Quick catchup…

Been a productive week or so at the plot:

  • French beans, spinach, beetroot, turnip, coriander in
  • Tidied up the plot
  • Staked the redcurrants – they’re looking much happier now.

I think I’m winning against the horsetails in two of my beds. I’ve been picking the shoots and runners out most weeks from the broad beans and onions. I’ve noticed that the runners are getting thinner, so maybe they’ve exhausted themselves.

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Such a lot of weeding…

…for the beans and onions. On the way into the allotment on Sunday, I noticed the alpine strawberries had flowers out, so checked the summer-fruiting ones. Removed the mulch and weeded the bed, and found that all 10 plants are still going (some more than others). Mulched around them with chopped up comfrey and grass. The plot’s looking neater.

First rhubarb of the year

Quite chuffed about the beans, but I do need to get a slug trap set up. Last year I lost a lot to slugs, and the nibble marks on these tiny bean plants are goading me into action. It also means I need to get some more beer for the plot …

Two horsetails from Hell have appeared by my blue shed, and I spotted the first standard horsetail. Made up for this by pulling my first rhubarb. Still small and awfy green, but tasty.

Was called an holistic gardener by a neighbour … kinda nice but also a bit sarky. Anyway, I’ve taken down the crappy chicken wire fence and added some subtle boundary markers: a small raised bed (30cm x 40cm), some red and white bricks to emphasise the corner and a few pieces of wood that’ll be made into the edges of a longer raised bed. Planted two rows of coriander (variety for leaf) in the small raised bed, and in the nascent one some parsley close to the lavender, and transplanted several crocus (?) bulbs.

Have decided where I’ll put one of the French Bean tepees: where the larger raised bed is languishing. Just need to dig the area and make a bean trenche. The comfrey’s coming along well and a few nettles are poking their heads up, so I’ll dig a hole, put down some newspaper then some comfrey and nettles, and cover it up. Still need to think of where to put the second tepee, and am in two minds about putting it between the blackcurrants and comfrey, as it’ll cast some shade on the blackcurrants.

the back room is a nursery/sonic youth

The flat has been quiet over the last few days, and I’ve had some time to change things round. Worked ’til midnight last night moving the back room round. Eventually it’ll be the daughter’s bedroom but it’s been a clothes drying room and general junk room for over a year now, so I’ve created an interim configuration and cleared some trash. With the cabinet by the window, I can propagate seeds:

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On the left are 28 broad bean seeds (Bunyards Exhibition) to go where the first lot of Aqualdulce Claudia failed to germinate (outdoors sowing is more tricky). I’ve fashioned a bubblewrap cover and use a bent coathanger to keep it off the modules. On the right is a tray of parsley (plain leaved 2) and a tray of leek (bandit). Still got lots of seed left: 27 broad beans; 2/3 of the parsley; 1/2 the leeks.

Enjoyed myself thoroughly this evening sowing the seeds, playing Daydream Nation by Sonic Youth on the hifi. It’s probably my all time favourite album…

Everybody’s talking about the stormy weather, what’s a man to do but work out whether it’s true?

Shame I couldn’t find a decent video of Hey Joni on youtube:

In this broken town, can you still jack in and know what to do?

Turf houses

Must be something in the air … A low impact woodland home in Wales plus an article on building it, and this week’s Big Issue Scotland headlines a £4000 straw and turf house in Dumfries. Wayne Hemingway’s opinion piece is a little po-faced. He’s right that duplicating the £4000 house will not solve a housing crisis, however he fails to laud the recycling and community aspects of the build.

In allotment news: planted the remaining 21 beans. The first lot didn’t look like they’d germinated, and I wonder whether I planted them too deep. Rhubarb stalks starting to unfurl on all three crowns.

Dug up the comfrey that was growing near my blackcurrants; almost a bucketful of roots. I’ve come to recognise the brittle tearing sound of comfrey roots, and the ensuing search for slivers of root that have broken off in case they regenerate. Am waiting for the horsetails to spring up soon, and then I’ll know Spring is really here.

The chives have growing again in my garden — didn’t spot these down the allotment.

20 beans in the ground

Decided not to plant the beans in the bed I manured yesterday; planted them in the bed of failed Winter spinach instead. 5 rows of 4 beans takes up half the bed, and the other half will be planted in a fortnight. That’s 40 plants, and if each plant produces enough for 1 meal I’ll have broad beans coming out of my ears. If they need 8-10 weeks growing, and regular picking keeps them growing for 4-6 weeks, I’ll have beans from mid-April through end-June but that’s still 40 plants/6 weeks or 6 1/2 plants per week … better learn how to preserve them :) or trade them for a cow.

Sarah Raven’s website has a picture of pods as long as my forearm! She also recommends staking each plant, which will be easier than putting in a mesh of some kind. Apparently they’ll grow to 75cm tall, so the stake should be that size. Will need some protection on top.

Also: weeded the Winter onions and forked manure into the bed for leeks. Weeded round the rhubarb and saw the first pink whorls of leaves.

Very early broad beans means NOW

Took an hour and a half to weed and spread manure on the bed for beans. Problem is: Super Aquadulce are very early broad beans and should be planted by the end of February. I thought I had next month as well! So, the modified plan is: plant 1/3 tomorrow, 1/3 at the end of February, and 1/3 a fortnight later.

Compared my raspberry canes with C’s. Unfavourably it turns out! Maybe I’ll plant some new canes at the end of this year and then dig up the current canes when the new ones have settled in. Not sure where thy should go; not down the West end of the plot, but I’ve got nowhere obvious in the middle or East end. Where the second compost bin is? I thought I was going to put in espalier apples along the North side of the plot, so that’s difficult.

Measured out the leek bed — that’s the next one for putting manure on. It only seemed large enough for 15 leeks at 9″ spacing. That’s an under-estimate, but I’ll probably extend the bed along another couple of feet and have enough space for a few more.

Ambitions for the year

Last year was pretty crap on the plot. This year will be better. Better organised, for sure, and hopefully better produce. Today I received my seeds from Garden Organic: climbing French beans (Neckar Queen), broad beans (Super aquadulce), calabrese (green sprouting), leeks (bandit), turnips (purple top milan) and coriander leaf. And a sieve, which my daughter models with aplomb:

here’s the sieve

Cost: £17.32

Gutted

  • The two B&Qs are closing and being amalgamated into a new one at Hermiston Gait
  • My two bean plants shrivelled up when I was on holiday (I should have expected that)
  • The Winter Spinach hasn’t germinated well

OTOH there’s some good stuff:

  • after digging in leafmould on top of one of the beds, the soil structure’s great. It’s been on there for a month or so, and there were loads of brandling worms when I put it on
  • err …
  • that’s it