Yearly Archive 2014

Byadmin

Getting large skirret roots, welsh onion survey and broad (fava) bean germination

Skirret rootThough autumn is very much here now and the garden looks bedraggled some exciting things have been happening. The leaves on the skirrets are now dying back which means there is no point leaving them in the ground. I’ve been a bit like a five year old waiting for christmas, so all but two plants have already been dug up long ago, my impatience inevitably leading to disappointment. These last two however (especially the last) yielded well providing me with large roots that look like they want to be eaten, and yes when cut up into chips and fried tasted really nice. They taste like a cross between carrots and parsnip but are fluffy like a potato. Really good. Read More

Byadmin

43 kilos…

Harvested two more squashes and some beans and welsh onions. I am as ever impressed with the squash ‘crown prince’ which just keeps giving, even into the middle of october. I’m not just picking matured squashes, it is producing new young ones which I am eating like courgettes. It is rampant and green and I am looking forward to adding it to the compost darlek when the first frost hits. Read More

Byadmin

40 kilo yield in the backyard, shallots and elephant garlic

Well, my yield in the back garden just hit 40 kilos. Not the biggest yield in the world but I’m dead proud especially as I am using the same space to grow all my own compost. No outside compost, manure, mulch, leaf mould or fertiliser went into the creation of those 40 kilos of good food except for a bag or two of potting compost for seedlings and cuttings. I promise I didn’t cheat. Read More

Byadmin

Brassica cuttings, watercress, babington leeks and elephant garlic

I must apologise for being a poor blogger, I had no idea I had posted only once last month, but let’s face it the season is for growing not for theoretical horticultural navel gazing, the type of thing I have been doing here regularly since I started the blog. But now the season is slowing down, though I discovered last year that an awful lot of vegetative growth can take place in autumn, and yes the alliums and brassicas are starting to break away. July and August is a bad time for brassicas, at least for me, and so one little discovery I made was to “over summer” brassica cuttings, even biennial ones like purple sprouting broccoli, and plant them out in the warm part of autumn. This worked for me last year by accident, I had cleared spent squash plants and started looking speculatively at the little brassicas in their little pots that I hadn’t had the heart to throw away over the summer. Now the accidental discovery has become a strategy and one I will hone for better results. Last year the psb had only a small crop so I needed to plant them in full sunlight in September with plenty of fertiliser and compost. Read More

Byadmin

Enjoying the end of summer, yield, tomatoes, skirrets and compost

I’m feeling upbeat about the garden, probably because the summer is ending and if I don’t start enjoying the garden now it’ll be too late. The mornings are definitely autumn, the leaves on the trees are going brown, but the days are still fine and nice. So the stress of trying to grow dozens of kilos of veggies is fading as I pull myself together and realise that life is too short to stress out over a hobby. Of course it doesn’t help that Dan from allotment-diary.co.uk has grown one marrow that is double the weight of everything I’ve grown in my small backyard added together, or that Michael Guerre, a permaculturist with a similar size urban garden produced 10 times as much as me in his first year of experimentation. But Dan uses a witches brew of fertilisers, manures and composts, plus some phenomenal skills to get his results and Michael imports a ton of horse manure – big imports!. It reminds me that there is an easier way and that I’d better be sure that the restricted import system I am using is worth it. Read More

Byadmin

Blitzed Comfrey Juice, Edulis Nursery Open Day and Perennial Leeks Returning

WP_20140822_002I spotted a new technique on the wonderful ‘one yard revolution‘ youtube channel – blitzing comfrey leaves in a blender and pouring it on my plants as a feed. I dont know why I haven’t thought of it before but it seems a very logical way to get the wonderfulness of comfrey into my vegetables. I have used three other comfrey techniques, letting it steep in water which 2 weeks later makes a very smelly but effective plant feed, applying leaves straight on the ground (and under it with my potatoes) and letting it rot without water, dripping the non-smelly brown liquid into a container. Only the last one didn’t work well and that was because the heat evaporated it before I could use it. This new technique requires electricity but only for a few seconds and makes a nice soup -like texture which I poured on the plants. Only time will tell if it works, but I have high hopes for it. Read More

Byadmin

Living Mulch

Living mulches in organic systems are beautiful to look at. Not just beautiful but sustainable in the way they add fertility to the soil, preserve moisture and create habitat for insect predators. It has one major flaw though and that is colonisation by perennial weeds. On the allotment my clover and trefoil living mulch got invaded by couch grass which stole all the soils nutrients and moisture before using it as an advance base to launch attacks on the rest of the plot. It was a mistake. As much as I wanted this to work because of its neat application it just didn’t. I couldn’t even turn in the clover and trefoil as the couch roots were so thoroughly intertwined with them it would have meant further spreading the couch grass. Read More

Byadmin

Compost

WP_20140809_003You can never have enough compost and no matter how much you think you need you will find you need more. Worse, that giant pile of organic matter that you have collected ready for next year’s compost, it will shrink to a sixth of its size. It’s also true that garden compost is the best thing you can give your garden but because we are growing vegetables the goal of satisfying our aims is further away from our reach than the more easily managed herbaceous border. This is why straight organic vegetable gardeners add organic fertiliser, such as blood fish and bone, as well as the compost or manure. The permaculture aim of producing good sized, healthy vegetables without intensively robbing fertility (or energy) from elsewhere is very, very difficult to do. Read More

Byadmin

Volunteer Potatoes and Leek Pips

WP_20140803_001More potato pleasure. This one is a volunteer from last year (ie, I failed to dig him up and he regrew). It is said we never tire of eating potatoes, certainly the British anyway, and this may be down to the really packed nutrient powerhouses they are. I could certainly keep myself going by eating potatoes. This one was in a semi shaded area under a pear tree and next to a hedge and it turned out to yield nicely. I did bung some compost and then a lot of woody mulch on top, which I think has had a good effect. I have also watered all the garden, including this bit, practically every day which I am told has a good effect on potato yields. It begs the question – again – can we call the potato a permaculture perennial plant? It grows, we nurture it, we take away most of its tubers and then it yields again for us next year: the perfect permaculture plant! Read More

Byadmin

No Glut Yet

Mrs SVG said to me the other day: why can’t we have a glut like everyone else? and I was devastated because clearly yield has not been the main focus of my gardening – sustainability has – which means we haven’t been inundated with veg. It’s not the first time a well chosen phrase from the missus has devastated me but it is an indicator of how far my gardening philosophy has been moving on – before I would have said: a glut is not what it is about, a garden is a place for sitting, picking fruits and smoking cigarettes, not a factory for greens. But realisation has dawned, that I do care about producing masses of food and I must intensify my efforts to do it. A blogging friend maintains that I am practising a low input – low output system, whereas I maintain that I am attempting a low input – medium output system, the extra value being added by all my compostable household waste (except faeces), nitrogen fixing green manures and deep rooted nutrient recyclers (like comfrey and hedges). Just how much value actually is added by this only time will tell, but sometimes I have grave doubts, and so does my wife. Read More

%d bloggers like this: