Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bunnies and beans

Must we really pretend to be rabbits mum. My bountiful blue lake bean crop behind kids, had beans coming out of our little bunny ears - Gourmet, Brown Bush, Purple, Scarlet Runner, Yellow Butter - they have only just finished and won't be missed for some time yet. My favourite by far are the bush beans, so little space for so many beans and such delicious crunchy tasty fellows.

2011-03-24 easter

Passing on the collecting bug to the kids (actually its easter and they are purely chocolate motivated) Beautifully prepared carrot patch in front, waiting for finnicky carrots to emerge.

Naked Lady, great name for a gorgeous bulb


Grew six watermelons that I harvested in Febuary/March, old fashioned spit the pips variety, luscious and juicy. Got the kids to have a pip spitting competition. My first cold climate watermelons.


I am yet to grow a really flash crop of carrots at home. They grow and they're edible but look pretty unimpressive and are always a bit on the small side. I persist because the kids love carrots and delight in pulling a bright orange treat from the earth. Mostly my problem is our clay soil (well I don't want to blame my gardening skills) which I am gradually improving but lacks the depth to grow a good carrot.

I spent forever preparing a bed for this years crop, finding all the stones, clay clods, charcoal bits, oxalis bulbs and breaking up the soil to a fine tilth. I didn't add manure to avoid the problem of the carrots forking. The kids helped me plant out the tiny seeds tediously spacing them according to the seed packet and then we experimented with the walking over the seeds technique on some rows and leaving the carrots alone on other rows. The idea of walking on the freshly planted seed is that you get better contact of the seed with the soil which helps retain moisture as the seeds germinate. It also pushes down the soil you have lovingly fluffed up and leaves your carrots in a depressed row which looks very wrong.

Then I waited and waited and watered and waited until a mad flush of green emerged. Unfortunately most of that mad flush was grass and smoke weed which looks deceptively like a carrot in its early stages. The rows that were trodden on definately won the germination competition, with only a handful of carrots to be found in the rows without the trample treatment. Unfortunately not a great strike rate - maybe the unseasonably super cold weather put a pox on all my efforts. I have scattered some more carrot seed over the soil from a carrot that has seeded in the garden but I fear the garden folklore of only planting carrots in the months with an r in it might be true. As a bonus I got a few coriander and lettuce seedlings that germinated so I have transplanted those.

Today, due to my sowing failures, I cheated and planted some carrots from a punnet, the quantity of plants was much stingier than I expected - only a dozen carrots in a punnet. Not a great economical choice as I could buy 3kg of carrots for the same price as a punnet of seedlings and I am not confident I will produce any more than that from my punnet. Transplanting carrots is also supposed to be pretty iffy as the roots don't like to be disturbed. I have filled in the gaps where the carrots did not fare so well and I will be interested in experiment 2, which carrot fares better - those sown from seeds or those from seedlings......

Monday, May 9, 2011

Green manure

Dug in my green manure this week, an Autumn mix of peas, oats and vetch. It seems counter intuitive to plant something which I then have to dig in, we did eat the pea shoots but had no peas as I have followed instructions to dig in before flower onset. Bed looks pretty messy at this stage - I hope my efforts will be rewarded with luscious soil for the summer crops. I intend to fallow this bed until Spring so I don't have the ongoing problem of no free beds when the weather warms.

Pulled up all my cucumbers, Japanese climbing variety rewarded me with so many delicious cucumbers that have kept on going and going. I have grown 3 mega cucumbers with the hope of saving the seed. Hopefully they will contain some viable seeds as this is the most sucess I have ever had with cucumbers, we were pulling in about 10 a week from two bushes since January. The cucumber pickle I made is delicious and bears no resemblance to the supermarket variety. I've sown some green manure in this bed, avoiding the pineapple that is miraculously holding on. The kids are laughing at me - I might put it in a pot so I can relocate it to a warmer place to survive the winter.