Tuesday 28 February 2012

Rotovator in use for 1st time this year

Got the Rotovator out today, don't know what I would do without it, started 1st time too, not bad for a machine now 6 years old and only used once or twice a year, I know I will use it twice this year as there is still a patch of soil that needs clearing & weeding before I can cultivate it.

Here you can
see the bed I am using for the
Main Cr
op 'Cara' I have revised my original
planting plan so I can now get 8 rows with 8 tubers in each. Cara is renowned to be a heavy cropper & the spuds are usually quite large, ideal for Jackets, Roasties & Chips.

The above photo is before the Rotovator was used, I weeded the area first then spread well rotted Manure over it and as you can see from this photo (left) the Rotovator does a good job incorporating the

This picture shows a close up of my pride & joy, a JCB-C35A Rotovator, with a Briggs and Stratton 3.5hp Petrol engine and 15" wide tines.
The patch of ground you can see here is approx 14' x 10' (140 sq feet) and I managed to go over it twice in half an hour, with the Rotovator, it would take all day by hand with a fork.
This bed is where the 1st earlies 'Rocket' & 2nd earlies 'Charlotte' will be planted.

So rather a productive day today, also found a patch to plant the 'Sarpo Mira' spuds, can now revise my original planting from only 10 tubers to 20, although will be a test crop to see the yield & taste.

The plot is looking lovely now, did some weeding & clearing on Sunday when we brought down the Chickens, now the 3rd time & they loved it again.
Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Sunday 19 February 2012

Busy week on the plot for us & the Chickens

Was a super day today, the sun even came out a few times.
But we have had a busy week, it was school half term & my wife (a teacher) got busy planting the following seeds:
Herbs: Oregano, Parsley
& Thyme
Veg: Aubergine, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Calabrese, Cucumber & Purple Sprouting Broccoli.
Tomatoes: Alicante, Gardeners Delight, Roma & Tumbler.
All indoors but wont be long before planting out.

I have had the Potatoes 'chitting' for a week or two now.

Top row: Rocket (1st early)
2nd row: Charlotte (2nd early)

I grew both these last year, although I usually grow Charlotte anyway, they are lovely tasting spuds, the Rocket is a very fast maturing tub
er & will be ready to lift 1st.

So the Chickens got another day out today, they had such a great time last week, so we thought as nothing is growing yet in the fruit cage it was safe to let them scratch about.

They had so much fun scratching around for bugs worms & we hope the Raspberry Beetle eggs that over winter in the soil.
We have to set traps every year to catch the beetle flies, so time will tell.

Other jobs done, I cleared the Parsnip & Carrot patch, weeded it and spread well rotted manure over it, as this is where some of my Potatoes will go. I counted how many seed Potatoes I had & was surprised to find I had 205! But haven't enough room for them all, so revised my planting as follows:
50x Rocket (3 rows with 11 in each)
36x Charlotte (3 rows with 11 each)
85x Cara (8 rows with 8 each)
34x Sarpo Mira (1 or 2 rows with 8 each)
At a total cost of £13, which is a big saving on shop bought (over 250lb harvested last year).
I know I will have a few surplus Potatoes, but my Wife will grow those in her school garden.

So a really good weeks work done & happy Chickens too.

It will soon be one year since we got our ex-battery hens, I will take a photo of them all on the 1 year anniversary and post a Blog to show how they have changed alongside the photo I took on day 1. So watch this space.

The date to look out for is March 19th 2012.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian.

Sunday 12 February 2012

Chickens first visit to the Allotment

Today we decided to take the Chickens to the plot for the first time, waited until the ground was less frozen, and nothing was growing in the fruit cage.

The fruit cage was the best place to introduce them to the Allotment as they couldn't escape, there are gaps in the perimeter fence so could not risk releasing them onto the whole plot, plus there are crops growing they might eat.

They had a lovely time and scratched and pecked up lots of bugs, worms and slug eggs too, they must have thought it was heaven. They were so contented they hardly made a sound while pecking around.

Here you can see them searching for bugs etc amongst the Black & Red Currant bushes, we use hen house muck to mulch the fruit bushes, free chicken manure.

They found lots of worms, slug eggs were evident too and they loved scratching around and eating them up, good for us too.

Quite a few of the other plot holders visited to see our Chickens and were impressed how fit they looked, I think we will make it a regular thing bringing the chickens down to the plot for a day out.

Other jobs done:

If you remember a few months ago I sowed some Pea & Broad Beans seeds into toilet roll tubes & kitchen roll tubes.

Well here they are planted out in the green house, for an early harvest. Topped up the soil with more rotted manure for a good start.

Managed to dig up some Parsnips as the ground wasn't frozen anymore and also have another Bonfire, the weeds I pulled/dug up last week and left to dry were ready to burn also burnt some dried rotten wood.
The patch I set aside for the Potatoes was weeded and I burnt those weeds,
also spread out some manure.
Next job to use the Rotovator to mix the manure in & turn the soil as the 1st & 2nd early Potatoes are 'chitting' as we speak. Check out next weeks Blog for news on that.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian

Sunday 5 February 2012

Frozen Solid

This weekend not much got done, due to the frozen soil.
While the rest of the country was under a blanket of Snow, all we had was frost & Ice.

But was an ideal time to do some clearing and burning of weeds etc.

I love a Bonfire.

All the weeds & spent woody veg, stuff that wont compost well, was dried as below, and burnt on the bonfire.

No better way to put some goodness back into the soil as the potash from the fire adds carbon to the soil to improve it.

Dried rotten wood also goes onto the fire.

I have a way of drying weeds etc ready for the bonfire, as shown here.
It's just a piece of stiff wire mesh on top of a couple of Breeze-blocks, this means the weeds are not going mushy on the soil, as rain can soak through, also Hedgehogs cant shelter in the weed pile and risk being burnt when set alight. But I always move my dry weeds to a new bonfire location to be sure.

Thanks for reading/returning. Ian