Thursday is "T" Day..

 This is it! my first ripe tomato!
 This is my first Sungold tomato grown in a pot on the patio outdoors. Even the ones pampered in the greenhouse aren't this far ahead!
This is a momentous day in any veggie gardeners' calendar. Six long months without tasty toms are finally over!

And another new arrival on Matron's allotment this week are these strawberry runners. I couldn't believe my ears when I heard of this brand new, improved variety of strawberry. It is very high yielding, it has high resistance to powdery mildew, it has an excellent flavour, what's more it is a perpetual variety which means it produces fruit continuously from July through to October.  As if that wasn't amazing enough.. the name?   is BUDDY!  Bless the old fella! he would have loved them!

Warm and Wet

 The temperatures here in London have been fairly warm, but the rain is still with us.  My giant pumpkin is making really good progress outside now, planted on top of a specially prepared compost mound.
 The runner beans St George have started to wind around their canes.
 I did leave a couple of last year's leeks to set flowers this year. The bees really love them.
And the most exciting news of all... signs of my first ripe tomato.  This is sungold.

The Spice of Life....

 Yes, variety is the spice of life down on Matron's Allotment. Above are my Cairngorm Pot Leeks growing nicely. Pot leeks are short and fat, whereas the usual long leeks are 'blanch' leeks.
 I just managed to get my 'Dog Beans' planted out before they became too pot bound. These are an unusual variety of dwarf (bush) bean kindly sent to me by a fellow blogger. You might notice the large garlic plant in the middle.. this was one overwintered Elephant Garlic that I left in the soil after planting a crop last year. It has done brilliantly, and a few inches under the soil is a HUGE elephant garlic bulb.  Matron is unsure what to do with it when it is ready. Any ideas for cooking and eating Elephant Garlic please?
 And these Black Pearl Chilli are doing wonderfully in the greenhouse. Just look at this stunning foliage! Kindly sent to me by another kind blogger last year for my Buddy Morris garden (Black veggies). I can't wait to see these tiny little black chillis!
 And the greenhouse tomatoes are romping away. My preferred method here is to gently wind the stems around string. Here the varieties are Sungella, Sungold, Golden Jubilee, Chocolate Cherry and Quebec Beefsteak.
 Runner beanz are looking a bit yellow since I planted them out. I did prepare a super bed for them, perhaps it was a bit rich. Still, these St George runner beans are twining up the poles. I look forward to the red and white flowers.
And finally the 'Lazy Housewife' climbing beanz.  A wonderful old heritage variety that is a spectacularly good-do-er.  Hopefully making good progress if the slugs and the Labradors will stop eating them!

Picking Chickens!

 The time came today when my Sister was ready for delivery of some more chickens. We made our way out to Oxfordshire, to Cotswold Chickens just outside Banbury (where the cakes come from)
 Introducing Chicken Bhaji,
 Chicken Bhuna
and Chicken Balti..
Here they all are exploring Peckingham Palace (near Cricklewood!) These are all Bovans Goldline hens. A hybrid between Rhode Island Red and a Sussex Light. Very docile and highly productive.

Well, I just had to stop on the way back to buy some Banbury Cakes.  Actually they are quite similar to Eccles cakes... except they were made in Banbury and not Eccles.... Simples!!
And couldn't resist another snap of my Giant pumpkin.. climbing out of its pot and ready to be planted outside in the big wide world!

Broad Beanz!

 You know that Summer is just around the corner when you sit around a sunny table on the patio at home, shelling Broad Beans in the sunshine!
 But where's the sunshine? The rain has made these grow fast, and I picked a big bagfull today, but I had to shell them indoors instead of out. The rain will not stop! Where is Summer?

 Leo kept a lookout for any beans that popped their way out of the pod and dropped on the carpet! To my friend who thinks that all Broad Beans are , and I quote,"The Spawn of the Devil".. my friend, you haven't tried fresh, new, young, home grown Broad Beans.  Sensational!

Good Genes

This Paton Twins Giant Pumpkin only germinated a couple of days ago. Yet the two seed leaves are already 5" across.  Just goes to show the importance of good genetics. The roots are already coming out of the bottom of the flower pot.  Now all I need is a couple of sunny days to get it hardened off before planting outside.  Where is the sunshine?

The Giant Awakes...

Finally I have germination of my Paton Twins giant pumpkin!  I planted the first of two very expensive seeds on 30th April and nothing at all has happened, it failed to germinate.  Just a few days ago I planted the second seed and just one day after germinating the seed leaves are about 3 inches across!
I have been preparing a mound on which to plant it.  The contents of a compost bin, chicken manure, composted grass clippings and well rotted horse manure.  This lovely pile has been sitting for weeks waiting for lift off.  Stand by!

Fruits of Labour

 An eventful day yesterday, Leo won a 2nd place in our Jubilee street party. Here he is with his Pearly King costume. He managed to keep the hat on for the whole time, with the aid of some strong elastic under his chin and pieces of chicken on his nose!
 Meanwhile thing are starting to happen. These Gooseberries are coming along nicely.
 Broad Beans are further along than I had anticipated. It must be all this rain!
 There is even a sign of an outdoor strawberry changing colour.
And the first tomato!! Summer must be right around the corner.

Happy Diamond Jubilee Weekend

 It is going to be an eventful weekend in Matron's environs.  It has started off very well with a little gift bought from Bettys in Harrogate.  If you are ever 'up North' you could do a lot worse than stop at Bettys tea rooms for a cup of tea and a 'fat rascal'
Just look at these tasty little hand made Corgis !!
I'm just putting the finishing touches to Leo's fancy dress outfit for our local street party this weekend!  Matron has also been invited to take part in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on Sunday.  I am thrilled to have been asked to represent Battersea Dogs and Cats home by standing on Battersea Bridge to wave to the Queen as she sails past! 
Whatever you are doing, and wherever you are doing it... have fun!

Sunday Lunch

I had a leg of lamb in the oven for Sunday lunch yesterday, so I just popped down the end of the garden to pick the veggies.
 One of my favourite veggies is this Swiss Chard, Rainbow Lights.  A mixture of different coloured leaves, it stays good right over the coldest of Winters and then starts growing with a vengeance in Spring. I think I prefer it to spinach!
The stalks are tender and can be chopped up with the leaves, or eaten on their own cooked like celery.


And there was just one more Winter Squash left in storage.  I just adore this Squash Delicata. Also known as the Sweet Potato Squash, it has lovely firm, sweet flesh. What a fantastic keeper!

Welcome to Matron's Flower Show

 While the other flower show has started in London this week, I thought I'd give you a whirlwind tour of Matron's flowers.
 Often overlooked because the look downwards, these tomato flowers are smiling away in the greenhouse right now.
 Meanwhile the Purple Sprouting Broccoli is just starting to turn from purple to yellow.
 and the bees just adore these little yellow flowers. I always leave a couple of broccoli plants to go to flower for just a few weeks' more.
 Just close up, these Broad Bean flowers are amazing.
 These Crimson Flowered Broad beans could be grown for their flowers alone, they are stunning!
 My strawberries are just absolutely covered in flowers this year.  Looks like it will be a good crop.
These chive flowers are just simply beautiful. The bees adore these too! In fact, the bees seem to prefer vegetable flowers over those other ones at the other place, somewhere in London!

Springing Up

 After a brief weekend of sunshine, everything is back to rain and clouds today. Not that these Pot Leeks 'Cairngorm' mind one little bit.
 It is said that leeks can take any amount of food and water that you give them.  I've not grown pot leeks before, I'm looking to find out what they can do. Already you can see that the shafts are much thicker than you would expect from a blanch leek.
 I am planting my sweetcorn in small batches about a month at a time.  These are some of the new breed of ultra sweet and tender sweetcorn. I thought I'd try a variety Lapwing this year. Apparently you can eat them raw and they are as sweet as apples. I wonder?
 These beautiful little chilli plants are coming along nicely. Still in the greenhouse with some protection these Black Pearl Chilli are doing well.
 On the subject of Chilli plants, I managed to overwinter one of my Bishop's Kiss chilli plants from last year. Kept in a cool room with as much light as possible I managed to keep these alive. Chilli plants are apparently perennial if you can get them through the Winter. This will be a first for me if I manage some chillis this year!
 I potted up some of my tomato plants inside the greenhouse. Varieties this year are Golden Jubilee, Sungella, Sungold, Chocolate Cherry and a beefsteak tomato variety that I found in Quebec, Canada a couple of years ago. A cold climate beefsteak tomato! I just called it Quebec.
 Each year I try to grow an old or lesser known variety of beans.  I obtained these Dog Beans a few years ago from a fellow blogger. I grew them successfully and it is time to plant the remaining seeds and keep the variety going.  A dwarf (bush) bean which is green in colour.  If I have some spares at the end of the season I shall have another giveaway!
And even though I did not plant any Crimson Flowered Broad beans this year, a couple of overwintered seeds left in the soil from last year have germinated among my Aquadulce Claudia. What a stunning flower!