Just a quickie update on the vegetable garden, sowing, seedlings and digging. We are still sowing like the clappers, all the seeds are germinating well so far, still waiting on the courgettes to make an appearance but so far so good.
Tomatoes and chillies have been sown and the tomatoes have already started to sprout. Runner beans will be started off in small pots this weekend, I don’t want to get caught out with a late frost or risk having the seed beans munched in the soil like last year.
The sprouts and cauliflower seedlings are doing very well outside in the mini greenhouse, some of the seedlings have their first set of true leaves. I have started off a second sowing of broad beans, the other plants are outside and doing well, even in the frost. We did lose some of the taller plants, but, I think that was my fault for allowing them to go too stringy before planting them out. We had to start the broad beans indoors because none of the vegetable beds were ready for planting.
The sweet corn seedlings are really doing well on the sunny windowsill, they will be planted out as soon as the risk of frost is over. The onion sets are coming along great as well as the garlic. No major dramas so far.
The vegetable garden is coming along slowly but we are getting there. We are still having a hell of a battle with nettles on the second half of the plot. Our very friendly neighbour asked us why we don’t just spray the blighter’s and be done with it, I politely answered that we want to be as organic as we can, otherwise what is the point? We may as well not bother trying to grow our own if we are going to pump the soil full with nasty stuff. He probably thinks we are barmy of course and cannot see the point in us out there, every spare hour we can grab, digging like crazy people possessed.
Anyhoo, we now have 5 lovely vegetable beds all fed with lovely well-rotted manure and organic compost, ready to nurture our seedlings and sowings. Oh, that reminds me, must get the carrots, beets, peas and parsnips in soon!
Oh yes, the sweet smell of success is finally in the air. After many weeks, days and long hours, blood (quite literally, those bramble thorns are evil) sweat and near to tears we have at last rid the vegetable garden plot of those wretched brambles. And the roots. Yeee ha!
There are now 2 workable and very usable vegetable beds, already planted up with second early potatoes, onion sets, garlic and broad beans. What a difference it makes to be able to see the fruits of our very hard labour come together, to actually be able to get out there and sow, rather than wade through 12 feet of brambles. Fantastic. Another 2 beds will be finished by this weekend, then bed number 5 will be next on the list to get into position. This will still leave a lot of space free so we need to make up our minds if another fruit tree will take position or to go for more beds. Hmmm decisions.
There’s still lots of work do, more agony to place upon our already aching muscles and limbs. We are not even half way through the whole plot that we have allocated for vegetable and soft fruit growing, but, the fact that the brambles roots are all out, thats got to make the whole process a little easier. Nettles are still a problem in next section of the plot, there are lots of them and those roots are just mind blowing. Its like an underground spaghetti frenzy going on. We are finding that digging at least a foot of the top soil is removing the runners, then, digging down a little further reveals the backbone of it all. Its hard going but its getting somewhere now, looking like a vegetable garden, behaving as a vegetable garden, which makes it all worth while really.
To improve the soil and feed it we have been using organic vegetable compost, those greedy bramble roots must have really taken it out of the soil even though its fully workable and seems quite reasonable considering. We have been composting like mad since moving into the property in November, sadly our own homemade compost is not quite ready to use just yet. Its going to be left to rot down, hopefully to be used this autumn. The hens oblige everyday with fresh droppings and we are actually running out of room to compost it all. My parents are now getting lots of free bags of straw and chicken poop till we get our act together and make wooden compost bins from the free pallets that we have been collecting. Anyone fancy some free bags of poo?
A quick update on how the vegetable garden is progressing and what we are now sowing and growing. We had gravel boards delivered on Sunday with every intention of getting some frames built, but due to terrible weather conditions this was not possible to finish. We did get some more digging and weeding done, as well as digging in tons of organic matter to feed the soil.
The broad beans we potted up are germinating nicely on the window sill and are ready to plant out. Our garlic is going great guns, fingers crossed tightly that the very frosty weather recently has helped the cloves to split, seeing as we potted them up late. We are now sowing Brussels sprouts, sweet corn and cauliflower. Once the beds are completed the potatoes will be planted out as well as 2 varieties of onion sets.
The photo is a runner bean germinating from last year. We will be starting our runners off in pots this year, rather than sowing directly into the ground due to a terrible time with the seed beans being eaten below soil level. This meant we had to do a very late sowing of runners in pots and hope for the best. Due to a warm snap at the end of summer we were lucky to get a couple of harvests, but this year we hope to harvest a lot more.
We’re not lucky enough to have a glass greenhouse so windowsill space is getting tight. We purchased a mini greenhouse, yeah we know they are a bit flimsy but it helps out with sowing space!
Yesterday we spent a lot of time in the vegetable garden and mini orchard area, clearing up as much of the twigs, branches and debris as possible by way of a good fire. Although we did clear a lot, we still have a fair few piles of it to burn.
The brambles are all cut down and there are only a few roots left in the ground, due for removal today. Hopefully we will have time to get some boards assembled to make frames. A quarter of the veg plot has been well dug over and weeded within an inch of its life. This area is now ready to receive some well rotted organic matter once the frames are in place. Then, we can sow!
No rest for the wicked, best get back out there and DIG!