Re-sowing seeds, salad bed, propagating strawberries.

This has been a really difficult season so far. The weather is really against us and the pest pressure is crazy. Seed germination has been awful and what do manage to emerge are getting gobbled up by slugs and snails. I do make a rod for my own back though. I know the germination rate falls on older seed and fresh seed will have much better germination rates. But I haven’t the heart to throw away a half packet when chances are I’ll get enough to germinate for my needs from it. Despite it being 2 years past it’s sow-before date!

Then the weather is dull and so cold that it could be winter. We’ve had the night time temperatures here drop to 7ºC in the polytunnel and greenhouse. Then the sun comes out and it hits a maximum near 40ºC, if I’m not fast enough to get things cooled down.

We did grab a few days away in New Quay the other week and happily the weather was kind to us. Sunny and warm but not roasting. We get back and now here we are starting July; cold, grey and raining.

Salad Bed

Planted Salad Vegetable Planter

The Salad Vegetable Planter doing well with a variety of saladings and carrots.

Because my self-watering, wicking salad and vegetable planter is on a table with defensive lines of slug pellets, it’s growing well. A row of lettuce, patch of short carrots and short rows of spring onions, radish and some salad turnips.

Lettuce planted in the ground just end up feeding the slugs. Seedlings just vanish overnight, slugs and snails again. The carrot germination was fantastic, which I put down to the wicking bed being permanently moist.

These beds don’t seem to be available any more so I’ve decided to build another one from available parts. A little more awkward to set up but hopefully as effective and it shouldn’t be too expensive either. More on this when the parts arrive.

Propagating Strawberries

Propagating Strawberries from runners

Propagating Strawberries from runners under our bay tree

Strawberry plants age and become less productive so after three years it makes sense to replace them. This is remarkably easy to do. The plants form runners, like a stalk, with a small plantlet at the end. Sometimes the runner continues beyond the plantlet and can actually grow two new strawberries from a single runner.

The easy way to propagate is to pin the runner into a pot of compost so the plantlet is tight to the compost. I use an upside down V shaped piece of garden wire to pin the plantlet. It quickly grows roots and the runner can be snipped off the parent plant and the plantlet, which is now an independent plant.

Here I’ve a patch of strawberries underplanted to our bay tree. The new plants will replace old plants up in the polytunnel in hanging baskets.


Large Mushroom growing through grass mulch

Large Mushroom growing through grass mulch – I assume the birds have been at it.

As I was walking up to the shed for some chicken feed, I noticed this large mushroom under the Jostaberry. I often get emails from people concerned that they’ve mushrooms growing in a bed and fear it will harm whatever crop they’re growing.

The fungi will have no harmful effects on the crop. In fact it may be a benefit and is certainly a sign of soil health. The high level of carbon is feeding the fungi. In this case, the soil has been covered with a layer of used wood pellet cat-litter. The faeces were removed as produced and the cat urine contains nitrogen which helps break down the wood.
Used as a mulch, the cat litter helps to prevent weed growth as well as improving the soil. Above the cat litter is a layer of grass clippings, balancing the carbon rich wood pellets with nitrogen rich grass.

So a mushroom spore lands, finds things to its liking and we get mushrooms. Edible or poisonous? I don’t know and I don’t fancy trying something that could make me pretty ill or worse!

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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