SECOND HALF OF MAY

Well, the weather isn’t too great but everything in the garden – or rather on the plot – is growing fine.

It was rather chaotic in the greenhouse and in the veranda at the back of the house – an organised chaos I must add. The veranda was used for hardening off all the plants before I took them to the farm to plant out and this method worked! Everything on the farm survived the move and is growing well.

Cabbages in the net tunnels, tomatoes, lettuce, Chinese lettuce, climbing beans are all fine. And then there are the hardy types who survived the winter out there – onions, shallots, garlic, strawberries, rhubarb and last but not least the potatoes and raddishes who are trying their best.

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IN THE GREENHOUSE

things are starting to grow. I’ve been very good this year and didn’t sow things too soon (as I was used to do, year after year, and everything got very ‘leggy’).

The sunflowers are doing well, got high hopes for my chances in the ‘Johnson competition’.

The same can be said for my selection of different courgettes and squashes. The pumpkins are coming up too, there should be a decent harvest to make more delicious chutneys.

Tomatoes will be just the outdoor types, I’ll grow them in some of my net tunnels. This way they will get a bit of protection from the wind, and with a bit of luck, I shall avoid the dreaded blight. I’ve got a selection of brassicas – cabbages, kale, cauliflowers and kohl rabi. They will all go in the rest of the net cages, somewhere I didn’t grow this kind last year. This way I’ll be able to rotate between the cages, rather then moving any of them. I think I have got enough cages to be able to do that quite well.

THE BEST

I got myself a polytunnel soon after I started working on the allotment. At first all was well – the only snag was the watering; if I went away for a few days I had to ask some friendly gardener there to water the plants otherwise they would’ve perished.

After three years the plastic material started deteriorating, little holes appeared, the door couldn’t be closed because the zip broke – the list of problems was getting longer. However, the metal frame was perfectly sound, so the next step was quite obvious – never mind a new plastic cover, make it into a net tunnel.

And that is exactly what Mike and myself did last Sunday.

From this

after a few hours of fairly hard work to this…

I am delighted with it, it is all ready for planting brassicas – cabbages, kale, kohl rabi – I’m sure I’ll be able to fit quite a few plants in. And from now on I have got enough net cages to rotate my crops – no need to move anything, just remember what was where and change.

Bring it on!

BESPOKE CAGES

It was well worth waiting for!

A couple of years ago one of the plot holders made a fantastic brassica cage – he’s a carpenter so it was just pefect. He used hard wood and made a this cage in such a way that it could be taken apart and moved.

Simon inherited this cage, took it apart and moved it on his plot. This year, however, he didn’t want to use it any more and offered it to me. I tried not to snatch it too fast, didn’t want to seem too greedy. I always wanted a cage like this, but mine will stay put! I’ve got enough structures to be able to rotate my crops between the cages.

Thanks to good weather today and Simon’s hard work, I have an amazing brassica cage! I won’t be growing cabbages in it this year though, I had some kale in this place last year. No problem, I’ll put outdoor tomatoes and sweet peppers there.

This done, I continued on my other plot. I had a cage there for the past two years but wasn’t happy with the construction and the position of it. It was very easy to take it apart – I remembered how I made it and this was just the reverse process!

The net was carefuly saved, the wood too so it was easy to measure the area and start building.

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It is a bit bigger than the old one and as I didn’t grow any brassicas on this plot, I shall put a lot of kohl rabis there.

This is the end of building for this year, perhaps I will rebuild one more old cage in the autumn.

Now just to cover the frame of the old polytunnel with some netting and all is ready. For that I need another one of my helpers.

 

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

It all started with one bought net tunnel. Now they are multiplying like the proverbial rabbits!

A couple of years ago I was given as a Christmas present a net tunnel. Our allotment area is plagues by pigeons who try to eat any kind of brassica leaf – why don’t they nibble on weeds or even lettuce? They even devour small swede or radish seedlings so I have to cover them until they get a bit bigger then the birds seem to lose interest.

The only ‘problem’ with having one net tunnel is crop rotation. I know I shouldn’t grow brassicas on the same patch of soil two years running. To move the tunnel is beyond me – life is too short to complicate it with that.

A simple answer – have more tunnels, or cages as it happens. Today I finished my last creation and I’m very happy with it. All it took was some wood, netting, nails and a couple of hours of my time. Job done.

I even went round all the other cages and fixed some small problems – the wood holding the ‘door’ had to be wrapped in the netting and secured with zip ties to stop it unravelling when I’m opening the door to get in and out. A small problem but quite a nuisance really.

That means that I have enough space to plant all my brassica seedlings – cabbages, cauliflowers, kale, sprouting broccoli and kohl rabi and I don’t have to worry that I’ll run out of space. I will have two net cages where I have to plant ‘others’ – outdoor tomatoes, lettuce and perhaps dwarf beans; next year I can swap. As long as I don’t plant the same plants of brassica family in the same cages I should be fine.