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.


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!!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Rad'nips and Tur'ishes

Turnips were my favourite discovery last year, I like them raw in a salad or roasted. Mashed with honey is nice too. I have seeds for 3 varieties this year and the first sowing, the Snowball, are ready now.

They've come out pretty clean and untouched by bugs, probably because I thinned them out properly this year. Delicious!!

These are radishes were a freebie with the Mr F's order, Candela di fuoco. A long, slightly pinkish little number that pack quite a peppery punch when small, it seems to get milder as they get bigger. Gives a salad quite a kick.

Happy gardening folks!!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The (Late) May Update

The middle of May is never a good time to take a holiday, there's just too much to do and Jack Frost would love to pop in and check on your plot when you can't be there to stop him.

The farm, and all the plants at home had to be left in my dads care as we headed off to Euro Disney for a few days. Withdraw symptoms after 5 days of no allotmenting are common so I tacked an extra days holiday onto the break and spent 6 very peaceful, sunny hours pottering on Monday.

So here's the late May update

Bed 1
The garlic looks good, the bulbs look big and to have split nicely. The onions and shallots, not so good. Most seem small, the tops seem to be dying off a bit early and some have fallen over and come out of the ground, it looks like the dreaded white rot. Hopefully we will still get some for immediate use and the garlic will escape. Not sure putting the leeks in this bed is a good idea now, although now the temperatures are up it should help. Keep you posted. 

Parsnips and carrots are proving to be a pain this year, 2 plantings so far and we've still not got a full row of anything! I've put in another row of Royal Chantenay 3, directly into the soil not into compost this time, we'll see what happens. The cloche is off the parsnips now as well.

A row of Fennel (DiFirenze) went in directly, we've never tried this before. The final crop for this bed is the celery, which is at home at the moment, like the fennel it needs to kept moist so I must do the irrigation system soon.


Bed 2
The spuds are going well, no flowers yet but it's early days. All that was needed was a quick weeding and to earth up some more to stop any spuds getting a taste for daylight.

The asparagus is cropping nicely, although occasionally at odd angles, a few weeks to go yet. On its own this pretty much pays the £29.00 a year the farm costs.


Bed 3
We are having a bean issue at the moment, some of the runners I planted out have lost their growing tips and aren't looking good. At the weekend I'll work out which ones have had it and take them out, I'll replace them with a seed to fill the gaps, they'll be a bit behind but a staggered crop may help prevent the usual bean glut. A row of dwarf beans went in direct into the ground so will also help to keep cropping levels up.

The peas are starting to explore the top of their protective netting so the supports will go in soon with some CD bird scarers. A second row has been planted to extend the pea season.

The broad beans have a good number of pods now, the beans are small but they are already tasty. The black fly have moved in today, we haven't had a chance to nip out the tips yet, they are pretty early this year. I haven't got any bug spray at the moment so I gave them a good squirt with the castille soap, it works on white fly so hopefully it will work on these little buggers before they do too much damage. 


Bed 4
Spinach and chard are coming on nicely, hopefully we get some spinach before it bolts, I had no luck with it last year. The rest of the bed is pretty quiet, the last leeks to come out. I've built my brassica frame and ordered the netting. The sweetcorn and some squashes and brassicas will go in at the weekend. The danger of frost should now be over.

Bed 5
The salad bowl lettuce, radish and turnips are all cropping nicely. The replacement beetroot are coming up and the Sierra and Little Gem lettuces are finally putting in a growth spurt now its warmed up.

I put in the strawberry plants Heather wrote about earlier the other day. They had spent winter in small pots with poor soil which wasn't ideal but a good blast with a balanced fertiliser and seaweed extract has really perked them up. There are flowers so if we beat the slugs to them there will hopefully be fruit!  It was the first time planting through the weed control fabric, it was a pain but hopefully worth it with less weeding.


At home I have the most leggy tomato plants ever. My house isn't ideal light wise and I don't have a greenhouse apart from one of those mini things. Those of you that have are very lucky. Worst case scenario I'll plant them deeper and get a longer cane :O)

Happy gardening folks!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

We've Bean Taking A Risk

Apologies for another bean pun, I'm sure it won't be the last.

The runner beans went in a couple of weeks early and had got rather out of hand, it was turning into a right old cats cradle and they really needed to go outside. So we've taken a risk and they've been released into the wild this weekend.

I've read a couple of times about building the bean wigwams upside down, poles leaning outwards at the top. The reasons for this make sense, (see the pros and cons later), so I decided to give it a go.

Here is my bean support. I got a couple of bike wheels for free and mounted them on poles hammered into the ground then added the poles and secured them to the rim of the wheel using plant ties.

The beans, still in their cardboard tubes are planted 2 to a pole, 1 inner ring, 1 outer ring and trained to the pole with string. To help with watering a couple of small coke bottles with the bottoms cut off have been sunk in round the sides. I may add a couple more. You can see how scrappy they had got.

Finally I added a bit of protection from the wind with the micro netting that we normally use for the carrots. The plants had already suffered a little windburn during the hardening off process

We checked the next day and they seem ok, I expect they will suffer a bit of transplant shock though.

Next year we may just plant direct in mid May, I've always done the indoor planting in tubes before, but we will be doing this with dwarf beans shortly and if it seems to suit our site it may a good idea to save space indoors.  

(The official ones)
Less crowding at the top of the poles
Better airflow around the tops of the plants
Easy to pick the crop 
Less ground space used - The base of the canes are closer together, with the wheel size I could fit 3 of these in the space I had 2 traditional wigwams last year.
Easier to mulch - Last year clearing weeds inside the wigwam was a pain, this year I have filled the base with grass cuttings. Also as the foot print is smaller less are needed.

The plants are close together - They will complete with each other for water etc.  
Stability - Its fine at the moment but once the plants reach the wheel and produce beans there will be a large area for the wind to hit. I may need to add some guy ropes.

Now to pray for no frost.... !!

Happy gardening folks

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Beet'en to the Beetroot

The great cloche experiment was looking like it would yield an early crop of beetroot, and as they were nicely established I removed the cloche when the sun started to show its face a bit.

Two days later when I arrived on the farm I was greeted by nothing but purple and yellow stalks, something had eaten all the leaves. Not surprisingly the rest of the plant promptly turned up its toes and exited stage left! This sad picture shows the aftermath.

I've never had this issue before, I haven't seen any slugs and nothing nearby has been damaged. I'm guessing its pigeons or other birds that couldn't get to them when the cloche was on.

Anyone else had this before?

I hate seeing this at any time of the year but especially during the quite period between the end last years crops and the start of this years / overwintered crops producing something edible. At the moment all we have it salad bowl lettuce asparagus and a few leeks.

Hopefully we are going to see some more produce soon, turnips are starting to bulk up and have been thinned properly and the overwintered broads are now getting a few decent pods.

I've been doing a few little jobs on the way to work this week and there are a few hours set aside this weekend to get us back on schedule. May update due next week!  

Happy gardening folks :O)

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Broadly Speaking There's Bean a Disaster

There wasn't a lot of time for plot visits this week but what I did find on my visit wasn't too pleasing. We have had some high winds and the broads that were overwintered and are now quite tall didn't take too kindly to them. Several of the plants had limbs snapped and were lying on the ground. I've put in some canes and used string to patch them up and provide support, most don't seem to mind it but one was too far gone to be saved. My fault, my notes for next year already say to provide support, I just hadn't done it last year. If I decide to overwinter this year I'll make sure it gets done.

To make up for it the first row of Kelvedon Wonder are starting to come up and we seem to have a few Resistafly F1 carrots coming though but no Early Nantes or Chanteny yet. Some of the rainbow chard is just starting to poke though and this year I might actually see a spring onion, something that defeated me last year!

All the potatoes have survived the frosts but the asparagus has taken a knock in a hard frost that turned any above ground spears rather mushy. I composted them and await their replacements. I've taken some of the cloches off now as its going to be warmer for a few days, it does makes the watering/weeding somewhat easier but I'll be on standby for a late frost for a couple of weeks.

At home, I didn't transplant the sweetcorn in the end, but popped a another seed in each of the vacant pots and put them in a warm cupboard. This worked and I now have the full complement of 24 that I planned for. We got a germination rate for 32 out of 56 planted in the end, not brilliant but I'll plan better for it next year allowing for the this.

 I must have got my bean planting dates confused this year and put the runner beans in too early. They have reached over a foot high now and are still in their tubes on the kitchen windowsill. Its too early to plant out here (one neighbour has lost all his to frost already), so by the time I can in a couple of weeks I expect it will be a bit like untangling the pesky xmas tree lights.

Some of my cabbages have also decided to stall/die, I suspect I may have overwatered them, or it could just be the soil based compost which won't be using again. I'm only growing them as an experiment so I'm not over worried, it just annoying.

Apart from that the only issue seems to be a Zuchinni which is coming up roots first in some kind of botanic breach birth fashion.

Time is short this week but hopefully a good few hours of plot time will present itself soon and I can crack on with all the projects I need to do before the planting out season is upon us. I trimmed up all the border timber last week to remove any rot. It would have taken hours by hand but got it done in 45 mins with the chop saw.....

Happy days and the joy of power tools!!