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Post  plantoid on 3/9/2014, 7:11 pm

Heeee heee , cabin fever finally broken , heehee heee  ( well almost ) Laughing  Laughing 

 

 Like the title says the wet winter cabin fever has been almost broken here in the South of Wales UK.

 We have had four days with little or no rain to speak of .

The big yellow egg thing in the blue sky has been looking down on me for the last nine days and has sent 53 Kw /hr. of solar PV generated power into the national grid or for our own use. ( This we get paid for ) .

 I’ve been prepping the gardens not only for the new season but also for the builder who should be here any day now to construct some more high raised red brick beds and finish the landscaping of the whole garden .

 

 A local horse keeper contacted me and offered me as  much stable muck with straw bedding as I can handle . I said yes please &  he loaded my trailer with about 350 kg (  about 1/3 of a ton ) .

Guess what I’ve been shovelling the last three days with a kiddies sand spade ???  Wink . Still plenty more to move from the trailer into the Dalek composters .

 

 I checked all the composters about 14 days ago & united three into one as the contents had dropped so much over winter.  The two empty composters soon filled with late or un composted stuff from last year and was inter layered with the fresh stable muck .


I now have about 2.5   cubic yards ( 2 cubic metres )  of high quality composted garden matter plus   herbivore , lagomorph , swine  , duck , goose  and poultry manure with relevant beddings  to use in the beds and the new beds this year.

 I also now have   about 1/3 of a cubic mtr  of two year old home composted manures & garden  vegetation that has sat almost a year in heavy duty plastic bags whilst the muck worms have had a year long feast.  This worm cast compost has turned into something similar to  light brown slightly dry coffee grounds  & will be used sparingly as the nutrient supply in sedge peat for my  seed compost  that goes onto the seed pots .


 Winter was so wet & bone chilling cold I left the moving of three established rhubarb crowns till yesterday. All three now sit in a temporary home of a nine square foot brick built bed till their new hotel is built close to where they were brought into being.  

I know you are supposed to split the crowns for new plants in late November, I’ve never actually moved crowns where the first green shoots are a few millimetres tall .  So this moving of them means one of two things …. they die or they thrive.  I’ve also had to cut the back & front lawns and re sow a bald patch on the back lawn.


 About the same time that the rhubarb emerged the two year old comfrey started to poke its nose out of the ground.    It seems like these two brave plants are the best indicators as to when to cut the lawn for the first time this year and that I need to get into the gardens in a few day’s time.


 I’ve harvested the final bucket of carrots sown for last years carrot week …. Many were affected by carrot root fly grubs or slugs eating their fill before me .  The Flyaway carrot variety of fly resisting carrots have done very well,  hardly any fly damage or evidence at all .

 The last five purple topped Milan  turnips ..yes massive crunchy turnips were also lifted.. tomorrow will see if any have become woody or not.


All the Brussels sprouts are now deemed a total failure along with the three types of broccoli , the sprouts have all “ blown for the full lengths of the stalks and all the broccoli’s have rotted with a black mould . The compost bins seem to have enjoyed their feed .

 The collards have broken out in flower some three weeks ago , so I hope to get some seeds off them this year. I noticed several bumble bees having fun in the flowers .


 Chou D’ Benton ( perennial kale ) has been a good source of winter greenery so has the only tall curly kale which was the only one that survived an invasion of caterpillars courtesy of the cabbage white butterfly whilst we were away on holiday last year . Initially it had rather bitter leathery leaves but once given a severe military haircut & a light bone meal feed it decided to be nice an produced some softer, sweeter leaves from then on, it’s still going strong.


 Out of 16 or so large slimy trimmed up & hormone treated garlics ( read held up for 10 days in the postal system and half crushed / half rotten ) , rot cut away and dipped in a mild solution of household baby bottle cleaner to disinfect them ) sent to me by a friendly Frenchman seven have come back for the dead to give me this year’s stock of them . These have also been taken for the mother earth soil and slipped into a MM filled bed.

 

 There are still about 15 over wintered leeks in the shade of the bungalow  that don’t yet show signs of bolting but if the weather stays warm like today it will be a problem by the end of this current  week .Last year lots of the leeks developed rust because I was over watering them using  spray misting on an auto timing sequence ..  These leeks are free of the rust and have been off the mist  since August last year ( so have the rest of the gardens )

 

 Last year I raised about 125 garlics ..(  far too many  ???? )  as we still have about 60 left & the new over wintered stock are now about 250 mm tall ( 10 inches ) This year there is only 100 or so new crop and the 16 revitalised French garlics .



Earlier this year because of the rest of the landscaping project being imminent  I’ve killed the strawberry barrel .

I sent 25 plants up to a friend in Scotland ,  he sent me 20 alpine strawberries in return  that seem to be productive for most of the year but have a totally different propagation method than the ordinary strawbs.  The remaining Cambridge variety strawbs from the barrel have also been temporarily housed in a sfg bed . So have fifteen asparagus crowns that are two year old in May .. They are getting a new built  dedicated bed of some 18 sq feet but this time I promise on the grave of my first love letter to keep the weed killer well away for the bed unlike  with the previous crowns that would have now been five years old and producing well  .


Again  due to the final landscaping being in the immediate future  I’m having to move a three year old grape vine and some giant thorn less blackberries into two foot deep barrels for a while  ..the next couple of days should see this task done .

 

This year may not be such a productive one for me as a result of all the landscaping & some planned maintenance to the glasshouse that involves stripping almost half of the glass off to make the 1 & ½ inch out of true side./corner a better one , as it leaked like a sieve this winter & turned into a frothy green slime pond on the inside when the weather warmed up .  So much for professional builders/ landscapers who reckoned they had, “ Erected no end of 12 x 8 foot glass houses”  .

Anyway I’m sure going to give it a go at getting as much out the beds and gals house as possible  as my tummy depends upon it.  We’ve kind of got used to having really fresh fruit & veg straight from the garden / glasshouse whenever we wanted it /were able to get it .



 If you guys  haven’t got your seed sowing schedule in hand or completed  , you need to get moving on it.


Spring most certainly has sprung for the UK & a lot of Europe , this month and well into next month is  going to be crazy as we play catch up on every task in the garden .  Laughing 
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Post  CapeCoddess on 3/9/2014, 7:23 pm

You mowed your lawn already???  

I went out to my to compost piles this afternoon and they are both still frozen solid, as is the pond across the street.

snow and rain tomorrow. And a storm on Wednesday. I think I'm feeling Spring envy... Sad ...but it sounds like you're having enough fun for all of us who can't! Yet.
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Post  Windmere on 3/9/2014, 8:01 pm

My, you have been a very busy man Plantoid!  Unfortunately, I did not end up with enough home made compost to amend my MM this season.  Sigh...

However, I will be getting my beds ready with store-bought compost either tomorrow or the next day.  Composted chicken manure has been difficult to find locally.  There's one nursery that has it, but it's a bit far for me.  I threw my hands in the air and ended up buying some on-line.

You are going full speed ahead on a grand scale.  I have some humble beginnings.  I bought two new Earth Boxes for this season.  Twelve Earth Boxes and two 4x4 beds is about all I can manage.  I like working with Earth Boxes because they are very forgiving on days I can't water.  Nonetheless, my setup gives me a wonderful gardening experience.  You are an inspiration though.

I wish you much success!
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Post  reservoir on 3/9/2014, 8:08 pm

Wow, it's should be the Green Thumbs strikes again.  Your garden sounds really smasking.  Will you be posting pictures?

You are right, Spring is exploding all around.  I am clutching my plan  with  I feel prepared: sowing schedule plan done, bed planting sorted ( on paper)  MM almost finished gathering:  found a source of vermiculite for £12.50 per 100L.both hands.. I have started lining the beds with mypex.    I will be making the mix for the first 3 beds next week, with a bit of luck.  But I want to do the two beds I'm having at home first( one for salad crops the other for herbs.)hr

Christine
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Post  Marc Iverson on 3/9/2014, 8:13 pm

I really like the idea of earth boxes, windmere. I'll be interested to hear how you do with them. We can get it over 100 degrees for a month straight over here, and the month before or prior well into the 90's, with not a stitch of rain. I like the idea of anything self-watering.

Plantoid, you've gotten busy in grand style. Very admirable!

What do you mean the brussells sprouts have "blown"? Do you mean they all bolted? I've never grown them before, but have three plants now for the first time.
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Post  Windmere on 3/9/2014, 8:33 pm

@Marc Iverson wrote:I really like the idea of earth boxes, windmere.  I'll be interested to hear how you do with them.  We can get it over 100 degrees for a month straight over here, and the month before or prior well into the 90's, with not a stitch of rain.  I like the idea of anything self-watering.

Plantoid, you've gotten busy in grand style.  Very admirable!  

What do you mean the brussells sprouts have "blown"?  Do you mean they all bolted?  I've never grown them before, but have three plants now for the first time.
Marc,

I had some nice success with my ten Earth Boxes last season.  I was away for an extended period of time, and those Earth Boxes saved my plants lives when it came to watering issues.  Our weather can also be excessively hot (albeit muggy).

I have one Earth Box devoted to garlic that I planted in fall.  The garlic is doing fantastic and it fared quite well during our recent ice storms.

So far, I can give the Earth Boxes a big thumbs up.
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Post  yolos on 3/9/2014, 9:44 pm

Windmere -
Where do you buy your earth boxes ???
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Post  Windmere on 3/9/2014, 10:04 pm

I buy my Earth Boxes from Amazon instead of earthbox.com.  The price comes out to be about the same.

You probably noticed a pattern of me buying from Amazon.  Our family does little things to earn Amazon gift cards.  One really neat way is to just use Bing as your search engine.  We participate in several programs for gift cards, so the gift card credits add up.  It really takes some of the sting off the gardening expenses.
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Post  kauairosina on 3/9/2014, 10:35 pm

I currently have 15 earth boxes.  Love them.  I don't need more at this time but going to check out Amazon.  They cost a horrendous amount for shipping to Hawaii and I have Amazon Primed which ships Mels Mix at no charge.  If I ever need to get it that way again/
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Post  Windmere on 3/9/2014, 11:34 pm

@kauairosina wrote:I currently have 15 earth boxes.  Love them.  I don't need more at this time but going to check out Amazon.  They cost a horrendous amount for shipping to Hawaii and I have Amazon Primed which ships Mels Mix at no charge.  If I ever need to get it that way again/
Well, we learned something from each other Kauairosina.  I did not know Mel's Mix is available on Amazon!  Wow... I could have saved myself much leg work. 

I also have a Prime membership.  For us, that thing pays for itself in the first two or three weeks.
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Post  Windmere on 3/9/2014, 11:44 pm

Kauairosina,

I have some bad news.  I just remembered that Earth Boxes on Amazon are not Prime.  I went to shipping policies on this product... and the prices to Hawaii are indeed horrendous.  Sorry about that.

Sad
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Post  kauairosina on 3/10/2014, 12:01 am

but I'm now into SFG and have sufficient earth boxes.  Funny thing.  I had thought earth boxes were an interim solution but I am finding that they really have their place.
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Post  sanderson on 3/10/2014, 5:42 am

Glad to see the Plantoid is back!!  Very Happy 
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Post  martha on 3/10/2014, 11:20 am

Plantoid, you have an amazing amount of energy!

Loved reading what you've been doing, even if it did make me feel like a lazy slug!
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Post  plantoid on 3/11/2014, 7:03 pm

Ha ha Martha,

If only you'd seen me today,  I've only been out of bed for about 6 hours or so since bedtime last night , the rest of the day I was packed with pillows to immobilize my back and left shoulder . I hurt far to much to play SB's in the garden .
 I often get days when I can't feel my forearms and hands till well past lunch time.

It makes the days when I can get out and play in sunshine that much more valuable. 

Blown sprouts .. not so much as bolted .... as to me that means rushed in to seed /flower mode.
 

Blown as in instead of1& 1/4 ( 30 mm ) balls of  tight green leaf they explode into mini well opened  floppy cabbages about 2  - 3  inches ( 50 mm -75 mm ) across. you can used them as boiled cabbage but they are usually quite bitter and leathery . They have been blown since the moment they were formed back in October..
I kept trimming them off in the vain hope they'd  firm up as the winter progressed to a few frosts .. that didn't happen due to higher than average warm temps over the whole of winter.
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