Monthly Archive November 2013

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Leek baby bulbs (bulblets), Japanese Bunching Onions dividing and White Clover sending out runners

I just thought I would share with you some of the things I have learnt recently about some of the plants I grow. Because I grow in a perennial fashion (either the plants are perennial or I extend their lifespan in ways such as taking cuttings or preventing them from flowering) I get to see the plants full behaviour over a longer period. Many conventional vegetable gardeners grow annuals from seed and then eat them, freeing the land up often very quickly for a new crop. This succession of plants is intensive and grows a lot of food, but my style of vegetable gardening is less intensive, less hard work, slower and more forgiving to the environment. The slowness allows me to see such things as the full lifespan of such things as the biennial leek. Read More

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Mulching, composting and testing my soil for pH, nitrogen, phosphates and potassium

Today was a day spent pottering about the back garden dealing with the chores I have been putting off.  Much exposed soil looks as though it has been walked on (which it hasn’t) which I assume is the effect of the weather, compacting my soil. So I’ve been busy with my mature compost pile, rooting the good stuff out, sieving it (loosely, mind) and using it around my overwintering vegetables. The rough stuff (woody or just uncomposted matter) I am mulching the soil with to protect the soil from compaction. I am also putting it around those vegetables that aren’t closely spaced. The bulky, sticklike stuff is hard to space around my Japanese Bunching Onions but easy to do around the perennial brassicas. I also had a bit of straw left in a bag from last year which I bunged on top of the mulch. This is now, hand on heart, the last organic matter input for the back garden. My garden should now be self fertilising.

Should be. Read More

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Chop ‘n’ Drop

My quest to reduce – or stop entirely – inputs into my vegetable plots continues. As usual I look down at my compost heaps with dissapointment as the huge piles of organic matter I had accumalated vanish into thin air. Or leave thin layers of “black gold” topped with woody matter. I’m tugged both ways in the compost / sheet mulching debate. What I have learnt over the last year is that slugs and snails dissapear if they have nowhere to hide. So you would think that would mean mulches would be out then in my gardens. Indeed, on the allotment, nary a mollusc could be found – and that was down to a religious determination to tidy the place up. Grass paths trimmed, weeds weeded and rubbish put on the compost heap. I’m not one to follow advice (stubborn I’m told) but I wish I had, because the same story is always told – if you want to keep the gastropods away tidy up!. Read More

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Kew Gardens and Chelsea Physic Garden Visit

KewPopping up to London to see a friend I took the opportunity to visit two gardens that I can thoroughly recommend. I have been to both before, and returning I found both had changed and both felt fresh and interesting. It was, of course, autumn which put a little bit of a dampener on things but not much, both gardens had aged well through the seasons and besides most of the excitement goes on in my head anyway as I consider the possibilities offered for my own plots. Read More

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