Sunday, 28 July 2013

To dig or not to dig that is the question.

After taking on another half plot last year I wanted to put it over to no dig as mentioned in last posting, now I am not completely new to no dig as 50% of my older plots have been that from day 1. The difference is this time it was to be the whole area and more use of cardborad and animal manure (mainly cows).

We are about to enter August and Summer is truly with us so now would be a good time to talk about the pros and cons of no dig gardening.

When I took on the plot I covered it in a thick layer of cardboard followed by a good 2 inches at least of leaves which had not been rotted down followed by a thick layer of cow and horse poo which was still quite fresh although there was no smell of amonia from their pee. I forgot to add previous to this I planted several fruit trees 2/3 years old around the plot. All I needed to do now was start sowing seeds in modules to plant up new plot and wait to see what the fruits of my labour would be.

As the plot had fresher manure I decided it would be best using it for beans, squashes, peas and flowers (well that was the plan). I then went about constructing bean poles and as the time went by aquiring old drawers and pallets which were used as beds and the new plot started to take shape, by adding a good layer of compost in a few of the beds I have managed also to grow beetroot, fennel and not so successfully shallots. I also added a couple of old dustbins for growing carrots turned an old pallet in to a strawberry planter. The bottom line is the new plot has become a bit of a recyling plot to see what everyday items can be reused from old kitchen cupborads to a set of pine drawers.

The result of the no dig so far has been fantastic with healthy beans, peas, squashes, beetroot, fennel and flowers. There has been next to no weeding except in the areas I used horse manure, I am guessing they dont digest as well as cows and where I have had to weed I just pull it by hand which is simple.

The title of this post is to dig or not to dig and the answer for me is a no brainer, why dig when all you need to do is keep adding organic matter and the worms will do the work for you.

I would also add that a great resource for the no dig method of gardening is a book by Charles Dowding titled 'Organic gardening the no dig way' available from green books. Also I have posted lots of photos of my exploits on twitter username @AllotmentGas and videos on youtube which you can click on at side of blog.

Take care and put away your spades the future of gardening is changing.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Sowing and planting leeks.

After a little chat on twitter the other evening with regards to growing leeks I thought I would share with you all how I do it.

Today I sowed my 1st leeks of the year and the way I do it is to basically fill a medium sized flower pot with compost 3/4 full wet the compost then sprinkle your leek seeds all over the top then top with more compost and just let them grow.

Once they get to size as shown in picture above it is time for planting, this will take around 2 months.

Now you need to empty them from the pot and separate them, they will be all tangled but don't worry just tease them all apart they are stronger than you think.

Next is the bit where you give the roots a good haircut so they go in the ground better and give the tops a good trim. The latter I do not know why I do this, I was taught this way by Harry an allotmenter with over 50 years experience of growing leeks so who am I to argue.
Finally get your dibber and make holes to drop your leeks in, remember the closer you plant the smaller the leeks. I tend to plant them about 6 inches apart and if you grow in rows have the rows about 12 inches apart. Once you drop or twist your leek in to your holes puddle them in,
Watering and nature will fill out the hole over time.
So that is how I grow leeks I hope you find this helpful and good luck growing your leeks, until next time goodbye.

Friday, 22 February 2013

New year, new plot, new methods

Nearly a year since my last blog so I thought I would give it a go again, firstly I would like to give a summary of 2012 allotment year. Dry with drought up until April praying for rain and then as follows-

April rain and floods
May rain and floods
June rain and floods
July rain and floods
August rain and floods
September rain and floods and so on and so forth............

Crops that did alright last year were runner beans, tomatoes and brassicas especially sprouts.

Enough about last year as this year I have high hopes and have taken on another half plot, it is the one I have wanted since I arrived back in 2009. The plot has 3 very old Victoria plum trees on it and the last owner done bugger all in the 3 years they were there.

The new plot will be a whole new adventure as I plan to have it completely no dig, this is a method of gardening where as it says on the tin you do no digging. The digging is done for you by nature it self i.e. worms, the way you do it is mulch and add organic matter. Due to this plot being plagued with couch grass I have laid a double sometimes treble layer of corrugated cardboard and then covered in a very thick layer of manure as you can see in picture below.


I will keep people updated through twitter @AllotmentGas and hopefully this blog and how well no dig works compared to other methods, one big advantage is you save your back from the pain of digging. I have to say though no dig does not mean no work so don't think you are getting off lightly if you adopt this method. Horse and cow manure still has to be forked in to wheelbarrow and wheeled to said area!

The other big winter project was acquiring a summerhouse as the wife and myself had nowhere to sit and relax while at the plot. After much deliberation I opted for beach hut style summerhouse which I bought from Waltons garden buildings. The construction was straight forward and barring another lick of paint and interior design being finished we are there. Here are some photos of progress so far.

 Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and I promise to be back soon with more updates.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

3 1/2 tons of shit

Delivered today, pictures on twitter as unable to upload on this computer. Lack of blogging so far this year due to  being really busy but things at our allotment are moving along nicely and I am looking forward to Spring and Summer. Lets hope this year brings us some warm sunny days, something that has been lacking the last 3 summers.

As I said I had a large load of manure delivered and have started mulching the beds it's still quite fresh so I will allow some to rot down. Where it is being used I will be growing beans and squashes so not too bothered it is fresh as they will thrive, I think some people are too over cautious whilst using manure and panic it has to be years old before use. Seeds I have sown so far this year are as follows Leek Musleburgh in pots, Mange Tout, Sweet peas, Cosmos, Tumbling toms, Cabbage atlas and greyhound, Sprouts, Basil, Corriander and Rocket.

I have a weeks annual leave next week and hope to get hold of some raspberry canes and more bare root fruit trees for the new plot which as previously stated will be mainly fruit and lower maintainence. This year will also be the year that I finally start an asparagus bed.

Happy gardening and speak soon, don't forget you can follow me on twitter @AllotmentGas but be warned my language and views are not to everybodys taste.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Planning for the year ahead by being prepared

After the rush of Christmas I have now started planning for the year ahead at our allotment, the plan is trying to do as little as possible and let the plot work for us. The first thing that keeps coming  to mind is finally planting asparagus, this is something I wish I had done when we first got the plot as we would be reaping the benefits this year. The seed catalogues are coming out and some internet research will take place to decide which is best variety to purchase they need to be planted out in April and come as crowns.

Seeds have been saved from last years pea and bean crops so no need to worry about buying them so St George runners and mangetout golden sweet will be the peas and beans of choice again. I am determined to be more successful at successional sowing of crops this year in particular lettuces and pak choi.

 The top half of our allotment is no dig so working that is easy I have added organic matter like compost and manure and the worms do the rest. The bottom half which is beds but ones we dig does not need too much as work as beds have been covered that have no crops remaining and 5 of the beds have permanent crops in. The new half plot which we took on already has several fruit trees and bushes and garlic growing away, the rest of it was cleared,dug and covered in thick balck plastic membrane in the autumn.

I don't want to sound smug but to me that is the key to keeping an allotment you need to spend time in autumn and winter getting things oraganised as it saves you time and effort in spring when you have a million and one things to do. All I have to do is sow my seeds plant out and keep on top of the weeds.

New video comingI was lucky enough to be given an HD video camera for my 40th birthday so hope to start making some how to videos as well this year.

Happy new year to everyone reading this!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

This years harvests in photos

These are photos I have taken on my phone throughout the year of things we have harvested at our allotment and I thought I would share them with you. Also a big hello to wherever you are in the world reading this, going by stats I see a lot of people who read this blog are scattered all over North America, Asia, Far east, Austrlasia and Europe. Thank you once more for taking time to look at my blog.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Bountiful plot

Managed to get down our allotment today and take some photos and as you can see the plot is still very much alive with winter veg, crops planted earlier in the year that can remain in the ground and next years crops emerging ie garlic. Harvested the last of the tomatoes and peppers today and cut all the peppers right back to roughly 30cm height and trimmed to barely nothing in an attempt to overwinter them. They are within in the tunnel and will be doubly insulated by placing old water cooler bottles over them, I have also dug some up repotted and they are going to live in spare bedroom overwinter, fingers crossed some will come through and start new growth in the spring. Nice to see the garlic emerging I have had to put some pea netting over it as the allotment cat has decided it is a nice bed to shit in which did not impress me, on the plus side he does keep the rat population down.

                                                    The chopped back pepper plants
                                              Cauliflower all year round and Kale hungry gap.
                                                              Florence Fennel Tauro.
                                                           Swiss and Rainbow Chard.
                                                       Winter lettuce unknown name?
                                                                 Kale Scarlett.
                                                      Sweet peas old spiced mix.
                                                           Rosemary cuttings.
                                   Garlic in pots to plug any gaps if any dont germinate outside.
                                                            Garlic just emerging.
                                    Leeks now being harvested these can stay in all winter and picked as required.
                       Savoy January King put on alot of growth due to mild weather, no real frost yet this year!
                                        Brussel Sprout Maximus, slightly decimated by whitefly.
                                   Globe Artichokes putting on new growth due to unusualy mild weather.
                                 First harvested fennel which I will be having with some smoked haddock.

I hope to add more photos of this years harvests soon until next time goodbye.