Monday, May 05, 2008

Last weekend was a long weekend, Thursday May 1 being the Labour Day holiday here, so I took Friday off too. Thursday was a bit grey and drizzly but Friday and Saturday were hot and steamy so I did have some opportunities for gardening.

What I got done:
I built a lasagna bed!! And promptly forgot to take a photo of it. I will try and do that this week. How I did it: I put down a layer of cardboard that I watered. Then on top of that, 2 massive bags of grass clippings that were already getting quite rotten (the smell was impressive). I spread those out with the rake then dumped on top of that a whole bag of horse manure. Raked over again. Then I got a pot, mixed some potting mix and compost and made like a little soil pocket in the bed for each courgette plant. Planted and watered them. 3 days later they seem to be thriving so I have my fingers crossed. It was done in 20 minutes, 4 courgettes, I was quite proud of myself.
I also planted the 3 biggest pumpkin vines, they were just out of control. They went in the 3 Sisters bed that I prepared last week. But the corn, I am waiting for it to be a bit bigger before planting it, maybe next weekend I will do that.
UPDATE: Here is what the finished "3 Sisters" bed looks like after planting all the pumpkins and the corn:

I started edging the plot, bloody hell it is hard work. I finally found the technique, hack away at the edge with a PICKAXE yep working like a bloody navvy, then scoop out all the rubbish with the spade. I filled a wheelbarrow over a length of about 4 metres. so only what, 35 to go? oh crap... anyway bit by bit I will get there.
Finally yesterday I went and netted all the fruit (except the late berries) so the birds don't get the abundant fruit that is forming on the strawberries and gooseberries. My neighbours actually seem to admire my big strawberry plants which pleases me no end.

What is left to do:
I have looked at the 10 day forecast and have come to the conclusion that this "Saintes Glaces" stuff is bollocks this year, they are predicting 20 degrees for the 12 and 13 May. (remember this is the legend whereby there are frosts on St Pancras Day). SO next weekend I am preparing the tomato, pepper and melon bed and sticking them in otherwise the bloody things are going to camp on my windowsills forever. I think that maybe I will try a couple of things and see what works. I am tempted to not dig the tomato area, to put down cardboard, manure and black plastic and plant the tomato plants through that. Maybe I will try that for the first one or two beds and see how it looks. I have bamboo and lots of wooden stakes for the support system.
I also need to sow more carrots and beetroot. And do a first sowing of French beans.

The state of play:
well , the fruit is doing brilliantly, I am very pleased with it.
The weed situation is bad but not hopeless, a good hoeing on a hot day should help out a bit.
There are artichokes forming and I think at least 2 will be ready this week. yum yum, that is a big success in my eyes.

The new rhubarb that I thought was dead has sprung back to life. I gave the older one a compost mulch yesterday.
There are some seedlings where I sowed carrots and beets but they are tiny. I would like to have some this year so I might try a second batch somewhere else.
The peas that were in the (now removed) polytunnel are doing well, those outside have mostly not succeeded. This evening I will sow a few more I think, give them a good compost dressing and cross my fingers.

Weather is warming up marvellously, I even got a bit sunburnt on Sunday morning. SO I am hoping that the summer harvest will soon start to look possible.

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I've had enough of tomatoes camping on my windowsill too. Any more of it and I'm going to start charging them room and board. They are going OUT this weekend....or else.

Enjoy the artichokes :-)
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