Monday, 16 October 2017

In My Seed Box 2018 - Beans

Since 2013 I have grown a number of types & varieties of Beans, but this is what I have in my seed box for 2018 

Self Saved & Seed Circle

Blue Beans
Cara La Virgen de la Baneza Leon (Climbing French Bean)
Cherokee Trail of Tears (Climbing French Bean)
Crimson Flowered (Broad Bean)
Kew Blue
Major Cook's (Climbing French Bean)
Nun's Belly Button (Bush Bean)
Ryder's Blue CoCo (Climbing French Bean)
Scarlet Emperor (Runner Bean)
Vermont Cranberry (Bush Bean)

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets

Elena (Soya Bean) - Glycine Max - 50 Seeds - Free with GYO Mag - Mr Fothergill's
Pickwick (Bush Bean)                   - 12 Seeds - £2.09 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By Dec 2016
Scarlet (Runner Bean)                 - 50 Seeds - Free with GYO Mag - Mr Fothergill's
Stardust (Runner Bean)               - 45 Seeds - Free Trial                  - Marshalls          - Sow By 9/2020

Growing Selection for 2018

My annual runner is normally Scarlet Emperor as they normally provide a good yield and a single panel in the wall at Mill Green Allotment provides me with ample runners for my needs but also for passing on to my sister, sister -in-law, eldest daughter and our neighbour.

This year I will be growing Scarlet Emperor as normal but also having a bash at Marshalls new bean Stardust on the runner bean front. I will also be growing  Nun's Belly Button,  Vermont Cranberry & Pickwick on the French or Bush Bean front.

Should I still be on Spencer Road or should I be lucky enough to get the plot next to 1A then I will try some of the French climbing beans as well if I have cleared an area to grow them.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Removals Day 1

Today my future son-in-law Andy supplied some welcome muscle and his van and we removed the decking and a large quantity of cardboard, weed membrane cut to path width size and paving slabs from Spencer Road Plot 23B and brought it over to Mill Green Plot 1A. The new incinerator that I bought for Spencer Road also made the trip back as I will need it in addition to the existing rusty one at Mill Green to burn the weeds once I start attacking Plot 1

As you can see in the photo above Plot 1 on the left of the picture above and in the background in the one below still has not received any attention, and I'm just waiting for the paperwork to arrive before I start attacking it.

The plastic strips that have been defining the edge of the beds were eased out of the ground and the timber decking bed edges were re assembled and put in their stead. The weeds along the paths were removed and cardboard already cut into 600mm wide strips were laid along the paths.

This was then covered in weed membrane and the slabs placed along the paths on a semi hit and miss basis to hold the weed membrane down. the tarp in the left is covering cardboard on the path until I can cut some membrane and then the paving slabs stacked by the incinerator in the top right of the photo above will go down on top.

Excess cardboard for the moment is now stacked in the greenhouse ready for more paths to be installed like the one between beds 7 & 8 in far left of the photo above, parallel to the sweet corn to be done, once the decking board edging has been re assembled and installed into beds 7 & 8 and I have cut more path width weed membrane.

The slabs will have the gaps infilled with woodchip when we arrange a drop in the new drop off and pick up area. 

The three paths between beds 2-3, 3-4 & 4-5 and the path parallel to the wall where the runner beans are grown have not yet been touched and are still very weathered woodchip that is degrading to nice compost and supporting weed growth. 

Weedy Path between beds 2 & 3 in the distance

Thursday, 12 October 2017

In My Seed Box 2018 - Leeks

Leeks are something I have tried and not been particularly successful with, and didn't get around to sowing any in 2017, but in 2018 I'm hoping that will change. I really want to be able to grow the baby type and eat them as large spring onions.

No packets in zippy bags

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets 2016

Atal (Baby type)                - 220 Seeds - £2.55 - Suttons - Sow By 6/2016
De Carentan 2                  - 300 Seeds              - Lidl - Sow By 12/2016
Herfstuezen 3 - Porvite     - 200 Seeds - £2.69 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2016

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets 2017

Blue Green Winter             - 150 Seeds - £2.19 - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 05/2017

Musselburgh (Seed Tape) - 180 Seeds - £1.99 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2017
Musselburgh (Seed Tape) - 180 Seeds - £1.99 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2017
Musselburgh                      - 300 Seeds -    60p - Wilko - Sow By 2017 
Nipper (Baby Leeks)          - 250 Seeds - £1.99 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2017
Nipper (Baby Leeks)          - 250 Seeds - £1.99 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2017

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets 2018

Bulgaarse Reuzen Lincoln - 100 Seeds - £2.69 - Thompson & Morgan  - Sow By 12/2018

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets 2020

Musselburgh                      - 500 Seeds - £1.89 - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2020
Musselburgh                      - 500 Seeds - £1.89 - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2020

Germination 14 - 21 Days

Alphabetical Listing

                                                  Sowing          Sowing         Plant                Harvest
                                                  Indoors          Outdoors     Out

Atal (Baby type)                                               Apr- Jul                                  Jun- Oct
Blue Green Winter                 
 Jan - Mar         Apr - May       May- Jun         Oct - Mar
Bulgaarse Reuzen Lincoln                               Mar- Apr                                Jul - Oct
De Carentan 2                                                  Mar- May                               Oct - Feb
Herfstuezen 3 - Porvite             Jan - Feb        Mar- Apr         May- Jul          Oct - Mar
Musselburgh (Mr Fothergill's)    Jan - Feb        Mar- Apr        May- Jul          Oct - Mar
Musselburgh Wilko                    Jan - Feb        Mar- Apr        May- Jun         Oct - Mar
Musselburgh Seed Tape T&M                          Mar- Apr                                Sep - Jan
Nipper                                                               Mar - Jun                               May -

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

In My Seed Box 2018 - Marrow

Marrow is something that I have grown in the past , and yes I have distributed widely to family, friend and neighbours. 2017 was not a good year on the allotments, luckily my plot neighbours kept me supplied in 2017.

With the possibility of taking over the overgrown neighbouring plot, strimming, covering with cardboard and compost and then planting Marrows is defiantly on the todo list for 2018.

Spencer Road can also be used for marrows to wonder around the top end of the plot, as I can basically plant them and leave them too it and I have lots of manure over there that is now a year old or more 

Review Of Seed Stocks in Zippy Bags

No seed found in zippy Bags

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets

Long Green Bush 2 - 20 Seeds - £2.19 - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2019
Long Green Bush 2 - 20 Seeds - £2.19 - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2019

2 packs bought in the Wyevale 50p seed sale

Not to self - Look for more Marrow seeds with a sow by date of 2020 or better in the Wyevale 2018 50p seed sales.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Spuds in the Sun

The last and smallest of the two buckets of spuds harvested yesterday, that were washed last night are out in the sun drying off before being bagged up and putting in the shed for storage. There are some peeled, in a pan of water waiting to be roasted later for dinner later

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Micro-Mini Snails & Spuds

The Sprouts are being eaten at an alarming rate by mini - micro and normal sized snails

Some are even using the Hoops as their home! I have never been attacked like this before, the bed is however right next door to the overgrown plot where the tenant has been missing apart from an early appearance at the start of the season.

Apart from trying to kill them all and there are a lot of them, and they are so small, I have no idea how to save the sprouts

The spuds in Bed 8 were dug out and the bed covered up, it will need revisiting as I'm sure there lots of spuds that I missed, I may bring the rotatory sieve down and do a stone removal exercise and find the spuds. This bed is earmarked for Carrots / Beetroots so if I do remove the stones more likely Carrots in here next year. 

Drop Off & Pick Up Area

Here is the view from the gate

I was looking forward to my visit to Mill Green Allotment this morning because I knew that Redrow & Natta Construction were removing the fence Monday, clearing the debris and vegetation cleared back to the pallet fence where the Bees are Tuesday. Laying and compacting rising over weed membrane on Wednesday and erecting a new fence on Thursday for us. 

The guys who had been on the allotment during the week had rang me and informed me of progress as I was unable to get down to the allotment this week. What I didn't think was happening just yet was the new gate that actually is plum and fits and had a latch no less. The chain and lock needs a little tweak so that we can lock the gate from the inside using the council padlock, but I imagine that will be resolved next week. 

 View from the far corner once the gate was closed
and the car had been parked and unloaded

View from the other corner

So the state of play halfway through the programmed build time is impressive, I really have to thank both Redrow and Natta Construction for doing this for us and improving our local environment and allotment. Without this facility the plot holders would not be able to get anywhere near the allotment when dropping off composting material & plants and picking up the weeds and harvest, when the two developments are completed. 

Mencap now have somewhere to park their mini bus and carers cars when coming down for a little allotment therapy and will be so happy when they see this area. Redrow & Natta Construction will be improving on what they have done this week, during next week and I will give you an update of the other facility they are supplying us.

Once completed we will be able to arrange a long overdue drop off of woodchips so that the paths on out plots can be renewed and become once again weed free.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

In My Seed Box 2018 - Squash

Historically I was really not a huge squash fan, until converted by the Squash Queen Beryl Randall over at Mud & Gluts, so for the last couple of years I have been growing and eating Butternut Squash. When I get the additional space I will have a bash of some of the other varieties.

Review Of Seed Stocks in Zippy Bags

Black Futsu - Seed Circle  
Crown Prince
Flat White Boer
Waltham Butternut - 8 Seeds - £2.99 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2018
Waltham Butternut - Seed Circle

I only have the instructions from the back of one pack and as you can see the bar code has been crossed out that tells one that it's from the Wyevale 50 p seed sale so 6.25p per seed rather than 37.38p per seed

Friday, 6 October 2017

In My Seed Box 2018 - Cucumbers

In the past I have grown a number of different cucumbers but the ones I keep coming back to and grow each year are Burpless and Marketmore

Review Of Seed Stocks in Zippy Bags

Achocha Fat Baby - from Seed Circle saved 2014

Akito F1 - 8 Seeds - Lidl -  Sow By 12/2015

Burpless Tasty Green - Kings Seeds - Sow by 09/2016

Marketmore - Suttons - Suttons Seed - Sow By 2013

Marketmore - Mr Fothergill - On Magazine 2017

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets

La Diva - 10 Seeds - £2.99 - unwins - Sow By 9/2018 
La Diva - 10 Seeds - £1.00  - Wilko - Sow By 2021
Saladin - 5 Seeds - On Magazine - Marshalls Best before 7/2017

Alphabetical Listing
                                                  Sowing        Plant Out      Harvest
Achocha Fat Baby                     Mar - Jul                            Jun - Oct
Akito F1                                     May                                    Jul - Oct
Burpless Tasty Green                Feb - May                          Jun - Oct
La Diva - unwins                        Feb - May                          Jun - Oct remove male flowers
La Diva - Wilko                          Feb - May        Jun             Jul - Oct remove male flowers
Marketmore - Suttons                Apr - May        Jun              Jul - Oct
Marketmore - Mr Fothergill        Feb-Apr Indoors                 Jul - Oct
.                                                  Apr-Jun Outdoors              Jul - Oct
Saladin - Marshalls                    Apr - May        Jun              Jul - Oct remove male flowers
Germination 7 - 21 Days

Growing in the greenhouse

Start cucumbers off by sowing seeds from mid-February to mid-March if you have a heated greenhouse or similar environment, or in April if you have an unheated greenhouse. Sow seeds on their side, 1cm (½in) deep in pots.

Sowing outdoors

Sow seeds 2.5cm (1in) deep indoors in late April. Alternatively, sow directly outside in late May or early June and cover the soil above the seeds with fleece, a cloche or glass jar. This method can work well in southern regions and in warm summers.
Young plants are also available from garden centres in spring.

Growing indoors

Transfer young plants to 25cm (10in) pots of good potting compost in late March (heated greenhouse), late May (unheated greenhouse). Keep the compost evenly moist – little and often is the best way. You can also use growing-bags but plants will need to be carefully watered and looked after.

Train the main stem up a vertical wire or cane. Pinch out the growing point when it reaches the roof. Pinch out the tips of sideshoots two leaves beyond a female flower (recognisable by tiny fruits behind flower). Pinch out the tips of flowerless sideshoots once they reach 60cm (2ft) long.

Keep the humidity high by watering the floor and, once planted out, feed every 10-14 days with a balanced liquid fertiliser.

Growing outdoors

Either sow seeds or plant out young plants in early June, ideally under fleece or cloches. Any fertile garden soil in full sun is satisfactory.

Dig in up to two bucketfuls of rotted organic matter, such as garden compost, and rake in 100g per square metre (3½oz per square yard) of general purpose fertiliser.

Pinch out the growing tip when the plants have developed seven leaves. The developing sideshoots can be left to trail over the ground or trained up stout netting. Pinch out the tips of flowerless sideshoots after seven leaves.

Don't remove the male flowers, and keep the soil constantly moist by watering around the plants – not over them. 

Thursday, 5 October 2017

In My Seed Box 2018 - Beetroots

Note to self - Don't buy anymore Beetroot seeds in the Wyevale sale for the next two years, you don't need them, or at least if you do then don't buy so many packs, be selective just go for the Boltardy unless you happen upon different coloured say yellow beetroots! and make sure they have a Sow by date of at least 2021.

Review Of Seed Stocks in Zippy Bags

Action F1                  - 250  Seeds - £2.49 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2016
Bettollo F1               -  200  Seeds - £2.69 - Sara Raven Collection - Sow By 2017
Detroit 2                  -  275  Seeds -      60p - Wilko - Sow By 2016
Detroit 6                  -  200  Seeds -

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets Sow By 2016

Cardeal F1              -    75  Seeds - £1.99 - Kew - Sow By 2016
Detroit 2                  -  275  Seeds -      60p - Wilko - Sow By 2016
Pablo F1                  - 250  Seeds - £2.49 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2016
Pablo F1                  - 250  Seeds - £2.49 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2016
Wodan F1                - 200  Seeds - £2.69 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2016

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets Sow By 2017

Alto F1                     - 150  Seeds - £2.49 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2017
Boltardy                   - 350  Seeds - £1.99 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2017
Boltardy Seed Tape -   90  Seeds - £1.99 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2017
Boltardy Seed Tape -   90  Seeds - £1.99 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2017
Boltardy Seed Tape -   90  Seeds - £1.99 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2017
Boltardy Seed Tape -   90  Seeds - £1.99 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2017

Review Of Seed Stocks in Packets Sow By 2018 - 2020

Alto F1                     - 150  Seeds - £2.99 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2020
Detroit 2                  -  300  Seeds - £2.29 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2020
Detroit 6 Rubidus    -  200  Seeds - £2.69 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2019
Kestrel                     - 150  seeds - £2.99 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2019
Moneta                    - 150  seeds - £2.99 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 2020
Perfect 3                 -  275  Seeds - £1.65 - Mr Fothergill's - Sow By 2018
Red Ace F1             - 150  Seeds - £2.69 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2020
Solo                         - 200  Seeds - £2.49 - Thompson & Morgan - Sow By 12/2019

Alphabetical Listing

                                       Sowing            Harvest
Action F1                       Mar - Jul            Jun - Oct
Alto F1                           Mar - Jul            Jun - Oct
Bettollo F1                      Mar - Jul            Jun - Oct
Boltardy                          Mar - Jul            Jun - Oct
Cardeal F1                     Mar - Jul            Jun - Oct
Detroit 2                         Apr - Jul             Jun - Oct         
Detroit 6 Rubidus           Mar - Jul            Jun - Oct
Kestrel                            Mar - Jul            Jun - Oct     
Moneta                           Mar - Jul            Jul - Oct
Pablo F1                         Apr - Jul            Jun - Onwards        
Perfect 3                         Apr - Jul            Jun - Oct
Red Ace F1                    Mar - Jul            Jun - Oct                   
Solo                                Mar - Jul            Jun - Oct
Wodan F1                       Apr - Jul            Jun - Onwards     

Boltardy is one of the best beetroots and a gardeners favourite. Good quality, globe shaped , dark-red, well flavoured roots up to 100mm (4") across, and the variety that I normally go for however the Wyevale 50p seed sale is responsible not only for the amount of packs I have in the seed box but also the various varieties. 

Altro is a Hybrid cylindrical beetroot that produces straight roots that stand proud above the soil, but can be earthed up keeping in good condition for longer periods, and will produce more consistent diameter slices for pickling and that is what attracted me to pack when I bought it.   

When To Plant

Beets are fairly frost hardy and can be planted in the garden 30 days before the frost-free date for your area. Although beets grow well during warm weather, the seedlings are established more easily under cool, moist conditions. Start successive plantings at 3 to 4 week intervals until midsummer for a continuous supply of fresh, tender, young beets. Irrigation assures germination and establishment of the later plantings.

Dates based on guidance from Garden Focused based on the last frost date for Sutton Surrey of the last week in April, suggests Beetroots are sown in the 4th week of March. BUT that is assuming sowing directly in the ground, and as I will be starting off the beetroots in the Space Saver garden or allotment greenhouse I intend to sow a couple of trays earlier in 2018 in say the 1st or 2nd week of March. I may even try some early in the ground under a cloche, it's not as if I don't have enough seeds!  


Frequent shallow cultivation is important because beets compete poorly with weeds, especially when small. Because beets have extremely shallow roots, hand weeding and early, frequent and shallow cultivation are the most effective methods of controlling weeds in the rows. Deep cultivation after the weeds are large damages the beet roots. Like most root crops, beets need a fertile soil (especially high in potassium) for vigorous growth. Keep your beet plants uniformly supplied with moisture for best performance.


Beets can be harvested whenever they grow to the desired size. About 60 days are required for beets to reach 1 1/2 inches in diameter, the size often used for cooking, pickling or canning as whole beets. Beets enlarge rapidly to 3 inches with adequate moisture and space. With most varieties, beets larger than 3 inches may become tough and fibrous. Beets may be stored in a polyethylene bag in a refrigerator for several weeks. Beets also may be stored in outdoor pits if the beets are dug before the ground freezes in the fall. Cut off the tops of the beets one inch above the roots. Beets store best at 32°F and 95 percent humidity. Do not allow them to freeze