Saturday 28 February 2015


Planted up 3 big pots of potatoes - Colleen which are first earlies. They will stay in our unheated conservatory until the growth starts to get big and susceptible to aphids. They are horrid to have in the conservatory and then put them outside where maybe the birds will feast on them

These Colleens are saved from last year's crop. This is something I've done for a few years with Desiree and Sante potatoes. Often that's because if the winter is mild the stored ones are starting to sprout so aren't much good for eating.

However, a couple of years of success the yield has been a bit disappointing. Mind you, the bought ones haven't been brilliant either. (See "Review of the year".)

I had a useful Christmas present book "Collins Pests, Diseases & Disorders of Garden Plants".This is a compendium of all kinds of pest,diseases and disorders of plants, vegetables and trees. You can look things up in two ways - by pest and by plant. So if you look at potatoes it will give a list of all kinds if diseases and also problems that occur from drought, over-watering, soil conditions, etc. and also problems that occur during harvesting and storage.

So the nasty brown cavities in the middle of some of the potatoes, with no sign of ingress by worms, were identified as "hollow heart" caused by alternating dry and wet spells of weather. The book also explains that potatoes are affected by viruses which are transmitted by aphids. The virus damage is limited in the first year but saved potatoes get worse each year with the result of second and third year yield getting poorer and smaller. The seed potatoes you buy are from Scotland or Northern Ireland where the colder weather means fewer aphids and hence less virus infection.

That's been my experience so I shall buy in some new stock this year - Pentland Javelin, Desiree (which generally do well here) and a new one to Froggarts Garden - Kestrel.

On a good note - the potatoes in the pots in the greenhouse which I planted in November are just showing very small shoots. I'll have to cover with fleece to shield from the frost I'm sure we'll be getting during March. (Very mild today.)

Tuesday 24 February 2015


Horrible weather the last two days. No chance of any outdoor activities - so I made Marmalade.
3lbs Seville oranges and two large, juicy lemons, cooked, depipped and chopped into slivers. Boiled up with 6lbs sugar (sounds awful but the resulting marmalade in still tangy, not over-sweet) to make 10 medium jars and two little ones. Very nice with granary bread for breakfast!

Delicious Seville Orange Marmalade

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Allium Leaf Miner

In report by the RHS into "Top 10 reported pests of 2014" Allium Leaf Miner appears for the first time.  This report appeared today in Horticulture Week with a graphic photo of the damage Allium Leaf Miner does.

We've been plagued for the last 4 years (see previous entry about onion pests) and despite not sowing leeks or onions for a couple of years and covering with fleece its still managed to ravage our leek crop in 2014. I'm wondering if I should dig up all the chives. We have a couple of clumps of chives which seem pretty healthy, and I love to eat the purple flowers in my salad, but maybe they are harbouring the nasty bug.

Apparently this bug first appeared in the UK in the East Midlands so we're in the thick of it. However, I'm a bit jealous of a local allotment-holder who has rows of lovely leeks.

Thursday 12 February 2015


The snowdrops have taken their time coming up in the grass but they're now looking good. The weather has been a bit stop-start and the spring bulbs are behaving accordingly. The daffodils up on the main road were in bud during the snow at the end of December and are only now struggling to show some colour. Usually they are giving a brilliant show by mid-February.

Snowdrops in the grass under the trees at Froggarts Cottage

Snowdrops are always popular. There are so many varieties - tall, slender, single bloom to short, frilly doubles. At the Thringstone Community Centre table-top sale on Saturday I sold 10 pots of flowering snowdrops and could have sold as many again!