Our first taste of Mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum)

Winter 2018 was spent deciding what vegetables we wanted to try, focusing again on the new or usual.

Again we were tempted by South American vegetable tubers so we ordered Mashua, pronounced Mash-wa (Tropaeolum tuberosum), a perennial of the nasturtium family.

As they were a little expensive, we bought just two roots and decided to plant them at either end of the plot.

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Path maintenance and access development

January 2017, we took over our allotment and decided that, once we’d cleared the plot and removed all the old concrete, we would create woodchip paths with a geotextile barrier underneath to help combat weed growth.

We wanted clean and dry access around the plot, not least because it would be easier to get about on a mobility scooter. We decided on woodchip because maintenance is less than grass, and cats don’t tend to confuse it with their litter tray as they sometimes do with gravel. Another advantage is that, after the initial cost of the geotextile, woodchip can usually be sourced free of charge.

All that’s needed is a bit of effort in replacing old with new chips every now and then. Something we needed to do recently. Continue reading

Winter harvest

With Burns Night looming, a visit to the plot to collect some potatoes was quickly becoming necessary.

We leave our crops in the ground until we want to use them. This can increase the exposure to pests and diseases but we find they just last better this way, probably because we have a well drained sandy soil.

So off to the plot on a wintry afternoon, dry but cold.

The main crop potatoes we planted were Sarpo Mira – a blight resistant variety, producing quite large tubers.

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Our chilli trial – the results

One red chilli among many green on a wooden table top

With the first indications that we’ve had frost on the allotment and colder weather forecast for the end of the week, we decided it was time to harvest our chillies. How did they do?

As explained in an earlier post, we had acquired a number of chilli seeds and decided to trial them against each other. I would like to say that we nurtured our little seeds and gave them the best growing conditions we could, but we didn’t.

For various reasons, some previously described, we got very behind with our allotmenting and were playing catch up for most of the year. Our chilli plants had to put up with late sowing and late planting out. This is as much a trial of what can look after itself as it is an exercise in what grows well in our part of the world. Continue reading

Sowing French climbing beans in deep root trainers

Purple and yellow climbing French beans growing up bamboo canes

Our climbing French beans were such a hit last year, that we were definitely keen to sow them again.

They were relatively easy to grow, looked great, tasted great and were even better with the recipe we found for preserving them. What more could you ask for? More beans, of course!

Learning from last year

We decided to stick with exactly what we did last year – Suttons’ colourful climbing mix.

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The start of our chilli trials

Apparently, 2018 is the year of the chilli. When we went to Glee, the trade show of the garden industry, last September, several companies were featuring them.

Here’s part of the Thompson & Morgan display at Glee which has what we thought was a well-designed heat indicator.

A Thompson and Morgan chilli seed display with clear heat indicator

We thought we would take the opportunity to do our own mini trial of a few varieties of chilli to see how they perform.

Sowing the seed

Here’s Andrew in the greenhouse, explaining our trial and sowing the first seeds: Continue reading

We have bean impressed

Here’s a recipe I came across for preserving french beans. Although we didn’t plant a lot of climbing french beans, we thought we would invest some of our limited crop and try it out.

Preserved beans

We used the pickling vinegar jars to preserve the beans

Having discovered this recipe just as I was harvesting what seemed to be the last of the bean crop, I got straight down to work and processed them quickly.

The recipe is so simple Continue reading

Our 2018 gardening year begins

Andrew with his new Hawes watering can

We were finally able to make it down to the greenhouse on the Easter weekend. But have our new tubers survived the long wait to be planted?

Major works at home kept us occupied for most of March. Not only that, snow and freezing temperatures made visiting the plot or the greenhouse even for a short while impossible. As a wheelchair user, Andrew can’t move around as readily as most of us, which means that his body temperature drops fast – something he’s not always aware of until it’s too late, which can make him very unwell.

And so the plants and tubers we ordered have had to wait – some survived better than others.

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A rose by any other name

Close up photo of a watering can rose

Last September, the Quest for Veg were invited to Glee – a show for the garden center trade.

Glee is the place where the garden industry comes together to launch its new ranges, latest innovations and next bestsellers. Over three days, 7,000 plus visitors come looking for the products that will fill the shelves of garden centres, high street stores and supermarket shelves in the season ahead.

We were invited as part of their bloggers publicity programme. Continue reading