Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Growing Vegetables in Succession .

After many years of attempting to grow vegetables in succession and not succeeding very well, I decided to analyse what the difficulty was.

There are several different ways of getting a succession and probably the most popular is sowing at regular intervals during the spring.  This is what I did.  I made several sowings of peas throughout the spring usually about every two weeks.  This meant that the final sowing was about six weeks after the first.  However, irritatingly, the peas always seemed to fruit at about the same time regardless of when they were sown.

Undoubtedly, sowing at different times should produce some difference in the fruiting time but this can be enhanced by using other methods that help produce succession.

"Early Onward" pea was my favourite because it was easy to germinate and produced a large crop of peas.  I used this pea for all the sowings and this was probably my first mistake.  Using different varieties helps to lengthen the succession.  Now I use Douce Provence, Early Onward, Lincoln, Onward and Progress No9 to produce a good harvesting succession during the summer.

Although I do not bother, covering with some kind of protection will help with early crops and ones grown in the autumn.  Covering overwintering peas is really vital if only to protect them from being eaten by the pigeons.  A cloche could be used to speed the maturation of a crop that is getting out of sequence and help maintain the succession.

I have an allotment that is mainly north facing and the aspect is very open.  Planting peas with this alignment and exposure will slow the maturation  of plants. Placing them in an area protected by fences or hedges will help plants crop earlier and if you are lucky to have a south facing slope then this will help to produce an earlier crop.

Using hot beds to warm the soil will allow the plants to mature quickly and produce fruits and this will help succession.  Heaps of turned fresh manure can be used to make the hot bed and topped off with a good layer of top soil.  I am using a hot bed to get an early crop of cauliflowers this year.  I am also hoping that the hotbed will help me to get some bigger cauliflowers because I am going for "big" this year.  I am trying to grow all the Alliums, particularly onions and leeks, much bigger than I usually get them.

Although I did everything correctly to get big plants, I think the weather is against me and I might be disappointed.  .

Sunday, 26 May 2013

It always takes much longer than you expect.

After watering the seedlings in the greenhouse, I decided to mow the lawns.  The weather was dry and warm  so it was quite pleasant particularly as the mower is working really well.

If you get the edges done well it doesn't matter how well you do the lawn it still looks good.  The detail is important.  The grass is sending up flower stalks now and my cylinder mower finds it difficult to cut these off.  I just go over and cut them off with some edging shears.

I did some topiary on the hedge in the front garden.  It is amazingly simple to get a good smooth surface but I still think that I need to continue to practise.    I worked with the hedging shears because the electric shears's battery is not working.  Although the electric shears are quicker, they do not give such a good finish as the hand shears.

It is another skill worth having so I will continue to work at it.

The front lawn had just as many grass flower stalks and it took some time to cut them all with the edging shears.

Both the front and the back lawn look reasonable now.  The variegated ivy that I cut hard back is sending out some good growth.  I have to keep a good eye on it because it is sending up shoots that are not variegated.   I am cutting these out rigorously to make sure it does not revert back to the non variegated type.

Filled two large compost plastic bags with lawn mowings and hedge clippings and decided to take them down to the allotment and put them onto the compost heap.

I stopped at the new allotment to make sure that the brassica seedlings I planted yesterday were ok.  They were a little droopy so I gave them all a really good watering.  The netting seems to have kept the pigeons off them.  

At the new allotment I went around and watered everything.  I hoed between the swedes, kohl rabbi and turnips.  Tomorrow, I will hoe all the allotment and tie up the sweet peas.

Planted out another two tomatoes in the allotment.  Maybe the sweet corn ought to be planted out as well?

Two of my grafts have come.  The Corylus avellana purpurea on Corylus avellana  and the Malus domestica "Ribston Pippin" on M9 rootstock.  The apple graft is the one I am most proud of.  If the Moorecroft apricot on St Julien A grows I will be even more chuffed.  The root stock is growing but there is no sign of life from the scion.

I need to sow some more peas tomorrow.

What has happened to Webbs Wonderful lettuce seeds this year?  The are not germinating at all.
I will sow some more lettuce tomorrow.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Planting out seedlings.

Usually at this time of the year I enjoy planting out hardened off seedlings.  The ground is usually warm and the weather is clement.

However, this year the ground remains cold and the weather is very changeable.  Trying to keep plants growing is very difficult.  Nothing is moving.

This is how the sweet peas should  look like at the end of May
This is how they look this year.
I can understand how some people new to gardening get despondent.   However, we need to carry on regardless.

With this in mind I have planted out another line of Alderman climbing peas and two rows of Early Onward garden peas.  I protected them well with chicken wire so that the pigeons do not pull them out.  I watered the peas in with dilute comfrey liquid and some of them had mychorrhizal fungi put into their planting holes.

All the potatoes, those at the old and new allotment, have been earthed up.  I had to clear off the weeds first and this was quite time consuming.  I started hoeing them off but ended up weeding by hand and putting the small weed seedlings into a tub to put onto the compost heap.  If I hadn't done this they would have regenerated and caused me more of a problem later in the year.  I haven't put any fertiliser on the potatoes mainly because it was cold and wet.  Also the potatoes have had both green manure and animal manure put on the beds at the beginning of the year.  They should not need anything else until mid summer.

I hand weeded all the roots and the leaves.  The nematodes seem to be doing their job because the lettuces have recovered from being severely eaten.  A new line of bulb fennel was planted.  I think that I have too much bulb fennel but I will take out a line if I need the space to plant celery and celeriac.

The celery and celeriac are still too small to be put out in the allotment.  I haven't even left them outside to harden off yet.

The majority of the strawberries have not flowered yet.  They will not fruit until the end of June.

I planted a line of kale and a line of calabrese in the brassica bed at the old allotment.  The rest of the kale, winter cabbage, broccoli, summer cabbage, red cabbage and cauliflower will be planted in the new allotment.  I will probably have some brussel sprouts and winter cauliflowers to plant in the new allotment too  but I want to fill the brassica bed at the old allotment first.

I protected the runner beans with fleece and mesh by attaching them to the canes to make a open topped cuboid about two feet in height.  I don't know if this will help but I am glad that I did it.  The wind is particularly cold today and this is what really causes the runners to get burnt leaves.

I did not have enough fleece and mesh to do the climbing French bean Cobra so these will have to fend for themselves.

The sweet peas are struggling to grow still.  I gave them their weekly dose of comfrey liquid and with any luck the weather will change and they will romp away.

Onions and leeks are growing well.  They do not seem to be affected so much by the very cold wind.  I gave these their weekly dose of dilute comfrey liquid.

Hopefully, the weather will warm soon.  We should not quibble really because UK is at the same latitude as northern Canada and Siberia and I doubt if they are very warm either.

Off to get some more New Horizon multi purpose compost to prick out some more celery, celeriac and lettuce.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

May allotment photographs 2013 - Another difficult year

I have had terrible trouble germinating seeds and then keeping plants alive this spring.  However, now that the warmer weather seems to have begun plants have been growing a little better.

The comfrey has begun to grow with a vengeance.  I will crop this next week and put it into the comfrey liquid bins.  I still have quite a lot of comfrey liquid from last year but, at the rate I am using it, it will not last long.  I am watering it on all the plants in the allotment once a week.
I have decided to cover all the alliums with enviromesh or scaffold netting as a barrier to Phytomyza gymnostoma.   It does not look very good but it does protect the plants.  Many of the allium plants on the allotment site have little white dots over their leaves.  This is a symptom of the adult flies feeding.  I thought that the cold east wind and the late season might have disrupted the insects life cycle but it was a forlorn hope.  The flies just hatched out much later than usual.  They have been laying eggs for about a week now.

Alliums under the mesh barriors

Shallots, ordinary garlic, elephant garlic and four rows of onions.  
I have put four rows of leeks under the scaffold netting. 

The rest of the ground on this bed will be for South American vegetables.  

I have watered with Nemaslug nematodes so that when I plant out the seedlings will have a fighting chance of not being devoured by marauding molluscs.    

I have started to plant out the tomatoes in ring culture pots to keep the plants off the soil.  The scraggy tomatoes are Latah which is an unkempt bush tomato.  It fruits very early and avoids blight.  I am going to put the bush tomato Hunter in the empty pots.  

Victoria and Champagne rhubarb is doing well especially after they got their yearly dose of horse muck.  

The cold frame is going to be used for the ridge cucumbers.  I will put some metal mesh in for them to climb up like I did last year.  The brassicas are in the cold frame at the moment, hardening off.  I have had to put a net over the top of the cold frame to keep the pigeons off.  Really I should just go and get the replacement glass.

All the new raspberries have started to grow.  These are summer fruiting raspberries.  I forget the name as usual.  The old ones are over six foot tall.  I have bent the tops down to prevent them from breaking off in the wind.  I think that these are Glen Prosen but I am not sure without looking at the label.  All the autumn fruiting raspberries are at the new allotment 

Broad beans
The broad beans are showing the effects of the cold east wind and late spring.  I had them covered with a cloche but they are still looking poor.  They have been affected by flea beetle.  I have planted a row of dwarf French beans alongside to replace them when they go over.

A line of Cobra climbing French beans have been planted next to the sweet peas.  I watered some slug nematodes along this row too.  The sweet peas were very effected by the cold spring.  I put them out in March just when the very cold east wind started to blow.  This stopped them from growing and lead to quite an aggressive attack by flea beetle.  They are just beginning to recover now but they are very late compared with previous years.  

Poor old  sweet peas.
I have planted two rows of All The Year Round cauliflowers and two rows of cabbage under the scaffold netting to keep off the pigeons and the cabbage white butterflies.  I made a hot bed for these plants with horse manure and it seems to have helped them through the cold spring.  The heat of the bed seems to have cooled now.  I push a cane into the pile and feel the end when I remove it to check the heat.  

The second scaffold barrier is over a rows of calabrese, red cabbage, green cauliflower and white cauliflower and in between you can just make out a line of swedes, kohl rabi and turnips.  

The rest of the ground will be for Brussel sprouts, winter cauliflowers and calabrese.  It looks a large area but this is eaten up very quickly when planting seedlings two feet apart.  I want to get in four rows of Brussels and two of winter cauliflowers.  The kale, purple sprouting broccoli, winter cabbage and other brassicas will be planted on the new allotment.  

This is the first time I have grown climbing peas.  There is a mixture here but mostly they are Alderman.  I have used a pair of old hemp nets attached to the canes for them to grow up.  I am hoping to get them up to about six feet if I can.  

The Douce Provence peas were planted early before the cold east wind.  The wind has slowed their growth considerably but now they are recovering and growing on well.  One day I will take this old plum stump out but at the moment it is sending up suckers that I can use for grafting.  So it is useful.  

The last remaining winter cauliflower
This is the area where the peas are going to go.  I have had terrible trouble getting them to germinate so they are very late.  I plant the seed in modular trays in the greenhouse primarily because the pigeons eat them if I sow them in the allotment soil.  I have several trays ready for planting out now and they will be put out during next week.

The strawberries have improved considerably over the last week.  They were looking very sorry for themselves and were growing very slowly.  We might even have strawberries for Wimbledon week. I've put shredded material around the strawberry plants to keep the strawberry fruit off the ground.  I don't know if this is a good idea or not but I have not had time to get a bale of straw this year.

The black currants seemed to have relished the very cold spring and are full of flowers now.  I have been feeding them with concentrated comfrey liquid but even so they are doing particularly well.  

The leaves have struggled to germinate but most of them have now.  Chard and perpetual spinach; ordinary spinach; salad burnet; purslane; good king Henry; coriander; globe fennel; dill; chamomile and lettuce have been sown here.  There are some very slug eaten lettuce plants under the cloche, however the whole of this area has been watered with slug nematodes.  

You can hardly see them but there is a line of Hamburg parsley, beetroot and salsify here.  The rest of the ground will be for celery, celeriac and lettuce so has been watered with slug nematodes.  The celery and celeriac are being very slow to grow and the seedlings are far too small to put out yet.  There will be some lettuce to plant out next week though.  

I have had to resow the carrots again this year.  The second year in a row.  Lets hope that they germinate this time.  
The parsnips germinated well despite the cold spring.  
Two rows of parsnip seedlings.
They are not growing very fast though.
Now the plan was to wait until the early potatoes poked their heads above the soil before I hoed them up. I could have hoed between the rows by putting a line along where the potatoes were.  However, I didn't and the potato bed is not very tidy at the moment.  I did the same at the new allotment with the second earlies and had to spend the whole day weeding before I hoed them up.  I will have to do this for the earlies too.  
Not very tidy potato bed
The potato bed is worse that this photograph now.  The seedlings are mostly poached egg plant that I used as a companion plant with the sweet peas five years ago and they are still germinating.  The potatoes are poking their heads above the soil now and need to be hoed up.  That is a job to do next week.

So, just waiting for seedlings to grow or harden off  for this allotment. The new allotment has lots of plants to be set out.  I will be planting another row of Alderman peas, onions, leeks, dwarf French   beans, runner beans and winter brassicas.  I am also going to sow any seeds left over from the old allotment  somewhere on the new allotment.  I must take some photographs of the new allotment now that I have weeded the potato bed.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

The busiest time of the year continues to be busy.

Events are conspiring to prevent me from continuing planting and sowing in both allotments.  Although the old allotment is almost up to date with sowings and plantings the new allotment is far from being filled.

However today I had to attend the RHS level 3 Practical Gardening course at the Cedars where I dug over a vegetable plot and put up some bean canes.  I am proud to say that one of my Corylus avellana grafts with Corylus purpurea has taken, however all three of my apple grafts do not seem to be growing - yet.  I am not giving up on them for the moment but I think that it is wishful thinking for them to take.

I bought three hardy fuchsias to add to my daughter's garden.  They are small plants at the moment. I think that I overdid the daffodils.  Good job that the fuchsias are small.

It is a quirky little garden but it is developing its own character.  The wicker hurdles were bought from  Riverwoods at the Bothy on Shugborough Estate.  I like them a lot and they are ideal to grow clematis, honey suckle and roses up.   Bothies were where the unmarried gardeners lived on large country estates.  

I went down to the new allotment this afternoon with the intention of planting some more stuff, however I spent the time cutting up the blue water pipe to make supports for the mesh and netting to cover the brassicas and then unwrapping a very large piece of concrete reinforcing wire.   The wire had been left at the back of the allotment and was covered in ivy and bind weed so that it could not be seen until the hedge had been cut back.  In order to unroll it, all the ivy had to be cut off and this took some time.  I am going to use it to grow the Alderman peas up.  It is probably too long at the moment and will have to be cut.

Finally, I put the Matis Tiller over where I had been moving the shed.  The ground had been compacted and I would have found it difficult to plant and sow unless it had been made a little more easy to work.  The Tiller has made a fine tilth and also weeded the area.  The weeds are coming with a vengeance now and will have to be dealt with, however I am still waiting for the potatoes to grow out of the soil before I weed this area. Needless to say, I did not have time to sow or plant.   

The heavens opened and there was thunder and lightening together with hail and rain so I took the hint and went home for a well deserved cup of tea.  

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Digging the soil previously under the shed.

Now that I have moved the shed on the new allotment it has given me an area of top soil about 15 feet by 6 feet to grow on.  However the soil around the edges is full of bind weed and needed to be sieve double dug. My trusty bread tray sieve was recovered from the shed and put into use again.
It took me about three hours to clear the ground.  I left it a little uneven because I am going to run the Mantis Tiller over this area of the allotment.  Treading on the soil while moving the shed has consolidated it a little too much and the soil needs to be opened up again so that seeds can be sown and seedlings planted.

Some of the potatoes on the new allotment are poking their heads through the soil and will need hoeing up soon.  The potato bed is getting a little weedy and will need to be hoed to get rid of them.  I moved all the strawberries under the plum tree.  It is the only place I have for them at the moment.  I am going to make a large strawberry bed later.  I was given one globe artichoke and this is growing remarkably well.  I doubt very much if I will harvest any but it adds interest to the allotment.  

Although the brassica seedlings are still a little small to be planted out there are still things that need to be sown and planted.  I will be sowing some carrots, beetroot and Hamburg parsley next and then planting some dwarf French beans.  The Alderman pea supports need to be constructed from concrete reinforcing wire.  I will secure these with metal rods I have found on the allotment.  I still have some onion and leek seedlings to plant out.  They are fine in their trays at the moment but soon they will outgrow them.   

I am going to plant  the brassica seedlings where I have been digging today.  I have bought some nets from the old allotment to cover them against the pigeons.  

Although it was drizzling throughout the day, the ground was still very dry.  

Somehow, some of the pigeon muck that I put on the allotment next to the shed last year had migrated behind the shed.  The shed does not have a gutter so water falling from the roof must have moved it.  It meant that I could incorporate this into the soil that was under the shed.  This top soil seemed to be very thin and without much organic matter in it.  

I have three large pieces of guttering, each of which is big enough to span the side of the shed.  I will put one of them on the shed when I remember to bring the fixings from the old allotment.  I also need down pipe fittings.  

I could lime this area to prevent club root in the brassica plants but, as I am still assessing what the allotment is like, I don't want to add too many soil amendments yet.  

I have had a big pile of shredded material delivered to the allotment.  I am using this to cover the paths.  It does stop weeds seeds from germinating to some extent but the main reason for using it is to keep my shoes clean and dry.  

The second half of the allotment has been covered completely in carpet, black plastic and tarpaulins.  I had to weigh them down with the rotten wood from the "raised beds"  because the wind was so strong today. With the covering, it means that I can take my time in clearing this part of the allotment.  As it is so bad, I do not have to pay for it until next year so if I do get around to clearing even a small part of it and planting something, I will be making a "profit".  

The secretary of the allotment association has offered me the next allotment half as well.  I turned it down saying that I have enough to be going on with.  However, if I am going to give up the old allotment, it would be a very useful addition to the allotment. 

Giving up the old allotment is a very difficult thing to do.  Thirty one years of hard work enabling me to come third in Wolverhampton allotment competition means that I am very reluctant to say good bye to it.  I am not a competition kind of person but succeeding in this kind of competition validates what you are doing on the allotment and says that you are doing quite well.  I am going for big on the old allotment this year - trying to grow things as large as I can.  

Tomorrow I will  harvest the winter cauliflowers from the old allotment.  I thought that they would be quite small because the cold easterly wind and frost hammered them during March and April.  However, they have recovered very well and I will get some big curds from them.  

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Watering the allotment with dilute comfrey liquid.

I have decided to water all the plants on the allotment with dilute comfrey liquid once a week on a Tuesday.  It will prevent me from over "feeding"  and forgetting when I last did it.  Of course you cannot feed plants because they make their own food through photosynthesis.  Adding nutrients to the soil around plants enables them to access compounds that are necessary for a healthy plant.

Although some of the potatoes have poked their heads out of the soil, I did not water these.  I will wait until more are showing so that I can see the rows.

The parsnips and beetroot have germinated and their rows can be easily seen.  However, the carrot seed does not seem to have germinated and is very slow.

If I have seen no movement before the end of the week, I will have to resow.  The leaf beet and spinach have germinated but where I have used old seed - for the coriander and parcel there is no sign of life.  I have planted two rows of bulb fennel.  I have several varieties and want to discover which are the best for the allotment.  I planted a few lettuce as well.  I will use lettuce to fill the rows where seed does not germinate.

The strawberries have made a lot of growth this week and seem to appreciate the dilute comfrey liquid.  The winter cauliflowers have been watered heavily during the last two weeks and have finally produced quite big heads.  I will be harvesting them in the next week.

Peas are developing well.  I am amazed by how fast the climbing peas are growing.  They must be three times the size of the ordinary peas and they were sown at the same time.

The cauliflower and cabbages have grown about twice the size they were when they were planted.  It just shows what a little warmth and water will do.
The kohl rabbi, swede and turnip seeds have germinated and are developing well.

I think that I have saved the sweet pea seedlings.  They were hit very hard by the cold east wind and then attacked by flea beetle.  From having far too many sweet peas, I have now just enough for one per cane.  I will continue to water them to encourage the side shoots to grow a little quicker.  The flea beetle does not seem to be as attracted to the side shoots.

I used the onion hoe between the onions and cleared away the few weeds that were growing there.  The mammoth onions were planted next to the Bedfordshire Champion and another row of Santero onions were planted next to them.  I have put plastic bottles over the onions to keep the leaves upright.  I cut the bottoms and tops off the bottles.  It looks a little peculiar but it is doing the job.  The idea is to maintain all the leaves because every leaf lost is a scale lost on the bulb.

Almost all the alliums are covered with environmesh to prevent the leek miner fly Phytomyza gymnostoma getting to them.  I am hoping that the cold east wind has seen them off during March and April but that might be wishful thinking.

I put one line of leaks outside the environmesh as an experiment to see if they will be attacked and time will tell if the fly is still around.

Finally, I planted out the oca Oxalis tuberosum  and watered them in with dilute comfrey liquid.

Then home for a well earned cup of tea.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Sowing the Fennel

It seems that I ordered more bulb fennel than I wanted.  Either that or they added a packet without me ordering it.   Although the greenhouse sown bulb fennel has germinated and is awaiting planting either on the old or the new allotment, I thought that I would sow some straight into the ground.

I will still plant out the fennel seedlings and if I have too many, I will hoe out the poorest ones and plant lettuce instead.

The ground where the fennel was sown was in very good heart and needed nothing doing to it. In order to make really straight lines, I used the thin garden line.  It is a lot more accurate than the thick line.   I consolidated the ground by shuffle walking over it.  Then I used the three pronged cultivator to break up the ground,  the hoe and finally the rake to make a really fine tilth.

The drill was taken out using the hoe and watered with dilute comfrey liquid.  The fennel seed was sown on top of the damp soil.

The small rake was used to pull the soil over the seeds. The ground was consolidated again with the back of the rake and raked over again.  The surface was watered with dilute comfrey liquid.

I watered all the plants that have been put out in the allotment except for the potatoes.  The potatoes have not come through at the moment but I am expecting to see them now we are having some warmer weather.

I started making the compost heap again using layers of lawn mowings, shredded brushwood and horse manure.  I will continue this next time I go to the old allotment.

I have been putting some of the rotted compost onto the ground but did not have time today because I wanted to go to the new allotment and move the shed.

With a bit of huffing and puffing I eventually moved the shed to the position I wanted it to be on the new allotment.  Its foundation must be about 2 foot of stones which will prevent water building up around it.  I will put the guttering along the short side to catch any rain and lead it into a water butt.  The only butts that I can use at the moment are old black dustbins. They are a little small for the job but will do for now.  If you use a gutter on the shed it prevents water from the roof falling onto the ground next to the shed and causing it to rot away.

There has been a good germination of cucumbers, courgettes and sweet corn.  Bit late but that is because of the cold spring.  Pumpkins and squashes are not showing yet.

I am hardening off all the brassica seedlings ready to put into both allotments.  They are growing noticeably each day. Some onions and leeks are with them as well.

I have still go the Mammoth onions in the greenhouse and they are growing very well.  I have put old plastic bottles, with their bottoms cut off, over the onions to keep the leaves upright.

They could be put out now but I will wait until the middle of the week.

Tomatoes are hardening off ready to put out in the allotment.  I am going to put them into ring culture pots and use well sieved (using the 1/4 inch sieve) garden soil and home made compost.  (50:50)  There are no more frosts forecast at the moment so the oca, tomatoes, cucumbers and courgettes can be put out next week.

The runner beans have started to germinate and grow quickly.  Lots of people have put their runner beans out already but I think that they are safer put out later especially this year.  I have germination of dwalf French beans and climbing French beans so they will be put out when they get big enough.  Early Onward and Alderman peas are germinating in the module trays so they will not take long to get big enough to plant out.

So it is all go until the allotments are full and there is only weeding to do.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Heritage Seeds

So it seems that we are to loose the opportunity to save our own seed and pass it on to friends and family.  Well, how do you police that?

It would seem that they are targeting organisations that act as hubs for sharing seed rather than individuals.  People like Garden Organic and The Real Seed Company.  A sad state of affairs.

We should be growing for food not for money.  I buy a lot of seed but I also keep my own and use heritage seed.  Why is it heritage?  Because it is prone to disease and does not taste very good.

Why ban something that is inherently inferior to modern seed and varieties?  It poses no threat.  Where is the logic?

I grow heritage plants for interest and to share seed.  I am a grower; I grow things.  Give me some seed and I will sow it and grow on the plants.  Its a hobby why stop it?  I will not comply.

"The EU want to stop us from saving and sharing seed. Seed is our past, our present and our future...biodiversity is being destroyed by corporations like Monsanto, for profit and greed!"

Sign the petition at http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/We_Will_Not_Comply/?wCgoWbb

Be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

I wonder why they are just targeting seed and not preventing propagation by other means.  Will we be able to take cuttings, graft, divide, keep offsets?

What will happen if the blooming plants start self seeding particularly if they go into someone else's garden.

What do you do if you find that a wayward seed has inadvertently decided to germinate in your garden?  Do we root it up and send it to the seed Gestapo.

Seeds are designed to scatter, disperse, travel.  Let's have some common sense here and help them on their way.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013


The famous Victorian head gardeners like Paxton of Chatsworth and Barnes of Bicton often wrote about how important it was to observe what happens in a garden.  This will help you to plant and grow with some chance of success.

On the old allotment I always plant the pea seedlings and then surround them with chicken wire.  The wire is there primarily to enable the peas to climb not particularly to protect them.  However, it obviously does protect them from pigeons because the unprotected pea seedlings I planted at the new allotment were devastated.

I had some chicken wire to put around them so why I didn't put it up, I really don't know.  I honestly thought that they would be safe.  So the observation is: there are some very destructive pigeons on the new allotment's site.  Peas and brassicas will have to be netted.  I have nets and chicken wire so there is no excuse.

Only by watching and seeing what happens will I learn what this allotment is like.

I am not surprised to find some of the bind weed growing on the new allotment. I am in two minds about whether to dig down to find where it is coming from or just hoe it out for the moment.  I will hoe it out.  I will probably have to dig it out later in the year but I have planted the potatoes now and I don't want to disturb them.

I took all the herbaceous perennials out of the new allotment, where they were heeled in, and planted them in my daughter's garden.  There are plants coming up in her garden that I have no idea how they got there.

The sweet peas on the old allotment have been attacked by flea beetle and are looking very sorry for themselves.  I have watered them with dilute comfrey liquid and can only hope that they recover.  If they don't then I have a large bed that will need to be filled with something.

Watered everything with dilute comfrey liquid and hoed and raked between the rows where I could see them.  The alliums seem to have clicked in and started to grow with some vengeance, as too have the brassicas.  No sign of the parsnips yet and only one line of carrots showing.

The winter cauliflowers are starting to head up now.  The curds are very small because of the cold weather and pigeons eating the leaves.  They will do for a couple of dinners though.

I took the bins off the rhubarb and there were quite a few leaves with long petioles ready for picking.  I bought home 4kg or 9lb of rhubarb petioles.  Rhubarb crumble - luverly jubberly.