Friday, June 17, 2011

Fruitless furtling

As the rain continues to fall I've been busy up at the plot and in the garden at home. We've gone from drought conditions to ark building weather and I'm getting soaked so often my feet are in danger of webbing!

Earlier this week I harvested the last of the winter peas. They were a variety called 'Douce Provence', sown in January and they did really well in frozen clay! I can't tell you how they taste cooked because none ever made it that far, I graze on them straight from the pod while I work. By the time they fill the pod they have lost their sweetness but at this stage the chickens love the peas and the horses enjoy the pods. Nothing much gets wasted hereabouts!
The sudden change of weather has wreaked havoc on the purple garlic. Almost every bulb swelled too quickly and split. This hasn't happened to me before so I'm at a bit of a loss. I assume the bulbs won't store well dried in this condition so what shall I do with fifty or so bulbs of immature, split garlic?
So far, strangely, the white variety is unaffected.

Some crops though are lovin' the rain. Remember the potatoes so badly frosted in April?
Well they have recovered and bushed up and are just about to flower. I had an optimistic furtle today (furtle is a slightly rude, very old fashioned English word for a furtive fumble that has now come to be commonly used for rooting around for spuds) but sadly it seems that the lush top growth is not evidence of fat little tubers beneath. All I turned up was a handful of slugs.

 Tomatoes too are enjoying the rain. These are gardeners delight, always the first to come ready. I can't wait to taste my fist home grown tomato of the year!

Today I took advantage of the rain to get started on my 'lasagne gardening' project. I'm doing this as a last ditch attempt to make the area in front of my shed productive. 
Currently the ground is so hard as to be impenetrable and if this doesn't work I'm going to return it to it's original use as a car park!
For anyone who's never made a lasagne bed, here's how I did it.

I've been getting my neighbours to save me their newspapers and I laid these down directly onto the weedy, scrubby grass. The area is on quite a slope so I bordered the lowest edge with clods of clay to stop the whole thing washing away.

Each layer must be thoroughly soaked before moving on to the next so it's the perfect job for a rainy day.
The next layer is manure.
This is to lure the worms up from the ground through the paper to start working your bed for you.

After the manure is soaked you add a brown layer, something very water absorbent. I use Aubiose (shredded hemp horse bedding) This is from the henhouse and contains some poultry manure too.
Once that's good and wet add a thick layer of green waste, veggie peelings, grass cuttings that sort of thing.

Here you can see the four layers. Paper, manure, absorbent, green.
The final layer (for now) is a thick blanket of straw. Hay or dried grass cuttings would be fine too. This will keep your bed warm and moist for some speedy composting action.
In a week or two this will slump down and I will probably add more layers.
Then, in the autumn, I plan to move my raspberry plants here. I'll let you know how they get on.



Heiko said...

I guess your breath will be a bit... you know with all that garlic you'll be eating... ;) Anyway, this lasagne method I should probably apply to some of my beds wich are rock hard. When moving some 30 m3 of soil at the top of our land to level it for our caravan we came to layers which could only be worked with a pick axe!

sunflower said...

Hi Heiko!
hmmmm....I might try to puree the garlic with some oil and freeze it for cooking with.
As for the lasagne bed, I've done it before and found that after a couple of seasons with raspberries, squashes and stuff growing in the mulch you can dig quite easily into the soil beneath.
Here's hoping anyway!