Sunday, 18 November 2007

Salvage Time 18.11.07

Welcome to my weekly update at Reads Retreat "Grow your own veg in raised beds".

The frosts arrived with a vengeance this week, wreaking havoc around the garden, with my christmas spuds (v. Maris Piper)being the most affected. The plantings in 2 out of 3 of the beds are all but ruined, and only a week or so of prolonged mildness can now save the day.
This little spud is the only one to have fully survived the frost attack - due mainly to it's sheltered position.
Despite gentle watering of the other 2 raised beds, the fact that the daytime temperatures remained so cold did little to help. With the other affected plants, I have removed the affected foliage down to the mulch layer, but have left the stout stems in the hope that they will survive. Of course, I'll keep you all posted on this.

The Curly leaf Kale (v.Frosty) is starting to pick up a bit. I'm guessing the current cold snap is somewhat deterring the cabbage caterpillars, and the crops are starting on their growth. This is really good news, although the plants have a lot of growth to put on before I can harvest the little gems. They currently stand about 6" tall - thats about a third of their expected growth height. It's a real treat to see crops growing at this time of year, and very rewarding for your efforts.

Elsewhere in the garden, it's hard to believe that winter really is just around the corner. The Silver Birch at the end of the garden is fighting hard to retain it's leaves, although I can assure you it's slowly losing the fight.

The grass; I expect to mow maybe once more this year, before adding some weed and feed fertilizer to help it through the winter months. What I'm after now though is a better mower with a grass box, as I don't think raking the lawn is really that effective.

Later today I shall be planting out some Broad Bean (v. Bunyard Exhibition) seeds. I have been assured that the dreaded blackfly have little / no effect on overwintered plantings - that will surely be a blessing following the blackfly problems I encountered earlier in the year, when I had to totally abandon the crop that I had planted.

The Garlic (v. Fokyhama) are not showing yet, but equally there is no evidence of any bird activity or disturbance to the soil, so it's fingers crossed on this little lot.

My Leeks (v. Musselborough) are doing well, and despite the odd plant bolting, I will harvest these soon and see how they are!

My Parsnips (v. Hollow Crown) , have sprung into a new lease of life, with fresh green foliage adorning the row. Maybe I upset the neighboring roots when I pulled out the 2' monster last sunday? Either way, I'll be digging up another today to compliment the sunday roast. I'm surprised how nice it was last week - considering i have no taste for the shop bought variety.

Thats about it for this week. If I think of anything else that I missed, I will add it later on!

Hope you continue to enjoy your gardens as much as I do mine.

Take care


Friday, 16 November 2007

Jack's Back - Big Time ! 16.11.07

Woke up this morning to a very heavy frost.

The forecast last night from the MET office seems to have materialised: Air temp of -2C with ground temperature of -6C.

Best thing to do now is to water the foliage of any plants you're still growing, this ensures that the foliage warms slowly when the sun eventually hits it, and prevents the thermal shock it would otherwise get, which would kill off the plants.

Good luck all !


Sunday, 11 November 2007

Spare a thought. 11.11.07

Welcome back to this weeks update of Growing your own Veg in Raised Beds. Sorry I missed you all last week, but tempus fugit and all that.
I'd like to start today with a poignant reminder, Thank you to all those who gave their lives in service to this country. And how lovely it is, to see the poppies in bloom. What a fitting tribute.

Today I finally got to spend a good few hours in the garden. There's so much to do ( yes, even at this time of year ) , and it was nice to catch up with the plot.

Way back in the year, I planted six Parsnips as an experiment. Experiment in that the seeds were planted in toilet roll inners before being transplanted to the raised beds at a later date. The foliage grew well all year but recently died back to nothing. At this point I kind of forgot they were there. Until today that is, when I dug up this 2' monster ! Boy was it delicious too. I just could not believe the size of it. remember my raised beds are only 9" tall, and only have 6" of soil in them ! I guess this proves the point that all the digging is worth it prior to the hard landscaping of the raised beds. If the parsnip had been 6" long, I would have been chuffed. Needless to say - I'm over the moon. I will be planting more of these next year, without a doubt.

As you can clearly see from this picture, I finally cleared the Runner Beans away, and now the plots look oh so bare.
In doing this job, I accumulated yet more seed pods for seed collection.
I would estimate that I now have in excess of 200 seeds, and will be giving these out as previously promised. Some are going to France ( for Krissy), some to Topveg, whilst others will be shared amongst family and friends: Fred, Bill, Mick, crikey I'm losing track ! I'd better start writing this all down. A point to note is that some of the seeds this year are jet black as opposed to the mottled purple and black that you would expect. Can anyone explain why this might be ?

My next raised bed continues to take shape. Currently it resembles an open compost bin, with all sorts of garden and household waste accumulating there. I'll give it another month or so, before adding a bag or 2 of garden centre general purpose compost as a top dressing, and then I will cover it with the trusty mulching cloth, so that it can all rot down nicely, ready for next years plantings. I will also collect some cardboard toilet roll inners to add, these rot down nicely and are great for retaining moisture. I will be planting my runner beans in this bed next year. Oh I can hardly wait.

My Christmas new potatoes are not doing as well as I would have liked. I think they have started to succumb to the frosts, so I will be covering with fleece sometime soon , and hopefully will be able to salvage some haulms and the associated crops. I've got some planted around the garden in other beds, that were planted about 3 weeks after this lot, and so far they seem to be ok, but obviously they have less growth on them. This is another of my experiments - I figured I've got nothing to lose by trying these out. If all else fails, I can always buy some !
Would I ?

As you see, I'm having a mixed success / failure rate on the Curly Leaf Kale. Some of the plants are flourishing, but the dreaded caterpillars are wreaking havoc on about half of the plants. They're not strong enough yet to use as cut and come again plants, So I'm playing the waiting game here.
With the return of the Robin's to the garden, I'm hoping they will seek out the tasty treat of the caterpillars, as well as the snails, now that the plot is much more exposed. I tried spreading bits of bread on the ground around the plants which attracted the birds, but the caterpillars are so hard to see, maybe they missed them. Maybe I need to erect a sign " Fresh Caterpillars - Help Yourself " !!! with a direction arrow ?

Ok, this might just look like a patch of bare soil - I'll give you that! But today, I planted 4 rows of Garlic bulbs, that I had saved from my Summer harvest.
It's a job I've been meaning to do for a few weeks now, but at least I finally got there. It's really satisfying to be planting at this time of year. Now I just have to sit back and wait for a late spring harvest - yummy.

So where do you site your next composting bin? Well, after a bit of thought, I decided to put it where the next raised bed is going to be put. Makes sense to me! Next spring when it comes to construction, I can simply build a square around the bin, then lift off the compost container and hey presto, a raised bed full of compost.
I've started the bin off with all the waste growth from the runner beans. I also added a generous sprinkling of water and some trusty compost accelerator, to get the process underway. Over the next couple of weeks , I will add the remaining spent compost from the hanging baskets, as well as all the household waste I can muster!

I'm adding some more pics from around the plot at the end of this weeks update, what I really need to do though is work out how to add a slideshow. Maybe Steve ( if you're reading this ? ) can give me a few pointers. If you are aware of how to do this please get in touch.

I think that's about it. I hope you are still enjoying your gardens as much as I am. I will try to get back to weekly updates ( ok mum ) , but can only do what time permits. Enjoy the week and I'll see you all soon.


See ya !