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21st October

It is a beautiful dry,  sunny and cold autumn day – perfect for gardening. Time to catch up with some seasonal tasks!

We admired our cayenne chillies and peppers in the greenhouse – keep picking, feeding and watering these so that they ripen before first frost.

Love your soil! – it’s where all good gardening starts. With our raised bed system we have to be constantly replenishing the nutrients in the soil as we are more or less intensively farming – so as well as using the bed rotation system (that’s growing different crops in succession – not the same one in same spot year after year) – we have to add lots of organic matter and now is the best time. First of all we picked the last of our lovely pumpkins which have now ripened and should be good for storing (if we don’t eat them straight away!). Sometimes we save the seed but pumpkins are ‘promiscuous’ with their cross pollinating and we won’t always get what we expect – still if you’d like a surprise give it a go as seed is very expensive. But if you know it was an F1 variety don’t bother – it will revert back to its wild state and be bitter.

We also harvested a huge crop of Jerusalem Artichokes (otherwise known as ‘fartichokes’ for obvious reasons!). Not to everyones’ taste but good in soups and mash.

We covered the empty beds with a good mulch of home-grown compost and some horse manure and then covered them up with some horticulture membrane – this will stop weeds growing and keep the local cats and foxes off. If you’re growing brassicas now is the time to do a ph soil test  – add lime if its too acidic and don’t add manure at the same time. Most veg likes slightly acidic soil.

It’s not only the plants that are getting ready for winter – Bryan found all sorts of invertebrates getting ready to hibernate under wooden boards – snails are now laying eggs so expose them for the birds to feed on .We found a leopard print slug (rumoured to be carnivorous and eat the common slugs), large wood-lice and lots of worms – all decomposers and signs of a healthy eco-system. Autumn is the season of death and decay!!

But we can look forward to new shoots next spring by planting our garlic, onions and broad beans  which we will do next week.

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A daffodil closeup showing the various parts o...

Daffodil

Friday 11th March

After preparing the beds with fertilizer manure and blood, fish and bone (NPK – Nitrogen Phosphorus and Potassium) last week, we were ready for seed sowing this week. We prepared a fine tilth (soil with good structure and nutrients) and sowed our seed into drills – radish, spring onion, dill and parsley. In another raised bed (previously the sand pit – perfect for carrots) we sowed two rows.

As we have had lots of windy weather all our lovely spring bulbs in the front of the studio – the crocus and daffodils provided excellent nectar source for all the flying bees!

Watering can and plant pots

Image by dachalan via Flickr

Friday 25th February

We built a ladder allotment for our vertical gardening project. If you only have small balcony or outside space to rouse seedings or pot plants – a good light source is essential. Linda and Brian built a 4 tier ladder allotment for 4 seed trays out of recycled timber. This can be placed on a sheltered outside wall and covered over at night with fleece or bubble wrap.

The days are getting longer and some crops like our Cavolo Nero, kale and leeks are beginning to flower and set seed, so it was our last chance to harvest.

We also had a good crop of purple spouting broccoli and began sowing Brassicas again this month – these crops take a year to grow from seed to harvest.

It’s also the last chance to prune ornamental grasses, semi-woody shrubs like herbs and fruit-bushels like grape-vines as everything is now bursting into bud so we cleaned up the boxes in the rear yard ready for spring.

Cynthia sowed some hollyhocks into modules in the greenhouse. These are biennials, for we will have to wait until next year for them to flower!

Some Pruning tools that can be used to maintai...

Some pruning tools that can be used to maintain a garden

Friday 21st January

It was a sunny day so we spent the day in the allotment and put the art project  to one side (see previous post). We concentrated on pruning the grapevine, rose and apple tree to promote flowers and fruits. It’s causable to do this when dormant, before the buds begin to break as the grapevine will weep if pruned after mid February.

We also cut back the honeysuckle which shoes this bed along the north face wall – all pruning should be handled before nesting time so as not to disturb the birds.