Month: May 2014

Protecting From the Elements

Yesterday down the plot was all about protection. Although the sun has been out,  the wind is still strong and showers heavy. To give juvenile plants a start to get strong, I made a few shelters!

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Squash Protection
Two years ago I lost my first sowing of squash and pumpkin seedlings to torrential rain and wind. The second sowing of the year survived because of a triangular A-frame I made out of scrap wood. I decided to use the A-frame again this year to shelter the squash somewhat from the elements.

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Tomato Protection
I have an abundance of cucumber, pepper, aubergine, chilli and tomato plants so decided to use the rest of the potato bed and plant tomatoes to make space in the greenhouse. I feel very proud of the makeshift protective greenhouse.

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Brassica Protection
My cabbages have been destroyed by slugs. I am devastated due to the amount of time and effort I have put into making sure they are protected from club root. A fellow allotmenteer gave me some sprouts a week ago (a purple variety!?) so I planted them out next to the eaten cabbages. I’ve now put netting over the whole patch to protect from wind and butterflies.

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Harvesting the Overwintering Onions and Leeks

I absolutely love onions and leeks so decided to try my luck and plant some in November in my 2014 root bed (as it won’t need manuring) in hope that they will be ready in March. It is May now and they are big enough to harvest! (Phewf!).

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I’ve decided to harvest them now before they go to seed and/or rot in the ground. We have had a spell of heavy rain which has swollen them but also could encourage rotting.

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They taste delicious!  🙂

Favourite Five Broad Bean Recipes

Great source of tasty protein! 🙂

Spade Fork Spoon

favorite five I’ve mentioned earlier this month that the first broad beans of the season are a real delight for me. I like the fact that you can plant a few beans in October or November and they emerge in the last of the autumnal sun, brush off whatever the winter throws at them, then rapidly grow as the days warm in spring. One single bean brings one plant, but a whole basket of harvested pods and countless beans. They are one of the easiest of crops to grow, only being slightly blighted by black fly and bird attack. I’ve found that overwintering the beans seems to cut down on the black fly attacks, but opens up the possibility of birds like pigeons feasting on the new shoots. So I often use a net to cover the plants in their infancy, and also pinch out the tops of the plants when the beans are formed; which I’m told reduces…

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Planting out Brassica: Some Hints and Tips

I have failed before with brassicas from not listening to fellow allotmenteers and just planting willy nilly. Brassicas are susceptible to so many pests and diseases so taking care in the planting stage always pays off.

I was given my brassica seedlings off various fellow allotment friends so I have a mixture of cabbage and broccoli I believe! Suprise crop 🙂

Lime the soil a week or so before planting. Brassicas thrive with an alcaline pH and will prevent diseases such as club root. I’m sure there are more organic ways of doing this, but I got given some lime and let the rain sink it in.

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Firm ground is important with brassicas.  I believe a firm soil helps the roots stay in place and keeps the brassica strong.

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(The dibber was useless- trowel needed)

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A small piece of Rhubarb stem or two apparently prevents club root so I put a bit in each small hole with some Compost (to give the roots a head start).

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Planting up to the first strong leaf will ensure your brassica are supported and strong. Otherwise I guarantee you will end up with spindly brassica growing to the side due to the wind etc.

One must firm the ground again after planting for the reasons outline above and heel the surrounding soil once to create a channel for water to sit and soak in. This is also important due to the soil structure you have created through stomping. Water will sit on top and be slowly absorbed. The ‘heeling’ will guarantee a water channel for water to be absorbed neer the stem and roots.

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So, there you have it. All you need is some builder’s netting to prevent butterflies laying (cabbage whites)!