Saturday, 27 August 2016

August is a harvesting month. August photographs.

Hi  to all the Shugborough volunteer gardeners.

Not only have I been harvesting, I have also been seed collecting and sowing green manure and cover crops where I have cleared the ground.  I warn you now that the vegetables and fruit have been growing very luxuriant in the last few weeks and making out what is growing can be quite difficult from the photographs.  It is what happens when plants are happy.  I don't mind them becoming slightly over crowded because they shade out weeds.  Apart from pot marigold Calendula officinalis growing where I don't necessarily want it to there is little weed on the allotment.  This is in part due to the thick mulch of woody chippings that I put down earlier in the summer.  I now find its called the Eden method because of the bloke on You Tube but there are many of us that were using chippings as mulch for years.  Watch the video carefully because he puts chicken manure on the garden before the chippings and this is not at all clear from the videos that I have seen.  I think that some kind of manure should be used on the soil before chippings are laid down.  Also, water in some anti slug nematode worms before using chippings because they can encourage slugs. 

This is a purple hazel grafted onto the ordinary
hazel.  And I did it myself!
I put the purple hazel by the shed to mask it a little.  It hasn't really grown thick enough to do any masking but, seeing as I grafted it, I am not going to take it out or move it now.  There are three cheap clematis plants growing over the shed too.  They will be encouraged to grow through the hazel.  There are several roots of rhubarb behind the hazel but these have not cropped very well. 
I have had all the beans that I wanted off the runners and I am leaving the rest to go
to seed.  I have started collecting and dryingrunner seeds.
The beans have had a two inch mulch of woody chippings put on in April.  Most of it has decomposed into a compost like material now.  I will probably dig it into the soil.  Next time I use the chippings for mulch I will hoe in some chicken manure before spreading it.  There is a little nitrogen draw down - but not enough to stop the beans from producing a great quantity of pods.  I am taking these pods off now as they dry and collecting the seed.  The seed will further dry either in the sun or in the shed depending on the weather. 
The cherry tree is masked by the raspberries, These are autumn fruiting bushes. 
These raspberries were given to me and I just healed them into the ground alongside the path.  They didn't do anything for most of the summer and then they decided to grow large and produce a significant amount of fruit. 
I am growing the cherry as a fan but one of the stems is much stronger than the other.  I have lowered the strong stem down almost to the horizontal while leaving the other weaker stem vertical.  According to Abercrombe, this should make the weaker stem grow much stronger and catch up the stronger branch.  I have yet to see any evidence of this. 
The stronger branch is more or less horizontal while the weaker one is more vertical.
The label reminds me it is a Lapins Cherry and I need to rewrite the label because the name is washing off.  I didn't plant the Calendula officinalis.  It's seeds were in the compost that I put along the runner beans.  It seems that I did not get the compost hot enough to kill these seeds.  I could have weeded them out but they formed a good cover crop beneath the beans and they might have given some aid to the beans as a companion plant.  Certainly, there were no aphids on the beans this year. 
Willow cuttings.
I pushed these willow cuttings into the ground next to the car park and they have rooted.  I want to make a live willow wicker fence alongside the carpark to keep car fumes from wafting over the allotment.  These ones are growing very well but others I planted died off.  I will not really have enough cuttings at the moment and will have to put some more in.  The willow on the allotment is throwing out a lot of new growth because I cut it back very hard. 
Willow tree next to the compost.  Salix alba vitellina
I will cut it back hard again this autumn and push the cuttings into the soil to root.  If they root by next spring, I will put them in a row with the others and start weaving them together.  I will also pleach them every time they touch another stem by cutting away some of the bark on both stems so that the cambium is exposed then wrapping them tightly together with grafting tape. 

My poor attempt at forming a glade under the plum tree. 
Under the plum tree, I have planted an American gooseberry, comfrey and nasturtiums and, while they are all growing together very well,  it looks a bit like a mess.  My poor attempt at developing a glade.  There is a thick layer of woody chipping mulch over the soil and no weeds have been seen all summer. 
Winter brassicas getting squashed under the netting. 
These are mainly late sprouting winter broccoli with a few kale plants mixed in.  I have taken the netting off now because the pigeons do not seem to be interested in the plants when they get to this size.  If they do show renewed interest then I will put the nets on again but only loosely to deter them.  The plants are continuing to grow quite large and healthily and have avoided too much damage from cabbage white butterflies and slugs.  All the brassicas were given a two inch mulch of woody chippings when they had reached one foot or eighteen inches tall.  I left until they were this height because they would not be so susceptible to slug and snail damage.  Mulches do attract molluscs.
Winter cauliflowers and kale.
Brassica bed
Brussel Sprout  "Darkmar"
The kale and the Brussel sprouts are doing well and there is no sign of white fly at the moment.  I still have to take the water pipe hoops off the bed and store them away but they are holding up the plants at the moment.  The Brussel sprouts need the support although they should stand up on their own. 
Both of the grapes threw up a lot of new growth that was shading and diverting food away
from the fruit. 
I have pruned both the grapes hard back to the original stems now so that the fruit can get some light and air.  It looks a lot more tidy  than in the photograph.  There is a lot of fruit on the bushes but they are only small.  All that new growth is taking a lot of food to develop.  It is a carbon sink and will divert sugars from the fruit to the ends of the stems.  Cutting the new growth off will means that the big old leaves will be left and are producing much more food than they are consuming. 
Espaliered 'Egremont Russet, apple and 'Doyenne du Comice' pear
Both of these espaliers had been summer pruned but they have made still more growth.  I have taken out most of the unnecessary woody growth.  Both trees seem to be very vigorous but they are not producing very much fruit.  I'm not that worried because the other apples and pears are producing a lot more fruit than I will need; I will not get the variety though.  Both trees have reached the top of the framework that I made for them and I will either have to build something taller or begin to train the leaders horizontally.  I will take them a little higher just to impress everyone but will make sure that I can reach the tops to harvest.  As I usually do, I have planted these trees too close to each other and they are now beginning to overlap each other.  Abercrombe says to just cut the leaders off but this will give me lots of new grow every year that not only will have to be pruned off but will divert food from going to the fruit.  So, I plan to turn the horizontal lateral braches leaders up until they meet the branch above and then pleach them together.  I have done this with the laburnums and with the James Grieves and the Ribstone Pippin.  Not sure whether this is good practice but it means that I am not pruning out new growth from the ends of the laterals every season. 
Bay trees
Sandwiched between the sweet peas and the greenhouse are some bay trees that I am training to have spherical heads. These bay trees were cuttings I made about three years ago. Pruning them to globe heads is fairly easy to do but does need patients. 

Apple grafts
Although it doesn't look like it there are seventeen different apple grafts growing in pots here.  The oca volunteers have grown up and covered the pots.  I have tucked them away behind the green house so that I don't tread on them.  I have destroyed at least two Norfolk Royal grafts with my clumsy feet and I would be really annoyed if I trod on another one.  They are somewhat protected here but I can still get to them to water if necessary.  The asparagus to the left of the photograph are protecting them a little and this is the awing of the cage of asparagus. 
Compost bins after the compost has just been
Although I am trying to turn the compost every two days as the Berkley method suggests, it has been quite difficult to do when there is harvesting and sowing to contend with.  Having said this, I have started this batch of compost with good intent.  I have turned it twice which means that the compost is ten days old and looks like this.  Four days at the beginning left to moulder then turned every two days i.e. on what I call the third day.
Ten day old compost.
It has changed colour and you can't really tell what the compost was made from.  This has a lot of summer raspberry, loganberry and blackberry canes and woody chippings mixed in with it.  I have use a lot of diluted comfrey and comfrey leaves to further the process and this time I have quite hot compost which was steaming when I turned it.  It is the same in all the bins.  I am fascinated when the plastic, metal and stones 'fall' out of the compost.  Even tiny bits seem to separate themselves and are easily taken out of the compost.  I have no idea where they come from but they could be wrapped tightly in the roots of plants added to the bins. 
A lot more woody stuff in this one. 
I compost almost all the allotment waste now.  Only the diseased material is removed from the allotment.  Any woody material gets cut up into small 5 cm pieces and added to the mix.  It does eventually break down and forms a very friable compost.  The compost still need sieving to remove the largest undecomposed items but these can be returned to the bins and given a little more time to decompose.  Which they will. 
I spread the last batch of compost over several of the growing beds.
Last batch of compost spread under the sunflowers. 
Now I am not showing off my sunflowers particularly and the compost was put on the soil long after they had got to this size so I cannot blame the compost.  I don't know why the sunflowers decided to grow this big.  I was not expecting it.  I am going to sow phalacelia seed into the compost to cover the ground until October and when the phalacelia dies off it will be replaced with a winter cover crop of tares and rye. 

Red cabbage
There are some stonehead cabbage behind the red cabbage and some early sprouting broccoli and they are all doing well if a little moth eaten.  The damage is probably due to slugs which have been a particularly irritating problem this year.  All of the summer cauliflowers were composted because they all bolted due to the very warm spell.  If I had had my wits about me, I probably could have caught them when they were just at their best - if a little small, however I was leaving them to get a little bigger. 
Swede and kohl rabi
Even though they are right under the grape vine the swede and kohl rabi have done quite well.  I have already had some for cooking and the others are swelling up. 

Empty cauliflower bed.
The cauliflowers had a two inch mulch of woody chippings just after they were transplanted into the ground.  None of the mulch was removed and looking at it now shows that most of it has decomposed.  The area will be raked over with the three pronged cultivator and then hoed and raked before sowing.  I will water this area with anti slug nematodes and then sow a cover crop of phalacelia without digging.  The seed will be sown broadcast and raked into the surface.   
 Although they are not very big, there are bunches of grapes on the vines.  I have not thinned them out and I am not going to.  This means that they are unlikely to get much bigger but they taste good whatever their size. 
Grapes on the vine.
Fenugreek green manure.
The peas have been picked and cleared away and followed  with a sowing of fenugreek.  The metal mesh was used to old up the chicken wire pea supports.   I have cleared away and stored the metal mesh and the nets, now that the fenugreek has germinated and has grown relatively high.  Fenugreek is a legume and with any luck will associate with rhizobium bacteria and fix some nitrogen for me.  It is not very hardy and will die off in the winter.  I will probably replace it with tares and rye. 
White clover green manure.
On the other half of the pea bed I have sown white clover which is another nitrogen fixer.  This plant is a little hardier than the fenugreek and will be left until the spring before I dig it in.  I might transplant some of the clover around the edges of the beds to give a perennial legume nitrogen fixer for all the year.  Root exudates will add nitrogen to the soil and this will be taken into the beds by water flowing slowly through the soil down the slope. 
Plants alongside the trackway
The globe artichoke has produced some flowers but has not done very well otherwise loosing most of its leaves.  I am hoping it will do much better next year.  I have planted lupins and laburnum alongside the track as perennial legume nitrogen fixers.  The lupins have produced a lot of seed and this has been collected, dried and stored away in the shed to be sown next spring.  They are at the top of the south facing slope so exudates from their roots will naturally flow down the slope with the soil solution fertilising the growing beds.  I have taken a lot of seed from the Calendula officinalis plants and then put them on the compost.  It means that I will have lots of these plants again next year wherever I spread the compost but they make a colourful addition to the allotment.  Beneath the Calendula are three crab apples I grew from pips.  I doubt that they will breed true but they can be grafted over to a more productive apple or even to a decorative crab apple.  There are three Sorbus vilmorinii  trees grown from seed planted here as a wind break. 
Looking down the main allotment path.
Sage and mint are the main edging plants along the path on the right hand side.  Lemon balm and rosemary on the left.  The peach greenhouse is also on the left.  I have been shifting compost and woody chippings along the path so its a little untidy at the moment.  I will sweep it when I have finished with the mulches and put the sweepings on the compost. 
Climbing French beans. 
The French beans have gone over now and have been left to go to seed.  I have started to take seed off them and dry the beans out in the shed.  There are still quite a few pods left on the plants and I will leave them until they dry out on the plants.  The little pear tree on the espalier has almost doubled in size, which I am pleased about.  I thought that I would not be able to save the tree but it seems to have struggled on this year and will probably improve next year. 
Lavender and white buddleia edging  
The lavender edging has couch grass growing through it and will need to be dug up and the roots washed.  I am going to dig a trench alongside the trackway to catch water running off it so I will be able to take out the couch grass as well. 
Old tall pea and broad bean bed. 
The tall peas and broad beans have been harvested and some kept as seed for next year.  I dug the tops into the soil and levelled it off to make a seed bed.  Phalacelia was sown in drills taken out going north to south.  The drills were watered with dilute comfrey solution before the seed were sown.  I mixed a little lupin seed in with the phalacelia seed to see if it would germinate.  I will transplant any lupins that germinate into beds of their own. 
Year old Pitmaston Pineapple graft.
The Pitmaston Pineapple graft has produced two convenient laterals and a vertical shoot.  These have been carefully tied in along the canes which are more than adequate to train the shoots.  I will mulch this apple tree when I have some farmyard manure. 
Three sisters looking over the fan trained red and white currant. 
The three sisters are maize, climbing French bean and pumpkin.  These are all grown together as companions.  The maize was set out as a diamond shaped rectangle and bean seeds were sown next to each maize plant stem. The pumpkins were interspersed in the spaces between the grid of maize plants. 
Three sisters.
The beans are to give the maize and pumpkins nitrogen, The pumpkin gives both the beans and the maize a cool damp living mulch while the maize gives the beans something to grow up.  I must admit that I have put some squashes, courgettes, tomatoes and cucumbers in this bed as well. 
Victoria rhubarb. 
The Victoria rhubarb still has not achieved the size it had on my old allotment.  It has a very deep root run here because I went down three spits and added a lot of organic matter.  It has had over a year to settle in and next year I will expect to see some really big stems and leaves. 
Old potato bed.
All the potatoes have been harvested now.  I have filled seven half hundred weight paper bags which will probably see me through the winter and more.  The ground was levelled with the rake and drills taken out.  The drills were watered with dilute comfrey liquid and red and white clover was sown into them.  I have covered the green manure with nets primarily against the pigeons, however the additional slight protection the nets give the seedlings means that they are growing quite fast.  They will soon form a canopy across the ground.  The nets will not stay for much longer.  I will take them off in the next couple of days. 
Another Pitmaston Pineapple graft.
This Pitmaston Pineapple has thrown out two laterals which have been tied onto the canes.  The vertical stem has been tied onto the upper canes.  It will throw out laterals quite naturally now and will not need to be headed back. 
Bread tray sieve.
I have modified the bread tray sieve with some wire I found on the allotment.  The mesh is 1 cm.  When I had raked the potato bed level, I had a lot of stone and rough material in a pile that needed to be disposed of. I put the material through the sieve to recover the soil mixed with it.  The stones were put under the hedge in the car park area.  I don't want to get rid of all the stone in the soil but some of the larger pieces get in the way when you are sowing seed. 
I will use the smaller mesh when I sieve out the compost.  It will ensure that only the best well rotted compost will be put onto the growing areas.  The material that does not go through the sieve will be put back in the composters. 
Large black currant bushes.
The large black currant bushes fruited well and I harvested the berries earlier in the year. They have made a lot of new growth but I will not prune them again this year.  Next year I might coppice them again. 
Main crop leeks.
I took the nets off the leeks in July to give them some air.  However, I have put the net back on now to protect the leeks from the second generation leek miner fly.  I forgot to water in some anti slug nematodes before netting the leeks so I will have to take the nets off again for a short while.  Some of the plants have gone to seed but that will not mean that they can't be harvested.  There is some borage on the left of the photograph and the bees are having a field day with them. 
Onions left to ripen in the sun. 
 I arranged the onion foliage so that it would not shade the bulbs from the sunlight.  The bulbs were also pulled out of the ground to expose their roots.  I have left them to ripen for a few days now.  Once they are fully ripened I will string them and store them in the little shed.  The woody mulch was a great success keeping the weeds down and moisture in the soil.  I have forgotten one of the hoops! I will take out the one or two weeds - there is some horse tail, and sow some phalacelia to cover the ground.  This bed will have sweet peas on it next year and I want the ground to be as fertile as possible.  Some people would suggest that putting a legume green manure here would not be good practice because it was going to be followed by another legume in the rotation.  I don't think that it matters at all.  In fact using something like clover or lucerne  may increase the number of rhizobium bacteria in the soil that form nitrogen fixing nodules on the roots of legumes.  Some of these species of bacterial will be generalists and form symbiotic relationships with several or all of the legumes.  So, I will be increasing my chances of getting nodulation quickly and improving the fertility of the soil.  Having said all this, I will still be using phalacelia just because I have an open packet of seed and want to use it up.  The phalacelia will die off in the late autumn and will be replaced with a rye and tares overwintering green manure. 
Saving seed and drying them on the shed shelf.
Apart from drying the shallots and the pickling onions, I am also drying off the seed that I have collected.  At the moment I am drying tall pea seeds, broad bean seeds, dwarf and climbing French bean seeds, runner bean seeds, lupin seeds, poppy seeds, pansy seeds,  asparagus pea seeds, sweet pea seeds and pot marigold seeds.  Saving seed is not very difficult to do and it saves a lot of money when you don't have to buy them every year.  As it gets very hot on the roof of the shed, I thought that this would be a good place to dry the seeds and the onions.  The shelf was made from an old greenhouse shelf.  It would not fit in either of my greenhouses so I decided to screw it to the back of the shed and it has proved very useful for hardening off seedlings and drying the seed. 
Worm bin and comfrey butt.
Both the worm bin and comfrey butt are providing lots of liquid manure for the allotment.  I have topped up the comfrey with some of the comfrey leaves from under the Victoria plum tree.  Both of the bins are at a very precarious angle now and may topple over at any time.  This is because the woody chippings under their plinths have decayed.  I will have to take the bins off their pedestals and try to mount them on firmer ground. 
Small sunflower.
Not all the sunflowers have grown to prodigious heights.  I planted this one later than the rest and it has not achieved the heady heights of the other sunflowers. 
Oca, rosemary and lavender

The oca has grown well again and is starting to crowd the lavender and the rosemary.  However, they are well able to look after themselves.
Another row of leeks and a row of red onion.
These are a second sowing of leeks and should be a succession but they seem to have caught up with the main crop of leeks.  I will attempt to cover these with a net so that they are not affected by the leek miner fly. 
Cleared ground.
The garlic, elephant garlic and  pickling onions have been harvested and put to dry in the sheds.  I will clear the ground, rake it over and sow a cover crop after taking off the plastic hoops.  Again the woody mulch was a great success and has rotted away leaving only a thin layer of scuffings on the surface. 
Little leaning apple tree.
I am eating the apples from this tree.  I have reconsidered what apple this is and, rather than a cox's orange pippin, I think that this is a James Grieves. However, it tastes good straight from the tree and that is all that counts.  The apples will not store for very long before rotting. 
As the strawberries did not fruit very well this year, I am going to take out and replace three of the rows.  They had a lot of compost from last year and this meant that they made a lot of leafy growth and little fruit.  The Calendula officinalis seed was in the compost! I have taken three rows out  and replaced them with four rows of this year's plants.  This gave me a big pile of old strawberry plants and nowhere to put them.  All the compost bins are full to overflowing.  So I decided to dig a big hole and bury them where the garlic bed was.  This is the only area that has not got something growing on it and it will soon be covered in phalacelia. 
All the old canes of the summer fruiting raspberries have been pruned out and put onto the compost heap.  These new canes have been carefully tied in and given a comfrey liquid boost. 
Black currant bushes.
These black currant bushes were coppiced back to ground level last winter.  Now they have grown back nearly to their former size.  They did not fruit this year but with all this new wood, I would expect lots of fruit next year. 
Cold frame.
The cold frame is full of salad seedlings, lettuce, radish, spring onion, spinach and rocket.  The frame is on top of a big pile of woody chippings which have decayed. This has made the frame distort a little.  If this continues I will have to do something or the glass will split. 
The lettuce had to be resown because of slugs but I have watered the soil with anti slug nematodes and this has allowed the seedlings to survive up to now.  There were also two frogs in here so I am expecting them to clear out the slugs too. 
Little pond.
The little pond has got a little overgrown and will have to be sorted out soon.  I think that the Menyanthes trifoliate (Bog bean) has taken over a little.  It did not flower and that is a shame because it has a beautiful white flower.  The solar pump is still making a fountain when the sun shines.  Working hard like this it puts a reasonable amount of oxygen into the water.  The pond has only had rain water in it since it was made so there are no contaminants.  This means that there is quite a lot of wildlife in it.  There are newts in it as well as frogs and the usual creepy crawlies. 
Not my best year for sweet peas.
Although the sweet peas were devastated by flea beetle and slugs at the beginning of the year they have recovered and made a good display.  Not anywhere near my normal standard though.  However, as I let them grow whichever way they wanted, they produced a lot of flowers and consequently a lot of seed.  The pods are just beginning to turn brown now and as they do I am removing and taking the seed out of them.  I will be using these seeds on one half of next years sweet pea bed and bought ones on the other half.  I am not separating out the colours because this would be a little time consuming.  I could do because the seeds are likely to breed true as the flowers are self pollenating.  Next year, I intend to make sure the seedlings are well protected and will be using anti slug nematodes right from the start.  The calendula growing here shows that I used compost on the sweet peas too...
The old potato bed by the greenhouse. 
The potato bed was cleared, hoed and raked level and then white clover sown in rows.  The seed of the green manure goes a lot further if you sow it in drills.  The seed was watered in with dilute comfrey liquid.  The sundial says that I am taking this photograph at twelve a clock.
Tomatoes in the big greenhouse.
Although these Alicante tomatoes are getting a bit rank they are producing a lot of tomatoes.  I must have had about ten pounds from just this greenhouse.  This is not including the tomatoes from the small green house.  I have been giving them dilute comfrey liquid once a week.  The tomatoes by the door look as though they have blight but this is not affecting the fruit. 
Although a lot of the foliage has yellowed and died the melon plants have produced a couple of melon fruit.  I don't think that the melons like to be in direct light from the Sun.  Next year I will put some shading up on the glass.  I had the melons in the cold frame on the large pile of woody chippings.  I had sunk their pots into the chipping and this was keeping them warm in April.  I should have left them there because the cucumbers that replaced them are growing remarkably well.  Next year melons in the wooded cold frame?  Regardless, I am very happy to have helped to produce these.  I must admit that the plants do most of the work though. 
Melon 2
 Getting these melons to fruit in a cold greenhouse and  with our climate is quite a challenge. 
Loganberry and blackberry.
I cut out all this years fruiting canes from the loganberry and blackberry plants and tied in this years new growth.  These are the canes that will be fruiting next year.  They don't look too pretty at the moment but they will grow back next year.  The Logan berry at the end of the path has not been done yet but it is stopping me from treading on the apple grafts. 
The roots bed.
This year I sowed parsnips, beetroot, carrots and chard directly into the ground.  The rows were about eleven inches apart and this made it possible for the plants to form a canopy of foliage before weed seeds could get established.  The netting over the carrots has been taken off now and the ground between the carrot plats has been cleared of any weeds. 

Black Russian tomatoes. 

Hope you are having as much fun gardening as I am...