Busy Sunday

The spring weather continues to be glorious, and as the earth warms up, more seeds can be sown and indoor growers transplanted to outdoors.

Today we began with the task of potting on. Vegetable growing is a continuous production line; plants needing a long growing season, such as aubergine, begin inside in a warm place in the house. They then shift to a greenhouse as the weather picks up, and some stay in the greenhouse. Hardier species will move outside, and some just like being outside from the start of their little productive lives.

Brassicas are one of our hardiest. This year we have cheated and bought plugs from a market garden friend we know (big shout out to Martin at Sharps Growers in Kings Newton). Sharps produce them by the thousands, and when we only need 2 to 7 of a vegetable type, it isn’t even cost-effective to buy the seed packets! Another job is to keep the pesky pigeons from our luscious baby leaves, and so I delved into ‘the barn’ (a shed), and pulled out pieces of the fruit cage we lost to a heavy snow drop a few years ago. Someone stupidly left the top mesh in place and the snow can do quite a bit of damage with its weight! I salvaged enough straight uprights and beams to make a 10ft square walk-in netted cage – possibly the poshest cabbage patch in all of South Derbyshire! In there we have seven spring pointy cabbage, five brussels sprouts, two winter savoy cabbage, three round summer cabbage, six calabrese and six cauliflowers. Rather than staggered planting, we harvest things like the cauliflower at the same time and freeze in bulk.

The it was on to the second sowing of carrots, thirty feet of Robila, and a block of Velvet Queen sunflowers. This variety of sunflower are stunning, with a deep crimson petal – they should look stunning!

Nearer the house, an old belfast sink was requisitioned and repurposed as a pick-and-come-again mixed salad planter, just outside the kitchen doors.

Then the greenhouses were emptied of the winter-crud and refilled with 6 Ruthje tomato plants – a great eating variety apparently, 7 San Marzano plum-type cooking tomatoes, and 6 Arola cucumbers.

All in all, quite a productive day!

Things are Popping Up After the Late Start to Spring!

Blauwschokkers Pole Peas

Blauwschokkers Pole Peas

After the late start to spring, with the ground finally un-soggified, Suz and I took the day off to make use of the sunshine and get the patch into some sort of order. There’s a list of post-winter jobs that still need doing – the grass had its first cut on Saturday, electric fence lines were strimmed, grassless soil was rotovated, seeded and rollered, and Colin the Light Sussex cock was popped in with his nieces to do his job. Coops were shuffled,

De-weeding strawberry runners

De-weeding strawberry runners

Eddie the cock was moved from his into his aunts’ paddock, which leaves a coop spare for the Marsh Daisy chicks that are currently just under two weeks old. Sunday continued the work, and the bantams were moved onto fresh grass.

Today, whilst I had the easy job of sowing the seed in the raised bed, Suz had the unenviable task of weeding errant strawberry runners from under the current bushes, then weeding the future beds of the sunflowers and sweet corn. Horrendous job!

Raised bed

Raised bed

Continuing to use our organic seed from the Seed Co-operative, we sowed in the raised bed the following:

  • Butterflay (spinach)
  • Greens and Salads (lettuce leaves mix)
  • Wild Rocket
  • Merveille des Quatre Saisons (butter head lettuce)
  • French Breakfast 2 (radish)
  • Miranda (carrot)
Red Sun shallots

Red Sun shallots

Witkiem broad beans

Witkiem broad beans

The sowings from a few weeks ago have broken the ground after the last few days of sun, and the weeds are still tiny and easily hoed, too easy! Spring has definitely sprung into action 🙂

First Plantings of the Year

The snow has gone!! Oops – did I say that out loud? Should never tempt fate!

But it was true, and this weekend was a great weekend to get stuck in to planting and sowing things we’d had tucked away in the garage and seed box until a suitable time happened along.

The first things were the strawberries, all bought from Pomona Fruits. To try and stagger the picking season somewhat, we planted six Vibrant early season (developed by East Malling Research), six Elegance mid season and eighteen Fenella late season. They’re all British varieties and good croppers, providing some useful pollen for the bees.

Next came the preparation of the main crop beds. Last autumn saw us build the soil up by about 8″, soil from the foundations of the new kitchen we’ve built out of necessity – the original being far too small for a growing family who cook a lot of their own food. The soil height is welcome and will help the drainage where we grow veg. To bolster the unknown nutrient level, we added a good layer of well-rotted manure and then a layer of leaf mulch from the orchard. This was all then covered to encourage the worms to dig it in for us over winter and to prevent the weeds from kicking in. As you can see, the worms dug in most of the covering and the grassy weeds have been killed off nicely. All it took was twenty minutes pulling out tap root weeds followed by a quick rotovate to help finish the job, making the ground pliable enough for planting and sowing.

The following day, Sunday, we planted all of our onion and garlic sets, and parsnips and beans. All of these could have gone in the ground earlier if the snow and cold hadn’t been so vociferous! As it is, we work with what we have and they are at least all now where they should be.

The seeds had arrived a few weeks ago, from the Seed Co-operative – the UK’s community owned seed company. By supporting them it helps keep old seed varieties in the hands of the public, and out of the greedy mitts of the big agrochem companies. They are also organic, meaning less strain on the environment all round.

In the photograph to the left (that’s what the beds looked like after rotovating), the foreground has had three rows of Aromata parsnips sown. On the back left there’s a wigwam of Blauschokkers climbing peas, and two short rows of Witkiem broad beans. As you can see from the makeshift guards, pigeons are our biggest problem at this time of year, and I’m determined that I won’t be sowing a second lot to replace the first lot! At the back on the right is the onion bed, where we’ve planted:

  • Red Sun shallots – for cooking and pickling.
  • Karmen onion sets – a great salad onion which stores quite well.
  • Picko Bello onion sets – a white onion for cooking, which we’ve never tried before!
  • Solent White garlic – another old favourite.

This leaves two rows spare for the leeks to end up filling.

I’d call that a successful weekend! Whilst Bunny was busy revising for her exams, Smiler helped out  and cleared the old strawberry bed of grass and weeds, ready to fill with edible pollinator flowers, and also cleared the paths to the patch of fallen winter leaves. He also shifted the pile of hedge and tree clippings to make sure the hedgehog wasn’t hibernating under it, before we burned it into a pile of useful ash.

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Beans and Peas

2016 beans and peas patchCrikey, these smaller veggie beds are so much easier to prepre and plant up! In a little more than an hour I’d de-weeded the beans and peas bed, mainly of last year’s sprouting sunflower seeds, and sown the three varieties of seeds we’re growing there this year.

In the ever-lasting battle against the slugs, we’re growing up wigwams for the beans, and we’ve two wigwams set aside for Sultana, a favourite climbing French bean. French beans became a staple favourite quickly here at Merrybower as they don’t suffer from the stringiness problem kidney beans tend to, and are great hot or cold in salads. We’ve also managed to track down a climbing pea! Every year our peas get nobbled by slugs, and being low down they end up as unsightly bushes wanting to fall over in the winds. However, I’ve managed to track down a variety called ‘Victorian Colossal Climbing’, which can grow to 6-8 feet high! They’re an ‘Alderman’ pea, but Victoriana Nurseries in Kent have apparenty been selecting seeds from their Alderman line for over fifty years, to create an upright vigourous pea plant for those of us who don’t really like bending to pick peas.

And where would we be without our broad beans – we love ’em! Baby broad beans lightly cooked in butter, on toast with sliced up streaky bacon – yum! This year we’re growing Suprifin – a white broad bean we’ve not grown before. Usually we go for Scorpio, but they had none in, so we bought these! We really do need to start saving more of our own seeds!

Detailed Planting Plan

Who doesn’t like pictures in place of words! Below is our detailed planting plan, showing our various growing areas, and what we intend to plant in each this year 🙂

The Patch 2016b - Greenhouse 1Greenhouse 1

We’ve dug deep into the Italian ‘Franchi’ seed range again, for both our cucumbers and tomatoes. The very first year we had an amazing crop of Telegraph Improved cucumbers, but since then it’s been quite disappointing. I suspect we’ve neglected them in some way, or done something wrong, but this year I’m going for a different variety – a slightly spikey stumpy affair called Cetriolo Marketmore. It’s self pollinating, and is an early harvesting cuke – we’ll see how they do! And as far as tomotaoes go, we’re going with the variety we love to cook with, San Marzano. A great fleshy dollop of red goodness, whose flavour really does come out when cooked low and slow.

 

Greenhouse 2The Patch 2016b - Greenhouse 2

Next up, in the greenhouse sitting next to the last, is our other favourite Franchi tomato – Marmande, a juicy beef tomato that can compete with the best for the honour of fugly fruit. Continuing the Italian theme, we have Corno Rosso peppers – a long juicy sweet pepper, looking like a large chilli. We grew something similar the year before last and they were a great shape for stuffing with cream cheese! Then we have our basil, Italiano Classico, which we tend to grow a lot of as we dry it for overwinter use. And for another strong flavour, we’ve a couple of pots of ‘Calypso’ Coriander.

 

The Patch 2016b - Greenhouse 3Greenhouse 3

We (notice I never use the word ‘I’ when it’s a bad thing?) failed abysmally last year with the aubergines. In fact, we’ve only ever had one really good year, but I won’t stop trying! Last year was down to the same reason many things weren’t as good as they could be – we had a two week holiday – the first in a long time! And I can’t imagine doing it again! Whilst it was fun, it was painful to return, and I’d be perfectly happy spending two weeks of holiday pootling around the patch, and I know Suz feels the same. So this year we’re not doing that, and we’ll be able to keep a better eye on things, hopefully! In greenhouse 3 we’ve got eight pots of Black Beauty aubergines – so even with one fruit per plant we should have enough to make a few meals 😉

 

Raised BedThe Patch 2016b - Fruit Bed 1

We love our raised bed, it’s such an easy task to work and I can see more of these in the future. This year we’re going with pretty much the same as last, except the various lettuce are also from the Franchi range. Perhaps we should buy shares?! We’ve a bed of Appollo F1 spinach, it worked well last year for us, and a bed of pick and come again lettuce, Misticanza di Lattughe. We have a couple of lines of wild rocket, and twelve lettuce stations, using the colourful variety Misticanza Lattughe Croccanti – a red and green leafy lottery. We’ve also got our baby carrots, Chantenay type – Cascade F1, and a row of Ravanello Rapid Red 2 radish, which we plant quite frequently for successional sowing.

 

Fruit Bed 1The Patch 2016b - Fruit Bed 1

Not one we usually list in our yearly planting post, but this year, whilst waiting for the weeds to dissipate from the old, failed, raspberry bed, we’re going to make use of it by way of veg! I should add, the raspberries failed for two reasons – the site is really not well sheltered, and the ground tends to wetness in this corner; so much so that the raspberries died off and we almost lost one of the rhubarbs a few years ago in a particularly bad winter. The rhubarb survived, but we pulled what was left of the raspberries out two years ago and barrowed some soil in to raise the bed by a couple of inches. The soil has some nasties in it – nettles and docks mostly – so two or three years of veg growing will give us time to turn it a few times and prompt them to germinate, so we can duly nobble them. Smiler and Jay have their own areas here – Smiler’s growing onions to sell at the front, whilst Jay has gone for carrots for rabbits, bless! We’ll grow a bed of sunflowers, for bird seed, and a bed of carrots as the ground is hopefully clean enough to not suffer from carrot fly.

I’ve also made a note of the various currant bushes there – we have two each of black, red and white. It was rather remiss of me, but when we planted them out I didn’t make a note of the what went where – so I’ve filled the varieties in as best I can, and will have to identify those I’m unsure about by fruit.

 

Fruit Bed 2The Patch 2016b - Fruit Bed 2

Our rhubarb and gooseberry bed featured in a post not so long ago, showing the propogating of new gooseberry bushes, and how easy it is. Again, I’ve made a note here as to the varieties we have. I thought we’d planted different varieties of rhubarb, but can only find receipts for one type, so they must all be Timperley Early! As far as gooseberries go, we have Invicta, which has the largest and most prolific fruit of the three, then the two Hinnomaki bushes, one yellow, one red. The red one hasn’t been great in terms of fruit number, but they are delicious and sweet. The Invicta has suffered the most from gooseberry sawfly, which nematodes have done a decent job of killing off. Thinking about it, I’m guessing Mr and Mrs Blackbird are probably getting to the dessert gooseberry Hinnomaki Red before we do!

 

AllotmentThe Patch 2016b - Allotment

Finally we have the main allotment area – this year shrunk down to 30′ x 30′. The asparagus and artichoke beds are permanent, but the remaining seven are part of a rotation system. Essentially, each crop moves down one space from where it was last grown, and once it reaches the bottom of a column, it moves back to the top of the column to its left. The odd one is the pea and bean bed, which will move next year to where the potatoes are this year. Next year the potatoes will move down to where the onions currently are, the onions down to where the root veg are, and the root veg will move to where the squash are, and so on. This way the main manuring each autumn will be where the old onion patch was and where the potatoes will next be. The squash doesn’t mind two years on the same ground, so the fact that squash will grown on ground previously having corgettes on isn’t a bad thing, and the brassicas will always follow the nitrogen fixing peas and beans.  We’re hoping by cutting down on the allotment side of things this year will prepare us for a potentially busier fruit tree season!

Fruit, Grass, Chickens & Walnuts

It’s one of those posts! You know, the sort of post that collects all the lost things that wouldn’t make a post in and of themselves, but I find interesting enough to want to make a note about them. So here goes!

2016 gooseberriesPropogating gooseberries – it’s easy! This is one Colin, my father-in-law taught me. If you have access to a gooseberry bush, and you’d like another, just cut a 12″ twig off and stick it in the ground! Winter is the time to do it, when everything is dormant – the two green twigs on the left are simply twigs cut from a gooseberry bush on the left, and the two more developed plants on the right are branches cut from an existing bush! The reason we did this? Well – we had a bush but the pruning regime wasn’t right for us – they branched out too close to the base, and had thrown up a lot of new stems. Doing what we’ve done here we can propogate the plants, and form them to a more open bush style, which will hopefully be easier and less painful to pick from!

2016 fruit bedThis next image shows the cleaned soil of the main fruit bed. The currants are coming along nicely and we’re going to eventually fill the larger bed with strawberries, but this year, whilst we’re still cleaning it of the random docks and nettles that were brought in with new soil, we’re using it to grow some veg. Here you can see Smiler has laid out lines for his onions, with some yet to be filled with some of last year’s garlic we still have hanging up.

2016 new grassGrass! As you know from a recent post, we’ve grassed over half of our allotment (sniff) as we’ll hopefully be without a kitchen for a good portion of the harvest season – how’s that for timing! Two weeks ago I sowed a ryegrass/clover mix, and today this happened! First thing in the morning there was nothing, and a good day of sunshine after the rain and we’ve almost an inch of growth – fantastic! We’ll be playing cricket on it in no time 😉

2016 pear blossom Pear blossom – it’s beautiful isn’t it?! What amazes me with pears is that their blossom clumps are huge in comparison to the other fruit types. My fear is that we’ll have a frost or two before they open, killing them off, which is what I think happened last year. The apples tend to come out later, but we seem to have more varieties of plums, pears and cherries that are early starters – bad move possibly, but makes it quite exciting to see if we’ll get any!

2016 chicken dirt bath 22016 chicken dirt bath 1Chickens and their lice baths. Chickens are reasonably good at keeping their lice populations down to manageable levels themselves, if given the right space. Luckily, the bare earth beneath the fruit trees is the perfect location for an impromptu dirt bath, so we sprinkle some food grade diatomaceous earth in the hollow to help the chickens with their task.

2016 walnut bud 2And finally – walnuts! These buds with the pine cone pattern will eventually form the male catkins – I have no idea what the female buds look like yet, but no doubt we’ll get some again this year. In the photograph showing ‘normal’ smooth buds, the white patches beneath the new buds is where the leaves were last year and have since fallen off and healed. I have my suspicions that the larger buds on the end might be flower buds, but we’ll have to wait and see. Now, reading up on walnut trees started to get me a bit worried – walnut trees produce a substance called juglone, which inhibits the growth of other plants, even killing them. Particularly susceptible are apple trees – yikes! Before reaching for eth chainsaw, I 2016 walnut bud 1read a bit more on the subject. Apparently the drip line is worst affected, that is any ground beneath the leaf canopy. Now, we planted Broadview, a compact cultivar, which has a 9m height growth if left unchecked, and a 6m spread, which is only 20ft or thereabouts, which is a 10ft radius around the trunk. Our closest apples trees are around 30ft from the trunk, with their roots ending up with a 10ft distance between themselves and the roots of the Walnut. So I won’t panic just yet – the MM106 apple trees might be dead by the time the walnut reaches mature size, and worst case scenario, we end up with some nice walnut wood!

2016 Patch Plan

As mentioned, there have been a few changes this year – most noticeably the shrinking of the vegetable patch, which now has multiple 10ft x 10ft beds. In truth, some of the produce we grew in the 10’x30′ beds was too much – most noticeably the onions. We never get through them! Some we do use – the squash patch in particular. So with more beds, we can give some totally over to one type of plant. I still haven’t thought it entirely through, but I imagine it will be something like this:

Plot A – Potatoes

Plot B – Aliums (shallots, white onions, red onions, leeks, garlic)

Plot C – Root veg (parsnips, beetroot, swede, kohl rabi, turnip etc) and corgettes – carrots will go on clean ground as they always suffer from carrot fly on this patch.

Plot D – Summer (butternut) and winter squash

Plot E – Pumpkins & Sweetcorn

Plot F – Brassica (brussel sprouts, summer cauliflower, winter/spring cauliflowers, spring cabbage, winter (savoy) cabbage, summer/autumn round cabbage, red cabbage, broccolli)

Plot G – Legumes (peas and beans)

Carrots will go in the raised bed again, they do well raised that 2′ off the ground to deter the carrot fly, and also in the old fruit cage, next to the currant bushes as that soil is new to carrots. I may even add extra garlic in there to help deter new flies discovering our carroty goodness!

We’ll also plant the sunflowers in that area, we need sunflowers as they’re so gorgeous and the birds love them!

You may also notice that the wild flower border we had last year, running south of the Old Oak, is no longer there. In reality, it is, but our de-teaseling last year *seems* to have done the trick as I can’t see any young teasels starting off – but we’re doing nothing with it yet until I’m sure it doesn’t need rotovating again to kill any new growth off, so some wild flowers will push through and, as long as they’re not a teasel, they’re more than welcome!

We’ve also added three new trees to the orchard – a replant of a Beeley Pippin after the last one didn’t take well, It’s in the north-east corner of the little  orchard and, judging by the buttercups there, I think it may be that the ground is slightly wetter than the rest of the orchard. Other trees don’t seem to mind it, so it may be the Beeley Pippin is a bit reluctant as a variety. We’ve also added a Vilberie – an old Normandy cider tree – to the little orchard, and the same variety on larger rootstock to the big orchard. I’m quite excited about these, and they’re one variety that has gone in after much thought.

 

Acre Field 2016 01

Spring Time Shuffle & Update

The rains have subsided, the sun shows itself and we begin to shed the winter sleep from our eyes. Well, that’s not strictly true – a fortnight ago we started digging over the allotment – I tackled the last of the fruit tree pruning in the orchard whilst Suz dug over one of the vegetable beds and cleared the old strawberry patch which had started to deteriorate, having been in the ground for five years. Last Friday I dug over another vegetable bed and the rhubarbs whilst Suz pulled the remaining parsnips, carrots and beetroot, and weeded the artichokes, most of which have survived the mild winter! Jay got stuck into the first mow of the season, and Smiler prepared the raised bed. What a day! This was all on the only sunny day of the Easter weekend, but at least it gave us an excuse to take Saturday easy.

And then yesterday – the Sunday. The Little Orchard was looking quite sorry for itself – the occupation of the quarter acre by 20 chickens had taken its toll, the mole hills had become mole holes, the grass was quite short and it just looked grubby. I started to get the yearning to move them to cleaner ground a few weeks ago, but the time wasn’t right – but yesterday it was. It was a bit of a military exercise – Smiler and I got stuck into shifting electric fences – we’d done it before together and it was fun to get outside on a decent day.

2016 spring move pilgrim geeseWe managed to move the geese from the Big Orchard to the Hay Quarter, where they will have half that quarter acre. We are only making half as much hay this year, partly down to the fact that we have too many animals and need the ground, and also because we have other projects kicking from summer through to harvest that will soak time up. We are finally, hopefully, extending the kitchen, so we can get more than two people in it at a time, and will no longer have to chop apples up outside, press them on the dining table and transfer them to the kitchen to bottle! Which brings me to the other reason harvest time will be busy – apples! I expect a larger crop this year, and it would be good to give more attention to that side of things properly, without shoe-horning it in between hay making and vegetable growing. Again, with the kitchen being dismantled and the apple trees taking over, we have decided to grow only one third of the vegetables we normally do, as we won’t have anywhere to really prep or cook it this summer. We can, however, freeze a lot and eat much of it in salads, but next year we can begin again with renewed vigour, knowing we’ll have a kitchen table for the first time ever! As a plus point, moving the geese to the hay quarter will also give it    some much needed fertiliser – once the hay has been cut later in the year we’ll move them to the other half I imagine, or give them free roaming over the whole quarter acre.

2016 spring move light sussex bantamsWith the geese out of the Big Orchard, we moved the majority of the chickens in, as the geese hadn’t made much of a mess of the quatrer acre. We separated the chickens, the Light Sussex bantams were all put together, with William the Cock and his ladies having their own fenced off area. I suspect it was a bit of a relief for William – there were far too many ladies for him to control, and anarchy had reigned, with egg-eating having begun. We suspected the rescue Warrens had started it, as some are laying soft shells, but it had spread. So now he can control his five ladies, and they’re not competing for space with the huge hens.

2016 spring move june suzColin the Light Sussex cock was separated and placed with the four Light Sussex hens, and they have all moved down to the Chicken Paddock at the back of the house where we can keep an eye on them. They’re the potential parents of the next generation, so we’ll start collecting their eggs for incubation in two weeks, once he’s had time to do his business! We also put Jackie the possible-Light-Sussex-but-not-quite-sure rescue in with them, as the other hybrids were pecking her!

2016 spring move ducksThe ducks have all been annexed in the Banty Paddock, which has weld mesh fencing, to keep them contained! Once the vegetables in the allotment have grown to a duck-proof size, we can let them in there to clear slugs and snails, but at the moment I just don’t trust them!

2016 spring move hybridsAnd that left the remaining big hybrid hens – a motley crew if ever there was one! They are also in the Big Orchard, next to the bantams, so they’ll have some decent shade in the summer under the fruit trees.

As far as the egg-eating goes, the shuffle around seems to have helped somewhat – they’re in a new place so any egg-snaffling through boredom has been nobbled. And we’ve also trialled a roll away nest box in one of the Omlet Cubes, which seems to have worked. It was a simple affair, produced as an insert for the Chick Box. Some of the hens took to it straight away, but as one fills the double nest box of the Cube, it’s meant a queue from some ladies, or some just drop their egg down the side as they try and squeeze in. To help matters we’ve ordered two Chick Boxes, complete with the roll away nest box inserts, and we’ll place one in each of the Cubes. I think we can fit two in, but the floor space would suffer, so we’ll see how we go. I could always make a nest box holder that sits separately to the Cubes, if needed.

And that’s where we’re at! This morning we let them all out, and June came over from the farm next door to let us know they’d tried our cider and were still alive, which is a good thing, I think!

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Winter Squash Harvest

2015 Winter SquashWith the first grass frosts expected any day, it seemed judicious to harvest the various winter squash and secrete them away in a dark place to wait the winter out, until we needed them.

Tonda Padana

It hasn’t been a bad harvest – the Tonda Padana, as ever, have done amazingly well – they’re the dark/light green stripey one with the light green stripes being raised quite proud (they’re mostly on the left). These are most definitely our favourite winter squash – we haven’t had a bad year yet, despite having extremes in weather over the years – from dry to wet, warm to cold.

Berrettina Piacentina

The Berrettina Piacentina weren’t quite so good – they’re the dusky green and orange striped at the back on the right. I think we may only have had one of them, and three Tondas – I know there was some argy bargy going on with planting stations when some failed to germinate!

Custard Whites

And then we have the Custard Whites – or UFOs as we like to call them. We still haven’t eaten one yet, but they look so funky I’d be happy to grow them purely for the fact they look like a happy winter squash (big, juicy and healthy!).

Butternut Rugosa

The big disaster was the Butternut Squash – Butternut Rugosa. We had absolutely nothing from them, any that had started to grow simply stopped developing and went moldy on the plant. The only thing I can put it down to was the three weekends we were away – but I’ll have to look into it.

Allotment Odd Jobs

After the grass cutting, it was on with a couple of smaller jobs.

2015 Globe Artichokes

Globe Artichokes

The globe artichokes were found their new home – in the same bed as the asparagus, so two permanent plants. Inbetween we’ll grow the sunflowers – for some reason not a great thing to be near as far as the artichokes go, but we don’t really have a choice, and the soil the artichokes are in has never been used for sunflowers. It has however been used for Naturtiums, and you can see the odd stray one popping up, which is all good as we’ll eat the leaves – scrummy on a ham sandwich!

2015 Squash Patch

Squash Patch

Next along was is the root vegetable and squash patch. I sowed even more sweetcorn, so that a couple of squash plants will be under the sweetcorn eventually – so two of the three sister plants together 🙂 We’re mulching the squash plants with the straw from the goose house. It’s not in direct contact with the plants, and the straw doesn’t get too soiled as we clean it out regularly, so hopefully the nitrogen won’t be too harsh.

As you can see – the parsnips in the foreground are doing great guns – same goes for the carrots under the enviro-mesh behind them 🙂 It’s all looking a bit green!

2015 Brassica UpdateFinally a quick peak through the scaffolder’s netting to see how the brassicas are getting on. As you can see, it’s doing its job – no slug or pigeon damage yet and the fabric is doing a great job of keeping the moisture in!