I thought I’d start today by saying a ‘Big Welcome’ to anyone that has recently started to follow my blog and a big ‘Thank you’ to the Somerset Waste Partnership, who have included a link to my blog on their website here, I feel most honoured.
This week there has definitely been a feel of spring in the air, as temperatures have been mild compared to the cold, winter weather that we have had lately.
I have noticed that bulbs are growing nicely, the tiny shoots of my autumn raspberries are forming and unfortunately the weeds are starting to germinate. In fact, I saw my first dandelion ready to open its yellow flower this week. This is a stark reminder that the soil is beginning to warm up and spring is on its way and it’s now time to finish winter jobs.
Before I went on holiday last week, I laid plastic sheeting over the beds that I will soon be planting my onions and shallots in. This will help to warm the soil nicely for them.
I also planted my shallots in newspaper pots and put them in my cold greenhouse, to give them a head start. Next month when they have rooted, I will plant the shallots, still in their newspaper pots, as the pots will compost down in the soil. This will also help to stop the birds pulling them up, thinking they are worms.
I will show you how I make the newspaper pots in my blog post on Monday.
Also before my holiday, I cut back my Michaelmas Daisys, ready for the year ahead. They look so unattractive at this time of year and yet they look so beautiful in the autumn and attract many beneficial insects:
The rhubarb is going nicely now. I don’t know what variety I have, as I inherited it with the plot, but it is a very early variety.
Two weeks ago I covered some of the rhubarb with a bin to ‘force’ it. This will give ‘sweet tasting pink stems’ in a few weeks.
This week, I cut back my autumn raspberries to ground level, which is a job I do every February. Autumn raspberries are treated differently to summer raspberries, as autumn raspberries bear fruit on the new year’s growth, so they can be cut right down to ground level at this time of year.
I have had my autumn raspberries for quite some time and unfortunately they have quite a lot of couch grass and bindweed in amongst them, so I decided it was time to dig them up and start again in a different bed.
I split a few roots and replanted them in a new bed with plenty of compost worked into it and in the next few days I will feed the plants by scattering some sulphate of potash around the roots. I was very careful not to transport the weeds too.
Another job I completed this week, was to dig up all my Jerusalem artichokes. My family love these roasted in olive oil and my daughters eat them like sweets.
Jerusalem artichokes are one of the easiest vegetables that I know of to grow. Each February, I dig up any that remain in the soil and replant the biggest ones, approximately 30cm apart and 30cm deep. Every other year I dig manure into the bed before I replant them and in November, I cut down the old stems so they don’t suffer from the wind dislodging them from the soil. You can dig them up all through the winter when you need them, as they store really well in the ground and they rarely suffer from any pests or diseases.
One thing to be noted though, is they are thugs and once you have them you will find it hard to get rid of them. So make sure you plant them in an area away from the rest of your vegetables, or you will regret it.
Remember the area between my summer raspberries, that I prepared the soil and sowed grass seed in the autumn?…I have now edged it with a plastic ‘Lawn Edge’ from Wilkinson’s and gave it a quick mow on a high setting (as it was so long) and I think it has really made a difference:
This week I have also opened up my oldest compost heap. It is now 3½ years old and it contained all types of perrenial weeds. As you can see all the weeds have completely died off and a beautiful, sweet smelling compost is left.
This proves that perrennial weeds can be composted, provided they are left long enough to fully decompose. So many books I have read tell people to burn them, which really isn’t a very environmently friendly thing to do. This way you are returning them to the ground and adding nutrients into the bargain.
One thing to be noted though, there may be weed seeds in the compost, which is why I quickly hoe off the seedlings as they germinate.
I spread some of the compost in my polytunnel, after I gave it a quick weed and dug up the last of my turnips and celeriac.
The winter salads are doing well in the polytunnel and are ready for eating and I planted some ‘leggy’ broadbeans that I couldn’t plant earlier due to the wet weather in January.
For those who are new to my blog, my dad has a small area on my 4th, newest plot. He had his own allotment for many years, but sadly age caught up with him and a full plot became far too much to manage. Last Spring, he asked if he could possibly have a small part of my plot to look after and I thought this was a great idea, as I can make sure he doesn’t do too much.
I love it with him there.
So finally this week, I bought our old garden chair from our back garden at home. I put it in a small area next to my dads patch, so he can sit down when he is tired. I made a little table out of bricks and an old piece of crazy paving, so he now has somewhere to put his flask of coffee when he sits down.
I finished it off with some left over woodchip and I think he will be pleased when he sees it.
I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.
I will be back on Monday at 6pm.