WEEDS

We had a little drop of rain last night, just enough to soften the surface of the soil. It didn’t penetrate deep at all but was just enough to make the weeding a bit easier. Today was the turn of the brassica cage. I have a number of purple sprouting broccoli, kohlrabi, red cabbages and curly kale there and a lot of weeds. Amazing that they grew so well asĀ  May was extremely dry. It was a job for the whole morning.

A few hours and a stiff back later it looked much better.

It is a pity I can’t make any use of the bucket of weeds…

20200604_112323

And after all the work I sprinkled a good amount of my feeding mix – fish, blood and bone and chicken manure pellets all around the plants. As I am writing this the long-awaited rain came so it should all soak in. Another net cage to weed tomorrow, and another the day after…..

IN FULL SWING

It is harvest time!

As it is so hot these days I started going to the allotment quite early in the morning. The plan is that I will either water the most needy plants with the hose or, on alternate days, feed the ‘special cases’ either with the seaweed extract, comfrey tea or the liquid from my wormery.

It was the turn of the comfrey tea. My, does it stink!! And the smell seems to linger close to the ground, so when I was bending down, I got a good whiff of it. Never mind, the squashes love it!

I managed to pick another large box of strawberries, pulled out a lovely bunch of carrots and a few nice beetroot.

yesterday was a day to thin out the gooseberries…..

DSCN1902 - Copy - Copy

…and I was pleased I had this lovely lot.

Got them home and in no time made a very tasty gooseberry and mint jelly. Goes a treat with cold meat, cheese or a quiche.

DSCN1908 - Copy

As I was picking the gooseberry I also noticed that the currants are almost ready. That’s the beauty of having the fruit bushes in the net cage – I can take my time picking them, not like in the past where it was a competition between me and the birds. Guess who lost??

DSCN1903 - Copy

Another benefit of net cages is the ease of growing brassicas. It was the same story in the past – try to stop the birds nibbling the leaves of the young plants so there was hardly anything left. I thought they wouldn’t like kohl rabi. I was wrong. So now the kohl rabi grows in the net cage and nothing gets at it and I can enjoy the fruits of my labour.

DSCN1901 - Copy

 

 

 

ONE PERSON’S RUBBISH

…is another woman’s treasure.

The guy who left recently not only dismantled his little shed and left it in a pile to be burned but also discarded two large halves of an old trampoline base – he was used to have it on the ground covered with netting to grow cabbages under. To harvest them or to do any weeding he had to crawl on his hands and knees.

Well, I got these two halves and attached metal uprights – from my store of old bits of another trampoline. As these are smaller they fitted well together and the result is..

004

…another net tunnel. You can’t have enough of these!

There will be space to grow cauliflowers and all kinds of cabbages and kohlrabi.

Place your orders now!

PLANTING OUT

I took a gamble and started planting out some of my seedlings. Yestarday was a lovely day so after lunch I took most of my brassica seedlings over to the allotment and planted them out in the recently rejuvenated polytunnel – now a beautiful net tunnel. All in all there are 50 of them there – a mix of kohl rabi, purple kale, cavolo nero and cauliflower.

Even though it is only a net tunnel it feels slightly warmer inside, the mesh is so fine that it seems to stop the worst of the wind. Let us hope for the best.

001

I think they’ll be fine.

Next I had to get some of my courgette plants out, they were getting a bit too big. I decided to put them in one of the raised beds where I constructed a support for them. The plants are lowere down so the wind doesn’t affect them.

After that it was just time to have a look how everything is doing – the broad beens are doing very well, I pinched the tops and hopefully this will stop the blackfly invasion.004

The iceberg lettuce, the chinese cabbage and the Daubenton kale are all fine in the first net tunnel. Especially the kale – I bought just one plant and managed to get a number of cuttings, all rooted well and growing – this reduces the need to grow ordinary kale seedlings. This kale is very tasty and I’ve been picking it even during the winter.

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.

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.

009

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.

 

FIRST HARVEST

It certainly was worth it planting my kohl rabi seedlings out quite early. It didn’t hurt them, they were well protected in one of my raised beds and had a net ‘house’ over them. I have to do the protection lark, the pigeons on the allotment have a great liking for any kind of brassica!

The beauty about this veg is that I get to use everything – the leaves and all. The leaves can be used the same way as spring greens and the bulb is peeled and best eaten raw. It is very crunchy and delicious.

Exactly as I remember it from my childhood.

PLANTING TIME

After planting the first early potatoes a while ago I put in the second early ones, eight rows in all. All that’s left now are some main crop spuds – Red rooster, they can wait a while. 005Nothing much to see as yet but with this warm weather I have great hopes. Next was planting my baby beetroot. I didn’t know that they can be grown in cells and then transplanted into the open ground – makes sense, seeing that when I thin them out I don’t throw the seedlings out but plant them and they grow! I decided to put them in a well worked and rich soil in one of my early raised bed, just one row – beetroot Chioggia – never grew this one yet, will be interesting, should have white and red circles when sliced raw. They might disappear when cooked – we’ll see. 010My four raised beds are more than just beds. They’re quite deep and I didn’t fill them in to the top – the result is a sheltered area, like a mini-micro climate! One of the boxes had a structure with a net over it with brassicas last year, so it was either grow something else there this year or move the structure over another box and grow the brassicas in that. That’s what I did, it was surprisingly easy and my kohl rabis are doing just great. They are protected by the net against the pigeons and sheltered against the wind by hiding deeper in the box. They’re doing just fine.

Today was the first time I did the lawn in Mum’s garden – used quite a bit of the grass as a mulch in the borders and around the fig trees – they have baby figs!! – must put up some bird scarers next time I go there.

Fruit trees are in flower and I just hope the bees are still in the hive, that would help with pollination. The chinese pear is doing very well and even the little rescued conference pear is in blossom.

The rest of the grass I took to the allotment and spread it on the raspberry bed, need four more for the other beds – next time. Everything is doing great on the allotment, rhubarb growing in front of my eyes, already had some, very tasty indeed!

004

PREPARATION TIME

I think this year I have finally managed to do what I knew I should be doing – not to get carried away when deciding what and when to sow.

In the past years I was sometimes way too early and then plants got leggy or just died so I didn’t gain anything or I simply sowed too many seeds and was then swamped.

This year is different – I’ve got quite a few kohl-rabies and cabbages, purely because I wanted a lot of them. As I have my brassica nets on the allotment, I shall have enough space to house them all and, as I have read in the RHS information pages about mushroom compost, that is excellent for brassica growing because it means that the plants are less likely to be affected by club root.

In the brassica line I’ll have cabbages – white and red, kale, purple sprouting broccoli, kohl-rabi and cauliflowers.

All of these are neatly transplanted into bigger pots and there they can take their time to grow, ready to be transplanted into the cages.

The tomatoes are doing well too, again the same rules apply – less is more and I’m quite pleased. I managed to find some purple tomatilloes, delighted about it as so far I only managed to find the green ones. It will be very interesting. I have got a few chilli peppers and sowed some sweet peppers today, just to make sure I’ve got a bit of everything.

I’d like to grow the tomatoes and tomatilloes on the allotment, inside the net cages – these do offer some protection and the fruit is much more tasty having been grown outside.

Apart from the veg I’ve got some sunflowers coming up, I’d like to plant them out on the allotment to encourage the bees – we have got a hive there, hopefully the bees are still in.