Monday, 21 February 2011

Tatting about on the allotment planting rhubarb

 Soil temperature was  5oC today.  I doubt if it will get any warmer until March.

Really, I knew there would not be much to do down the allotment but I went anyhow.  When I got there I had a chat to Mike about the new allotment committee because he said that he would stand for secretary.  I will probably stand for chair.  I just wanted to make sure that he was happy to stand.

I am glad that he was there because he offered me some rhubarb plants which I accepted and went to get the wheel barrow.

Before I got back to Mike's allotment, I got side tracked into taking out some of the autumn fruiting raspberries.  I don't really like autumn fruiting raspberries.  If God had wanted us to have autumn fruiting raspberries then he would not have given them the name Autumn Bliss. 

I wanted to use the post, that was holding the autumn raspberries up, for the sweet peas.  I took all the wire off and the ties and put them into my wire and ties tub.  The post came out very easily and I took it up to the sweet pea bed.  I had taken out all of the little leeks that were in this ground but had not forked it.  It also needed to be leveled a little more; if that is possible for this part of the allotment.

After forking and leveling, I got to work digging the hole for the post.  I dug down about a foot to eighteen inches put in the post and returned the soil.  It was in as firmly as I wanted it to be. 

Now I only need to find two posts for the runner beans and I think that I have got some in the store shed.  I cannot reach them yet because all the canes are in the way.

I went back down to the raspberries and took all the roots out.  There was some bind weed in this area last year.  I thought that I had got it all out but I had a dig around and found a bit more.  I hope that it has not gone under the path because I don't want to lift those slabs again.

This is when I took pity on the raspberries because they were growing even though I thought that they had succumbed to the very cold weather.  I planted them between the shed and the compost heap.  I doubt if they will do very well here but I don't mind because I don't like autumn fruiting raspberries.

I toddled off to Mike's allotment to get some rhubarb, took it back and planted it in the corner of the roots and strawberry bed.

Planting rhubarb is the easiest thing.  I just dug a hole and popped it in.  The ground that I planted the rhubarb in is not very good and I will have to put some compost or manure on the crowns.  They have massive roots that go down quite a way into the soil.  Now I know that I said that the soil temperature was about 5oC and that I shouldn't be planting anything really, which is possibly true but rhubarb is a tough old plant and will survive very cold weather.  I know that I have dug it out and left the roots exposed for most of the winter and it still survived.

You eat the stems.

The leaves are best avoided because they contain oxalic acid and anthraquinone glycosides which are poisonous if you are allergic to them or you eat too much of them.  They are fine to put onto the compost heap because everything in them will be decomposed by some micro organism or other.  This site is good for information about rhubarb.

I planted some of the rhubarb crowns with mychorrhizal fungi.  It is a perennial and will be in this piece of ground for some time.  The mychorrhiza will be able to develop and spread through the soil gleaning nutrients for the rhubarb and possibly forming symbiotic associations with other vegetables in the bed.  

This made me consideer my Darlek compost bin on the top allotment. I could use that to force the rhubarb so that I can have some sweet rhubarb in the spring.  The Darlek compost bin was full of my nets so I had to take them out and store them on the shelves in the store shed.  Now that the pumpkins have gone there is room on the shelves for them.  I forgot that I had five wine making glass bottles in there as well so I put those in the shed as well.

I brought the compost bin down and put it over the new rhubarb crowns.  If I don't get any sweet rhubarb this year it will not be through lack of trying.

I have just thought that I might go and get some more of Mike's rhubarb - he does not like it- and put it into the store shed to force it.  I have in the past lifted some of the rhubarb and put it covered in the greenhouse.  The shed should be a passable alternative now that my greenhouse has been demolished by vandals.

I eat rhubarb throughout the spring and summer.  Some people only take the new stems in the spring.  It might be a little tarter in the summer but, with a little sugar, it still a good desert fruit.

I then emptied the worm tea out of the worm bin and put it in the charcoal bin.  It seems that CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology) has cottoned on to charcoal and they are also experimenting with inoculating with urine.

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