Friday, 23 May 2014

Third week of May

I have cut the comfrey under the plum tree and put it around the tomatoes I have planted next to the leeks.  I was going to plant the sweet corn, pumpkin and squashes here but there was very little room.  I have put two rows of tomatoes, Gardener's Delight and Moneymaker, in the space that was left.  I have mulched the tomatoes with straw left over from mulching the strawberries.

The strawberry bed has been mulched with straw.  I am not too sure about this straw because I got it from a farm shop.  It may not be very organic.  In any case there were a lot of seeds in it and they have started to germinate.  It is easy enough to pull the seedlings out but it is just another unnecessary job.  The strawberries got a good feed of comfrey liquid before I put on the straw.

The shoots of the grape vine that survived the frost are nearly big enough to tie to the second horizontal wire.  The small white grape has produced some good shoots too but they are not big enough to tie in yet.

I have planted the Alderman tall peas and they have climbed half way up the netting already.  There are no flowers on them yet but I expect they will flower quite soon.

The sweet peas have fully recovered from the flea beetle attack and are growing away quite fast now.  They are starting to grow their large leaves with long tendrils.  I have taken all the tendrils and side shoots off and tied them up to the canes.  Once they are tied to the canes they seem to grow much better but this may also be due to the comfrey liquid I have given them.  There are no misses at all this year and even the ones severely stunted by the flea beetle have grown considerably.

I have cut back all the herbs alongside the path to make them bush up.  They have all lost their woody appearance that they took on when I moved them - especially the sage.  I have just pricked out some  thyme, oregano and basil to add to my herbs.

I have planted some laburnum seedlings in between the  herbs with the intention of growing some trees that I can pleach over the path and make a laburnum tunnel.  Laburnum is a legume and with the help of bacteria, fixes nitrogen from the air.  So an additional benefit.

All the espalier trees have recovered from being cut very hard back.  The little apple from the old allotment is even producing fruit.  This is amazing because I moved it in February this year.  All the trees are producing side shoots that will be suitable for training along the wires.

I have thinned out the swedes, kohlrabi and turnips and covered them with scaffold netting.  The pigeons were eating the kohlrabi and some of the other brassicas were being eaten by cabbage root fly so putting a barrier over them seemed to be the best idea.

I have one row of Flamenco cauliflowers and another of All the Year Round.  A well spaced row of Brunswick cabbage and another of Romesco green cauliflower.  Half a row of red cabbage and half a row of Stonehead cabbage will be more than enough of these.  Two lines of calabrese and one of winter cauliflower means that I have just enough room for two lines of Brussel Sprouts.  I have covered all of these with scaffold netting supported by blue plastic water pipe.

Now that the Adrienne blackcurrant has thrown up two big shoots, the Loganberries "Ly 654" are too close and will have to be moved.  I will do this at the end of the year because I don't really want to move them when the weather is hot and dry.

I now have four rows of peas on the allotment, Alderman, Douce Provence, Early Onward and Progress No9.  The Lincoln peas are germinating in modules in the greenhouse to be planted out later in the month.  I could not fit another line of peas in this bed after the Lincoln so I have put in two rows of dwarf French beans to fill the space.  The broad beans are about three feet tall and have produced flowers that are covered in bees.  They are almost shading the sundial.

I have seeded the new pond with pond mud from Bishop's Wood pond and more from Pendeford Mill lake. This has cleared the water.

I have put only native plants into the pond including Stratiotes aloides, Ceratophyllum demersum, Hydrocharis morsus-ranae, Menyanthes trifoliata, Lysimachia nummularia, Mentha aquatica, caltha palustris, and Althaea officinalis.  There are quite a few invertebrates swimming around already, including water boatmen, caddisfly larva, mayfly, and water flea not forgetting the frog tadpoles.   

The greenhouse has not been moved onto the allotment yet because it is still full of plants and germinating seeds.  Once all the plants have been put out in the allotment, I will think about moving the greenhouse.  However, after moving the cold frame and repairing it there is less incentive for moving the greenhouse quickly.  The cold frame is overflowing with trays and pots already though and I have to leave some trays outside to harden off the seedlings.

I have good rows of Hamburg parsley, beetroot, parsnip and carrots.  The parsnip and carrots could do with thinning but I will leave them until they have grown a little more.  Slugs have eaten some of the roots near the little shed path but all this means is I can fit more stuff in.

I have three rows of lettuce in succession, one of American land cress, half a row of asparagus pea and annual spinach and a row of chamomile in the "leaves" bed.  I will be planting Florence fennel, celery, celeriac and basil when it has grown on a little more.  If there is room, I will sow coriander, Good King Henry, and more annual spinach in this bed.

The little, leaning apple tree has had some die back where leaves have turned brown and died.  This may be due to the sharp frost we had two weeks ago but I will keep my eye on this tree to make sure there is no further dieback.

The raspberries are next to the apple tree and they are suffering the same fate - dieback due to frost.  I have cut all the dead canes out so that the raspberries can throw up new canes from the roots.

Two rows of climbing French beans have been planted between the potatoes and the greenhouse foundations.  Some of the Gardener's Delight tomatoes that were left over have been planted between the rows of beans.

The potatoes have had their final hoeing up but they need weeding again.

Five rows of onions and four of leeks have been put into the allium bed and covered with mesh to keep the Phytomyza gymnostoma fly off them.  I thought that I had lost a lot of the seedlings but I took the mesh off today and there were only one or two misses.  I don't have any replacements having planted all the seedlings initially so I will just have to have gaps.

It was very cold with some heavy showers today which is quite a contrast to the 23 degrees we had last week.  I think that I would like the warm weather back.

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