Green Garden Gate Waddesdon

Gardening Blog

Spring Equinox AND Solar Eclipse

Leave a comment

As I type the cloudy sky is getting darker but I’ve not been able to see anything of the sun all  morning – and right now a quick break in the cloud reveals a partial eclipse, about 25%! This will obviously be a lucky post!

In recent weeks I have been focussing on getting organised as much as I can for the 2015 growing season, I have taken one or two pics but the plot isn’t looking that photogenic right now, hence a lack of posting!

I’m on a heavy clay soil and have learned a little too late that the easiest time to dig it is when it is frozen – the opposite of my thinking until an allotment neighbour suggested as such and I tried it. I missed quite a few opportunities to dig this winter!

So I have struggled with digging the wet clay – my thinking is that I am doing more harm than good to the soil structure and I’ve been holding off a little. It’s been that little ‘sweet spot’ time for hoeing on clay, so I have hoed a large amount of the weeds out. Theres couch grass that I have spent a lot of backbreaking hours trying to dig out. I finally gave in a week ago and decided to use glyphosate. I am not happy about the situation, but this couch grass is nigh on impossible to dig out of clay.

I have planted a row of raspberries and white current, as well as a plum and cherry tree that I am restricting growth of but tying the branches at right angles. The buds are just beginning to sprout.

I have managed to plant a row of garlic I had in the greenhouse on a section of the onion bed that has been dug – there is more to go in tho!

I’ve also tidied up the corner near the gate which had been left with an old broken water butt full of soil (no idea why) and a working water butt collecting from the rickety shed (that a neighbouring plot holder claimed as my predecessor said he could store his rotorvator in and has put his own padlock on). I’ve moved both and made a little bed there with the soil.

We’ve had a few quite warm days in between the frosts and I am conscious that I will not be able to get down to the plot as much as I should over the coming summer, so I have installed an auto-vent in the greenhouse. One thing to note, a wren managed to fly in and died hitting a pane. I would urge all reading this who have an auto-vent to net it so that birds cannot become trapped inside as I have now done.

Early March I watered in some nematodes to try and nip any slug problem in the bud, I have some more on order for the next application due, tho I am tempted to culture my own nematodes!

The strawberries are showing sings of Spring growth, as are the potatoes in the greenhouse, my radishes are swelling and the first of the crop should be ready quite soon! I have sown my peas in modules in the greenhouse – I learned my lesson last year with the rabbits and mice getting them! My 2nd attempt at beans this year are also in modules, hidden away from mice – the first batch were decimated by the mice that got into the greenhouse.

My onion seedlings are growing happily away, soon I shall have to thin them out to allow them more room. I shall pot on the first sown ones and keep some in the greenhouse to see if that makes any difference.

For a few minutes I have been looking through my shoebox pinhole camera and although the cloud is still there I can see an image that’s gone to about 70% cover fairly quickly. It’s rather strange to have shadows defined well as the sun is out, but it to be a dull and darkening sky.  The cloud cover has obscured the sun again now, and I was too busy watching to get a decent picture – they’re not so impressive photos but rather exciting to watch.

The moon appears to be receding again now: 9:50am I had best get the pics uploaded and publish the thread!

Advertisements

This gallery contains 8 photos

Frozen January – preparations!

3 Comments

I’ve tweaked the plan a little to accommodate growing borlotti beans (mostly to dry) and one or two other refinements.

Recent preparation jobs have included repairing the shed roof which was leaking (probably not a good idea in gusty weather – I nearly took my head off), then built a compost area out of reclaimed pallets, raised my water-butt so gravity gave my solar-powered pump a hand which I have positioned on the shed roof.  This leads to my greenhouse for use as required.

The ground has either been frozen or waterlogged in January, I have done a little digging where the garlic needs planting but I am hesitant as I heard this can damage the soil structure if the ground is too wet.

I have proven that giving in to itchy sowing fingers is bad idea – the small quantity of squash and tomatoes I tried in the propagator were struggling in the low light levels on the windowsills so I took them to the allotment greenhouse, still inside the propagator, but the recent night that was forecast as -5C in reality was -8C which was just too much for the majority. I’ll hold off a while yet before I re-attempt anything tender. The good news is that now it’s starting to get to the time of year I can sow a limited number of things.

In the meantime I took the challenge to grow successive sowings of radishes; French Breakfast, Scarlet Globe and Sparkler. I have discovered they need initial heat of the windowsill, but are quite happy in the greenhouse after germination. I also have the main of my onion crops just starting to germinate; Red Brunswick and Bedfordshire Champion. I have some initial sowings too that I shall keep in the greenhouse as long as possible before I need the room with the intent that they will be an ‘early’ crop before the main sowings start to crop. I have ordered some shallot seeds that will be harvested next year, so in a while I shall need to buy some sets if I wish to grow shallots for harvest this year, they’re so expensive!

I have started off some early potatoes in pots in the greenhouse (like a fellow plot holder did last year) in the last week, they were supposed to be chitted in time for planting mid-February but they were well chitted by this point; 8 tubers of ‘Swift’ (1 per 12 litre pot) and 6 of Aaron Pilot (3 per 56 litre bag). there are a further 28-30 tubers of Aaron Pilot chitting away to direct sow later in the month. I need to decide what my main crop potato will be, which needs good blight resistance.

I bought some supposedly blight resistant tomatoes (Losetto and Ferline) which are new varieties for me and I am not sure how they will taste. A few of the plot-holders advised that it would be the only way I would be able to grow tomatoes outside my greenhouse there, so I’ll add to the potato bed and see how they grow. I have also signed up to the ‘blight watch’ website – watch this space!

 

This gallery contains 6 photos

Blogging hiatus over

Leave a comment

Well, for the last 6 months of 2014 I was working a lot of hours/away, meaning I got to the plot infrequently, the latter part of the year I only saw daylight at weekends! Fortunately the was enough rain for watering and nothing precious in the greenhouse. Tho plants had to put up with a few weeds.

I’ll give you a quick run-down of successes and failures with a few pics I did take.

Successes:

Sweetcorn – very abundant crop for the neglect it had, tasted fantastic and I gave quite a bit away. Fantastic BBQ’d in their skins and peeled as it cooks. Also great when camping I found; cooked at the edge of one of those fire buckets (no nasty chemical used to start it!)

Cosse Violette beans – far more successful than any other type

Potatoes – particularly Aaron Pilot and Maris Piper, tho I didn’t manage to get them all out in time

Onions – managed to fight their way through any weeds I missed and tasted amazing, there are some I missed at harvest which are growing happily now, I need to pull these up shortly to prepare the bed for the next crop

Garlic – I mostly planted this in the garden tho, the most garlicky garlic I have ever eaten

Beetroot – so tasty, I ‘thinned’ by pulling the big ones out as I wanted to eat them, leaving the others to catch up over the season. I made some amazingly chocolatey subtley beetroot Red Velvet cakes for the office and ‘cake club’. I shall definitely grow this again! Also great roasted.

Spinach and rocket – more robust than I thought they would be, tasty picked as needed.

Chard – easy peasy, if anything I need to crop it more next time

Lettuce – once the plants got going, there was very little slug damage 🙂 rather tasty too

Rhubarb – lots of tasty desserts from this

Jerusalem artichokes – shot up happily surprisingly, tho I am yet to crop them

Failures:

Peas – the mice ravaged them on the allotment, not one plant survived. I had some at home tho so not all was lost

Cauliflower – the rain benefitted the other plants but not the cauli’s it was just as they were ripening too, they were lost 😦

Carrots/parsnip – possibly weeded up as seedlings, or just didn’t grow well in the clay and weeds. Will try again but with better drainage

Squash – rabbits and frost didn’t help these – I ended up with 2 sisters rather than 3-sisters!

Pak choi – I didn’t look after these as I should have so they ended up not very happy

Broad beans – I suspect it was just too late in the season to get them going well last year, they have a head start this year! I had a small crop which was tasty

Some pics:

This gallery contains 4 photos


Leave a comment

Day 33 on the allotment!

Wow what a busy week! Lots of rain too so not really an opportunity to get to the allotment so I am a little behind on potting on and planting.

A quick update; My onions are peeking through the soil, I have had a chance to get the seeds in I wanted: carrots, parsnips, lettuce, beetroot, chard, celery and some French marigold for good measure. My potatoes are really going for it and need ridging up, the beans and sweetcorn are a little slow-growing tho.

I have been working hard and buzzing around a lot (and someone texted far too early this morning) so I am afraid it all caught up with me a little today, I wasn’t at the allotment for as long as I would have liked, I still had daylight hours and a jobs list to complete! I decided to leave a few tasks for tomorrow, but did make a point of raking over the beds again, particularly where I plan to add in a greenhouse, I am trying to level this off.

I also decided that I want to plant more peas and beans, I have the space to do so if I plan carefully, and I have the extra plants anyway. I added in some canes in between the corn and beans/peas as far away from the mounds as I can so to minimise any light being blocked from the corn. Tomorrow I shall plant the legumes in this structure.

I still need to finish off planting my onions, and would like to try to squeeze some more into the bed, I am thinking instead of adding more rows perhaps I should interplant the sets between those already growing, i.e. did I plant initially with too much space… I shall have to read up and find out. I also still need to sort out my strawberry plants.

I was gutted to find another allotment holder had moved some pallets on my plot and destroyed all my courgette seedlings (and the rabbits have finished them off), he has offered to sow some more for me which is lovely but it will make me a little more behind schedule. I shall have to go ahead and plant the squash and hope the courgette can catch up without being smothered.

I helped out again at an allotment in Haddenham again this morning and gained some borage plants and some Jerusalem artichoke plants from a plant swap there. I need to get them in the ground pretty sharpish so they get going.

Tomorrow I also need to head to Buckingham to start dismantling a greenhouse I was offered through Freecycle, this would be really good for my tomatoes so I am super excited about this!

Green Garden Gate Waddesdon

Day 26 on the allotment!

Leave a comment

I planted my chitted potatoes (Anya new potatoes and Maris Piper main crop) on the 5th May (the Bank Holiday Monday) and although expecting them to grow a little quicker that the 30 days they took planted 1st March in the garden as the soil is warmer, I didn’t expect that they’d be poking through the soil already!

The weather has been rather rainy in the last few days so that and the fact I sliced my thumb with a parang, plus other commitments have meant that I haven’t been to the plot since the weekend, it’s good to see that things are starting to grow. Unfortunately so are the slugs and I perhaps need to invest in some more organic slug pellets.

I’m really impressed with the efforts the rhubarb has made in the last few days and that the potatoes sprouted after only 18 days is fantastic.  The jerusalem artichoke is settling in ok, despite the slugs.

This weekend I have to fit in time to plant the rest of my onion sets, pot on the strawberry plants as well as the butternut squash plants and give the mini-greenhouse at home a lot of attention.  I need to plan where I am planting the outdoor tomato plants too.  Fingers crossed the sun shines for us all!

Green Garden Gate Waddesdon

This gallery contains 5 photos


Leave a comment

Baby spiders and sweetcorn

I took these photos about a week ago in the garden, not long after our last frost, unfortunately I lost most of my cucumbers (apart from two that were still in the mini-greenhouse) and I had no seed left. My friend kindly gave me some of hers (‘Masterpiece’) so I have sown them, hopefully they will catch up!

There were some baby spiders that had made some garden string their home for a day, with a bit of forethought I should have put a couple in the greenhouse, one or two made it in with my tomatoes – which also didn’t look too happy with the frost but survived, I had hardened them off pretty well, but the last frost was a lesson learned.  The frost also caught a good proportion of my French beans, but they are still growing new leaves so hopefully no lasting damage. Lastly, I lost a couple of squash plants, but the rest look happy enough and will need potting on soon.

I am very excited by my baby sweetcorn plants, they look very cute! I shall plant them on the allotment using the 3-sisters technique, a type of companion planting with beans and squash, as mentioned in another post.

In the garden the broad beans are growing very fast, as are all my potatoes, I should have earthed these up already but have been so busy I haven’t gotten around to it, they by rights should have also been affected by the frost but no issues there at all. All my salad plants are growing bigger, but not ready for harvesting yet but there will be spinach and rocket and radishes soon. The herbs seem to like the longer days and are responding well, soon I shall be using my garden herbs in cooking.

Finally I have noticed a few lavender seedlings starting to germinate, perhaps I sowed these a little early, but it is two months since I sowed them.

I am really pleased at the pace at which everything is happening, I just need to speed up my soil prep in readiness, it’s a shame I didn’t get the allotment even a few weeks sooner so I wouldn’t be playing catch up, and I could have used the frost to break up the soil, it’s slower waiting for rain and sunshine to do so!

Green Garden Gate

Day 14 at the allotment!

Leave a comment

 

The last couple of weeks have been very busy indeed, as you’ll have seen from the previous post, the plot had become overgrown with weeds. It took about a week of weeding to get to the point where I could start to dig over the beds, fortunately, a couple of the other plot holders offered to give me a helping hand by rotorvating the beds once the weeds were clear and the edges of the beds were defined (tomato plants as thank yous!) so I have planted all my chitted potatoes in the bed in front of the shed.

I’ll draw up a plan once I have it all planned out, but I have it in pencil at the moment. If I can find an old greenhouse from somewhere then I shall go with that, otherwise I shall try to fashion a polytunnel for the tender crops: tomatoes, aubergine, chillies etc.

If you’ve heard of native American Indian cultivating technique know as the three sisters, then you’ll know that sweetcorn, squash and beans make for good growing companions. I shall test this out on the bed next to the potatoes that  over the winter.

I have chatted quite a bit with other allotment holders about various crops, including some globe artichoke tubers I have been given,  I had a few spare so offered them around – no-one wanted them – apparently they are quite prolific. I am forewarned, but I shall probably grow some in a corner of the allotment as they are rather pretty, and see how they go.

I have started a new job in the last week and the weather has been a little rainy (ideal for breaking up the soil after rotorvating) and windy so really all I have done since is rake over the soil to break it down some more ready for planting.  In the next couple of days I shall plant out my onion sets, I have beans and peas to plant out too but I think I shall have to invest in organic slug pellets before then!

My sweetcorn are almost ready to plant out too but I shall have to wait for the soil to break down a little more. The same with a few other young plants.

This evening I was give a small amount of home brewing kit, specifically the containers, so already I am looking at where to buy hop seeds….

A lot is about to happen on the plot, it’s rather exciting!

Green Garden Gate Waddesdon

This gallery contains 7 photos