Monthly Archive March 2014


Compost for Spring

Backyard 30/3/14Another glorious day for gardening.

You can never get enough compost and, as usual, I have been looking at my usual slumping compost heap with dismay. No matter how huge a pile I make it rapidly depletes, but what depletion when you get that lovely brown compost that has a magical effect on your plants. As usual my dismay turns to happiness as I finally empty the pile, generally mulching already growing plants as well as digging in to the soil where it is bare. I’ve emptied buckets and buckets, some of it rough – which went under the fruit trees – and some of it almost black and almost topsoil which I dug into areas reserved for peas. Read More


Taking Cuttings from Cabbage

Cloned cabbageI am posting this article to collect in one place all the information I have on taking cuttings (or cloning) the humble cabbage. It is a physical experiment I am conducting based on a sentence in a permaculture book. That book said that once you had cut the head of a cabbage you could wait for smaller ones to grow then replant them in the soil for new cabbages. This seems a handy technique for those of us who would rather spend nothing than waste good money on seed. If you add up the price of all the seed packets you buy each year it really adds up. And for us sustainability freaks, we really want to beat the greengrocer. Read More


Allotment Update 24/3/14

Leeks, Perennial Leeks, Elephant GarlicThis is my first allotment update of the year. Please don’t judge it by its looks as it’s early days. My overwintering food – perennial kales, leeks and perennial leeks – are providing me with lots of food and though I want to preserve the perennial kales (in place) the leeks I want to lift so I can grow new things in the space, most probably peas or broad beans. Some of the leeks I am going to leave where they are even though they will go to seed in, probably, May. I want to save seed and also collect the “king pods” which form at the base of bolting leeks. Read More


Be Careful What You Wish For…

Last time I expressed a little boredom with my ongoing 4 year experiment in keeping a Dwarf Green Curled Kale alive long past its allotted 2 years (as a brassica). Well, the bloody thing was battered by a moderately strong wind and broke in two. It is still alive, just much smaller than it was. This might be serendipitous as I didn’t have the courage to dig it up after so long nurturing it, and this event has given me the chance to back out gracefully. But it may not be the end for our brave curly kale – or at least not its genes. I am going to take a cutting and see whether or not regrowing it each year has better results.  Read More


Happy 4th Birthday “Dwarf” Green Curly Kale Plus Asturian Tree Cabbage “Broccolis”

Asturian Tree CabbagePicked some “broccoli” from the allotment and fried it with an egg. It was nice but it wasn’t strictly speaking a broccoli but the flowering shoot of an Asturian Tree Cabbage which is both good looking and tasty. It is also a perennial and even though it is starting to flower is not showing any of the smaller leaves normally found on flowering brassicas. Like many brassicas it can be kept alive for more than two years by removing all the flowering shoots but the flowering shoots of the Asturian Tree Cabbage are much larger than most brassicas that are not broccolis. I am growing the ATC for its thick cabbage like leaves (though it doesn’t form a head) and the good quality flowering shoots are a real surprise to me. There are other smaller side shoots so I hope to get lots more as the spring progresses. Read More


A Spring Start in the Back Garden

Another good day in the back yard and what beautiful spring weather. I may be tempting fate but Spring seems to have arrived a month earlier than last year. Seeds are germinating and herbaceous perennials are popping their heads up out of the ground. I have been busy removing the mulch in the back garden, the reason being my number one enemy (the slug) thrives under vegetative rubbish and also because I want the soil to warm up and mulch can delay the soil warming. I’m not going to compost it though, I am going to continue its use as mulch both for preserving moisture for my potted plants and for progressive mulching for potatoes. Read More


‘Sallets’ – Perennial Salads [updated 3/4/14]

I’ve been reading John Evelyn’s “A Discourse on Sallets” and being a retro-romantic reactionary I found it all very fascinating. Reading it I was reminded that sallet might be making a comeback as a  permaculture term for perennial salad plants. It is a middle (read old) English spelling for salad. Many of the herbs and leaves in Evelyn’s book are familiar (lettuce, parsley, borage) others almost forgotten (skirret, good king henry). But not to Permaculturists who are familiar with such plants as skirret and good king henry because they are perennial edibles. Not all perennial edibles are all that great, however. Martin Crawford in his “Creating a Forest Garden” recommends young lime leaves (lime as in linden tree) in salads, which as much as I respect the really great research Martin has done, are revolting. So here are my selections for a perennial salad that actually taste nice and also can be grown perennially. Read More


Bristol Permaculture Group, Eating Elephant Garlic Shanks

I had a thoroughly good time today. It felt like spring *touch wood* but to be realistic I need to hold back my enthusiasm until the real spring which is normally the last week of March. Or am I being pessimistic?. I heard that the Bristol Permaculture Group was meeting to do a spot of allotment work on the Royate Hill allotment site. It was about time I introduced myself because I have been mouthing off about permaculture for some time. It was nice to meet other permaculturists. Read More

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