Down on the Allotment

Matron grows vegetables and fruit in a courtyard garden. Which edibles will tolerate less than ideal growing conditions. Discovering how veggies can grow in partial shade.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Down in the Rhubarb Jungle

My rhubarb has been the best ever this year. The crowns are now 3 years old and I have not picked too many in past years. Each Winter I have mulched them with several inches of horse manure compost and now they are paying dividends. The stems this year are about an inch and a half thick! This is also the best year so far for my gooseberry Invicta. After a couple of years of a devastating attack of sawfly larvae, this looks to be the best year ever. Tikka and Korma the chickens are visiting again next week so I will be sure to put them to work in this area to clear some of the visiting critters in the soil below.
The New Zealand spinach has really put on a good growth spurt since I pricked them out into individual modules. The large seeds were multigerm seeds - there being up to 5 plants coming out of one seed. Individually they are doing much better but I have been reading that they dislike cold climates and prefer to be baked in a dry soil. I will wait a couple of weeks more before planting them outside.
I left one of my broccoli plants to go to seed this year. These broccoli spears will blossom into a mass of yellow flowers in a couple of weeks, this will be covered in bees!
Yet another success story on the fruit front.. these Victoria plums are just incredible. In fact, it looks like I am going to have to thin these plums considerably if the plant does not drop a few excess fruit itself. There are just too many here.
Meanwhile back in the greenhouse, I have set up my automatic watering system from Autopot. Here you can see a water tank which is connected to a series of pot trays; each tray has a valve which regulates the amount of water allowed into the trays. This is a great way of managing to water plants evenly throughout the hot Summer.
I have also planted out quite a few tomatoes today. I must bite the bullet some time and decide when it is safe to plant outside. I rekon the soil here must be warm enough and I'll take a chance that we won't get a late frost now... but you make your own minds up folks!
I planted a couple of International Kidney new potatoes in a plastic sack in the greenhouse. In a few weeks' time I look forward to an early feed of new potatoes. I wait until you can see flowers developing on the top of the plants and then wait a couple of weeks more.

20 Comments:

At 11:49 PM, Blogger kimchi said...

Totally jealous about your rhubarb - it is hard to find fresh around here (I don't know why, we are a farming state) and our plants are newly planted so we can't touch 'em! I love love love rhubarb!

 
At 12:18 AM, Blogger Dan said...

Great post, lots of interesting stuff. I thought at first the gooseberry's were cherry tomatoes already. I might try some early potatoes in sacks after your rhubarb forcing idea worked so well for me.

I was checking out the broad beans today after planting them out about a week ago. I think they are starting to set flower buds!

 
At 12:50 AM, Blogger Sande said...

Nice to see harvest time already somewhere. Your plants look great.

 
At 12:50 AM, Anonymous Karen said...

Hi Matron - Wow, you are really going gangbusters there! I posted a comment a while back but forgot to check back to see if you answered - is that just a regular plastic bag for the potatoes, or something special? Double layer or single? Holes poked in the bottom? Can you tell I haven't planted my potatoes yet?! I hope they are still viable! They're getting a little shrivelly.

 
At 7:58 AM, Blogger Matron said...

Karen - I used two potting compost bags turned inside out so that the black side is outwards. I think the bags have small holes in them anyway and I filled them with a mixture of rotted horse manure and potting compost. Should be ready in a few weeks. Nothing like an early feed of new potatoes.

 
At 9:17 AM, Blogger Magic Cochin said...

Wow! Love your productivity :-)

I find it difficult to grow rhubarb here - I know, most places it just takes off and is rampant. Talking to two neighbours the other day, they've had exactly the same problem - so maybe it's the fact we're on the silt in a cool valley that makes the difference? Or maybe the soil dries too much? Mmmmmm, I wonder?

Celia

 
At 1:02 PM, Blogger Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

The rhubarb is doing great here too I've been able to harvest it 3 times already. My gooseberries are doing great (see my blog) and so are many other things. My plum unfortunately, has no fruits whatsoever for the second year running. Bother!

 
At 2:18 PM, Anonymous kitsapFG said...

As usual - everything looks simply great! That IS a nice stand of rhubarb and it looks like you are in for a good fruit year all around.

 
At 3:14 PM, Blogger Nutty Gnome said...

I've had a great rhubarb crop this year too. My gooseberries - planted 2 years ago, are looking good as are my redcurrants, but the blackcurrants never seem to do as well. Any ideas how I can make them produce better quantities of fruit?

 
At 6:14 PM, Blogger UKBob said...

Everything is looking good Matron and is a little advanced compard to my veg.

 
At 7:20 PM, Blogger Vegetable Heaven said...

I've been working in the greenhouse today - potting up toms, chillis and aubergines. I'm going to plant out a couple of tomatoes into the border tomorrow - my first this year. Too cold up here to plant them outside yet though.

 
At 11:29 PM, Blogger Matron said...

Nutty Gnome - my blackcurrants have been disappointing for a few years too! I think a lot of soft fruit really enjoy a hard Winter because the dormant period allows them to form fruit buds. That is why soft fruit grows so well in Scotland because they have colder Winters. I don't think there is much other than good general maintenance to predict a good fruit year - it's down to the weather!

 
At 7:38 AM, Blogger Garden Pheenix said...

Congrats on your Rhubarb :c) I just planted my first ones from seed this year and it's going to be a long wait hehehe.

 
At 10:16 AM, Blogger Gary Jen Sammie and Ruby said...

Do you cover the gooseberries ? I have planted 2 bushes at Reads Retreat. Whilst one is fine, the other is losing its foliage at a rate of knots - Is this the dreaded sawfly@s ? How do I combat them and rejuvenate the bush ? Any help gratefully received.

Your Rhubarb - like mine is doing fabulously. I dont use horse manure, just liberal dressing of garden centre compost throughout the dormant period. My crown is too in its 3rd year, and has this year so far produced half a dozen decent sized crops. I try not to harvest after end of june, but sometimes temptation is too much to bear!

Take care,

Gary

 
At 10:12 PM, Blogger Matron said...

Gary - this sounds exactly like a sawfly attack. Examine the plant carefully and you will find small green caterpillars. They can easily munch through a whole bush in a couple of days. If you don't like spraying then you can hunt them down and squish them.

 
At 1:58 PM, Blogger Paul and Melanie said...

Wow... Very jealous of that rhubarb, mine seem to be a bit pants in comparisum. Think they need a good feed this winter.

Looks like your growing year is going very well indeed... :)

 
At 10:40 PM, Blogger Carrie said...

Wow! Show off, hehe. Everything looks fab and I'm not jealous at all *trying to smile sweetly*. Your rhurbarb looks fabulous, really have to get more and plant them up and then wait and wait and wait.....One day I too will have a glorious photo of my rhurbarb to share. x

 
At 8:44 AM, Anonymous Susan said...

Your rhubarb looks gorgeus! Thanks for the post

 
At 7:04 AM, Blogger Rob said...

What lovely goosegogs and plums!

Your hens are looking great there. They'll want to stay forever.

RHS Wisley is now officially 'on the list' of places to visit.

Rob

 
At 8:29 PM, Blogger Midmarsh John said...

All that talk of horse manure brought back memories. 60 years ago my mother's mother used to give me a shovel and a bucket and I would be sent to follow the coalman's horse and cart. What I collected would be put it in a hessian sack which was hung inside the rain water barrel to make a liquid fertiliser.

 

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