At last, the beds are full at the allotment. Over the last 2 weeks I’ve been a busy bee planting out the last of my home-grown seedlings to finally fill the vegetable plots.
Last week I gave myself the task of getting the Brassica beds finished. If I’m being totally honest, I’ve been putting this off a bit as it would mean I’d have to build some kind of netted structure to protect the crops but I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to do this. I’d had an idea about using an old garden hose to make an arched tunnel across the bed. This plan went quickly down hill after I cut the first length of hose, secured each end into the ground across the vegetable bed then watched the hose arch promptly collapse to the ground.
Plan B was to use bamboo canes along the outside of the vegetable beds and to attach the net to those. I’ve been saving squash bottles to use as snail and slug protectors and I’d kept the tops of the bottles to put on top of the canes to secure the netting. This plan was much more successful and after an hour or so I’d made 2 Brassica cages. In went the Calabrese, the Kale and the Purple sprouting broccoli, along with the green and red Brussel sprouts. I’ve still got a little room left in one of the beds for the cabbage. I’ve not been so successful with the summer cabbage this year, but I’ve still got my winter cabbage and my turnips to sow so I’ll probably use the space for those.
The beginning of a much more successful plan
Ready for planting
Bird Proof Brassica beds
Cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts
Calabrese, Kale and Purple sprouting broccoli
Now, building the cages was primarily to keep the birds and butterflies off the Brassicas, but I was still quite concerned about the slugs and snails. I’ve been reading about organic ways to keep these types of pests off the vegetables by using beer traps, wool pellets, crushed egg shells, sharp sand or nematodes, but the method that appealed to me the most was to sprinkle used coffee grounds around the newly planted vegetables, the main reason being that I could get a huge box full of them for free from work – it’s a no brainer really! So far I’ve been really pleased with this method, I’ve used it around all the Brassicas, the beans, sweetcorn as well as all the squash and pumpkins I planted out the week before and there’s only been a very slight nibble to one or two of the leaves, nothing more…brilliant.
The only things I had left to plant out were the leeks and the courgette plants. I’ve had to make a bit of a “space sacrifice” in order to plant out the leeks. I’ve decided not to plant parsnips this year and only plant 3 short rows of carrots so that I can fit the leeks into their allocated bed. The reason for this is that I’ve got really heavy clay soil and I don’t think the carrots or parsnips will be particularly successful, but if they are, I’ll reduce the number of onions next year to give me more room.
3 short rows of carrots
So, on with the leeks. I’ve been intrigued about planting leeks, all because of how this is done. Puddling in. Doesn’t it sound great! Armed with the handle of my garden hoe, I started making deep holes in the ground for the mini leeks to be dropped into. Once they were all cosy in the holes I topped them up with water to allow the earth to settle around the base of the plants. Hopefully I’ve made the holes deep enough to blanch the base of the leeks, giving them a lovely white stem. I’ll earth them up later on in the year to help with this too.
Leeks ready for planting out
Leeks ready for puddling in
30 leeks, puddled
Last but not least were the courgettes. I cleared a bed for them last week, thinking I was digging up a couple of errant brambles but to my surprise this is what I found…
I must’ve left a couple of little potatoes in the ground when I cleared the patch!
Once I removed the last of the potatoes, I planted my 6 courgette plants. I’m growing 3 types, an Italian striped variety, Defender which is a deep green variety and Atena, a yellow variety. They’re all suppose to be good croppers too so I’ll be sharing them with friends and family.
After they were planted I gave the area a good sprinkling with the coffee grounds and stood back to survey the plot.
The sunflowers are starting to flower now, mine was the first to bloom (much to my son’s disappointment) closely followed by my Mam’s and my sons in third place.
The Alliums are starting to flower in Nature Corner now which is great for attracting bees and hoverflies to the plot
The apple trees seem to be doing well with the new fruit starting to swell. There seems to be loads of new fruit on the trees at the moment, I’m in two minds about whether to leave them or to remove some of the fruits now to allow the remaining ones to get larger. Any thoughts on this would be fantastic.
Lots of apples forming on the tree
Last but not least the Nasturtiums have started to flower. I had planted these to attract the green-fly away from the crops but they’re too pretty to be sacrificed! Don’t they just look lovely.