Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cavelo Nero

The Cavelo Nero (Black Tuscan Kale) is looking good now with only the odd hole where a pigeon has had a bit through the netting. I harvest a few leaves from each plant every week which keeps nice young leaves coming through.
Just rip the leaf off its tough main stalk and steam or stir fry, its delicious.

Now is the time to plant fruit trees

With the new half plot now ploughed and with rain forcast for the rest of the week, I took advantage of the good weather today and planted 3 fruit trees as cordons. They were two apples (Golden Delicious and Cox's Orange Pippin) and one pear (Doyenne Du Comice) with around a dozen or more to follow.

Once the trees are planted it will be imposible to dig too near to the planting hole so with that in mind, I dropped a handful of tulip bulbs into the planting holes. These will give some spring colour and with the tulips being planted quite deep, they will flower year after year.

After digging the hole a sprinkle of blood, fish and bone was added along with a whole trug of home made compost which was well heeled in to remove any air pockets.

Leaves and more leaves

With a huge pile of leaves sat on the end of our new half plot, it was time to empty out the leaf mould bin into the raised beds as shown in the top picture and refill it with a small proportion of the big pile. The rest of the pile sits right where I intend to build more compost bins so to save lugging leaves about for the sake of it I will build them "around" the leaves to save work.
Leaf mould really is worth making so if you can get hold of them, do so.

More garlic

Now that another raised bed has been filled, it has been put to good use and was planted today with "Lautrec" garlic, purchased in France this May. When I split the cloves, only the biggest are planted like the ones shown above. Any smaller ones are used in the kitchen. Big cloves equal big bulbs come May when they are harvested. Small cloves likewise give small bulbs. Never has the old adage "you reap what you sow" been illustrated better when it comes to garlic.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Back to the engine room

Due to the glorious late autumn weather I decided to turn another compost bin ready to turn the "black gold" onto either a bed as a mulch or to be sieved, mixed with leaf mould and stored in a dustbin to be used as potting compost.

The big pile of leaves come courtesy of the local councils "mini" road sweepers. Whilst the big ones drop a full load in the allotment site carpark, the little ones can get right to your plot and drop them quite close to the compost bins minimising the hard work of wheel barrowing lots of leaves across the site. Well worth a 4 pack of pedigree best bitter as a thank you to be sure.

Adding to the beds

Today, with the weather being sunny but quite crisp temperature wise was ideal for unloading another load of my 12 year old farm manure. Most this time went into another new raised bed but the balance was laid as a mulch on top of a traditional bed so that the worms can take it down into the soil. There is only one more to make and fill now but it will have to wait until the parsnips have been lifted.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A nice winter haul

I just love being able to pull more hearty veg at this time of year, things like swede, parsnips, beetroot, carrots and celery, all are good eating with lots of uses in the kitchen. With all the summer rain we had, our root veg are just huge this year.

Keeping the beds productive

At this time of the year its easy to have empty beds unless you keep sowing for succession and the changing season. The top bed is full of fennel and module sown winter hardy spring onion, the bottom bed is full of carrots for winter use. With them being in raised beds waterlogging isnt an issue and they store very well, just being pulled as required.

Still doing their job

We always companion plant in our greenhoues and tunnels as well as out in the beds. We use calendula a lot as its great for attracting hover flies and is good for use in hand creams. Despite the tomatoes coming to an end, these plants are still doing their job, flowering their heads off and keeping the good bugs happy.

Lautrec Garlic

Hanging in the allotment shed is the "Lautrec Garlic" which was purchased in Normandy in August for 7.5 euros a plait. This will be going into the ground very soon and all being well will be lifted in Late May or early June. We buy off the growers and it gives fab results for a fraction of the price.