…it's a passionate obsession.

Archive for May, 2012

What’s growing so far…

What started out as a cool dull day has ended beautifully – hot and sunny. In fact, it’s been so beautiful this past week I’ve even worn my shorts, and I confess, I’ve throughly enjoyed every minute of it. Waking up each morning to blue sky with temperatures to match, really does put a smile on ones chops and a spring in your step with an eagerness to get things done. So how fab was today, with 90% of the potting on completed and my hanging baskets all made up, that I finally got the chance to simply wander round the allotment, pretty much stress free, and checkout what’s growing so far…

Gooseberries

Lettuce – reddish bronzed leaf variety, seeds from the Eden Project.

Garlic

Pumpkins, Jack O’Lantern – ready for hardening off.

Peas, Early Onward.

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Taste of summer

Strawberries, one of the most versatile fruits available and growing in my garden. If you’ve never tasted a sun warmed, freshly picked strawberry, straight off the plant, then your missing out on one major sweet, juicy pleasure – not long till I do just that.

Strawberry plants are very easy to look after – first year ;-

  1. Choose a weed free, full sun, fertile, well-drained site.
  2. Space plants 10-12 inches a part.
  3. Before planting add extra organic matter to make the soil rich.
  4. Once planted keep soil moist.
  5. In first year remove flowers to encourage a strong root system.
  6. Remove dead leaves at the end of the season.

Second year and thereafter ;-

  1. In spring feed plants with a general fertiliser such as growmore.
  2. Weed and keep moist.
  3. During the growing season, feed every 7-14 days with a liquid potash such as tomato feed.
  4. As fruits start to swell, lay either straw or fibre mats around plants to prevent strawberries from being contaminated by soil.
  5. Pin down any runners until a good root system develops, then cut from the mother plant.
  6. Once harvesting as finished, remove old leaves, straw or fibre mats and do a general tidy-up of the area to prevent a build-up of pests and diseases.

Strawberry plants crop at their best for 3 years, use runners as a replacement of old plants. It’s also a good idea to use the crop rotation method as this helps to minimise attacks from pests and diseases that lurk in the soil.


Short life of a home baked Strawberry & Vanilla cupcake…

…needs no words except, delicious !!


A Composting Recipe

The most asked about question I read or hear is, “How do you make compost?” Well, from my experience there’s only 3 elements that need to be right, right from the beginning. These are air, heat and moisture.

Its not the grass, twigs, leaves or veg peelings that are solely responsible for making compost, although they are a very important. Its the micro-organisms that really do the hard work and they are the ones you need to keep happy. Microbes work best when there is plenty of air, heat and moisture so they can break down organic matter in a effective way. By not providing these microbes with the right environment, with the right food in the right way, may, result with a substance that resembles a slimy gooey mess. Not ideal !!

1. Compost holders, ideally should be made from wood with narrows gaps between the panels to let in air.
2. Covering the top of your compost holder with black pastic and a piece of carpet helps to keep it warm.
3. Control the moisture, don’t be afraid to water your compost when it starts to dry out. The mixture should be kept moist at all times !!!

Very important this – you also need to add the same amount of BROWN waste as green. ‘Browns’ provide microbes with a food source, without it, they will die or not work to their full potential.

BROWN ITEMS – things like

•leaves
•Pine needles
•Twigs, chipped tree branches/bark
•Straw or hay
•Sawdust
•Corn stalks
•Paper (newspaper, writing/printing paper, paper plates and napkins, coffee filters)
•Dryer lint
•Cotton fabric

Also needed is green waste these help microbes grow and multiply.

GREEN ITEMS – things like

•Grass clippings
•Coffee grounds/tea bags
•Vegetable and fruit scraps
•Trimmings from annual plants
•Annual weeds that haven’t set seed
•Eggshells
•Animal manures (cow, horse, sheep, chicken, rabbit, etc. No dog or cat manure.)
•Seaweed

Ideally, when putting green and brown waste into bin/holder they should be alternatively layered, although this is not always possible.

My composting bins

Every 3 months or so, turn the contents over because a compost bin/holder is aerobic – it needs plenty of air. If its of the plastic kind, every 2-3  weeks because a plastic bin provides a more anaerobic (without air) environment, not really ideal for providing all 3 elements which are, air, heat, moisture.   By missing just one of those 3 elements, composting will not be as successful and take longer to produce.

If you choose to make your own holders yourself, like I have here. Build them to a design that will give you easy access to its contents.

                                         Happy composting !!!


Petunia’s – don’t stop me, now !

Petunia, Rapid Trailing

Took a stroll up to the garden today, I say a stroll, it was more like a gallop. The garden has accelerated into life with all this rain of late, everything needs my attention like yesterday. With so many jobs still left to do I am starting to struggle with my time management or lack of. My intention this afternoon was to do some heavy graft, with still half the garden left to turn over and rake, I really need to crack on and finish this back-breaking task – my least favourite of all the garden jobs.

However, it didn’t take long before I was thrown off course when I noticed the petunia’s in the greenhouse looking sad and lustreless. Eliminating several possibilities like drought, pests and draft. I quickly concluded after popping one from its cell, that in fact, the problem lay in their outgrown cells. Which, if they’d stayed in a day longer would have stopped their ability to take up vital nutrients and restrict growth. And since I am a month behind already as I didn’t start sowing until February, I really need to keep the relay running smoothly so they have a chance to catch up.

So, the afternoon was spent potting on and on….

Petunia, Rapid Trailing

Petunia, Rapid Cascade looking a lot happier.

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