Thursday, 6 October 2011

Green manures

After finishing the triple digging, I levelled off the ground as best I could and began planting it up again.  Four rows of broad beans, Vicia faba, went in first.  These were grown from seeds from the earlier broad bean plants.  I don't usually grow broad beans so I was pleasantly surprised when I found that it was quite easy to keep the seed.  I was even more pleased to find how easy it was to germinate them.  I am keeping the rest of the seed for next year.

Vicia faba is a legume that will fix nitrogen from the air so it is a good green manure.  I don't know if it will survive the vagaries of an English winter but if they produce seed I will keep it and use it to grow more next year.

I started the Vicia faba in the greenhouse just throwing the seed into a pot full of old New Horizons general purpose compost.  All the seed seemed to have germinated.  This is a quick way of getting a lot of seeds and plants.  I will dig in the whole plants when they seem to have gone over.

I am going to plant the tulips alongside the Vicia faba because they will stop me putting anything else here.  I want this space for the pumpkin Cucurbitia maxima, courgettes Cucurbita pepo "Acceste", squash Cucurbita pepo  and ridge cucumber Cucumis sativus.  The tulips will have gone over before I need the ground for the curbits.

The other green manures I have used here are the clover and the tares.  Both of these will survive the winter and add nitrogen to the soil when they are dug in.  I am not sowing broadcast for several reasons.  I find that they form a good weed suppressing canopy even if you plant them in lines, also if there are any weeds before a canopy is formed then they are easily removed by hoeing between the lines.  The idea is to cover the ground with a protective layer of foliage during the winter so that winter rains do not leach out nutrients and compact the soil.
This can be achieved by planting the green manure in lines as well as broadcast.

Also planted were some rocket and American land cress.  These should also survive the winter and provide leaves for salad.  A few radish were planted as well.

Well after that extraordinary warm period at the end of September and beginning of October all the seed has germinated and the broad beans are doing quite well.

I had put some of the strawberry runners into pots with New Horizon general purpose compost hoping that they would root into the compost.  A stone was put onto the stolon in order to fix the plantlet  in place and almost all the plantlets sent down roots into the compost.  Earlier in the week the umbilical stolon was cut and then the plants were taken up to the old brassicae bed.

The new strawberry bed was single dug and a little pigeon manure scattered over the top to be hoed in later.

I planted three rows of new strawberry plantlets and two rows of one year old strawberries.  I gave them some mychorrhizal fungi although not under every one of them and watered them in with comfrey liquid.  I do have some inoculated charcoal to use but because there is already a large amount of charcoal on this bed already, I did not really think that it was necessary.

I have started to put dirty plant pots and trays aside to wash.  There is some thought that it is not necessary to wash pots and trays but I think that keeping things clean will avoid pests and diseases from being carried from one season to another.

I have not decided what varieties of sweet pea I am going to sow this October.  I have been looking through the catalogues though.  Really I should be looking through the vegetable catalogues but I cannot get my head round that especially as I am still cropping the vegetables for this season.

The things that are still cropping are the squash, swedes, celeriac, tomatoes, pumpkins, leeks, beetroot, carrots and Swiss chard. I think that the maize will be ready soon.

I have put the greenhouse grown leeks outside in order to harden them off.  They certainly got buffeted about today because it was very windy.  They are protected by the baskets they are in so there was not too much damage.  I will put them out in the allotment later on in this month to avoid the leek miner fly,   Phytomysa (formerly Napomyza) gymnostoma.  They have a second generation at the end of September early November and these have devastated the early leeks.  I may cover them as well to make sure that they can develop without being attacked by the fly.  Nowadays, the only effective defence against insects like these is to use barriers.  I will use enviromesh over metal cloche wire.

I took down some of the runner bean supports today but I have no room in the store shed at the moment.  I need to clear that shed out and make sure there is room to store things during the winter.  This is another reason why I need to wash all the pots and trays.  I can then take them home and store them in the greenhouse ready for the sweet pea sowing.

This reminds me, I need some more multi purpose compost.   

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