Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Veggie Armageddon!!

Its that time again, here comes the glut. Things are picking up nicely now and more crops are starting to come to maturity, all I need are the tomatoes and I can have a self sufficient salad, there are plenty but no sign of red/yellow yet. The Burpless Tasty Green cucumbers are lovely and don't need peeling.

The Rocket early spuds are proving popular and I'm wishing I'd planted second earlies rather than mains in the rest of the bed.  Runner bean (Firefly) have had the first picking and the French beans (Bluelake) aren't far behind. It's a pity the peas are proving a failure.

The star of the show is of course the courgette, as you can see from the leader board the Zuchinni have jumped into the lead and show no sign of letting up. Once again we were away at the weekend and returned to 18 oversized fruits (plus a marrow and 4 cues). It's rained since so we are expecting that to jump again. Good job our work and gym buddies are taking them off our hands, for now at least.


Happy gardening folks!!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

The Courgette Leader Board

Those readers who joined us last year or have read the older posts may remember the post on the courgette glut we had last year. It's HERE

Well silly season is on us again, and just for fun I thought we'd have a courgette leader board to see which variety produces the most.

We have ten plants this year, 3 Easy Pick Gold, 3 Floridor and 4 Zuchinni. So in theory the Zuchinni has a head start... but lets see.

The leader board is over on the right....on your marks, get set, GO!!!!!

Happy gardening folks!!

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Less is more

When is comes to work  and veg anyway.

One of the aims for this year was to cut down the amount of time required to tend the farm, to cut down the digging, weeding and watering. While last year did produce a healthy harvest we certainly put in the hours. We were determined that this year would be a little more pleasure than pain!

So far so good, when we go away everything seems to survive, the weeds seem manageable and apart from when feeding is due the watering hasn't been too much of a challenge. In general the hours required to get our crop to this stage are a lot lower this year.

So how have we got to here?

Well the plan started at the end of last year. We started last season on the back foot with a plot that hadn't been properly closed down, dug, covered, manured or cleared the previous year. We put in a lot effort at the end of  last season to clear the ground, manure and tiller it before covering it for the winter.

The covering of weed control fabric or thick plastic damp proof membrane certainly made for an easier start this year, the earth was still pretty weed free, a good texture requiring no digging, just a quick going over with hoe to break up any lumps where the bricks held the covers down, and lovely and moist. It has been a case of rolling back the plastic a few days before you need the ground, apply some growmore and/or pelleted chicken manure, rake it in then plant or sow a few days later. A lot easier and quicker than the previous year.   

A good purchase for any gardener is a moisture meter. A quick run round the plot probing the ground can save a lot of time watering plants that don't really need it and can help to identify the heavy drinkers. You'd be surprised how often you can skip some areas, and every can saved is time and effort. They can be bought on Amazon quite cheaply but always look in supermarkets at the end of the season. I'd recommend the single probe models such as this one HERE. We'll see if it helps with the blossom end rot my tomatoes always seem to suffer from.

And finally....mulching. This year we have been trying to get to grips with mulching, and experimenting with growing some crops through weed control fabric. The results have been good.

A generous covering of grass cuttings has made a huge difference to the amount of weeding required around the plants and helps retain moisture.

Weed control fabric looks good and does make a difference but it a bit of a pain to plant through. In our sweetcorn we have also found that we have some kind of creeping weed that still grows and puts in an appearance though the holes we made for the plants.

I find grass cuttings easier and cheaper, its just a case of generating the volume from a small garden. A word with friends and neighbours in exchange for the odd courgette certainly helps. It's useful to sink a old bottle with the bottom cut off into the ground to aim your water into when mulching. Maybe the no dig method next year.

This week has been busy and we've only had a little bit of time to pop down, feed and harvest. We did clear the broads, dig over the area and add some compost so we could finally plants out the leeks. I didn't want to risk putting them in the same best we lost all the garlic and shallots in.

I've included some pics of the harvest/progress just so its not all words. As you can see from the Currently Picking list we are finally coming out of the quiet patch. The first spuds and cucumber were delicious and courgette silly season is upon us!! More later.

I hope the advice above it useful to anyone struggling to maintain their plot, as we refine the process in the future we'll keep you posted on the progress

Happy gardening folks!!! 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mid June Update

A little while since the last post, we were away last weekend, the hottest weekend of the year so far. There wasn't much time to water before we went so the return was a nervous moment. Thankfully everything seems to not only have survived, but flourished!

Here's the mid June update, quite a difference in 4 weeks.

Bed 1

The ruined alliums have been replaced by a multitude of squashes including the purchased butternut's. We've divided the squashes between the beds in case there are any more disasters to come. The courgettes are already looking busy with a few fruits each, there's even signs of a marrow.

The roots end of the bed has finally come into it own. At last we have 2 full rows of parsnips and 4 full rows of carrots. The only issue now is that I have to thin the carrots as the first and second sowing have all decided that they would like put in an appearance. This isn't a task I really want to do but despite being station sown they really are too thickly planted now. I'll wait a little longer so the thinnings are big enough to be used rather than wasted. 

I'll be following Marks excellent guide HERE to try and avoid the carrot fly issue. I haven't grown them within a mesh cordon this year as it makes wedding difficult, but I have grown resistant varieties mostly. Certainly I'll pop some fleece over them immediately after thinning for a day or so to protect them.

A lot of people like to put carrots with onions and garlic, hoping the smell will confused the carrot fly, mine are next to the fennel so I may give the leaves a brush afterwards as the fairly strong smell might achieve the same, with no onions left I can but hope.    


Bed 2

Asparagus season is over. We didn't want to push it this year as we felt the yield was a little bit low. If we stop now the crowns will get a good charge for next year. I have a new frame to go round the bed then I'll compost it, feed it and leave it to grow.

The spuds are going great guns, there are lots of flowers on the earlies and some on the mains. I'm tempted to have a dig around the earlies as see what's happening but as they went in late I'll give them another week or so. 


Bed 3

The runner and french beans have stopped sulking are heading skywards, we've had to give them a bit of training and advice on which way to go but they appear to be getting the hang of it now. The runners have a few flowers so fingers crossed this hot weather doesn't stop them setting.

The upside down wigwams mean less ground footprint and the space is being used for lettuces. The Iceburg look pretty happy there.

The dwarf beans didn't have a good germination rate but with a second sowing we have a full row now. we need to mulch these but don't seem to produce the grass clippings quick enough as I have a small back lawn and Heather has concrete!

The peas urgently need weeding but seem to be slowly doing their thing. the second row is ready to have its pigeon protection turning into a growing support now.

Next is a row of mixed courgettes, all looking good. These are planted through weed control fabric as the compost we put in the soil appears to contain rather a lot of tomato seeds...

And finally the battered broads. Seriously it looks like they have been rolled around in. I think it may be time just to pick the lot, freeze or donate them and reuse the ground. I have leeks, more peas and more lettuce to go in there once they come out.


Bed 4

The B&Q cabbages and home grown sprouts and broccoli are doing great in the pigeon and butterfly proof cage and the Kale is shooting up under its net

More courgettes with fruit and then a row of cucumbers. I love cucumbers and seem to have got myself a full time job training them up the trellis. There are a few baby cu's appearing now. Hopefully this will be their year as last year wasn't fantastic.

The spaghetti squash were small when they went it and at one point the weed fabric nearly smothered them. I gave them a good feed and now they are really getting going. they seem to be making a bid to join up with the pumpkins.

Sweetcorn are about 24 inches high now, very thick heavy stems and looking healthy

Hiding at the end, hopefully in a little shade are the  spinach and chard. The first time in ages I've managed to get spinach. The longer cold spell seems to have helped so now we just need to use it before it bolts.


Bed 5

Lettuces are doing really well, the Sierras look impressive when you hand them over and a row of salad bowl is very pretty, we just can't eat it fast enough. I've got a lot more at home to follow on from these but its too hot to transplant them this week.

Beetroot are finally coming good and will need thinning, these have been very slow and a bit of a target for pigeons this year. Hopefully we'll be picking them soon.

Radishes have pretty much stopped. They come up, then they seem to stop. I put it down to the heat as they are well watered. When it was cooler they did far better.

The cape gooseberries and tomatoes all seem healthy. There are baby toms on most of the plants now so the feeding has started. I've be religiously nipping out side shoots and tieing them to the cane to keep them tidy and once we get to  4 trusses I'll nip out the tops. Just the blight to beat!

And finally the fruits. The strawberries are cropping, all be it very small fruits. We will chop off the runners as we want the energy to go into bigger berries rather than new plants. I think this is more their recovery year, if next year is no better we will replace them. The raspberries which were given a major haircut last year look like they will actually produce some fruit this year. There are small flowers appearing so we'll see.



Lots of pics this time, its looking busy down on the farm and I couldn't decide which ones to use, so I posted them all.

Happy gardening folks!!