Subscribe with Bloglines At last I've got my plot!: May 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A fine day for plotting!

My husband went and strimmed off the weedy bank by the fence at the plot this morning and after that I went to sort out my new bed for the pumpkin. This is the spot directly beneath the huge beech tree. The soil has small roots from the tree right under the surface, and any attempt at digging is very hard work. The soil here is fertile.....growing copious amounts of nettles and comfrey.

I have wanted to tame the bank ever since I got the plot and having amassed a lot of compost and fibrous stuff I decided to use it as a sheet mulch, and make a huge bed for the pumpkin this year.
We had some cardboard from when we got our new settee from Ikea recently, so I covered an area of about 10 foot square. It looks smaller in the photo but it is 10 ft at least.
First I raked up all the grass he'd strimmed from around the plot. Then I barrowed the contents of one of the compost bays....fibrous stem stuff as well....and spread it about a
foot thick all over the cardboard. Then when my back had had enough I stood and watered it with a hose for half an hour to make sure it was good and wet. Tomorrow I'll put my little pumpkin plant in the middle of it....and watch it fill the space over the course of the summer. When it is in I will cover the mound with comfrey cuttings and other weed tops. This will form even more sheet compost and will also inhibit any weeds that may sprout on the heap.

Before I went home I picked a basket of broad beans, and started weeding one of the still untidy beds which are such a disgrace. The weeds resulting are now in the second compost bay which has now been started off. The first one now houses all the bags of manure I am keeping until Autumn.

In the back Kitchen Garden at home I planted out lots this afternoon. Tomatoes (large Italian beefsteak tom plants from a friend), cucumbers (Crystal Lemon), sweetcorn,
leeks, fennel, and Dwarf Runner Beans Hestia. The back garden in filling up at last and I feel much better about it all now. Tomorrow I have some more to do....netting against cats and birds, and other tidying up jobs.

On Tuesday on my trip to Kent I dropped in at Wisley as usual and visited the veg garden. It was interesting to see how far they are behind our gardens here on the Isle of Wight, and also to see how very patchy their germination was this year. Whole long rows of beetroot with some gaps in germination of at least a foot. I heartens me when I see that it isn't just me....although my beetroots seem to have all germinated....but they were so late going in..!
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Monday, May 25, 2009


This afternoon was fine and sunny and I had set it aside for planting out my cabbage bed. This is the one I prepared a day or two ago. The bottom end was dug too deeply for cabbages as they prefer firm ground. These will have to be pressed hard home when I next go to the plot. They were too soggy to do it today as I always puddle new stuff in.
The bed now has 6 caulis in the foreground, then 12 brussels (I think 6 of these are cabbages but have lost the label. Whatever they are will be most welcome so no real disasster there!) Behind them are 12 kohlrabi. All netted against pigeons and butterflies.
Between the plants I have sowed rows of herbs and marigolds. This should make for a good looking bed and help ward off pests.
After I took this picture I soaked the whole bed with a hose. The soil was like it'll pan. I'll have to go and hoe it again pretty soon.

I also sowed some courgettes (Jermor and Midnight) in one of the small beds. I have lost all but three of those I sowed in the tunnel in pots to that pesky mouse, but I'm sure these'll catch up anyway.

The spuds and carrots and beetroot beds are looking fine and were also soaked. This was an easy job once my back was screaming at me to go home.

This morning I spent in the back garden planting out beans started in the tunnel and watering everything. We had a little rain this morning, but not nearly enough. So, as I needed to empty one of my 5 water butts in order to raise it higher, I decided to do it using the Hozelok pump and my sprinkler hose end and it was soon done. The beds are now well watered and hopefully everything I planted out will flourish.

We are now picking outdoor strawberries, and harvesting asparagus and broad beans. Some of the onions are also ready (they are putting up flower spikes so I think they are ready!) There are lettuces ready which volunteered them selves from self-sown seeds from last year. In the tunnel the lemon tree is covered in blossom so I hope that means we'll have a good harvest. Also the fig has 10 or more fruits on it.
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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Getting there

On Friday I found a slot where my back strength and the time available coincided and went to start getting to grips with the plot. I'm about 3/4 of the way there with the beds, but need to spend a lot of time on the bank it looks like I'll never catch up this year.

I have a load of brassicas hardening off and want them at the plot, so I prepared the long bed at the top ready for them. I'll put them in on Monday when they should be ready to face the great outdoors. It is going to be a warm week with nights when the temperature won't drop too far.

I also should be sowing some squash and pumpkins as the ones I sowed in the tunnel were eaten by mice. I hope it isn't too late for that.

I think I will give up on the sweetcorn this year as the mice had all of them too. I knew they had but didn't have a chance to get any more seed and now I think it is too late.

The spuds are flourishing, the broad beans are being harvested now and there are plenty there for the next few weeks. The carrots are showing (under the micromesh) and I hoed and tidied them. The beetroot are all up and I hoed them too.

Everywhere that I used the hoe the soil was like dust. And digging the top bed was a dream. In the end I went all over it with the Wolf cultivator and the tilth was fine in no time.

I have vast amounts of comfrey growing tall along the fence at the back of the plot. This needs cutting to add to the compost heap and to use as mulch everywhere. I also took a huge builders rubble bag half full of mowings to the plot to mulch the spuds.

I feel a bit better about my plot now but I still have a long long way to go to get it looking like I want it to. We have had a difficult spring with my back "going" and a lot of our secular work coming in all at well as a wedding we were involved in and other projects. I am hoping that life will quieten down somewhat so that I can get back to my big love.

I went to the Chelsea Flower Show last Wednesday. I had a good but exhausting day. I have a lot of pictures which I will sort out and post on here in the coming weeks. The show was much more low key than the last two years, but I liked the fact that the designers were more in tune with how most of us garden. There was less of the expensive marble and other paving that we all look at but can't afford. There was good use of more attainable path materials such as builders' "clunch" (for want of a better word.....sand and other gritty stuff packed down) and old bricks. Also plenty of great ideas for green gardeners....for example a bug hotel to beat all others I have ever seen.

There was also the totally silly, but amusing. The plasticene garden was garish, and manned by some girls who were a bit "slow"! I asked one of them for a plant list and she just looked at me vacantly. Either she was thick, or had no sense of humour. I can't believe that a thousand others hadn't asked the same thing...! Ah! Perhaps that was it....she was bored! Well anyway, it got a laugh from the other visitors around me.
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