Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Netting and CDs

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

May is out before May is out

May has finally turned into spring rather than late winter. The temperature was up and so were the weeds. A bit of weeding, still more to do of course, and a couple of courgettes went out. I covered them with a net which we have not done before. So much stuff has been eaten by the local wildlife that I thought it was prudent. As well as watering in the courgettes we watered the asparagus and beetroot. The beetroot was definitely flagging in the sun.  I added some bark chippings around the strawberries, which are covered in flowers, secured a stray raspberry cane and cut another couple of bunches of asparagus.

The hedge between plot 18 and the field would be much better if it was all hawthorn, but much of it is straggly elder with some gaps. It is also a reservoir for weeds, especially bind weed and cleavers. The small hawthorn bushes are finally in bloom. The flowers are also known as may flowers but I would normally expect the may a little earlier in May than this.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Fistfuls of asparagus

It seems that the local wildlife are hungry. Some of our newly planted out spinach has been nibbled but we have got off lightly. Some other plots have been grazed to destruction. Even onions have been eaten and they usually get left alone. I suspect birds, probably pigeons or partridges.

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


Sweet peas
We have had a setback. The rain has soaked the ground quite nicely, much of what we have planted out are doing well, yet we have had a setback. The fence is secure, the rabbits have stayed away and even the chewed raspberries are bearing some flowers.

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

Warmth works

Courgettes and Dwarf French Beans
 We bought a heated propagator earlier this year. It costs tens of pence to run for the time it takes to encourage plants to germinate and it seems to have made a big difference to the germination rate for some seeds. The sweetcorn, dwarf French beans and courgettes have all come through quickly and completely. If anything they have come through so quickly that they are a bit early. They can go up to the greenhouse to gently strengthen for a few weeks, until the frosts are over; none of them would survive any frost at all.

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

Slowly does it

Asparagus is growing slowly, but there are lots of spears appearing. Yesterday we took some spears, some more pink rhubarb and a spring cabbage. The latest batch of spring onions went up to the greenhouse. There is frost forecast overnight at the weekend so the sweet peas will have to wait until next week before they go out.