Sunday, 21 March 2010

Ha! Cower brief mortal! I am the master of some small perenial native UK fruiting plants

I have tamed the wild beast. From this... this.

Strawberries? Not this year. Semi-permeable membrane berries is what I have.

I started digging over the ground and digging up the strawberries last weekend.

I boxed them up. Strawberries can stay bare rooted like this for a couple of weeks this time of year.

Harry finished the job on Friday and prepared the bed and covered it with horticultural membrane. On Sunday we'll cut holes in the membrane and plant through the black carpet. A mulch for the surface keeps the covers on during the March winds and the plants spread out to hold the covers down later on.

I'm looking forward to a bumper crop of fruit all clean and tidy and very little weeding.



The Strawberry patch ( Yes. I have a Strawberry patch) is becoming a pain.

The strawberries were great last year. We had plenty but a bit of a mix up in the replanting has caused a few problems. This tangled web of hands and knees weeding is the result. Believe it or not there are about 40 plants here. I can see six.

The strawberry bed is a fantastic idea but I made a hideous error that has continued to blight my strawberry progress. I forgot to "stale bed" the area that I wanted for the strawberries. So instead of waiting a couple of weeks to prep and tend a bed and methodically remove all weeds over the period of a couple of weeks before planting, I just put everything in the soil and watched helplessly as the weeds strangled my lovely berries.

A plot this size takes about two precious hours to weed. It's all hands and knees work with a small fork. You never get all the weeds and the bed is always rubbish. I tried mulching the bed. All that did was warm up the soil for a massive weed explosion. I had to remove the straw and the weeds. AAAAAARRRGGGHHHH!

This is the way I should grow strawberries. You get very neat and clean fruits, but you know what? You don't get that many berries with this method. A compromise is needed.

I'll think on.

Patience grasshopper.




March Hello little fellas!

Asparagus from seed. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all this. I have 20 plants ready for harvesting next May.

I'll have to split it up and harden it off and then I can see me turning up to friends houses with this stuff all year. I'll create a rash of asparagus beds in Essex and the surrounding area. Well that's a happy plan.

It will be three years before you can eat this stuff but then you get Asparagus for two whole months for the next 20 years. Fair exchange is no robbery right?

Hubble Bubble Soil and Trouble

Firstly due to the very strict European laws on what actually constitutes a fertilizer for domestic use I'm not sure how much trouble I can get in for even showing you this. So please keep in mind that this is a blog. It is in no way an instruction manual or "how to" post.

I know it's not pipe bombs but you'd be surprised what a lack of a sense of humour some government departments have when it comes to these things. Who knows what list I'm going to end up on for having Pipe Bomb twice in the same paragraph. Aaah! What the heck. Pipe Bomb. Three times is the charm. Right?

Anyway. You may remember that earlier in the year I got excited about planting some comfrey. This lot comes from a small cutting kindly provided by Aunty Val & Uncle Brian some time ago. The plant was reared in the herb patch for a year before being split up and planted around the darker corners of the plot. This year the comfrey has been growing nicely and is at a usable size.

That's the comfrey. Growing on the right and along the back of the picture. Before the plant starts to flower collect up all the leaves and just leave a couple of stems above ground. It looks harsh but this plant is bullet proof. These are in perfect condition for picking.

There are a couple ofways of treating the leaves. You can add them direct to your soil before planting, you can even add them to your compost. However I favour the big bucket method. Place all the leaves in a bucket and cover with water. 40 litres should do the trick. Cover the bucket and keep it away from everything with a nose. Really.

That's the bucket in the left corner of the picture. This is as close as I can get to the bucket during the summer.

Six weeks later you should have a brown smelly sludge in the bottom of the bucket. It will smell quite foul but it will be a unique smell not of decaying vegetable matter or decaying flesh for that matter. Sort of like the way horse manure smells bad but you can tolerate it because you know it's not malevolent.

Anyway pour a litre of this muck into a watering can . Add 10 litres of water to it and start watering. It's great for squashes, cabbages, lettuce, roots and herbs. I've not tried it on potatoes or tomatoes or onions and garlic but all would benefit from comfrey in the soil before planting.

Neither have I tried it in the green house or on our fruit bushes as these all have their own feeding and watering routines which I do not want to mess around with.

Free green fertilizer. The results are magnificent.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Li'l Darlin'. It's been a along cold loney Winter.

It's alright.

The Sun's up, the frosts are subsiding and the the nights are getting shorter. March Winds and April Showers be dambed. It's nearly spring. We can all start planting again. Whoo Hoo!

Last year I had carrots planted buy this time but the weather has been so harsh that I've had to sit on my hands until this week. When Saturday morning comes I'll be rumaging aorund the plot looking for signs of life in the Aspargus bed and planting my Early Nantes carrots.

The Purple Sprouting Broccoli (PSB)is looking very purple. I'm really looking forward to that first proper harvest.

I've been busy in the greenhouse too. More later.

Here comes the Sun, Here comes the sun, and I say....