Sunday, 28 December 2008

Making Nettle Tea for Plant food

Nettle Leaf Plant Food
Nettle leaves can be used to make an easy to use, if somewhat smelly, plant food. Best of all it's free!
To make your nettle fertiliser you will need only four things:
1. Nettles! - Obviously.
2. A watertight container - a large bucket or plastic trug is adequate.
3. Water,
4. A weight. Not essential but it holds the leaves under the water.

First take your nettles. These are best as young stems but can be picked at any time. Then it's best to crush them. This can be done by scrunching the stems in gloved hands - essential to wear gloves !
or I have read that by placing the stems on a freshly mown lawn and using your mower to chop and collect the nettles at the same time. The addition of a few grass clippings that results from using this method does not affect the quality of the finished product. I personally didn't do this, but I may try it next time I make some.

Immerse in water, Stuff the crushed stems into your bucket. Place your weight on top of the stems and leaves. - A brick and a piece of wire mesh cut to suit the container serves well. Fill the container with water sufficient to cover the nettles and... Leave to brew, stir daily or whenever you get the time. In around 3-4 weeks the nettle tea should be ready to use. You may also consider placing the bucket away from the areas in the garden that you use most as the brew tends to get rather smelly.

The mixture should be diluted until it is tea coloured - usually around 1 part liquid to 10 parts water. Water liberally around or on the plants and see the benefits. Repeat until winter.

Continue to top up your container with more leaves and water through the year. As autumn sets in put the remainder of the feed and the sludge in your compost heap, it makes a good activator. Give your container a rinse and store for next year!

I hope you find this useful. Happy Growing !

Nettle Tea

Well the Nettle Tea has long finished fermenting and stinks, but I am informed works wonders especially if used with Comfrey. I have made gallons of the stuff, but in plastic milk containers at least I can't smell it unless I open the bottles. I made it in the purple trug stirring it daily for 4 weeks and then with a rubber glove on (essential) plunged the containers into the smelly tea and then put on the tops and shake now and again.
Here is the link (below) to more info on the nettle tea
And this one is for Comfrey
I have added it in a back dated post, but thought it would be handy here. It's nice to have something that is good for the allotment and was FREE to make.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

I can't believe it's over !

Where on earth did the last three days go ? I'm sure I say that every year ! but it's true, Christmas just flew past. I had a wonderful time with family and friends and lots of nice pressies.
I was so pleased with my brussel sprouts from the lottie, I harvested loads of small tasty sprouts for Christmas day lunch and steamed them until tender but still a bit crisp, and then pan fried them briefly with a knob of butter, salt & pepper and some chestnuts, they were delicious ! I am now looking forward to my purple sprouting broccoli, no sign of anything to pick yet. It seems so long since I sowed the seeds and planted them, I only hope the harvest is worth the wait because they take up a lot of growing space for a long period.

I can't wait to get sowing in January, I have a wooden box full of seeds. it's my favourite job and watching the first leaves poke through the compost is amazing.

I hope you all had a good Christmas and I would like to wish everyone a -
Very Happy and healthy New Year

Friday, 19 December 2008

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Broad Beans

The Broad Beans are growing well, it's the first time I have started them off this early. I didn't get my plot until February, so by the time I had dug it over and prepared it this years beans went in later, but people who already had their plots were picking their autumn sown broad beans not long after mine had gone in, so I thought I would have a go.

This photo is of the Sweet Peas during the summer they had grown to the top of my 6ft high "goalpost" and the smell was Divine and I had bunches daily and had enough to give to neighbours as well. Roll on next year I have lofty plans I want to fulfill.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Yesterdays Harvest - Todays Dinner

Today I cooked "Navarin of Lamb" which I have cooked many times before and it's delicious.
We had the Brussels, leeks and curly kale with it. I have to say it's so rewarding to eat your own fresh veg. Photo's here of the Dinner and the recipe.
I didn't put as much onion in as the recipe says I used lots of diced leeks instead, for the Bouquet garni I added my own grown herbs - bay leaves, rosemary, and a couple of leaves of sage. I didn't add the silverskin onions as the leeks gave it enough flavour. I took photo's of the recipe so I hope you can read it ok, I didn't have time to write it out.

Good news - my Allotment is growing

I phoned the council today and it was confirmed that I now officially have the huge hard standing in front of my plot, the letter of confirmation was posted yesterday. So in the spring I shall either buy a bigger shed if I can afford it, or move my current small one onto the concrete base and then that frees up loads more planting area for me. There is a photo in an earlier post showing the layout of the hard standing.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Today's Harvest

The weather was so lovely today, it is still cold but it was pleasant enough to visit the lottie and clean the car. I got to harvest yet more leeks, curly kale and Brussels for tomorrows dinner. (photo - all washed and looking delicious ) I must say I shall be glad when the purple sprouting broccoli is ready to pick as I refuse to pay the price of it in the supermarkets.
I still haven't heard from the council as to whether or not I have the hard standing in front of my plot. If I haven't heard by tomorrows post I shall give them a ring, I still have my fingers crossed !!!!
That's about it for today, not much happening really on the allotment front, my sweet peas are coming on well in the unheated greenhouse, but no sign of the Garlic I planted.
I am going to tackle the compost bins at the weekend, they need emptying out,turning and shovelling back into the bins, apart from that there isn't really a lot to do until spring, other than harvest whats already growing up there.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Sometimes we take things for granted.

Perhaps I should re-phrase that to "I take things for granted", because I don't know if anyone else does, but I do know that I do. You may wonder what brought this on ? well ! I often think I need more, and maybe start feeling that more possessions or more money or more holidays will make me happier and better contented. (Not that I am unhappy or discontented, well not often anyway !)

Then the other evening sitting in my living room, curtains shut, heating on, candles lit ( I am a candle freak and always have been ) glass of wine, listening to some music (got the picture !) I suddenly realised by looking around my cosy room (even though the sofa's are old) that it looked great and I that I often forget and take for granted just how much I/we have. IE: - a cosy home, a brilliant family, each other, etc ! and lots of people have nothing, literally nothing, and so I got my camera out (this was very late at night ) and went around snapping little snapshots of my home, just little items and cosy corners that although have no big value, but to us are memories of who gave them to us or where and when we chose them. Even things in my food cupboard, like my favourite porridge (OK ! Very odd ) I got carried away snapping and even took a couple next day in the garden, but this exercise made me look at my home in a different light, almost like I hadn't seen it for ages. I recommend you do this if you ever feel dissatisfied.

Anyway I added them all in a set on FLIKR ( "Images of Home" link below if you care to look) and honestly when I looked at them it all looked cosy and warm and made me realise that I don't need anything else at all. Well maybe some more !!!!!!!! ?????

Friday, 5 December 2008

Fingers crossed ! my plot may be growing

When I first took on my plot I asked if the hard standing was mine as well (see photo) seeing as it is attached to my space, but the lady from the council said NO ! apparently it used to have a large weed/rubbish bin on it that everyone shared, and when the council decided it was costing them to much to empty it (man power, petrol etc) they gave all plot holders a free compost bin and said "there you go ! put your rubbish in those" SO the concrete hard standings then became car parking spaces. (there is another one on the allotment)

Anyway to cut a long story, recently a new person has taken over the allotment section in the council offices and thankfully she has an allotment of her own, (elsewhere) so she understood the nuisance it must be for me to have cars parked right in front of my plot, and when she did her first inspection of allotments 2 weeks ago she made a note of it.

The thing is the other hard standing has recently been given to a new plot holder that has his plot right next to it. So I thought why shouldn't I get the one near me ? so I phoned the lady from the council today and she is going to "run it by her boss" and she can't see any reason why I can't have it as the car spaces weren't there whilst the bins where in place, and everyone managed to park if they needed to take their car in.

She said she will send me a letter to confirm it's mine next week if it's ok'd. SO fingers crossed if I get it I can move my shed onto it and free up much needed growing space where the shed is now. Oh it's so exciting ! but I am trying not to hold out much hope in case I don't get it.
Sorry if this is boring but it's all part of my allotment blog history.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The Broad Beans are in

I spent about two hours this afternoon at the allotment. The broad beans have got on so well I thought I should get them into the bed. I dug in a bag of farmyard manure first and then got them planted and covered just as it was getting dark, so haven't taken a photo of them in place but here's one before I took them to the lottie. and a photo of my wooden box with all my seeds for next year. I can't wait for the spring to get sowing.

Rosie has her new clothes on

At last I got to put Rosie's new clothes on, although she still has the old trousers. but she looks fresh and rather cute in her Pink sweatshirt, hat & scarf. The sweatshirt was from Sue at our local freecycle.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Photo's from plot 19

Photo's above : Veggie for the dinner picked today, yummy ! The Brussels are getting bigger !

An old fire bucket rescued from the skip filled with wallflowers, and the beds covered for the winter with black plastic to keep the weeds down and warm up the soil. You can also see my paving slabs that I bought second hand for 50p each from the local council dump, great for my paths which I have to plan in the spring.

It's time I did some work on the Allotment

I finally got around to visiting the allotment today. The weather was dry and crisp, so I wrapped up warm as I still have the cold but I needed some fresh air. I went on my own as my allotment assistant ( Austin) decided he'd stay at home. I tidied up the strawberry bed, raked up some leaves and added them to our leaf mold bin and then weeded my flower bed as I could see the bulbs peeping through, they are very early so I hope the frost doesn't kill them. I gathered a small crop of veg for the dinner this evening. I picked some curly kale, some little sprouts and a couple of leeks (photo above) I also took some photo's of my little allotment Angel ( pictured here)and some others around the plot just for the record as it will be interesting to see how it changes over the coming months.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

John Lennon Wall (street art) Prague

Th John Lennon Wall in Prague, this is truly amazing to see and to read all the lovely comments.
Nothing to do with gardens or allotments but I thought I would share it anyway.

Plant markers

Being a keen gardener and an even keener photographer, I go to the Hampton Court Flower show every year and I have a huge collection of photographs, so I will post some occasionally just to vary my blog.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Old Seed Boxes

A photo I took at The Hampton Court Flower show. These are the type of photo's I take when I go to the flower show as I put them onto greetings cards, for my own use and to sell.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The shed is finished, Broad beans are growing, and my lavender is doing nicely.

Inside and outside the shed, and below the lavender shrubs and the broad beans.

First of all the shed is finished, the tools are hung on their new hooks and the floor space makes such a difference. We can actually walk in there now without tripping over something. I painted some outside parts of the shed blue just to brighten it up. A bit tarty I know but I like it !

My broad beans which I sowed a bit later than I intended have finally emerged and I am hardening them off each day to plant at the lottie next week. I didn't grow too many this time as last spring I had so many I didn't know what to do with them all. I did freeze a lot of the beans, but I would rather eat things when they are in season really.

I sowed some lavender seeds earlier on in the year as I want to plant a Lavender hedge around the edge of my plot, first for the attraction of bees and butterflies and secondly for the smell. They took ages to germinate and I lost a few but they are coming on in leaps and bounds now especially since I re-potted them recently, so my hedge will ready for next spring.

The weather has been amazing today, blue sky and lovely fluffy clouds, what a change from the dull grey sky of the last few days. Roll on Spring !

Nettle, comfrey and horse poo tea

I almost forgot to say that I am into making my own organic plant food. I bought some bocking 14 comfrey plants from "The Organic Gardening Catalogue" earlier in the year and have started off a comfrey bed. It's very "stinky" when it's made into comfrey tea but full of goodness for the plants. see this link to read all about it's history ( medicinal & horticultural )

I have this week been collecting baby nettle leaves and filled a large plastic trug with them and covered them with water and I stir it every day. It has to be left for 4 weeks before being diluted and then used for the plants. I read a good tip on a gardening forum which was to use some 4 pint plastic milk container to put the nettle leaves into and then it can be shaken instead of being stirred, ( just like 007's martini ! ) sounds a good idea so I will try it.

The Horse poo tea consists of fresh stable droppings put onto a small sack and suspended into a large bucket or dustbin of water and left for weeks ( this surprisingly doesn't stink ) then watered down to look like very weak tea in colour (in a watering can) and again is good for the plants.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

The shed looks grand

After we finally got the shed creosoted at the weekend I decided it was time to make a few improvements inside seeing as there isn't so much to do on the plot this time of year.

I bought a nice piece of timber to put along the window side of the shed and bought some tool hooks to hang all the tools off the floor. I had some blue garden furniture paint over from our benches in the garden, so gave it a coat of that before we put it up. I had found an old Ikea cd rack on a skip a couple of months ago so we put that up as well and it's coming in handy for storing bits & bobs on, so it's all looking grand so far, and there is still some more things to do. It makes it much easier to find things in such a little shed if they are all in place.
Ok ! I obviously have too much time on my hands !!
I will post some photo's of the results soon. I have become a scavenger much to my husbands disgust ! I keep looking in skips and have found some really useful things (with permission of course ! ) especially my old rustic wheelbarrow and some large planters which were ideal in the greenhouse for the tomatoes this year.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Good grief another lovely day ! am I dreaming ?

It was so nice today that we managed to get the shed creosoted. It looks good and will now be waterproofed for the winter. I also got some pots filled with some wallflowers that my allotment neighbour gave me ( she is also called Maureen, there are 3 of us at the same end of the allotment ! ) she had grown too many so shared them out. That's what I love about allotmenteering everyone is so kind and someone is always willing to lend a hand or share their extra plants, it obviously attracts the best of people. ( In most cases anyway. I can hear you muttering something Ali !!!! )

I am adding here a great Beetroot recipe that I have tried and loved. I thought someone out there may want to try it as well, it's always nice to try something different.

BAKED BEETROOT AND GARLIC (Tasty recipe with a difference )

1) Place the beetroot's into double thickness of foil, make sure there is enough foil to bring up to seal the beetroots.
( leave whole and don't peel them at this stage)

2) Crush 4 garlic cloves ( again don't peel just give them a bash to crush them, so they are still whole but the taste is released) add them to the beetroot.

3) Add about a tablespoon of virgin olive oil and tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the beetroot spoon it over the beetroot & garlic. seal the foil tightly so the beetroot almost steams in the oven. ( you can add more oil & vinegar if you wish )

4) Bake at around 190 for about an hour ( depending on size and number of beetroots) test with a sharp knife to see if the beetroot is cooked, if not leave for longer.

5) When cooked allow to cool and take the skin off the beetroots with a sharp knife and cut into either slices or chunks. This is the messy bit as they bleed

delicious as a baked veg with the dinner or left to go cold and have it with salad or in a cheese sandwich.

I kept mine in a kilner jar in the fridge for a week I left the juices and garlic in the jar as well.

I hope you try it.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Some good weather at last

The leek bed is looking good and the sprouts are growing nicely.

A bit of humour on the plot and I haven't had to compost anyone yet !

The weather wasn't too bad here so I went up to lottie to see what needed doing. Austin helped me weed the winter cabbage bed. They looked a bit nibbled, so I took off all the damaged outer leaves, which made them look heaps better, put some slug pellets around them and covered them up again. We also weeded the Curly Kale bed. I found lots of slugs on all the plants, so I removed them and again tidied the plants as there were loads of yellowed leaves lower down the plants. I'm sure I will be picking it for a while yet, and it's delicious lightly steamed.
I took some photo's of the Brussel sprouts they are coming on well, so hopefully will be eating them at Christmas. The purple sprouting broccoli looks good, but no sign of any sprouting bits yet. We were going to creosote the shed, but we run out of time, so hopefully we can get some of it done at the weekend.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Photo taken in June

I haven't been to the allotment since Monday as I have been staying at my son's in Surrey for a few days. It's sod's law that the few days I was away the weather was great and low & behold we get back today and it's raining and I couldn't go to the plot. So I thought I would look out some more photo's from back in the early months of this year.

This photo (taken in early June) is of the little flowerbed of sweet williams and pansies at the foot of the "goal post" that my sweet peas grew up, I am definitely going to grow them there again next year, I wish I had taken a photo of them when they had climbed the 6 foot post as they looked amazing.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Photo's of my plot

The top photo was taken in April 2008 just after I had started planning and planting my beds. I hadn't got the shed or the greenhouse at that point. The plot is 126 sq metres in total and is the oddest shaped plot on the allotment (as you can see) I can only describe it as boomerang shaped and it's also on a slope so I have my work cut out for me. I do have scope to change the shape a bit, as there is some grassed area around the plot which is mine so I could perhaps rearrange the shape a little, we shall see !

This photo was taken a month later in May, what a difference a month makes ! it looks all green and lush. It's all bare again now waiting for spring. The frame that looks like a goal post was covered in sweet peas and looked and smelt wonderful all summer long. I had masses of flowers to pick for the house.

Rain rain go away !

I went up to the lottie this afternoon to check on the greenhouse,as I have some sweet peas growing. I had such a fantastic show of them this year that I thought I would start them off early in a cold greenhouse (as it says on the seed packets) also I got a bargain at Wyvale Garden Centre. They were selling off pots of sweet peas that were £2.99 then were reduced a couple of times and then finally to 20p per pot, so for 60p I re-potted them and got 32 plants which are doing very well, so I daresay I shall be sharing with my lottie neighbours.

Here's a photo of some of the sweet peas I picked in the summer they filled the house with their fragrance.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Green house & Shed

I thought I would add a photo of my little shed, which I have outgrown already and wish I had bought a bigger one. The little 6 x 6 greenhouse was bought secondhand from a lady in Dorset. I have the essential camping stove in the shed as you can see for my cuppa.

Sweet Williams

I was looking through my photo's of my plot and saw this one of these fabulous sweet William's. When I took over the plot at the end of February this year,these flowers had seeded everywhere from the previous tenant's plants, so I dug them up and created a hedge of them all along one side of the perimeter of the plot.
They were an amazing sight for months and I have kept hundreds of the seeds to sow again for next year. I just thought I would share this photo.
I went to the lottie over the weekend but the weather wasn't great and I still didn't get my garlic planted as the ground was too wet, so I will try again in the week.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Rosie the scarecrow

This is Rosie my allotment scarecrow she is the only scarecrow on our site and caused quite a stir when I first put
her on the plot.
My plot is close to the perimeter fence so even passers by love her, and stop and comment on her. She is sadly looking a bit weather beaten now and needs new clothes. ( this was her first photo back in April)

My First Blog

This is my first blog and will probably take me a while to get started as I have to sort out photo's and notes that I have taken since starting my allotment in february 2008.

I intend this to be a diary of all the achevement's I have made since taking over my plot. I have spent a lot of time and energy on my plot and made lots of new friends and grown loads of tasty veg. It's all been very worthwhile and I couldn't imagine my life without it now, although it is a big commitment of my time and I do get days when I think "why bother" but they are very few and most days are spent in good company in the fresh air and the end produce is what really makes it all worth the effort.

I get a lot of enjoyment nosying around other allotmenteers blogs, so I hope that when I get the hang of this blogging malarky I will have something of interest for others to read as well.