I do not put ads on my blog but do have a counter that shows me how many visits the pages get. (The stats. count is just there so I can see if I am 'talking' to myself, luckily so far this has not happened.) By continuing your visit here you are consenting to the stats. counter tracking cookies. Cookies, that sounds like something nice to eat but not that exciting.

Growing Your Own Fruit and Vegetables

We grow our own fruit and vegetables for our meals for as much of the year as we can. Without a greenhouse we have to buy shop food in the winter months but in the spring, summer and autumn we often have enough to share with family and friends.

Read about growing your fruit and vegetables here on my growing your own food pages.

Friday, 1 July 2016

The Not So Small New Potatoes.

Yesterday [30 th June 2016]  I decided to investigate and take a look at what stage my potatoes were at.
 Not surprisingly the main crop ones were only just showing signs of flowers developing. However, the earlier ones had changed in appearance and were looking like they were at the stage when I usually think about harvesting some of them. The green tops were beginning to /or had died back on the ones I had  planted first. So, I went to the shed got out the tools and test dug up one of the plants. Even though I had seen no sign of flowers on these two rows,  the potatoes that came up were definitely ready to use, they were a good size and healthy looking potatoes. So in a year when the weather has been unusual and difficult to predict the potatoes seem to have not only survived but thrived. Just in case the slugs that are flourishing in the wet weather decide to eat my potatoes before I can,  I dug up as many potatoes as I could carry to take home.

Good start to July home grown new potatoes are now on the menu.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Potato Update.

If you are concerned when to harvest potatoes, just gently dig up a few near the surface. You can use a hand tool or your hand ( on lighter soils) to unearth some of them. Even if you discover potatoes that are so small you do not want to dig out anymore until later,  you can take the small ones you have unearthed home and fry them up rather than waste them.

.The weather this year is so bizarre here that I will be harvesting mine a few at a time and using them as and when I need them. I think this year 2016 you can throw the previous years rule book out of the shed window or keep it by for next year.  

I think if left in for too long in the ground the damp and warm weather may encourage an outbreak of blight. If this happens in past years I have followed advice from other allotment owners to remove the leaves and stems ( all above ground growth).  You will by then have seen signs of blight on discoloured foliage and sometimes also a sort of hazy look to the underside of leaves. Do not compost the removed foliage. If green tops are removed promptly it can be successful to leave the potatoes in the ground for a time after this but obviously without leaves they will not reach their full size potential.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

I just wanted to say thank you for reading my grow your own fruit and vegetable blog/journal.
Know this can be a curious mix of helpful facts and my thoughts on having an allotment.

I hope that my readers can dip in and find the bits that interest them most.

Anyway thank you and happy growing and reading.

My Early New Potatoes, Slow to Flower this Year.

The weather this year means things on the plot are not happeninas they were a few years ago. When this happens you just have to take a  best educated guess as to how to look after your crops.

New Potatoes.

I have noticed on mine and several other plots that the first early seed potatoes are not yet in flower but the seed potatoes planted later are forming flowers.  This made me decide to have a think about why this might be. Could it  be that we got colder weather later than in previous years, just after planting the first early seed potatoes. By the time the later varieties went into the ground the soil might have warmed up, but the first early seed potatoes might have needed time to get over that cold spell? Not even a theory really just a guess.

Anyway, this week I took a chance and gently dug out a few small but edible new potatoes from the start of the first row planted. Despite being smal they still made a tasty addition to my meal that evening. I plan to continue to do this and hope that the warmer weather speeds things up for the potatoes over the next week or so.

One thing I need to keep in mind is to check the foliage as it is   warm and damp weather conditions that can encourage blight.

Why I have an Allotment.

For reasons that are not as simple as it might seem.

My allotment plot is not perfect but for now it is mine.

Sometimes it takes a friend asking you a question for you to find an answer to another question that you have never thought off or asked yourself .

Recently, I found answers to a question I had never really asked myself about the allotment, why do I keep it on when at times it can be a battle with the elements and hard work?

The friends question was " Why do n't you give up the allotment?" I answered in the way we often answer questions, by giving the easiest and simplest answer " Because even though it is hard work at times, I enjoy doing it and I like being there."

When I had the time, I thought about the question and the answer I had given. This led to me asking myself  - "What is it about the allotment that makes me enjoy my time there and why is the work and effort worthwhile to me?  And also why do I keep it,  even at times when battling to keep the plot in some reasonable order against a list of often uncontrollable things like the weather, the weeds,the slugs and snails and the ever hungry pigeons? Especially when they seem like they are in a battle of conspiracy to defeat you?"

I was surprised to discover that as well as the obvious answer that I enjoy it, there are another two, the first is to do with the time and effort invested in the plot over the years. The other reason is more complicated and is linked to why I took an allotment plot in the first place.

There was a time when no one else seemed to want an allotment locally, especially this particular one with its tangle of  weeds and brambles.

I think secretly I may have seen myself as its guardian. There was at that time a threat to  under used allotment sites which where at risk of being taken over and being used for housing. This was probably at the back of my mind when I read that plots were available within walking distance of my home.

 It was after taking a walk to the site and looking through the gate on a damp day, that something happened that made me put my name down for a plot. Later, when shown a supposedly cleared and ready to go plot it was my straggly unloved plot with the ancient and not too healthy plum tree that I ask for. Is there a name for this wanting to rescue a piece of land that does not and never will really belong to you ? I doubt it, but together over the years have proved that we are an odd combination both of us determined in our own ways, rewarding each other in ways too difficult to describe. Basically I attempt to nurture the plot and in return it nurtures me with fruit and vegetables.

  I know that I cannot give it up and if I ever have to,  it will be with much regret.

Monday, 13 June 2016

The Weeds We Battle With On The Allotment.

Two Types of Weed That We Know Are Difficult to Remove. 

I have seen allotment plots that look neat and tidy but then if they are left unattended for a week or two suddenly reveal that just under the surface and waiting for the chance to invade are bindweed and  horsetail (which I know lots of people call marestail but it is a different plant  and horsetail likes the dry sandy soil of my allotment).

Comparing these two weeds to brambles which look like a big challenge, but with brambles once dug out any remaining 'straggler' that pop up can be dug out.

Getting rid of bindweed  is a big challenge and once horestail appears it is extremely difficult if not impossible to eradicate.

I have both of these weeds in the soil on my plot, worse in some places than others. The more cultivated areas have less but they still appear sometimes. Despite this I manage to grow my own fruit and vegetables and tackling the weeds is a nuisance and chore but that is almost inevitable with some types of weeds.

I think the problem of having pernicious weeds is more about the time spent on battling weeds when you would rather be doing something more productive on the allotment.

It is almost impossible to remove the roots of horsetail as they go so deep and break as you attempt to remove them. This is also one of the weeds that because of its lack of 'proper leaves' and the type of foliage they have  is at times resistant to the weedkiller you can buy .

With bindweed you can trace the root back and remove as much as possible ( and they can be surprisingly long) .  If you leave any root behind the bindweed will regrow from that piece. Sometimes you get the whole bindweed root out but you can never be sure, just keep on  removing as much root as possible ( think that is all you can do if you are anti-weedkiller).  I have to confess that although I try to grow to organic and to begin with it was against my gardening principles, around the shed and some other areas where there is no fruit or vegetables growing I have with reluctance and with great care reached for the red spray bottle and zapped the leaves or used the one that comes in a 'solid' gel stick. So the weeds win on two fronts, they appear every year and they made me change/temporarily abandon my good intentions.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

New Potatoes Soon.

Looking closely at my rows of first early potatoes as I gently removed the weeds that were growing close to them ( having early carefully cut down any emerging weeds in between the rows with a hoe); I can just see the start of the potato flowers starting to grow. Hopefully the warm weather will remain to encourage the development of the potatoes. The anticipation of eating own grown new potatoes got a step closer to reality with yesterdays allotment visit.

Making My Own Bread with Organic Spelt Flour.

Baking Healthy Bread.

In a odd way, making your own bread is in some ways similar to growing your own food.  You learn by experience and often that can be a case of building up knowledge by series of trial and error attempts, until you get a good result more often.  Hopefully when making bread there are not as many 'wild cards' and uncontrollable variants and conditions as there are with growing fruit and vegetables.

I make my bread with spelt flour, so when I am baking I have to adapt and make adjustments to the basic formula/recipe,  but the way I make it does not vary greatly. In the beginning, I tried different recipes and techniques, now  though I know what works best for me and the loaves I am baking. This saves time as I can just measure out the same quantities of the ingredients without looking at a recipe. I can also go to do other tasks while the mix has to be left to prove instead of standing in the kitchen (like some anxious mother hen watching over its chicks).

About Spelt.
Spelt is a type of wheat  that some people find it easier to digest than the more modern wheat varieties.
Spelt does contain gluten so is not suitable for anyone on a diet that needs to exclude foods that contain gluten.

For me the difference between eating shop bought bread and my own home baked spelt bread is immense, the taste and texture is far superior and for me it has the added benefit of not causing the digestion problems that most of the shop bought breads cause.

How I Got to Make a Good Loaf of Bread with Spelt Flour.

Getting to the stage where I could make a good quality home baked spelt loaf was a journey of learning by attempting to improve each loaf I made. The first loaves where edible but had things about them that made me make adaptions to the recipe or baking technique. I thought about what was not right, each time I tasted the loaf of bread I had made. My early baking attempts included not enough salt, not enough sugar/honey, not leaving it in the oven for long enough, incorrect oven temperature and not leaving it to prove for long enough.

Now, after following various different spelt loaf recipes I have found the one that works best for me.

I arrived at this by knowing my early attempts needed improvements and then I started by reading chapters of bread making books, talking to people who had made bread. I also  and made minor adjustments to the ingredients, cooking times/temperatures and adjusting the methods used to mix, knead, prove and bake a loaf.

I do not always buy the same brand of spelt flour but I do prefer to use the organic flour if I can get it. Making my own spelt bread is not a money saving option, it costs more than buying a loaf of bread form the supermarket. Quality rather than quantity is what makes baking my own bread worth the time spent and cost of the ingredients I use.

a healthy potato plant in flower

a healthy potato plant in flower
photo of potatoes in flower

home grown carrots.. grown from seed

home grown carrots.. grown from seed
photo of my first bunch of carrots 2009

Even a small batch of mixed fruit can be useful

Even a small batch of mixed fruit can be useful
Home Grown Fruit can be made into delicious compote