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The ruined alliums have been replaced by a multitude of squashes including the purchased butternut's. We've divided the squashes between the beds in case there are any more disasters to come.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!!


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Stop the Clock!

We have reached that glorious moment when you stand up, straighten your tired back and think 'done it', for today is the day that everything is finally out of the dining room and into the ground!

All the plants have been released into the big wide, (and currently very windy), world to fend for themselves. It took a couple of weekend sessions to get it done, but with the exception of the leeks that aren't big enough yet, or in the dining room, we are finished.

I shoved Heather up on the shed roof again to take a couple of aerial shots (she'll buy me that drone I want soon if I keep doing this). As you can see all the beds look pretty busy now.

Beds 2/3 

Beds 1/3/4/5

There is of course the small matter of weeding, feeding , watering, mulching, grass cutting, protecting, pruning, picking and successional sowing but it feels like a victory to us and we can worry about all that next weekend can't we. For now we just look forward to the fruits of our labour as it were.

This one of the Sierra lettuces that was planted from seed under the cloches in late Feb, it has taken a while to get to this size, but its worth the wait.


As a reward I invested in these. All the planting has pretty much done for my old metal ones so why not. On sale in Tesco £2.40 each.


The only nagging question is, did we cheat just a little bit, by buying a few plants?

I guess this depends on your point of view. The great allium disaster of 2017 meant that we have half a bed spare far earlier than planned and my cabbages and kale just didn't take off, I don't think they liked the compost. So I'm taking the view that given the late planting date for replacements, a couple of butternut squash and a tray of kale and cabbages from a garden centre is not cheating, but a wise investment. Ironically for the windy conditions this week one variety was called Hurricane.


Jono over at Real Men Sow recently wrote a couple of posts on the advantages of buying seedlings which are work a read. Click HERE to have a look.

I'm thinking that next year more plants may come from external sources. don't get me wrong, I like growing from seed, but space is an issue and this tends to lead to leggy plants that have been a deprived of light. It would be nice to plant out a tomato that didn't have 9 inches between leaves! I give this one some more thought next year.

Happy gardening folks!!

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Best Use of Rhubarb

I've got to be honest, I don't really eat rhubarb, and neither does Heather. Like almost every plot holder we inherited ours, my dad planted it and I keep it there for him. Don't get me wrong I like the odd crumble but we're unlikely to eat all the plants produce.

However this year I think I've found a use for a couple of pickings....... Rhubarb Gin!! As recipes go they don't get much simpler and its a tasty little number.

You'll need:

A 75cl bottle of gin, nothing special for this
400g of rhubarb, the pinker the better
250g of sugar.

1. Chop the rhubarb into 2cm chunks and put into a large kilner jar or similar with the sugar and gin.

2. Give it a shake and store somewhere dark and cool for 1 to 2 weeks until the gin turns pink and the rhubarb turns green. The pinker the rhubarb, the pinker your gin. You can give it a swirl every now and then.


3. When its ready strain it back into the original bottle.

It's lovely over ice on its own, or with a splash of tonic, but for more exciting ideas try these


Note: I used a 70CL bottle and its quite sweet but you still get the rhubarb sharpness, maybe cut the sugar down a little if you don't have my sweet tooth.

Now I just need a fancy label!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Highs and The Lows

Actually I'll start with the lows.....

I'd written that the onion bed wasn't looking too healthy and since our last visit more of the crop had taken a turn for the worst. A lot of the garlic in the main crop seemed to have swelled and split as hoped so we decided to pull it all up and see if anything could be salvaged...... the results, not good!

Most were actually very small, looked like they had white rot and we found a lot of the bulbs had small white worms in their base. Inside the larger bulbs were small red insects, in between the papery layers.


Heather did her research and has found out the little red critters are Allium Leaf Miner. It explains all the symptoms we've seen. More information on these little bu**ers can be found here.

https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=643

The end result was that only 3 out of 30 bulbs were salvageable (modelled here by a camera shy Heather). It wasn't good to see a pile of wrecked bulbs on the ground, especially the bigger ones. We'll remove them not compost them.


We'll be looking at the shallots this coming weekend but I think we know the result already :o(
Possibly the only good things to come from this is that we can dig over that bed and use it for more squashes, and that crop rotation means we should be ok by the time we come to use this bed for alliums next time. This year though the leeks will go elsewhere.

The highs...

There's 'bean', (told you I couldn't stop), some good news on the bean front. We were expecting to be pulling up half our runner beans and replacing them with seeds as the growing tips had died off, but they have decided to grow new tips instead, the leaves look better and things are looking up, good news.

The broads are now black fly free, we've nipped out the tops and the beans are almost at picking size. Add the appearance of our first dwarf beans which were planted directly in the ground only a week ago and its all go in the bean bed. The French climbers are in now too.

A mini harvest this week but it shows summer is coming to the farm and hopefully it's the first of many! I love a fresh lettuce.




Happy Gardening Folks!!