|Netting over the onion to protect the onions from Phytomyza gymnostoma|
The leeks are in pots in the greenhouse. They will not be planted out until the end of April and then covered with scaffold netting to protect them from Phytomyza gymnostoma the miner fly. This year Blue Solaise and Musselborough are being used. The big exhibition leeks will not grow well under the protective netting. The Cox's Orange Pippin budded last summer has been planted in this bed and some support put up to train it to espalier. In the old Victorian walled gardens they used wooden supports like this. As the tree gets bigger the supports will have to be extended but they are more than adequate for the moment. There are redcurrant and buddleia cuttings alongside the path that were just stuck in last year. There was no expectation that they would do anything but I hate to throw away cuttings like this when they could be tucked in in an out of the way place. The soil here has had green manure and farmyard manure dug in and a top dressing of sieved top soil from a very old compost heap. The soil still seems to be lacking organic matter.
|Blackcurrants between the onion and potato bed.|
|Pitmaston Pineapple apple tree grafted last year.|
|Giant Victoria rhubarb just beginning to grow.|
|Three sisters bed. Sweet corn, squash and pumpkin together with French beans.|
The peach greenhouse is at the original soil level of the allotment and thus in a hole. It is not worrying because it means that surface water run off will flow into the greenhouse and keep it damp. Any excess of water will be able to drain away through the soakaway under the allotment path. The peach has had very little watering.
|King of the Pippins apple tree.|
|Blackcurrant in corner of three sisters bed.|
|The red and white currants bought last year and fan trained.|
|Broad beans my own seed.|
Two lines of my own seed broad beans were sown alongside the Pitmaston Pineapple apple tree but most of them have been eaten by mice. They have been consolidated into one line and dwarf French beans will be planted alongside later in May. This bed has had a lot of compost put onto it and dug in together with farmyard manure. It did not produce very good crops last year so I am hoping that the legumes planted this year will help to add a little nutrient to the soil.
|This is Pitmaston Pineapple three successfully grafted last year.|
|Lavender alongside the trackway.|
I was looking for my hand fork. I wonder if it is still here.
The stones are in a small ditch alongside the trackway so that I can collect hard surface rain water run off. The lavender roots will slow down the soakage of water from the ditch. The stones will erode - slowly I admit - but not as slowly as some might think - due to carboxylic acid in rainwater and mycorrhizal fungi oxalic acid exudates and provide mineral nutrients down the slope. The sweet cicely and comfrey planted along the ditch will be used in the comfrey bins to make liquid fertiliser. There is a white buddleia in the corner that is self sown. It is a lovely plant.
|Conference Pear and French bean supports.|
The trackway needs to be weeded a little more but I am using the weeds to slow down the flow of water from the trackway
|Tall peas Alderman and Champion of England.|
|Not doing very well with broad beans this year.|
The French beans have been sown in the greenhouse but the cane supports have already been put up. Alleyways have been dug along side the canes and the soil thrown up onto the beds. The top soil was replaced it with woody chippings. This has raised the beds a little more. Only a foot has been left between the rows and it is a little difficult to get along the alleyway but there is not much reason to go up and down the alleys especially if the beds are mulched with woody chippings.
|Fan trained white currant.|
I don't think that the two budded peaches in the pots are going to be successful because the buds are not growing at all at the moment. If they do not grow I will put them into the compost and use the pots for the tomatoes.
That is the extra half on the side of the main allotment. Not sure whether I am going to keep this half but it is useful for overflows when I have too many plants and nowhere to put them.
So now the main allotment.
|Globe artichoke lupins and laburnum growing alongside the trackway.|
|Sage plants alongside the allotment path.|
Herbs have been planted alongside the allotment path. These sage plants look the worse for wear but they will perk up later in the spring. There is a Court Pendu Plat apple tree planted behind the sage. I will espalier this using the post and wire supports. The path gives the herbs a little more reflected light and warmth and remains warm into the evening. Under the path is a soak away drain full of stone sieved from the allotment when it was being initially dug over. This keeps any excessive water off the allotment. I don't like wooden curbing but I only had enough paving slabs to do one side of the path. The wood is still surviving but I doubt it will be for much longer. I will not replace it.
Pea bed looking down the allotment.
|Espaliered little apple tree.|
|Espaliered Ribstone Pippin apple tree.|
|Espaliered pear tree.|
|Parsnips in the roots bed.|
|Carrots under the mesh.|
|Leaf vegetable bed.|
|Pitmaston Pineapple grafted last year.|
|Blackberries "Adrienne" and Loganberries LY654|
|The peach tree greenhouse.|
|Lemon balm and rosemary.|
|Potato bed on the other side of the path.|
As soon as the plants are earthed up the whole of this bed will be mulched with woody chippings. If the potatoes need to be earthed up again they will get both top soil and chippings. The bed will then get a second layer of woody chippings mulch. This bed has had green and farmyard manure dug into it.
|Sweet cicely and Ben Sarek blackcurrant.|
The Ben Sarek blackcurrant was cut back very hard last year and is only just recovering. I will not get any fruit off it this year.
|Ribstone Pippin graft from 2014|
Onions protected by the enviromesh.
|'Golden Reinette' apple tree graft from last year.|
|King of the Pippins that I want to keep. I will not graft this over to anything else.|
|This is where the red onions will be planted.|
|Shallots under the netting.|
|Garlic and Elephant Garlic.|
|Strawberries and little leaning apple tree.|
A small hedge of box has been planted along the path here. It has been a very good leaf and silt collector. Leaves and silt are swept up and put onto the compost heaps.
|Raspberries alongside the path.|
|The Malin's Admiral and Glen Ample Raspberries.|
These raspberries are not doing very well. It may be because they are so close to the hawthorn hedge. Comfrey planted under the hedge is growing well and I will soon be able to crop it and put the leaves into the comfrey bin to make liquid fertiliser. The store shed needs painting again! The loganberries that I planted around the store shed are growing remarkably well and I am hoping for a good lot of fruit. I only like to plant a single row because they tend to spread and one row is easier to manage. It is quite a long row. With the path being alongside it is very easy to pick the raspberries even when it is wet weather.
|Gooseberry cuttings of Xania|
|Greenhouse is full of seedlings.|
I have sown some cucumber and melon seeds and they are germinating now. When they are big enough I will transplant them into three inch pots using some general purpose commercial compost. They are inside the plastic tent greenhouse which is inside the main greenhouse. Remarkably the temperature of this greenhouse has not fallen below freezing for the whole winter.
Some of the cucumbers will be planted outside in the natural soil and I have some wire frames that they can grow up. I have several varieties and some will have to be kept in the greenhouse for a little protection. The ridge cucumbers are fine outside.
I have attempted, not very successfully, to make hotbeds to grow cucumbers and melons. A source of fresh horse manure needs to be carefully prepared. The manure that has a good moist steamy heat and is a mixture of bedding and droppings. You need enough to make a pile about three and a half feet high and four or five feet long. The manure should be turned and then left for about a week so that it can decompose a little and get to a good temperature turning it over once or twice during the week. However this is not the only way the Victorians made hotbeds. They also used oak bark chippings from the tanning industry. They found that after they had been used to tan leather they could be used to make hot beds. I have seen big piles of woody chippings steaming with warmth so I thought that I would try and use this to make a hot bed.
|Hot bed on a pile of woody chippings.|
|Piled up chippings in an attempt to make the pile warm up.|
|The chippings pile is about four feet high.|
|Poor sweet peas.|
|This year's grafts and cuttings.|
|Brassica bed with the Egremont Russet apple espalier.|
|Only swedes and kohlrabi sown at the moment.|
Well, that's the allotment at the moment. A bit of a struggle keeping things alive with the mouse, flea beetle and the cold weather. Time for a cup of tea and a biscuit.