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.