Friday, 30 March 2012

Using turf on the allotment.

Although it might be too early and they might be caught by the frost,  I have planted all the potatoes.  I have ridged them up so that they will not emerge for a couple of weeks but this may not protect them after they have grown higher than the ridges.  I will have to make sure that they are protected in some way later in April.

A friend of mine has left a big pile of turfs on the allotment.  I was considering what to do with them until Ed came over.  I asked him if he wanted my left over potatoes. He said that he always put left over potatoes on the compost heap, not to rot down but to grow on.  He said that he got some really big potatoes that way.

The compost heaps had been cleared out and used during the winter digging so there was nothing in the compost bins.  However, I did have some turf and there was some bits of cow muck, leaves and lawn mowings in the bins by the gate.  So, together with weeds from another allotment I proceeded to make a new compost heap.  The allotment society had just had a big bonfire and the ashes could be used by anyone.  Ashes are alkaline and are said to have a lot of potash in them so they would make a good substitute for lime.  The turfs would provide the top soil and the cow muck, leaves, lawn mowings and weeds would make up the organic layer.  It took me about an hour to fill one of the compost bins putting potatoes near the edges as the layers were built up.

I am hoping to get a good harvest of potatoes when I take the compost apart.  I may put a pumpkin on this compost heap as well.

I finished constructing the supports for the climbing French beans.  These supports are poles made from tree branches.  As I have been cutting poles from the hedge running down the side of the allotment, I had far too many.  I think that I might need some for the runner beans so I will have to store them somewhere.  The allotment is filling up and there is little space for storing anything.

Two rows of peas were planted and watered in with some of the bamboo charcoal.  I put chicken wire up for one of the rows but the other row is right under the winter cauliflowers so I just put some plastic cloches over them.  I am letting the peas climb up the outside of the chicken wire this year just to see how they do.  They are more difficult to harvest if they are inside the chicken wire supports.

The winter cauliflowers are growing remarkably well now but they have not formed cauliflowers yet.  They always take much longer than I want them to.  I need the space now.  It is a good job that I am trying to grow peas in succession because otherwise I would need the ground to plant peas in.
Winter cauliflowers are looking much better
than this now.
I made the protective barrier for the alliums out of blue plastic water pipe and a large piece of enviromesh.  The enviromesh was very expensive but it had to be bought to get any onions at all.  My other pieces of enviromesh, I bought over 20 years ago, are still very useful.  This makes it sound a lot more economical.  The mesh is covering the garlic and I will plant the shallots underneath it in the next couple of weeks.  The onions are still growing on in the greenhouse.  They will have to be a lot bigger before I put them out.

I cut two big branches off an overhanging oak tree to give the allotment more light.  The larger ones are about 5 inches in diameter.  I was going to give them away to someone who uses them in their wood burning stove.  However, I have changed my mind and am going to make a new Hugelkultur bed with them.

The trench will be about three spits deep and a layer of couch grass and dock turfs will be put at the bottom.  The branches and brushwood will be put in next and the gaps filled with shredded branches.  Leaves and lawn mowing will be put on top of that and finally a layer of turfs will top it off.   The top soil will be sieved back into the trench. Inoculated charcoal and chicken manure will be mixed in as the soil is being sieved. I may use some of the lime to mix in as well.

 If there is any subsoil in the trench, I am going to remove it and put it in the empty compost bin to be mixed in with the compost,.

I am glad the weather is getting colder because it stops me from sowing seeds and planting too early.

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