Saturday, 30 April 2016

Sprouting willow wigwam

The willow wigwam that I made at Pam Goddard's workshop at the Five a Day Market Garden earlier this year has started sprouting. Pam warned us this would happen if we didn't treat the ends of the uprights. I decided to let it be and see what happens, although I shall keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn't go too mad and hinder the growth of the peas.

Pam suggested soaking the ends in wood preservative but I have also read that letting the whole thing dry out completely before putting it into the ground should stop the sprouting. A Facebook friend wondered if boiling the ends would work. I wondered if that might make the supports more susceptible to rotting. However, another friend found an interesting article that includes a description of the "buff" willow process, which involves boiling (Willow for Basketmaking and Structures). All fascinating stuff. 

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Absence makes the beans grow faster

April is a strange time of year in the UK: the end of April and the beginning or May particularly so. Those of us who grow vegetables started sowing seeds at least a couple of months ago into trays and pots in the greenhouse or indoors. By now, many of the seedlings are growing well and the temptation is to plant them out. Some of the smaller plants can be protected to a certain degree with cloches or fleece but that is a bit more difficult with runner beans.

A week ago, my runner beans were about 6-8 inches tall. Time to think about hardening them off and planting them out I thought. The only problem was that I was away working at a conference in Derbyshire for a few days and I didn't want to leave them outside in case of frost. When I came back the beans had gone berserk and tripled in height! They had started winding themselves around each other but I managed to disentangle them and wrap each one around twigs that I had pruned off our rampant Garrya elliptica.

I put the trays out yesterday but nearly forgot to bring them back in when evening fell. Just as well as I did remember because we had rain followed by a rapid drop in temperature and a heavy frost. The brassicas, swiss chard and alliums were fine although some of the brassicas did have a nice crusty ice/frost coating this morning. I doubt the beans would have fared well.

The forecast for the coming week is unsettled for us here in Caversham. It looks like a repeat of last year; everything will be planted out late yet again.  

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Beautiful ground cover but it has to go

The leaves look lovely at this time of year. In the autumn the flowers are a welcome splash of colour and the insects love it. But the autumn flowering Cyclamen hederifolium has to go. What started out as a single corm 15 years ago is now taking over the partly shady area next to the shed. They share the patch with my Egyptian walking onions but there is nowhere for the onions to walk to at the moment!

I'm keeping a couple of the cyclamen but the rest have to go. Some have already gone to friends and the rest are being offered to neighbours and on Freegle.

Be warned: they provide attractive ground cover but they self seed very easily and grow rapidly under the right conditions (partial shade and moist soil).