Saturday, 15 November 2014

Seed order from Kings Seed Nursery has come.

The seeds ordered from Kings Seed Nursery have come now.  If you are a member of The National Allotment Society then Kings will give you a hefty discount which is much appreciated.

The seed order included Elephant Garlic; softneck garlic "Solent Wight" and shallots "Golden Gourmet".

"Golden Gourmet" shallots have a RHS award, are high yielding and store well.  This is the first time I have grown this variety so I hope that they will do well in my allotment.  I have not grown "Solent Wight" very often but they are a good long storing garlic.

I just hope I can grow ""Solent Wight" as big as the Garlic Farm does.  (Kings must
get their garlic from the Garlic Farm)

The soil for these alliums had been prepared several days ago. The spent French beans haulms were dug in together with a little farmyard manure.  The topsoil was sieved because the potatoes were growing next to the beans and I cannot abide the missed tubers growing again in the middle of the onion bed.  Hopefully, I have sieved out all the little ones.

I washed the greenhouse glass before planting any of the alliums.  Some of the glass was stored on the ground before the greenhouse was constructed and got very muddy.  This time of the year you want as much light entering the greenhouse as possible so cleaning is important.  I was treading on the ground I wanted to plant the alliums in so it was a case of "I have to do this before I do that" which is often the case when managing an allotment.

The elephant garlic was planted next to the greenhouse with a trowel twelve inches apart and twelve inches between rows. The bulbs were planted just below the soil surface.  Topsoil was raked over them and the ground levelled.  One row of these vegetables will be more than enough for me.

Kings' elephant garlic.  
The "Solent Wight" and the shallots were planted in the next rows in a similar way but only six inches apart.  The greenhouse will shade the alliums in the morning but by about 11 o'clock in the morning they will be in full sun for the rest of the day.  This may affect the yield slightly but I need the rest of the bed for onions and leeks.

The "Mammoth" onion seeds have germinated in the hot bed frame and have been pricked out into individual 3 inch pots.  I was not expecting very many to germinate because they were last year's seeds.  However, they all seemed to have grown.

A multipurpose compost was used as the growing medium and this seems to be to their liking because they are already forming their second leaves.  These onions grow very big but they are useless for storing and will be used during the summer for cooking and salads.

The other onion seed will probably be sown during  January/February time in the hot bed frame. The leeks will be sown during April because I like to have these maturing in winter.

I've just looked on the RHS site for recommended spacing distances and found that I have planted a little closer than is recommended.  I'm not bothered.  I like some big vegetables, just to show off but medium sized veg tastes the same.  I must admit that I use the trowels to measure planting distances so really the alliums are one trowel or half a trowel apart in the rows.  The rows are one trowel apart.

The rule is, if you want a rule, the further apart the bigger the plants; the nearer the smaller the plants.  This is all within reason.  There is an optimum distance apart for vegetables to grow well and any larger spacings will not achieve any greater yield.

The new sweet pea bed was sown with a green manure mix of tares, crimson clover and rye grass. The mice have been eating the green manure seeds so I do not have as much as I thought I would. However, planting the seed in rows rather than broadcast means that it is going a lot further than expected.  I will have some for the new allotment although it is getting very late to sow winter green manure now.  I wasn't going to bother sowing green manure here because the soil has farmyard manure dug into it, however I was not going to use the green manure for anything else and it is not doing anything in the seed packet so sowing seemed the best option.

I have decided to leave the new roots and leafy vegetable bed uncovered during the winter.  The green manure has been dug in and farmyard manure added to where the leafy vegetables are going to grow.  I have avoided putting farmyard manure on the area where the root vegetables are going to grow to avoid their roots forking.  Forking roots taste the same as the straight ones but take longer to prepare when cooking.  So, this bed has the old broad bean and pea haulms; green manure; chicken manure and farmyard manure dug in to the top soil.  This needs time to decompose and release nutrients into the soil.  Leaving the soil rough dug and exposed will help to break it up and rot down the added manures.

The old wooden lean too has been moved off the ground I am digging and put further down the allotment to cover weeds.  I will break this up and either use it for biochar burning or burying in the digging trenches.  There are still bits and bobs of wood left on this part of the allotment so I am collecting them up and putting them all together by the compost heap.  If it dries off I will biochar it during December.

I have dug out some subsoil and put it on the path by the shed so that I can add brushwood, shredded woody material and topsoil to the trench tomorrow.  I think that I am getting down to old red sandstone bedrock on some parts of the trench.  Not something that I have experienced before because I have always gardened on a thick subsoil layer of clay.  It will not alter my strategy even though it is very difficult to break up.

More trenching tomorrow.
Also order the sweet peas...

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