Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Friday, 13 May 2011

Thwarted Plans and No Dig

Oh how nature laughs and thumbs her nose when allotmenteers make their plans for the growing season! No sooner had I published my plot plan for the year and mentioned a few projects, when she decreed we'd have the driest March and April for decades.

The ground became parched and hardened, defeating my spring clearance and digging efforts. So rather than following my lovely plan, I've had to shove things in where I've been able to get any decent tilth at all. Even with over an inch of rain last weekend, cracks are still to be seen and a fair portion of the plot remains undiggable.

Thank goodness I religiously watered my trees during this time, so the prolific spring blossom has resulted in an excellent fruit set on my apples and pears. The juvenile fruits spread beneath the cherry tree warn that the annual 'June Drop' is still to come and that watering may have to continue if early promise is to result in a bumper fruit harvest in the autumn.

A shelved project for this year is my 'Dig' vs. 'No Dig'* comparison as I can't do anything with the area earmarked for the 'Dig' portion of the trial next to where I've installed my 'No Dig' bed. I guess this means the 'No Dig' method wins this year.

The picture shows the bed just before I sowed my salad leaves selection. It's beneath the apple and pear trees in a cooler, more shaded spot on the plot which will prevent the leaves from bolting so quickly as summer takes hold. The raised bed was a freebie from Garden Answers last year and is probably the smartest thing on my plot. It swallowed up an entire bin of compost in one gulp ready for planting. You'll see I'm also trying out the square foot style of gardening for the first time.

I don't really go for ready mixed selections of leaves as I've found that one leaf tends to dominate over the others (usually mustard). I prefer to make my own mixes instead. My selection this time is:

Beetroot 'Bull's Blood'
Coriander
Greek Cress
Lemon Coriander
Lettuce 'Little Gem'
Lettuce 'Mint Crisp'
Lettuce Morton's 'Secret Mix' very mixed lettuces (from Ben at Real Seeds)
Spinach 'Reddy'
Wild Rocket

I'll combine that little lot with the self-sown sorrel, nasturtiums (leaves and flowers) and fennel I have elsewhere on the plot :)

What are you trying for the first time this year and has the weather thwarted any of your plans so far?

* = Charles Dowding is the expert on the No Dig method and his website is a mine of information on this and organic growing. Go and hear him speak if you get the chance: his talk at the Bath University Gardening Club last year was inspirational.

9 comments:

  1. Oooh, that looks like the Linkaboard raised bed I have round my rhubarb - likewise the smartest thing on the plot! Like the experiment with square bed gardening, should look lovely when everything is up. Sorry you can't dig.

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  2. I'm going to have a go at growing a courgette in one of my canvas planters - not sure it will work, but we eat a lot of courgettes and are getting frustrated at not having space to grow all the fruit & veg we want to try.

    The weather is just meaning everything is getting done later and later as I'm spending so much of my gardening time watering pots ... at this rate I'll still be sowing seeds in July ::)

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  3. very smart indeed! I like the idea of mixing your own seed for salad leaves - I may try that.
    I'm trying globe artichokes for the first time, but won't be eating any til next year.
    PS One free nasturtium seedling has appeared so far!

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  4. We must be getting all of your rain this Spring--wettest Seattle Spring in years! I'm growing kiwi fruit for the first time this year.

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  5. With some Bulls Blood in you And Wild Rocket there will be no stopping you!
    Off out to shift an irrigator around!
    Best
    R

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  6. I'm growing spinach and pak choi for the first time, both due to free seeds that came with magazines. Going well so far, but the weeds have grown like crazy since we had a little rain.

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  7. Hi VP, so good to Meet at Malvern; your now on my 'following' list, and I look forward to further chats, whether online, or for real. A. (WSC or GGN, or any of the others!)

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  8. It may just be me, but when the ground is very dry I find seeds germinate much better if I water the ground first and then sow the seeds after. I can’t see any real logic for this, as watering seeds after sowing seems more intuitive, but it works better for me. Maybe its nature. Is wind more common after rain than before to distribute seeds?

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  9. Janet - well spotted!

    Juliet - I think I'll be doing the same...

    Lu - I have a globe artichoke too - I'm growing it for the bees though

    Kelli - welcome! I've heard how wet it is over there. We gardeners are never satisfied are we?

    Robert - need a hand? ;)

    Ozhene - I must check on mine (weeds that is)

    Ann - it was great to see you again amd thanks for following :)

    Simone - welcome. Watering the ground before ensures the water's right by where the seed is as you can see whether you've watered enough. In my experience the wind gets up just before it rains which would make sense for wind distributed seeds as they'd get distributed away from the parent plant and then have water to help them grow. Well, that's how my logic works anyway :)

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