Return of the weeds, and some mystery shoots

As the weather’s warming up, the newly exposed and dug over beds at the plot are getting a covering of little weeds, which I expected.

I’ve also been looking out for the return of the bindweed and horse’s tail so today I did an experimental dig into the top raised bed and was unsurprised to discover lots of new bindweed roots. I was quite shocked at the amount of them though, just a month or so after we last dug everything out of that bed. Here’s the ones I pulled out in a few minutes today.

I’d been considering moving my broad bean seedlings from where I planted them to one of the bigger main beds so after the bindweed discovery I thought I’d better have a root around in there too, to see how bad things were.

Not so much bindweed in this one, but I did find lots of these black roots with tiny green shoots. I don’t think they’re horse’s tail as the roots didn’t seem to be deep enough and they were easy to pull up. So what are they? Any ideas?

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And final mystery plant / weed of the day – does anyone know what these are?

They’re in a spot that wasn’t as vigorously dug over as the rest as it’s right beside the largest bramble bush in the world  (look at its huge base!). I thought they were weeds so pulled a couple up but then wondered whether they might turn out to be something nice. Unlikely I know, but maybe it’s worth waiting a bit to see what they do next.

 

Checking up on my garlic and broad beans

It suddenly feels like Spring is nearly here this weekend, and obviously that means more time at the allotment – yay!

I dragged my slightly unwilling allotment helper along and we got loads more done than I would have done on my own. I think he enjoyed his first allotment bonfire experience too.

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I was keen to check up on my garlic and broad beans. The beans and most of the garlic were planted before Christmas, with a few more garlic cloves (Provence Wight) planted in January. The ones planted later are pretty much the same size as those planted earlier. I’ve never grown garlic before so I don’t have anything to compare it to but I think they’re looking pretty good.

The broad beans (Aquadulce Claudia) are doing ok as well, except for one which I think must have been eaten by slugs, hence the protective layer of straw that’s now around them, hopefully protecting them from any further slug-attack.

Now it’s warmer there are more and more plot holders appearing and I’ll have to get used to not having the whole place to myself any more. The plus side is that we met a lovely man today who was really encouraging about the transformation in our plot since we took it on in November which was a nice reminder that we have got loads done in our first three months as allotmenteers.

Sad-looking Honeysuckle

My back yard gets no sun at all. None. Years ago, in an attempt to brighten it up, my mum got me an evergreen Honeysuckle which she thought might do ok in the dark, damp yard, and give some greenery throughout the year.

I love Honeysuckle – we had it in the back garden when I was small and it was always covered with pink and yellow flowers with their long, thin petals.

Mine has been in situ about seven years now and has grown but never looks much better than this:

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It once had a couple of small flowers which was pretty exciting but it’s mostly winding bare stalks and a few dark leaves.

Anyway, now I have the allotment, I also have metal fencing on two sides, one of which looks onto the pavement on the neighbouring street. It’s currently covered in bindweed and brambles and I’d like something nicer to cover the fence and give some privacy. So I thought I’d take a cutting from the Honeysuckle and see if it does any better on the plot where it will get more sun and have room to grow.

I did some googling and was confused by talk of hardwood and softwood cuttings, best times of year to take cuttings and so on. Over Christmas I decided to just chop off a couple of sprigs and pop them in water to see if they rooted.

After a couple of weeks in a pint glass of water, they had lots of nice looking roots.

And once the weather warmed up a bit, I potted them outdoors, ready to take to the allotment when the bindweed is cleared and they can take their place against the back fence.

I wonder whether it’s worth also relocating another cutting to the front of the house where it’ll get more sun and replacing its space in the back yard with something more suited to the shade?

Seed overload

Both my mum and my sister bought me some seeds for Christmas and when you add them together with those I ordered myself, I probably have enough for everyone at my allotments, never mind just my plot.

These ones which my sister bought me are especially exciting: ‘Pipiche’, a kind of mexican herb, and ‘chocolate cherry’ tomatoes. They’re both from the Real Seed Catalogue.

Seeds from the Real Seed Catalogue

 

The Pipiche is described as citrusy-coriander and it has blue flowers with no petals. I’ll probably grow this in a pot on the front patio at home, along with my other herbs, rather than at the allotment, as I like having herbs outside the front door where my sous chef can be sent to pick them as I cook dinner.

The cherry tomatoes should end up as small purple-brown fruits like these:

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The rest of the seeds I have include nasturtiums, beetroot, a mystery mix of radishes, runner beans, a couple of other varieties of tomatoes including some yellow ones, rainbow chard, kale, parnsips, French beans, purple sprouting brocolli, mange tout, radiccio (or chicory) and a few varieities of chilli peppers including padron.

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I think it’s a good mix of easy-to-grow choices and things I’ve grown successfully before like the runner beans and broccoli, plus some more experimental options like the radiccio and chilli peppers. I really hope we get some padrons so I can grill them with salt like the ones we ate in Spain last year.

Now we just need the snow and hailstones to stop and spring to arrive so I can get on with sowing them all.