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Onions, Artichokes, Beans & Green Manure

Well it’s been one of those weeks, the weather is at best dull and threatening to rain and on the better days we’ve been away. I did manage to drop onto the plot a couple of times and water in the greenhouse and at home the lawn finally got a cut. It’s amazing how the grass grows at this time of year when it has sufficient water, but not as amazing as how the weeds grow! Still, a bit of time with the hoe clears a larger patch than you might expect.

Saturday started with promise so I planned to do a little job and then head for the plot. There’s never a little job with a computer, you’d think I’d know by now. So, by the time I was ready to head for the plot, it was raining again.

Today I actually managed to get a day on the plot. It looked threatening all day with low heavy dark cloud but didn’t actually rain until the evening. So lots got done although there’s still loads to do.

The onion beds on plot 29 were cleared, the onions and shallots going onto my drying frame. This is just some chicken wire stretched over a frame on 18″ legs. If this rainy weather continues then I’ll bring them home to dry out under cover.

The comfrey had been battered down by the rain and was spreading around, so a good cut to pop into the compost bin along with a load of weeds. The comfrey will not only assist the rotting process but add nutrients to the eventual compost.

Stopped for a union meeting where Gianni demonstrated the joys of fresh from the plant globe artichoke. There’s something about things eaten on the plot that beats the finest sauce. We’ve loads of small heads ready on the artichokes, which is nice. Gianni reckoned they would be nice dipped in a vinaigrette but I found them delicious just as they come. He also recommends them in scrambled egg. Sounds a bit strange but he’s not steered me wrong so far.

Val came down to collect a carrier bag of broad beans which we had with dinner later. They’re just right, peak of perfection. Not too small but not too large and tough. I’m a bit biased though, broad beans are my favourite vegetable.

Green Manure

The area at the top of plot 5 where the potatoes had been is now vacant so it was out with the Mantis. I’d tried before we had all this rain and the ground had been like concrete. It was beyond a pick axe, never mind the Mantis, which had just bounced off.

Anyway, the ground’s a lot easier now so the Mantis got to show its stuff. The weeds were starting back but the high speed tines chopped them and then dug in about 6″ creating lovely tilth. Incidentally, don’t  chop up perennial weeds like bindweed or docks, you just end up with massive re-growth. The annual weeds are fine to deal with this way though.

Now I’ve had some problems with clubroot on plot 5. It’s only been a couple of affected plants, so far, but I don’t want it to spread if  can help. Normally I like to follow potatoes with a mustard green manure but mustard is a brassica and can provide a reservoir for the clubroot. So I’m using red-clover, which has a good root system to break up clay and fixes nitrogen.

Whilst I’d got the Mantis out, I ran it over the onion beds on plot 29. It only took ten minutes and left them ready for sowing. There’s no sign of the deadly clubroot so they got the mustard green manure.

The benefits of green manure are not only that they improve soil structure and increase or hold nutrients but they suppress weed growth. And goodness knows, I’ve enough of those to deal with.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
3 comments on “Onions, Artichokes, Beans & Green Manure
  1. Snoop says:

    John,
    Can I ask about the onions you’re drying? Are these onions you planted in the spring? I don’t think mine are ready yet, but I always find it hard to judge. Some of my shallots have tipped over at the base in the wind but the leaves are still green. I’ve never grown shallots before and don’t really have much idea how large they will grow. I’ve seen shallots in the shops but these are Banana shallots grown from seed so look very different.

  2. John says:

    Planted in the spring, Snoop – basically when the foliage goes over and the brown skin develops, onions are ready to harvest.

    Your shallots may be ready – difficult to say without looking at them.

  3. Snoop says:

    Thanks John. I’ll go and have another look and lift the ones that have blown over.

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