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

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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Growing oca or New Zealand yam

If you’re growing vegetables and you haven’t tried oca (also known as New Zealand yams), you’re missing out. They’re easy to grow, easy to cook and super tasty!

Sandra kneeling by the oca bed holding a bunch of freshly harvested oca

When we took on the Quest For Veg plot, one of our goals was to grow unusual produce. So when we spotted oca in the Thompson and Morgan catalogue last year, we didn’t hesitate – even though we knew nothing about how to grow them, how to cook them or what they would taste like.

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A wee visit to the plot

Since our last blog, we have both been fighting one of those stinky autumn colds, and unable to work on our plot. So last weekend, although it was very cold, the weather was dry enough for a wee visit to the plot. We fully expected to find everything overgrown and in a bad state.

Apart from our poor leek patch, that has been adopted by our local fox as a daytime lounge area,

Our leek patch - flattened and chewed

Poor leeks all flattened and chewed

everything else was much better than expected. Continue reading

Recipe: beetroot leaves and spaghetti 

Title graphic: beetroot leaves and spaghetti
Almost without trying, we grew some beetroot. We bought a packet of Unwins Gourmet Mix from the garden centre, sprinkled them into the soil and, apart from a bit of watering, pretty much left them to it.

And look what they produced: stunning colourful orbs that tasted as good as they looked.

Their characteristic earthy flavour had a delicious sweetness. We immediately grated one of the white ones raw into a salad. Wonderful!
Red, orange, pink and white beetroot.
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