Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Weird Science

It's a long time since I did a Ph test on the soil at the plot so I ordered up some fresh tablets from the net. I took four soil samples from around the plot. The good news is that green is in evidence. I would say these readings correspond with the slight acid to neutral guide colours. Wouldn't you?

Guess what the Ph kits came with 3 more test kits - for NPK    Nitrogen Phosphorous and Potassium the three main groups of nutrients required by plants.

Now here's the results for a soil sample taken from last years sweetcorn patch (this year's carrot patch) P looks OK, K a bit dodgy and N  "depleted".  The story was the same in the soft fruit area and the old allium patch (this years spuds). Boy I need some nitrogen and quick.

The good news were that these areas have had no supplements this year whereas the Brassica patch (last years "others") has been treated with fertiliser (calcified seaweed and Fish Blood and Bone) and came up trumps on the nitrogen front, (as well as the P and K)

Looking at these I can get away without lime this year but I'm going to need some high Nitrogen addition to my depleted soil.  Chicken Manure springs to mind.

Friday, 17 February 2017

To Bee Or Not To Bee

Spot the entrance holes?

Last year I started noticing bumble bees in our garden.  Then I picked up an identification pamphlet issued by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.  Next thing you know I was researching how to build a bumble bee hostel.   By this stage it was too late on in the year to be of any benefit, so I shelved my plans for the winter. Now has my enthusiasm waned?  Not at all. Currently I am reading "A Sting In The Tale" by Dave Goulson a hilarious and informative read I would recommend to anyone.  Recently I bought a willow tree with the primary purpose of encouraging bumble bees and today, taking advantage of the warmer weather,  I deployed two hostels under the hedge alongside the pond.

Key Elements:  Roof, Platform and Access Pipe

Nest building materials inside the pot

And here's a picture of the target of this exercise (taken last autumn)

From what I read it is touch and go whether either of these hostels will be adopted.  Let's wait and see!

Bee Bumble

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Spuds I Like

This year I have thrown caution to the wind and bought seed potatoes at the beginning of February. (Our local potato day is not until the end of February).  The reason for this early start is that in recent years all the varieties I have been keenest on have been sold out or didn't feature in the potato day. The varieties I am after:

Epicure: Strictly for the home gardener as the vegetable retailer shun them due to their shape (small irregular with deep eyes) and are unfashionably floury for a new potato. But early these are. They a reputedly the best variety for withstanding cold and even shrugging off a frosting. I found these in Edinburgh garden centres but they are in short supply and the first to be sold out. Home growers comeback to this variety year after year.

Ballydoon: We got some of the BOG's (Borders Organic Growers) potato day about 15 years ago and loved them. It's another floury early. Said to be an Ayreshire potato dating back to the 1930s and popular in Ireland as the best potato to make champ with. We saved our own seed but accidentally ate the last of them a good decade ago. I have never found a supplier since - until this year when a sufficiently early internet search and a willingness to pay postage and packing on top saw 20 seed potatoes arrive in the post. I'm looking forward to reaquainting myself with this variety.

Rooster: Come with the Albert Bartlett branding (is there copyright in potato genes?) They don't need any advertising from me, but I got the last bag at the third garden centre I visited. These are also high in dry matter and grow to the size you can use for baking. Red skinned they somehow seem to avoid damage from pests. How I do not know. I've grown them every year since experimenting with them.

Winston - I remembered these from someone else's blog (thanks Sue & Martyn) and bought them on impulse. They should be interesting to compare with Rooster as they are white wet and reputedly suffer from soil pests. We shall see.!

Above all my early start has meant I am growing the varieties I want to grow this year!

Monday, 30 January 2017

To Start at the Start

The gardening year should be digging in manure  in the Autumn.

First Cut

Here's me starting last week!

A bit of a trough
In fact the plot looks rather scruffy - but at least this is the beginning of this year

The Task at Hand
 and the end of last year's production:

End of Last Year's Brassicas
Some things are still in full production:

Swedes Holding Out

 Others are dormant:

Soft Fruit Cage
And others are lying fallow

This Year's Potato Patch (Last Year's Alliums)

The View from the End (Last Year's Curcubits and Sweetcorn)

I add manure to the "Other"  (Leaf and Legumes) and Brassica patches only, and plenty of it. The Weed Suppressant Fabric over last years alliums will be the new cover for the Brassicas and will be in place for three seasons (Brassicas/ Curcubits/ Alliums) so the fertility has to last!

The First Cut

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Love in the Mist - A Game of Cat and Rabbit?

I was taking a photo of our solitary neighbourhood rabbit through the mist when the following encounter happened:

Sadly the rabbit is in love with the cat and the cat has no idea of how to deal with a friendly rabbit!

Suspicious Minds

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Tapping The Roots

Today I dug up the last of the carrots:

Another crop that was problematic in 2016.  These were from the late second sowing and not much of the crop made it to a size worth picking.  Hoping for better results this year with all new seed sown not too early or too late. Hmmm that makes it late April by my reckoning. (and perhaps a second sowing in early June to be on the safe side)

The roots and brassicas are ruling the roost just now with Jerusalem Artechoke and Parsnip in full flow too. Cabbages and Kale still cropping.  Given that they are both root and brassicas the Swede and Daikon Radish are also plentiful!

Rootin Tootin

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

BREXIT Harvest

Meagre pickings on the Brussels this year. By a process of protracted negotiation the position is this: Despite my dislike for them I agree to grow enough Brussels for Christmas dinner.  This year's crop was laughable so we had to buy some in. (It must be said that the purchased brussels were pretty small and a bit holy too, which I found encouraging).  Today I picked the lot from the plot and tonight it's Meera Sodha's "Shredded Brussels Sprout Thoran" - and that's it with Brussels - for this year.  Negotiations for next year start here.

Also picked today a selection of trusty cabbages. Now you know what you're dealing with with your cabbage...