Monday, 30 May 2016

Sunny May Bank Holiday weekend.

I've had these tyres a while, been deciding what to do with them, so I painted them, lined them with old compost bags, as you don't want rubber solvents leaking into the soil. 
Then I filled the bags with a mix of compost, manure & soil. 
Then planted in each one 2 Yellow Scallop Squashes. 
Planted out a row of Sprouts, a row and a half of Broccoli & half a row of Cauliflower, all under mesh to protect from the birds! 
I added lime to the soil 1st as Brassicas like that. 
Crop updates: 
Broad Beans, on the right, doing well

A row of Carrots (on the left). 

In the middle, a row of Parsnips. 
All planted by Jo, my clever wife.
Main crop potatoes, Cara doing well, and a few rows of Harlequin also doing well. Have earthed up quite a few times now.
Time to plant Leeks. 
Got my measure, Dibber (home-made) and string line.
And of course a tray of Leeks, these are Mammoth type;
I pushed my Dibber into firmed soil about 4" deep, popped a leek with roots trimmed into each hole 6" apart. 
I planted 48 Mammoth.  
I also had a tray of 'Oarsman' Leeks, so planted 80 of these the same way as above. 
I then watered them well, doing this helps the holes to fill back up with soil, so the leeks stay long and straight (hopefully).
Other jobs done this weekend: 

Jo put straw under the Strawberries
She used crushed egg shells, in the hope it will stop the slugs/snails munching her Sunflowers! 
This should work with other crops slugs & snails like.
We now have Peas podding.
Round yellow Courgettes forming.
Gooseberry bush laden with fruit, we've been waiting 2 years for a good crop. 
Rhubarb update:
We have so far harvested 28lb (12.7 kg) of Stockbridge Arrow. 
In this picture is the first harvest of Victoria, 6.5lb (2.9kg) I plan to make a batch of wine with this, already started a batch with the Stockbridge Arrow. Jo has made many Rhubarb crumbles, cakes & pies and has just made some jam too
So what a busy, productive Bank Holiday weekend we've had, lots of weeding & watering done too, our rain barrels are now empty, so using the well. 
Hope it rains soon!

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian & Jo.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

What a busy day once the rain stopped

First, the beans put in last week have taken & doing well. 
On the left the Climbing Purple and on the right the Borlotti Beans.
This patch is the last space to be cultivated, so I got my Rotavator running, see below to see the results. 

So this is the first Courgette to go in, wont be the last LoL
In this patch I dug in plenty of our compost then planted 2 rows of Kale, a row of Dwarf Curly Green & a row of Tosca Di Nero. 

Planted under netting as the young plants would be devoured by the birds!
I mentioned last week that we planted the Runner Beans, they have taken and are growing, well I did put plenty of muck into the ground first. 
The first & second early spuds still growing daily, I think 100% have come through now too.
But now the Main crop 'Cara' & 'Harlequin' have started to break through, so I've earthed them up.

Back to the last patch to be cultivated. 
We had many bonfires and it was so compacted from walking all over, so now I've used the Rotavator its made such a difference, we can start planting on here now, as shown above a Courgette and some Beetroot too has already gone in, wont be long before its full!  
So as the title says, we did have rain today, 2 hours before the forecast said, but it didn't stop us doing 6 hours on the plot today and the sun finally came out in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Such a lot of planting done today

 If you remember I made some frames from 1" roof batons, well I dug a trench 2 spades width and the length of the frame, I added plenty of our compost then topped with a few inches of soil. 
I then put the frames back down the middle. See them planted up below.
This new raised bed is now planted up, after I filled it with our own compost. the wig-wam in the middle has Borlotti Beans planted around the base.
Either side we've put in flowers of various types. I will, of course, report on its progress.
Another wig-wam this time with string wrapped around it and plenty of our compost dug in. This one has purple French climbing Beans. 

If you notice I always put a circle of cardboard on the soil inside, because its hard to do the weeding when the beans are in full growth, you will see I've done this under the Borlotti Beans wig-wam too.
I had to earth up all the early spuds again. I use a draw hoe, because it cuts the weeds and earths up at the same time.
I'm sure it won't be long before we dig some up (usually early June) but will wait until the flowers have set first.
We have been planting Sweetpeas where ever we can, so here I stapled some spare 1/2" mesh over the fence extending the hight too and planted Sweetpeas at the base. 
I also added some old CD's just in case any birds flew into the mesh.
I could not believe the Cara spuds have already broken through, I planted these on the 2nd of May, just 13 days ago. The earlies took over a month, but of course it was colder in March/April.
So here are the chicken wire frames mostly planted up. 
8ft of Petit Pois
8ft of Twinkle Peas 
& 8ft of Hurst Greenshaft Peas.  
This is the last barrow full of our own compost taken from just one compost bin, we have used about 5 barrows full so far and it's good stuff.

I should think this last lot will go under the Courgettes, Pumpkins & Squashes.
So we got a lot done today, started at 10am and left at 5pm! 

We also planted 2 lots of Runner Beans, I'll feature them next time.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian 

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Super sunny day, we got lots done!

If you remember last time I started off some Cucumbers, well look how they have done, the heat in the propagator certainly worked. 
Another little project, when we had a new roof a few years ago, I thought I'd keep some of the old batons that were being thrown in the skip! 
See later what I made from these 8 pieces of 1"x1" and some chipboard offcuts. 
Had to earth up the early spuds again, they are growing daily, of course they are, it would be odd if they didn't. 
Planted more main crop spuds 'Harlequin' just 2 rows today, but have more to put in next week to stagger the harvest.
Earlier in the week, I went to a local reclaimed timber yard and got some hard wood planks to make raised beds from. 
One here near the greenhouse. 
And a smaller raised bed here at the front of the plot, next to the brick floor and wall. 

We plan to put some wild Garlic here to contain it.
I forgot we still had a sack full of woodchips from the Laylandii we cut down recently, so I finished these Gooseberry beds. 
Cant get over how quick the Rhubarb is growing, this one 'Victoria' at the back of the plot, has shot up since last week. 

The Asparagus is growing an inch or two a day too!
Here is what I made from those lengths of roof batons, with the addition of some old chicken wire & wood treatment in 'woodgreen' 
Good for Peas to climb up, I made 4 of these, so with Peas both side, it makes 32ft of growing space!
So a very busy day, the temp got up to 28c and was so hot. 

Hope to get down next week on my days off, to continue planting, weeding, watering & maintenance.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian 

Monday, 2 May 2016

May Day bank holiday planting between the showers.

Potato planting time again, the Cara main crop have been 'chitting' for a while now and have short stubby green shoots, perfect for planting. 
If they had long thin white shoots, it means they were chitted in too dark a place, so I'd rub them off and start again. 
Best in an unheated greenhouse or on a windowsill out of the sun.
So I dug each trench about 8"-10" deep, 30" apart. 
Then put manure in the bottom of the trench & some potato fertiliser on the soil that's to be drawn back over the seed potatoes. Each spud is 15" apart, so they have plenty of space to grow. 
I put in 40 potatoes into 5 trenches, will put more in soon for a staggered harvest.
We did some weeding around the Broad Beans and put some support canes in, now they are growing taller, we don't want any to be snapped off if windy!
Finished these new raised beds, by adding some well rotted manure, covering with weed suppressant fabric and planting the Gooseberry's through. 
I will cover them with woodchips when we have some. 
This border that was cleared while I put the trellis up last week has been planted up with: Clematis, Jasmine, Teasels, Oxeye Daises, Feverfew, Sweet Rocket, Echinops and for ground cover Sweet Woodruff.
While it was raining this morning, I started off two lots of Cucumber in toilet roll tubes, Pepinex & Femspot, both F1 types, so should do well. 
You may notice the tubes are short, its because the seeds only need to be 1/2" deep, then when ready the whole lot can be planted so as to not disturb the roots.  I put them in a heated propagator as they need heat to get started, at least 21c.
Only crop harvested today was Rhubarb, we got some yesterday too, so added the weights together, 3lb so far. 

We had a rhubarb crumble from the first lot and it was lovely with vanilla ice cream.

So as the title says 'planting between the showers' well the sun came out around lunch time, so we did manage all that planting in 4 hours. 

Glad I got the potatoes in as they need plenty of time to grow, ready for harvest time about Sept/Oct.

Exciting news, we saw 6 baby Frogs in the pond, so now we have more pond life to observe.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian