Monday, April 30, 2007

One potato, two potato

This year we are growing two varieties of first early (new) potato. Lady Crystl, which we have grown before and is excellent and Foremost which has been recommended to us by a friend who gardens locally.

Planted in Mid March due to the good weather, the haulms are shooting up despite being ridged up every other day as protection against frost and to keep any potential tubers out of the light to stop them from going green.

You just cant beat new potatoes, freshly dug going straight into a pan of boiling water with a sprig of mint, drained and then a nob of good butter dropped onto them.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Fruit n frogs

The new pond on plot one is proving to be a great success and is used by birds regularly for bathing. It is also full of next years slug repellant, hundreds of tadpoles of both the frog and toad varieties. How organic a way is that to get rid of slugs and other nasties?

Als othe existing espalier and cordon fruit trees planted last year have all benefitted from a mulch of manure and plenty of watering last year and are all full of blossom. Hopefully this will turn into a reasonable crop of fruit come the autumn.

Crops away

The second plot is starting to fill up now. Its loaded with new potatoes, garlic, broad beans, onions, banana shallots, cabbage, cauliflower and with so much more to come, space will be at a premium.

The tunnels are full!!!

Both tunnels are now fully planted up. Both have resident grape vines, the older tunnel is full of tomatoes and the new tunnel, its paths finally laid, is full of tomatoes, sweet peppers, chillies and aubergines.
A must this year is for better planning of the tunnels use over winter and especially very early spring for early salad and new potato crops.
Our first tunnel has raised beds filled with 12 year old manure and compost which holds onto the moisture fabulously, time prevented this from happening with the new tunnel so the crops are planted directly into the ground, albeit with added home made compost. If required the beds can be made into raised beds very easily and filled over the winter.

Gourmet food

One of the best things about growing your own is that you can grow edibles that are not only perfectly fresh and with known provenance, but that you can also choose to grow crops that are really hard to get hold of fresh or difficult to get hold of at all.

Two of the crops we are growing this year fall into those categories, banana shallots grown from our own seed and asparagus. We have well over 400 banana shallot plantlets to go out, the first batch of 120 are in the ground and as the asparagus is now in its second year we can crop it very lightly. It tastes fabulous, trust me.

Kazzi has already had a panful of asparagus fried in butter with prawns and mopped up with hunks of home made bread.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

A new orchard

Our new plot has now been planted up with 9 new fruit trees. There is a cherry, two pears, a plum and an eclectic mix of apple varieties added to the three existing Syston plum trees. This new planting takes up about half of the plot leaving the front half to be used for planting.

The trees had been "heeled" into 25 litre barrels before planting, which to be honest is a bit late. However all of the trees showed new root growth and were all either in flower or just coming into leaf . The trees were planted in big holes that were part filled with very well rotted manure and topped off with soil. This was well firmed in and the trees staked and well watered. They will be well cared for this season as a lack of water is the biggest killer of newly planted trees.

We may even get an apple or pear this year.

Tomato time

Kazzi managed to get some tomatoes out into the old tunnel yesterday. Some fifty two plants were put out including
Bloody butcher
Tropical Ruby
They were planted deep, tied in and watered very well to get them off to a flying start. The canes are angled inwards which makes picking and managing the plants so much easier as the fruits are visible and side shoots easier to reach for pinching out when required.
Next week will see the following varieties planted out into the new tunnel. Some outdoor varieties will follow in June.
Green giant
Pink brandywine
Gardeners delight

Tunnel Time 2

Here are some pictures of the "nearly finished" tunnel. The door will be hung early in the week and some paving laid internally so that some tomatoes, chillies, peppers and aubergines can go out into it very shortly.

The total cost was just under £170 and that was door and door framing timber plus the plastic, everything else was recycled.

The straight sides allow use of the full width and being plastic, the pipes although very rigid, do "give" slightly more than bought tunnels hoops do and do not deform in high winds.

Tunnel time 1

Friday and Saturday were spent erecting the new polytunnels framework, its 13' x 20' so is a bit wider than the first home build tunnel. The door frames, roofing bar, crop bars and side frames were all in place by lunchtime on Saturday.
Putting on the cover is simple as long as you have the area clear, all of your tools (cordless drill and screws etc) to hand and three pairs of hands. This cover was fastened down each side within 40 minutes and all done and dusted, including pleating the ends within a couple of hours.
Before the cover went on, my nephew turned up with a beast of a rotovator so I got him to do the inside of the tunnel before it was skinned as it would be impossible to do afterwards without risking tearing a hole in the new plastic.