Friday, 15 July 2011


I have been seriously cropping the peas this week.  Overall I have 11.5kg (25 lb) of podded peas, which is about 2.9 kg (6.3lb) per row.  The rows were 3.65metres (12ft) long and for this I should be getting at least 4lb per row.

So not bad. With charcoal and mychorrhizal fungi there is an increase of 2lb a row.  The peas were fertilised only with a top dressing of sieved home made compost and comfrey liquid.  So no bought fertilisers.  That can't be bad.

The harvest of strawberries has finished now.  The last ones I picked were on the 22nd June.  I got about 20.5kg off five rows and this seems eminently satisfactory.

At the moment I am harvesting brocolli, calabrese, raspberries, blackberries, broad beans, peas, courgettes, turnips, lettuce, carrots, beetroot and potatoes.

It is amazing just how much time it takes to harvest the vegetables and fruit.  I need to speed up a little.

I have taken out the summer purple sprouting and the calabrese and these will be replaced by one line of calabrese.  The broad beans have been taken out but new ones have been planted where the garlic has been taken out.  The winter cauliflowers growing under the broad beans need to be earthed up and given some comfrey liquid.

The broad bean tops have been taken off with a pair of secateurs and the roots left in the ground.  The roots are infected with rhizobium bacteria which fixes nitrogen from the air and converts it into ammonia which is a natural fertiliser for plants.  The nitrogen is taken up by the plants - such as broad bean - to make proteins. So to gain this nitrogen we can use the broad bean plant as a green manure.  If the roots are left in the soil they will provide about 30% of the available nitrogen but if the tops are dug in as well they will provide about 60% of the available nitrogen to the soil.

Lots of people leave the roots in the soil but burn the tops.  They are wasting 60% of the natural nitrogen fertiliser.

As there are winter cauliflowers in the way, the tops will not be dug in but put on the compost heap.  They will provide a little nitrogen for the rotting down process.

The peas have been harvested but there are a few left on to fatten up.  When these last few are cropped the plants will be dug into the same ground as they grew on as a green manure.  As with the broad beans, their roots are infected with rhizobium bacteria which has been fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere.  Digging them in will add nitrogen to the soil.

They will be replaced by a late crop of peas.

It could be argued that peas should not be planted where peas have been growing recently but there is little chance that there would be any problems. The peas will be planted with mychorrhizal fungi and inoculated charcoal again.  This will just add to the charcoal already on this bed.

Some of the sweet peas will be layered this weekend.  This involves them being taken off the cane supports and laid down along the ground to go up another cane support.  This will be time consuming too.

Just cropping and weeding the rest of the allotment.

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