Sunday, 13 March 2011

Photographs of the mega compost heap.

Corner of the mega compost heap.

These are some pictures of the mega compost heap.  Mixed in are various assorted plastic bags and nets.

I had taken out most of the centre of the heap although there was a lot left.  I took another four barrow loads today and put them on the area where I am going to plant lettuce and Florence fennel.

Top of the compost cliff

However, once you have sieved out all the rubbish, the compost is ideal.

It is hardly believable that with a little sieving we can get  really good compost like this.

After getting more than enough compost - it is about 10 cm deep over the whole of this bed and the pea and bean bed - I wanted to think about whether I needed to fork the compost in.

While I had a think, I put up some more of the sweet pea canes.

They look neat don't they.  Probably the last time that will happen.
They are running north south so that both sides get some sun.  I haven't grown them north south since I first started to grow them seriously four years ago.  It means that the plants do not get the full blast of the sun at midday.  I think that sweet peas like cooler temperatures really.  This year I am only growing those sweet peas that are known as exhibition plants.

In the foreground you can see the stump of my old family plum tree.  It really should come out but I have planted so many bulbs around it that digging a big hole would disturb them.   I am just going to leave it until it gets in my way somehow.  The cyclamen are still flowering away but the species iris have gone over now.  A spectacular show, but over so quickly.

These are the climbing French bean poles.  I am using silver birch branches rather than canes.  I don't think that there is any difference at all but these are free while the canes are quite expensive.  The flowers on the bottom left are aubrietia, which have just started to flower today.  Now lots of people would say that making a triangular frame is not as good as making a vertical frame.  They keep telling me that the plants will get all tangled at the tops when both plants grow together.  Air will be excluded and disease will be encouraged.  I have never had disease at the tops of my beans or the sweet peas.  If you leave the top and not pinch out the leading stems when they reach the top of the poles then you will get a mass of growth at the top of the canes.  So I pinch out the stems that reach the top.  This encourages fruiting side shoots to grow and I get a heavier crop.
The sweet peas will not be left to over grow the top.  I will try to layer them down this year.  It was not very successful last year because the stems and leaves got a lot of mildew on them.  I think this is because I was growing them east to west and one side got a lot less sun.
The advantage of the triangular construction is that it is particularly strong and stable.  We have some high winds up on top of the hill, which knock down a lot of the bean rows.  A strong structure makes this less likely to happen.
The alternative method of putting canes up
Fiddling around making a cross piece for the main supports is not what I am good at. It is easier to wire one cane to the main supports and then lean the canes onto that.  Having said that, I do think that vertical canes are a bit better and give you healthier plants.

But that is how I do it. And it was the way my father and grandfather did it so I will be keeping with the traditions of my family...

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