Down on the Allotment

Matron grows vegetables and fruit in a Hampshire garden. I've been growing veggies since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Some traditional varieties and old favourites as well as new ideas. I share my garden with my allotment assistant Daisy the Labrador. On Twitter as @MatronsVeggies

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

What to do with garden waste

 I've been making progress in my new garden.  These lovely Romanesco courgette seeds were up and germinated within just 3 days.  It has been exceptionally warm in the last week here in the South of the UK.
 I was out in my front garden doing some work and this blackbird was just so excited, he was hopping between my feet and right under my trowel to get to the creepy crawlies that I was digging up.  Top of the menu was some lovely chafer grubs I disturbed.
My new local authorty here is the New Forest district council, and unlike my old home in London they do not take away garden waste along with the household waste.  You have to pay for each single garden waste bag (£30 per year) which is collected every 2 weeks.   I could fill one of those bags in 5 minutes so I am having to make regular trips to the council dump at the moment.  An interesting way of disposing of nasty weeds like dandelion, dock, bindweed is to soak it underwater in a bucket and make a liquid plant feed - just as you would with comfrey or nettles.   Make those pesky weeds work in my favour for a change!
 Garden waste and lawn clippings which are suitable for composting go in my new bin.  Grass on its own must be mixed with brown leaves, twigs and cardboard to make a good healthy mix of nitrogen and carbon.
 I brought some Tayberry cuttings from my old garden, they seem to be doing well in their new spot.  A Tayberry is a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry.  I seem to have a sandy loam soil here in the New Forest, so a good dressing of my horse manure compost was just the ticket.
Meanwhile the tomatoes and chillis are pretty much ready to be planted out.  I must be absolutely sure there will be no more frosts before I put them out in their final position.  As they say in Scotland (apparently..) "Ne'er cast a clout till May is out" - so there you have it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Codling Moth Trap

 I have inherited two old apple trees in my new garden.  They are covered in blossom at the moment, even after a first pruning a couple of weeks ago to bring them under control.  I thought I would try to control the number of maggots in the apples when they crop, so the timing of a codling moth trap is important.
 Over the past May Bank holiday weekend in the UK we have had some unprecedented hot weather here and the nights have been warm too.  The bees were busy pollinating the flowers and nearly all of them have now gone over and the petals have started to drop.
 The instructions state that the normal time that the moths fly and attack the apples is during warm nights in mid to late May, but it does mention exceptionally warm weather may encourage them to come out earlier, so I decided to put the trap out now.
 A little rubber plug has been impregnated with the scent of a female codling moth.  All the little  Boy moths fly around looking to get lucky, smell a willing Female moth inside the trap... fly in... and get stuck on the sticky card.  I will keep checking over the next days and weeks to see if anything flies in.
The trap is hung in the trees at head hight, it is effective for an area of about 15 metres (50 feet) of the trap and should last about 5 weeks before a second pheromone lure and another sticky mat is replaced.  This takes me up to the beginning of July when I will replace it for another 5 weeks.   What I am going to do with tons and tons of eating apples this Autumn is on my mind now.  Perhaps I could buy a small press?  Make apple juice or cider?...

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Planting Out

 Many of the pots I brought with me during the move need to be planted out as soon as possible.  Plants are just beginning a major growth spurt as the weather warms up.  These rhubarb crowns will perk up in a while, they had been in pots since February.
 A good amount of my well rotted horse manure and a couple of days of heavy rain will give them the best start possible.  I won't be picking any sticks this year, and very few next year to give them an opportunity to build up healthy roots.
 The raspberry canes have travelled well.  This new growth looks healthy and vigorous. I'm pretty sure this is an Autumn fruiting variety which fruits on this years' growth in about September.  I probably won't allow it to put energy into flowers or fruit this year. So if I see any developing I will prune them out so they have a chance to establish well.  I sprinkled some mycorrhizal fungi on the roots as I was planting them.  I've had good results with this in the past.  The fungi (when in direct contact with the roots) enables the plant to better take up nutrients from the soil.
 Needless to say, these also had a good helping of well rotted horse manure and some heavy rain to get them started.
 According to the land surveys prior to the purchase of this new house, the soil is described as 'sandy loam' - it certainly looks and feels like it.  I might invest in a soil testing kit just to see what I have here, but like the rest of the New Forest it will be an acid soil.
Meanwhile, Daisy has been making herself at home watching the seagulls down on the Quay at Lymington.