Zaks garden, creatures and life

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ready, Onion set, Go!

The weather has now improved sufficient to actually start in the garden. The small bed has been dug, cleared of weeds and harrowed. A few logs laid around the edges to help keep the weeds from growing inwards.

Into this bed so far have gone three rows of red shallots and five rows of white onions. This leaves about a two foot space in the middle. My main reason for wishing to go over to raised beds is the difficulty in weeding large beds without leaving such big gaps productivity is poor as the space is underutilized. I think I will leave a gap through the middle of this bed, so can probably get another two rows of onions in on the side the shallots are on.

The rest of the beds still need digging and weeding. I will probably start with the top bed in order to get some potatoes in soon.

Tom wants to grow something this year, so Im going to give him the task of getting some sweet peas going.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Last of the beetroot

Its been a long time since I last posted on here. To be honest the weathers been rubbish, not much did well in the garden last year, and frankly, ive concentrated on my radio blog instead, which has many many more hits than this one!

But now the weather is improving, and its time to venture out onto the plot and start this seasons growing. Im pulling the last of the beetroot, theres still some carrots and parsnips to go, and the remains of the spuds. But its time now for a change, and a move to raised beds.

I will start updating this blog more often now, but still as usual just as somewhere to jot down my thoughts

Sunday, December 08, 2013

And so to bed

This past year has been rubbish in the garden really. Mostly, I have to admit, due to neglect on my part. I haven't had the enthusiasm for it as normally. But what has been apparent, is that most of the trouble has been with weeding in the large beds, and the inability to control the damn grass and weeds encroaching from the edges.

The only bed that's done really well, because weeding it was simply a case of plucking the off shoot of couch grass out as I passed, was the Asparagus bed. Ironic really as this was deliberately left to run in order to strengthen the plants for next year. What makes this bed different to the other five is that is a raised bed, about 5ft x 3ft.

So it seems now is time to start redoing the beds. I created grass paths between them last year to form the four main large beds. This winter then, at least one of those large beds is to be further divided into narrower raised beds. I still would like to keep some large beds (my large beds are about 9ft square) for brassicas and spuds,  but bordering them off so the sides don't collapse needs hefty timbers which I cant afford, not at £25 a go for an 8ft sleeper, that's a hundred quid a bed!

So i'll start with just one, which will be the current tatty patch. And very tatty it is at the moment. As it was to clean up the soil from where the chicken house had been, its currently much wider than the others, and goes right up to the fence which has Sams vines growing against it. So, the plan is to subdivide this bed into three raised beds. Two will be 2m40 x 1m20, and 30cm high, which works out at four of the 3m60 planks from the local supplier, with no waste, and a total of £30 per bed. The other will be possibly a bit longer, but considerably narrower, butted right up against the fence, and will serve to provide a better growing medium for Sams vines. I don't know how wide this will be yet, but suspect no more than 30-40cm. The pathways between them will be 60cm to allow easy passage for the lawnmower.

One big problem i've had in the garden, and which the raised beds will help solve, is carrot fly. The raised beds will not only help stop them getting on, but will act as supports to allow easier fitting of fly netting and fleece etc.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wheres me rhubarb?

Very cold and damp today. Decided the only sensible outdoor activity would be digging, so started to dig over the top plot (will have to decide whether to give them numbers or whatever to identify them). This is the one that had the brassicas in, so it was slow going to make sure all roots of past crops and any perenials were removed. Managed about two thirds.

Yesterday, I went around to Sue's and made three trips with a barrow full of rolls of turf, and one trip loaded with bags of wood chippings. These got dumped in the chicken compound, with the girls instructed to spread it out. Amazingly, they seem to have understood the command and it was all evenly distributed this morning! The black girl who had been on moult is now looking good with shiney new feathers. I took Sue a half dozen eggs in thanks.

Some of the turf has had to be used to reinforce the edge of the top plot, but theres plenty left for the paths. I also decided to remove the tree in the very corner of the garden. This is one of the self seeded plum like trees, but its in a space too close to my Rowan, and theres also an Elder growing there. I'd rather the Elder grew well for its flowers and berries, so ive cut the plum down to just a stalk. I'll remove the rest another time.

The first pH test of the top plot (top half) has shown neutral. This is a surprise, but it looks like that bed doesnt need lime, probably needs humus and fertiliser.

And as a final note, it seems someones stolen my rhubarb! The crowns were in a wheelbarrow, but that barrow is now upright and theyre missing! I suspect Julie thought they were tree roots and has thrown them in the green bin!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bedding down

Sam has asked this year to take over half the plot, so were changing the layout. Instead of two huge beds, plus Sams small bed, the big ones are being reorganised into four smaller beds with paths between. Ive managed to do two of the paths with turf from the reshaping, but that leaves two i dont have enough turf for, luckily the lady a few gardens away is getting a fruit cage (wish i was) and says i can have the turf.

We had club root last year. So no more brassicas in the top plot. Ive got a pH test kit ready, so we'll finally test the soil properly this year, and i suspect we need to add a fair bit of lime.

I'll try and get some photos on in the next day or two

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Coming back

Well, its been a very long time since i last posted on here. The reasons - many!

Firstly, time and work just got the better of me, and such things as blogs got forgotten. So, whats occured since the last post? Well, we have another baby to care for, Tom, who is showing every sign of following in big brothers footsteps. Chickens have come and gone and come, we have one of the original four left, plus four new ones. They now live in a big enclosure with huge amounts of space each. Fred, Peppa and George, and Marlon are all fine.

The garden has been a bit neglected, this last year has been terrible, and the soil is in a poor state. So, first thing to do this season is get the soil improved.

Anyone got two tonne of horsemuck?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

chook not well

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

starting to bear fruit

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Getting somewhere

Well, the tatties are in. Two rows each of pentland javelin 1st earlies and desiree maincrop, and a row of marfona to seperate them. As usual ive a load of seeds left.

Today started breezy and cold but the soil seemed warm, and although we have had frost recently they havent been 'hard', so ive taken the chance and got on with sowing, its either that or risk running out of season! Im working on the hope that the germination times, typically 14days or so, will be enough to outreach the frosts.

Okay, so five rows of carrots in total, two of autumn king, one of kings colour mix, and two of Nantes 2. Two rows of Detroit 2 beetroot, and two rows of Hollow Crown parsnips. Im thinking of a fast crop, maybe lettuce, to grow between the parsnip rows, to make use of the space.

Also in today are the peas and dwarf beans. These have gone into the raised bed, which had brassicas last year. A bamboo cane frame has been built to support the peas, which are early onwards variety, two to a cane. Because of the size of the bed, i could fit five pairs of peas in each row, and still have space either side for dwarf/french beans, so seven beans have been planted as well. I cant tell you the variety as i tore that part of the packet off last year! Since these are low growing bushy plants, about 18" high, putting them along the outside of the bed means i will be able to reach over them easily to harvest the peas.

Until now i have been in a bit of a panic about how i would fit in all the veg i wanted to grow, thinking i didnt have the space. After writing down in my diary what was sown today, theres only a few things left on the list! and it seems i have enough space for them, maybe not a huge crop, but at least some. And i havent yet taken into account the use of tubs.

With any luck, i can soon get some of the windowsil plants out into the greenhouse. I think most would appreciate potting on now.

well, no pictures today, but then you wouldnt be interested in photos of flat bare earth, which is what the beds are. Once the seeds germinate and start coming through then there will be some pictures, probably a mass of unruly carrot seedlings, since carrot seed is so had to sow finely.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Windowsill Jungle

Well, its mid april, and so far the weather has been terrible. High winds, and were still getting frosts. Apart from digging and preparing the beds, which i have finally finished today, nothing has got done outside. This is the 2nd Main bed, its ready now for sowing. The onions and garlic are already in having overwintered, and the cabbages there are being slowly used as treats for the chooks.

The small bed has been bordered with salvaged planks from an old fence panel, just to give it some definition and help stop the grass reinvading it. Brussels sprouts i think will be going in here. Beyond it you can see the 2nd raised bed, which has been planted with Asparagus crowns.

The 1st raised bed has been cleared. This will be used for this years 'Legume a poit' (pointy veg?), or maybe peas and beans. The rhubarb behind it seems to be doing well, after having a sack of horse poo dumped on it in autumn.

and so onto Main Bed no 1. This needed completely digging over, and expanding. The front half had manure last year, but the newly opened sections had the usual variety of roots, weeds and rocks. Five rows of potatoes are going in here, with sweetcorn in a block at the far end, which has a triangular profile
As i said, the rhubarb looks alright

Everything else is growing on every available windowsill. After putting the first batch of chilis in the greenhouse too early, new cayenne and jalapeno plants are growing, along with californian yellow sweet peppers, moneymaker tomatoes, the sweetcorn F1 tuxedo, black beauty courgettes, and a few sunflowers.

The first batch of Brussels didnt come up, but a bit of trading obtained me some fresh seed in exchange for some advice and a few seed potatoes. These are coming up nicely now. The weather is good enough today to get the potatoes in, so at least that job will be taken care of. However this mornings frost rules out much else today.

The girls are now laying 3-4 eggs a day, whilst systematically stripping my lawn and munching their way through the cabbages.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Amazed! First Egg

the girls moved in yesterday afternoon, this morning, Bocky was the only one who wasnt out in the run, instead she was sat in a corner in the house, and heres why -
she is obviously more than happy in her new home. After, they all went outside to explore and to try the treat i had put out for them, some ncie cooked rice. They loved it

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Arrival of the Ladies

we collected the chooks today, after Sam had been riding and we'd had chips!

they are settling into their new home now

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Last of the roots

Its been quite a while since my last post on here. Much has occured, but sadly little of it involving decent veg. This year has been terrible on the plot. The sweetcorn came to nothing, neither did the onions. The potatos were ok but not great yield. Carrots and other roots marginal. I have just pulled the last of the root veg, shown below

That said, we had some of the carrots, parsnips, and a leek with dinner today, roasted in a little olive oil, and they were very nice. The leeks seem to have done fairly, its the first time ive grown them and i didnt really do them properly. Last week i had my one and only sweet pepper as part of my fried rice, it was small but tasty. Most greenhouse veg didnt do too well due to the greenhouse move, but the courgettes did ok. As for the pumpkins and squash, they rotted.

Were on our way towards next years crops now. The onions and garlic are in and growing. The rhubarb is well manured up, and the beds are being prepared. Spring cabbages are already in and doing well. For the first time this year i have managed to get a load of manure. Thats being dug into the plots that wont have root veg next year. I think we will stick to simple veg, the sort of stuff we like, rather than anything experimental. The apple trees have been grease banded, and all the leaves bagged and stacked for leaf mould.

Of the four cauliflower plants, one grew a curd, but then rotted before i could use it. But a second one is hearting up now, im keeping a close eye on it, and we will eat that as soon as it looks big enough. The calabrese is the one thing that has done really well, we had that with dinner today as well.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sad Farewell to Jack

Sadly, we no longer have Jack. He's ok, but not living with us. We knew when we got him that there was a fine line between being able to give him all he needed or not, and unfortunately we couldnt. Jacks unknown parentage meant that it was impossible to know how big or fast he would grow, and he grew big. Our working lives would not allow us sufficient time to give him the exercise he needed, and he didnt take to living outside. For a couple of weeks we tried everything we could, but in the end we had to make the decision for him to be rehomed. This turned out to be one of the hardest, most heartbreaking decisions we've had to make. Julie was very upset, I didnt think i was bothered by it, until my first day off work on my own, and not having Jack there felt horrible. Just a few months and he had become so much a part of our lives, everything felt strange without him. Even now, a couple of weeks since he went to his new home, im still upset writing about it. We loved him and he loved us in return, watching him grow from a clumsy puppy into a strong, alert, happy young dog. Sam is the least affected by his going away. Sam is at an age where every question is 'why?', so I told him that Jack is now a big doggie and has gone away to work helping other people. This answer seems to be satisfactory to Sam, he still mentions Jack, but doesnt ask where he is now. Occasionally he will ask if he is coming home soon, and i have to try not to cry. Jacks new family have a couple of teenage kids to take him for walks, and were assured that there is always someone in the house, so he won't be left.

Parts of Jacks enclosure have been recycled, in particular the gate which has become the gate of the chicken run. I can't bring myself to do anything with his kennel. A lot of care, effort, time and love went into building it for him, and its like its my last link to him. Eventually i will dismantle it i suppose, but i cant let anyone else have it as is. I will probably convert it into planters or bird boxes or hedgehog boxes, im sure Jack would approve of that.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The How's, Why's, and D'ya mind if i dont's...

Those of you out there that are avid readers of my blog, may have noticed that theres not been an update for some time (unless you've been distracted by big brother or an interesting new shade of paint you've had to watch dry), well, this is because quite simply ive been too busy. Along with having to do mundane tedious tasks like go to work, and somehow maintaining a fairly decent level on my university assignments, ive had many construction jobs in the garden to deal with. The first of which was a house for Jack, the picture below shows its framework

I wanted Jacks outdoor house to be rather more than a kennel, this was to be something to keep him out of poor weather, warm when its cold, cool when its hot. None of your poor quality quarter inch shiplap here, Jacks house was built to last from half inch tongue and groove, and 10ply marine graded plywood for the floor and roof. It has two rooms, the inner 'bedroom' being well away from the door so theres no draughs, and the roof comes off if needed. It even says 'Jack' carved over the door.
Jacks new house goes next to the animals houses, but the roof over them was in very bad shape and leaking badly. So, a new roof and enclosure has been built, using triple wall polycarbinate sheets, zinc flashed, and even fitted with guttering. This goes to yet another rain butt. The down side to all this construction was the need to move the greenhouse, and contents, some 100ft down the garden, and the resulting sacrifice of what may have been sprouts, and several french bean plants, which happened to be growing at the greenhouses new location. But now all the veg is down the bottom on the plot, I just need some guttering and a rain butt for the greenhouse.
The new enclosure also has a wire meshed run for Jack.
Freddy of course, was most curious of this new development in his empire
Most of the veg garden is growing reasonably well now, ive a big jar of beetroot pickling nicely, and were eating plenty of fresh spuds and carrots. A new pea frame had to be built for the second lot of pea plants, and a third row of autumn king carrots went in today.
The acorns i collected from the old tree behind my mums house, where we used to play as kids, have become a miniature oak forest in a tub
Also as part of this run of wood based projects, a fence is going across to divide the animals/sams/driveway area from the lawn and veg parts of the garden. This is taking some time, as apart from the posts, which are tanilised timber, the rest of the fence is being made from pallets. I also found out (after i had cut the posts) that a minimum of 45inches is needed to prevent a three way cross doggie like Jack from jumping over.
Jack, as im sure you can guess, is none too impressed by this curtailing of his freedom, firstly by a wire walled run, then by a spikey topped fence that will stop him getting access to Sams toys to happily chew on the lawn
Further work has also commenced with the henhouse - the pophole 'tunnel' has been completed, so the house will mate securely to the run, and the perch has been fitted. The run still needs the end panel wiring, and a door fitting. All that remains on the house is the low level ventinlation holes, and the window.
I plan on using the glass salvaged from an old display cabinate for the window. This has a nice frosted pattern on it. So, today i went to cut the glass to size. Armed with my brand new (less than 15mins old) glasscutter, i scored the pane neatly and gave it a sharp tap - it did nothing. Now, i know all about how glass is made, but lets face it im not a glazer. It didnt occur to me that the panes reluctance to snap indicated anything more than me being a bit wimpy in how hard i struck it. So i hit it again, and it went -BANG! and promptly exploded into a million pieces

Oooops! yes, im afraid it never entered my head that it could be safety glass. I now have the slow task of retriving all these shards from the lawn, a job i gave up for the evening after finding the only truly sharp piece, by collecting it in the end of my thumb. I still intend to use the other pane of this glass, but have now worked out a way of doing so without having to cut it.

The fruit and nut hedge is coming along, the raspberries have done well, and despite there not being many canes we have had some quite large fruit, as a result of all this rain. Of my four new bushes, the loganberry and redcurrent have not shown any fruit, but the blackcurrent has done pretty well

and the tayberry had around six fruits all told, a couple of which i managed to pick for Julie before the birds ate them.
The marigolds are prtecting the carrots, and looking and smelling great

and Sams sunflower, that he originally brought home from school a couple of inches high, is now some 6ft tall and about to bloom

although theres no fruit yet, Sams pumpkin plants are cracking on, and flowers are begining to form

the old apple tree is once again showing signs of a good yield. I cut this back quite severly last year, and theres evidence of wooly aphis again, but it shows no sign of retiring just yet

and to finish with, Julies favourite, the peas. The first pods were ready today, and with the new frame in place the second set of plants are now tied in. Hopefully next year i will be able to devote a longer section of ground to the peas

Monday, June 18, 2007

Garlic Flavoured Dog

Ive pulled all the garlic today. It was maybe not quite as ready as i would have liked, but there was evidence of what could be white rot starting to set in, so better to get them out and dried.

the evidence for white rot are the fungal mycelliae on the bulbs, and the blackening of parts of the necks. Some of the bulbs, perhaps the worst affected, are small. One of the larger bulbs i sacrificed to examine it internally. As can be seen from the picture of the cloves though, the rot doesnt seem to have had time to penetrate into the bulbs

the garlic is now all hung in the garage to cure. What a wonderfull smell there is in there!

Elsewhere on the plot, most things are doing ok. Sam, thinking he was helping me with the weeding, kindly and very selectively pulled out all but about two of the parsnips, so thats the end of them. First time ever that i had got them to grow for me as well. He also strategically raked over a third of a row of carrot seedlings and half the cauliflowers, and also removed a whole side of my defensive marigold ring. What marigolds remain however are blooming and smell fantastic. Tomatoes are flowering and fruiting, softfruits are forming and being rapidly removed by the birds, pea pods are forming... i just need to somehow stop Sam from removing any more, and to stop the dog from running all over the plots and bouncing through the potato jungle. Oddly, this dog likes garlic! he kept pinching them as i layed them out, and even now has a bulb in his bed that he chews on.

The one courgette plant i have also seems to be doing very well. Ive never done these before, but then a lot of things in the garden this year ive never tried before

the main bed isnt too bad, but the lettuce are a bit yellow. Ive put some growmore down tonight. The spring cabbage sprung and is now at trifid level, we simply couldnt eat enough of it, so most will go in the compost. I have no idea if the sprout seeds germinated as they are burried under a wall of weeds. The calabrese seedlings raised in the greenhouse are doing well though, as are the butternut squash which i half hoped would only give me a couple of seedlings (all eight germinated)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Marigold Company! Stand To!

Listen In! Intellegence reports that enemy carrot fly are advancing towards the plot. Marigold companies Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta will form a defensive perimeter at 100mm...

the first row of autumn king are growing, and two more rows will be going in shortly, so a ring of french marigolds have been planted around the carrot plot. Hopefully these will confuse and deter the carrot fly. The runner beans are doing fine, starting to find their way up against the canes

Mick next door has given me some sweet pepper plants. I have to get these into one of the growbags soon, but today i had to bolt the greenhouse down. The courgette plant is storming ahead, and looks about to flower. Ive no idea at all what im meant to do with it!

The early potatoes now resemble a rainforest

Sams sunflower is now nearly 3ft tall, and a hunting spider has moved in to the head. Jack had his injection, and he never eaven noticed it. He wasnt too happy in the car, but on the way home he was a bit calmer, i think he was begining to realise it wasnt anything to worry about.