads of apples to the office from his own trees (both eating and cooking apples), so hubby's going to bring home as many as he can - homemade apple crumble time!

Edited: 02/09/2008 at 10:43
02/09/2008 at 11:05

They are  wasted in pie LP.

All mine make lovely Cider.

I have 3 huge established trees & 2 that I planted last year.

I am going to sacrifice the two largest  once I have had all of this seasons crop as they are definitely restricting the light to my garden.

09/03/2009 at 15:07

so what should i be doing now?

i dug over the 'Praire' last autumn and i've just raked in some fish blood and bone fertilizer. its only a small area possibly around 15sq metres or so with a pear tree smack in the middle....

i've just bought some early seed potatoes arran piper i think they are called so have stood them on a tray and am awaiting some chitting activity!

i also want to grow some lettuce, spring onions, carrots, beetroot, cabbage, french beans and some toms , should i be sowing these directly into the soil now or starting them off in seed trays?


09/03/2009 at 15:37

Spuds  should be going any time now.

Start them in seed trays.

Blisters    pirate
10/03/2009 at 23:15


This is my first attempt at them. we have got a dozen seed potato tubers of International Kidney (aka Jersey Royal) and placed them on the window ledge in egg boxes to grow chits. They came with short purple sproutlets on them, but nothing seems to be happening. I WANT ACTION! Dear Mr Titchmarsh, am I doing anything wrong?

11/03/2009 at 06:40
haileunlikely wrote (see)

i also want to grow some lettuce, spring onions, carrots, beetroot, cabbage, french beans and some toms , should i be sowing these directly into the soil now or starting them off in seed trays?


I'd put the spring onions, carrots and beetroot in the ground, the rest in trays somewhere frost free.  The toms especially might need a bit of heat to germinate and shouldn't be planted out until after the danger of frost has passed.

It might be a bit early for french beans, they're not frost hardy at all, and they'd be a bit leggy by the time you're able to plant them out unless you've got a polytunnel or something.

Blisters.....jersey royals......yum  I don't know why I never think of growing them, I suppose it's because I always think that spuds should go in the ground on Easter weekend, which is daft considerig Easter moves by at least four or five weeks each year

Edited: 11/03/2009 at 06:43
11/03/2009 at 08:15
Ours are all going to be in late agan this year. Depending on how Mr K is, he could  be attacking the allotment in the first week of the kids Easter Hols.
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