Monday, 10 April 2017

Sweetness and light

I sowed some sweet corn a few days ago and already it has all sprouted, bar one. I've taken the plants out of the propagator and put them on a west-facing windowsill for a few days. If they grow well I'll take them up to the allotment cold greenhouse to harden off before planting out. It seems vigourous as it has all sprouted in less than a week which looks promising.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Carrots on tape

A really lovely day today, so I did a bit more digging and sowed some carrot seeds on a tape. The plot's looking a bit more tidy. Gary offered to help replacing the felt on the shed roof. It would make the job much easier to have another pair of hands, and he's taller than me. I'll see what the weather is like.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

To earth up or not to earth up

It's been lovely for much of the past few days. I've got more of the plot dug over and ready for the off. I planted broad beans and onion sets a few days ago. No sign of either growing yet, but that's not surprising.

Today I set about planting some second early potatoes. The idea is, I think, that the tubers should be about 15cm (6") below the surface when you're done. Most folks seem to agree that spuds need to be earthed up, that is have a small bank of soil heaped up along the line of the planted spuds. I wondered if just planting them deeper would be as good, but it seems not to be so. The tubers grow just beneath the surface and banking them up encourages them to grow in the row where they are easier to find. Every time I grow potatoes there are always a few that I miss that come up next year amongst some other crop I have planted there. I have earthed up the rows a bit and I'll add a bit more as the leaves begin to appear. It is important to keep the tubers covered and out of the light. If they get light on them they go green and develop solanine, which is poisonous.

I also sowed some beetroot and some spring onions. These were both on tapes. I cut a metre off each tape to get some plants started, I'll sow some more in a few weeks to stagger the crop. I've got carrots and midget lettuces also on tapes to try. I hope they work well.

At home I have some leeks pricked out into pots (thanks Louise for the leeks) and I've sown some sweet corn in pots. That is in a propagator and will remain so until the shoots appear, maybe seven to ten days. I bought some early cabbage plugs and some romanesco broccoli plugs which should be ready in the autumn. I'll move them up to the greenhouse soon.

I have a more digging to do and a few jobs to sort out, The shed needs tidying up, likewise the greenhouse, there are some frames that need repairing and a fence post that has broken. Then there's the shed roof ...

Friday, 17 March 2017

Spring onions on tape

I bought some onion sets and a few packets of seeds. One of them is White Lisbon spring onions. The seeds are embedded in fibrous tape, spaced at the optimum spacing. The idea is to dig a shallow trough, cut the tape to the required length, lay the tape in the trough, cover with soil and water in. It sounds interesting, so I'll give it a go. No thinning required and the tape is supposed to help with drawing the right level of moisture to the seed for germination.

It's a touch too cold yet, but hopefully next week I can plant a strip of tape that will turn into a nice row of spring onions.


Thursday, 16 March 2017

Fighting with Tilly

Tilly put up a fight today. The tiller, Tilly, only has a small two stroke engine. It's for tilling the soil not tearing it up. I tried to use it to turn over a patch of ground that had not been dug over and had a lot of weeds. Together we managed it, but Tilly fought me all the way. I think it was easier than digging by hand, but only just. It was certainly quicker, but it still took longer than digging a much bigger area yesterday that was more broken up and had fewer weeds. I raked the patch today to pull out some weeds after Tilly had done her best. That will help in the next few weeks. There's still much more to dig over.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Digging again

Over the winter I've been struggling with a sudden illness. I wasn't able to finish the autumn dig and the plot has been a mess all winter. The weather was warm and calm today so I took a trip up to start preparing for planting.

I used my tilling machine to turn over the small area I dug last autumn and extended it into a bit of the plot I hadn't dug. It was a bit weedy, as you might be able to see. The tiller is not very powerful so it only digs a little on the first pass. I will turn this over again and then rake it which will pull some the weeds out, but I'm sure some will remain.

I need to extend the dig into the untouched areas, some have a covering of short grass. I'm not sure the tiller will manage that, and even if it does I'm not sure digging it in will be a good idea. Still, I'm doing what I can at this stage. My plan is I don't have a plan. I usually draw out a plan in the autumn and lay out the plot in the spring. That way I can dig over the places that I need to plant first. I didn't do that.

I would normally have a few things growing at home by now too, but this year I have nothing started. The good news is that it's not too late. I'm going to grow only the stuff I really like this year, so broad beans, carrots, beetroot, cabbages, peas, mangetout and sweetcorn. I might grow some fillers like onions and potatoes but that's all. The fruit bushes will add to the crops. I'm going to spread out the rows to make sure it's easy to hoe and harvest. The only issue is that empty space always grows weeds, but I'll sort that out as I go.

I need to buy some seeds soon and use any day I feel fine to prepare the plot. I've made a start, but there's a lot still to dig.

Then there's the little problem of repairing the shed roof ...