Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Allotment jobs during the middle of March.

I went to the edible garden show in Stoneleigh Park Warwickshire on Saturday and met Big Gee of the Gardeners' Chat Shed Forum and Sean from the Horticultural Channel. 
Gwilym ab Ioan(Big Gee) at the edible garden show.
Both lovely people who had time to say hello.  The show was very good but most of the things that I wanted to buy were way out of my budget at the moment. However, I was very tempted to buy a mulberry tree but would not really have anywhere to plant it.  I will have to make do with the fruit I've got already. 

I also went to the Gardeners, Question Time recording which took place on Saturday.  It did nothing to impress me. The audience was entirely white Middle Englanders and I include myself in this description. I submitted two questions neither of which were asked; maybe a bit difficult for this panel of pundits. I asked one about using charcoal and another about whether adding mycorrhizal fungi spores was worthwhile.  It was freely admitted that the programme was primarily entertainment rather than educational.  That sums up its usefulness to serious gardeners. 

The M9 rootstock have come from Sheep walk Nurseries and I must say that they are a little bigger than I was expecting.  They are about 10mm in diameter at the tops.  I should not have thought that I was going to get pristine rootstock because I ordered them right at the end of the season.  I was toying with the idea of sending them back but then I thought that it would be an additional challenge to see if I can graft onto these larger rootstocks.  I have potted up all the rootstocks and will bench graft because this gives me a little more control over the procedure.  I will do a side graft with a tongue.  Last year I grafted on the twenty first of March so I will try to do the same this year.  I have a lot more scions than I had last year so it will take me longer to complete the grafting. 

I am going to melt the beeswax in a camping pan over a camping gas burner.  I used a candle to heat the wax last year and it wasn't very successful. 

It may be a little early but the Peregrine peach budding does  not seem to have been successful.  All the apples seem to have taken though.  But I don't really want four Cox's Orange Pippins.  The three still in their pots will be used as rootstock for some of the new scions I have this year.   If all the new scions grow this year I will have a collection of twenty eight different varieties of apple.  The majority of which will be heritage varieties. 

Usually heritage varieties are prone to disease and crop poorly - that's why they are heritage.  However, apple varieties are different.  The Victorian gardeners certainly knew what they were doing when it came to apples.  All the heritage varieties are very good apples and not necessarily any more susceptible to disease than modern varieties. 

The only way that I am going to be able to fit all these trees into the allotment is to espalier them and keep them fairly well confined to smallish areas.  If push comes to shove, I will have to make a choice about which apples I am going to keep and which I will give away.  However, that is jumping the gun a little because there is no guarantee that all the grafts are going to take. 

I have put up all the sweet pea canes and went on to put the canes up for the runner beans.  I will not be sowing the runner beans until April but it is another job out of the way.  I dug out alleyways for the paths between the sweet pea rows and put the soil from them onto the beds.  The alleyways were then filled with woody shreddings.  This makes a very acceptable pathway between the rows. 
Four rows of canes for the sweet peas and one row for the runner beans.  The canes were
tied up at the top with gardening wire.  This is the simplest of constructions for the supports
It makes a strong structure that rarely falls down. 

Sweet pea seedlings in three inch pots.  They have been hardened off for about a week now
so they will be ready to plant out. 
I will start to plant the sweet pea seedlings tomorrow.  They will be planted with a little mycorrhizal fungi and watered in with a weak solution of comfrey liquid. 

Although I try to turn the compost every two days, I have had a lot of other jobs to do so this has not been adhered to strictly.  However, as I was turning the compost today, I thought that it was probably good enough to use on the growing beds now.  I used the bread tray sieve to separate out all the large undecomposed material and returned this to the Dalek bins. 
The compost from the bins after it has gone through the bread tray sieve today.  It is amazingly
friable material that looks just like proper compost. 

This is what the compost in the Dalek bins looked like on March 4th.  By the 16th it had
rotted down significantly so that a very reasonable amount would go through the
bread tray sieve
There was a dip in the soil on the root vegetable bed so I decided to spread the compost over the surface to level it up a little.  I got about six barrow loads of compost sieved from the bins and I put it all on the root vegetables bed. 
I just raked the compost over the surface to level it.  I will be sowing parsnips and carrots here
The scaffold netting in the background is over the grape to protect it from the cold winds
during the winter

I sowed some more onions, savoy and red cabbage, and more cucumbers.  The cucumbers that I sowed in February have died so I needed a replacement. 

I know that it is a little early, but I have taken the damaged branch off the big Victoria plum tree.  It was irritating me that I hadn't done it.  The branch went into the Hugelkultur trench. 

It will be another busy day tomorrow. 

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