Tuesday, 24 March 2009

March Picture Gallary

Peggy suggested that I should post some pictures.

I agreed it was about time I remembered to take the camera.
So heres a few snaps from this afternoons bolt up to the plot to pick up my seed box.
Its all a bit brown on the plot - I'm sooo looking forward to seeing my scratch of a patch become an oasis of green.

Nature sticks it to my Food factory.

So like any other day, I return from work last night after a long slog, hoping to kick back and relax before the next instalment of Groundhog Day, the elements provided a nasty surprise for me when I got home.

Apparently the wind picked up yesterday afternoon, and during the course of the evening it caught hold of my little greenhouse and tossed it about for a while. There was no damage as such to the greenhouse but inside was a whole different story.

The Staging at the back of the greenhouse had been knocked for six and along with it the majority of my seedlings that were coming on a treat. They had been upturned in their pots and scattered all over the floor.

To say I was major league peeved off would be any understatement. I’ve lost all my salads, Sage, Thyme and Tomatoes (except a few tomato's on a windowsill indoors). I managed to save about half of the kohlrabi and some of the basil looked salvable.

Thankfully the leeks were ok; they had been on the bottom shelf and managed to avoid natures little rabbit punch to the solar plexus.

I went into salvage mode, repotted the Basil, firmed down the few kohlrabi that survived the assault and threw the rest into a large sack for the local recycling centre.

The survivors got special treatment last night and spent the night in the comfort of my house. My wife must have felt pity for me because she didn't complain about the uninvited guests and I got a hug which cheered me up.

Lessons Learned: No point in crying over spilled milk. I'm going to move the greenhouse into another location and bolt it down so securely, that even if we get a storm of biblical proportions my greenhouse will remain a safe haven for the seeds I'll be sowing this evening. Just for that Mother Nature, I'll not be recycling for a week.

Friday, 20 March 2009

In less that on hour Spring will have arrived.

A monumental event occurs for all budding gardeners and vegetable plot holders on this day.

The vernal equinox occurs this morning. As the sun crosses the celestial equator at 11:43 GMT we will officially be in real spring. Not the meteorological spring which marks the seasons by dividing the seasons into four tidy three month periods but REAL SPRING.......

This has the old stomach butterflies’ whipping up a frenzy providing a moment of anticipation for me.

The greenhouse is alive with the emerging seeds that have been carefully planted over time since February including Kohlrabi, Early peas, Leeks, the first salads, Tomatoes, peppers, Sweet Basil and spitfire cabbage.

I can begin to think about Brussels Sprouts, Calabrese, next years sprouting broccoli, Dwarf French beans, Paris silver skin onions, cape gooseberries and so many more of the seeds that have been burning to escape from their foil wrapped imprisonment.

Over on the plot, the Kelvedon early peas are beginning to emerge, Radishes are showing their true leaves and have been thinned out. The early Nantes carrots are beginning to poke their feathered foliage through the soil.

Only three more weeks to go until my favourite day of the year. The day we get our evenings back and we finally get to spend a little time pottering around after work.

Happy Days!!!

Monday, 16 March 2009

So it’s been a month since I last posted.

So what’s been going down on the plot since the big thaw?

Well, for a start I now have a lovely new machine called a rotivator. It’s a 5.5 hp beast.

During the winter months I have been hand digging with what felt like no end in sight. Pulling out bramble clumps and perennial weeds from the new section of my plot and digging over the existing parts and adding in my home made compost and bags of well rotted manure.

A couple of weeks ago I removed the carpets that covered three of my raised beds. I have added some seaweed granulised fertiliser into these and have begun this years planting.

I raked over and hoe drilled several rows into one of the raised beds in preparation for the first sowings of the year. Into which I have sown four rows of French breakfast radish - Do the French eat radishes for breakfast? Three rows of Nantes Early Carrots and a couple of rows of White Lisbon spring onions. These are all quick croppers, chosen on purpose so that I can use the bed again in June for something else.

The following week I prepared a second bed in the same way as the first and have sown true spinach, some corn salad and bolt-hardy beetroots.

The over wintered Onions, Garlic and Shallots are growing big guns. Fantastic green leaves and the Shallots are showing several shoots on most of the plantings. The drainage I worked hard in achieving by adding several sacks of sand and the bitter cold weather looks like it will reward me with a bountiful crop in early summer.

The over wintered Cauliflowers are putting on new growth now too. I have several of these. It was hard to believe they would ever get going again after watching them just sit there without any sign of getting bigger since lat last year. The pigeons began their assault on them in December so they are all netted up now and have make a remarkable recovery.

I have planted out a row of Autumn Bliss raspberries, two red currant and two black currants in a section which has been given over to fruits. I have ordered three blue berry bushes which should arrive this week. Will probably sink some large containers in the fruit area to grow the blueberries in. They need a highly acidic soil to really get going and I don’t think I could modify and maintain my soil down to a ph level of 4.5 very easily.

The Summer Strawberry bed has settled down from the digging up and replanting late last year. It was a real mess with all manner of weeds and grass. The Plants set dozens of runners to so I though the best approach was to dig them up, add muck, and plants them back through gardeners membrane and provide a mulch of wood chip to make it look nicer and to hold the membrane in place.

On the 8th of March I planted twenty or so well chitted tubers of Maris Bard, Home guard and another I forget the name of. These went into the third raised bed. When they begin to poke through the soil I’m going to mulch up with straw and other organic materials.

That same week I also dug a narrow trench and planted a hundred or so early peas.

I went over on Sunday this week and gave the rotivator a good working out, or rather it pulled me around for an hour. I'm happy that I first dug the plot over taking out the majority of the roots and weeds as these machines have a bad reputation for turning your weed problem into all out weed warfare by chopping up perennials into thousands of pieces which in turn each grow into a new weed.

The over wintered broad beans were a bit of a hit and miss. It’s my fault really, I hoed the bed just before the killer weather that we had and the loosened soil allowed the ground frost to get at the roots. I probably lost half of them. I grew some space fillers in the greenhouse at home and got them planted in

I have given my Sons a raised bed to do what they want with. Max planted four broad beans I had left over; he has replanted some Rainbow chard for another of my beds. He managed to pinch one of my potato seeds so that went in too. He also planted several sun flower seeds. I had to prise my seed box from his hands as he was about to empty out several thousand carrot seeds in there too. I'll give him a hand next week so he doesn’t repeat last years over seeding.

So it’s been a while and I hadn't blogged for a month because I thought I had nothing to write. Then you get it out of you and you realise that quite a bit has gone on really. Won’t leave it so long next time.

Happy Gardening - Spring is finally in the air.