Planting Jermor Shallots

Planting Jermor Shallots is something I did ages ago, back in February, but I’ve only just got around to writing about until now. I planted these way before the Beast from the East and Storm Emma decided to darken our doors.

It feels like ages since I’ve grown shallots, but if I had to take a guess I would probably say that I haven’t grown shallots for about 2 years or so. Shallots are a great little ingredient to have at your finger tips in the kitchen. In my experience shallots are sweeter than a red onion but just as robust. I also find them more on the expensive side in the shops and dare I say it, I tend not to buy shallots too often.

So recently, I managed to get hold of a bag of shallot bulbs and I decided to plant them.

Jermor shallots are an autumn variety, which means by rights, these should have been planted before Christmas. However, I’m not sure if I’m the only one, but for the life of me, I couldn’t see any shallots for sale in any of the shops during last years autumn. Only onions and garlic.

Jermor shallots are often referred to as the exhibitors favourite – which tells me that they produce a fairly uniform crop. They’re a half long type of shallot which means they’re on the longer side rather than the shorter side. Something I didn’t know – is that the smaller, rounder shallots are known as banana shallots, not sure why yet, but I thought it was quite funny.

When planting these shallots I discovered something that is quite obvious when you realise it, but probably not as obvious as it seems. That is, the greatest measure in the garden is the trowel. On average the trowel is around 30cm long from point to point.

This is particularly handy when planting shallots as typically you need to leave around 20cm between each bulb (so from tip of the trowel to the handle) and 30cm between each row (which is the full length of the trowel) 🙂

It’s such a simple observation, but it makes so much sense. I planted my shallots in a diamond formation, which not only looks quite nice but allows you to get much more into a space. Check out the formation in the pictures!

I then planted the shallots deep enough so that only the tops were showing. This can be a real problem as birds can often pick out the bulbs, so I often create an X going from corner to corner to try and deter the birds from landing.

So did you struggle to buy shallots in the shops this year? What variety have you grown? I’d love to know in the comments below 🙂

Splitting and planting rhubarb

Splitting and planting rhubarb

Splitting and planting rhubarb can be a very daunting task and is one that I have to do every 5 or 6 years or so.

Rhubarb is such a great plant to grow if you have an allotment and is one of the first things I would recommend planting if you’re starting to grow your own. Rhubarb is also a great food stuff and there’s a lot you can do with it, whether it’s a crumble or simply stewed with your morning porridge.

The rhubarb on my plot is fairly low maintenance. When I say low maintenance, what I really mean is that I hardly ever touch it. I weed it every so often and I pick what I want from it. That’s pretty much it. In return I get a plant that covers a lot of ground, (which assists with keeping weeds down), is a great producer and provides a very cost effective yield.

In my own opinion, the rhubarb you buy in the shops is not of a high quality, but then again I may have just had a bad experience.

So I’m in the process of implementing a new plan at my allotment which has involved removing a grass path that separates my rhubarb patch and another bigger patch and re-aligning the edges of the original space.

In digging out the edges of the new patch, I found that my original rhubarb plants had quadrupled in size, which meant that I had to split them as best as I can and replant them. Splitting rhubarb looks and feels like a harsh procedure and because of this, it’s not something that I do very often. When splitting rhubarb, I follow these very simple rules… and hope for the best.

Splitting rhubarb

  1. Find the center of the crown – The center is where you pull most of the stems from
  2. Show no fear…
  3. Dig around the crown, about a foot from the center, leavering it up as you go..
  4. At this point, get another spade or fork and dig both in at opposites of the crown..
  5. Remember to show no fear..
  6. leaver out the crown  from each side, try not to worry if you start to hear any large snaps at this point, eventually the rhubarb will give
  7.  Once out… you should be left with a crater and a plantable rhubarb crown.
  8. Depending on how you got on, the rhubarb may have broken up naturally like mine did. If it didn’t, then be brave and chop it in half with a spade. It sounds weird and harsh, but it’s the only way I know.

My rhubarb was so difficult to dig out that I ended up breaking my spade! Not ideal, but keep calm and carry on.

Splitting and planting rhubarb

Planting the rhubarb

When planting rhubarb, I guess the secret is not plant it too deep. So I dig a whole that’s probably less than half a spade’s depth deep and I pick a spot that’s about 3 to 4 foot away from everything and this is really for the sake of the span of the growth.

Once I dug the hole I added some compost from the compost bin, planted the crowns and then topped up the edges with more compost from the compost bin. If you have some well rotted manure, this will also be ideal too. Now that I’ve started to cut the grass, over the next few weeks, I’ll probably top the bed with fresh grass cuttings that will act as mulch during the dry spells.

Now – the thing to remember with planting rhubarb is that you can’t pick it for about a year and a half, otherwise you’re at risk of pulling out the plant.

There we have it! This is quite a daunting task… But take it one step at a time and show no fear! Good luck.

Splitting and planting rhubarb

10 Favourite Gardening Buzzfeed videos #4

10 Favourite Gardening Buzzfeed videos #4

Welcome to part 4 of my favourite gardening Buzzfeed videos. I hope they don’t stop making gardening ones!

Gardening Buzzfeed videos are brilliant! Nifty videos cover arts and crafts and Tasty videos cover food and recipes. I’m often watching gardening and outdoor related Buzzfeed Nifty videos or Buzzfeed Tasty videos via YouTube or Facebook. I think they’re really cool and quick to digest.  When it comes to the gardening, the guys at Buzzfeed have produced some fantastic content that involve recycling, creativity and true out of the box thinking.

I’ve started to compile my favourite Buzzfeed videos that I hope you can enjoy. In fact if you’ve tried any of the below – I’d love to see what you’ve been getting up to and what you think of these projects in the comments below.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

DIY Garden bug spray

5 DIY Projects that will help you be more eco-friendly

How to regrow fruit from your kitchen

Easiest vegetables to grow in a small space

Garden crafts you will love to watch grow

Up-cycled colander flower pot

7 Unique ways to spruce up your yard

Built-in cooler patio table

3-in-1 Garden seat

Portable tripod stool

10 Favourite Gardening Buzzfeed videos #3

10 Favourite Gardening Buzzfeed videos #3

It’s part three of my favourite gardening Buzzfeed videos – it’s officially a trilogy. A true embarrassment of riches!

Gardening Buzzfeed videos are brilliant! Nifty videos cover arts and crafts and Tasty videos cover food and recipes. I’m often watching gardening and outdoor related Buzzfeed Nifty videos or Buzzfeed Tasty videos via YouTube or Facebook. I think they’re really cool and quick to digest.  When it comes to the gardening, the guys at Buzzfeed have produced some fantastic content that involve recycling, creativity and true out of the box thinking.

I’ve started to compile my favourite Buzzfeed videos that I hope you can enjoy. In fact if you’ve tried any of the below – I’d love to see what you’ve been getting up to and what you think of these projects in the comments below.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Hanging party hat planters

Magic faucet fountain

In the UK – we call these taps…

15 Ideas for Terra-Cotta Pots

9 Planting projects to brighten up your house

8 Things you can upcycle into planters

11 Ways to reuse items for your garden

How to regrow everything

What’s killing your plants?

6 Ways to protect plants in the winter

7 Easy ways to make flowers last longer

10 ways to reduce plastic consumption in the garden

10 ways to reduce plastic consumption in the garden

Reduce plastic consumption in the garden is an idea that may be getting overlooked.

About two years ago I wrote an article with some ideas on how you can recycle some regular household items at your allotment or in your garden. Fast forward two years and that message has changed from recycle plastic to don’t use plastic in the first place.

Using less plastic is the buzz-phrase of 2018 and I couldn’t agree more. We’ve had the stone age, the bronze age and now we’re in the plastic age. It’s everywhere and there’s no getting rid of it. So it’s understandable why this message has changed.

Speaking from experience, I often hold myself in a high regard environmentally and believe that I’m doing my bit by having an allotment, and I suppose I’m doing more good than bad – but in reality I’m not without plastic sin, like so many others.

I’m in the midst of trying to reduce my plastic consumption in my everyday life and then it got me thinking about the plastic that we use in our gardens and I came to the realisation that the garden is a place whereby we can drastically reduce our plastic consumption the easiest.

So here’s my top 10 suggestions for reducing plastic in the garden or at the allotment.

Ditch plastic labels – replace with wood

Wooden-labels-345x300

I’ll confess, I’ll place a plastic label in the ground identifying plants and crops and I’ll forget about it and find it a year later.

Instead of plastic, we can use wooden labels which in my opinion, look nicer and are biodegradable. As you can see here they’re quite reasonably priced. I think eating my weight in Magnums might be more fun than ordering off of Amazon though.

One suggestion would be to sand off the writing and re-use if you’d still like to save yourself a penny or two.

Ditch plastic pots replace with with terracotta

Gosh, whatever happened to the use of terracotta pots. I’ve got dozens of plastic pots at my allotment and hardly any terracotta pots. I’m yet to look or elaborate on the benefits of terracotta over plastic, but the most obvious benefit is the material one. Terracotta smashes, yes, but it eventually breaks down. I think you also get a lot more variety with terracotta posts in terms of design.

Ditch plastic seed trays replace with homemade seed starters

There’s loads online about making you’re own seed starters, which can make for a great alternative to a plastic seed starter tray. The most common and trusted method used by the gardening community is the use of the toilet rolls. Richard from Sharpen Your Spades has also published this easy to follow tutorial about creating using toilet rolls as your seed starters. Check it out here.

Make your own potting compost (or order in bulk)

This tip focuses on eradicating the use of plastic bags at the allotment. There are two ways you can do this. You can make your own potting compost – if you’re not sure on how to do this, then check out Anne’s method from her blog The Micro Gardener. The second method is to order your potting compost in bulk from your local builders merchants or garden centre. It’s a more of a dent to the wallet, but it will last longer than you think. In some cases, you can return the jumbo bag at the builders merchants for re-use.

Avoid polyethylene or Polypropylene based netting

This is a tough nut to crack. Most netting on the market are made from polyethylene. Now polyethylene will biodegrade eventually when put under certain conditions. I’ve done some research online and jute netting can make for a natural alternative, but generally is unlikely to keep the butterflies at bay. So If you can get hold of netting made of cotton like this, then you’re onto a winner.

Use a metal watering can (can plastic watering cans be recycled?)

Yep, this is a pretty obvious one. Metal watering cans will last a lifetime – where as plastic cans can go brittle and eventually shatter.

Replace plastic water butts with metal tanks or drums

Old household water tanks make for great water butts – I never know where you get hold of them other than knowing someone who’s getting a new boiler installed or a local plumber who’s getting rid of one. It might be worth calling your local gas man or plumber to see if they can help out. If you don’t know you local gas man, then look to Ebay or Amazon – you have to love Amazon, because you can buy empty metal oil drums here.

Use a pallet compost bin rather than a plastic one

So plastic compost bins aren’t as bad you think. Most of them are made from recycled plastics – you may even find the plastic recycling code on it too if this is the case. Earth 911 has information about recycling codes if you’re interested. However, there’s no getting away from the fact that they’re plastic. A Pallet compost bin is great and easy alternative to a plastic compost bin.

Ditch the cable tie

As useful as they are and easy to use (and I’m just as guilty as the next person) these little plastic ties are up there with the straw, micro-beads and glitter. You use them once and then throw them away, which is a terrible thing for the environment. I’m not even sure if these are recyclable? Anyway, biodegradable twine or jute will do just the same job as a cable tie.

Make your own bug repellents

This tip is all about using less plastic bottles and sprays. I know what you’re thinking… I’d be buying 4 bottles of something else to make one bottle of repellent. Well it’s not actually the case as the homemade bug sprays can be made out of things you’d probably buy anyway (probably). Anyway, here’s a really good video showing you how to make your own natural bug repellents. Enjoy.

So there we have it – top tips for reducing plastic consumption in the garden.

Do you have any top tips for reducing plastic in the garden? If so, I’d love to hear what they are in the comments below. 

Featured Image by Mary Greene on Pexels.