Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Growing horseradish...

A natural progression for most gardeners is to go from buying seeds and plants to propagating your own, this has it's rewards and it's down sides.

The rewards are obvious, you save money, you learn how plants work and you also learn what works and what doesn't when it comes to propagating, and therein lies one of the down sides, sometimes things fail, you can read all the books, you can read the internet but it doesn't always work the trick (in my opinion) is to not give up, try again and in all honesty if I hadn't adopted this way of thinking our garden would be concrete and devoid of any plant life, I have failed a lot.

So what's that got to do with horse radish ? well horseradish is an easy plant to grow and it's easy to propagate, this will be the first of many (I hope) posts on how we go about growing things from cuttings and such like, I won't say our way is the right way simply because different things work for different people, it's just the way we do it.

Horseradish is in the same family of plants as cabbage and broccoli and similar plants, but unlike those plants which are usually grown from seed you can usually find horseradish in root form, this is how we bought our years ago, we got a small bit of root in a plastic bag.

Here it is now -

I need to remove the flowers.

As you can see we grow it in a pot (probably needs a larger one) the reason for that is it will spread if grown in the ground and it'll spread a lot, this one needs the flower heads removing, as we want the root there's no need to keep the flowers, if left it will have small clumps of white flowers, however any seeds it produces will most likely be sterile and not grow, so root cutting is the best way to go.

Taking root cuttings is easy and this applies to other plants and not just horseradish, I took three sections of root from the main plant earlier on in the year before it had started growing, around March time.

When it looked like this - 

It's not some kind of demon.

I lifted the plant from the pot and took three longish cuttings, all three have a lot of thin roots on them, but it doesn't matter if there are no small roots, each bit was about four inches long.

Root cuttings -

Time for potting.

Then all I did was put the three cuttings into pots and filled the pots with a mix of compost from our compost bins and shop bought compost, shop bought compost will be fine if you don't make your own compost.

Ready for soil - 

It will grow quickly.

Time to wait and see what happens - 

Fingers crossed.

And a couple of months later we have signs of life - 

The largest of the three.

It doesn't get much simpler and now we have four plants with which to make our own horseradish sauce, or rather I have four plants I can make sauce from, no one else in the house likes it.

I will be planting these and the original plant into much larger tubs so the roots can get nice and long, now all I need is a good recipe for horseradish sauce.

There are other plants you can do this with both edible and non-edible, Ginger for one, just buy a bit from the supermarket and grow from that, although it does require a different approach, Turmeric is another one, if you've ever seen Turmeric roots in a shop you can also get these to grow in a pot, and again once the plants get bigger simply divide them up, take what you need and as long as you keep a few bits of root you'll always have plants so taking root cuttings is a good and easy way to propagate plants.

Our Turmeric is just starting to grow again -


Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Allotment updates 2016 edition...

And so a new year (yes I know it's been a new year for a few months) and as ever there's loads to do on the plot, so here's where we're at with the allotment so far this year.

I started a little later this year, and this is what greeted us, which to be honest isn't bad at all -

The plot as of February -

As usual weeding is the order of the day.

After deciding to start at the top and work down I set about weeding around the raspberry plants and weeding out the strawberry and asparagus beds, this didn't take too long.

Bit of weeding done - 

Starting to look better already.

The other thing I did on this visit was to tidy up the path and put the mulch down, we do this every year, and we use the cuttings from the privet hedges we have around the house, normally I shred them and leave them in black bags over winter, then come spring we clear any weeds from the path and cover it in mulch, I also keep the saw dust from my wood working exploits to use on the path as well.

Path tidied and mulched - 

Path done.

Having put the main part of the path in a while ago I decided it was time to sort out the rest of it, so I marked out a small path that goes round our raised beds at the top of the plot, and then decided that rather than have string or some kind of edging like with the rest of the path I'd make some kind of framework, that way we can grow stuff, like peas, beans etc up it.

Frame work started - 

Bit wobbly, but it's a start.

And apart from more digging and putting in some garlic and shallots that was it for February.

So on to March.

March was much the same as February, more digging and weeding, and a bit more planting, I also finished off the frame work around the top section of path.

Path frame work done - 

Blue string to hold it together, it's what I had at the time.

Framework from another angle - 

Might be a bit 'rustic' but it works.

Time for some planting, first thing in was broad beans (Wilkinsons The Sutton variety) usually people plant broad beans and over winter them, but to be honest from my experience at least it seems to make no difference in how quick you get beans if you plant at the end of the year or whether you plant at the start of the year (around March) yes the plants will be a bit further along if over wintered, but they soon catch up when planted at the start of the year.

Beans in - 

Here's to a good harvest of beans.

I also planted a load of peas along the line of the new framework, this will stay where it is and we'll also grow other things up it as the year goes by, after the peas it'll be french beans (saved from last year) fingers crossed they won't get eaten like last year.

Peas in (I used Kelvedon wonder, they do well here) - 

You can't tell but there are peas there.

Next spuds, planting two different varieties this year, the first being reds (Rooster) and some whites (Maris piper) both are good spuds, and this year I'm planting them lengthways along the fence between our plot and the next plot, usually I plant them across the plot, but I've noticed that there's a slight slope towards the fence and when watering the water tends to run that way, so I figured I'd try planting the spuds along that side and in theory they'll get more water, the spuds at the end of the rows when we've grown across the plot always seem bigger and the plants do better.

Spud planting - 

We shall see if they do better grown this way.

I also put in a load of other stuff, carrots (autumn king) spinach (saved seed) pak choi (saved seed) chard (bright lights, beta vulgaris) beetroot (boltardy) turnips (snowball) and radish (sparkler 3 mix) and some mooli (mino early) most of the other things we'll grow this year (squashes etc) have been started off in the greenhouse at home and will soon be ready for planting out.

I also relocated our rhubarb plants from the bottom of the plot to the top of the plot, so now all the fruit type plants are near the shed, the rhubarb will get more shade there and from looking at other plots it seems to do better at the top end of a plot.

And that was March done - 

About half of the plot is doing something, or should be.

I only made one trip to the plot in April, on a decidedly wet day I figured it would be a good time to plant some onions (Stuttgarter) now onions are something I never seem to do well with, but I'm not giving up, it's odd as I can grow leeks, garlic, shallots pretty well, but onions not so much.

Onions in - 

The green things in the top right are leeks, those I can grow.

And that was it, as yet I haven't been back to the plot (but it's only just turned May) I will finish digging over and tidying up and fixing things in the next week or so, and then it'll be ready for the stuff in the greenhouse.

The story so far - 

It was a soggy day.

Thanks for reading.