Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Photographs of things growing in April

The May allotment photographs are at:

I was going to crop the comfrey yesterday but I left it to get a little bigger.  I did crop the sweet cicerly and the nettles and put them into the green butt next to the shed.  The comfrey needs weeding a bit but I will leave that until I have finished the rest of the allotment.  I am running out of liquid manure.  All the butts are almost empty now.  I also need to get some more charcoal to put into the butts with the liquid manure to make inoculated charcoal.  This seems to stop the nutrients from leeching out of the soil.  I put some of the mega compost heap compost into some plastic bags.  I was going to take it home to mix with the potting compost for the tomatoes.  I have taken enough home so I will use this compost to  spread on the allotment.
Comfrey is growing well

This is the very poor soil.  The council replaced the soil that was originally here because it was contaminated.  The soil that they replaced it with was mainly stones and clay.  It is growing things now but it has taken an effort to improve it.  I planted the vine in the very poorest of  this soil and I am hoping that it will not take over the world and grow with too much vigour.  

I had to put the slabs around it like this so I did not have to move it again during the winter.  I thought that I might kill it.  I shouldn't have worried.  The gooseberry cuttings are in the pot but they are not doing very well.  I will have to take some more later in the year.  I planted the rhubarb this year and it is struggling a bit probably because of the poor soil.  
You can just about see the parsnips coming through.
All the roots have come through very quickly.  As the rhubarb has not grown as large as I expected, I may put another row of parsnips here.  
Carrots under the enviromesh 
The enviromesh  over old cloche wire supports
I always put my carrots under enviromesh.  I bought this about 20 years ago so I have really got my money's worth out of it.  Apart from going a little grey it is still as good as it was when I got it.  It is really useful in keeping the carrot root fly off the carrots.  Some people just put a barrier around the carrots in the mistaken view that carrot root flies cannot get over them.  Well haven't you heard of wind?  They might have difficulty flying over barriers, however a good waft of wind will get them over.   This has been my experience and this is why I like to cover them completely.  The carrot seed has germinated but you can't see them in the photograph.  
The other roots have germinated.
 I think that April is one of the best times in gardening.  It is when things start to germinate and grow on.  I like to sow quite thinly so you can only just see the lines.  We have rocket, beetroot, spinach, salsify and scorzonera. 
The strawberries seem to have been hit hard by the winter but they are recovering well.  I have fed them and watered them well in this hot weather we are having.  I have not replaced the ones that I have lost, although several people have offered me replacements.  I think that I have plenty so they can just have a bit more room.  
Potatoes poking through soil.
I always think that you cannot garden properly unless you have a tub by your side.  I have two because one is for stones and glass -  we have a lot of glass on the allotment, while the other tub is for weeds.  As you can see not many weeds.  
Earthing up the potatoes
The ground is very dry at the moment but it does make earthing up the potatoes much easier.  I put the garden line along the rows so that I can see where the potatoes are.  They then get a good watering of comfrey liquid and finally the soil is drawn up over them using a draw hoe.  I have finished hoeing up the potatoes now.  It is not a job I relish but if you want good potatoes it has to be done.  The oca is at the beginning of  this row.  It has not poked its head through at the moment but the literature says that you should hoe it up in the same way that you do the potatoes so this is what I have done.  
Garlic in between the tulips
The garlic is growing quite large now.  I am watering and feeding it with comfrey liquid.  The tulips seem to like comfrey too.  I don't normally grow tulips like this but well its a long story and not really relevant to gardening so suffice to say it was down to my daughter.  She will have them when she gets a garden.  In the mean time I will see if I can get them to multiply a bit.  They add a little colour and interest to the allotment.  
Webb's Wonderful lettuce seedlings.
Next to the tulips are the lettuce.  I have planted these out and not put any slug pellets down.  I am hoping that the Nemaslug nematodes will keep the slugs at bay.  The tarpaulin is covering the ground where I watered the nematodes in and I am hoping it is keeping the ground damp for them.   I want to put some beer traps down for the slugs but I haven't any beer at the moment.  
Area where the leeks are going to go.
I have put three rows of Ailsa Craig onions into this area since I took the photograph.  There is still a lot of room for the leeks though.  I have put enviromesh over these onions to keep the leek miner fly off them.  
Onions under the cloches
These onions have cloches over them to keep the leek miner fly off them.  The cloches are not very straight, I have noticed, but they are doing their job well in any case.  
Sweet cicely 
Cropped sweet cicely
I have cropped the sweet cicely now. It makes a good liquid fertiliser like comfrey does. I have rhubarb plants in the corners of this bed and the blackberry growing over the frame.  The blackberry has a lot of flowers on it and I am hoping it will produce a lot of fruit this year.  
Sweet cicely in the butt.
I thought that I would add some nettles from the allotment too far and a little comfrey.  This got added to the butt with the sweet cicely.  I cropped a little of my own nettles but they were not very big.  It may be better to leave them for a year to grow bigger.  If I leave them they may attract small tortoise shell and red admiral butterflies that lay their eggs on them.   
Nettles and comfrey from the allotment too far
I have another source of nettles and I may go and get them tomorrow.  
My little nettle patch.  
Exhibition Sweet peas 
The sweet peas are nearly ready to be tied into the canes that they will be growing up.  I will select a shoot to train up the cane and cut the others off.  I will tie them in using garden wire.  
The canes in the foreground are for the Aintree runner beans.  There were a lot of weed seedlings on this part of the allotment and I needed to hoe in between the canes.  The large heavy duty hoe was a little too cumbersome so I decided to use the swoe.  The swoe that I have is very light and easy to use between the canes.   I gave them a good watering after hoeing.  

Although the blackcurrant bushes have loads of flowers on them, I don't think that they will crop very well because they have big bud mite.  I will have to ditch the lot in the autumn and start again with some clean bushes.  I do have some cuttings but I doubt if they will fruit for a while.  I do like blackcurrants though.  
Blackcurrant bushes.  
Broad beans are the only thing in the brassicae bed
The brassicae bed is all ready for the brassicas that will be put out at the end of this month or beginning of May.  I am hoping that the broad beans will have cropped and will be out of the way.  You can see that I have added lime to the top soil.  When you add lime you should not really also add manure.  The lime will cause ammonia to be produced and lost to the atmosphere.  As the sweet peas and runner beans were on this soil last year and then dug in during the autumn,  I am hoping that this is enough nutrients to produce big cabbages.  The brassicas will be watered in with comfrey liquid but I will not put any other nutrients on this year.   
Early Onward Peas
The Early Onward peas are growing on well.  I have put the chicken wire all around them so they have something to grow up.  You have to pick the peas from the top but this is not a difficulty.  I have four rows of peas and when the mange tout are big enough I will add another row.  
The squash bed is on the left and I have added a little more compost to this area to give them a boost when they are planted out in May.  
French runner bean poles.
The French runner bean poles have been up for a while but the beans will not be put out until the end of May. The sweet peas that I had over were planted here and I put up some plastic nets for them to grow up.  I will not be taking off side shoots and tendrils but will just let them climb up the netting as they will.  The beans will still be able to climb up the poles.  I am going to plant courgettes under the beans mainly because I am running out of room and to give the beans a green mulch.  
I am not sure whether I am going to trust the Okra outside here.  I have bought some more dwarf  French beans and will fill the space with these.  I think that the dwarf French beans that I have already planted will not germinate because they are old seed.  
Last two winter cauliflowers
The last of the cauliflowers are growing well and producing big heads.  However, three plants surviving the winter out of about 25 is not good.  I hope that this winter will not be so harsh.  This is where the dwarf French beans and the Okra will go between the climbing French beans and the peas.  Oh yes and there will be a row of mange tout peas as well.  My allotment just goes up to the slab edging.  The other allotment has been taken over by Eric's grandson. Eric was my neighbour allotmenteer for 25 years and now the dynasty is carrying on.  
aubretia on tap path
I do like it when the aubretia is flowering. The fox has gone along the side of the track way looking for slugs and snails.  It's either the fox or the badger.  I have seen the fox this year but I have not seen the badger yet.  
aubrietia by the French bean poles
So things are beginning to grow.  It is a great time of year.  

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