Veg Plotting 's Blooms Day would be incomplete without the occasional foray into Grow Your Own flowers, so I'm pleased to bring you my 'Just Add Cream' strawberry plants for this month's floral focus. This is a relatively new variety from Thompson & Morgan 's own breeding programme, who also provided me with a few plants to try in 2017. Naturally I've given them a tough time by forgetting them entirely deliberately growing them on in the smallest of trays for a year before I finally planted them out. I'm pleased to say they've passed this test with flying colours. I'm growing these at home instead of on the allotment where VP Gardens demands food plants look attractive as well as being productive. Apparently pink flowered strawberries have proved rather bland and unproductive in the past, but this variety is bucking those particular trends. It's an everbearer strawberry which means the crop is spread over many months in the su
Your essential reads
I've decided one of my salad challenges for this year is to grow as many lettuce varieties as I can, ready for the publication of my planned Factsheet* later on. The idea is to grow as many of the Tried and Trusted lettuce varieties last year's Salad Challengers helped compile, then provide a visual guide and as many lettuce facts as I can muster. So far I've found around half of those listed**. Then naturally whilst I was out searching - because such is the way with seeds - a number of other varieties found their way home too ;) A couple of weeks ago I sowed 22 varieties***. Just the simple act of sowing them has me intrigued. Why are some lettuce seeds black and others white****? They split into about half white to half black in my sample and as far as I can tell it's nothing to do with whether they're a type of cos, iceberg, or whatever. I sowed them indoors and popped them into a propagator on the windowsill. The soil's too cold outside for sowing
Last year this rather exotic looking flower appeared on mine and several other allotments for the first time. Having been stumped (again) by Mr Allotment Warden as to its identity, I rushed home to find out what it was. It's salsify, aka the marvellous Jack Go To Bed At Noon - named as such because its flowers always close by midday. Here you can see both open and closed flowers - making it seem even more exotic and alien than in the first picture. I think this must be the cultivated version because the flower in my Francis Rose Wild Flower Key looks exactly the same in form, but is bright yellow in colour and called meadow salsify . Its other common name is Goatsbeard, which must be a nod to the fantastic dandelion-like clock which forms the seed head. With 'parachutes' like those shown above, who knows how far our plotted plants came from. I rather like the photographic dissection of the seedhead found in this link . Salsify is edible: its lateral shoots and fl
I returned to one of my regular walks last week and found a delightful surprise along the way. It took me most of Lockdown 1.0 to find Westmead's owl shown above as I usually walk on the lower paths from town instead of those by the car park at the top. I now marvel it took me so long because once you know where it is, you can't miss it! It's been joined recently by lots of other wildlife sculptures to form a trail through the newly planted woodland nearby. Luckily this time I've found them just as they're being installed. The robin was the first one which caught my eye as it's easily seen from the Avon Walkway nearby. I simply had to investigate and find them all, as were a family of four whose children were excitedly running to each new discovery as they found it. Not all of them are installed yet, so this is something to return to another time so I can snap all eleven. There'll be benches installed for us to rest and ponder the view and perhaps stay a wh
Since 2012 the BSBI (the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland) has conducted its New Year Plant Hunt . Wildflower lovers from all over the UK walk round their local patch over the first few days for a few hours at the start of January and record what they see fully in bloom. Overall (and surprisingly), over 500-600 different species may be found depending on the survey year, with around 40 not uncommon on an individual walk. The top 5 finds last year were the dandelion and daisy, plus groundsel, annual meadow-grass, and common chickweed. The counts each year may vary, but the collection of survey information over a number of years helps identify any trends. The project aims to find out how our wildflowers are responding to changes in autumn and winter weather patterns, and over the few years it's been going, changes have been seen already.The use of volunteers as 'citizen scientists', means a much wider area can be covered and in greater numbers than our scientists
You can imagine how thrilled I was to see a the above tweet and top tip from no-dig and vegetable growing guru Charles Dowding in my timeline :) I was even more thrilled to visit him at Lower Farm last month and see where he produces salads leaves for sale year-round and also teaches his day courses. Charles was just finishing off a couple of things when I arrived, so I took the opportunity to have a good look around (with his very friendly cat, Catmint as my guide) and take some photos in the late afternoon sunshine. It was the first day this year when the promise of spring could at last be felt in the air. I then joined Charles who still busily working away. At first we enthused about our favourite apple varieties (with many in common) and the recent news that soil could be beneficial to health before settling down comfortably for a walk around the farm and for a more detailed look at the subject of salads. How long have you been growing here and how much space do you have?
Firstly, thank you for reading Veg Plotting ! It's good to know you like the blog enough to subscribe. This month the service I use for emails and RSS feeds - Feedburner - is withdrawing the email facility, so I'm in the process of finding an alternative supplier and working through the (invisible to you) technical changes I need to do to keep everything working. Rest assured that the RSS feed - used to supply blog readers such as Feedly - remains unchanged. It's highly likely that the next email you receive will look different and from an email address which may arrive in your spam folder. It will also ask you to resubscribe to the email service. I'll blog again with more information and screenshots once I've worked everything out. In the meantime, comments are open below should you have any questions. Have a great weekend and I hope there's sunshine and good gardening wherever you are in the world.
In the second year on my allotment, I sowed a freebie packet of mixed nasturtium seeds to draw nasties like blackfly away from my crops. Their cheerful orange and yellow blooms were a most decorative addition, even though they declined to climb up the arch provided but decided to sprawl over my beds instead. And yes, blackfly were drawn to them like a magnet. Since then, I've had tons of nasturtiums blooming away at the bottom of my plot every year. I've tried in vain to keep them under control, but to no avail - even last year's 'Chelsea chop' experiment only dented them for a little while. I don't really mind their presence, after all they are attractive and I've even managed to persuade NAH the leaves and flowers are a great addition to our salads. As he doesn't take too kindly to vegetables at all, I'm surprised he's cheerfully eating flowers, but then their peppery flavour is very similar to the watercress he loves. I've been aware
I bought this Camassia leichtlinii 'Sacajawea' five years ago at the Malvern Spring Show. How do I know that? It's because so far, the number of blooms I've had each year has followed the Fibonacci sequence i.e. 0 (when I didn't have it), 1 in year 1 when I bought it, then 1 in year 2, 2 in year 3, 3 in year 4, and as you can see 5 blooms this year. So what should I get in year 6? The answer is 8 (i.e. 3+5 from the 2 previous years), so we shall see... I've often seen the more common blue Camassias in lots of gardens I've visited in late spring, and very fine they are too...but plumped instead for its white cousin with variegated leaves for the top terrace bed here at VP Gardens . It's fully repaid my decision despite the slow increase in blooms as the leaves lengthen the season of interest and the rocket-like flowers really light up this part of the garden towards dusk. The garden's flowering much later this year, owing to one of the coolest and