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Watering & Brassicas

Watering

What a difference to last year, where I don’t recall having to water once as it did nothing but rain. We don’t seem to have had any significant rain for ages and the plots are drying up.

Plot 5 got a good soaking with the sprinkler on Monday. I picked up an impulse sprinkler last year as a clearance bargain and this was its first use in anger. It’s on a tripod with an extending centre piece so great for getting high over the potatoes. It can also be adjusted down from a full circle to just go side to side for the width of the plot.

The only problem was that as other people came onto the site and watered their plots the pressure fell and the sprinkler stopped sprinkling and dribbled.

Tuesday was the turn for plot 29 but being more on beds, this was done with the hosepipe. When watering, especially in a hot weather, the worst thing to do is to sprinkle a bit onto the surface. A good soaking gets down the soil and encourages the roots to follow.

Brassica Bed

With last year’s rain the plots didn’t get dug over as they should have and the knock on effect has kept me well behind this year. The creation of the raised beds on plot 5 also took time and they messed up my rotation plans as well.

To the side of the large greenhouse is a patch that I had thought of making a permanent fruit bed on but it’s just been left. There are a couple of redcurrant bushes on there but nothing else.

So, here I am, nine months late, creating my brassica bed as the brassicas are demanding release from the pots I’ve been holding them in. What a shambles!

The ground was covered in about 4″ of green waste compost and the contents of last years pots etc. Under that it was solid and dry, so the first job after hoeing off the fine weed crop that was developing, was to soak it with the hose. This softened the soil enough to make it possible to dig.

It was quite a job just digging it over, only single digging as well, but then the soil and compost needed breaking up. It was out with the Merry Tiller. I must have gone over it about six times, up and down, around and so forth. Eventually reasonable tilth and well mixed so a good liming followed by a raking and watering to mix it in.

It’s quite amazing how fluffed up the soil becomes. From being about level with the path and the base of the sleeper that defines the side of the path by the greenhouse, it’s now level with the sleeper and about a foot higher than the path.

Brassicas prefer a firm soil, so before planting I’ll give it a good treading to ensure it’s well settled. As I write this on Thursday morning, it’s pouring with rain which is great. Not only will the plots benefit from it, it will settle the soil well for me.

Moral of the story, don’t worry if you fall behind – there’s often a way out!

Weeding

The weeds continue to grow and I continue to hoe. The number of new growers I see messing around on their knees, hand weeding amazes me. Just hoe them off!! I know hoeing is not ideal for crowded raised beds but normally spaced crops on the ground can be hoed in minutes. Then you can follow up by hand where the weeds are right by the crop.

Allotment Competition

The allotment competition is rolling round again. I know Larry would really like to win a prize for the site as a whole but it’s not completely in his hands. The best site depends on the individual plotholders. Most of the occupied plots are fairly weed free but one particular plot in the middle of the site is letting the side down.

The fact that there are excellent plots to either side just emphasises the disgraceful condition of this one. Half the plot is a mass of dandelions and buttercups and the nettles at the other end are nearly as tall as me.

Hark at me, grumbling about weedy plots and disgrace. I really am turning into Mr Grumpy. Still, it is unfair allowing your weeds to seed over the rest of the site.

Talking of weeds, I’ve used some of the eco matting around the base of the redcurrants. It will keep the weeds away from them and it looks rather neat.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
7 comments on “Watering & Brassicas
  1. keith says:

    It’s the oposite where I am in Brentwood. We are waterloged; digging potatoes is fun – trying to find them in the mud. At least they’re cropping well.

  2. John says:

    We just can’t win! Too wet, too dry, too hot, too cold. No wonder gardeners moan a lot!

  3. Sharon Feekins says:

    A question really as a new comer to allotment gardening. My red and white currant bushes (1st year bushes) are covered with something which is causing the leaves to be blistered with a reddish burnt look? I have asked several sources and no one can tell me what I need to spray or treat with that is non chemical? Can you help please?

  4. John says:

    Sharon – that sounds more like potash deficiency than a pest to me. Difficult to be sure without being there but it does no harm to try the cure for it. Give the bushes some tomato food.
    You can use commercial chemical or organic tomato food or some comfrey liquid if you have some. Use a liquid feed to get it to the roots quickly.

  5. Jonathan says:

    Sharon – I have the same problem with my red currants, and have had for the last couple of years. Looking at other people’s plots also, this is a common problem.

    The culprit is a small bug (not sure what it is) that lays eggs under the leaves. This causes them to blister from underneath and the top of the leaves turn red. I usually just take affected leaves off immediately, as am not keen on spraying. If you take the leaves off and destroy them, you are also getting rid of the bugs themselves.

    The bush seems not to suffer even if the leaves are left on, as mine are laden with currants again this year.

  6. Sharon Feekins says:

    Thanks for the feedback about the redcurrant bushes. They are really looking sick now and very burnt up dry looking. I will feed with the tomatoe liquid feed and see what happens. The whole bush is completely smothered with whatever it is now.
    Thanks!

  7. John says:

    Try asking on the forums – a third or fourth opinion might just crack the problem for you.

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