Friday, 26 November 2010

Next year's plantings

The bit of snow that has fallen has reminded me that winter is close and I haven't put a plan together for next year's plantings. There will be a bit more room for vegetables because we've moved the raspberries to the back of the plot which we've not made much of and cut down our rhubarb by three-quarters.

Firstly the review.
This year we didn't take enough care to water when the rain didn't fall. We planted more leeks but they didn't get enough water and are small. Winter onions were great, summer onions were good, but also small. Spring onions came to nothing. Mange-touts were great, but freezing them was not very successful so we need to eat them as they are ready. Cabbages were awful because they didn't get enough water (even the caterpillars left them alone). Potatoes were small and not spectacular. Peas were nice, but not plentiful. Garlic is great, but a bit small. Courgettes were great again, and our first sweetcorn was wonderful, but needs a bit of care to pollinate it all. Broad beans were few and a bit tough, but tasty. Parsnips seem good so far. Spinach was very poor, some not even surviving planting out. Beetroot was good, and better for leaving to grow to a bigger size. Gooseberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and rhubarb were all great, strawberries were poor.

Overall with either more rainfall or careful watering we could do better.

Our current plans for next year include:
Beetroot, broad beans, courgettes, French beans, garlic, leeks, mange touts, onions, parsnips, savoy cabbage, spinach, spring onions, sweetcorn. The existing fruit bushes will remain. I need to plan the layout around the winter onions, spring onions, garlic and broad beans that are already planted.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Mice and compost

A calm, sunny day tempted us to do a bit of tidying up. The asparagus was ready to be cut back almost to the ground. I put up supports for the newly moved raspberries and tied each stem to a wire. Jean turned the compost heap and covered the heap to help it rot. The compost bins work, but we don't get enough from them to improve our soil and to use for potting young plants.

We cut a few more leeks. They are growing well, but they won't catch up enough before we are ready to eat them all. The winter onions are growing well and a lot of spring onions have come up too. The recent warm weather and rain has helped. Some of our broad beans have sprouted, but the mice have dug a few up. I'm currently going to leave them alone and fill any missing ones in the spring, that might help spread the harvest. I might yet plant a few more in the spring anyway so we can try harvesting the beans a bit earlier than in the past so they are even more tender.

Most of the work has been done for this year now, so there will be a few little jobs and wait for the spring.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Wandering raspberries

The raspberries have moved. Well actually the plants moved, the berries have long since been picked and either eaten or consigned to the freezer for later use. The plants needed a hand to move of course - they're raspberries not triffids.

The land at the back of the plot has not been very useful. The soil is very sandy and light here, so we have been steadily improving it with compost. We moved the raspberries here, with a good dollop of compost from our bin under each one. The original plants came with the plot and we have struggled to clear the bindweed from around them. Digging them up made it easy to clean the roots of all of the weeds before moving them.

The whole plot now looks pretty tidy, but the old raspberry plot needs another dig over to completely rid it of the weed roots.

The next stage could be to move the fence. We've decided to not fence the new fruit bush area - rabbits should leave them alone. It will make it much easier to dig the weeds out from the bottom of the hedge and so stop them spreading to the rest of the plot. We also have some young trees around the edges of our plot and the original plan was to move some into the hedge to replace the grotty elderberries and supplement the hawthorn bushes. We have all winter to do this.