After a busy few plot sessions I’m pleased to say that Jo and I have made some good progress. Here’s a quick picture round-up:
Peas and Swiss Chard
The pea frame that we constructed last week has now been populated with a ten-pack of ‘Golden Sweet’ and another of ‘Shiraz’; both mangetout varieties. We’ve put four of our Swiss Chard ‘five colours’ plants in at the end of the row as well:
Courgettes (and more Chard)
We’re growing our courgette plants at the far end of the plot this year. A dozen plants will be going in eventually, the first to be ready are three each of ‘Soleil F1’ and firm favourite ‘Tondo di Piacenza’, which I’ve planted motte-and-bailey style, on small mounds surrounded by a water-catching reservoir. A couple more Swiss Chard have been planted as well; they should look good growing up through the courgette plants. Assuming the slugs don’t get ’em first, that is. We’ve put in a beer trap and scattered organic pellets to hopefully deal with them.
I also found time to prep this year’s three sisters patch. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s a companion-planting scheme of Native American origin, involving beans, sweetcorn and squash. The corn provides a climbing frame for the beans to scramble up whilst the squash foliage shades the ground and keeps weeds at bay.
That’s in theory, anyhow. Didn’t work too well last year – the squash foliage went berserk and the dwarf beans I planted were swamped, although the sweetcorn did rather well – but hopefully this year it’ll have better results. Not much to see so far, just six large and well-manured mounds of soil, awaiting planting at the weekend, time and weather allowing.
Oh, and I weeded between the potato ridges. Actual progress, coming along nicely.
Ohhhh, the weather outside is… well, actually it hasn’t been too bad of late here in North Manchester. We’ve had our share of rain, but with enough dry-ish patches in between to mean that the ground at our plot has been sticky, but workable. Although one of my near plot-neighbours, three along and down in a dip, had half his plot flooded to a depth of six inches the other day, so our position slightly up the hill clearly comes with drainage benefits, even if the wind does cut across it like a knife.
Anyhow, the ground was certainly workable enough for me to get down there a few times last week and dig over this year’s three-sisters patch. I started with a 60cm (or so) wide trench, taking the top-soil off to a depth of about a 30cm and extracting the few perennial weed roots that escaped last year’s thorough clearance. Then I heaped in a few inches of well-rotted manure, moved to the left, dug another trench – transferring the top-soil onto the manured section – and repeated until I’d finished and raked over the whole 3m x 3m (ish) section.
(I think that weird pinkish tinge is something to do with my old phone’s camera lens, not the soil…)
The result is a well-manured bed that will be used for three-sisters growing (companion planted corn, squash and beans – more on that another time) again next year. And it should be a year or two before it needs digging over again, with any luck.