Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2010

The cutting garden


Well, this was going to be the year when I concentrated on flowers for cutting rather than vegetables.  On the whole, flowers have proved a lot easier to grow.  I wonder if this could be our soil, with about 3 inches of chalky topsoil before you hit the bedrock.  This means its very poor in nutrients and prone to frequent and long droughts, both of which flowers seem to handle better than veg.  I think to build up sufficient bulk in a vegetable crop you need to either water it constantly, or improve the soil every year for about 10 years??

Having said that, obviously where people are vigilant they have got fantastic crops.  You only have to see Ali’s blog (from the same allotment site!) to see the potential.

I think until I am able to commit more time in the summer evenings, I will have to resign myself to the lower maintenance crops like flowers and herbs.  We are planning to get a greenhouse in the garden later in the year, so this means we can do tomatoes and so on there.  Watch this space to see if we do grow anything interesting this year, or whether my moans, groans and excuses fill the WHOLE BLOG!  Ha ha.

So in the meantime here are some more of my finest cuttings from this week.  First up my Charles de Mills rose was magnificent.  This yielded me a whole bush of fragrant, dark mauve blooms.  The best ones were cut with a stalk attached and put into an arrangement with some cornflowers.

Ones that were too late to pick for cut flowers were picked just below the flower and placed in water to keep them fresh.

And because I couldn’t bear to waste them, I even picked the petals from the deadheads to be dried in saucers and saved.  The smell in the room was fantastic!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

One of the things I love about Stanley Road allotment site is the gossip that gently feeds its way round the plots.  Sometimes gossip can be hurtful and harmful, but other times it’s a godsend, like when tomato blight is working its way down, or when a site inspection is imminent.

We recently heard a rumour that someone has been stealing strawberries.  Other plotholders have noticed them going missing.  I did wonder why we hadn’t got any yet, because normally we would reap the first harvest at the end of May.  Every time I have checked the plot there have been none ripe, despite lots of rain and sun recently.

It was disappointing as we have been building up to this strawberry harvest for years, weeding, feeding and watering vigilantly.  Some of the plants are supposed to be at their peak this year, and we were hoping for enough to make jam.

On the other hand, we’ve no evidence that anyone has taken any, and so for now, I think I will jump to the conclusion that it’s our own neglect rather than someone else taking our crops!

Read Full Post »

Last week we went camping on the Isle of Wight for my first visit to the Island.  I had read that it was ‘the new Cornwall’, and one of the homes of ‘cool camping’, thanks to Vintage Vacations, who rent out various vintage caravans and locations including the converted chuch below:

Originally we planned to stay in a yurt, but as we have got all our own camping gear, it seemed like a bit of an exgtravagance.  Since the election, David Cameron and George Osborne have got us scared witless facing ten years of tax rises, pay cuts and redundancies, so we are trying to save every penny.

In the end, this had to be the cheapest holiday we have  ever had, with the ferry to the Isle being the biggest cost at £80.  The camping cost £55 for five nights, which paid for this view out of the tent:

We stayed at Chine Farm campsite on the South coast.  It is right next to an old derelict and vandalised holiday camp, which was a bit eerie, but as long as you didn’t look in that direction, it didn’t really put us off.  Even the petrol didn’t cost us that much as it is quite a modest distance from London, and the Island itself is only 27 miles across at the longest point.

We brought all our own cooking gear, and it was the first time we had gone camping with the dutch oven and the firepit/barbecue, so we were eager to get cooking.

I was desperate to explore and form my own opinions of the Isle.  Looking at reviews on tripadvisor, it is either a paradise of picturesque countryside and old-fashioned seaside resorts or incredibly dull and past its best.  I suppose both of these could be correct, depending on which part of the island you are on.  The Isle of Wight has a surprisingly dense population, and it feels as though there are too many hideous 60s bungalows ruining picturesque seaviews.  Parts have a feel of a fading resort that was once very busy and developed, now fallen out of favour.  Things such as the deserted holiday camp and the Isle of Wight Pearl have a quite tragic air about them.

But to judge the whole island on these alone would be a travesty.  The rolling hills and idyllic beaches combine to make you feel you have stepped into a 50s advert for Anchor butter.  You can’t ignore the fact that the place has the highest hours of sunshine in the UK, something we really appreciated as we drove round the stunning coastal road.

The surf at Compton Bay on the south coast was like nothing I have ever seen before in the UK.

The National trust offers great value leaflets showing walks round the nature reserve of the Newtown estuary, which we almost had to ourselves, even on a sunny day in half term.

Ignoring the more run down gift shops selling cheap imports from China, you can find some real hidden gems by scratching the surface.   These ranged from Liz Earle’s skincare shop in Ryde to a small farm which was selling 100 flavours of home made ice-cream (I had elderflower).

There are picturesque villages such as Godshill, which didn’t even lose its charm on the rainiest day of our break:

For gardeners, Ventnor Botanical Gardens have the largest range of tender and half-tender plants growing in the UK. You can buy great value seeds from many of the specimens in the gardens, which are collected each year by enthusiasts and volunteers.

To top it all off, we visited Shanklin Chine, which is a pictureque gorge running towards the sea:

The Chine is the embodiment of green, and very soothing on a hot day.

I think it’s safe to say we’ll be back!

Read Full Post »