What to do this May!

Like April, May can be a busy time for gardeners and allotmenteers! Frosts are becoming less frequent and by the middle of the month we can  be reasonably confident that our more tender veg can be planted out and beans and squash can be sown direct in to the ever-warming soil!

Sowing, Planting and Harvesting!

It is particularly busy time for planting and sowing now that summer is nearly here!

Sowing

  • All your beans can be sown now; runner beans, climbing beans and dwarf beans and peas.  Watch out for the dreaded pea moth laying her eggs in June and July on peas which are sown now.
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Peas and beans can be sown direct now!
  • Squashes and other cucurbits such as courgettes, melons and cucumbers can be sown direct outdoors in May or started off in pots indoors if there is still a chance of frost.
  • At the same time, sweetcorn can be sown now both outdoors and indoors. They will be an excellent companion crop to squashes and climbing beans
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Sweetcorn can be sown now, either indoors or direct in the soil once frosts have passed.
  • Continue to successionally sow root crops for continual harvests including beetroot, carrots and this moth is really the last chance to sow parsnips!
  • Brassicas such as winter cabbage, broccoli, late season Brussels sprouts, cauliflowers and kale can be sown now for harvesting in Autumn/winter.
  • Don’t forget to sow other brassicas such as radishes, turnips and swede. These root brassicas still require protection from pigeons who loves to strip the leaves!
  • Salad leaves and other crops that add pep to your salad including spring onions, swiss chard, spinach and lambs lettuce can be sown now. Where necessary remember to keep sowing successionally so you can enjoy salads all summer long.
  • For your herb garden, tender herbs such as basil, parsley and coriander can be sown now too!

Planting

  • Chilli peppers, sweet peppers, aubergines and greenhouse tomatoes  that were started back at the beginning of the year can now be planted out into greenhouse and polytunnel borders.
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Tomato plants are ready to be planted into greenhouse/polytunnel borders.
  • If you have ordered sweet potatoes then they will be delivered this month ready for you to plant out. Make sure you plant out after all chances of frost have passed.
  • Any courgettes, cucumber and sweetcorn you started in April will be ready for planting out from the middle of the month onwards.
  • If you haven’t been able to start brassicas off from seeds then you can plant out brassica plants bought from your local garden centre or any of the online retailers.

Harvesting

  • Salad leaves and other salad crops such as radishes, swiss chard and lettuces will be ready to harvest now.
  • Early peas and broad beans may be ready to harvest this month
  • Rhubarb will continue to crop this month as will asparagus if you are lucky enough to have this delicious crop.
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Rhubarb will be cropping well at this month.
  • Towards the end of the month, early strawberries will be starting to ripen. Make sure you get them before the birds or slugs!
  • If you planned ahead, last year you may also be harvesting spring cabbages and cauliflowers!

Jobs on the plot

As the weather warms and we start to make the transition into Summer, your crops will be growing strong – as will the weeds. Watch out for any late frosts in the first half of this month depending on where you live.

  • Protect young and tender plants from any late frosts. Keep an eye on the weather forecast, if the temperatures are set to plummet over night protect with cloches and fleece and earth up potatoes to protect the shoots.
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Potatoes have been earthed up with straw to protect them from frosts.
  • New sowings and young plants will be vulnerable to pests especially slugs and snails who are looking for an easy meal. Put down barriers and traps to stop these critters in their tracks! Apply predatory nematodes and predators such as ladybird larvae to keep the pest population under control and fit brassica collars round newly planted brassicas to stop cabbage root fly.
  • Sow catch crops such as fast growing radishes and lettuces between slower-growing crops like brassicas to make good use of the space and keep weeds at bay.
  • Hoe off annual weeds as they appear but when you see perennial weeds in your patch it might be better to dig these out by hand and remove as much root as possible otherwise they will just come back. Also make sure you get up any volunteer potatoes as they could be a reservoir for blight!
  • Harden off your tender plants before planting them out to acclimatize them to outside conditions.
  • In the fruit garden, thin out raspberries where necessary so they don’t become overcrowded and prune almond, peach and nectarine trees. Remove strawberry flowers from very young plants or any that appear to be struggling and as the fruit starts to ripen on older healthier plants, protect them from pests.
  • In the polytunnel or greenhouse, any tomatoes you have already planted may need staking or tying in as they grow and any side-shoots removed. The temperatures can get quite high under cover so make sure you open vents and doors on particularly hot days remembering to close them again at night when temperatures drop.
  • Keep your plot well watered especially if there isn’t much rain or you grow your plants in pots. Rising temperatures can cause the ground to dry out fast. Where possible apply mulches that keep the moisture locked into the ground.
  • If you have ordered plug plants, then they will be arriving on your doorstep. Get them potted on or planted out as soon as possible. Suppliers send out these plants at the best time for planting.
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Plug plants will be arriving – pot on or plant out immediately!

May Recipe

Pea and broad bean risotto (from BBC Good food)

broad bean risotto

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g cold butter , diced
  • 1 small onion or 2 shallots, chopped
  • 175g risotto rice
  • 100ml white wine
  • 600ml hot vegetable stock
  • 50g Parmesan, finely grated
  • 200g fresh peas, podded (about 1kg/2lb 4oz unpodded weight)
  • 200g broad beans, podded (about 1kg/2lb 4oz unpodded weight)
  1. Heat oil and 25g of the butter in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 4-5 mins. Stir in the rice and cook for a further 2 mins. Turn up the heat and add the wine, let it bubble to evaporate the alcohol.
  2. Once the wine has reduced, begin adding the hot stock a ladle at a time over a medium heat, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next and stirring continuously. The rice should always be moist, but not swimming in liquid. The process of adding and stirring should take about 16-20 mins, depending on what kind of risotto rice you use.
  3. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and blanch the peas and beans for 2-3 mins. Drain and set aside. Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the remaining butter, Parmesan, peas and beans with some seasoning before serving.
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2016 – A review!

I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone! It doesn’t feel like too long ago that I was sowing all my tomato seeds and here I am preparing to sow them for this year! It has been a roller-coaster year with some successes and some failures!

The weather this year has been strange, warm weather in April and then a relatively cold few summer months with it really heating up in August and the warm weather lasting all the way though til the end of October! It has thoroughly confused the vegetables.

Overall, I am rather happy with how this year has gone. As always I feel that I didn’t quite get as much done as I wanted to but then I always overestimate how much Sam and I can get done in a day.

Most of our focus this year has been plot 2. With plot 1’s structure being finished at the beginning of the year, we have only needed to pop over to sow, plant, water and harvest and as all the beds are raised we only needed to do some weeding once a month which has made for a pretty low maintenance plot! So we have moved onto plot 2 where we have worked at putting in the final structure. I have played around with where I want beds and what I have wanted to do but in the end it has come together relatively well. It still isn’t finished but there is only a few things left to do to get it together.

The wildlife pond was finished earlier in the year and we have been lucky that the frogs have moved in quickly. I am really proud of our pond and during the summer months it was absolutely beautiful! We finished off our orchard and have sown grass seed around the trees which took amazingly well. We did have to remove the old apple and cherry tree as they weren’t productive and the apple was diseased!

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The wildlife pond in the height of summer!

All the beds on plot 2 have now been marked out and we have constructed raised beds on half of them. The other half will hopefully be completed early in 2017. Not only do we find raised beds easier to manage but on plot 2, they will also help us keep nice clean lines where the grass meets the bed!

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Raised beds are being erected on plot 2

Plot 3 has started to come along nicely! We only took it on last January and I had quite a lot I wanted to accomplish. As those of you who follow this blog know, I wanted to get a polytunnel erected at the end of the plot but I didn’t get time to do that in the end so I am hoping that we can get the area cleared before the sowing and planting starts in earnest!

We did get our herb garden up and going, complete with bird feeding station, and we got one of the beds dug over and producing sweet potatoes! The shed was cleared out (twice) and we have set up a nice little stove so we can enjoy some nice hot cups of tea and coffee when we are working hard in the cold. All in all we got about half the plot dug over and productive.

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The herb garden was dug over and more herbs will be planted in 2017.

I thought that having the three plots would be too much to handle but in actual fact it hasn’t been too bad. As all the plots gradually come together I am finding I have much more time to concentrate on growing the plants instead of playing catch up. And in fact, this year is the first year where I have ended it feeling slightly ahead of the game (and slightly impatient for the next season to start!)

In terms of fruit and veg we as usual, have had successes and failures. Redcurrants, raspberries and strawberries have been fantastic this year. I have had half a freezer full of these lovely red berries as well as plenty to eat fresh with my breakfast in the morning! The strawberries were amazingly productive, so much so that I was finding that half the yield was rotting on the plant before I could get to them. I hope that the plants are as productive next year although they will becoming into their third season so I expect some decline in yield.

All other fruit I have tried to grow this year has not been very productive. Mostly I put this down to the weather as I don’t think I could have improved the situation much but I have been proactive this winter by making sure everything gets a good mulch so they will have a good start to 2017.

On the veg side of things, my proudest achievement would be the sweet potatoes! I am really happy with the harvest I got. There are many improvements to be made but for a first try it was a good start. Potatoes have also been good this year – I ended up with far more than I need so next year I will be planting less seed potato! Onions, garlic and shallots were also productive this year and I also managed to dry the onions properly so that, so far, we have had very little spoilage.

Beans that I have grown for drying were fantastic this year. I have plenty of borlotti and haricot beans which I have been using in soups, stews and will be using to make my own baked beans. Runners beans also produced a good yield, despite the plants toppling over as did the broad beans.

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The tower of runner beans collapsed but luckily the plants kept producing for a few more weeks!

The dwarf beans could have been better but I let them get crowded out by weeds which is something I will work to avoid next year. Peas were dreadful – most of them didn’t germinate properly or were eaten by pigeons. Some of you will know that I tried to do an experiment to combat the pea moth but due to the poor performance of the peas I din’t manage to complete it.

Brassicas have been relatively good. Cabbages have certainly grown well this year – my only problem is making sure I use them before its too late – better planning needed on my part. Squash and courgettes did not perform as well as last year but again I think this is partly due to the weather and partly due to a foot root that the plants seemed to suffer from. I wasn’t sure if it had come from my water butt as it was really dirty (and not a proper water butt) so I had my dad come up and install proper water butts which I will clean regularly to stop this from happening again.

Sweetcorn suffered from  similar problem to the squash and the few cobs I did get were eaten by rats before I could get to them – need to ensure that next year I keep the rats away!

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Rats ate my sweetcorn and ripped up all the plants.

In the greenhouse, the tomatoes seemed to be doing well until blight struck. However, I managed to save the fruits and got them to ripen on the windowsill by placing a banana next to them to encourage ripening. Peppers didn’t really produce anything and the aubergines, although produced fruit, were eaten by slugs before I could harvest them! The cucumber was semi-productive but not as much as I expect a cucumber to be.

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Using a banana to ripen my tomatoes after they were struck by blight!

Celeriac didn’t work again, it either bolted or was hollowed out by slugs although we did get a semi decent harvest of beetroot, chard and lettuce. Parsnips were good as usual but the carrots all got carrot root fly!

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Carrot root fly damage to all my carrots! Managed to save some of them to enjoy on Christmas Day!

All in all there has been ups and downs and some lessons learnt! I think that 2016 has been the best year so far for me and I hope that 2017 will be even better. I have lots of plans for the year ahead and I hope that the majority of them work out!

I hope you have all had a good year and I wish you every success in 2017! Also a big thank you to all those who have helped me in the allotment over this year and to those of you who have followed this blog!

new-year-2017

 

 

October 2016

This month has turned cold yet still sunny and I was on the look out for frosts everyday! My butternut squash were ripening in the sun and my sweet potatoes were romping away but I knew I had to get them in before any frosts arrived!

The beginning of the month saw a lovely delivery of well-rotted manure which I immediately put to good use. I have been really trying to make sure all the beds are dug over, manure added and then covered for winter this month leaving me all of the remaining winter months to concentrate on clearing and structuring the rest of plot 3.

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Manure delivery!

We dug over the garlic bed and winter shallot/onion beds and then constructed raised beds ready for the garlic and shallots to be planted at the end of the month. Although the drizzly weather last Saturday stopped that from happening and Sunday we were at the Farmers Market so garlic, onions and shallots will be planted first thing next Saturday!

When making the raised beds, we always build the bed first, then position the whole structure and bash it into the ground with a heavy mallet. However, this time we discovered just how uneven our plot is! For some reason, which I don’t think is anything to do with me, the path between my plot and the neighbours angles steeply downward toward my plot. (I am not sure how that came to pass as it only does that towards the end of the plot and not at the top.) Anyway we decided it would be best to try and build up the soil around that area to level off the path. It will take a long time for the path to level off and for the grass to grow (and hopefully our efforts won’t annoy our neighbour) but it should make things like wheeling the wheelbarrow and mowing the grass much easier for everyone! Sam also put a wooden barrier along one side of the pond beds (where we had previously had plastic lawn edging) which again will help with keeping everything tidy and making it easier to mow the grass.

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On plot 1 we replaced the rotting carpet we used a weed control by the bramble stump. It was no longer being effective at preventing the weeds and we frustrating had to pull it up in 1cm strips as it had completely disintegrated! We replaced it with weed control membrane (the permeable plasticky stuff) which will hopefully last a bit longer! I purchase some stump killer sachets to kill off the bramble once and for all! I have applied the stump killer but now just waiting to see if it works!

All the pumpkins were harvested the first weekend of October, followed by the butternut and honey bear squash in the middle of October. I am not happy with the colour on the squash and am sure they are not quite ripe but the slugs had started hollowing out one of the squash so decided it best to bring them in and try and further ripen them on the windowsill.

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A selection of squash ripening on the windowsill!

The third weekend in October, I came down to the plot to find the leaves on the sweet potato all black. I know this is frost damage so decided now was the time to dig up the plants and find out just what kind of harvest I had. As you have probably seen from my previous post I was quite happy with my first try at growing sweet potatoes but there were many lessons to be learned and I will hope to do even better next year!

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My haul of sweet potato ‘Bonita’ 

Jenny and Adam joined us down the allotment in the fourth weekend which was very appreciated! They are very hard workers and always get done twice the amount I have planned. The old onion bed was dug over, divided up into smaller beds and the soil was manured.

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Onion beds divided, dug over and manured by Jenny and Adam!

The sweet potato bed was also dug over and manured and they gave Sam and I a hand with constructing and placing the new raised beds on the old potato plot! As a thankyou, I sent them home with quite a bit of veg which I hope they enjoyed!

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Potato beds made, manured and covered.

Sam and I dug over all the old squash beds as well, manured them and covered them ready for beans next year. I also thinned out the hazel as it was getting a bit crowded in there.

As I said this last weekend was a bit drizzly ad I didn’t feel in the mood for hard allotment work so instead we had a quick clear out and tidy of the shed on plot 3 and then a nice little visit to our local Wyevale garden centre for some allotment shopping! (Sam wouldn’t let me look at the Christmas stuff though!)

All in all I am starting to feel a little ahead of the game and hope that with all this prep work now, I won’t be rushing around trying to keep up next year! (Well at least I can dream!)

Jobs for October

The job list is still longer than my arm (will it ever be shorter?) and what with the days drawing in and the weather likely to change I doubt I will be spending as much time down the allotment! However, like the trooper I am, I still carry on trying to cross off the jobs on my list!

General

  • Order well-rotted manure for the beds from the local farm (have actually done this – it’s coming on the 8th – exciting !!!)
  • Tidy up and clean out shed; the shed have actually stayed pretty organise but they need a good sweep out and resident spiders and overwintering egg sacks are to be evicted!
  • Erect more water butts; we have room for at least two for each shed and I want to make the most of the rain water.

Plot 1

  • Harvest squash and pumpkins; half the squash and pumpkins have been harvested but the other half are still ripening – they should be ready halfway through the month.
  • Dig over squash beds and add manure ready for next year!
  • Replace weed control membrane on right hand side pathway; the existing membrane has disintegrated and is not doing its job anymore so needs to be pulled up and replaced.
  • Replace bark chip at the back of the plot; we have done this at the front of the plot but the layer at the back has gotten quite thin and has started composting down.
  • Kill bramble! This bramble is my nemesis – it keeps coming back!

Plot 2

  • Add manure to new garlic bed; this needs to be done in time for planting out new garlic and shallot sets
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Manure needs to be added before planting garlic
  • Dig over old onion bed and add manure; this will be our potato bed next year
  • Dig over potato beds and add manure; these will be brassica beds next year. Once manure is added they will be covered and left until next year.
  • Really really really need to sort out the strawberry bed! I have to get this job off my to do list – been meaning to do this for three months now and the strawberry bed is just a complete mess!

 

Plot 3

  • Move artichoke into herb garden
  • Harvest sweet potatoes
  • Clear area for polytunnel (still need to get this done – will probably need to recruit eager young diggers aka Jenny and Adam! Payment in pumpkins!)
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This area still needs clearing!

 

I have my fingers crossed that the temperature holds a while longer and we can avoid the frosts until late October/Early November just to give a few of my veggies time to ripen a bit more! October will be a busy month for me!

 

September 2016

We managed to get some work done in the first weekend in September and the last weekend but both Sam and I have been travelling a lot this month so the allotment has unfortunately had to take a back seat. This has led to much anxiety! I have been imagining coming back to a frost damaged plot with all my veg rotting away. Melodramatic I know but it seems that the temperature is holding for now even if it has turned grey and miserable!

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So this month we have dug over the broad bean bed and divided it into two smaller more manageable beds. All we need now is to dig in some organic matter ready for the garlic, onions and shallots. Main crop potatoes were harvested! We lost about a third to mice, slugs and sunshine but the remaining two thirds (7 buckets and a compost bag full) will be plenty to last until next year (maybe a little too many – might have to reduce the number of plants next year!) Excitingly, I dug up one of the sweet potato plants to see if anything was developing and if they were ready to be harvested. I was rewarded with two sweet potatoes, a large one and a small one, which will duly be roasted and enjoyed with some pan-fried sea bream! I have decided to wait for another two weeks (weather dependent) before harvesting the rest. This is my first time with sweet potatoes so don’t really know when they right time for harvesting is?

We started tidying up plot 3 by digging over the smaller bean bed near the shed and sowing some green manure which will be cut down just before adding well-rotted manure reading for our drying beans next year. We also tidied up the herb garden. The left hand bed was weeded and spring bulbs were planted. We then dug over the right hand bed, planted some hydrangeas and heather and the spring bulbs. In November time, we will move the globe artichoke to this bed as well.

I have cleared the flower beds around the pond, removing all the weeds and spent annuals. I planted daffodils, tulips and fritillaria bulbs for the spring. I think I may have accidentally killed the ‘Bleeding Heart’ plant. If it doesn’t come back next spring then I shall by a new one!

We have been slowly picking our drying beans as they have been drying on the plant. I have just about managed to get them all picked except for the borlotti beans which are still  not mature enough yet. Hopefully they will get picked before the weather turns too cold and wet! In other news, the butternut squash have really come along! I was worried I wouldn’t get any this year or that the few developing would get hit by the frost before they could ripen but they seem to be ripening well so at least we will have a few squash this year! I have already harvested 4 pumpkins and 2 uchiki kuri which are curing on window sills as we speak!

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We have also tidied up the compost area by  put some pallets on the front of each bin – thanks Susan for giving us the pallets – this stops the compost from spilling out and stops the seating area from looking unkempt!

It was my birthday this month (21 again!) and I got some wonderful presents for the allotment. My favourite was the hedgehog hogitat from Sam. We will be putting this in the allotment, putting a bit of hay in it and collecting up some dried leaves for any hedgehog that wants to come and stay. All the advice I have seen so far suggests putting out some food like cat food but there are a few cats that roam the allotment and I am concerned that a) the cats will eat it and b) the cats will scare the hedgehogs away! I am also slightly concerned about the rats eating the food too!

Other birthday presents include a wheelbarrow, digging fork, rake, root trainers, gardening gloves…. everything an allotmenteer needs!

Now that we are moving in to October, the amount of time we spend at the allotment will start to reduce, most likely because the weather will keep us away although we still have plenty of jobs to get on with!

Hope your September has been fruitful/vegful!

 

 

June 2016

This month we have really focused on getting some of plot 3 up together and productive (kind of)!

We started the month by having a generally tidy up of the pea and bean frames, removed torn netting and spent bamboo canes. We also have mowed and strimmed the grass which, unfortunately, left brown swathes of grass instead of a lush green carpet. The constant raining since the beginning of June has helped to ‘green up’ the paths though!

We got underway with digging over bed 2 and planting out the brussels sprouts plants. We found a tomato cage in Wilko which we used to cover the brussels sprouts, mainly to keep the pigeons out – however, there has been damage to the plants which, for a while, I couldn’t figure out what was responsible but have since discovered that we having a visiting rabbit! The cage has now been further fortified! I doubt it will keep the cabbage whites out, or the cabbage mealy aphids (of which we also have a problem with), but I shall deal with these problems as and when they arrive

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We finished digging over bed 1 a month after I first started digging it over. The sweet potatoes were already in but weeds were in abundance so they needed a good hoeing! The Oca has now been planted. The tubers I bought originally shriveled up and didn’t look like they would survive so instead I bought some reduced Oca plants from Wyevale for £1 each! Bargain!

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The herb bed has gotten under way. We have picked through the bed, removing as many weeds and grass tufts as we can. We didn’t want to completely dig over the whole bed as there are a lot of usable plants in the ground and we enjoy the ground coverage that the wild strawberries give! The path went in, but instead of separating the whole bed into four separate beds we have three as you can see in the photo. The crab apple tree has been planted in the middle, surrounded by thyme and chamomile plants. The mint has been severely cut back and the bay tree planted. Maisie’s rose was also planted along with the pots of herbs I had started collecting. It will be a while before the bed starts to fill out but it is certainly coming along nicely!

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Bed3 has quite a lot of escaping raspberry canes in it which will soon have a bountiful harvest of raspberries. I have decided to leave these raspberries and will instead cut everything back in the existing raspberry bed. Most of the canes are dead and spent anyway and come the winter I shall replace them with new varieties!

Plot 2 has mainly been a battle of the weeds! We spend a few hours every weekend weeding, trying to keep the bindweed and other perennial weeds at bay. My new favourite thing is barley straw. I have been putting it down everywhere to kill off the weeds. Works to a certain extent but not on the knotweed-type weed I am having a problem with – will need another solution for this!

As per my previous posts, we have been harvesting large quantity of strawberries (~4.5kg so far), some of the Japanese onions have been harvested for cooking with immediately, broad beans are starting to come along and the first lot of garlic has been pulled up and in the process of drying out!

Climbing beans have grown quite steadily and the spring sown onions are getting big so all is coming along nicely on this plot! I have also been enjoying a good quantity of lettuce; little gem and lollo rosso varieties

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On plot 1 we had to replace a number of the squash plants as we found that the plants had some sort of foot rot. The base of the stem and the roots had rotted away which explains why they had sat there and done nothing for the last month! Not sure how we got that but will be investigating to find out how to avoid it in the future!

Radishes have been mostly harvested (and slightly woody – left them for too long) and new ones sown and the first spears of ‘tenderstem’ broccoli have been harvested! We still haven’t filled our carrot bed but there is always next month (again)!

At home, the slugs and snails have been attacking everything in the greenhouse – has anyone else noticed a significant slug and snail boom this year? Slug damage is at an all time high this month!

Chillies are finally planted into their final pots. Sam has chopped the tops of the plants to encourage more bushy growth and therefore more flowers, so watch this space. We have been harvesting our first early potatoes. Disappointing yields but just means there is room for improvement next year!

And finally, the wildlife pond is doing fantastically well. Flowers are in abundance and there are quite a number of bees buzzing around. Tadpoles are still happily swimming away and I have even spotted a few frogs around! I am really happy with the way this has turned out!

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May 2016

May has definitely been a busy month, and for me, a rather sad month after losing my dog to cancer! However, May has pushed forward and so have the weeds!

On plot 1, my To-Do list looked something like this:

  • Plant out courgette, squash and sweetcorn plants
  • Plant/Sow more brassicas
  • Plant cucumbers in growhouse
  • Finishing filling new carrot bed and sow carrot seeds

I planted out the sweetcorn and squashes and managed to only sustain a few losses. My ‘Honey bear’ squash were eaten by slugs and one ‘Hawk’ butternut squash died (probably from frost). As I mentioned back in April, I lost most of my courgettes that were being stored in the polytunnel, so I had sown some more seeds which germinated quickly and were planted out along with the sweetcorn last weekend. I have sown a few more squash seed to replace the ones I lost so hopefully they will grow as quickly.

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Sweetcorn and squash have been planted

I had forgotten that, in March, I had ordered some plants from Dobies that were on offer in conjunction with ‘Grow Your Own’ magazine. They arrived toward the end of this month which has led to a scramble to find a place for them. I received 15 cabbages; 5 Hispi, 5 Traviata and 5 ‘Kilaton’ and a free collection including 5 ‘Romanesco’ cauliflowers, 3 ‘Sunshine’ summer squash and 10 ‘Tenderstem’ broccoli plants.

As the Kale and Sprouting Broccoli plants aren’t ready yet, I decided to place the cabbages in their designated bed and will find an alternative site for the Kale when they are ready. The other plants are still sat at home waiting for a site to be put in!

Other than that, plot 1 has been a battle of grass and bindweed which has been a nightmare to keep on top of, not least because our lawnmower decided to stop working! Luckily, Sam managed to get it fixed and spent the last weekend mowing all three plots.

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Grass has been mown and rhubarb is growing well

Whilst the aforementioned bindweed has been causing a problem around the fence on the right hand side of the plot, I have been impressed by the lack of weeds that have actually come up in the bed. This weekend is the first weekend we have had to do any weeding in the brassica bed since the first brassicas went in! And the squash and sweetcorn beds haven’t grown any weeds at all! Is this the silence before the storm?

Yesterday, I found that my plastic greenhouse on plot 1 had died! A slight breeze managed to lift the greenhouse (despite it being weighed down with paving slabs) and deposit it onto someone else plot is a jumble of mangled limbs! After much apologising, I managed to wrestle it off their plot and dismantle it! I really don’t have much luck with greenhouses! 😦

On plot 2, my To-Do list looked like this:

  • Raise the Strawberry bed and cover with bird netting
  • Keep earthing up potatoes
  • Mulch the fruit cage
  • Sow lettuces and salad leaves amongst onions and garlic
  • Sow beans – runner/dwarf/french/shelling

The potatoes have nearly all popped their heads up and we have continued to keep burying them. Rather than ‘hilling up’ using soil from the ground, we have been adding the contents of our compost bin along with grass clippings on top of the potatoes. I am hoping that this will help to improve the soil whilst actively using the bed!

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Potatoes have been covered with compost and grass clippings!

I weeded and mulched the fruit cage as well as transplanting some of my wild strawberries from plot 3 into the fruit cage. My thinking is that the strawberries will quickly cover the bare soil in the fruit cage which should act as a natural weed suppressant whilst also increasing my fruit harvest! All the bushes and canes have flowers and/or fruit forming and I am looking forward to the harvest!

I have planted out lettuce plants among the garlic as well as some spare cabbages to reduce the amount of bare ground and therefore the amount of hoeing and weeding I need to do. This seems to have been relatively successful where I have managed to do this. I could probably plant the garlic and onions closer together but rust is a problem on our site and keeping reasonable spacing between the rows seems to stop it from ravaging our plants completely! The over-wintering onions have ‘bulbed’ and will soon be ready for using. I will harvest these onions as and when I require them as that are not as suitable for storing as the spring planted onions!

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The beans were all sown this month but they are having a tough time competing with the weeds specifically the bind weed. The beds that the beans are on were used last year for squash plants but the entire area was covered with weed control fabric. Whilst this killed off the grass and annuals, the bind weed and a few other hardy weeds, including the unknown weed in my previous post, are now rampaging through the bed. It has been a struggle to keep on top off as it seems the bind weed grows a foot a minute! The beans have also been nibbled by slugs so about a third have had to be removed and new beans sown. Hopefully, they will grow quickly, if I can keep the weeds at bay!

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Unfortunately, my plum tree seems to have something very wrong with it – I am pretty sure its an aphid so have given the tree a good spray with bugkiller. It has not produce any plums and all the leaves are curled and dying. Two of my blackcurrants also have an infestation of aphids so they have been given a spray too! I don’t like to use sprays unless the damage/infestation is exceedingly bad as I hate to hurt beneficial insects such as ladybirds but in this case the infestations is alarmingly bad!

I also managed to put up a makeshift fruit cage over the strawberries to keep the birds away and to deter any would-be thieves from nicking the plentiful strawberries!

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On plot 3, my To-Do list looked like this:

  • Turn over soil and plant brussels sprouts on bed 3
  • Start planting up herb garden
  • Plant sweet potatoes (when the are delivered)
  • Plant oca
  • Plant pumpkins

Not much has been done on this plot except to dig over an area for the sweet potatoes which have now been planted. The jerusalem artichokes do not have seem to come up although there is one plant of unknown origin which could be an artichoke or it could be a weed!

Hope the month of May has been fruitful or vegful for you all!