Sunday, 16 December 2012
The leeks were in beds covered with netting to keep the pests off, which we have not had to do before. The leeks are really tasty, but not as big as we would like. If we leave them now they won't grow much and we are ready for them. We finished off the first bed and I packed up the canes and netting from the covers.
Jean dug some parsnips. They have done very well this year with great long roots and not very woody in the centres of the really big ones.
I pruned the black currant bushes - probably rather later than was ideal. I planted loads of prunings both near the moved raspberries and in the hedge bottom too. Too much of the hedge is elderberry and it is dying back leaving a bare and useless hedge. I think a hedge that produces black currants would be great. We will see how well the prunings do - I'll need to cut down the weeds in the hedge bottom to stop them out-competing the currant bushes.
Jean planted some garlic. Again this might be a bit late, but it will probably do well in the spring. Sweet, home grown garlic is too good to miss, so if it doesn't grow I'll try some spring-planted ones.
The broccoli is still looking good in its covered frames. No sign of spears yet, but it is probably still too early. It would not be there without the covers. Norman on the next plot has had cabbage, sprouts and leeks all eaten to the ground by pests. Some were covered but not perfectly. We still think it is rats. The ground is very soft after the rain but there were no animal tracks we could see. People are putting out rat poison and it is still been taken in volume, so it feel like a losing battle.
As the rent for the plot relentlessly goes up year on year, maybe the parish council could spend a little getting some help dealing with the rats. The water bill for the year (previously quoted as a major cost) must be low this year - no one needed to water much this year.
Saturday, 10 November 2012
Saturday, 13 October 2012
The leeks on the plot are slowly fattening up. We might have been tempted to take a few by now in previous years, but they have been so small that we have waited. I think they will be fine and a good number too. I hope their slow growth, even slower than most years, will make them even tastier.
Our first proper try at growing broccoli is looking good, though they do seem to have some white fly. The plants are looking sturdy and growing taller. They are protected by frames and netting to keep the pigeons off, who, I'm told, like broccoli. No sign yet of any spears to take, but that might not be until January or February.
The asparagus was yellowing so it all got cut back to the ground, before any storms rock the roots and cause damage. Monty Don suggests covering the ground with compost to feed the plants for next season, which I will do, compost topped up with blood, fish and bonemeal. Mind you, Monty Don suggests covering everything with compost or digging compost into everywhere, which would be nice but our compost heap doesn't make enough for a fraction of what we would need.
Jean sowed some spinach which grew slowly. We decided to plant it at home in tubs to make it easier to look after and pick. We'll see how that goes.
We are still feeding poison to the rats, who dutifully consume it. One dead rat has turned up on Geoff's plot, but still they go on. I think we need to use a different tactic.
Wednesday, 3 October 2012
This allotment is beginning to feel like a battlefield and a minor civil engineering site this year. I hope we get back to better times next year.
Wednesday, 26 September 2012
We have had some lovely sweetcorn this year, and today we took some more. Most of the remaining cobs are small. If they ripen there will still be enough more to enjoy, if the pests leave them alone.
On the rat front, or rather the rats at the back of the plot under the compost bins near the hedge, I have decided to put down rat poison. It is easy to drop it into their hole and cover that with a small plank to stop anything else eating it. All we have delivered has been quickly eaten - I'll see how soon the current batch disappears. Once the rats have been dispatched I intend to find a way to cover the bank they, and before them rabbits, burrow into so easily. Concrete would be effective but not possible, so chicken wire mesh laid across the bank and buried at the edges might be effective. I think I'll dig out the compost bins and lay chicken wire under them too make they whole area hard to use. I'm sure the key is making things difficult or unpleasant so pests just move elsewhere, but when they are resident firmer action is needed.
Tuesday, 18 September 2012
The shed has a felt roof, and I found part of it on the plot. I climbed up to look and found the felt is torn and has holes in many places, so a new covering of felt is required. Getting the old stuff off will be easy, getting the old felt nails out may be harder and fitting the new felt along the join with the greenhouse, without dismantling the greenhouse roof might be awkward. I don't trust the strength of the roof to sit on, so I will have to work from the edges.
We thought about growing leeks over the winter then forgot. I hope it is not too late to start some now for harvesting in the spring.
Monday, 17 September 2012
As well as getting thoroughly scratched by gooseberry thorns I tied in the green growth of the raspberry canes. They have done really well in their new home, although they didn't have much fruit this year they have put out masses of new shoots that should all bear fruit next year. Now they are tied to wires supported at each end by posts they stand a better chance of surviving the winter winds without breaking.
The Autumn dig is under way, with about half the plot dug over and weeded. The small hazel trees around the edge of the plot are now much bigger and some have nuts on them. I'll harvest the nuts when they are ready and then prune them quite hard, which I've done to the ones with no nuts.
Sweetcorn is doing well, with more cobs to eat today. They are unbeatable. The beetroot has finished, the beets have stopped growing, so got composted. The remaining cabbages were full of caterpillars so they were pulled up and composted. The compost bin is quite full and needs turning soon to help encourage the rot. Some of the lovely compost from our bins has helped the raspberries do so well. The rhubarb is dying back, so its leaves and stems will add to the compost too.
Tuesday, 4 September 2012
A warm, calm day and the plot invited some attention. Lots of weeds came out - we still have too much bind weed. The remains of courgette plants came out which have been worthless producing only two small fruits all year. The sweet peas are over so they came out, with accompanying bing weed. All of the remaining onions were lifted to dry off and I lifted the first parsnip which looks large and very good.
It begins to look like the start of autumn.
Monday, 3 September 2012
More beetroot was ready today and we lifted some onions to dry in the greenhouse. The broccoli has had some slug damage, but should be OK. We took a cabbage which had some caterpillar damage, but the heart looks great. The sweet corn is now in a race against the weather and the shortening days. Many of the sweetcorn stems were falling over, I hadn't staked them this year - I will another year. The cobs are growing but they are not ripe. I hope there is still time for them to ripen before the days are too short and before any frosts. Just a few sunny, warm days might do it.
Tuesday, 21 August 2012
I pruned the raspberry canes. The growth on the new canes is the best I've seen so next year looks promising. The onions are all starting to lay down. We pulled a few where the top growth had died back a bit bit most need a touch longer. I'll put them in the greenhouse to dry again - that worked well.
Cabbages are doing well, they are forming hearts with one nearly ready to take. The first batch of broccoli is looking great, with the later batches also growing. They have plenty of time to catch up.
We took some black currant cuttings. We want to move the bushes but they don't take to being moved, so one way is to grow some more plants, plant them in the right place and when they are doing well, dig the old ones up. It could take a couple of years though.
There are lots of weeds to dig up and the existing fruit bushes need some pruning, but things look good.
One thing I'm not sure about is the village show. Brenda pressed a show guide on us and asked us to enter the show. I'm not sure I want to. We grow for the table, not to show. Will any of our stuff be up to showing? Can I be bothered to primp and preen it into what the judges want? I'm not sure, but I've got a couple of weeks to decide.
Friday, 10 August 2012
We took another batch of beetroot too. A few had bolted with no real beet. They got pulled up to make room and resources for the others. The beets we took are a perfect size, with still much more to come. It freezes well, once boiled, so like the spring onions it would be worth trying to grow more, though staggering the sowing is less important because freezing it will spread its use.
Every sweetcorn stalk has a male flower on it. One or two are beginning to open to shed their pollen. The cobs are beginning to swell on the stalks but only one stalk has any tassels yet. I took the netting off - we have not needed netting in previous years. When I got home I found a pocket full of clothes pegs which I'd taken off the netting and forgot to leave at the plot.
We decided to water the beetroot and the brassicas. Rain is forecast for next week, but I don't trust the forecasts that far out and the plants need water now. I hope there is some good rain, the ground is dry and hard and needs weeding - softer ground is easier to weed.
Now the soft fruit is over we need to prune the bushes. We might try to move a blackcurrant bush too - we really want to get all of the fruit closer to the hedge, but I don't want to kill the bushes. The blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes are particularly good. I'll try to use some of the pruning to grow cuttings as a back up.
Sunday, 5 August 2012
A few beetroot were ready - they are boiling away as I type. there are lots more to come and they look good. Another harvest of spring onions will be delicious with maybe one more crop to come. The main onions are looking pretty good, most have recovered from being nibbled and a few tops are turning so not long before we pull and dry a few of those too. The sweetcorn is beginning to get the top tassels growing and hints of cobs too. After their demolition by pests I'm pleased they have done so well.
We planted out the last of the broccoli plants and covered them with frames and nets. The glut of pigeons continues to be a problem in the area, hence the netting. The pigeons are turning to farmland, especially wheat and oil seed rape and are leaving our plot alone at the moment. What will happen when the large flocks find the fields ploughed and empty? I think we are ready for them, but I've thought that before and been wrong.
Thursday, 19 July 2012
I want to plant out the broccoli in blocks because they will certainly need to be covered, which is easier for blocks than a few plants scattered here and there. They will become pretty tall, all being well, so the frames I've used may not be big enough yet, but since we have not managed to grow broccoli before we will have to see what happens.
Saturday, 7 July 2012
|Lovely young broad beans|
Everyone seems to be losing plants to slugs, mice and pigeons, much more than recent years. A few people have suffered with rabbits too. One thing that has not suffered with pests is our fruit.
Our raspberries, in spite of being badly damaged over the winter, are still providing some fruit, with lots of shoots for next year too. Our blackcurrant bushes are weighed down with fruit, all beautifully swollen by the rain. We took our first half kilo today and they look superb. The gooseberries too look very good, with lots of fruit which is beginning to ripen, but not quite ready to take yet. All of the fruit bushes have put on a lot of growth, so they will need carefully pruning later in the year. The disappointment are our strawberries. They needed more sun and warmth I think. We should get some, but not many and they are getting eaten by slugs too. Time to think again about how and where we grow them and whether to buy new stocks.
The next big job is a weeding session. The various covers make weeding awkward and the rain has helped all sorts of weeds shoot up. many hours weeding will be needed this week if the rain holds off for long enough.
Tuesday, 3 July 2012
Something that is doing very well are our brassicas. The cabbages that are covered are growing nicely. They don't seem to mind the cool, wet weather. The soil is well drained so I'm hoping their roots don't get waterlogged. At home, in a cold frame, we have our broccoli growing in pots. It looks strong so I hope it will make the transition to the plot safely. It will need a lot of protection if it is to make it to late next winter. It is a favourite caterpillars, slugs, and, in the winter, pigeons too. If we protect it until next February, we will be taking spears from it, at a time when not much else is available.
I checked the broad beans. The pods are swelling, but the beans are still too small. I do want to take them when they are small, soft and sweet, but they still need more time before the first will be ready. A few raspberries are reddening and a few blackcurrants are ripening as are a few gooseberries. The strawberries need more sun; there are lots of berries but they are not ripening and the whole area is wet and dank. i fear they may rot before they are ripe.
We gave up on the mange touts. We took off the covers and left the stumps in the open, tomorrow I expect there to be nothing remaining. There are a few flowers on the dwarf French beans and a couple of very small fruits on the courgettes. Leeks are recovering under their protective netting and onions look good.
We do need a good weeding session to see us through the summer. Usually when the weather warms up and the ground dries out the weeds slow down, but this year they keep growing strongly, but we don't have to water anything at he moment.
Saturday, 30 June 2012
I discount rabbits on our plot; our fence is good, there are no droppings and some uncovered plants which have not been touched would have been demolished by rabbits. Similarly I discount deer. They could easily hop over our fence, but there are no tracks or droppings and they would browse everything.
There doesn't seem to be a firm pattern. We have covered mange tout peas which have been demolished. I don't expect any crop from them. There were slug trails near there and we have put out slug pellets, but the rain may have washed some away. Mice could get under the edges of the netting, but I doubt birds would. Spinach is in the open and untouched, it must not be to the liking of the scoffers. Some onion leaves are still being munched, but only at the edge of the bed, where the CDs and strings are not covering it well. Here I suspect birds. Parsnips are in the open and untouched. They are the best looking parsnips we have ever grown, but it's the roots I'm interested in so we have to wait until we pull them to really see how good they are. Our dwarf French beans have been nibbled under a net, so again I blame slugs. Our strawberries are under cover and are beginning to ripen and as they do the red bits are getting nibbled, again slugs or snails. There have been some black fly on the broad beans, but not much and nipping the tops off has dealt with it. The bean pods are growing well and some will be ready soon. Our courgettes are not doing well with the plants not enjoying the cold and the few tiny fruit quickly nibbled away. Undercover cabbages looked fine, ones in the open have gone. Fruit bushes all look good, with signs of ripening berries.
I suspect we are just getting assaulted by multiple pests and I especially blame slugs, pigeons and maybe mice. I wonder if some creatures thrived in the warm March and there are now more mouths to feed. We will get some produce, but we will miss out on some too. More to learn about yet I think.
Wednesday, 20 June 2012
|Improvised bird proofing|
|Mange touts in a tent|
|Covered cabbage and eaten cabbage|
We put more slug pellets out - there were some huge slug trails around the plot. We took some spinach for later.
Monday, 18 June 2012
We also planted out the remaining mange touts. They too looked as good in their pots as the ones previously planted out. We have had some damage to the ones outside where they have grown through the mesh covering and been eaten, probably by birds. Last year partridges scoffed the lot, so today I built a plastic mesh cover propped up on canes. The plants are well away from the mesh, so, hopefully, the birds won't get close to our peas. It might be a nuisance to uncover to pick the pods, but we'll see.
We also planted out the cabbages that Gary gave us to replace the ones razed by birds. I made a plastic mesh tunnel supported by wire hoops and held in place with tent pegs. We had a few extra cabbages left over, so we planted them out in the open to see how long they last and as a kind of offering to the pigeons. The pact is they can have them if they leave everything else alone, but I don't expect they will understand that.
A few strawberries have been nibbled - I suspect slugs. I put down some bark chippings around the plants, but I think I need more, and more slug pellets too. There are no berries looking ripe yet, but lots of small green ones so if we can keep the slugs off we should get a good crop.
The broad beans stems are huge. They have flourished in the wet and they are tough enough to thrive in the cold. They are covered with flowers and the bottom ones have set into small bean pods. No sign of black fly yet, but lots of patrolling ants.
We took some rhubarb, it won't be long before we stop taking it so the plant bulks up again. The stems are still red and it cooks down really nicely.
When the broccoli at home is ready it will spend a few weeks in the greenhouse before being planted out. Just like cabbage, it will need a lot of protection from the birds and unlike cabbage it will grow outside for months and be vulnerable through the winter. I hope it makes it.
Thursday, 14 June 2012
The spinach looks really good; cooler weather does suit it. It was just 11°C at 10am Mid June. The ground is nicely wet too, so this current weather is good for some things.
We bought some seeds for early purple-sprouting broccoli today - it's a touch late to sow it but since it grows for nearly a year I'm sure it will catch up. That should be a treat next February when not much else is available to harvest.
Sunday, 10 June 2012
Across the road from the site there were a couple of men shooting wood pigeons, and they seemed to get quite a few. Many people have commented how there are lots of pigeons around at the moment. Pigeons are high on my list of suspects as veg gobblers.
I'm not sure the sweetcorn will survive. Its leaves are mostly eaten away with just the stalks remaining. The leeks probably will as they grow for much longer and there is more of the plant still to grow from. This year has been odd, warm in March, very wet and cold most of the time since, maybe that has forced the wildlife to look for different food supplies, but this has, for sure, been the worst year of losses since we started.
I'm going to look for some extra netting and canes to support it. I hope the men with the shotgun keep bagging pigeons too.
Tuesday, 5 June 2012
Wednesday, 30 May 2012
The rain of April seems a distant memory and now the warmer weather has encouraged growth we have been planting out more stuff. We planted out our dwarf French beans and courgettes a few days ago, today the first batches of spring onions and mange touts went out too and some cabbages. To dig the ground over we first had to soften it with water and once the plants were in we watered them in too. The forecast rain arrived disguised as a warm, sunny, calm day, so no water there. Rain is now forecast for tomorrow, I hope it comes.
Everything we have out is covered with netting, wire frames or has CDs dangling over it to deter the local wildlife.
We gathered another big bunch of rhubarb, some spinach and some overly long asparagus, some of which will be good but some will be woody.
The gooseberries and black currants are swelling, the strawberries are covered in flowers so fruit looks promising.
Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Sunday, 20 May 2012
We took a good two fistfuls of asparagus - it is quickly turning into the most productive year. We had enough to give some away.
Wednesday, 16 May 2012
The setback lies in the way our sweet peas have been grazed to the ground.
I tied canes into a simple tower and Jean planted the sweet peas to grow up the canes but instead something arrived and ate them. I suspect partridges. They have feasted on our mange touts before. Whatever it was I just hope the remaining stumps survive.The photo is of the biggest remaining stump. I wrapped the remaining plants with netting.
The asparagus is doing well. The broad beans are short, but very sturdy and now they have flowers showing. The beetroot is mostly under a wire frame. The plants that are not covered are slowly being eaten, but the rest are fine. Jean planted the next batch of beetroot and spinach. The first batch of spinach is growing slowly in the cool weather. I'm willing it on.
Friday, 4 May 2012
|Courgettes and Dwarf French Beans|
The cold, wet weather continues. The ground is nicely soaked without being over done. The cold weather is holding things back a bit, but that is strengthening shoots and roots I think. As the amount of daylight increases plants respond and grow if there is enough moisture, though they may grow much faster if it is warmer. I'd like to see the spinach flourish, that is the next crop I'm eagerly waiting for and we have the next follow-on plants waiting to go out too.
The handful of strawberry flowers show they are trying to come on. They will withstand frost, but unripened fruit wouldn't. The much-damaged raspberry canes are all throwing out new shoots, but I do wonder if we will see any fruit this year. There are still stray raspberry plants appearing in a few places around the plot and I might yet transplant a few to be with the others to enhance our chances of fruit next year.
We are up-to-date with jobs, so we are just waiting for the best time to plant more young plants out.
Thursday, 3 May 2012
Friday, 27 April 2012
A quick visit to plot 18 revealed what the cold, wet April has produced. The temperature has been below average, below the magic 10 degrees many days. Following the very warm March it has been a bit of a shock. On the other hand the drought has been broken by more than double the rainfall for the month.
Broad beans are doing well. They are short and strong so they should grow nicely. Asparagus is growing slowly. Most of them stems are fat, so when they are ready to cut they should be juicy. There are a lot of stems too.
The onions all seems to have sprouted. They seemed to take a while to get going, but now they are looking good. Parsnips too look very good. They cope well with cool weather and the rain has helped them on. The freshly planted spinach and beetroot all have taken well.
Fruit bushes and strawberries are flowering and looking strong. The rhubarb has produced a couple of kilos of young, juicy stalks.
Friday, 20 April 2012
I weeded the strawberries and then covered them with a wire frame. A few flowers are beginning to open. The berries will be a long time coming yet, but I don't want to risk losing any to the birds. After the very welcome rain we will need to protect them from slugs. I have spread bark chippings around the plants, tucking them under the leaves too. That helps.
The onions are sprouting, the garlic is doing well, the broad beans look sturdy and the plants in the greenhouse are doing well. So well that the first batch of beetroot and spinach are almost ready to plant out. No sign of any carrots yet.
Tuesday, 10 April 2012
We took our first rhubarb of the season today along with some more asparagus and a spring cabbage. The cabbages are in the middle of the ground set aside for leeks, but I'm sure they will be long gone before the leeks are ready to go out.
The rhubarb tops and a few outer cabbage leaves look a bit lost in the freshly emptied compost bin, but it will fill up over the coming months.
Onions are just beginning to sprout and everything in the greenhouse looks fine. Things are only growing slowly now the temperatures are lower, but that is often good as the plants get stockier and not leggy. A couple of sunny days and things will romp away.
Saturday, 7 April 2012
Then I noticed something that shouldn't have been there, a crisp fresh footprint. Then another and another. The prints don't match either of our boots and were bigger, so someone has stepped over the low part of our fence and walked down the plot, before leaving at the bottom end somewhere near the hedge. The gates were closed, the shed and greenhouse doors were fastened nothing was damaged or moved.
Someone's shed has been broken into recently, maybe the wearer of the boots was looking at ours. We don't leave anything valuable in the shed and no weed-killers or the like that could do any youngster any harm, only a few old hand tools, string, nettings and the like. We don't lock it either I think that implies that there is something valuable in it and by the time anyone finds out that there is not, the lock or the door has been broken.
It is possible that someone was just curious? The view over the back hedge is good, but you can see that by walking down the path between plots. Did someone see our shed was open and walked down to close it? If so thank you. The fact is, we will probably never know. Some people might be worried or unnerved by this, I'm just curious.
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
Jean sowed the next batch of beetroot and spinach and the first batch of spring onions.
Monday, 2 April 2012
So already the plan has been changed, but that is what plans are for, aren't they?
Saturday, 31 March 2012
We saw our neighbours from across the street who are helping out with a plot that someone else can't manage for the moment. I hope they get as much from their plot as we do from ours.
On the positive side we took our first asparagus. It looked good and tasted better. Sometimes the very first asparagus stems have grown slowly so they can be stringy or hard, but this was succulent and melt-in-the-mouth. Being picked only an hour before we ate it certainly helps. I watered the asparagus crowns and the sprouting garlic. The rest of the plot looks parched, so another watering session looks inevitable.
Thursday, 29 March 2012
Jean finished emptying the compost bin and we spread the lovely stuff around the fruit bushes, which we then watered with can after can to soak the ground well. We'll see how long that lasts.
The asparagus is sending up new spears almost daily. The first are almost ready for cutting. There are only three crowns sprouting, but it is early yet. In a few weeks the spears will shoot up more quickly and we will be ready for them.
Wednesday, 28 March 2012
On the plus side the warm, bright start to the spring has helped things power on, but only if they get water. Our broad beans look great, the parsnips and onions are in the ground and sucking up as much water as we can give them. The asparagus is producing spears, in a few days we might be able to take our first ones. The gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes are bursting into leaf and the flowers are out on the gooseberries which are attracting bees to pollinate them. The much damaged raspberry canes are beginning to produce new growth. I fear we won't see much in the way of fruit this year because the canes were eaten by the local rabbits and the canes that should produce fruit this year are badly damaged or completely gone. We will see how the canes respond.
I have dug out some of the compost from the oldest bin and it is lovely stuff. We will use it as a mulch for the fruit bushes to suppress weeds, retain moisture and nourish the bushes. There is still more to come out then I'll turn the other bin into the empty one and make room for this year's stuff to rot down. In digging out the bin I found a couple of pieces of rhubarb that we dug out over a year ago. They were both sprouting, so we gave them away to our newest plot holder.
The site is generally looking with most plots getting started for the new season.
Wednesday, 21 March 2012
I opened the water stop tap on for the site so the water tanks would fill. Once the tanks were full I checked the meter and it was till turning over, even though the tank valves seemed closed. I did some quick arithmetic and I think that at the rate of flow I saw would actually use about 430 litres every day, which if it is a leak is going to cost the parish council a lot each year in wasted water.
I turned the stop tap off again.
Friday, 16 March 2012
The sweet peas are still struggling, but there are four shoots now.
There are a few regular jobs that need doing like turning the compost bins and clearing out the shed. One of the compost bins has had squatters of the rabbit kind, so I'm not sure what we will find when we turn it over.
Friday, 9 March 2012
Tuesday, 6 March 2012
At home almost of the broad beans have sprouted and look good. Leeks have started to sprout, but our parsnips chits have yet to sprout.
The rabbits have not re-emerged, but I'll keep checking.
Sunday, 4 March 2012
Parsnips are slow to germinate and unpredictable, some say unreliable. I have heard people have said things like 'I have sown hundreds of seeds and only a couple of plants came up'. To avoid the uncertainty we chit the seeds on damp paper, that is spread them on a damp surface and when they sprout a root, transfer them to seed compost in a cardboard tube. As soon as the first leaves appear think about planting them out so you don't disturb the root. We use a bulb planter to bury the tube to the right depth. The cardboard tube rots away leaving the plants to grow nicely.
The germination rate is around 50%, amazing for parsnips, and because you plant out plants, not sow seeds, there's no thinning needed.
Gardeners' World don't plant into cardboard tubes, rather plant straight into the ground. We find the tubes useful, indeed I recommend it.
Saturday, 3 March 2012
The garlic is not doing well. Other people's plots have large, healthy-looking rows of garlic we have just one, quite small garlic plant. This has happened before and I suspect we are about to fall into the same trap, but hey-ho. Today we bought some more garlic, as well as some more blood fish and bone which I'll spread that sometime soon, preferably just before rain. The existing garlic may yet grow (it did before), so I need to find a spare corner to plant the new batch without disturbing it.
The good news is that the first ten of our broad beans have sprouted, so growing is really under way.
Saturday, 25 February 2012
I have also moved the fence to surround the raspberry canes, what's left of them, and protect them from the rabbits. In the process I found an extended rabbit hole which had come up through the compost bin. I filled it with rubble to make it as unpleasant as possible, but I think our skirmishes with the local rabbits looks like continuing. Geoff, the parish council chairman and neighbouring plot holder, suggested finding someone with a ferret.
On the positive side the rhubarb is beginning to appear, the gooseberries are covered in buds and a few are opening and the blackcurrants look weighed down with buds. A few wayward raspberry canes also appeared and they can be moved to supplement the gnawed remnants now inside the fence.
It's good to get in touch with the earth again.
Thursday, 23 February 2012
Tuesday, 14 February 2012
We just dug up the last of the leeks. There were a few soft ones that went straight to the compost, but most looked great. There were signs of rabbits all over the place, but none inside our fence. When the ground is ready we will alter the fence to take in the raspberry area and add a place to store our frames between uses. Seed planting time is fast approaching - I can't wait.
Wednesday, 8 February 2012
I've changed some varieties this year and there is nothing bold and new, so far, but the planting plan does leave a few spaces to try anything that we fancy. The list is:
- Broad beans
- Bunyards Exhibition
- Oregon Sugar Pod
- Dwarf French beans
- Incredible F1
- Javelin F1
- Chantenay Red Cored 2
- Spring onion
- White Lisbon
- Lazio F1
- Astia F1
- Sweet peas
- Old Fashioned Mix
Monday, 23 January 2012
I've made a couple more frames. this time they are quite short at only a metre long. They will be the ends of a rectangle made of frames that I will use to surround a carrot bed. I used longer frames for the sides last year and had to improvise the ends. The main job of the frames will be to support fleece to keep the carrot fly at bay. Last year's carrots were very good, so protecting this year's crop is certainly worth it. The frames are simple wooden sides made from pressure-treated timber used as roofing laths. The corners are reinforced with plywood triangles. They have plastic screwed to the ends to allow them to be pushed into the ground, but the plastic won't rot like wood. the whole frame is covered with a mesh, plastic in this case but others have chicken wire mesh, whatever is available. The frames make the plot much more flexible as I can use them where I like and move them each year. I use frames in parallel pairs with netting strung over the top and ends to keep birds off brassicas and legumes. I may make more end frames if they work well.
Wednesday, 18 January 2012
Then the placement needs to be thought about. Try to avoid using the same plot as last year for most things. Some things don't move because they are perennials, like asparagus and the fruit bushes. Some things take up little space so they can be slotted into small areas like spinach. Garlic is already planted from last autumn.
I also wanted to think about reusing some of the ground that early harvests free up, like broad beans. Here I could plant something to stand over next winter, but in the end I just ignored that, too much changes to think that far ahead.
So here is the plan, I hope it works well this year.
Next is the choice of varieties and buying the seeds. It makes me excited for a new season of growing and of delicious home-grown fresh veg.
Saturday, 14 January 2012
The stakes just support the fence along the end of the allotment. they don't take much strain and they are a bit flimsy. They were rotten at ground level. I bashed the stake further in and adjusted the way the fence was fastened to it. It will rot again, but not for a year or two. The main fence posts are at the corners and gates and they are much more substantial.