Allotments/Gardens and so forth

noddy

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#1
We could do with a thread about cultivating, I thought.

When in London, I had a little garden back and front and a small allotment. I had a job as chair of the cttee and as the compost heap carer. Carer being the right word, because by the time I got to them the heaps had turned into dumps mainly for orange netting, bin bags, gravel and plastic pots, also hugely overrun with bindweed. Completely inactive. The stalls themselves were great though. Railway sleepers upended and buried in the ground with a corrugated iron roof. So I dug them out and riddled what useable compost there was, produced a mountain of plastic rubbish and a pretty big heap of stones which ranged in size from hardcore and big flints to pebble dash. Most of that went into a pile for people to use for paths. There is always a lot of house renovartion going on there, and several skip raids quickly produced enough timber to make slatted walls for the compost heaps – which, once rebuilt, took off and started cooking away happily – and a large supply of edging for beds.

Over the past decade, I have lived in different spots, sometimes with gardens, sometimes just balconies, other times just windowsills and whatever bits of otherwise unused public space I can find. It is funny how people will generally leave a tomato plant alone, no matter where you grow it. (Though there is no controlling a municipal operative with a strimmer) Here, now, we have a garden back and front. both of which were made over by previous occupants to more or less look after themselves. Low maintenance, lots of paving, but we have managed to get the front going well ... lots of herbs and squashes, beets, carrots, aubergines, that sort of thing. The back, we tried with some nasturtiums and geraniums ( I love growing geraniums) expecting the dog to dig everything up. Which, of course, she did to a certain extent, but mainly it is the squirrels and racoons (trash pandas) that do the random vandalism ... and, quickly overcoming their cuteness, I learned hate them same as everyone else

Sad thing s that winter here means nothing grows. Usually, I have been able to keep something going outdoors, even just for salad, but here, no way.
 

MaC

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#3
Don't discount double glazed windows either. Even my north facing kitchen windowsill grows orchids....and herbs :D
Right now we have a turmeric plant growing...no idea what we're going to do with that in Winter though, it's already two foot high :roll:

M
 

noddy

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#5
In lots of places here, it is illegal to grow food in the front garden. Never fails to surprise me when I remember that. Some throwback to the post war years, I guess, when middle class types didn't want to see any evidence of want in their new suburban environs. My gran used to have veg in the front garden ... just enough to make her look conscientious, but not enough to make her look like she needed it. The back garden was a little farm though :lol:
 

MaC

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#6
I'm inclined to the kind of gardening that if the situation is right and the plant looks good and happy there, then in it goes.
I happily grow herbs in my rose bed, and potatoes in big sacks along the gable wall. Lemon balm and evenign primroses trip the unwary at the front door, and the chives grow up through the fuchsias.
St John's wort and Lady's Mantle are weeds, and foxgloves grow up through the raspberries. The lady's bedstraw tangles it's way through the quince and the honeysuckle grows up the Rowan tree.
I have a little Scottish jungle :D It's amazing how much you can grow to eat in a small garden.

M
 

Nice65

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#7
Grow a chilli plant. That should survive on a decent window sill.
I’m hoping mine will, we’re recently double glazed and I planted late. I’m nipping off new flower buds to divert them to building the fruits already growing. I’ve got about 15 plants, Scotch Bonnets, Jalapenõ, Cayenne.
 

Andylaser

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#8
What would you recommend for a good cayenne with a slightly smoky flavour?
Not excessively hot, as the missus doesn't do heat very well. Had some really good Thai cayenne's a couple of years ago, but ate all of them and didnt think to plant the seeds.
 
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#9
Apart from my allotment (had two but let one go this last year), I grew chillies in the back garden in grow bags and against the garden shed which faces south. I don't bother with super hot chillies any more, but in Spain fell for Padron peppers, which cooked in olive oil with salt and garlic are pretty close to divine and have just cropped and frozen three carrier bags full. I also grew Hungarian Hot Wax and bog standard jalopeno that I'll dry and pickle respectively, although they are in the freezer just for now until I get around to dealing with them.

The allotment is pretty barren just now bar some carrots, leeks, chard and cabbages, but is going to get a bit of an overhaul early in the spring and I'll get some decent pics up then. :)
 

Nice65

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#10
What would you recommend for a good cayenne with a slightly smoky flavour?
Not excessively hot, as the missus doesn't do heat very well. Had some really good Thai cayenne's a couple of years ago, but ate all of them and didnt think to plant the seeds.
Ready to use...La Chinata smoked paprika. The hot is very hot. Sweet is available too, lovely in Hungarian goulash, ham soups etc.

https://www.sainsburys.co.uk/webapp...roceries/la-chinata-smoked-paprika-powder-70g
 
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#12
Anyone tried a no dig garden? Working in Ag no till is becoming the obvious way forward for soil health and efficiency and the same ethos seems to be the basis for no dig gardening - I know some old school-era think its just lazy though..

Anyone tried it?
 
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#13
Anyone tried a no dig garden? Working in Ag no till is becoming the obvious way forward for soil health and efficiency and the same ethos seems to be the basis for no dig gardening - I know some old school-era think its just lazy though..

Anyone tried it?
I quite fancy raised beds for food crops, but I've not tried it yet.
 

bushwacker

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#14
Anyone tried a no dig garden? Working in Ag no till is becoming the obvious way forward for soil health and efficiency and the same ethos seems to be the basis for no dig gardening - I know some old school-era think its just lazy though..

Anyone tried it?
Na, too lazy to try it. I doubt if root veg like it.
 
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#15
We had a couple on our allotments who gave us all the lectures on no dig and permaculture. They managed to produce half a bag of blackcurrants, a carrier bag of small onions and a few strawberries in an old sink. The rest of their plot was just left to become overgrown with weeds. After noticing they’d gone home one evening and left their shed open, my friend’s wife went to secure it only to find them three parts unconscious. They were fuck all use with no dig and permaculture, but it would appear they were shit hot at home hydroponics. After we got the council to give them the boot, I discovered they were selling all sorts of fresh veg to some friends of friends where they lived. The bastards had been nicking our veg and flogging it all the time.

A friend of mine goes on at length about raised beds, or rather “dirt boxes” as he calls them. His argument is that the best raised beds going were the old allotment sites in London and Brum where the earth stands a foot above the paths separating the plots after years of adding organic matter. He also argues that people using authentic raised beds didn’t box them in, but had proper free standing raised beds and grew produce on the sides, thus utilising all available area and not losing out because of the paths between the beds.

On our allotments, the sight of someone new constructing boxes and filling them with compost to avoid digging produces a collective “oh fuck, here we go” in the sure and certain knowledge that they will be gone within the year and will be leaving their plot a jungle for someone else to take on. I can however see the attraction of soil boxes in a garden and for folks (like me in a year or two!) who find it hard to bend because of knackered joints.

The communal philosophy where we are is that with the exception of a bit containing the winter stuff and fruit bushes, everything gets dug over before the winter sets in and again in the spring after the weather and hopefully some frost has done its job. The old boys contending that if it worked for their parents during the war it will suffice for them.
 

MaC

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#16
"His argument is that the best raised beds going were the old allotment sites in London and Brum where the earth stands a foot above the paths separating the plot after years of adding organic matter. He also argues that people using authentic raised beds didn’t box them in, but had proper free standing raised beds and grew produce on the sides, thus utilising all available area and not losing out because of the paths between the beds."

Yes.
Add organics, don't throw them away. Compost them and add it to the surface, with some of the worms that worked it in the compost heaps....and my beds have risen slowly, year on year, while the 'flower beds' that edge my neighbours gardens are now at least six inches below path level.
The soil we have 'made' is rich and dark and easily opened to plant. The basic soil is heavy blue clay. Makes great bricks and tiles :rolleyes: but cracks and dries out in Summer and is a swampy mess in Winter.

I think no-dig gardening is not long productive, except for weed cultivation (think long tap roots and vigorous straggling runners), while the true add in organic kind is richly productive, year on year on year.

I'm (well, I was) an archaeologist. We can see where the soil was worked, where it was productive, where it was left fallow, where it was allowed to go to weed, and peat, where it was worked again, and made fertile and productive. It's all there in the layers of the past.
The earliest settlements are tel like structures, where people lived and died and built and built upon, but accompanying those are field upon field upon field of worked land. They didn't waste the weeds, they dug them under to die and provide for the crops they chose to grow.

Modern deep mechanised ploughing though, if done without care, can leave soil vulnerable to being blown away (the American dustbowl, the Sahara's overgrazed lands, etc.,) in the wrong climate. I think some not-as-clever-as-they-thought person ran with that extreme and decided that not to dig was a better way entirely.

Site dependant of course, and if you're happy to smother the land with filthy old carpets and layers of plastic rather than let it breathe.
I don't dig much these days, I don't need to, I can get a fork into the soil in the beds with ease, and the weeds are either food or compost.
Richest natural land is / was, we've built on an awful lot of it) the loess soils of the rivers, and the woodland edges where the boars dug through the soil eating the pests and fertilising as they went :)

M
 

MaC

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#19
I gave up on Summer raspberries a few years ago. Just too much bother, and they come ripe when the garden is already a glut of rhubarb, grossets, blackcurrants and strawberries.
However, the Autumn raspberries are a perennial delight :D
Cut them down after the leaves fall, no stems to fret over and have to tie in over Winter, and by the time Summer is cooling down, they'll be in full leaf and fruit again.

I have twenty canes that ramble around a bed, I don't even tie them in, and I've been collecting fruit daily since August. Half a pound yesterday evening, made a good cranachan for three of us with toasted rolled oat, flakes almonds and cream :)
I collect the fruits and freeze them until there's enough for jam or jelly or syrup. Vinegar too is rich and full of taste.

The fruit ripens slowly berry by berry and they're well hidden under the leaves.
I have never found a worm in the Autumn fruiting rasps either. It's too late in the season for most of the pests.

I don't gather pounds of fruits at a time from the canes, but it averages out at a pound a week from August to Hallowe'en, and then as the light drops I only get maybe six ounces a week from them until just after the longest night. Then the leaves fall off and the plants go dormant again.....usually, and not all at once, they just sort of decline and go to sleep, but I've often still had small handfuls of fruits well into the new year. If the weather is sunny at all then they'll go on for longer, and will still produce full ripe raspberries in really cold weather.

Hardy enough to survive my shady, cold and damp Scottish garden, highly recommended and very definitely a good thing :)
 

noddy

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#20
A couple of days ago we went ot see an olf family friend, she's in her 80s now. When we got there we found her on her knees pulling up old Dill plants. I hope my joints will still be up for it then.

Aayway .. when we got back I started putting our patch to bed before the freeze. What did really well this year was the basil. Great big, 3' woody plants at this time. Not had quite such good results as this before. Our daughter made various batches of pesto experimenting with rocket and walnuts in the mix too.

Usually I buy pot of basil from the supermarket ... try and find a wilted one on sale in the food hall ... take it home and wash the soil off th eroots then replant directly into well-prepped fine soil in the garden. And off they go
 
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