Archive for May, 2010

Two Sisters bed

No, not three sisters.  Not yet anyway.

Around some of our own home grown courgettes and a couple from the plant sale we decided to plant our sweetcorn.  In previous years we probably haven’t given our sweetcorn quite enough nutrients.  Before planting each plant, we dug in a few inches of manure and added about thirty plants.  It’s a lot for a small space, but it’s all good fun to see if it works.  This time round we’ve taken our advice from gardeners world – planting two side by side to get the most bang for buck.

We also got a few more cucumbers in and a couple of chilli plants.  Whilst I was busy setting up the chilli plants, my wife dug over the old strawberry bed and planted up with pumpkins – one of which is the mammoth variety…

Found some odd grubs in the soil when we were digging in the manure – since last year this bed had quite a bit of broccoli in it which was destroyed by pests these grubs may have been the cause.  Fortunately Mr Blackbird was happy to accept this offering and popped back later to see if he’d get any other tasty titbits.  He was out of luck as we decided to pop over to Hanningfield reservoir for an ice cream.

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Pidgeon update

Three micro blogs in a day – busy times.

We decided to celebrate my passing of exams with a BBQ.  Originally it was going to be a quiet night in, but with amazing weather the BBQ was the obvious choice.

But no point having a normal BBQ – a local speciality butcher sorted me out with a set of pidgeon, bacon and spring onion sausages and venison sausages too.  We topped this off with home made burgers (Pork and apple, minted lamb and parmesan, garlic and chilli beef burgers).  Plenty of Pimms sorted out the rest of the evening!

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Plant sale down the lottie

Didn’t realise there was a plant sale down the lottie, but we managed to pick up a load of runner beans to replace the mangetout that had died in the cold frame.  We also got a couple more courgettes!

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Mice babies

Yes they’re a pest – but then again if you disturb (read: destroy) a nest by accident and discover four baby mice which haven’t even opened their eyes, what do you do?  Since it was unlikely that the mother would come back after I had to pick them off the ground and they were covered in human smells we called the RSPCA and they were taken away.  Bizarrely I have no problems eating meat, contemplating killing and eating squirrel/rabbit, I couldn’t bring myself to remove a pest from our lives.

Ah well…

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The Rhubarb strikes back…

Well, it happens.  First image is of our wonderful mangetout which as you can see, is pushing up the daisies.  The second pic is the first courgette plant in the ground.  Third is the first potato, though my wife doesn’t remember planting it, so it’s more than likely a trespasser!

The final picture is the Rhubarb bed – you could be confused with earlier pics before our vast harvest this year, but it’s already recovered.  I think I read once that rhubarb grows an inch a day…

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Gooseberry Sawfly

Gooseberry crop

Last year I lost almost all my crop to gooseberry saw fly.  Unknowingly, it also did for our red current bush which couldn’t take the strain and pretty much dropped dead.

Whilst late in the season (probably due to the cold weather) they are now making an appearance.

The gooseberry saw fly looks like a wasp.  The eggs hatch out late April early May and can devistate a plant almost overnight (in my experience).  If you see small holes appearing in the leaves, it’s the most likely culprit – squash (or feed to birds) any caterpillars or eggs you find.  At the end of the season disturb the soil around the roots so that birds can get in and eat the eggs.

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Featured: Soda bottle garden

This instructable uses hanging drinks/soda bottles (2ltrs) to make hanging pea gardens with drainage tubes which you could use to channel the excess directly back into the watering can.  Watersaving at its finest.

See it here

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Every year we’ve left our fruit out with no worries and to be honest, we’ve not had much in the way of bird damage.  But everyone else seems to, so to see whether we’ll increase our crop we’ve decided to cover over the majority of our raspberries and loganberries.  That’s why we’ve got cages! (Though the fruit one isn’t finished yet!)

Another item I’ve decided to cover is our brocoli.  Last year we were blighted by whitefly which inhibited our brassicas so much it pretty much dropped dead.  So what we’ve done (as you can see by the cobbled together white pic above) is stick four sticks in the ground and wrap liberally in netting which has such close weave whitefly just can’t get through it.

The next weekend innovation is our bean bed.  What I’ve done is dig a small trench and line it with pond liner.  This has a few holes in it and is back filled with sieved soil, fresh compost, blood fish and bone & poultry manure.  The pond liners purpose is to conserve water which beans love, but without water logging the roots.  My wife made the well built pole structure a few weeks ago and I had to be very careful not to destroy it…

Loads of stuff got potted up in the cold frame.  We got a frost last night, so we’re keeping stuff under for a few more days (but things are getting tall so not for much longer!)  The blossom is just starting to fall off the apple tree – so I’m hoping I get some better apples this year.

The gooseberries seem to be cropping heavily at the moment, last year I lost almost all of them after the sawfly got to them.  I’ve not netted them, I’m hoping that it won’t happen this year, but we’ll see.

Finally the potatoes – planted so late this year!  We’ve added grass to the furrows between the potato lines in a hope that it’ll conserve more water from the hot summer sun.  London clay sets hard as rock when wet and weeds grow where it’s moist, so why not stop both with a good layer of fresh mulch?

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Flowering Strawberries

Whilst we got our first set of flowers on the strawberries a few weeks ago, these are the first on the planters which we’d left a bit late.  Now most of our strawberries are showing signs of flowering so we should have a bumper crop.  On the planters we have about thirty plants and in the beds at the lottie, probably another hundred or so!

I only get a few comments, but hundreds of readers, so I’ve had a look at the posting settings and changed it from a registration process to free (but moderated) postings – so let me know how your strawberries are doing below!

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What have I been upto? Planting stuff? Nope, I’ve been building treehouses

Check out the instructable here

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