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.

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