Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Took Some Photographs of the Allotment Today

The allotment always looks untidy in January.

The ground was frosted and covered with a sprinkling of snow so I did not move any more of the blackcurrants.  I got some leaves and lawn mowings and filled up one of my bins with them. I put weed turfs on top of that.         

The bins are made from old pallets which are wired together with fencing wire.  I took two bins down so that I could putup my new shed  but I am going to make some new bins at the end of the comfrey bed.

There is a lot said about making compost.  I find that heaping anything that was once alive into a big pile and leaving for six months to a year breaks down into fairly good compost and even if it doesn't it can be buried relatively deeply and left to its own devices. I am not one for fussing about compost. 

This is one of my charcoal bins with charcoal marinating in comfrey and worm tea. There is also some sugar molasses, and some blood fish and bone in this bin.  I have used almost all of the charcoal in the other bin.  The lid is kept on so that the bins do not fill with rain water and overflow.
This is my comfrey bed.  The plants don't look too good at the moment but in the summer they can grow up to 1.5 metres.  The comfrey is harvested and put into the big green bins. 
Comfrey is as tough as old boots.  It will certainly come back in the spring.  Mine has died down and is difficult to make out at the moment.  I tried digging between the rows and started to dig up roots.  Not to worry though because I just planted them again.  They might not come but I have sufficient anyway. 
A bit of frost and snow will not hurt comfrey.

As the comfrey rots down, I run off the liquid into a small tub and put it into the charcoal dustbin. It looks a bit untidy because I had to move the dustbins.  Someone had pushed them over while I was on holiday but I have still been able to refil one of them with comfrey tea etc.

I use a water butt to make comfrey tea but I am not adding water at the moment. I have 5 rows of comfrey and two rows of nettles - grown properly with weeding and hoeing. I am now using sweet cicerly as well. It all makes a very good liquid fertilizer. I water it down in the watering can but it does not seem to affect the plants adversely if you use quite a concentrated liquid. I think that you are wasting it if you use it too concentrated. Looks just like Tomorite to me.

They say that nettles are high in nitrogen and comfrey is high in potassium. Compared with what though? I think we are talking about very small amounts of nutrient but that is all that most vegetables seem to need. Nettle and Comfrey have more nutrient than farmyard manure but farmyard manure has very little nutrient  so there does not need to be much more to be better. I think that the adding of both comfrey liquid and farmyard manure to the soil have greater effects than just adding artificial nutrient. They encourage soil organisms, which may form symbiotic associations with plant roots or at least provide further nutrients or nutrients in a form that the plants can use.

 5 rows of strawberries.  This half of the strawberry bed has marinaded charcoal and the other half of the bed does not.  I put the charcoal in the planting holes.  We shall see if Terra preta works with strawberries.
Several rows of broad beans behind the strawberries seem to be surviving the very cold weather.  The strawberries were planted during September and the broad beans during October 2010.

This is where the Kestrel potatoes are going this year.  The horse manure will be spread about and dug in as I plant the potatoes.  Half the potatoes will have inoculated charcoal and half will not.  I will also plant some earlies as well. There are still two half rows of carrots, two and a half rows of parsnips and several beetroot still surviving in this bed.  I will need  to clear it by March this year. 

This is the onion bed.  The garlic is in already and showing through. I have not dug this area because it had potatoes on last year.  I have just levelled it out a little so that I can plant the onions and leeks.  I will be covering both the onions and the leeks either with cloches or enviromesh to protect them from the leek miner fly, Phytomyza gymnostoma.  This fly was first detected in Wolverhampton and I have had it on my allotment since 2000 if not earlier.  I thought it was onion eel worm but I can grow very good leeks if I cover them which indicates this is an air borne rather than a soil borne infestation.  It comes to something when you have to cover leeks and onions.

I think that I added a little bit too much brush wood to this soil  It is three spits down though. I will be planting the cordon sweet peas and the runner beans in this bed. 

This will be the brassicae bed this year. I am attempting to move the black currant bushes to a more convenient position but it keeps on snowing.  I will endeavour to persevere. I am planting the blackcurrants with inoculated charcoal and mychorrhizal fungi. I don't really want to, however, I will plant half with charcoal and half without just to see if charcoal affects the cropping of blackcurrants.
The purple sprouting broccolli has been knocked about by the snow and frost but it is very hardy and I expect it to recover.  There are some winter cauliflowers behind them that are surviving well.  They are covered with netting to keep the pigeons off them.  Sprouts are behing them.
I am surprised that the bay tree has survived but it gets hardier the older it gets. 

I have picked a lot of the brussel sprouts.  The variety I have left were much smaller than the Trafalgar so I will not plant them this year. Needless to say I have forgotten what they are called. 

No comments:

Post a Comment