The Land Rover Owners Wife

Roots, no shoots, some salad and a lot of weeds

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New netting protects my carrots, beetroots and lettuces

New netting protects my carrots, beetroots and lettuces

Today was Mothers Day in the UK and as such, I was freed from the challenge of cooking the roast dinner. No that particular ….. errr …… ummm ,,,,,, pleasure (?) fell to Mud and I was able to nip out into my garden and do some serious garden therapy. Blissfully unaware of the culinary dramas unfolding in the kitchen (a too big leg of British Lamb which didn’t fit even our largest roasting tray and a clock everybody had forgotten to put forward 1 hour, so Muds’ timings were all skewed) I was able to spend an enjoyable couple of hours sowing seeds and generally messing about in the vegetable patch.

You may well remember that a couple of months ago, I covered two of my raised beds in cardboard, to help keep them nice and warm ready for planting carrots and parsnips. This afternoon I removed the cardboard blankets and discovered beautifully moist soil, with not even the hint of a weed shoot in sight and a distinct lack of sycamore seeds from a neighbours’ tree which, as is the case every year, adorn pretty much every spare inch of garden, including the neighbouring bed. I was also greeted with the sight of dozens of worms diving for cover which is another good sign and is testament, I feel, to my decision to follow a ‘no dig’ policy over the autumn months.

The difference between covered and uncovered beds

The difference between covered and uncovered beds

As they were still pretty much intact, I decided to use the cardboard blankets on two other beds which will be planted up in a couple of months.

With the bed uncovered I set to work on the first bed, using my trowel to create three shallow troughs which I then watered before liberally sprinkle carrot seeds along their length. Carrot seed doesn’t keep brilliantly well from year to year and so I can be generous with the sprinkling process, however, it is possible to get a good crop from left over year old seed and so I decided to sow most of the remaining Giant Red seed I bought last year, as well as a generous amount of the newly purchased Touchon seed. I then covered the seed over to form neat ridges.

Then, to utilise my beds (and my new netting) to the fullest, I decided to sow a row of Moretons Secret Mix lettuces and another of the Really Red Deer Tongue Lettuce between the rows of carrots. Not wanting to overwhelm the beds, I used a thin plant support stick to carefully make individual little holes along the length of the rows before popping a couple of seeds into each hole. As this bed will be under netting and therefore inaccessible to both birds and hedgehogs, I sparingly scattered some slug pellets along the rows as a precaution.

Sowing the lettuces

Sowing the lettuces

So the planting for what is actually Raised Bed 6 is seed from The Real Seed Catalogue and is as follows:

  • 2 x rows of Carrot Touchon, newly acquired this year;
  • 1 x row of Carrot Giant Red, last years seed;
  • 1 x row of Moretons Secret Mix Lettuces , last years seed; and
  • 1 x row of Really Red Deer Tongue.

Next on my planting hit list was beetroot and raddichio and this was to go into the neighbouring bed, aka Raised Bed 5. The beetroot was sown in exactly the same way as the carrots had been but as this seed is somewhat bigger than carrot seed, i was able to spread them much more evenly and thinly. This is a crop that will be successional and so I will be making further sowings of seed into this bed over the next 4 – 6 weeks or so, to ensure a steady supply.  The raddichio was sown in the same way as the lettuces and, as with the lettuce crops, is also successional and so further rows will be planted in the coming weeks.

So planting for Raised Bed 5 was as follows:

  • 1 x row of Beetroot Sanguina from The Real Seed Catalogue this year; and
  • 1 x row Raddichio from the Garden Center last year.

With these two beds finished with for now, I covered them with my lovely new netting which is beautifully lightweight and really easy to handle. I did need to cut it to size and so there is a generous section spare, to use elsewhere later on in the season. Mud made some uncomplimentary comments about the nettings’ shade of green but the Mudlets and I were in agreement that it wasn’t too far removed from the Cockpit green he’d used on Ciggy …… which went down like a lead balloon.

Ants were living in this bed

Ants were living in this bed

Next was Raised Bed 3 and this was to be home to the Parsnips and was, in fact, the only bed not manured this autumn because Parsnips aren’t too keen on newly enriched soil. This bed had also been under a cardboard cover and so was in really nice condition when I removed it and it was heartening to see dozens of worms burrowing away. I only sowed the parsnips in this bed today but lettuces will be sown in due course, as part of the succession planting.

So planting for Raised Bed 3 was:

  • 3 x Parsnip Tender and True from The Real Seed Catalogue, new seed for this year. Parsnip seed really doesn’t keep at all and it is always recommended to buy fresh seed each season.

I used my existing dark green netting or greenhouse shading) to cover the bed but I will more than likely be using the left over green mesh once it becomes time to sow the lettuces in there.

Weeds were living in this one

Weeds were living in this one

With seed sowing completed, I moved onto weeding the growhouses, a job that was long overdue and took all of 15 minutes to complete both. However, it soon became apparent that a colony of ants had decided to set up camp under the cover of one of them and so after I had finished the weeding and before I fastened the front flap, I gave the soil a good soaking with the hose in an attempt to encourage them to relocate. I still have the rest of the uncovered beds to weed but I can do these over the next few days.

The seedlings seem happier now

The seedlings seem happier now

I did pop my head into the large greenhouse to check that my seedlings were perking up after the trauma of repotting and they were all looking pretty good and are now tucked back up under the fleece for the night. Feeling pretty satisfied with what I had achieved, I grabbed some of the empty cream pots I use as pots for the sweetcorn and headed inside. These will be washed and then I will be able to pot on the 6 inch tall sweet corn seedlings which are still in their original, albeit large moduled, seed tray.

Next job on the list, planting the Rooster seed potatoes and sowing some more sweet corn, in between knitting rows on Middle Mudlets jumper…….

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Roots, no shoots, some salad and a lot of weeds

  1. Your use of cardboard on empty beds sounds successful. Do you pop it on top of the bed weeds and all in Autumn or do you weed first? I think I’ll have a few empty beds and love the idea of weed free beds full of wriggling worms come the Spring!

    • Hi Sarah,

      I put the cardboard blankets on the beds on January 9th and when I lifted them yesterday they were still in fairly good condition. In fact the cardboard had only started to degrade and rot away where the bricks weighed it down. Not that cardboard rotting down into a veg bed is a bad thing, quite the opposite in fact. However, if I had put the cardboard on any earlier then, depending on the amount of rain/snow etc, potentially there wouldn’t have been much cover left, thereby defeating the object somewhat.

      I do weed before I put my cardboard on and it is so nice to have weed free beds cone planting time 🙂

      Incidentally, one of my friends uses old carpet to achieve the same aim 😉

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