Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Spending money on the allotment.

Even with plants being given; horse manure and cow manure being free; loads of free compost from my compost bins and free comfrey liquid, I still have spent quite a bit on the allotment.

I have bought more enviromesh barriers this year to combat a number of pests.  I have also splashed out a bit on antislug nematodes.  However, with the wet weather we have been having, the nematodes might have been a good investment.

What with reusing lots of things from last year and getting plants and seeds given to me, I think that I have done quite well.  While it is good to garden for as little money as possible, it is also good to have the things that you need to grow well.

I seem to have spent a lot of money on multipurpose growing medium this year.  I am trying new vegetables and herbs this year so that is where the extra growing medium is being used.  I have been potting up and potting on a lot of different things.  The leeks, onions, herbs, calabrese, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflowers, beans etc.  are all in bigger pots now and waiting for the weather to become more clement before I plant them out in the allotment.

I do make a great effort to spend as little as I can on the allotment primarily to see if I can do it.  However, this year I decided to splash out.  Last year I was not even scored in our local town competition and this year I wanted to at least get some recognition that I am a fairly good grower.

The allotment is completely organic, which is not a requirement for the competition so I will be up against people who use artificial chemical amendments and pesticides.

I want to do as well as they do but still remain organic.  Unfortunately this means that I have to spend some money.  It appears that I need to grow big for the competition.  This means big varieties, early start, larger planting spaces, lots of barriers, biological pest control and lots of comfrey liquid fertiliser.

I find that there is always something that comes good on the allotment regardless of the money spent and the effort put in and there are always failures.

I really need a cold frame to put all these plants into.  My greenhouse is full.  More expense even if I make one myself.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Still planting and sowing.

In order to make some space in the greenhouse, I have planted all the onions except the ones that I am going to try to grow very large.  The onion Vision was planted today.  I had just enough plants for one row.  I doubt if I will need any more than that.  They were planted under the enviromesh with the other onions.

Another row of lettuce was planted in the 'leaves' bed next to the other lettuce.  I have covered the early lettuce with cloches to get a crop quite soon.  I will probably use this area to plant some of the herbs like cumin and dill when all of the lettuce have been eaten.

I have sown two rows of beetroot;one row of Hamburg parsley and a row of salad burnet.  There is still room for fennel, spinach and parcel.  I would like to plant out the chamomile, marjoram, dill and cumin seedling in this  area too. 

I put in another row of turnips just to see how they do without any protection from cabbage root fly.  A small row of radish was sown next to them.  I will carry on this row with American land cress.  

I have decided to make some hot beds to plant the tomatoes on.  I dug a shallow trench mainly to get some top soil to put  into the ring culture pots.  Into the trench went lawn mowings with a liberal layer of cow manure on top.  The ring culture pots, full of top soil, were put on top of the pile.  Apart from bringing the tomatoes on the hot bed will raise the tomatoes above the soil level and there will be less likelihood of slug damage to the fruit. 

That is all I have done today but it still took me about five hours.  Where does the time go to.  I did stop a couple of times though.  Don offered me a cup of coffee and that was very appreciated.  Then I was given a vegetable samosa which was also very appreciated.  

I love samosa -  but not too hot.     

I will take photographs of the allotment on the 20th because I took them on the 20th of April last year.  Not such a warm April this year and things are not so advanced.  

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Planting up the Allotment.

At the moment I have four rows of carrots; one row of parsnips, salsify and scorzonera; two rows of lettuce and one row of Swiss chard on the top bed.  I still need to sow some Hamburg parsley and beetroot.  The celeriac and celery plants need to be put out but they can stay in the greenhouse until the weather becomes more clement.

Two rows of early peas and  a row of broad beans has been planted in the pea and bean bed.  The climbing French beans have germinated in the greenhouse but it is far too early to plant them out.  Four trays of peas have germinated in the greenhouse and these will have to be planted out soon.  I still have two rows of winter cauliflowers and two rows of purple sprouting broccoli in this bed and will not take them out until I am forced to. We are eating the purple sprouting broccoli and the winter cauliflowers have not headed up yet.

Two rows of cauliflower, All the Year Round and Clapton, have been planted in the brassica bed together with one line of Golden Acre Primo cabbage.  I also have two rows of turnips as well.

There is something wrong with my sweet peas and they are not developing as quickly as I would have expected.  I have tied them up and weeded between them.   Hopefully they will perk up a little as the weather warms.  I am still eating the late leeks but I will need to clear this ground soon so that I can put up the runner bean canes.

On the onion bed I found a little room for the herbs.  They should be quite snug here because they are in full sun.  Two rows of Bedforshire Champion; two rows of Alisa Craig; and two rows of Mammoth onions have been planted on the onion bed. One row of shallots Jermore have also been planted alongside the garlic.  All these have been covered in enviromesh supported by blue water pipe.  I have taken out the American land cress and the rocket before they could set seed because I needed the space.

I will be constructing another hot bed to put the early tomatoes on.  I have some really good farmyard manure and this will be put along a shallow trench.  I will take out the trench because I need to soil to fill the ring culture pots that I will plant the tomatoes in.  The ring culture pots will be spaced along the hot bed on top of the farmyard manure.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Sowing more seed. Busy time...

I have sown some Cucurbita pepo "Rouge Vif d'Etamps"; Cucumis sativa "Wautoma";  Cucurbita pepo ovifera "Black Beauty" ;  Phaseolus vulgaris "Cherokee Trail of Tears" and "Cobra"; Brassica oleracea rapa "Oasis"; and  Zea mays "Northern Extra Sweet".

I thought that it was a little early for squash and fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) so I will delay sowing these for a couple of weeks.

The dill, cumin, chamomile, marjoram, tarragon, have finally all been pricked out into trays.  They are tiny seedlings and very fiddly.

I am hardening off celery, celeriac, shallots, asparagus, onion, chamomile, lettuce, cauliflower and cabbage.

I will be planting out cauliflower, cabbage, turnip, lettuce, broad beans, and onions in the allotment garden.  The weather, which is very showery is not being as kind as I would like it to be.  It looks like I am going to have to plant out in the rain.  The plants are outgrowing their pots and should be planted as soon as possible.

I will be protecting the cabbage and the cauliflower from pigeons using hoops and enviromesh.  This will be left on over the summer to keep cabbage white butterflies from laying eggs on the brassica foliage.  Using barriers is a much more effective way of protecting vegetables than using sprays.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

More transplanting and potting up.

The Apium graveolens "Full White" that was sown in January needed potting on into 3 inch pots.  These are the seedlings that I want to grow quite large.  I will plant them out in the allotment soon and space them about 18 inches between plants. The more space you give plants the larger they will grow.

The herbs, Anthemis nobilis, Anethum graveolens, Origanum majorana, Artimisia dracumculoides  were transplanted into trays.  These are tiny seedlings and very fiddly to transplant but the resulting plants can be extremely satisfying.

The Allium porrum  "Bleu de Solaise" seedlings were transplanted into some small pots to grow on.  I will let these get quite big before putting them out in the allotment.  This will mean potting them on into larger pots in a few weeks time.

I am keeping the greenhouse temperature between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius so that the tender plants like beans and tomatoes are not adversely affected by any cold and frosty weather.  I am going to plant all my very tender plant seeds next week.  Things like pumpkin, squash, runner bean, climbing french beans, cucumber and sweet corn.

Tomorrow I will be planting out Lactuca sativa "Webb's Wonderful"; Brassica oleracea "All The Year Round"; Allium cepa "Mammoth"; Allium ascolonicum "Jerome"; Vicia faba;  and Brassica oleracea capitata "Golden Acre Primo"; and any other of the seedlings that seem to be big enough to be planted out.

The Phaseolus vulgaris "Cobra" and "Trail Of Tears" need potting on too.  They will be put into 3 inch pots until they go out into the allotment soil.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Transplanting seedlings

Many of the seedlings in the greenhouse have grown big enough to transplant into larger pots and trays.  The Apium graveolens "Full White", Apium graveolens rapaceumVicia faba, Brassica oleracea "Belstar", and "Greensprouting", Brassica oleracea botrytis "Winter Alsmeer", Brassica oleracea capitata "Holand Winter White" and "Sherwood", Anthemis nobilis,  Anethum graveolens, Brassica oleracea caulo-rapa, Lactuca sativa "Webbs Wonderful",  and Brassica napus napo brassia.  

There are lots more seedlings to transplant but they will not suffer from having to wait for a couple of days.  The  Brassica oleracea capitata "Golden Acre Primo", Brassica oleracea botrytis "All the Year Round" and the Allium ascolonicum "Jermore" really need to be planted out in the allotment now.  I have the room, I have prepared the ground but I do not have the time at the moment.

There is absolutely no room in the greenhouse so I will have to plant some of the seedling in the allotment.

All of the turf at the allotment has been put onto the compost heap to break down and make some good compost.  The rocket that I was leaving to go to seed has fallen down in the winds and cold of Wednesday.  I will leave it to see if it still produces seed.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Change in the weather

This change in the weather could be quite disastrous for anything put out in the warm weather.  This means mainly the sweet and culinary peas.  I was given some early lettuce and this may be caught by the frost too.  They might grow on if I am lucky but they will not survive a heavy frost.

I planted two rows of Pisum sativum "Dulce Provence", however one of the rows is under cloche protection and this might protect them from the worst of the cold weather.

It has been forecast rain, sleet, snow and frost.  There is no way that I can protect 180 plus sweet peas.

The carrot, parsnip, salsify and scorzonera seed that were planted in early March will survive because they do not seem to have germinated yet.

All the beds have been tested now and they are all about neutral or just slightly alkaline.  The test has indicated that there is a lack of nitrogen in the two top beds.  I think that either the test is wrong or that vegetebles don't need that much nitrogen because I get a lot of produce off these beds.

The soil temperature today was a balmy  nine degrees and this is warm enough for some germination.  The potatoes are fine at the moment because I have earthed them up quite high.  They will not emerge from the sol until the middle of April.  I have picked most of the tulip flowers.  They have flowered very early and will suffer if they are snowed on.

I have put all the plants back in the greenhouse and put the paraffin heater back on.  This will keep the frost off the tenderest plants.  If it snows and the plants are not in the greenhouse they will get flattened as well as frosted.  I have put all the plants back in the greenhouse and put the paraffin heater back on.

This will keep the frost off the tenderest plants.  If it snows and the plants are not in the greenhouse they will get flattened as well as frosted.  I have put all the plants back in the greenhouse and put the paraffin heater back on.  this will keep the frost off the tenderest plants.