Some beautiful weather has given me the chance to get a lot done outside. There is a problem with weather this good though – it’s easy to forget it’s early spring and not midsummer.
Daytime 18 degrees with bright sunshine making it feel a lot warmer is great but it plummets to a mere 4 at night under the clear skies. Of course, this lovely weather doesn’t last long and soon it will be back to normal. T shirt back in the drawer and thermal vest out!
The Walled Vegetable Garden
Over in the new walled vegetable garden the basic structure is in place. Half is double dug with manure in the bottom of the trenches and half is covered by cardboard, a layer of manure and a casing of soil and compost.
I’ll be trying to get some straw next week to cover the potatoes which will be planted about 3in (7.5cm) deep in the lasagne bed side.
I need to do a bit of repair work on the compost bins and I’m half done putting the sides in for a path to the bins from the main path. I’ve a fair few slabs of slate which will let me make a standing area in front of the bins. Easier than a slippery, muddy patch.
The Poultry Patch
The poultry area has finally been cleared as best we can of stones and sown with the poultry grass and herb seed mix. Hopefully the weather is warm enough to ensure good germination. One of those jobs that has taken longer than expected but it’s done now.
The Comfrey Compost Mine
The comfrey patch hasn’t done as well as expected. In hindsight I wish I’d planted them closer together. The problem comes down to poor soil and tough grass. Some of the plants aren’t getting established as they struggle to gain nutrients to enable them to send their roots deep and enough foliage to shade out competition and the grass is swamping them faster than they can grow.
They’ve had a good amount of nitro chalk and blood, fish and bone to start the season and then been mulched with cardboard covered in grass clippings to suppress the swamping grass.
I’m extending the comfrey patch this year with an extra dozen plants but will space the extra plants at 18in (45cm) apart in rows 24in (60cm) rather than 24in both ways. I intend to see if the hens will take to wilted chopped comfrey as well as using it to make liquid feed and better compost.
There’s quite a bit of information on growing comfrey on the site
It will grow in most ground; from sand to heavy clay, wet or dry, sun or shade. It’s deep…
Bracken for Compost
Just beyond our gate there’s a patch of land that’s being overtaken by bracken. I’m sure somebody owns it but it’s just wasteland. I’ve highlighted it in red in this satellite photo. It’s quite scary how much detail you can see. The solar panels on the roof, raised deep beds, mulching around trees I planted and the path up to the new veg area and old pig sty are all clear.
This year I’ll be harvesting the bracken. Shredded and mixed with comfrey it should make a pretty decent compost and with luck, knock it back if not kill it off. Well, that’s the plan
There’s a big problem with bracken in Britain. It spreads from its roots and by producing spores which makes it a very noxious weed that, left alone, spreads and spreads. It swamps out grass and most other plants. It does have some uses but it contains a chemical, ptaquiloside, which causes cancer so it needs treating with respect.
Bracken is a noxious weed that can be found on every continent except Antartica. It is mostly found in upland areas…
In the Polytunnel
The potatoes are well up now and ready to be earthed up with more compost. I’m really hoping for a good crop of clean tubers from the beds. The Swiss chard is coming up as are the broad beans. No sign yet of the carrots, but it’s early days. Spring onions are in along with a second sowing of radishes.
I’ve fixed a couple of battens to the sides of the central bed and run strings up to the crop bar above for climbing beans. The main reason for growing the climbing beans in the polytunnel is simply wind protection.
I might get away with a teepee of runners in the shelter of the wall in the walled garden but the winds here can be vicious.. as I keep moaning about. Because of the winds I’ll also be growing some sweetcorn into the tunnel.