Friday, 15 October 2021

In My Seed Box For 2022 - Green Manure

My Green manures are kept in a tin in the allotment shed and they are always sown insitu and currently I know I have two packs but I don't have a clue what ones are left. Note to self do Green Manure audit when next on the plot, or if possible and it finally stops raining every day get them in a bed!

Green manures are usually sown in late summer or autumn and mop up any nutrients, preventing them being washed away by winter rain. When dug in the following spring, they release these nutrients back into the soil. Winter grazing rye and winter tares are hardy green manures that will carry on growing all winter before being incorporated back into the soil in spring.

Green manures can also be used to cover bare patches of soil in the spaces between crops, or during intervals between one crop and the next. Fast-growing mustard sown before mid-September can be incorporated in October, for example, or the frosted remains left as mulch.

Summer-grown green manures such as buckwheat and fenugreek form dense foliage that will effectively suppress weeds.

Green manures belonging to the pea and bean family (legumes) have the additional capacity of storing (fixing) nitrogen from the air to their root nodules, but only in summer. Nitrogen is a valuable plant nutrient.

Other benefits of green manures include protection of the soil surface from compaction by rain and shelter for beneficial insects such as ground beetles.

How To Use Green Manures
  • Sow seeds in rows, or broadcast them across the soil and rake into the surface
  • Once the land is needed for cropping, chop the foliage down and leave it to wilt
  • Dig the plants and foliage into the top 25cm (10in) of soil After digging in, the site should be left for two weeks or more before sowing or planting out as decaying green materials can hamper plant growth

Cultivar Selection

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa): This perennial legume can be dug in after two or three months or left for one to two years; sow in April to July; good for alkaline soils. Nitrogen fixing may only occur if the seed is inoculated with nitrogen fixing bacteria prior to sowing.

Alsike clover (Trifolium hybridum): This perennial legume can either be dug in after two or three months or left in for one or two years; good for wet, acid soils; sow in April to August.

Bitter blue lupin (Lupinus angustifolius): This perennial flowering legume suits light, sandy, acid soils; sow in March to June and leave for two or three months before digging in.

Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum): This half hardy annual will only grow in spring and summer best sown in April to August, it can be left for two or three months after sowing; grows well on nutrient-poor soils.

Crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum): This perennial legume is good for light soils; sow in March to August and leave in for two or three months up to flowering.

Essex red clover (Trifolium pratense): This hardy perennial legume overwinters well and can be left in for two or three months or for one or two years after sowing; good for loamy soils; sow March to August.

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum): This annual legume will only grow in the spring and summer; it is unlikely to fix nitrogen in the UK.

Grazing rye (Secale cereale): This annual crop is good for soil structure and overwinters well; sow in August to November and dig in the following spring.

Mustard (Sinapis alba): This annual crop from the brassica family should not be followed by other brassicas, as it could encourage build-up of the disease clubroot; sow in March to September and leave for two or three months before digging in.

Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia): Later sowings of this annual crop may overwinter in mild areas, but it is generally best sown in April to August and dug in after two or three months; its flowers are very pretty.

Trefoil (Medicago lupulina): This legume can be annual or biennial and overwinters well but needs light, dry alkaline soil; it can be dug in after two or three months or left for one or two years after sowing; sow in March to August.

Winter field bean (Vicia faba): This annual legume can be left for two or three months after sowing (up to flowering) and is good for heavy soils; sow in September to November.

Winter tares (Vicia sativa): This annual legume is hardy and overwinters well, even in heavy soils; sow either in March to August and leave for two or three months before digging in, or sow in July to September for overwintering.

Problems

A dense carpet of green makes a perfect environment for slugs and snails so control measures may be needed after green manuring.

Decaying green manures can suppress plant growth, so allow at least two weeks between incorporation and planting or sowing.

Club Root can be a problem with green manures in the cabbage family such as mustard.

New Green Manures for 2020 into 2021 

A dense carpet of green makes a perfect environment for slugs and snails so control measures may be needed after green manuring.

Decaying green manures can suppress plant growth, so allow at least two weeks between incorporation and planting or sowing.

Club Root can be a problem with green manures in the cabbage family such as mustard.

New Green Manures for 2020 into 2021 

Green Manure Seed Collection    The great value collection includes 6 seed packets, 1 each of the following varieties:

Crimson Clover - A fast growing weed suppressant and great for beneficial insects, crimson clover is an excellent nitrogen 'fixer'. Ideally dig in just before it flowers. Works very well in exposed areas. Sow: March-August Dig in: March-September. Packet will cover approx 20sqm (24sq yards).

Lucerne (Alfalfa) - A deep rooting nitrogen fixer which will reach down and improve the sub-soil. If desired it can be left for a year or more before being dug in. Sow: April-July Dig in: April-August. Packet will cover approx 20sqm (24sq yards).

Mustard (White) - Perfect for soils lacking organic matter, it grows on most soil types and produces large amounts of green matter and fibre and will help structure and moisture retention. Helps hold valuable nutrients and is ready for digging-in in only 4 to 8 weeks from sowing. Sow: March-September Dig in: March-November. Packet will cover approx 20sqm (24sq yards).

Phacelia tanacetifolia - Winter hardy so can be over wintered. Ideal for adding humus content to impoverished soils. Sow: March-September Dig in: March-November. Packet will cover approx 20sqm (24sq yards).

Winter Rye - One of the very best over-wintering green manures. Soil structure is greatly improved through the abundance of fibrous roots produced and nutrient retention is improved in wet weather. Sow: February-March or August-November Dig in: February-December. Packet will cover approx 20sqm (24sq yards).

Mustard Caliente - Fast growing green manure that improves soil structure and fertility. Adds organic matter and nutrients, giving the soil optimum health by suppressing weeds, soil pest and diseases. Sow: March-July or September-October Dig in: February-December. Packet will cover approx 70sqm (84sq yards).

The incorporation of green plant tissue into the soil is an ancient practice known as ‘green manuring’. Green Manures are used to disrupt pest and disease life cycles, improve soil fertility and nutrient levels and suppress weeds.


            
            
            
Sow Indoors
 
Sow / Plant Outdoors
 
Flowers / Harvest
 



I have two types of Green Manure from Mr Fothergills one is The Green Manure Autumn/ Winter Mix Seeds which is made up of: 


15% Crimson Clover (Trifolium incarnatum)
20% Broad Leaf Clover (Trifolium pratense)
30% Westerwolths Rye Grass (Lolium multiflorum)
35% White Tilney Mustard (Sinapsis alba)

Clovers fix nitrogen in the soil. Rye grass and white mustard improve soil structure. 


The other Green Manure from Mr Fothergill's is 
Mustard Caliente A fast growing green manure which has excellent soil improvement properties. Whilst it adds to the structure and fertility, it also adds organic matter, giving the soil optimum health. It will also suppress many weeds species, soil pests and diseases.


Thursday, 14 October 2021

In My Seed Box for 2022 - Gherkin

  


GHERKIN -  Gherkin seeds if kept in ideal conditions should last between 10 - 15 years the same as cucumbers. 

In 2021 I grew a variety that came from Seed Megastore and were called Gherkin - National and cost me 59p for 25 seeds. The shape of the Gherkin they produced were not what I was looking for! They got very fat very quickly and there were not many fruits per plant, so I will not be trying those again in 2022  

I had bought Gherkin Seeds in 2019 from Mr Fothergill's called Cornichon de Paris - 20 Seeds - £2.15 - Sow by 2024, because they are a small variety and can be harvested at about an inch 25mm long 

This is a French heirloom variety which has long been sold in the markets of Paris and used to produce small, crisp pickled 'cornichon' gherkin. Each plant produces numerous fruits that are harvested at approx. 2.5cm(1in) long.

Sow & Grow 

Sow: Indoors, March-April, for surest results, 0.5cm (¼") deep, on edge, in small pots of compost. Water well and place in a warm position. A temperature of 21-24°C (70-75°F) is ideal. Keep moist. Seedlings usually appear in 7-14 days. 

When plants have developed 3 or 4 leaves, transplant to 12cm (5”) pots and grow on in cooler, but not cold conditions. Gradually accustom young plants to outside conditions (avoid frosts), before planting out 60cm (2') apart, during May-June, into fertile, well-drained soil. 

Sow: outdoors May-June, for ease, where they are to crop. Sow two seeds per position, 0.5cm (¼") deep, directly into finely-prepared, fertile, well-drained soil, which has already been watered. Allow 60cm (2') between rows. When large enough, thin to leave the stronger plant. Harvest: July-October.

Sowing/Planting and Flowering/Harvesting Guide

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Key       Sow Indoors       Sow/Plant Outside       Flowers/Harvest


Additional Guidance 

Pick fruits when up to 5cm (2") long for sweetest flavour. Left to grow on, the fruits can be used as slicing 'cues.

Pinch out the growing tip when six leaves have formed to encourage side shoots to form.  

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Black Knight Runner Beans


An old New variety to Suttons - Black Knight Runner Beans - 20 Seeds - £3.99

The story is that this runner bean has been grown by the Bishop of Shrewsbury, Edmund Knight, and to have been passed to some of the local congregants in the late 1800’s. This could be true or an old wife’s tale, but where it originates from has been certainly been lost in time and history. The beans of 'Black Knight' may look a little more gnarly than most, but they are still tender, juicy and stringless even when the pods become older and the beans begin to show. For the best tasting results, steam lightly to keep their colour. Pods range from 200 - 300mm (8"-12").

Sow in pots or trays on a windowsill or in a greenhouse using quality compost. Cover seeds with 3.8cm (1½") compost. Germination 7-14 days. Grow on, planting outside protecting with cloches until frost risk has passed. Alternatively, sow direct into warm, moist soil prepared by digging and raking. Erect canes or netting to support plants, sowing one seed per cane or at 15-23cm (6-9") intervals along the row, at a depth of 5cm (2"). Grows best in rich, well-prepared soil. 

Conserve moisture by mulching with manure, straw or grass clippings. Water well during dry summers. Sow in pots or trays on a windowsill or in a greenhouse using quality compost. Cover seeds with 3.8cm (1½") compost. Germination 7-14 days. Grow on, planting outside protecting with cloches until frost risk has passed. 

Alternatively, sow direct into warm, moist soil prepared by digging and raking. Erect canes or netting to support plants, sowing one seed per cane or at 15-23cm (6-9") intervals along the row, at a depth of 5cm (2"). Grows best in rich, well-prepared soil.

The colour makes them easy to spot when harvesting

My plot neighbour grew this variety in 2021 and gave me some to try, and I loved them so defiantly one for my seed box for 2022. 

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Y Ddraig Goch F1 (Red Dragon)


This cordon variety tomato from Dobies has made history by becoming the first to be officially registered with a Welsh name. I have a pack of seeds and I'm going to grow in the plot 1 greenhouse using the Quadgrow in 2022
A superb British bred variety with an exquisite flavour and outstanding rich red tomatoes with a large calyx. Introduced at Chelsea Flower Show 2019, this new variety has been created by crossing two other favourites with both gardeners and cooks - Goldstar and Cedrico. 
Sow February - April for greenhouse growing in a propagator on a windowsill or pots or trays in a greenhouse at 18-21C (65-70F) using a quality compost.  Cover seeds with 6mm (1/4") sieved compost.
Germination 7 - 14 days. 
Plant May - June Transplanting seedlings singly into 75mm (3" pots. Grow on, finally planting into large pots, grow bags  or direct into the greenhouse boarder 450mm (18") apart when frost risk has passed. 
Feed regularly and side shoot as necessary.
Harvest July - October.

Monday, 11 October 2021

Green Toms in the Space Saver Greenhouse

 


The tomatoes harvested from the lone tomato plant left standing on the allotment plot yesterday have been decanted into the Space Saver Greenhouse so they can sunbathe and turn red. There is no mad rush for them to do so as there are many red toms in the fridge already. 


There are also some nice and ones on the second shelf down, that were on the turn and harvested last weekend.   

 

Tomato Seeds F1 Honeycomb


I first saw these gorgeous cherry tomatoes last year when they were introduced for the 2021 season by Mr Fothergills who sell at 10 seeds for £3.60 

This year Dobies have them as a New Variety for the 2022 growing season and are selling them at 10 Seeds for £2.99 so if you want to try these you know where to buy from!

This variety of tomato has a sweet, juicy flavour which has undertones of honey. You’ll see less fruit splitting than Sungold, with around 150-200 cherry tomatoes on every plant. 

Expect large, cherry-sized fruit crammed with that delicious flavour, and the orange-yellow colour makes them a striking sight on the plant (and in a salad for that matter...). If you like a homegrown tomato, you’re going to love these. 

Sow March/April for greenhouse growing (or April for outdoor growing) in a propagator on a windowsill or pots or trays in a greenhouse at 18-21C using a good quality compost. Cover seeds with 6mm compost (Germination 7 - 14 days).   

Transplant seedlings singly into 75mm (3") pots. Grow on, finally planting into large pots or direct into greenhouse boarder, or outdoors 450mm (18") apart when the risk of frost has passed. 

Support with a cane and remove side shoots regularly. Feed with tomato food 

Harvest July - October.

I will be trying this variety in the greenhouse Quadgrow in 2022 especially as we are promised that there is less fruit splitting than 'Sungold'

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Andy & Alan On The Plot


My son-in-law Andy came with me to the allotment this morning whilst my Daughters looked after Jen and got a nice roast dinner ready for lunch. 

The opening vent to the Plot 1 greenhouse was locked open for some reason and with the rain having got into the greenhouse the dredded blight was showing on the greenhouse tomatoes, so all the tomatoes were harvested and the bamboo support system taken down. In a future visit I need to empty out the quadgrows of water and move the staging back inside the greenhouse for the winter. 


Andy brought a water butt filled with grass clippings and leaves and put half into two of the Daleks I have been feeding in Dalek Army II. He then went to work on clearing the mares tail from the triangular area formed behind the Daleks and barrowed in an additional layer of woodchips laying the slab fragments as stepping stones. 


Andy cleared the weeds from the first hoop covered onion bed and laid the winter weed membrane over to keep the soil protected and warm over winter. 


1575 grams of Sarpo Kilfi potatoes from a bucket were harvested 


Another small square flower bucket of first earlies was harvested, along with two  deep Chicken Takeaway containers of Raspberries. More Onions from the hanging frames brought home for Emma and most of the tomatoes from the last remaining tomato plant out on the plot. The tomatoes will be put in the Space Saver Greenhouse to ripen off. 



When we arrived we noticed that one of the apple trees had been brought to the ground and I suspect fowl play as some of the branches were broken. 

I just hope if someone was trying to use it to climb out of the allotment site that when the tree came down and they hit the bed it took the wind out of them. 

Andy & I stopped a couple of times during the morning for a hot chocolate and then for a coffee, ultimately rain stopped play around 12:15pm and we made our way home for a nice roast dinner. 

Saturday, 9 October 2021

White Star - Multi-Purpose Onion


White Star is a great multi-purpose onion, from the Dobies Rob Smith Range, is Ideal to produce continental sized salad onions and snow-white bulb onions, plus the thinned onions can be used as spring onions! 

3 types of onions from one sowing, if left to create bulbs, will store for several months. Great for small spaces or busy gardeners. 

Sow March - September at 3 weekly intervals. Sow liberally 13mm (1/2") deep in drills 150mm (6") apart. For an early crop sow seeds in September and overwinter in a cold frame or under cloches.

Harvest April - October

Rob says: “A nice, strong onion flavour, perfect to add a kick to salads or stir-fry, pasta and sauces, plus they make a brilliant cheese and onion sandwich!

Dobies - Rob Smith Range - White Star - 300 Seeds - £3.00 non members 


My only problem now is do I add this pack to the Onions container or Spring Onions container in my two seed box system?

Friday, 8 October 2021

Burlesque 400g Beefsteak Tomato

When I saw the New variety Burlesque' F1 tomato from Suttons I know that I would have to grow that big and beautiful (400g) beefsteak tomato in my Greenhouse in 2022

The web site says it has "a sweet and tangy taste (Brix 6%)" and that they are also "blight tolerant!"  which after 2021 is a real blessing. The Suttons web page also states "The flavoursome fruits grow in masses and should yield 40-50 tomatoes per plant during peak season". Now that seems impossible from a single plant but now I want to see just how many I will get. 

The web site write up also informs us that "These tomatoes are thick in size with a thin layer of skin, but don't fret because these fruits certainly won't crack or burst! The meaty, juicy and tender flesh of this Cordon variety is scrumptious when served in a sandwich, or on a homebaked pizza with mozzarella cheese and basil."

Sow March/April for greenhouse growing (or April for outdoor growing) in a propagator on a windowsill or pots or trays in a greenhouse at 18-21C using a good quality compost. 

Cover seeds with 6mm compost (Germination 7-14 days). Transplant seedlings singly into 7.5cm pots. Grow on, finally planting into large pots, or direct into a greenhouse border; or outdoors 45cm apart when the risk of frost has passed. Support with a cane and remove side shoots regularly. Feed regularly with tomato food.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

In My Seed Box For 2022 - Leeks

 


Leeks are something I have tried and not been particularly successful with, In 2018 I had better success but grew them as baby type and eat them as large spring onions. In 2022 I'm going to have a bash at leeks again on Plot 1. 

New For 2022 Lancelot   - 65 Seeds   - £2.49 - 16 71 52 - Suttons - Sow By 7/2024  


This variety of leek is a traditional-looking crop that grows dark green foliage with plants that do no bulb easily. Therefore, these provide straighter stems that are easy to grow on the veg patch and tastes wonderful. The 300 - 400mm long shanks develop a great proportion of white flesh and even more if you choose to earth them up.

'Lancelot' is a versatile crop in the kitchen and is an excellent addition to homemade soups, quiches and salads, or can be roasted for delicious Sunday dinners. Late autumn/early winter variety (Late August- January).


Sow thinly direct into a finely raked seedbed at a depth of 1.3cm (½") in rows 30cm (12") apart. (Germination 14-21 days). When ready to transplant make holes with a dibber 10-15cm (4-6") deep, 23cm (9") apart, drop a plant into each and fill with water to settle soil around the roots. Allow 38cm (15") between rows. To blanch, draw up earth to stems as growth develops. Leeks do well on most soils especially if well prepared. Can also be started off in trays.
 

Alphabetical Listing of Varieties historically grown 

                                                  Sowing          Sowing         Plant                Harvest
                                                  Indoors          Outdoors     Out 

Atal (Baby type)                                               Apr- Jul                                  Jun- Oct
Blue Green Winter                  
 Jan - Mar         Apr - May       May- Jun         Oct - Mar
Bulgaarse Reuzen Lincoln                               Mar- Apr                                Jul - Oct
De Carentan 2                                                  Mar- May                               Oct - Feb
Herfstuezen 3 - Porvite             Jan - Feb        Mar- Apr         May- Jul          Oct - Mar
Musselburgh (Mr Fothergill's)    Jan - Feb        Mar- Apr        May- Jul          Oct - Mar
Musselburgh Wilko                    Jan - Feb        Mar- Apr        May- Jun         Oct - Mar
Musselburgh Seed Tape T&M                          Mar- Apr                                Sep - Jan
Nipper                                                               Mar - Jun                               May -