Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Peas and beans

The French beans at home have germinated, and they quickly grew to be 10cm tall. I can't put them out for a few weeks yet as frost would kill them, so I need to slow them down. I'll find a cool corner for them for a while.

At the plot, some peas have appeared. I stuck some hazel sticks in a pea canes and some of them have buds that have opened too. If any have rooted then when the peas are done I'll move them to near the hedge at the north end of the plot to grow as hazel trees. They will add to the shelter from the north wind and might have hazel nuts in a few years.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Rain over the radio

I've just finished potting up the leeks from a seed tray where they were sown into small, soft pots. Sitting in the conservatory, listening to the radio over the sound of rain pattering, and sometimes battering, on the roof is pleasant enough, but add the wafted scent of leeks makes it even better.

I now have all the first batch of plants either sown in the ground, as plugs or in pots so things are progressing well and having more rain than was forecast helps too.

I think the purple-sprouting broccoli is nearly done and will need digging up this week. It is occupying some of the space I plan to use for sweetcorn and squashes and there's not a great hurry for them yet. Frosts are still easily possible which would kill both of them.

The local weather forecaster warns in his latest blog that a warm dry April often leads to a wet summer. He ought to know better - any forecast more than a few days out is just a guess, or in the case of tabloid newspapers, a dubious way to boost sales.

Spring harvests

I popped up to plot 18 to get check everything was OK. The air was much colder than for the past week or so. A chill wind was blowing and there was a hint of rain in the air. I picked some purple sprouting broccoli and decided that there was enough asparagus to take the first cut of that. Still no sign of the peas, but beetroot shoots are breaking through. My watering has worked there at least. 

At home I had to rush out to rescue the washing as a heavy shower broke. I'm happy to see some rain, with more forecast over the next few days. The asparagus made a wonderful lunch with some eggs. The sweet stems, quickly steamed, were delicious and something to relish every year at this time.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Seeds sown

The weather has been hot (for April) and dry. The ground is very dry and warm so sowing any seeds will be warm, but need a lot of water to germinate. Today I sowed lettuce, spring onions and spinach. The carrots from a plug all look good, the broad beans are pushing through the ground with most of them showing. The peas and beetroot are not yet showing.

At home the leeks are ready for potting up, the sweetcorn has almost all sprouted, the French beans are not showing yet and two of the squashes are just appearing.

I've had to water the young plants a lot and water is going to be an issue soon. The forecast was for rain on Friday, but now that may not be until Sunday and may not be very much. It seems a shame to want this warm weather to end, but a night of steady rain would be very welcome.

Friday, 17 April 2015


Norman, who has the next plot to mine, has a fruit cage. In it he has thornless brambles amongst other fruit bushes. Some people would call brambles blackberries. He offered to layer some of the stems and give any off shoots to anyone interested. I took him up on his offer and took two such stems. One looks really good and one not so good.

I've dug over a spot in my fruit area. I knocked in two posts and strung some wire between the posts. I planted the stems and carefully tied in the stems to help support them so as not to put any strain on the young roots. A good glug of water followed and I hope I'll have some new bramble plants for the future.

Overall the plot looks good, but it is very dry with no real rain in the past couple of weeks. The forecast looks dry for the rest of April, so watering will be needed again soon. I think a good soak for everything in the ground is looking essential in the next few days.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Peas carrots and beans

I decided that I needed a frame to grow the mangetouts on when I discovered that they were due to grow up to 2 metres high. A few longish canes and some string and I'd soon created such a frame. I put one side of the frame above the row of peas I'd already sown and the other side fell just where I'll plant the next row in about three weeks. That should give some spacing for the crop. Staggering the sowing doesn't always work, plants have a habit of catching up and all producing their crop at the same time, but it's worth trying to spread them out.

A few days ago I bought some plants as plugs and one of the set of plugs I bought were carrots. I've only ever sown carrots in place as I believed disturbing the young plants would stop them growing properly, especially causing them to fork or stunt. When I saw the plugs I decided to see how they do. The plugs were groups of carrot seedlings so I split up the plug and planted each seeding separately. There were no instructions on the plugs, so I hope this is what is intended. They look fine planted out and now I have effectively thinned them, so none of that fiddling around. I will need to surround them with a fleece barrier to keep out the carrot fly - probably tomorrow's job.

This year I sowed broad beans direct rather than growing them as plants in pots first. The first few have emerged and look fine. I forgot to mark the rows where I sowed them but that should be obvious shortly. Norman on the next plot has beans all above ground from sowing them direct, but mice have nibbled the tops and dug up the plant looking for the bean. I'm watching out in case they fancy my beans and, like Norman, I'll set traps if they appear. Broad beans are too good to lose to pests.

Things are moving on quickly now.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Read the packet

I decided to return to the plot after lunch to sow some beetroot and mangetouts. Firstly I built a simple frame with canes for the french beans that will go out later. that told me where the beetroot should go. The freshly tilled ground was easy to rake and a I sowed a row of beetroot quickly. I then looked at the mangetout and got a bit of a surprise. They are a tall variety, needing supports up to 2 metres tall. I didn't have any long canes left, so I sowed them, pushed in a few offcuts of hazel as peas sticks and left it at that for now. I'll get some taller canes and string some netting up for them to climb.

I should have read the packet properly before I started the job.

Digging is done

I finished the main part of the dig for the plot. I turned all of the ground over and removed most of the worst weeds. 

Turned over
After the tiller

The tiller does a good job of finishing breaking up the clods and a quick rake over levels and drags out any of the remaining weeds. The plot now looks great and it's ready for the next phase of sowing and planting.

I've bought some plugs and seeds to move on. I have some broccoli, savoy cabbage, spinach and carrots as plugs and some sweetcorn, french beans, mangetouts, lettuce and beetroot as seeds. I have already sown leeks at home and broad beans at the plot, as well as potatoes and onion sets in the ground. The onions are showing now. I also kept some seeds from butter nut squashes last year. I've sown the squash seeds and sweetcorn seeds at home.

I plan to sow some mangetouts and beetroot directly in the next day or so and the carrot plugs can go out too, but the remaining plugs and any plants grown from seed need to wait until frosts are over.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

April fool

Yesterday was very windy and felt very cold in the wind. I decided to plant my potatoes, I just wanted to get them going. I felt the soil and even in the cold wind it felt fairly warm, so that confirmed that they needed to go in. The trenched were already dug so planting the spuds and backfilling the trench didn't take long. The cold wind made me wonder if I was an April Fool.

Today I went up to turn a bit more ground. On the side of the car park someone had dumped a pile of top soil, so I helped myself to some to add to the banking up above the potatoes. The wind has dropped today and the sun is out, so it was much more pleasant than yesterday. Overnight rain had left the ground pretty soggy, but the forecast is for fine and settled weather for a few days, so it will dry quickly.

I've still got more ground to turn, but I'm getting there.