Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Leeks are away

Yesterday I went to a local garden centre to get stocked up. I bought seeds, seed potatoes and onion sets. I couldn't find any broad beans, which I will need soon, and there are some others I will need a bit later in the year.

Today I sowed some leeks. I'm back to the system of germinating the seeds on damp paper, then transferring the seeds with a root to compost in a paper tube. When the leaves show the tube is planted in a hole where it can grow on without having its root disturbed. It is a bit of a faff, but it is much more reliable than sowing parsnips directly which have a very low level of germination.

I used to sow almost all seeds in pots, but I do now sow some directly, especially larger seeds.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Wooden leeks

This morning the short cold spell broke, but the rain started again. By mid afternoon the rain had stopped and the sun was out so I popped up to the plot. I wanted some leeks and a cabbage. Digging a couple of large leeks was quick and easy now the frost has gone and the ground is very wet. I chopped off the very muddy roots and bagged them to take home. There are a few small savoy cabbages left. The hearts are small but very crisp and tasty.

When I got home I cleaned and trimmed the cabbage which was fine, but the first leek was woody and even a bit rotten. The second leek was fine, so I have some leeks for this evening. I'm going to have to examine the remaining leeks as I dig them on the plot and throw away any rotten ones, to avoid disappointment when I get them home.

The rest of the plot looks as I would hope at this time of year. It's much too wet to walk on - I have planks to walk to the leeks and cabbages. I wonder how much more rain we will get before the spring.

Monday, 18 January 2016

A few weeds

I finished digging over the plot two and a half months ago. The winter has been very mild and damp until the last week. I popped up today, as I was passing, to see that all is well, and it is. There are only a few weeds on most of the plot, though the asparagus badly needs weeding. It never gets dug over, like ground around the fruit bushes (which is also weedy), so weeds are still a problem. Hand weeding is the only answer, as always.

I'll begin sowing a few seeds at home for parsnips and leeks soon, but the plot will look after itself for a few more weeks.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

A day late

I had hoped to finish digging over the plot by the end of October. It was very wet so I had to wait until today to finish the main dig. There are still a couple of patches left next to the cabbages and leeks which will make picking them easier and they will get dug over when the respective crops are finished.

There are a few jobs to do still. There's a fence post that needs renewing, one post supporting the raspberries looks rotten and some of the frames I use for covering plants need mending where the joints are broken. I should dig out the compost bins too, but that sounds like a job for a sparkling winter day.

Now I need to draw the plan for the site for next year so I can start looking for seeds and plugs next year.

Friday, 23 October 2015


I spent a half hour this morning digging some more of the plot; there's not much left to dig over now. There is a big pile of stuff to burn and then the ground that is on needs digging.

For the second time in two visits I saw a shrew today. The last time it was in the shed. At first I thought it was a mouse, but it didn't run away and hide, it just pottered around the floor of the shed. When I got a look at it and could see it was longer and thinner than a mouse and it had the long pointed nose of a shrew. It then came to the open door, scampered out and went under the shed. Today there was a shrew next to the fruit bushes. I expect it was the same one, but who knows? This time it ambled under a blackcurrant bush and then I lost sight of it.

I hope it's happy on plot 18.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

What's left

The dig continues, in fact it's not far from complete. Some parts of the plot can't be dug over in the same way, such as under fruit bushes which can only really be weeded. I've just dug up the last beetroot, which looks very good. Other than the permanent stuff like fruit bushes and asparagus, all that will be left in the ground are some cabbages, purple-sprouting broccoli and leeks.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

The big dig

Autumn is firmly here and the digging is under way. The warm days of late September and the unusually warm early October have turned into damp and cool autumn days. I've cleared the north end of the plot and dug it over, now I'm steadily working along the rest.

The plot has provided a lot of fruit & veg as always and, like every year, there have been successes and disappointments. Soft fruit was great and my freezer is still bursting with it. Broad beans were very good, French beans not so good. Mangetouts were very good, though the plants were not quite the 2 metres tall the packet promised. Early potatoes were good and they helped clear a bit of overgrown ground. Carrots grown from plugs don't work, cabbage and broccoli do and have been good. I've just taken some late beetroot which is excellent - I hope there will be a bit more yet. Lettuces were really great, spring onions didn't sprout. Spinach went too quickly to flower so I didn't get much of that, but sweetcorn was the best ever with many full cobs and the sweetest taste imaginable. Squashes have completely failed to produce any fruits. Asparagus was a super crop, but the stems that grew through the summer were weedy - I hope it springs up again next year. Onions were a modest size and a few had white mildew around the roots. This afflicted the whole site. They taste fine. The purple sprouting broccoli has already flowered but I'll leave that standing and hopefully it will produce some heads at the end of the winter. The leeks look great, I might take a few this week.

I have a cutting of thornless brambles from Tracy on the plot - it seems to be surviving - and another she gave me I have potted up at home as a split strategy.

I'm happy slowly turning the ground; it's easier than fiddly weeding. The plot looks so much better for being dug over. I hope to have it complete by the end of October, but if some takes until November that's not a problem. I now need to think about next year's plan ...