|Seed bed containing Purple Sprouting Brocolli|
|Seed bed containing Purple Sprouting Brocolli|
I’ve chosen this little green beetle as a Wednesday Wiggler because our garden is currently full of them.
I’ve been trying to identify and hunt out information on them over the past couple of days so that I can determine if I need to worry about these little bugs eating our veggies.
They’re a metallic green in colour, about 4mm long with the females slightly longer at about 7mm. The female also has a swollen black abdomen prior to egg laying during the mating season which lasts from March to October.
It’s been a while since I updated the blog on the goings on in our own veggie garden so on one of the warmest days so far this year (today it reached 35oC in the polytunnel) I took a few snaps. There’s not much happening above ground at the moment but hopefully lots going on below.
This bed is now full of early potatoes (Orla variety) that were chitted and planted on the 27th March.
This particular 2.5kg bag were certified organic (bought from Highbank Farm Shop in County Kilkenny) and has filled this bed.
A slightly larger bed has been prepared ready for the main crops that will be going in within the next couple of weeks.
(For more info on potatoes see here.)
The next bed contains the overwintering onions and garlic that I wrote about here.
They’re coming along well now and the main task over the coming weeks in this bed will be to keep the weeds away as they’ll be competing for space.
You might notice the stones here…. it doesn’t matter how often I pick them up, they keep coming back!
This is the rest of the old strawberry bed that we’re chipping away at. Our neighbours cattle reached over and ate half of it last year (even cheekier!) but as this bed has now been in production for a full three years we’ll be collecting the strawberry runners ready to move to a new location and composting the old plants.
See here for a post on looking after strawberry beds.
This is the ‘best’ strawberry bed that didn’t need too much work to help it along this spring. We just removed all the dead or rotten foliage, trimmed off any old runners and generally tidied up.
Hopefully we can look forward to another lovely crop of Cambridge strawberries this summer.
We’ll net them once the flowers start to form to protect them from birds and give them a seaweed feed too.
This is the new shallot and onion bed that we planted sets into on 16th March.
We sowed Red Sun and Sturron but have half a bed empty so buying some more sets is on my to do list. You might have noticed that there’s not a lot of difference in growth between these and the overwintering ones. We’ll be harvesting both beds at about the same time.
One thing we’ve learnt from previous years is that we eat lots of onions!
The curly kale is starting to go to seed now so we’re letting it go and will save the seeds.
We’ve been harvesting the leaves from these plants since August and they’re one of our favourite overwintering plants.
They’re a very hardy crop and easy to grow and manage.
See here for more tips on growing this fab leafy veg.
Mr G planted a few fast growing radishes alongside the slow growing parsnips on the 22nd March and it’s a race against the slugs.
I’ll be heading out with my torch over the next few evenings to see if I can catch a few of the little blighters!
Sown last April or May it’s only just starting to produce now.
However, it longevity is helping me out as I’ve earmarked the space it’s growing in for a carrot crop later in the year - so as these plants are looking too good to compost I’m happy to leave them there and they’ll prevent me from planting up the space too soon!
The mangetout planted directly on 25th February has been a bit patchy germinating. That shouldn’t be a problem though as I’ve planting a few more seeds this week giving us a successional crop.
There’s no sign of the basil (I knew I was pushing my luck there), and the french beans again are only just germinating.
We have lots of seeds on the go on windowsills and in the tunnel… here are some peas I’m starting off in the tunnel ready to plant outside when they’re a few inches tall.
You can see how quickly they dry out in the tunnel…. they were soaked yesterday when they were moved in there and just 24 hours later have dried out significantly.
Again we like to plant a mixture of transplants and seeds to give a succession of crops rather than a glut.
We’ve also planted beetroot, spinach, scallions, thyme, carrots and parsnips directly inside and out.
There’s still lots to do over the coming couple of weeks. April is said to be the busy month for good reason!
Along with getting lots more veg sown and planted our priority over the coming weeks is to sort out an irregation system to/in the polytunnel.
As you may have noticed, despite liberal quantities of organic matter being added to the beds to help with drainage, it gets desperately dry in there and in the summer months we could be watering two or three times a day, putting any ideas of weekends or holidays away completely out of the question.
We have two large builders water tanks and some old well pipe ready to go, and we’ll be running some guttering off the house to capture the water. I’ll write a post once it’s up and running.
I just thought I’d share this fabulous photo taken by one of the Goresbridge Community Gardeners, James Burke of Bigger Picture Web, who captured a picture of nitrogen nodules on a field bean I took along to show the group last week.
Over the winter months I’ve been growing field beans in one of my veggie beds as a green manure. Green Manures are used as a means of adding organic matter back into the soil, and are particularly handy for people who’re growing veg and don’t have a ready supply of organic matter (compost or manure).
As members of the legume (pea and bean) family, they’re able to make their own nitrogen and are known as nitrogen fixers. Legumes store it in little nodules (as can be seen here) and once the nodules have separated from the plant or the plant decomposes, the nitrogen is released and is available to other plants. Plants from other vegetable families get their nitrogen from the soil, usually from plant debris (or from fertilisers).
Green manures from the legume family are therefore great to grow before anything from the brassica family (cabbages etc) as the big leafy green crops will relish the additional nitrogen and are unable to make it themselves.
*It might surprise many gardeners who are familiar with crop rotation that botanists now believe that the root nodules accumulate half of the total nitrogen and that it only becomes available to other plants when the nodules are removed from the plant. This only happens when the plant is severely stressed from shade or drought or when the root dies.
Also, when the plant is young about 40% of the nitrogen is in the roots with the rest in the foliage and stems. Once the plant has flowered the reserves of nitrogen in the roots drop to 3-6% with 8-10% in the leaves and stems. The remaining 70-90% is stored in the seeds and seed pods.
What this means for most of us hobby gardeners is that the roots of the pea and bean crops that we have allowed to flower and fruit for the cooking pot are unlikely to be of any nutritional benefit to the veg following them in our crop rotations as is currently believed…. green manures are the key.