Subscribe with Bloglines At last I've got my plot!: September 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

A perfect I planted my onion sets!

What a perfect September day! A dewy chilly start, then gorgeous sunshine. It is a little windy here today, but as the wind is from the NE we can hear the sea. The beach nearest to us is shingle and I can hear the waves pounding and then running back, pounding and then running back.....!
I bought my onion and shallot sets yesterday and thought that there is no time like the present for getting on with sowing them so .....
Firstly I dug the bed really deeply as advised on the planting notes sheet that I got with the garlic bulbs from our island Garlic Farm (variety Solent Wight). They also advise lime, so I did that too. (I have had white rot on my onions at the plot, which is why I am putting these in the Kitchen Garden instead of the plot. Lime is advised in order to help deter white rot.) (The leaflet also suggested treating the area with Jeyes Fluid as some have found that helpful against white rot, but I read the blurb on the JF tin and it advised leaving 6 weeks between treatment and I might do that next year....if I remember!)
I also gave it a healthy dose of manure pellets, and topped the lot off with all the sifted compost that was in the black dustbin. Then to make best use of the bed I have set them out at the required distances and taken the picture for later reference.
Nearest the camera are the Solent Wight garlic. The inner bubs from the corm are spaces 4" apart, and the fatter outer bulbs are 6 inches apart. It was advised to put them in rows 18" apart.....but as this is a deep bed I can space closer so they are about a foot apart.
The middle of the bed is Onion "Senshyu Yellow" (Taylors £1.49 for 50 sets). I have never grown this variety before and I hope it will be tasty. These are 5 inches apart.
The far end of the bed is Shallot "Jermor". The pack was for 10 sets (£2.49), but actually contained 14, although 4 of them were smaller than the others.
After taking the picture I went along with the trowel and inserted them into the lovely loose soil an inch down. I am now going to net them to stop the cats digging them up.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Leek Moth!

I was warned that some plotholders have lost hundreds of leeks to the onslaught from leek moths. They lay their eggs on the outer green leaves and the larvae burrow under the surface and make their way down to the roots. They colonise the inside of the leek and you end up with nothing.
So I inspected my leeks and found the damage on one or two outer leaves. I cut them off and burned them.
The RHS website says that there is no known prevention measures other than very fine netting, and that an insecticide might do some good, but nicotine is best. But....nicotine is only available to commercial growers. I just hope I caught mine in time.

Plot tidy-up

When I got to the plot on Monday morning another plotholder asked if I'd like to see something funny! e showed me these....little tiny parsnip plants. The funny thing is that he sowed these seeds in early May!!!!!!

I picked a good few raspberries....I keep predicting a last pick but I suspect there will be more still to come.
I spent 4 hours yesterday cleaning these two beds. The lh one was the sweetcorn, squash bed all summer, the rh one was first early spuds. They are now thoroughly weeded out and sown with Phacelia green manure for the winter as I have no crops waiting to go here. I'm not sure what they'll be next year....must look at the rotation plan.

I really need to hoe all the paths at the top of the plot as the grass is getting rather thick....on second thoughts it would probably be better to get the roots out too.

I also pulled up the last pumpkin bine that wove its way all through the comfrey at the back of the plot. It had one pumpkin on it about a foot in diameter, which is now at home drying....!

Next job to tackle here is weeding the fruit area of the bank and cutting the comfrey for the compost again.. I will also move some more of the comfrey roots along the part of the fence that I haven't used yet. I intend to have them all along the back fence soon. I feel they should form a good barrier as I seem to remember reading somewhere once that their roots can deter bindweed....but I was probably dreaming it!
Posted by Picasa

Kitchen Garden Autumn Tidy-up

Progress so far. The rh end of the kitchen garden is much tidier now. The bed around the edge of the garden is weeded out and I've put in pansies and daffodils. These should cheer me up come spring.

The beds you see here have some of our winter veg supplies in them. The far one has leeks, Chinese cabbage and Fennel. The rh bed has celeriac and parsnips. The foreground bed is a bit empty. It still has one volunteer tomato with huge green tomatoes on it.....might try fried green tomatoes (battered!) with them if they don't soon ripen. Also in the bed are some broccoli and some kale, Cavolo Nero. The bed behind has 4 short rows of the autumn carrots I also sowed at the plot. I have netted them against the cats. Behind that I have put the irises I got from Cayeux for the front garden when it is ready. (We are having the drive re-shaped and getting rid of the front lawn. I want one iris bed as it is so dry and hot in the front they should do well.)

I also spent two days sorting through the compost piles and sifting the made stuff. The result is that the rh Dalek is full to the brim with half made compost. The black Dalek is more than half full of beautiful sifted compost to be put on the veg beds (which are still occupied with the beans and tomatoes etc The lh tall green dalek is empty....waiting for new stuff, and the very lh one is for kitchen waste through this winter.

The black dustbin is also full to the brim with made, sieved compost.

I am very sorry to report that I disturbed three mice whilst I was turning the compost. I usually like to do it before Autumn is too far advanced so that they can find somewhere new before it gets too cold. One was actually speared on the fork. I think it was only through his loose belly skin but when I pulled him off the fork he shot off before I could finish him off. I couldn't find him. I hated myself for quite a while after that. I hope he either recovers quickly, or that he died quickly.

We had a bonfire of all the twiggy bits that didn't seem to want to rot down. The garden seems much tidier now.

I have a full programme of stuff still to do in the back Kitchen Garden.....starting tomorrow....
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Kitchen Garden in September....

The rain put me behind at the plot and here at home. We also had a lot of visitors this summer. Anyway I finally have time to devote to tidying up my kitchen garden and sowing more seeds for the over winter crops.

This run of photos show the garden before the tidy up. I actually did do a little clearing of spent crops a couple of weeks ago (look at the compost Daleks for evidence!!!) so these beds don't look too bad. I have actually cleaned all these beds today and taken down the wigwam. I also weeded out the perimeter bed to the right of the deep beds, and planted some daffs bulbs and some pansy plants. Oh and I also put the gladioli that I moved from another area of the garden into this perimeter bed too.
In the background of the rh deep bed I have cleared away the far wigwam. That was Lady Di runner beans which have finished. The Red Rum variety which were started later are still cropping well.
The beans in the nearer rh bed here are borlotti and some pea beans on the two teepees. They are both still going so I just tidied the bed a bit.

The salad bed on the right is feeding us every day, and the tomatoes in the background are beginning to ripen. The strawberries in their long troughs are waiting for the bed to be freed and then they will go into that bed for the next three years, with leeks planted in the bed and mustard whilst the soil is bare between the plants over the winter. (I read to do that in my Companion Planting by Gertrud Franck....a wonderful book which is sadly out of print.
The front bed here was strawberries for the last three years. It is now cleaned up ready for over wintering onions.
The asparagus bed is my pride and joy. We will be able to eat these next year as the plants, which I raised from seed myself, have now reached three years old. They have been in this bed for 2 years now. I pulled out a raw new shoot on the asparagus and eat it without was beautiful!
My compost Daleks and my pot dumping area. Both of these need a lot of attention. I need to sieve the made compost and move the compost which is still being "made" from Dalek to Dalek along the row. There should be quite a bit to spread. I'll watch my back with the sieving as last year I put my back out when doing it.

Tomorrow I'll post pictures of the after shots...
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Four Hours at the Plot!

As it wasn't too hot today I took advantage of this and went to do some heavy work at the plot.
Firstly I moved all the fresher stuff from the top of the compost pile into the empty bay; on top of the fresh stuff (that I had piled up at the other end of the plot and moved in yesterday afternoon)which I chopped up as a base layer.
Then I started sifting out the lovely made compost at the bottom. All the twiggy pits and un-decomposed bits have gone back into the new compost pile. I did quite a bit of this but got stiff so had a change of job.

I was disappointed to note that there weren't any worms in this compost pile either. Is there a "season" for worms? There were some slow worms in the manure bay, but no ordinary worms anywhere. I think the compost may have been rather too dry for them so the newly turned heap has had a good hosing this morning.
I had piled up some of the sieved compost at the end of a couple of the beds waiting to be spread about. There is a huge cat at the plots who obviously likes newly sifted soil for his "convenience"! He had used the compost pile at the end of the beet bed. I cleared away his mess, raked flat the compost layer, then sowed some carrots and netted them against the cat!
The carrots are "Nantes Frubund (Fast Crop)" from Thompson and Morgan. They are for autumn planting and promise a crop in the spring...April onwards. An experiment but it'll be interesting. I sowed them very save thinning them, and have some left to sow a row or two in the tunnel for when it isn't very nice weather for the plot.

The bed behind the beetroot bed was onions earlier in the year. I dug it over today and made some troughs and filled them with sieved compost, and sowed (very thinly) 10 short rows of carrots. I was going to net it with some of that white anti-root-fly netting but forgot the clothes pegs with which to attach them to the I have just netted them for now to stop puss from using this area next!

I was a bit fed up to see that something had been nibbling my new Brussels sprout plants, and disturbing the cabbage collars. I wasn't sure what was doing the damage so I have now netted these and slug pelleted too. Hope that is enough to curb the pest!
Here is a view of the far end of the you can see I am slowly getting there. The bed in the middle of the picture is the Desire potatoes which I will be digging up as needed. The one behind that is the courgettes which we are still picking. The one in the foreground wants digging over, as well as the long one at the bottom of the plot (lower left hand corner). This was the sweetcorn/squash bed all summer and needs a good weeding. The paths between all these beds also need a lot of attention.

As well as all that heavy work I also trimmed the windbreak hedge that is behind the compost heaps and the shed. The trimmings await bonfire curfew to end....we can't burn anything until October. Some ignore this "law" but I can't as my plot is next to the flats and someone would be bound to have a window open. I usually check before lighting up, but will wait until they really can't moan.

Before I came home I picked the raspberries. This area of the plot also needs a bit of clearing up, and the comfrey along the fence (which has been a great success) needs cutting for the compost again.

I am now itching to get on with the last two beds to get them winter ready, but the garden at home also needs some attention, so it'll have to wait........! I want to "green manure" them as they aren't needed until next spring. The only thing left now to plant at the plot before winter is the broad beans, and they will go in the courgette bed when I clear that.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 15, 2008

It's done!

Went and finished the muck shifting this morning. Then trimmed the hedge behind while the going was good. Hoping to go back later and carry on with the compost sorting.
Posted by Picasa

Muck Spreading!

As it was fine but not too hot yesterday afternoon I decided to bite the bullet and start emptying the manure bay of the compost heap. It was full of bindweed roots.....doesn't that get busy when you turn your back! (See the pile on the left)
I have shifted about 20 barrow loads (small ones as I was a bit stiff).

I was very surprised to find no worms at all in it!
This is the bed nearest the shed which will be spuds next spring. I have heaped about a 4 inch layer of manure on here and covered it with an old tarp to help keep it moist. This variety of manure dries into hard lumps which the worms won't touch in a hurry so it is best to keep a moist atmosphere around it. I am hoping the tarp will do the trick, and smother the weeds.

I am also heaping the manure that will be wanted on the bed behind, when we have eaten the leeks, into the path between the two beds. I have nowhere better to store this so this'll have to do.
A different shot showing the ex-sweetcorn bed, also with a 4 inch layer of manure and covered with black plastic.

The pile between the bean teepees in due to be spread on that bed when the beans are finished.

I'll be going back today to finish the job. of emptying the bay. I need the spare bay for the compost turning.

I saw and spoke to a neighbour plotholder who has his manure delivered in bags. I will now be getting mine from the same supplier....and will also get some for here at home
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Anyone know?

Does anyone know why my climbing Freanch beans "Cosse Violette" grow like this? They are not restricted in any way.
I would say that at least half of the crop are curly like these examples......
Posted by Picasa

Bally Mice!!!!!

A visit to the plot just before lunchtime to gather some sweetcorn brought cries of dismay.......! My ten remaining beautiful Tuxedo sweetcorn cobs were all raggedy and eaten. The mice had had all but one of my lovely corn, and even that one was started. We were so disappointed. One sweetcorn cob is not enough for a good lunch for two....even with homemade spelt and oat bread toast!!!!

After lunch I went back down to the plot to continue the tidy up. I took the latest bag of lawn mowings to spread over the bean bed that I cleared last week (2nd photo). This bed will be for spuds next year, as well as the leek bed behind. Also the other bean bed (1st photo) and the ex-sweetcorn bed behind that. I will shortly be spreading the lovely mature manure that's been stacked for a year onto these 4 beds. I'll let the worms do their bit.
When I turn the compost bin I will also load some of the oldest stuff, at the bottom of the bay, onto these beds too. That should produce good spuds next year!
The weedy bank behind these beds has been strimmed by DH and he raked it and stacked the odd rubbish piles from all over the plot ready for my bonfire. We can't have fires between March and October so quite a bit collects up.
I cleared the sweetcorn bed this afternoon (the second bed in this photo) and also had a good tidy up of the brassica bed. The cauli stems I had left in just to see what they would do are now gone, the bed is weeded, and the net checked for holes and replaced. There are still butterflies around and I don't want to risk an attack. The Brussels sprouts are looking good, although some are grown quite big and are "blowing"! I read somewhere what to do about that but have forgotten what it was. Might have been Epsom salts.....anyone know?
So....the end of the plot nearest the shed is quite respectable now.....but as you can see here the top end is a bit of a mess still. I planted out some more purple sprouting broccoli plants, and some more, later, brussels sprouts. The broccoli was a bit eaten when I bought the plants (in fact they let me have them for nothing as there were actually caterpillars on them) and I am hoping that they will recover.

The heap of plant debris here will go into the compost bays when I have emptied the manure from one and turned the other into it. The empty one will then be started all over again with this lot. It is sweetcorn stems, squash and pumpkin bines, and the healthy potato haulms.

The bed in the background is the Desiree potato bed, with enough there for us for most of the winter. Last year we dug them up well into February, so we hope to do the same this year. Our winters are so mild here, and the plot so well draining, that we don't have to dig up and clamp potatoes. We just dig them up when we want them.

Hopefully I can get to the plot next week to carry on the autumn clear-up and get the compost turned.

Now for an evening's sit.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 08, 2008

Today's Haul!

Here is what I managed to haul home....minus the sweetcorn...which we ate!

This evening I will be pickling the beetroot (I have a load more in the fridge from an earlier visit to the plot, which it is high time I got on with!)

I didn't intentionally harvest spuds today, but when tidying up the surface of the bed these presented themselves!!!
Posted by Picasa

The sun was out!!!!

The sun was out this morning, and the day was predicted to be dry, so I postponed a house cleaning session until it rains later in the week and went to the plot. It was such a mess, except for the little bit I did last week.
So.....first I harvested the courgettes, beans, some carrots and beetroot. Then I started on the weeds. They pulled out really easily so I got carried away. When I stood up my back was so sore that I didn't know where to put myself and instantly bent over again. ...and carried on weeding.
Anyway, when I finally finished I walked bent double to my shed and got the chair out for a few minutes sitting. Then I picked some sweetcorn and headed home, make prizes for guessing what we had!
Then this afternoon, after a lunchtime rest with my Sudoku, I went back to continue the clean-up. The result is that half the plot is now pristine....the bit nearest the shed, and the rest is getting there.
On the back 4 beds I have started the tidying at the far end. I pulled up all the sweetcorn stems, and the squash bines, and cut off the squashes. The bines were deadish and I couldn't see that the squash would grow more. There were so many squashes that half of them are still at the plot waiting til I go again. I couldn't claim that it was a good harvest as some plants produced nothing, but I think we have enough for the winter for two of us, and occasional guests.
I also weeded off the maincrop potato bed....just the tall weeds that were seeding...I still need to do a proper job of it. The early potato bed has a huge pile of plant debris on it now. It belongs in the compost bins but I need to turn that before I put anything more in there.
This evening I will be pickling the beetroot, and making more Olive Oil Pickle as we have another glut of cucumbers.
If tomorrow is fine I will return to finish the tidy-up at the plot. The housework can wait.