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Back on track

My back is a wee bit better nowadays and the allotment is starting to look like it's not just weeds
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Peat pellets for the win


Peat pellets may not be the most environmental choice as they can't be recycled and they're made out of peat but so far they have never failed me. Also makes it easier for the kid to join in, sow and replant. She can even drop them to the floor and the net will keep the roots intact! I love these.
If you're in luck (which I hope I will be in no time) there's organic peat pellets to be found in your area.
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What's a Turkisk jätte?

Cutting
This year as I cut down my giant geranium (a no-name, referred to as Turkish giant) which was standing as tall as I am, I decided to try and use every part as a cutting. Even the long stems that had no leaves, climbing the trellis.
Having lost a good 90% of my geraniums last year as I wasn't able to move them indoors when frost came, the ones that are left, are even more precious to me.

And look, what shouldn't work did! 2 leaves have sprouted and a 3rd cutie is on it's way! Now I just need to get more cuttings from other geraniums to feel complete again.
Pure Geranium bliss.
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Red Giant - a good trustworthy friend

Look what's already having a peek at the weather! It's ol' trustworthy Mustard Red Giant. It grows incredibly fast no matter what and no matter where. Over here (Sweden) you're not supposed to have them this early in the season as they have a tendency to bolt, but as long as you keep on picking, there's nothing to be concerned with. I usually re-sow every other month starting February and keep on going 'til October.
I really love my asian greens and all the varieties - Mizuna, Red giant, Pak choi, Osaka Purple etc. Eay to grow and a good way to kickstart the season.
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Never mind the absence


My allotment was neglected last year. Not because I got bored but because my back finally gave in. It was suspected and now, a year and a back surgery later I'm at it again. I will have to stick to a No-dig approach as there might just be a 2nd surgery around the corner, so it's definitely going to be a challenge.

Everything I had on the balcony as well as on the allotment that couldn't handle frost or snow (ie big collection of geraniums and peppers) are dead and gone as I couldn't get them indoors. A lot of herbs are also gone, but they seems to be a lot easier to replace.

So far I've bought a few seeds, put some chilis (tequila sunrise and jamaican bell) and tomatoes (san marzano and black krim) into compost. Above, cuttings from geraniums (Old spice and an unknown mini) has been re-planted. More to come, I home.
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a tomatillo-question



Why are the husks on some tomatillos green and on others purple? Supposedly all are the same variety but some bushes have green husks while a few have purple, almost black, like the one above.
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A lot of photos. Not very artistic but all very ...green.

It's been hot days and wet nights lately so everything that seemed to be at a standstill is now working together making my plot a jungle. Even things I considered a waste of space, like the sunflowers and the babycorn, are growing rapidly.

However, and you know there's always one of those, nothing's turning color! Tomatoes, peppers and chilis, they're all green still. I remember having lots of (red) tomatoes by the end of july last year. Or don't I?!
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A good reason why one should document what one sows where and when : I couldn't figure out why my Totems were looking so odd. Then I realized it's because they're not Totems but San Marzano Nano!
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Grow your own magazine



Last year I fell in love with Grow your own-magazine. Allotments, organic growing and all about things that are edible = perfect.
Howvere, this summer, our newspaper agent hasn't gotten their GYO deliveries. The last issue on the stand was May (ie, out in April) which means I missed this season's issues. This bugs me more than I would wish for anybody to know, but yes, I miss my GYO!

However, subscribing, is it worth it? All those freebies and offers aren't available to customers overseas (I'm in Sweden) and a lot of that magazine is promotional stuff. Plus, the postage will probably be horrendous...?!

I know, buying a magazine on how to grow your own vegetables so that you don't have to buy vegetables or books about it the process, that doesn't make sense. Unless it's GYO. Then it does, believe me. That being said, I think I need to hunt down a few old issues on Ebay)


(GYO-image courtesy of Garden4Less)
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(potatoes, tomatos, herbs and geraniums)

(geraniums and some sorry-looking marigolds)

(strawberries, runnerbeans and some more geraniums)

Even though the allotment is all chewed up by bugs and other pests, the balcony is doing better than ever. I guess that urban container-gardening is definitely something for the organic grower (to consider).
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What the pests haven't destroyed is what I am bringing home...

(Pests as in voles, slugs and flea beetles)
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the missing color

Why won't my Jamaican Bell pepper become red?
And, while we're at it, what's with the tomatoes being green still?

I am tempted going Revlon.
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My cucumber seems to enjoy being window display. So much that I think bringing it out into the wet cold that is the summer of 2009 will kill it.
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I have had the allotment for a year now and a lot has been done even though I sometimes feel like I am at a standstill. That or thinking that maybe I should have planned better. I didn't do that and I still don't. Most have evolved from a series of spur of the moment and me running out of space and/or time. One thing leads to another and suddenly there's a Lemon Rose geranium next to the tomatoes! Another odd combo is mizuna and strawberries. And how about tomatillos and alpine strawberries? Pak choi and raspberries?

I guess that before the season's over, I'll have freaked out my lot-neighbours with even more prizewinning combinations..

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More friends at the lot.
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It was so big I didn't even spot it (at first). Figured it was a growth of some kind.

I have named him He Who Eats.

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Sun during the day, horror at night. Needlessly to say, I don't need to water the plants
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Not just nice, but great weather. Everything is growing, even the lavender that has so far mostly looked like last years Christmastree.
My only worry is that I am running out of space. Cucumbers, aubergines, squash and tomatillos are still waiting for raised beds. Then there's the tomatoes...
I guess I got a little carried away with the seeds.
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hey little flower!


I can't help but let some herbs and vegetables bolt, aka go to seed, just to see what they're supposed to look like if we weren't interfering.
The result isn't always that amazing but for instance, after having seen a rhubarb-flower, you'll never take that plant for granted. The flower is worth more (in my opinion) than the flavor!

Another "bolter" that's taken me by surprise is my basil. Not just because I didn't even know it was about to bolt, but when it did, I had to look twice to see the flowers. They are so small chances are you won't see them, but when you do, you can't stop staring.
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pigeons heart wind chimes?

Another question that's been on my mind lately is if a wind chime would keep the pigeons at bay? Would it also work on rabbits if I placed it lower?
I've heard that unfortunately wind chimes also tend to keep all birds at bay and that would be pretty counterproductive. I want some animals to if not stay away, at least not thrive on my allotment.

Then there's the fact that most wind chimes are annoying and rather ugly. Maybe if I made something myself, even if fugly, I would feel better about it? Making something new using recycled items would make me feel good, that much I know.


Edit: Now this is a wind chime I wouldn't mind!
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Edibles as well as geraniums


Mizuna and geranium. Pak choi and geranium.
Another pot, not pictured, has strawberries and mizuna.
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Fennel, natural pesticide?

I've heard of fennel being used as a natural pesticide in organic gardening. Not just by attracting beneficial insects but that it's scent keeps the pests at bay.

I bought one yesterday as I remembered having heard that, but now a Google doesn't give me any answers.
Is it a myth then?
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The fence is falling apart and I can't afford a new one but so far, the weed's been holding it up. I guess I should be glad that the weed's a solid green wall, right?!
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ah nature, who needs it?!

Saturday, I was resurrecting old plants. Resurrecting, recycling or replanting, you know what I mean.
One area of our joint allotment garden is to be leveled and as it's an old compost now flooded with wild oregano, mint and lemon balm, there was plants a plenty that needed new homes.
When I brought a basket filled with oregano-plants to my plot, I was asked why I wanted all of that nonsense on my plot. I replied (somewhat hippie'ish) that I wanted to invite nature to my plot, I wanted birds, frogs and all that. My idea was to make sure the butterflies feel at home and that their arrival would ensure that the rest of the gang would come.

My neighbor looked horrified and said that didn't I know that the Cabbage white was a butterfly, so why would I want any butterflies on my plot?


(My neighbor is an old farmer that consider all insects pests.)
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My new precious

What would this be called in english? This is southernwood, isn't it?
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cut some cuttings

I have become slightly obsessed with taking cuttings.
It's not about being cheap (even though I am) but about not buying everything. Taking a stand against consumerism. Granted, I do buy some plants and I certainly buy more seed than I can sow, but the idea is to grow my own so that I can grow my own.
Growing my own as well as recycling. Why not take a cutting of an old geranium found in the trash instead of buying a new one? Why not save the sideshots of the tomato and plant those instead of buying more plants?
rescue-victim
In my case it started with geraniums and then I moved on to black currants and lavender. I've also tried potatoes as well as potatoes. They're both coming along fine but if there will be anything to eat, only time will tell.

Now I'm interested in propagating southernwood. That should be one of the easier ones, right?
What else is there? Preferably something tricky! I hear roses are tricky but roses aren't my thing really. But then again, I once said geraniums weren't either...
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the rabbit, what a cute beast!

Since my last post, all the strawberry-runners that I re-planted are gone. Eaten by killer-rabbits.
First thing I did this morning was to put plastic soda bottles over remaining plants. Cheap cloches, very cheap.
What else can be done? Netting is a no go because I want Iggy to be able to roam around. So, what's left? A scarecrow that looks like a fox?

What I have learned so far is that
A) Rabbits may be cute but they eat like (miniature) horses.
B) We don't drink enough soda for me to be able to keep ahead of the rabbits.
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my watch-cow is useless

The dog ate my homework!
No, scratch that, the rabbits ate my malva, my sugar snaps, my pak choi, my loveage and my strawberries!
I know my allotment is just for fun and I will not starve if there's nothing left for me to bring home to the table, but goddamnit, couldn't they leave us anything?
What rabbits eat strawberry-plants?
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The good and the bad

Finally got around to cleaning up the balcony and as always, one side looks neat and the other's a mishmash of seedlings, containers and other material. If you want to grow stuff on your balcony (as opposed to just having things on display), I guess you will have to come to terms with that your balcony will never look like those in the magazines.
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ordning & reda

There's 24 plants waiting on the windowsill that I have no idea what they are or when they were sown. I know it's a bunch of herbs, different varieties of tomatoes and some beans, but I don't know which are what.
See, I made a list with a map included. Everything was listed. Everything was neat and in order.
Then that list was nowhere to be found...because Iggy figured it was paper that needed to be recycled. She's a good kid, she recycles. Bills, papers and important lists.

This might be the reason why a Folia-account seems like something that might be just what I need. Only problem is that I can't list my seedlings because I have no idea about nothing. Not when, not where. I guess this will be a fresh start and something my girl can't recycle.

I'm tracking my garden:
MyFolia.com - Organise, track & share your gardening adventures!
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Comeback of the year!

Guess what just (re)appeared under the sumak! I want to eat it but I guess this one's going to be allowed to have a party and bolt.
I want seeds, I need seeds.

(that's an Osaka Purple seedling you're looking at)
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tomatoes having a good time upside down?

The reading-gadget (left on the site) is my favorite thing on "new blogger". Especially as I today spotted something I've not read nor heard about: growing tomatoes upside down.
It seems like such a brilliant idea it strikes me as odd that the readers at Down the allotment are questioning it.
My problem, as far as growing tomatoes goes, is that no matter how much I try to support my plants with sticks, mesh and wires, something always breaks and I end up with green tomatoes all over. This would also be the solution to my other more common problem : no space.
You don't just have to rely on tomatoes made for hanging baskets but you can grow any varities this way! That is, if it works?!

So far I've only seen a few pages on it and I don't know a single person that has given it a try. Or, do I?


Edit:
A taste of Earth has quite a few posts on the subject.
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recycling what's left

Lately it's been all about potatoes. Spuds. I do hate that word, but I defintely like potatoes. Very much!

This year I figured that maybe it was about time that I tried growing potatoes. In some ways, it is waste of time and especially money (as potatoes are dirt cheap), but at the same time, it's something I eat all the time. Grow it yourself and grow (only) what you eat.
When I got around to getting some, they were all sold out. All but a variety called Princess that's so new and unknown that a google doesn't give much. In retrospect, this doesn't matter much as the Princess is the ruined batch that I've mentioned earlier. I don't know what to expect so what's to lose?

However, ruining perfectly good potatoes made me realize that of googling tips and tricks on how to grow potatoes might just be a good idea. Thinking that maybe it wasn't a ruined batch after all if I did this and that. Guess, what? It wasn't.

But, that wasn't the tips and tricks that made the biggest impression. It was this. Not the photo per se but the idea that you could grow potatoes from potato peel. I have heard about it before but never seen it.
The same goes for that you can grow whatever falls off your chitted potatoes. Now that's a great idea because that was one of my biggest concerns - everything came off!

Last night, that was what I did. Recycling or rescuing old potato sprouts.
Has anybody given it a go? Is it just ornamental, potato-flowers are lovely, or does it work?
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Panorama

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Strawberries?

Isn't this a little bit early?
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Levisticum officinale

I found it!
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the voles aren't listening to reason



I changed the layout and got another template as the other one was too cute. I didn't know there was such a thing but it felt like I was missing a Strawberry Shortcake accessory to get away with it.

The new one is a rather common one that I edited. Unfortunately uploading a new template means you loose all the gadgets you have used which meant I had to re-write my link-list. I hope I got them all as I had to look use the google-cache to get the urls..
And I guess this is the one I'm sticking with. It works, right?

Now I am off to get a Kaiser's crown (or two) for the allotment as they are said to keep the voles away. That and an Allium aflatunense which is an ornamental onion. Both are to be my new best friends.
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what's in the ground so far

  • tomatoes
  • carrots
  • chard
  • asparagus pea
  • onion
  • garlic
  • leek
  • pak choi
  • mizuna
  • kale
  • squash
  • spinach
  • New Zealand spinach
  • cucumber
  • aubergine
  • bee roots
  • cauliflower
  • choy sum
  • lettuce
  • tomatillos
  • sugar peas
  • green peas
  • borlotti beans
  • broad beans
  • runner beans
  • chilis
  • radish
  • root parsley
  • potatoes
  • basil
  • thyme
  • lavender
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • salvia
  • coriander
  • tarragon
  • marigold
  • parsley
  • physalis
  • woodland strawberries
Of course, many varieties of some (such as the tomatoes, aubergines, cucumbers and carrots).


Above is a borlotti bean-plant

All of these vegetables and herbs have been sown and some have even made it out on the balcony or down to the allotment, so why am I feeling like I have forgotten something?
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brassica juncea not cool no more?

The seeds of some of my favorite greens, like Osaka purple, (Mustard) Red giant, Komatsuna and even Mizuna, are harder to get this year. Does anyone know why? Was it just a trend or?


Some of these greens can also be used as green manure and as they are so colorful, you can sow them anywhere. Which I did. This is Osaka purple under my Sumak at the allotment. Sewn between July and late September and eaten 'til December.
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how to watch a potatoe die

I think I might have just wasted time, energy, potatoes and good soil -
making my potatoes think it's rush-hour by planting them way too close to each other.

Lesson learned : I shouldn't do anything big when my lot-neighbor is around. He makes me nervous (he thinks I'm a hippie while he's mighty farmer man!) and I rush things. Problem is that he's always there.
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SnowWhite better run?

Red delicious at the supermarket
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Ophelia Aubergines to the rescue?

Sitting here with 3 new aubergine-seeds. Seed-packets that is. I already have 6 plants but still my hands are itching to get started with my new lovlies.

I really should start writing down what I sow, when and where. Plan ahead. However, that somehow seems to take the fun out of it, doesn't it? It's about lust. Creativity. I've been trying to tell my friends that my allotment isn't so much about feeding my family and that it's definitely not about saving money, but it's about letting that creativity out. The what, when, where and why. It's like painting a picture, but much dirtier.


(What's Ophelia Aubergines? Miniature Aubergines, perfect for families that don't use an abundance but still like it every now and then. Don't grow more than you can eat.)
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Via phone

What's this? Found under the shrubs at the new lot.
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how bad was it?


This was taken Friday and we started working on the lot Monday.

Somebody, nobody seems to know who, thought it would be grand to have 3 pine trees growing on top of each other. Pine trees on an allotment, that is a first and probably so rare (read odd) that I have decided they get to stay.
If somebody did that, who am I to argue?

The new plot is 80 square meters while my precious is 100 square meters. The precious looked something like that last summer when we got it. Looked like that minus the pine trees that is.
The shed was already built by a previous tennant and we paid 2000 SEK to keep it/get the key.
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lovage?

I've been thinking about making my herbgarden/collection more complete and my mind is set on getting loveage, even though I'm sure I'll never use it. I guess it's a "must have" that we're all getting just because.

But, what other herbs are there (other than the "new classics" basil, thyme, sage and oregano)? What herbs do you consider essential? Lemongrass? Cilantro?
I have the new classics (of which pineapple sage is my favorite) as well as tarragon, mint, dill, chives, rosmarin and lavender. I'm mostly thinking about getting some perennials as the season's too short for me to sow something now that'll just die within months.
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it's not just number 67 anymore



The urge to start a gardening blog grew stronger when I got yet another allotment. Or rather, a few days ago when I decided the abandoned lot next to mine (which is nr 67) needed some extra love. Abandoned as in having not been in contact with a spade, a dutch hoe or even a hose in the last 5 years. The rabbits, the slugs and the voles moved in years ago and this year they decided my lot was where their grandchildrens children should live.
So, I guess you could say I was pro-active.

The lot, nr 68, looks like shite. It truly does. The weeds and the shrubs have had years and I have had 3 days. So far
  • 6 hours of removing blackberries, ie 6 hours of battling the thorns.
  • 5 hours of digging to remove weeds.
  • 2 hours of rescuing strawberry-runners
and I have only done 10% of the lot.

The other lot (as seen left as well as above) nr 67, has been in my possession for almost a year now and it's looking lovely. Mostly fruit and berries, but also leek, garlic, osaka purple and mizuna. It's a place where my kid and my dog can run around and eat whatever they feel like. Nothing poisonous and nothing with thorns.
The new one is intended to be all about potatoes and container gardening.
Flowers ain't my thing. Well, geraniums are but that's it.

It's all about geraniums and digging I guess..