Thursday, 15 March 2012

Transplanting Onions and Wood ash

I have begun to transplant the"Mammoth" onions into larger pots today.  They were in sectioned trays and growing very well but the sections are quite small and the onions needed to be put into something bigger.  I am still transplanting "Vision" onions into pots.  I am hoping to keep them in pots until they grow quite big for a several reasons.

  • I want to see how large I can grow all the onions and if I keep them in the greenhouse I can regulate the watering and addition of liquid comfrey fertilizer.  
  • I will keep them away from the Phytomyza gymnostoma allium miner fly until they are quite large. However,  I will probably still need to put them into the allotment during April when the fly is still laying eggs.  I will use a barrier of enviromesh to keep them off.  The adults will be hatching out round about now and laying eggs and they will continue to do this until 20th. May.  
  • Hopefully the warmth in the greenhouse will bring the plants on and they will be able to gain some growth.  I have eventually worked out how to leave the paraffin heater on at the lowest setting and this is keeping the greenhouse relatively warm.  
The tomatoes are surviving, although they are not growing very fast.  They really need a little more heat.  I have celery and celeriac on the go and growing remarkably well as are the early sown leeks.  I would like to see the second sowing of leeks germinating a little quicker.

In order to get some big turnips this year, I have sown some in a pot to transplant into individual pots later.  I intend to do this for the swedes and kohlrabi  too.

The committee had a big bonfire earlier in the week and I got some of the ashes from the fire to put onto the allotment.  The ashes have a large number of plant nutrients in them, although a lot of the wood nitrogen nutrients have gone up in smoke.  In comparison with other fertilizers wood ash has an NPK of 0:1:3 which is quite good.  The potassium is in the largest in proportion and plants use this for producing flowers and fruit.  I am not quite sure of the biochemistry of this statement but I expect it is a good rule of thumb.  I may use some for the sweet peas and tomatoes.  

There is a large amount of calcium carbonate in ashes and because of this can be used as a substitute for lime.  Charcoal has a relatively high pH as well.  

As I have been adding charcoal to the allotment soil, this is probably  keeping the pH of the soil higher than I would have expected.  

Wood ash is often recommended to be put onto onion beds probably because of the micro nutrients that are within it.  With this in mind I put some on my onion bed and raked it into the topsoil.  I have also put some on the brassicae bed for the cauliflowers.    

I have put up about half of the sweet pea canes but still need some time to put others up.  I am not sure when I will be able to do the rest but the sweet pea seedlings really need to be planted in the allotment now.  

Some people have started to plant their potatoes.  I still think that it is a little early.  However, I will have to start to think about planting things out now.  The serious planting and sowing should start now to make the job a little easier and not a rush later in April.  

Also, planting early, thinning out to correct spacings and watering all help to produce large vegetables.  With any luck I will be able to do all three this year.  

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