New Beginnings

Just a few hours of sunshine and my broad beans 'Aquadulce Claudia' are up an looking forward to the Summer.
But what on earth this big bumblebee is doing out in January beats me! I think he lives underneath the brickwork at the front of the house which is South facing. Whenever the sun comes out he warms up and goes for a test flight!
So in between sunshine and showers this week a complete rainbow appeared over the bottom of the garden! I wonder if there is a pot of gold there waiting for me? The rainbow just comes down over my rhubarb!

Magazine Review

I came across a new magazine the other week. I can highly recommend The Edible Garden magazine (I think the garden is edible, not the magazine). I am pretty sure this is a fairly new magazine, this Autumn and Winter issue was only issue 2. The next issue, Spring is due out in March. This is quite a big, heavy, glossy magazine at a pricey £4.99 per issue, but I can easily see it being picked up and read over and over again throughout the season.
This issue has a review of several kitchen gardens like West Dean, Heligan and Knightshayes in Devon which are open to visitors, a lovely article about crop rotation, growing pumpkins, quince and beekeeping, as well as a wonderfully illustrated article about the magical world of forcing rhubarb at Janet Oldroyd's Yorkshire Rhubarb company.
Treat yourself to a copy of this magazine, see if you think it is worth £4.99. I do!


A trip to the garden centre yesterday. Lucky for Leo there was a large pet food section there as well.
If you've ever smelled bonemeal then you can imagine how irresistible it is for dogs!
Anyway, I bought a very early variety of potato. Rocket is described as ultra early in some catalogues. I have done well with these in the past, especially if you want to force some a bit earlier in a pot in the greenhouse. Just a handful of first early new potatoes is worth the effort.
I've set them out on a bench in the shed next to a window. These will be chitting for a few weeks prior to planting.
And my first Broad Beans 'Aquadulce' are up! Let the season begin!

What a Bargain!

Before you fork out a fortune buying this years' seeds from the usual catalogues, go down to your local branch of Wilkinsons. Their garden and seed department is fantastic value. Today I bought Broad Bean Aquadulce and Pea Hurst Green Shaft for just 98p.

Things I Wouldn't Grow Again

I love to experiment with new varieties of veggies every year. It is so important to try new things, but sometimes it doesn't turn out as well as you expected. These Bulgarian Giant Leeks were fun to grow, they really were giants, but they tasted of absolutely nothing! That's what counts in my book so I won't be growing them again.
I thought these early, cold tolerant tomatoes Sub Arctic Plenty would give me an early crop. They didn't grow well for me at all. Not even a decent crop later on. They might do well for you, but didn't live up to their promise for me.
I thought Asparagus Peas sounded interesting. Supposed to taste like asparagus. Well, you have to pick them when they are very small otherwise they get tough and stringy. There just weren't enough to bother with! They were not prolific and the winged pods had no real taste at all. The flowers were beautiful though! (but Matron doesn't do flowers!)
I thought that growing Yard Long Beans would be fun too. Sold in Asian grocers shops here in the UK these are a tropical climbing bean that are supposed to grow in the UK. Well they didn't for me. I tried several times in several ways with lots of heat and sunshine, but they didn't even get off the ground. Don't think the UK climate is appropriate for these.
It is fascinating and wonderful for me to try new things on the allotment, but it is a case of trial and error! What might not grow for me on my London clay, might do better somewhere else.

New Year Plans!

Happy New Year bloggers!
The seed catalogues have started dropping on to the front door mat already! Matron has been thumbing through the pages and making plans for the New Year. My favourite company Thompson and Morgan have a really extensive vegetable seed range, and I just couldn't resist a very, very special opportunity. In 2010 the Paton twins from Hampshire grew an enormous pumpkin of 1504 pounds and broke the British record! Well, seeds are available (at some expense!) and Matron has decided to grow a giant pumpkin this year. I'm going to start piling up the horse manure in an attempt to beat my pathetic effort with this Dill's Atlantic Giant a few years ago. Here goes!