Can it get any easier?
When I first discovered horticulture at the tender age of 17 I was interested in getting some ‘easy wins’ in the garden. Well, it doesn’t come much easier than Rhubarb. This fantastic plant is so easy to grow and yields edible red stalks – and by the way, the redder the stalks, the sweeter the flavour.
As a keen amateur cook I often use Rhubarb in my recipes and have recently taken to making some Rhubarb vodka too. So it seemed only right that we should plant some Rhubarb crowns in the Wonderpost allotment. I choose the variety ‘Red Champagne’ which is a sweet tasting early fruiting variety. This variety is readily available in most garden centres and is typically sold as an unpotted ‘crown’. If you miss the chance to buy the crowns this autumn then don’t worry because most garden centres sell potted varieties of Rhubarb in the Spring.
Rhubarb likes to be planted in an open, sunny position and needs soil that is well drained. Just as well, really, as our
Ideally we do not want to harvest the stalks next Spring as we need to allow the newly planted crowns to establish a root system but in March 2020 what, I’m going to put an upturned bucket over the crowns – this will encourage the stalks to grow as they are searching for light and will produce some delicious fresh stalks. I’ve then got two choices – either make more vodka or some Rhubarb and ginger jam.
I’ve gone garlic mad!
As a vegetarian I find onions an essential ingredient in a savoury dish and of course they are fantastically versatile. Onions for me are a natural choice to plant in the Wonderpost allotment and so after several weeks of travelling I was able to get on to the allotment this week and start to do some gardening. It felt fantastic to be outside with the sun on my back and breathing in the Suffolk air (carry on like this and I’m in danger of getting poetically!). Tuesday was a great day for gardening, so I packed up my tools in the car and drove over to Roger’s. In my absence he has been working hard on the allotment, putting in rabbit fencing and even a scarecrow!
I have planted two types of onions. The variety called Electric has pink tinged flesh and the other variety, Troy is a white onion with good resistance to disease. To thrive onions require a well prepared bed with soil that is free draining that’s fine for us as that is exactly what we have in Hasketon at the allotment.
I planted the onion sets in two rows 25 of each went into the half of the plot that has been prepared with our brilliant Wonderpost soil improver, the other 25 went in the half that we have left untreated. I did put an application of Fast Grow Seaweed fertiliser on to both sides of the plot and used an application rate of 150 grams per sq metre.
In true management style I delegated the watering to Roger but they also got a good soak on Wednesday night when it rained a bit. I’ve also delegated to Roger the task of looking at the new planting to make sure that birds have not disturbed the sets. He is going to need to do this until growth starts (I haven’t told him that yet!).
The onions will be ready to harvest in mid Summer when the leaves begin to die down.
If you lived in Woodbridge during the 1980’s you might remember a fancy restaurant called La Provencal up on Market Hill? They used to make a wonderful French onion soup and I would love to recreate this recipe with our Wonderpost fuelled onions but there’s a problem I don’t eat any meat products and this recipe requires a decent beef stock!
Ah well, I will have to try and think of another signature onion dish.
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I often think that a day spent working in the garden can be physically rewarding for my old body. After all, the garden is often referred to as ‘the green gym’ as many gardening activities provide some light and gentle exercise. After weeks of traveling in the car which has involved journeys to Scotland and Holland, I’m in real need of a session in the ‘Green Gym’ and I am itching to get going on our Wonderpost allotment. However, pictures of me in action will not happen for at least 10 days as I still have a few journeys to make before I have some free time. Despite that I often find that gardeners, when actually not gardening are still thinking about it, and I am no exception.
Yesterday, in anticipation of some free time spent on the allotment I visited my local garden centre and bought some onion sets. The soil around our part of Suffolk is particularly good for growing onions and if you drive out towards Bawdsey you will see fields and fields of them growing in the light sandy soil. Onions like loose loam soil rather than heavy clay and as they have shallow roots they particularly benefit from the addition of organic matter to the top few inches of the soil … Which is just as well as we have covered half of our allotment with our fantastic soil improver.
I have bought two varieties of onions, Electric and Troy and will be planting 25 of each in both sides our plot. I am anticipating that those planted in the half that has been treated with Wonderpost to do very well. In the meantime, I’m off to Holland which is a Mecca for plants. You never know I might even pick up some fruit plants for our allotment!
Neville explains what we’re doing with our allotment, splitting the ground into two halves, one with Wonderpost and one without, and some interesting facts about Wonderpost Soil Improver.
After testing the allotment soil PH Roger filled up the bucket on the telehandler with a shed load of Wonderpost soil improver and dumped it in a big pile in the middle of the allotment. With one of those large landscaper rakes, I set about spreading it across half of the plot, trying to achieve a coverage of between 5 – 10kg per square metre. I’m not sure how accurate my spreading technique was but I thought “gardening is all about experimenting so what’s the worst that can happen if I have spread it too thick”!
If you read my first post you’ll know that I’m planning to check out the pH of the soil on our freshly dug piece of land in Hasketon. On Monday I bought a very simple soil testing kit from my local garden centre for the princely sum of £3.99!
This kit contains two small test tubes, each one containing some form of powder which when mixed with a small amount of soil and water will show the pH of the soil. I set to work, followed the instructions and after several minutes the water in the test tube had changed colour.
I compared the colour to the colour chart on the back of the packet and lo and behold our soil is a neutral pH. This is great news as ideally for growing veg we need a pH that’s slightly acidic to neutral. In other words a pH of between 6.5 to 7.
Over time as we begin to apply fertiliser to our plot I am expecting the soil to become slightly more acidic – that’s what tends to happen after repeatedly adding a fertiliser to the soil.
Having checked the soil for pH I am now ready to spread half of the plot with Wonderpost soil improver.