Sunday, 21 July 2013

A change is as good as a rest

So, you will have to excuse my lack of blogging. I have been quite busy over the last few months transforming a community garden, starting a business, finishing off my DTLLS [nearly there] and tying up the loose ends in my job. 

We had a strange spring but now it's glorious summer and with it comes, a distinct lack of water. But things are growing. 

My Long Red Florence onions came out today - the first few got roasted for dinner but here's the biggest, which will be eaten for tea tomorrow.

Mark harvested the rest of the gooseberries - we grow one Gooseberry Pax and this lot is the harvest - I will be making Gooseberry Jelly tomorrow, and with the stuff left in the muslin after straining, some gooseberry wine. Some are frozen [last week's harvest] and the rest are lovely juicy and fresh off the plant tonight.

And another huge batch of raspberries; the autumn ones are just flowering and the main summer ones are ripening every day. This little lot is being frozen and I'll make some sort of desserts with them. The rest - wine! 

Monday, 29 April 2013

The Random Approach - 16 week review.

Well, this is great!

Honestly - the best decision I made so far. I've got loads of seedlings ready to go into the Gert bed; loads to go into the gardens, and loads spare to go to the schools. I did start off pricking them out into trays but to be honest, once a majority are up, they get taken out with me to go into whichever plot I am working on net. Blimmin' marvelous.

No good for seed saving as they aren't named varieties - but good for growing and eating. And no faffing through loads of seed packets.

I might end up doing this more often!

 A pic of the various trays:

Some in seed blocks - a review of this tool to follow another day

 A pic of some in the Gert bed - put in a couple of weeks ago and are still there. Even with all the winds.

Comfrey and Nettle Gunk Pipes

These give you a liquid that drains out the bottom, and which can be diluted directly with no smell and no fuss. 

Just empty once a year and pop the solids into a dalek or compost bin. 

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Why I love Heritage seeds and why the EU is letting us down.


My name is Andrea and I love seeds.

There - I've said it.

Some of you may have guessed, but I love growing Heritage and Heirloom varieties. I do love the odd F1 hybrid but usually, the cost is prohibitive and you can get just as good results if you sow a range of old Heritage varieties at probably half the price [or for free].

I love the fact that they evolve and you can select the qualities that you want and in just a few years, you can have your own stable variety that grows well on your patch.

I love that their history is held within their names. Lazy Housewife bean, for lazy housewives everywhere - called so because the bean pods are easy to spot. So slovens of all shapes and sizes can race home after a day sipping coffee and gossiping, tear into the garden, pick a handful for tea and nobody will ever know that she hasn't been spending hours tending her plot.

I love growing and saving and bagging them up for swapping and giving away to other people.Trays of strange and beautiful French Beans all drying in the airing cupboard renders it useless for about 2 months each year but it's worth it.

I love that some varieties are the same ones as have been growing in people's gardens for decades, sometimes over 100 years and they have just evolved along with the humans that have grown them and the weather that supports them.

And I love the strange shapes, sizes, colours and tastes that come with them - so different from the tastes of fruit and veg that you get in the shops. And such beauty held by a multicoloured corn cob or a striped tomato that you can't get anywhere else. And on top - you can eat it!

So - to hear that the EU are not only trying to ban seed companies from selling unregistered seeds; but from people like me from growing them - and sharing with like-minded people - is completely and utterly tragic. It would be funny if it wasn't true.

The news was brought to us by Real Seeds yesterday

Avaaz have a campaign Please sign and share with your networks.

The other way to register your disaproval is to email your representative and ask them to vote 'NO'.

In the UK - the person to email is Catherine Ashton on

If you love seeds please join in to stop this going through - no matter where in the world you are. 

If you don't love seeds, what are you doing on my blog?

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

New Shoots in Leeds UK


This is a post about my chum's project, which is a community group who are involved in growing fruit and veg at Bracken Edge Primary School in Chapletown, Leeds.

Please do have a look at their website and facebook page  and if you are nearby - they are always looking for new people to get involved in a whole range of activities.

I know if I were nearer I'd be there!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Sowing seeds

Gosh - I feel like I've nearly neglected this blog - but in reality as it's a gardening blog and I've hardly done anything outside [save a little digging and raking] and I don't like to blog when nowt is happening - it's only just time to update it.

Tonight I've sown some tomatoes. Mainly because we are about 8 weeks behind Spring in the UK - or it feels like it - and many of my earlier sown toms have died. So instead of resowing loads in March I thought I'd wait a bit until April and then all of a sudden it was the 23rd. Meep.

So - today's sowings are:
Red Cherry
Cuore Di Bue
Dancing with Smurfs
Last seeds of all of the following:
Sweet and Neat
Yellow Perfection
Costoluto Fiorentino
Piglet Wilie's French Black
HSL seeds:
Sugar Plum
Peacevine Cherry
Arkansas Traveller
Dawson's Russian Oxheart
Imur Prior Beta
Stonor's No 2

As it says - apart from the first 4 - I have sown all I have of the rest. So if they keel over and die then that's it. I only have another 120 ish varieties to choose from the rest of my collection.

I'll take some to some of the schools over the next week or so and let them sow a few so I may be back with more news on varieties soon.

Until then - I'm not abandoning you - I'm just not boring you with whinges about the weather - which is set to turn icy again next week. Boo.

Oh, I've done some other sowing - low key though. Including a new Leek that I'm going to be saving year on year for HSL - Sim Seger. They were up withing days and I'll select the best 20 next Spring and pop into a corner to flower and then I'll just harvest from the flowers each year. No need to sow again. Easy!

Meanwhile...whilst it's been horrid outdoors I've been making baskets. And all my friends are now making baskets too. So here's one I made earlier.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Why planting little shallots gives you bigger shallots...

So, a little experiment I did with a few students.

We planted some small potato onions into one tray and labelled it 'small' and some big ones in another tray and labelled it 'big'.

Then I took both home to my greenhouse and left them there.

As you can see, the big ones on the right have more green shoots than the small ones on the left.

This means that the big ones will grow more actual potato onions but each one will be smaller, and the small ones will grow less potato onions but each will be bigger.

Works for all alliums, including shallots and garlic.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Seeds sown today

I have been quite good today - I sorted out the wormery compost from my wormery - and got that one and 2 others from freecycle up and running - each tray has a starter worm collection, plus browns and greens and loads of scrunched up paper for insulation. 2 will be going to the community garden as soon as the spring hits us.

Mark also emptied the dalek, and put all the good stuff in the compost bin so I harvested hundreds of fresh worms for the wormeries so that's good! Saves buying any.

I've sieved a load of last year's tomato and chilli compost - I have to say that the roots were significantly smaller than in previous years - some they hadn't even reached the sides of the pots.

And I've sown the following:
De Reboullion
Besancon [HSL]
Batun [HSL]
Up to Date [HSL]
Rouge Pale de Niort [Real Seeds]
Jaune Paille de Vertus [Real Seeds]
Baun [via JayB]
Zebrune Banana Shallot [Real Seeds via VVG]

Jaune de Poiton
Walton Mammoth [HSL]

Gelbe Kirschen
Lemon Drop

Flat leaf parsley
Earliest Cabbage [HSL]
Lanro Kohl Rabi
Crimson Flowered Broad Bean [VVG]
Oldambster Wierboon Broad Bean
Dwarf Grey Mangetout 
Twinkle Pea

Also some random seeds from the random seed experiment - and some other random seeds from the bottom of one of my bags. Can't wait to get sowing my beans though - next stop, writing down all the varieties I have and choosing which to grow out and bulk up. Bring it on!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Tomatoes 2013

Oh dear.

I've just been logging all the tomato seeds that I have in the collection; and not including the 20 off varieties that I have from the non-tomato seed circles.

I have 159 varieties.

Oops. Which to choose?
Abraham Lincoln
African Queen
Amish paste
Andrew Rahart's Jumbe Red
Ararat Flamed
Arkansas Traveller
Atkin's Stuffing
Auntie Madge's
Banana Legs
Beaver Lodge Slicer
Blaby Special
Black and Brown Boar
Black Cherry
Black Plum
Black Russian
Black Truffle
Bloody Butcher
Blue OSU
Brandywine Sudduth
Broad Ripple Yellow Currant
Burpee's Delicious
Burpee's Jubilee
Cara Turkish
Caspian Pink
Cheetham's Potato Leaf
Chiapis Wild
Chico III
Chocolate Cherokee
Costoluto Fiorentino
Cowlick's Brndywine
Crystal's Plum
Cuore Di Bue
Cyril's Choice
Darby Striped
Dawson's Russina Oxhert
De Colgar
Depp's Pink Firefly
Dwarf Wax
Early Tanana
Fablone Listnyj
German Lunchbox
Gold Medal
Golden Grape
Golden Jubilee
Golden Sunrise
Green Tiger
Green Velvet
Hahnstown Yellow
Hundred's and Thousands
Imur Prior Beta
Irish Gardener's Delight
JD's Special C Tex
Jen's Tangerine
Jono's Cherry
JTD Red Campbell's Soup
Kenilworth St George
Larger Dr Carolyn
Lenny and Gracie's Kentucky Heirloom
Lime Green Salad
Long Pink Bulgarian
Ludmilla's Yellow Giant
Marmande VF
Mexican Hoey
Mortgage Lifter
Moskow ultra Early
Nova Yellow
Orange Russian
Oregon Spring
Peacevine Cherry
Peiping Chieh
Peter Glazebrooks' Giant
Piglet Willie's French Black
Pink Brandywine
Pink Cherry
Plumpton King
Poire Taune
Polish Linguisa
Ponderosa Pink
Principe Borghese
Purple Cherokee
Purple Russian Plum
Purple Ukraine
Rambling Gold
Red Cluster pear
Red In Yellow Out
Red Pear
Red Zebra
Roma VF
Sasha's Pride
Silver Fir
Snow White
Southern Nights
Spanish Big Globe
Speckled Russian
Stonor's No 2
Sugar Plum
Sungold F1
Sweet Pea Currant
Texan Wild
The Amateur
TOGI 2nd gen
Togi Bush
True Black Brandywine
Violet Jasper
White Oxheart
Wild Tomato Columbian rum
Yellow Cocktail
Yellow Pear
Yellow Perfection            

Whilst I am considering which to grow myself, bearing in mind we've already sown loads for the schools - here's a pic of some Red Pear seedlings...Gonna need alot of pots!!!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

It's that time of year again...

When we look towards the new season with excited faces and remember that...

We have to make netting. Yes.

We could buy it but where's the fun in that?

I recently found some fishing shuttles on ebay and now that they have arrived, I'm busy again making some netting to grow my lovely veggies up. I've taken a photo with some different settings on my camera; because I can!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Random approach

So, 4 weeks into my random approach where I have a packet of seeds to sow each week [put in the packets by my good self, but what's in there remains a mystery [although I could find out if I go get the notepad that I wrote them all down in but]]...and I have now pricked out half a row of onions and lettuces and next week will prick out a row of...brassicas of some sort.

And the next 2 packets are ready to sow in 2 rows on the left hand side of this tray.

Once I get to the end, I'll just keep sowing, pricking out, and adding more compost to this tray and see how long til I run out of room.

The things us gardeners do during the cold months to keep ourselves busy.