The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies. Gertrude Jekyll

Annie's Little Plot

Annie's Little Plot

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Allotment show 2013

I'm a bit late posting about this, the show was in September, but I wanted to let you know how our allotment show went, its our second one. Last year for our first one we could just bring a basket or collection of any vegetables, but this year the committee set a few rules. This year we had to exhibit a basket/tray of six different vegetables from the following list. I hope you can read it, its not copied very well.
But the important thing to remember was that there were 3 compulsory vegetables of potatoes, onions and beetroot. This caught a few people out who looked at the schedule a week or so before the show and then realised they'd not got any beetroot left!
So I had some potatoes ready, they were 'Charlotte' variety, a few beetroot, I entered some 'Chioggia' variety and some onions, they were 'Stuttgarter Giant' which I'd lifted and dried a few weeks before. I still can't believe I actually spent a whole evening puzzling over how to trim and tie onions, even googling to get some expert advice. As for the other 3 vegetables to show, when it came to the week before I didn't really know what to enter, I was a bit spoilt for choice, I had some quite nice long runner beans, some 'Longnor' shallots, some nice french beans, a cucumber, which I was very proud of (my first proper attempt and grown outdoors), a 'Crown Prince' squash and some nice round courgettes. In the end I chose the french beans, cucumber and squash.
I think from speaking to the judge and other competitors afterwards I made the wrong decision as its apparently very hard to get a good mark for cucumbers, they have to be immaculate and squash are 'easy' to grow so again don't get good marks.
These were my scores, my best was for the potatoes, 15/20, then onions, 13/20, beans and beetroot 11/20 and the cucumber and squash both got 6/20. But for me its all a bit of fun and just really about taking part and getting together with the other plot holders and having a bit of a natter. We also have a few awards for most improved plot and the plot holders next to me won that which is great as they have taken over a really grotty plot and have turned it round in a few months. Then we also have lots of tea and cake which is the best bit.
Here are a few of the other exhibitors.
You should be able to see which ones came first, second and third. I really wish I'd put the shallots and runner beans in now! Oh well maybe next year. The standard is quite high as many people from my allotment site grow for the Huddersfield show amongst others. Especially our chairman who won best in show for his leeks. They all get very competitive. I might suggest next year having some tasting competition perhaps with tomatoes. We'll see, anyone else got any ideas for us from their allotment shows?

I did win something though third prize in the sweet pea competition.
I won't let it go to my head though, there were only 3 entrants!!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

A mish-mash

Aargh I've been very negligent of my blog recently and I've so much I want to write about, my allotment show, I've been away on holiday, visits to gardens, as well as catching up on posts about my allotment and garden. So this blog post is going to be a bit of a mish-mash as I catch up with things, but I'm hoping normal service will be resumed once things settle into more of a routine.
I'm really getting into my training at York Gate but time is passing by so quickly it will be over in a blink of an eye but the training is going well and its very varied. One day I'll be up on a platform pruning a wall trained pyracantha which has been trained into an espalier, or the next I'll be weeding the canal pond or labelling all the plants in the white garden (as there are plans a foot to renovate the borders). A real mix of jobs though not all great jobs, spreading leaf mould on a wet drizzly day is very messy though still in some ways satisfying and definitely keeps you warm. What I love most is walking round the garden spotting which plants are at their best each week. But this autumn crocus, Colchicum autumnale 'Waterlily' has been the star this week.
Plus there are some lovely leaf colours starting to develop. The garden is closed for the winter now and there is so much to do, things that you can't really get on with when there might be visitors to the garden. So I know I'll be busy for the next few weeks. Whatever I'm doing in the garden though there is one creature that is never too far away, usually I first tell he is with me by a faint warbling song in the tree unless he's in the mood for showing off when he really belts out a song. I've been trying to capture him on camera and I've managed a couple of shots.
Think I'm going to have to get properly wrapped up now though its gone noticeably colder this week.
Down on my allotment things threatened to get a bit out of control at one point a few weeks ago after I came back off holiday, with the squash threatening to completely take over, but I've got the upper hand again now and I've been busy trying to clear things in the last few weeks. I've still got lots of flowers which have been enjoying the lovely autumn warmth and sunshine that we have been having recently so I've left things for as long as possible. My sweet peas have had another mad burst and are looking really healthy again now, they did have a bit of an aphid problem earlier but I assume the ladybirds and lacewings larvae have been feasting as they have all gone now and they are flowering well again.
My pumpkins, there are 3, are ripening now and look very colourful with a backdrop of Salvia viridis, the clary sage.
Talking of orange I want to say thanks to Flighty for the Marigold seeds that he sent earlier in the year, they have been flowering all summer and it is a nice mixture, some bright orange and some more subtle.
I've still got a few crops going at the allotment, in the roots bed I have lots of beetroot, some parsnips which look very fat, I'm going to have a go at digging some up this weekend, celeriac, which isn't looking very fat though hard to really tell how they are developing underground and a few carrots, I've grown these in a container as I never seem to have much success in the ground. In the Brassica bed I have some sprouts developing nicely, some Romanesco broccoli which hasn't started forming a head yet, they were very late last year, and some cabbages. The Legume bed has lots of Borlotti beans which I've picked for the beans inside and I'm drying some too, and still some runner beans though they are getting a bit stringy now. I'm due to plant some overwintering onions and some garlic in the onion bed. I do have some leeks too in the main plot, so I'm not doing too bad for some overwintering crops. The rest of the plot is mainly squash sprawling and flowers. I've taken out all my courgettes now, think I overdosed on them this year.
As I do each time I leave my allotment at the moment I pick a couple of bouquets of flowers and I had to make sure the bees had finished getting all the nectar from the cosmos before I could take them home. They were really clinging on.
 Lastly I've written a few posts about my local park and its looking gorgeous in the low autumn evening light.
But I'd thought I'd update on some recent developments, the council is obviously thinking that Huddersfield is becoming very continental and this is our new leisure facility at Greenhead Park.
Its a Petanque pitch or 'terrain'!
Ooh la la.....