Tag Archive compost


More Leek Propagation, Shallot Failures, My Poor Allotment Management.

I’ve been making some big gardening mistakes, I guess you don’t really get to the point where you have mastery over your garden, nature will always bowl you a googly. The first mistake is not digging the allotment. The back garden doesn’t really need digging, i just prong it a little with a fork and loosen it while applying a compost mulch – this works well. The allotment meanwhile, with its heavy clay, has turned into concrete – you know the type of ground you could park lorries on. This of course set back and demolished my younger spring sown plants. Read More


Compost Disaster, Trimming Compost Material From Hedges

Backyard 22-5-14Every now and again I feel like I am winning, that I am finally getting the skills and I can move on to the next stage. Then I find out some calamity has taken place, throwing my confidence. Take composting, for instance. Composting is not rocket science, leave any organic matter around long enough and it will rot, eventually becoming topsoil. After a couple of years of successful composting, often intensified (but never really hot), I find this spring that my compost is not composting properly. With the heat and rain and all the turning I am doing, it should be a lovely brown material that is full of nutrients and holds moisture. Instead I find a slimy mess that has lots of uncomposted lumps. It was not like this last spring, or the spring before. What did I do different this time? Read More


A Forest Garden Without the Forest

My back garden is a productive, organic, kitchen garden with substantial amounts of perennial vegetables, some annual vegetables and five dwarfing fruit trees. The fruit trees are kept pruned and spaced widely to allow the maximum amount of light to reach the vegetables below and have a decent fruit crop. It is not really a shaded garden, though the allotment is much sunnier as evidenced by the bigger onions and leeks I can grow there, and no plants form anything like a canopy. Read More


Nine Star Broccoli Curds Appearing

Nine Star Broccoli CurdNine Star Broccoli seems a bit misnamed. Though the plant looks like a purple sprouting broccoli by its tall stalk and green leaves, its spears (or what I call curds) look and taste like cauliflower. So because its edible (as opposed to inedible) parts are cauli like I tend to refer to it as a type of cauli. Unlike the cauli though (but like the broccoli) it has side shoots that are also tasty little curds. They are now starting to appear on my plants now it is early april. For some reason I thought they would appear in June, so I am a little surprised, but I have responded to this event by fertilising them with the little fertilising material I have left. Read More


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


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


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


Building a Home-Made Wormery

Had a day off and spent it in the garden. A bit chilly but I was pretending it was spring. I did intend to sow some seeds, I bought some last week – pot leeks and prize winning peas – but I’ve just realised that I forgot. The pot leeks I couldn’t resist, a northern English fashion of growing really fat leeks that have only 6 inches of white shank. Wider than taller you might say. Once I have them I will grow them without seed in further years (see here). The prize winning peas I bought because the pic on the front was of vines overloaded with peas and who can resist a bit of merchandising – not I! Read More


The Trouble With Permaculture (Again)

Anni Kelsey posted on her blog her own reply to the article trouble with permaculture (and this is Anni Kelsey’s reply).

I enjoy visiting ordinary people’s vegetable gardens – very, very much so – but between you, me and the wall – there are an awful lot of really bad ones that don’t actually produce very much food, let alone starchy, high carb food that will keep us strong and busy. They are however oasiseseseeses of  calm and primitive beauty and are always valuable. Two of my favourite gardens produce virtually no food at all even though one is a vegetable garden and the other is an allotment that is very heavily shaded by trees. To spare my own blushes when they read this and kick my arse, I will keep their locations secret, but they are somewhere in Bristol, England. Read More


Dividing scorzonera, vegetative propagation [updated].

Dividing ScorzoneraI must apologise for the length of time between posts but my garden is in a cool temperate zone in the northern hemisphere  and we are in the depths of winter.  There is not much time to garden with the reduced daylight hours and nothing is growing much anyway. It is quite entertaining to look at England’s climate through the eyes of my Amrikan friend who is stunned to find he is able to overwinter brassicas, artichokes and such things here. We complain of the weather but really we are very fortunate, especially in the south of England. Read More

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