Members adventures in the Vegetable Patch all year round
I think today must be the best spring day this year so far - wall to wall sunshine, hardly a breeze and temperatures rising nicely (not too hot and not cold)
Saturdays are usually my day of rest and tv catch up but with so much to do, decided to get on with the repotting of the chillies and peppers. The biggest problem has been finding suitable size pots - I've either got oversized ones or small ones, arrrrgh. I had moved some of the hardier chilli plants into the greenhouse last night but this morning there was quite a frost but the sun was lovely and warm and before long the greenhouse had got too hot and the little plants were wilting .... I couldn't believe I'd killed them off in just one day. I opened the greenhouse door and went away fingers crossed.
Last night I had popped the propagator lids back on the brassica trays but left them outside, then this morning removed the lids. Loads more are germinating. With frost forecast again tonight, the lids are once more back on the trays.
Meanwhile, a check of earlier sowings and already some of the herbs were germinating Thyme, celery, winter savoury, chamomile and the pot marigolds were all coming up. I decided to put the tray of pots outside in the warm sunshine and they have all responded nicely. I'm keen to harden these off sooner rather than later so weather permittting, they'll be put outside during the day and brought back indoors in an evening until risk of frost eases up.
Repotting the chillies and peppers has taken me most of the day - as well as sorting out suitable varieties to go straight into the greenhouse. Opening the door definitely helped and not only did the wilted plants recover, but I'll swear blind they grew another inch!
Today I bought loads of compost in readiness for the big potato planting at the plot tomorrow. I'd have liked to have got some sharp sand as well but it was either the compost or the sand but not both. I've left them in the car ready for the early start tomorrow.
Sounds like a busy day - making the most of the sunshine
"Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder..." Thoreau.
although I think we are in desperate need of rain (can't believe I said that LOL) It's been dry for a good 3 weeks or more, combined with strong wind and some sun, the clay soil on the plot has dried into briquettes
I got to the allotment for 7.30am and I wasn't the first person there either! I was determined to get the 2 lots of potatoes planted today and got stuck in as soon as I arrived. The Charlotte seed potatoes seemed quite big compared to the Lady Christl first early potatoes I planted last week, so thankfully there were only 20 to plant. The bed I dug over last week was the easiest to tackle, 2 trenches filled with compost with some potash and Growmore granules added. Next, the main crop potatoes Romano and some freebie Maris Piper (5 seed potatoes each) and a trial 5 potato pack of 2nd early Vivaldi. I had spent a lot of time and effort trying to dig all the marestail out of the heavy clay soil last year, but to my horror, there was still a lot of root left behind. My back was still tender from last week's efforts so I wasn't too happy having to pick the roots out of the clay clods. Instead of trenches, I decided to dig a hole and fill each with a lot of compost with a potato in each - maincrop potatoes are in the ground a lot longer than other varieties so the soil should be as fertile as possible. Some potash and Growmore added to each planting hole.
I remembered to bring the broad bean seeds with me and decided to fork over the bed I'd cleared earlier in the year. It never ceases to amaze me how I still manage to find pieces of bindweed or marestail root, and potatoes that I'd grown in there in 2011! I'll never grow Blue Danube again - the dark skin blends in too much with the soil so easily missed. I made a shallow trench, filled with compost and sowed 18 seeds. Luckily the taps have been refitted to the standpipes so I was able to water them in.
I had brought the onion sets with me but I wasn't happy with the bed I had initially planned to plant them - I could have done with digging in some manure but I've not got much left and was going to use that on the squash beds. I've found that when compost is added to onion beds, the risk of rot increases - whether it is my soil or the compost, the year I decided to use manure instead showed a dramatic decrease in rot and is now the preferred ground preparation. The bed I'd used last year to grow sweetcorn should still be fertile so I started to clear it. Digging the soil was hard work and before I'd got quarter way through, I was starting to get overtired so I packed that in.
I still had some bags of compost left in the car so used one of them to put a top dressing round the blueberry bushes - last year a blackbird had claimed the blueberry bed as his territory and often scratched the compost from the roots. Despite trying to back fill the holes he made, the soil had washed away from the surface exposing the roots so they needed a lot of compost and TLC.
By 12.30pm I had enough and packed up for the day. I still haven't found the media card and card reader for the camera, so this morning I hauled out the SLR and charged up the battery. Unfortunately I was too tired to think about getting the camera out. With such a late start to the season, nearly all of the beds have no green growth anyway apart from the garlic beds so not much to show. The garlic have responded well to the warmer days and are now a good 6-8 inches high.
For several years I've rarely been able to get my bin filled in time for the garden waste collection which is every other week from now until October, and that's because it is the same bin as the recyclable waste which only gets emptied the day before. Last year I got so fed up, I decided to fork out £25 for a brown lidded bin from the council, and now I can add waste to it whenever rather than wait until the day before the collection
Of course, old habits die hard and believe it or not, I was doing the same scrambling around at the last minute this morning to get the bin out in time. It gave me the chance to give the Greek Oregano a quick trim of old woody bits and I can see lots of new growth pushing up and a hint of harvests to come. I have loads of privet hedge trimmings and the shredder is not playing nicely so I'll be filling the brown bin on a regular basis now to reduce the mountain of trimmings in my garden. The other thing about getting a brown lidded bin is that I can still use my green lidded bin for garden waste as well and put 2 bins out during garden waste collection day
Feeling rather chuffed with myself, I got on with another task demanding my attention - annihilating the weeds on the patio before they burst into flower and shed seeds. An evil brew of glyphosate and diquat weedkiller in my 8L pressure sprayer and I was off to give those dandelions and rosebay willow plants a good dosing. Then down the steps into the garden and around the shed and greenhouses, then along the bed with the fruit trees where couch grass, goosegrass, brambles, chickweed, spurge, dock and some unknown weed seems to be flourishing. The daffodils looked lovely in the garden BTW
There were clear blue skies first thing this morning and a lovely warm sun that hinted a slight balminess so I thought I'd better open the doors on the greenhouses (I'm afraid the spill over is now into the 2nd greenhouse and there's still a lot of plants in the back bedroom to move out) All the seedlings in the greenhouses look very healthy so I'm very pleased about that. I must take some photos .....
I suspected it would happen - lovely warmer weather giving way to the cold wet, sigh. Although it has been a little milder this week, generally I think it has been a long drawn out cold winter that has merged with spring. The fruit trees in my garden should be well into blossom by now but they still look on the bare side - the Victoria Plum has only just started to come into flower. Nice to see but bad news as the weather turns colder. The bees might not be around then to do the pollinating so it looks like another fruit free year.
Meanwhile, first thing this morning the sun was out in a clear blue sky and it was very mild outside. The rain forecast today was borderline - we may or may not get some rain by lunchtime. At 5.30am/6.00am, that meant plenty of time to have another session with the weedkiller down round the pergola and the forgotten bottom half of my garden. I also did up the side of the house and gave some of the dandelions on the patio another treatment to be on the safe side. By the time I'd finished and came indoors to start getting ready for work, the clouds had rolled in, and at 8.30am we had a heavy shower. Oh well, it is April I suppose.
There were some late germinating tomato seeds to plant up but it doesn't look as though the others are going to do anything now. In the back bedroom, the trays of earlier germinating tomatoes are well up and starting to get a little leggy so I decided to squeeze them into the greenhouse. It's getting to that time of year when I start to sow the squashes and sweetcorn but I would much rather have had a mini heatwave to coincide with the sowings as this encourages quick germination and growth. I'll leave it another week but then I'll have to knuckle down and sow them and hope for the best as any later and they won't be ready at the end of the season.
After discovering that my computer at work has several slots for various media cards including Compact Flash, I charged up the battery on the SLR camera and yesterday decided to do my David Bailey stint. First the back bedroom and before I could move on to the greenhouses, the camera stopped working ... the media card was full
So, here's what is happening in the back bedroom. The pasting board at the moment:
The tomatoes I sowed just over a month ago - they are ready for repotting:
The 3 superhot chilli plants that I bought (Naga Viper, Naga Morich and Red Morouga) which arrived a month ago have come along nicely:
Here, the first chillies I sowed (The Trinidad Scorpion Butch T) repotted and in the tray along the left hand side.
Meanwhile, the established overwintered chillies are throwing out flower buds already - one of the advantages of overwintering and getting earlier fruits
I had to make an urgent call at the supermarket this morning anyway, so I had a look at their media cards and purchased some new ones for both cameras as well as a new card reader ... so no excuses now!
I just had time to run around the garden before leaving for work - today's weather forecast is actually sunshine followed by rain showers and dropping temperatures. As the greenhouses especially the smaller glass one can get exceptionally hot in the sun, there was a need to open the door but at the same time worried about falling temperatures later so a compromise and the door is now half open. Most plants look in good form.
Photobucket is not playing (or rather something on my work's computer is preventing Photobucket from saving any changes I make to the uploaded photos so I'm afraid it will be a mix bag of editted and uneditted piccies. First, the garden. The sweet cherry is budding up to burst into flower:
As are the eating apples (James Grieve and Braeburn):
The Victorian plum tree is now getting into full swing:
And daffodils which make me smile (must be a spring thing):
These plants were the first to be introduced to the greenhouse and I nearly killed them on the first day by baking them, but they seem to have recovered nicely:
Other chillies and peppers, including some overwintered Jalepenos:
A tray of herbs and pot margold:
and one of the trays of recently sown tomatoes:
I forgot to mention the trays of brassicas outside - as you can see I've gone a bit overboard with the slug pellets but I've lost too many seedlings to being complacent about them:
(and yes, that is a golf ball in the pot under the tray ... it's the official garlic bulb comparison measure) LOL
thank you - you pick up a lot of useful tips and skills along the way, often learning the hard way when things go wrong LOL
In a few days time it will be May and I still hadn't planted the onion sets! So today's task was to plant the onions and get the rest of the potatoes planted too. So I loaded the car with the sets and seed spuds, compost, compostables from work and some gardening tools and arrived at the allotment site for 7.30am. There were lots of puddles of water everywhere so we must have had quite a lot of rain last night - hopefully that should make the soil easier to dig.
First task - to finish digging and clearing the bed for the onions. And yes, the rain had indeed softened the soil. There was a little marestail to dig out but generally the bed was in good condition. I had brought my new shiny hoe with me and discovered that it made a good tool for shaving clods of soil into smaller pieces. I added some Growmore granules and some potash and made some little ridges on which to gently push the sets in - if we get a wet year like last year then the bulbs won't be sitting in heavy wet clay. On the other hand, if we have a drought then it might not be such a good idea although the ridges are not that defined and will flatten out (in the rain ). After planting the sets, I lightly covered them with loose soil - not exactly buried but hopefully won't attract the birds that mistake the ends for food and wantonly pull the sets out.
Next, the potatoes. I had one bed already partially dug over and ready, so was just a case of forking over to loosen the soil and dig the trenches. Trenches were then filled with fresh compost and some Growmore granules and potash added before planting 29 Kestrel potatoes and covering with soil.
None of the other beds were ready for planting and needed a good dig. I was already getting tired so opted to do some proper hoeing and test out my new tool instead. With overnight rain and sunny days forecast, all those weeds will be germinating and growing like mad so time to start hoeing. The 3 beds allocated for the legumes got a thorough hoe - bliss. The long handle made it easy on the back and was quite a satisfying task. It also loosened the soil surface so any rain will percolate through into the soil and not puddle on top. Next the blueberry bed and then onto the bed where I had dug in the green manure - despite the rain, the clods of clay were still rock hard but a bit of pummelling with the hoe seemed to break them up a little more. As I walked towards the car to put the hoe away, I had a little hoe round the comfrey plants and then did a little more round the car space.
By now the wind was picking up and lots of people were leaving to go home for lunch. I still had loads to do - I really wanted to get at least one bed cleared ready to plant the last of the potatoes next week so I got on with lifting the weeds and forking over a bed. Suffice to say it was one bed too many and for what was supposed to be a quick job took longer than I'd like to admit. And still there were the compostables to do.
I had 3 weeks of compostables collected from work and there seemed to be loads of banana skins in this batch. I dug a shallow trench on the bed where I had planted the broad bean seeds and buried them - this will be where I'll be growing the climbing beans and the compostables will not only provide food for growth but also moisture as they are thirsty plants. I had a bag full of old compost which I tipped on the bed where the calabrese had been growing. And one last more task - to move the last of the wood to the communal footpath ready to level it off next week (if time!) After putting the wheelbarrow away into the shed and loading the car, it was already 2.00pm - I just know I'm going to regret pushing myself a bit too much today but only one week to go until the May bank holiday weekend and still loads yet to do!
I did notice some life on the plot - the Chinese Artichokes in the bath tub were sprouting, the Horseradish in the wooden crate also up. As for the rhubarb - 2 crowns have not made an appearance although I was surprised to find the smallest piece of root that shouldn't have stood a chance had actually thrown a leaf up. A quick peek of the asparagus bed and ... YES, there were 2 little shoots coming up. These were grown from seed last year and planted out in autumn. Hopefully more will make an appearance and I'll let them grow on this year before moving them to a permanent bed and hopefully start cropping next year. The garlic bed looks great but I was a little disappointed with the triangle bed of garlic that were not as advanced. Last year I had dug in a lot of manure and some BFB into the big bed but had assumed the smaller bed was fertile enough - just goes to show that adding manure and fertiliser makes a big difference. I added some Growmore granules and hoped that will perk them up a little.
All the currant bushes are gearing up to flower but no sign of the gooseberries. The plum tree was just starting to flower too. The neighbour's apple tree (which is right on the boundary so I have encouraged a few branches on my side) is producing some leaves but no sign of blossom - as most of my apple trees in the garden at home are at a similar stage, I'm not unduly worried but it is late for fruit trees this year.
This morning was distinctly chilly with a light frost, clear skies and a lovely sunrise. I decided to go down to the plot first thing this morning to do a couple of little jobs and thought it a good idea to take some photos. The plot so far looks like:
Beds ready for the beans, peas and further on is the bed of shallots, Kestrel and Charlotte potatoes:
The bed with the 1st early potatoes Lady Christl next to the dwindling manure pile under the carpet:
The squash beds are still empty obviously but in need of a little weeding:
The plum tree is in flower, but the apple tree behind the compost bin just taking its time:
Today's task was to give the bed of lavender a trim round the sides and to nip off last years flower stalks. Behind them the kale rising up and lifting the fleece with them LOL:
This is a little of the footpath that I spent too much time levelling off and boarding up but I'm very pleased with it:
The onion bed that I finished planting up on Sunday with onion variety Sturon sets:
The garlic beds:
Behind the triangle bed of the garlic overspill is the bed with the dreadful clay soil. The blueberries on the right:
to be continued:
Not terribly exciting stuff but just a few photos of some of the smaller stuff:
The shallots coming up (ignore the bits of wood etc - they are just to stop cats digging poo holes in my planted up bed):
The comfrey bed:
The Chinese artichokes in the bath tub just coming up - I'll let them get a bit bigger before trying to do any weeding & moss removal:
Horseradish in a crate:
Squint and you may just see the baby asparagus spears LOL - these were grown from seed last year:
Some hardy winter kale:
and some Curly Moss Parsley, Flat Leaf Italian Parsley and overwintered Coriander:
LL i sort of hate you in the most loving way you are like an allotment guru. i look at your pictures and i want my allotment like yours!!! to be honest you've done a lot on yours and i think you should spend a day on mine!
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