Monday, 19 May 2014

1st May Allotment Photographs.

 This is what the allotment looked like on the 1st of May 2014.  It shows that you can turn around an allotment in a year but to do so takes a lot of time. You can see what the allotment was like earlier in the year if you look at my clearing and triple digging an allotment blogs.

Comfrey under the plum tree.
This is all that is left of my permaculture guild.  The comfrey and gooseberries were planted in concentric circles around the tree.  I will leave these plants under the tree but I will be making a much bigger comfrey bed on the new allotment area.  I don't think that the plum will produce as much fruit as it did last year.  The metal drum is going to be used to produce some biochar.  I still need to weld a chimney on and find a smaller drum to make a retort to put inside it.

Victoria Plum Tree
I am just assuming it is a Victoria Plum tree because it looks like the one I had on the old allotment.  It was covered with bindweed when I took over the allotment.  There is still a lot of dead and crossing wood in the crown which I will begin to cut out during the summer.  I have been pruning dead wood off the tree but all the advice says that you should prune a plum during the summer to avoid silver leaf disease.  The path down the side of the allotment will be covered with shredded material because I don't have enough concrete slabs to make a path this side too.  I have put up the runner bean canes along the path.  They have to go here because I don't have anywhere else to put them.

Composting area
I haven't completed the composting areas yet.  There will be two pallet composts, two dalek bins and a large black dustbin.  I was going to use the dustbin as a water butt but it leaks.  Only one of the pallet composts is being used at the moment.  It has a large plastic woven sand bag - the ones with handles - in it for the bind weed and mare's tail.  I have dried out these weed rhizomes but they are still growing in the bin.  I will keep covering them up with more rubbish from the allotment.  I have some potatoes from last year left over and they have gone leggy and soft so I will add these to the black bins.  I have planted some autumn fruiting raspberries alongside the composts mainly to mask the compost from the rest of the allotment.  The sweet peas in the pots have now either replaced ones that I lost due to flea beetle or planted in my daughter's garden.  The Alstroemeria chilensis is starting to be a weed because it is spreading through the strawberry bed.

Strawberry bed.
The strawberry bed needs a mulch of straw and a feed of comfrey liquid.   Apart from that the strawberries can look after themselves.

Tall climbing pea supports 
The grape pruned to the Guyot system has been caught by the frost and several side shoots have died back.  I will have enough to train but will not have as many potential fruit as I was expecting.  The side shoots are very small still and not long enough to tie in.

I miscalculated how many rows of canes I would need for the sweet peas and had this row left over.  These canes will be used for the tall growing peas.  I am going to put the netting around the canes to give the peas something to grow up.
Sweet peas
The sweet peas were very severely affected by flea beetle and I am beginning to wonder if the green manure is giving them a warm habitat during the winter and that they are still about when I have dug it in.  They usually recover from flea beetle towards the middle of May but it does set them back.  I have five double rows with eleven different varieties of sweet pea.
Action of flea beetle
Two of the sweet pea seedlings were killed but these were easily replaced with spares. 
Most recovered from flea beetle like this one.

I have begun to put ties on the sweet peas but these ties will be used again when the plants start to go up the canes.  All they are doing is keeping the plants upright and trained to the canes.

Herbs alongside the path

Espalier Apple?
This is my first attempt at pruning an apple to espalier shape.  All the top fruit I have planted are going to be trained to espalier.  I have cut them hard back so that they will send out horizontal shoots that can be easily tied in.  

Brassica seedlings will be planted here.
I have put nematode worms over this bed to deter slugs.  It also had some of the freebie blood fish and bone fertiliser hoed into it.  I have just learn that blood, fish and bone is not an organic fertiliser because there is no way of telling where the constituents come from.  I put it on regardless.

Brassica bed
Sweed, kohlrabi and turnip seedlings
The pigeons have started to peck at the kohlrabi so these will have to be covered with a net.  I will cover all of the brassicas with nets to keep the birds off them. The swedes, kohlrabi and turnips will have to be thinned out later in the month to give them room to grow.
Loganberries and blackcurrants
I thought that I had lost my big Adrienne blackcurrant but it seems to have revived.  Only one of the cuttings has survived but I have been given two named Loganberries, "Ly 654".  I don't know how well they will do but they add to the stock of soft fruit on the garden.

Broad beans and peas.
The beans and peas were planted with a pinch of  mycorrhizal spores to  help them establish themselves.  The chicken wire serves two purposes.  Firstly, to give support to the pea plants. Secondly, to keep the pigeons from eating them.   There is still room for another two rows of peas and I am going to squeeze in a couple of rows of dwarf French beans.

Peas and beans from the shed

New pond by the broad beans and peas.

Path going up to the greenhouse foundations
The allotment  is beginning to fill up now.  I am still waiting for some warm weather but many things can go in the ground regardless of the frosts.

Roots bed
The roots bed has Hamburg parsley, beetroot, parsnip and under the enviromesh four rows of carrots.  The slugs and snails are eating the seedlings at this end but I am hoping that the anti slug nematodes will reduce the damage done.

Carrots covered with enviromesh.

The carrots are covered to keep Chamaepsila rosae, the carrot root fly, away from the seedlings.  Covering after sowing the seed and keeping them covered throughout the summer is the only way I have discovered to keep the fly from laying eggs around my carrots.
They don't look very big at the moment.
Even though I have sown these seeds very thinly, there will be far more root vegetables than I can use.  I will thin them out at the end of May.

Leaning apple tree
There is a lot of blossom on the small, leaning apple tree.  I hope that this gives me some apples this year.  I haven't put much into the "leaves" bed yet.  However, I do have some lettuce, American land cress, spinach and asparagus peas to put in.  I will also need to put in the celery, celeriac, globe fennel, good king Henry, coriander, chamomile, basil, plus their second sowings.  I am seriously running out of room.

Path to the little shed
Although most of the raspberries have started to grow, I will probably have to cut them back this year.  I have two varieties that I planted last year and they are fruiting well but the ones I planted earlier this year will need another year to build up their strength.  The path was finished a couple of weeks ago and remarkably, the two foot square slabs fitted exactly.  It wiggles a little to accommodate the shape of the hedge bank.  

Blackcurrants and gooseberries.
The gooseberries and blackcurrants are last years cuttings and growing well.  They need a much of farmyard manure but I am not sure that they will get it this year.  

Earthed up potatoes.
The potatoes have been touched by the frost this year and their leaves were slightly damaged, however they are protected now I have earthed them up.  The hard cut back tree is a Discovery apple which I intend to make into an espalier.  

Runner bean canes.
I have put the runner bean canes next to the path so that I can pick from this side quite easily.  When I plant out the runner seedlings, I will put netting around the bottom of the canes to protect them from the frost and wind.  Once they start climbing up the canes and are more stable, I will remove the netting and put it in the store shed.  

Clematis growing up the shed. 
I have planted three clematis plants to cover the shed.  Their roots are in shade most of the day but the tops are in sun.  The rhubarb will shade the roots too.  This is the heritage rhubarb and does not grow very big.  My main rhubarb is at the old allotment and had to stay there because it was far too late to move them.  I still haven't dug over the bed that I want to put them on.  I have a bit more land on the left hand side as you look down towards the little shed but it needs careful clearing of mare's tail and bind weed.  

New pond and sundial.
The pond is full of frog tadpoles that a friend of mine gave me.  I am hoping that they will develop well and eat all the slugs on the allotment.  I put the pond here because I am going to direct the water from the gutters on the greenhouse into the pond.  With any luck this will keep the pond fairly full during the summer.  Any overflow will be drained away by the stones under the path.  Also, I want to put a solar pump in the pond to aerate it and I can put the solar panel in the greenhouse for safety.  

Allium bed
 The allium bed has had nematode worms watered onto it.  The blue water piping will be used to support an enviromesh cover over the onions.  I will probably use one over the leeks too.  Garlic, shallots and elephant garlic are growing very well.  

Site for the greenhouse
There is just enough room on the left hand side of the greenhouse foundations for a double row of climbing French beans.  On the left hand side of the path opposite the pond will be where the cold frame will be sited.
So lots of bare ground now that I have dug in all the green manure.  All the beds are ready for planting up and this is what I will be doing for the next few weeks.  

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