Lush, dark,and rich
Some courgette plants are now in a bed mulched with cardboard and rough home made compost three months ago.
The moist soil underneath is lush, dark and rich and teeming with worms.
That’s in sharp contrast to the dry and dusty bed where I have mange tout peas growing – fleeced to protect from the pigeons (see my previous post).
I gave them a good soaking and they seem to be doing OK despite the lack of mulch.
I’ve staggered the sowing of peas to try and eke out the season so they don’t all come at once.
I haven’t had much success with carrots – it could be that the seed really is too old.
I may have better luck with a new packet I bought from Real Seeds – called Manchester Table Carrot.
Sowing like mad to keep up
I also sowed some “Kyoto Market” spring onions and some more squash (North Georgia Candy Roaster and Hungarian Blue) – all in modules – to go with the Hokkaido onion squash seedlings that are already big enough to go out under fleece.
My friend Julie saved the seed and gave me some.
Monday morning was devoted to sowing beans.
The six purple ones are two kinds of runner beans and the five massive white ones are Giant Greek butter beans which I can’t wait to try.
They were another gift – this time from Kate Poland who runs Cordwainers Garden in Hackney.
I also sowed some Cherokee Trail of Tears climbing beans which I’ve never tried before (not shown).
And some Cosse Violette are going in – they’re a purple french bean that cropped well over a long period last year (see gallery below).
Borlotti beans – both climbing and dwarf varieties – will be the foundation for many delicious meals throughout the year as they can be dried and stored (not shown).
My friend Tierney came over and helped plant out the courgettes and squash as well as some more mangetout.
The peas will hopefully climb up bamboo canes and extra chicken wire tied along the fence of the new bed.
I cleared nettles the other side so we don’t get them growing through and stinging our hands when we pick the peas in about six weeks time!
The stingers went on the new compost heap.
More compost – it’s officially an obsession!
Much of the past weekend was spent turning unfinished compost from my black plastic dalek bins into a big cubic metre open heap and layering it with grass clippings, partially rotted leaves and newspaper as well as the odd bit of kitchen waste.
I have added some QR compost activator which I bought from Chase Organics.
It’s reputed to speed up the composting process so it’s ready within 4 – 6 weeks.
It was devised by May Bruce (one of the founders of the Soil Association) just after the war based on a Rudolf Steiner recipe using a biodynamic preparation of seven herbs/medicinal plants including valerian, oak bark, nettle and yarrow.
Meanwhile a massive mother heap at the bottom of the garden is yielding valuable growing material.
A major project in the next week or so will be to excavate the rest of that.
I’ll lay it around the blackcurrants, gooseberries and globe artichokes.
Then I’ll then underplant some of them with six strawberries I got at a plant swap.
And in other news…
Tierney and I also planted out cucumbers (fleeced initially as they haven’t been hardened off) and some more mixed lettuce that glowed like jewels in the freshly watered dark earth.
We moved the brassica cage (it protects the plants from pigeons and cabbage white butterflies) down the main veg bed ready for the magic caulis, the red cabbage and the cavolo nero kale that will be ready to set out in a couple of weeks.
That left the Nine Star perennial cauliflowers without protection.
After a bit of faffing we came up with a structure that works perfectly and adds an ethereal quality to the garden I think!
A veiled beauty in our midst.