Friday, 14 January 2011

The importance of the Montezuma method.

The weather was relatively warm today.  I actually had to take my coat off. 
I finished putting in the posts for the sweet peas and runner beans.  I need four more posts to fill the plot.  I am not sure whether the sweet pea seedlings are going to survive but, if they don’t, I will get some more seed and replant in February.  There is plenty of time for them to develop into very good plants.  It is just that they will not come into bloom as early as the October sown ones.  It might even be good to have later ones because that will give me a longer flowering season. 
I leveled the soil between the posts with the rake and the beds look very good now.  Two people have asked whether I was planting seed because the beds look like seed beds. 
Needless to say, nothing will be sown in the soil until late March at the earliest.  There is some talk about there being another bout of very cold weather and I will not be surprised if there is.
I took out some of the leeks and I am going to use them in some vegetable soup that I am going to make tomorrow.  I don’t know what it will taste like because I am using up some of the carrots, potatoes, parsnips and onions to make a good mixture.  I will zap it all with the hand blender and have it for dinner. 
I began to turn over the brassicae bed again and dug some deep trenches to bury the blackcurrant bushes that I did not want. I went down two spits (a spit is one length of a spade blade).  There was clay at the bottom of the trench because I don’t think that I have dug this area since I had the allotment 30 odd years ago.  This part of the allotment always had the blackcurrants on from the earliest days.   I cut the branches up with a pair of secateurs so that they would fit neatly at the bottom of the trench. The roots went in the trench too but only after I had knocked off all the soil.  I went through the remaining black currant bushes with a little more care to see if I could find any more big bud.  There was surprisingly little, although I did take off several suspicious looking buds and put them at the bottom of the trench.
The trench started to fill with water, which indicates the importance the Montezuma (see the other posts on Montezuma method) method of raising the beds for draining the water off the allotment.  I think that I will ask Fred if I can have some of his brushwood from his big pile to put at the bottom of tomorrow’s trenches.  The spring was flowing peacefully at the corner of the top bed.  It is not affecting any of the plants but I am worried that the water may be leaching out nutrients from the soil here.    
On top of the blackcurrant branches went a mixture of turfs, leaves and lawn mowings.  The soil then when back into the trench. 
I don’t really want this soil to get too rich because I will be planting Brussel sprouts here in May time.  If the ground has too many nutrients, the Brussel sprouts will ‘blow’ and not have the tight button shaped structure that good Brussel sprouts should have.  I don’t know why but the Brussels, winter cauliflowers and purple sprouting broccoli were giving off a horrible cabbage smell today.  I think that some of them have succumbed to the very cold weather (lowest temperature on the allotment was -16oC).   
I used the rake to level across the bed and I think that I have lost the dip in the middle.  I had my camera so I should have taken a photograph.  However, I had not finished the bed and it looks untidy where I have walked all over it.  It was very wet all over the allotment and some would say that you should not walk on soil this wet.  Tough, I could not waste a warm day like today so I soldiered on regardless.  If the ground is forked over where you have been walking then there is little damage done.  I suppose that this is one of the advantages of raised beds – you can avoid treading on them.  Nevertheless, I cannot be doing with dibbling about in tiny areas of soil.  I don’t do raised beds, I do raised allotments.  So tomorrow loads more leaves and grass mowings to raise the brassicae bed up even more. 
I remembered that I had lots of seeds in the shed and brought them home to go through them.  I am not too sure how good they will be so I think that I will just keep them in reserve at the moment.  I may just use them as a green manure, sowing them and then digging them in when they have developed a little. 
The seed that I have already are. 
·         Chives  Not germinated
·         French Bean Blue Lake Germinated
·         Beetroot Wodan F1 Hybrid
·         Beetroot Boltardy Germinated
·         Onion Bedfordshire Champion .  I think that I will plant these tomorrow in the same way as the Ailsa Craig. Only three germinated.  
·         Broccoli Sprouting Redhead Germinated
·         Broccoli Summer Purple Sprouting (Wok Brocc) Germinated
·         Broad Bean Aquadulce Claudia
·         Broad Bean Bunyard’s Exhibition
·         Nasturtium Tom Thumb
·         Dwarf Bean Delinel Not germinated
·         Courgette Black Beauty  Germinated
·         Runner Bean Streamline Not germinated
·         Runner Bean White Apollo  Germinated
·         Carrot Royal Chantenay Red (Two packets)  Germinated
·         Carrot Early Nantes
·         Spinach  Germinated
·         Cauliflower Chassiron F1 Hybrid  Germinated
·         Brussel Sprout Topline  Germinated
·         Squash Winter Harrie  Germinated
·         Corn Salad Cavallo  Germinated
·         Rocket  Germinated 
·         Chicory Variegata di Castelfranco 
It’s amazing what you find when you start looking!  I wonder what else is buried in that shed…

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