August Allotment 2016

Mid August and the Allotment is in a transition period, from the dull wet summer conditions to whatever Autumn has in store. The warm and moist weather has been a perfect breeding ground for diseases and we lost all of our outdoor tomatoes to blight, across the allotment. The potato plants started to show signs of blight too, so we cut the plant of and let the potatoes stay in the ground until we either harvest them or need the space.

 

We harvested our red cabbages this month “August” “Red Drumhead” a variety that we purchased from SeedParade. They were great tasting and and had nice big heavy heads, defiantly a variety I will be trying again. We are also starting to harvest some of the produce from the greenhouse. Our sweet peppers “Sweet Romano” are now at the perfect length for sloshing with some olive oil and throwing on a hot grill.

It seems that all of our peas and beans have come good at once. We tried many different variety of varied architecture and colours all producing good and tasty yields.

These purple beans are, while not only visually striking are a firm favourite in my kitchen. We have grown both Dwarf Bush Bean Purple Teepee from Thompson and Morgan, and a Purple Climbing Bean also fromTthompson and Morgan. While the dwarf plants have produced a vastly superior yield the climbing beans when mixed with other colours of climbing bean create a beautiful structure. We have also been consistently harvesting our mangetout “Pea Kennedy” and our podded peas “Pea Ambassador” which have both been problem free and heavy yielding and both produce a pleasing white flower. Freezing individual portions of peas, helps to provide fresh tasty veg in times when its not available in the garden.

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead to autumn, we decided to lift all the potatoes and replenish the ground with manure and nutrients (fish blood and bone and chicken manure pellets) and allow the worms to work their magic, while our autumn veg seedlings are growing strong roots. Brassicas are hardy vegetables and can handle the ever changing Autumn weather conditions, but its important to give them a strong head start. When planting brassics seedlings its well known the importance of firming the plants into the ground, Firm them in then do it 5 times more. We always put a collar around our brassicas to help deter root fly. This autumn we are growing, curly kale “westland Autumn”, cauliflowers, black kale “Nero de tosca”, Radicchio”Palla rossa Precoce,” swede “Gowrie,” Swede “Best of All,”

Turnip “Purple Top Milan”. Our broad beans took a battering in a wind storm last week so I think once I let what is left of the crop when the beans reach a good size I will lift the crop, and then haunt the gardening stores for something to fill the gap.

We received a warning letter for non cultivation of our plot from the council this month, this gave us a good laugh after the initial shock. Were pretty sure they have made a mistake for an over grown neighbouring plot as I think were way ahead of where we had planned to be at this time.

Kohlrabi & Kohlrabi coleslaw recipe

Kohlrabi.

What is kohlrabi ?

Kohlrabi is a member of the brassica family, and is also known as the German cabbage or the turnip cabbage. They are an annual vegetable, and are edible cooked or raw. Kohlrabi boasts many health benefits and is a rich source of vitamin C.

This year was my first year of growing Kohlrabi, in fact I hadnt even tasted it before, but last year one half of Growblogs was blessed with a beautiful baby girl called Olivia, and the other half became a proud uncle. While strolling through Mr. Fothergill’s fantastic seed catalog I noticed the Kohl Rabi Olivia F1 and knew we had to give it a go. So far this year it has definitely been our first success story, so much in fact I already have another batch started in a different bed.

 

 

Kohlrabi Seedlings
Kohlrabi Seedlings

We started off our kohlrabi seedlings indoor on a sunny ledge in a mini indoor greenhouse. The seeds were sown two at at time into individual sets, with the weaker of the two being pricked out, usually anywhere between 1 and 3 weeks after sowing, depending on conditions. When the seedlings have established a good strong root system, and making sure that if they were started off growing indoors, that they are properly hardened off and aclimatised to their future outdoor final positions.

 

It’s possible for them to be started, between February and Mar indoors and May and July outdoors. If planting directly into the ground outdoors, sow roughly 1/2” deep in rows, and when fully established, should be thinned out to roughly 6” to 8” between plants to allow for mature growth.

Like most members of the cabbage family, kohlrabi are susceptible to cabbage root fly attacking the base of the young plants. This is why we provide each of the individual plants with plastic collars and their very own pet stone, for company.

 

Kohlrabi
Kohlrabi Juvenile plants

 

Olivia F1 is a fast growing, disease resistant beautiful looking plant, and has a sweet flavor and crispy flesh. Making it the perfect accompaniment to any BBQ in the form of my extra awesome Kohlrabi coleslaw.

So here goes it folks my first recipe. Im no food writer, in fact im no any writer and I think thats pretty obvious, but whilst I may not know my way around Microsoft word, one place I certainley feel at home is in the kitchen.

Food processors are coleslaw fans best friends, making a tedious task, done in seconds allowing more time to get the combos of amounts and seasonings correct, it is possible to prepare the veg with a good sharp knife or a mandolin but who is going to risk their pinky tips when the whizzer (food processor) will do it better and quicker… so heres what you need

  • 1 kohlrabi (skinned)
  • 1 large or 2 medium carrots
  • 1 red onion
  • ½ cabbage either white or red (the red makes it look dead fancy)
  • cider vinegar
  • mayonnaise
  • ½ an orange
  • wholegrain musdtard
  • salt and pepper to season to taste

Remove stalks and skin of the onion,kohlrabi and cabbage,peel the carrots and plug in the food processor. Slice the kohlrabi and cabbage and grate the onion and carrots to provide different textures. Once everything is cut, put into a big bowl and give it a good mix up and add enough mayonnaise and mustard to provide a generous but not over powering amount. Mix in 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar and the juice of half an orange. Add salt and pepper to taste.. et voila.

Kohlrabi Coleslaw
Kohlrabi Coleslaw

So simply and so delicious and when your getting quizzed on the ingredients it gives you a great excuse to get your phone out and show off photos of your own Kohlrabi patch.

If you have any great kohlrabi recipes please drop us a message as we would love to make the most of this great vegetable.

Alliums, Garlic, Onions and Shallotts – How to Grow

Alliums Garlic, Onions, Shallots

While the rest of the UK enjoys varied wintry conditions from the heavy snowfall up North to the bitterly freezing mornings that my sister in London likes nothing more than to complain about, we here in Belfast are practically having a heat wave. Tomorrow, 22nd January its predicted a high of 13° and were only 1 week off from being smack bang in the middle of winter. This is worrying for the months ahead. You may have read our post about taking a risk with the weather and started our broad beans early and we were going to compare them compared to the ones we are going to sow in the Spring. Well that’s not going to be happening now, and its all due to the weather, but maybe not in the way you or I thought it might have panned out. I went to refill the bird feeders at the plot yesterday after work and noticed that the broad beans had been destroyed. The plants had essentially been topped and tailed and the roots had been dug up and eaten. Look at the size of the wholes that the culprit dug.

Alliums, Garlic, Onions and Shallots
Prepared Bed

 

 

My guess is that it was a squirrel, we asked our followers on twitter and some of their suggestions came back pheasant, pigeons or even moles. Well I can thankfully say we haven’t got any moles in Ireland. I think St Patrick got rid of them all or was that the snakes? Maybe the snakes ate all the moles and then Paddy gave them all the boot. While Grey Squirrels don’t actually hibernate, during cold spells they are much less active often sleeping for long periods of time to preserve energy at times when food is scarce. The weather has been that mild that im sure who ever did eat the beans were glad of the feed and for that I cant begrudge them. Also I should have used protection over the bed the beans were placed in, its a steep learning curve.

Havnt spent the past few weekends working ive been missing the plot terribly, so much to do and prepare and before you know it the Spring will be here. I was able to get up briefly for an hour last weekend and turnover the bed I plan to put my Alliums Garlic, Onions, Shallots in and to dig in some well rotted manure. I plan to plant my bulbs in around 2 – 3 weeks when the manure has worked its magic. In the mean time ive started the garlic in sets as I like to get some roots established on them before I place them in the ground. Last year the garlic was attacked by black birds who kept pulling up the bulbs then not eating anything. Garlic and onions are strong tasting vegetables and I learnt this week that it can be a good idea to leave them out of your compost heap, as essentially its going to be broken down by being eaten by worms and worms don’t like the strong taste of these alliums.

Varietys of Alliums Garlic, Onions, Shallots that we are Growing This Year.

Garlic – Were only growing the one variety of Garlic this year same as last, Casablanca. Garlic loves to be grown in a sunny position with good drainage. Damp bulbs can often be prone to rot. Garlic is sold in bulbs, do not grow garlic that you buy from a supermarket as it wont be treated for resistance to disease. Simply break up the garlic into separate cloves, there is no need to remove the skin like when preparing it for cooking. The clove needs to be in the soil with the tips facing upwards and just showing above the surface. Then its important to firm around the soil around the clove and water well. A covering of chicken wire to deter birds from pulling the bulbs is a good idea. Garlic is a hardy plant and if well watered and not competing with weeds will often do well and produce bountiful and tasty crops.Garlic Bulbs2016-01-21 19.00.57

Onions – We’ve decided to grow the same white and red onions as last year as we had such a successful crop and the taste was delicious. Our whites are Stuttgarter and our reds are Red Pearl F1. Onions are probably the most commonly used vegetable used in my kitchen, in fact I dont know many recipes that dont start with chopping an onion. (Everyone should learn the proper easy way to chop an onion,quick, easy and efficient and leave the tears dripping down ur face, oh and a good sharp knife). The ground is prepared the same as the garlic in fact they will be sharing a bed. They are also planted similarly with just the tips of the bulb showing and being firmely bedded in and well watered.

Shallots – We didn’t grow shallots last year so we picked the variety’s were growing this year from the advice of other bloggers based on their success. The white shallots are Jermor and were going to be growing a red shallot variety Red Sun. Which are planted and treated the same as garlic and onions.

Something to remember onions are prone to onion fly and a good deterrent to this when the weather heats up a bit is mint. Goes great with some summer bbq lamb and also a great excuse to have a mojito or 4. Ummm mojitos.

onion box

Alliums, Garlic, Onions and Shallots
Onion Haul