Wednesday, January 30, 2008
The secret is a fairly stable temperature with moist, but not waterlogged compost. These seedlings will be pricked out into individual 2" pots to start with and will go straight into a heated greenhouse with a constant temp of only 10 degrees C. This again keeps the growth slow, giving compact stocky plants that will go out into the tunnels sometime in April.
The kitchen where all of my tender crops germinate is north facing so once germinated the seedlings do need to be moved into a lighter location but it also prevents any harsh sunshine burning through the window and shrivelling them up.
Monday, January 28, 2008
The module sown beetroot are just up now as the above picture shows. I sow 1 or 2 seed clusters per module and aim for 3-5 individual seedlings per module. If any more germinate they are pinched out otherwise they end up a bit too crowded. These will be planted out into the raised beds as soon as the roots fill the module, about 5" apart.
For spring onions, just sow about 5-7 seeds per module and plant out exactly the same way.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
A month on, whilst much isnt happening where you can see above soil, its all happening under the soil where great roots are being sent out. These shallots will be ready to go out at the begining of March and will already have a great head start.
And weeds such as this are the reason why. The mild winter has meant that lots of weeds have just kept growing and will be ready to swamp any seedlings come spring so it really does pay dividents to clear the weeds out.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
A bed of "marshmello" strawberry plants were moved to another plot today and were planted through membrane. The resulting empty bed has been earmarked for use as a herb bed for quite a while and plants have been sown, propogated or bought, in readiness over the last 4 months.
To add some interest I have made 2 herb wheels in the bed from bricks reclaimed when I knocked our fireplace out to make way for a multi fuel stove.
There is plenty of room for herbs even as big as lovage which grows up to about 6' high. All of the perennial favourites will be there including rosemary, thymes, mints, fennel, tarragon and lemon balm to name but a few. Hopefully they will also bring in lots of friendly bugs such as lacewings in the battle against greenfly and the like.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
More boards have been used to keep the soil from spilling onto the path from the permanent climbing bean bed. As we add lots of kitchen waste and compost every year it was starting to become a nuisance, one that is now a thing of the past.
The scaffolding structure is used as a support for the 8' canes that we grow the beans up. It makes for a very sturdy and neat solution to the perenial problem of fabricating a bean frame that doesnt fall down under the weight of the beans or due to wind.
Monday, January 21, 2008
One of the rhubarb crowns in our rhubarb bed has decided to start to grow now. It has been covered with a 25 litre barrel and the darkness will produce long pink stalks of very tender, sweet, forced rhubarb.
A few stalks will be pulled and then the crown will be left alone for the rest of the season to recover. If you keep harvesting the stalks will keep coming but it will ruin the crown, leaving it fit only for the compost bin. A little bit of forcing and then a good rest will cause no lasting harm. I force a different crown each year to ensure no one crown is worn out.
In an atempt to grow decent short carrots for showing, I have doubled the height of a section of raised bed. The medium in it is very friable and perfectly suited to carrots so what was in the standard height bit, went to fill the double height bit. The empty part of the bed will be refilled with allotment compost.
The carrots I will be growing are a Japanese variety supplied by Medwyn Williams called "sweet candle".
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Once planted, the tree was tied to the stake with a piece of recycled bicycle inner tube, you can get them for free from bicycle shops and work very well indeed.
Expensive trees really do benefit from a proper stake and being secured to it. A £30 tree as above is a large investement and deserves a £3 stake.
The leek beds are now coming under some serious harvesting, the trug full shown destined to be incorporated into chicken and leek pies for the freezer.
Out of several hundred leeks planted, three have bolted and now reside in the compost bin. Some people on our site have had most of their leeks run to seed. Personally I think that this is because they sow them too early in the year. As they are bi-annual, growing in the first year and setting seed in the second, it seems only natural for plants sown in January to run to seed in early winter,especially if its mild, its what they do. To prevent this from happening in future, try sowing them in March or even April. Perhaps the girth is not so large as earlier sowings but for me, a whole bed of slightly smaller stems is better than most of the bed being in the compost bin.
To be honest, I do sow some leeks in January but these are eaten as baby leeks in summer and are not left to overwinter.
Great varieties to try are blue de solaise, oarsman, musselburgh and toledo.
Its not that often you get something for nothing but this is one of those occasions.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
Having a 25' square fruit cage is a real boon. However if half of the stuff inside it are not bothered by birds and a load of stuff outside is, then its time to do some serious rearranging.
Inside the cage, 10 blueberries and over a dozen cranberries were lifted and outside some 8 gooseberry bushes had the same treatment. Their positions were pretty much "swapped" as my blueberries are never bothered by birds but the gooseberries, unless netted were pillaged by them.
The gooseberries were planted in good sized holes and given a good helping of allotment compost before being well firmed in. The blueberries were a bit more involved in that they had half a bag of ericaceous compost put in the planting hole before they went in. To keep the blueberries nicely "acid" I will give them a good water with sulphate of iron in the spring and again 2-3 times during the season as our soil is naturally only just acid.
This year, hopefully I will get lots of gooseberries at the expense of the birds.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
However, with the tunnel being kept empty, it was an ideal time to build the beds and these can now be filled with allotment compost and my vintage 12 year old manure over the rest of the winter. This tunnel is going to be planted exclusively with tomatoes this year to allow for some form of rotation and being gross fedders, the manure will get them off to a flying start and also hold onto water well.