About Helene Coleman

Along with my partner Steve, I am a complete novice vegetable gardener. We took on an allotment for the first time this year and apart from our courgettes, most things were a bit of a disaster... We've decided to up our game and try and learn a thing or two about growing veg by blogging about our growing anxieties, triumphs and failures, supplemented with a few ideas on what we will cook with our allotment produce.
Helene Coleman

OPAL Tree Health Survey

Person Author: Helene Coleman Calender May 9, 2013 Posted Tags: , , Comment 1 Comment

A slightly different blog from me today…..In my day job, I’m lucky enough to work for a project called the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) project which is run by the Natural History Museum and Imperial College London. OPAL is a ‘citizen science’ project, which aims to get people outdoors and involved in scientific research. So this got me thinking that OPAL might be a project that the keen gardeners of Seed Parade might be interested in getting involved with! We launched our national tree health survey today and this runs from May to September when trees are in leaf. As trees are so important for bringing nature into urban areas and providing food and habitats for wildlife, I thought this might appeal to my fellow gardeners out there! The survey takes about 30 minutes to

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Spring is FINALLY here!

Person Author: Helene Coleman Calender April 19, 2013 Posted Tags: , , , , , , Comment No Comments
Peas ready for planting out.

As the evenings are getting longer, we’ve been lucky enough to spend a couple of evenings after work down on the plot. And what’s made it even better is that the sun has been shining! This means we can get on with all the jobs that have been put on hold from last month because of the freezing weather! So this week we planted out our ‘Douce Provence’ peas into our raised beds. They’d come on well at home in the cardboard toilet roll holders we planted them in and we just planted them out in these. Steve put some branches/twigs into the bed for the peas to climb up, as he thinks he saw it on Gardeners World or something! I’m not convinced, I think they just need caning, but we’ll see! We planted the peas alongside our other broad beans, so now we have all the legumes in

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More Rain and the Edible Garden Show!

Chitting our potatoes.

We were planning to spend some time down on the plot on Sunday but it didn’t happen because of the pouring rain! We like to think of ourselves as hardy gardeners but there really wasn’t anything we could have done gardening-wise! I really hope the weather improves soon; it has to, doesn’t it?! It’s been raining all morning here but it finally looks like it might it might stop and brighten up. It’s just a shame it’s a workday for me, otherwise, I’d be heading straight down to the allotment with the first promise of sunshine! Sunday wasn’t a complete write-off in the end though, as we just decided to spend the afternoon in our local village pub reading the Sunday papers by the fire with a couple of pints of cider ; ) At home, we’re busy chitting our potatoes in

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Spring has Sprung!

Broad beans seedlings.

As spring has sprung, we decided to spend Saturday afternoon down on the allotment and what a lovely afternoon it was! The sun came out and at times, it really did feel like spring was in the air! We hadn’t spent much time down there recently so it seemed like there was a lot to do. I guess that’s always the thing with gardening. So we weeded all our raised beds and checked on how things were doing. The things we planted in late autumn last year like garlic, bunching onions and broad beans are all doing well, so that’s good to see! We filled our last raised bed and cold frame with a mixture of topsoil, compost and charcoal. It’s good to know that everything is good to go as things warm up. We planted out our broad beans (‘Aquadulce Claudia’) that we have brought on

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New Cold Frame!

Person Author: Helene Coleman Calender February 5, 2013 Posted Tags: , , , , , , Comment 1 Comment
Woodchips for the paths.

As the sun was shining on Saturday we decided to make the most of it and spend a couple of hours down on the plot. Having spent so little time there in the past month because of the snow and rain, it was good to check on how our veggies were faring and catch up with some of our fellow allotmenters. Most things are doing well and have survived the snow, which was good to see, although we have lost most of our purple sprouting broccoli to some sort of pest. I can’t fathom out what it could be, the early sprouts of broccoli have been all but devoured and lots of the leaves in the centre of the plant have been stripped to the stem. It looks like the sort of damage that slugs could have done, but isn’t it too cold for them this time of year?! But our broad beans, swiss chard (‘B

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Happy New Year and some Keralan Veg!

Curry leaves

Happy New Year! Here’s to hoping that 2013 is a perfect year for growing! We’ve just got back from an amazing holiday in Kerala in southern India. India is such a vibrant and colourful country that it’s been hard to settle back to life in the UK again in grey, cold and wet January! But enough of that, we were on a bit of a mission whilst on holiday to see what vegetables are grown and eaten in Kerala compared to here in the UK. Most Keralans are vegetarian so they eat a huge range of fruit and vegetables, often in curries of one form or another. Fruit and veg are so readily available in India; every shop on every street from a small village to a big city sells them, its certainly different to the supermarkets here in the UK! So whilst out and about, we spotted lots of

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Kale Extravaganza!

Person Author: Helene Coleman Calender December 16, 2012 Posted Tags: , , , , , , , , Comment No Comments
Lots of kale!

It’s a short blog today as this weekend we’ve been busy getting ready for our trip to India! We fly to Kerala on Friday evening for Christmas and New Year so needless to day are pretty excited about where we’re going to be spending the holidays! Anyway, today we went down to the allotment to pick some veg for our Sunday roast that Steve is busy cooking at the moment. We picked the last of our parsnips and cut some leaves from our ‘cut and come again’ kale plants, which have done really well this year. We have four varieties of kale –‘Black’, ‘Red Russian’, 'Redbor F1’ and ‘Westland Winter’ which will hopefully keep us going until the spring. Tonight, we’ve got a bit of each with our dinner, in what can best be described as a kale extravaganza! Christma

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Turkeys and New Seeds…..

Person Author: Helene Coleman Calender December 9, 2012 Posted Tags: , , Comment No Comments

We’ve been so busy over the past two weeks, we’ve barely had time to get down to our allotment, but today we braved the cold but sunny weather to check out how our plants have been doing. Everything seems to be faring well, the only exception being the Mizuna which had finally started to wilt and die off following the recent cold weather, so we pulled it up and fed it to the pigs. Mizuna was one of our success stories of this autumn’s planting, so we’ll definitely grow that again next year. Steve didn’t really fancy putting in the other raised bed today (he claimed it was too cold!) so we just had a cup of tea in the warm allotment Club House by the woodburning stove, admired our plot and then had a quick look at the turkeys. They’ve got a couple more weeks to fatten up

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Broad Beans and Oriental Veg

Broad beans for planting.

Although it’s that time of year when there isn’t so much to do on our allotment, we always seem to find ourselves with a long list of jobs to finish off! This weekend we’ve finally got round to sowing some ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ Broad Beans into our newest raised bed. We left about 20cm between each seed and just hope that it’s enough space for the plants to grow well (provided of course that they germinate). We’ve also planted a few into plastic pots and have put them in the cold frame outside our back door, to see if we get discernably different results from each method. Steve’s sister Julie, whose a bit of a gardening pro, say’s it’s all about trial and error with veg gardening, and we’re slowly coming round to the idea that Julie might be right! We’ve also s

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Raised Beds and Overwintering Onions

Person Author: Helene Coleman Calender November 17, 2012 Posted Tags: , , , Comment No Comments
Onions ready to plant.

Today we finally filled the raised bed we put in a few weeks ago. After a fairly unsuccessful few months earlier in the year, where everything was eaten by slugs, wood pigeons or rabbits, we thought we’d just put in some raised beds and buy some custom built protective netting. We filled the beds with a mixture of our own soil from the plot (a sandy loam) and compost from the allotment communal heap. I have to say, we’re pretty pleased with how everything is growing so far (even though its late autumn and not much is really growing much at the moment!). It feels like being able to manage a contained space in the raised beds makes growing a lot easier! We also tested our topsoil, as we’d seen in some of the gardening books that it was quite a useful thing to do. We tested our s

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