Cho-Cho, Choko, Chayote…

I call it a Cho-Cho but each to their own.  I planted one at my allotment last year and it started to bear fruit but as it was a little late in the season, the weather turned a bit too cold and there was less sunlight so it didn’t do half as well as this year.

In March this year I started it off at home placing the whole cho-cho in a freezer bag and putting it on the utility room window sill – as far as I’m aware this type of squash isn’t generally grown from seed.

image
Cho-Cho sitting in freezer bag to give a bit of extra warmth and also somewhere it could get direct sunlight – its shaped a bit like a pear and sprouts from the larger end.

After a few weeks it started to sprout and once it reached about 4 inches high and the weather had warmed up a bit more I moved in into my allotment shed which has a large perspex window which helps it to get a lot of light and kept it quite warm. At this stage I placed it in a plastic flower pot  in some compost, so about 1/3 of the Cho-Cho was still visible.

image
1/3 still visible from compost..the vine has attached itself to the bamboo cane

I kept it well watered and before long the vine had grown to about 2 ft so in June I planted it outside, again planting it so part of the Cho-Cho was exposed.   I also planted an additional one which was given to me by one of my plot neighbours.

image
Both vines are to the left and right of the image – I ended up moving the front-left plant to line up with the one on the right – fortunately it didn’t appear to affect its growth too much.

The weather in June was a complete washout in South London and I was concerned that the constant rain and lack of heat would negatively affect the vines, but it didn’t and they started to grow quite vigorously.  I had to find a way of creating some kind of make shift trellis to support them, I didn’t want to build a permanent trellis there as I’m hoping to have a green house/poly tunnel in that space next year so I got a couple wooden stakes and some clothing line wire which I attached to the top of my shed to the wooden stakes and along to my compost bin so I could train the vines around it.

image
Cho-Cho vines have loads of additional vines that grow off the main one in all directions to need to be trained to go where you want them to go.
IMG_2916.JPG
vine looking a bit fuller

The vines also have tendrils which attached them self to whatever is in their path – e.g. my grape trellis and the wall at the back!

image
Close up of curly tendrils

I kept the vines well watered especially as the weather in July and August really started to heat up, I was also advised to sprinkle some water over the actual vines too.  The vines seemed to take forever to  fruit but eventually at the end of August there they were…tiny Cho-Cho – smaller than my little finger nail! I also saw an increase of bees on the vines…doing what they do best!

image
Tiny Cho-Cho has finally arrived

What surprised me was the speed at which they developed from the initial sighting

image
They develop so fast – this was just a week or so later
image
A couple hanging above the compost heap

A few days ago I was able to harvest the largest one and it seems that so many are developing. I eat Cho-Cho regularly and thankfully for or the time being I won’t need to buy any, I’ve been told that you can get well over 100 from one vine (I’m hoping that’s true)  I can’t wait to cook it and taste the fruit of my labour!

img_3412
This beauty is ready for harvesting – looks a lot better than last years effort.
image
Lovely shade of green

I’ll definitely be growing this again next year, it requires minimal work, just regular watering and initial training of the vines.

 

Advertisements

Crisp Celery

This is the first year that I’ve grown celery, to be honest I don’t particularly like the taste but I know its good for you so I eat it.  I grew it in order to juice it along with some cucumber, apple and mint/kale/spinach or maybe to eat raw with some hummus – I don’t like  cooked celery.

I planted 20 celery plants out in a part of my plot that has quite heavy clay soil and retains water as I learnt that celery needs to be kept well watered and moist all the time.  The plants looked a little yellow, but i guess that how the young plants look.

IMG_9929
Young celery plants

A couple of weeks later they were doing very well, their colour looked better than the yellow colour they had when they were first transplanted.

These are another plant that requires minimal attention, aside from the regular watering they just need to be protected from slugs and little else.

I kept them well watered and this was helped by the continuous rain we have in London throughout June, they were one of the plants that thrived during that time.

IMG_0885
They are thriving in the rain

It wasn’t long before I started harvesting the Celery…The smell is very strong, It just smells so fresh, literally oozing nutrients.

 

IMG_2568
Can’t get fresher, crispier celery than this!

 

Kale – Russian, Italian and Curly

This season I decided to grow 3 types of Kale; Russian, Italian/Tuscan and Curly Kale.  I love eating Kale either cooked or raw in a salad or juicing it.  There is a bit thing about Kale being a superfood which I agree with but then I believe all vegetable and fruits are superfoods!

I started of the plants in march Shed, which doubles up as potting shed and also has a large perspex window which lets lots of light and heat in so plants are able to get off to a good start.

I  planted the plants out in June and ensured they were under netting for protection from the beautiful ‘pest’ the white butterfly, who I think may love brassica’s more than me.  The butterfly like to lay their eggs under the leaves of brassica’s which can cause the growth of the plant to be affected.  Brassica’s, which includes Kale are a more fiddly crop to grow in that they need more protection from pests that other vegetables, aside from the white butterfly they can also be affected by white fly and slugs love them, they can also develop something known as clubroot which stunts their growth.

IMG_9937
Kale (and some other brassica’s) planted safely under netting.

The Kale has been growing well, specifically the curly and Russian Variety. my Italian Kale was a little slow this year.

One of the reasons i love kale aside from the taste is that it is one of those plants that just keeps giving, so if you are regularly harvesting the leaves, from the bottom up, new ones will grow and this will give me plenty of kale from now well well over the winter months.

IMG_1105
My Curly Kale
IMG_1705
My Italian Kale
IMG_1729
My Russian Kale
IMG_2871
One of the Kale beds – with Curly and Russian Kale

Last year I made the mistake of only planting a couple of plants and only had 1 variety, this year I’ll have more variety, more share and more to eat!!

Beautiful Beetroot

I’ve been harvesting beetroot for the last month or so and they taste fantastic.  Growing beetroot couldn’t be easier as they require such little maintenance and I’ve never had to deal with any issues re: soil deficiencies that may affect their growth.

As beetroot seeds are relatively big in comparison with say carrot seeds

I decided to plant them individually by ‘dibbing’ shallow evenly spaced holes in the soil to place the seeds into rather than planting sprinkling seeds along, which would inevitably mean me having to thin them out later on, which is unnecessary wastage. This way I could determine from the start how many beetroot I would have and exactly where they would be growing.

After a few weeks the plants are looking good.

IMG_9915
Young beetroot plants doing well

They continued to develop well, with very little work needing to be done with them (As you can probably tell by the weeds that were coming up…I did eventually sort the weeding out).

IMG_9914
Another few weeks to wait before I’m ready to harvest any

The plants looked so healthy and strong and if you look closely you  can see in the picture below the small bulbs starting to protrude from the soil.   I’m also aware that you can also eat the beet leaves though I haven’t tried them yet!

IMG_1113
Healthy looking plants..beetroot beginning to push through the soil

Here’s a close up of the beetroot showing at the top of the soil…what beautiful colours!

IMG_1057
close up of a Beetroot pushing through the soil

I started harvesting them when the beets were about the size of a tennis ball.  If you want big beetroot you need to plant them further apart then if you wanted golf ball sized ones.

IMG_1071
Beautiful Beetroot

I tend to juice my beetroot with carrots, cucumber and ginger…very tasty, bursting with flavour and nutrients:

Processed with Moldiv
All except the ginger straight from my plot
Processed with Moldiv
The end result 🙂

Goodness Grape-scious me!

I bought a grape vine online last year as I thought it would be a good idea to add some more fruit to the allotment, alongside the apples, pears, gooseberries, strawberries and cherries (which are also a new addition) which I already have growing.  My family eat a lot of grapes so its make sense to grow what I know won’t go to waste.

Fortunately my plot backs onto a wall, which is also in a great position for sunlight, so I planted the vine by the wall so when it was big enough it could be trained up against the a trellis there

As you can see it literally looked like a long wispy tree branch when it was planted in late 2015

IMG_9463
Vine on the left hand side…supported by a couple of bamboo canes

It pretty much stayed like that over winter and early spring, then in May this happened, lots of lovely lush leaves:

IMG_9669
Vine starting to flourish

Since then the vine has been developing very quickly with noticeable visible changes every couple of weeks.  I was soon excited to notice that there were miniature bunches or grapes forming.

IMG_0622
Tiny bunches…each no bigger than a wine bottle cork!

I then decided to support the vine with a trellis, I think this trellis is only going to be a temporary one as I’ll put something more permanent in place when the vine dies back at the end of the season

IMG_0726
Grape vine on Trellis
IMG_1008
Here’s a closer look (a couple of weeks later)

Seeing the bunches of grapes developing is very exciting and I was even more surprised by the speed at which they started forming.

When I last checked them, which was couple of weeks after the picture above was taken, they had got significantly bigger, about 3 times the previous size and looked very healthy.

IMG_1769
Great looking bunch

They are doing really well and I think they’ll be ready to harvest around September/October time, judging by the looks of it there should be a good number of bunches.

I noticed a couple days ago that the grapes are changing colour and there I was thinking that I had purchased a white grapevine (well that was the picture on the label!)

image
Grapes changing colour

IMG_2169
Only a few days after and almost completely changed

I just hope they’re sweet as I’m planning to eat them fresh as opposed to attempting to making wine.

I’ll update when its time to harvest.

 

 

 

Update: Sweetcorn is ready 😀

So, I was at the allotment on Friday and as I was leaving I thought I’d check on the sweetcorn to see if they we’re ready for harvesting.

The tassels on a couple of them looked sufficiently dark brown and dried up. I was still a little concerned about harvesting them too early but I decided to take the plunge – stripped one of the cobs and dug my nail into one of the kernels, the fluid that came out was milky and not clear…perfect!!

I took 2 of the cobs home and put one straight on the fire and it was delicious, so crisp and soooo sweet. Great start to the weekend 👌🏽

 

Processed with MOLDIV
Can’t get fresher than that!

Cool as a Cucumber

I grew cucumbers last year but didn’t manage to harvest that many as the plants died off early, this year I was determined to do better.

This year I was given 4 plants from one of my plot neighbours in exchange for some Kale I’d given to him.  I planted 4 plants, but one died off, so 4 very quickly became 3. I decided to train them up on bamboo canes, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post if something can be grown upwards as opposed to on the ground I’ll do that in order to save space until I get an additional plot and also to keep them cleaner.  So far they are doing very well.

IMG_0616
Cucumber plants ready to be trained up against bamboo canes

The cucumbers that are planted outside are different to the ones that you’ll generally find in the supermarket, the standard cucumbers are better suited to be grown in a green house or poly tunnel, so maybe I’ll get a chance to try them next season if I get my poly tunnel put up.  The ones grown outside tend to be fatter and shorter and seem to be the ones that would be used for pickling, though when left to mature can be used as normal cucumbers eaten in salads etc.

Cucumber plants like a good amount of water and a good feed and mine are coming along well. I had to watch out for powdery mildew which effects the leaves and eventually cause the plants to die off…I think that’s what last seasons plants succumbed to.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed some little cucumbers at the end of the flowers…yay!!

IMG_1515
baby cucumber…about 1.5 inches long.

These ‘baby’ cucumbers were in abundance across the plants and the plants were getting quite high themselves, so I trained them around the canes, the plants are doing so much better than last year!

When I checked again just a week later they had grown quite significantly

IMG_1796
These definitely look like gherkins

 

IMG_1777 (1)
This one should be ready in a couple of days

 

As I was going to water them, when I checked out the plants more closely at the bottom, there were a few that was almost ready and this one below was ready so much so that it was starting to go a little yellow.

IMG_1778 (1)
This one is about 7 inches

I use cucumbers a lot for juicing, with a combination of other fruits and vegetables, because they have a high water content they are great for hydrating your body and skin so they’ll all be made use of even if I get a lot more than expected!