This growing season I’m trying out the Super Composter – a new hot composting system from the folks at SoilFixer – and having set up the Super Composter very quickly and easily at the weekend, today I filled both it and the control bin with the first load of compostables.
It's that time of year when, unfortunately, our plot neighbour's bindweed patch really hits its stride. Here's my latest attempt to combat the pernicious perennial, or the start of one at least...
Over the past few years we've salvaged from skips, scrounged, been given, or even bought (just the one, as it happens) a handy selection of plastic compost bins. Here's the current line-up:
I think 2019 is shaping up to be the Year of the Aphid. It seems like the sap-sucking pests are everywhere at the moment: all over the Aqualegias in the back garden, on the onion seedlings in the greenhouse and in a particular nasty manifestation, infesting one or two of the trees in the Plot #79 allotment orchard...
As I mentioned recently, I’m trialling the Super Composter – a new hot composting system from the folks at SoilFixer - and Saturday was setup day down on Plot #59.
Comfrey tea, or comfrey fertiliser, is an all-organic, easy to make plant food that provides excellent nutrition, especially for flowering and fruiting plants.
When I make comfrey tea I use a method that was told to me by no-dig guru Charles Dowding and it goes something like this...
I have to admit, I can be a bit of a magpie when it comes to new growing methods, plants and products. Over the past few years I've sown or planted and attempted to grow all sorts of new and intriguing food crops (oca, yacon, Chinese artichoke, cucamelons, tomatilloes, goji berries, wonderberries, to name but a few...)
We've had a soggy old start to the month, but never mind. The ground could do with a soaking, and there's drier weather ahead, according to the forecast.
Here's our general action plan for May, once the weather sorts itself out a bit...
Blossom Time is one of my very favourite times of the year, when fruit trees and bushes are filled with the simple beauty of their un-fussy flowers and the promise of good, fruity things to come.
Here's a quick gallery of some of the fruit blossom I've been thoroughly enjoying of late.
April has started with a minor cold snap – nothing too drastic, but just enough to remind you that when the planting advice says “after all risk of frost has passed” we haven’t reached that point just yet, and might not until the end of the month. Hardier plants only for now, folks.
Here’s a look at our to-do list for the rest of the month:
Jobs On Plot #59 (main plot)
March was a good month – or at least the second half of it was, after the wet and wild weather had passed – with a lot of infrastructure work moved forwards. A lot of grass has been cleared and added to the hugelkultur bed, along with some well-rotted horse manure and rotted rhubarb root. I reckon that’s now ready for planting up, or will be once we have squash plants to plant into it.
A delivery of wood chippings to the site (mostly Prunus laurocerasus and very leafy, but you work with what you’ve got) means I was able to replenish or lay down quite a lot of paths. Speaking of paths, I also forged ahead with the flag path up the centre of the plot, as you can see from the photo at the top of the post. Just a few more to complete that one – plus the block pavers down the side to widen it to around 1m – and then I can start on the side path, eventually.
I also planted out two more stepover apples and a dozen broad bean ‘Martock’ – a centuries-old variety that’s meant to produce small, but very tasty beans – sowed three rows of root veg, and continued harvesting last year’s leeks; just a dozen or so of those to go now.
We’ve started April well, with a good afternoon’s work yesterday resulting in a post, wire and cane-framework for cordon apples:
We’ll be planting our six cordon apples – grafted last year and started off in air-pots to help establish a healthy root system – at the weekend. More details to follow.
- Planting out those six cordon apples.
- Planting out potatoes. I’m steadily sourcing a few spare tubers from work, assorted varieties.
- Direct sowing More carrots (once I’ve topped up two carrot bins with fresh soil and drilled and filled a third) and more beetroot at the end of the month, in an attempt at successional sowing.
- Greenhouse deep clean. The 6’x6′ on the plot still needs to be citrox-washed and sluiced down. No mad rush, but better sooner than later…
- Compost management. The black bins need to be emptied and / or transferred, and a new second-hand one that we acquired last year set up. Then the main bays need to be emptied into the black bins and/or turned one into the other.
- Planning – for a pond. (Still thinking about buying a plastic liner and putting in a small pond at the plot, just big enough to host a few frogs and their spawn.)
Jobs On Plot #79 (orchard)
Not much action on the orchard plot last month. The plum, gage, damson and pears have put out blossoms, which will hopefully survive any frost this cold snap has thrown at them – but otherwise it’s all quiet.
Still to-do, same as last month:
- Additional stakes and ties – one or two of the young trees are growing away at odd angles. A fresh stake and a re-tie should help encourage them into a better growth pattern.
- Tree circle re-mulch – add a bit more composted bark where needed.
- Path repair – the flag path between plot #79 and the next-door neighbour is in a pretty poor state of repair. It needs lifting, digging out, re-sanding and re-laying.
Jobs at Home
The main seed sowing season is about to start. Lots to do this month:
- Potting up – tomato seedlings, and re-potting over-wintered chillis.
- Pricking out – lots and lots of onion and leek seedlings.
- Sowing – early cabbage, first batches of salad leaves, squash (patty pan and potimarron types), peas.
- Shed sort-out – ongoing.
- Pot and label cleaning – it’ll have to be done as required now, rather than en-masse.
How about you? Is April the month that your sowing and growing efforts really get going? Let us know, via the comments…