Posts

2016 Patch Plan

As mentioned, there have been a few changes this year – most noticeably the shrinking of the vegetable patch, which now has multiple 10ft x 10ft beds. In truth, some of the produce we grew in the 10’x30′ beds was too much – most noticeably the onions. We never get through them! Some we do use – the squash patch in particular. So with more beds, we can give some totally over to one type of plant. I still haven’t thought it entirely through, but I imagine it will be something like this:

Plot A – Potatoes

Plot B – Aliums (shallots, white onions, red onions, leeks, garlic)

Plot C – Root veg (parsnips, beetroot, swede, kohl rabi, turnip etc) and corgettes – carrots will go on clean ground as they always suffer from carrot fly on this patch.

Plot D – Summer (butternut) and winter squash

Plot E – Pumpkins & Sweetcorn

Plot F – Brassica (brussel sprouts, summer cauliflower, winter/spring cauliflowers, spring cabbage, winter (savoy) cabbage, summer/autumn round cabbage, red cabbage, broccolli)

Plot G – Legumes (peas and beans)

Carrots will go in the raised bed again, they do well raised that 2′ off the ground to deter the carrot fly, and also in the old fruit cage, next to the currant bushes as that soil is new to carrots. I may even add extra garlic in there to help deter new flies discovering our carroty goodness!

We’ll also plant the sunflowers in that area, we need sunflowers as they’re so gorgeous and the birds love them!

You may also notice that the wild flower border we had last year, running south of the Old Oak, is no longer there. In reality, it is, but our de-teaseling last year *seems* to have done the trick as I can’t see any young teasels starting off – but we’re doing nothing with it yet until I’m sure it doesn’t need rotovating again to kill any new growth off, so some wild flowers will push through and, as long as they’re not a teasel, they’re more than welcome!

We’ve also added three new trees to the orchard – a replant of a Beeley Pippin after the last one didn’t take well, It’s in the north-east corner of the little  orchard and, judging by the buttercups there, I think it may be that the ground is slightly wetter than the rest of the orchard. Other trees don’t seem to mind it, so it may be the Beeley Pippin is a bit reluctant as a variety. We’ve also added a Vilberie – an old Normandy cider tree – to the little orchard, and the same variety on larger rootstock to the big orchard. I’m quite excited about these, and they’re one variety that has gone in after much thought.

 

Acre Field 2016 01

Planting Plan 2015

As our experience grows, our Patch planting plan gets more detailed. This year we’ve expanded to three greenhouses, and it would be rude not to make use of them all. The new raised bed last year was great, especially for the carrots which were most definitely carrot-fly-free – turns out the little critters really are too lazy to fly that extra foot off the ground for dinner! However, I’ve decided to create a more accurate and detailed planting plan, including spacings, for this year. Is there any such thing as senile OCD?

So, I give you the Merrybower Patch Planting Plans for 2015…(drum roll please):

PS the grid scale is 1ft

Greenhouse No.1 Plan 2015Greenhouse No.1

This sees only two tomato varieties, both from the Franchi seed collection of Italy. Marmande is one of our favourites – an ugly beef tomato with the tastiest, juiciest flesh, wrapped in a skin so delicate you can hardly tell it’s there when biting into one! We’re also trying out a different plum tomato, for cooking with. Last year’s Roma VF were great, but these San Marzano 2 are meant to be brilliant of or passata, and I have fond memories of the smell of slowly simmering tomatoes from childhood in Naples. Pure heaven!

Greenhouse No.2 Plan 2015Greenhouse No.2

As this is the greenhouse with the potting bench in, we stick to cucumbers on the floor to the left, our tried and tested Telegraph Improved, and on the bench, once all seedlings have been transplanted outdoors, we’ll have sweet peppers (a non-descript variety as we’re using a lot of left-over seeds from last year this year), and a lot of basil, which we dry and use over the year. We’ll also pop a couple of coriander plants in too, as we have tonnes of seed from a couple of years ago!

Greenhouse No.3 Plan 2015Greenhouse No.3

This is a simple one – six Black Beauty aubergine plants. I’ve struggled for two years with aubergines, too cold I think is the biggest problem, and not enough growing space. Now they’ll have their own greenhouse, so they’d better not complain!

Raised Bed Plan 2015Raised Bed

This is essentially our outdoor salad bed. As last year, we have Royal Chantenay 3 carrots, an early variety but one we were still picking in December and they were HUGE! We’ll sow thinly between the carrot rows Sparkler 3 radish – I’m not a huge fan of radish, I can’t get excited about them, but if anyone has any suggestions please do let me know! Then we have a bed of pick and come again Appollo spinach, a bed of pick and come again Mist. di Lattughe lettuce, two rows of wild rocket and a couple of rows of traditional lettuce – Lobjoits Green Cos and Webbs Wonderful.

Main Vegetable Beds

Vegetable Beds Plan 2015Then we come to our main source of back pain and delight, a bitter sweet relationship if ever there was one.

Starting from the left we have our asparagus bed, which is seeing a small expansion in the number of plants. Of the original 12 only six remain – the wet winter a couple of years ago killed some off. This year we’re building the soil level up and raising four ridges, similar to potato ridges. We’re then getting 36 plants in, spaced tighter but within recommended distances. Then we have our sunflowers – Giant Single this year, although I suspect we’ll have some self-setters from seed dropped over winter by clumsy birds! Then we have French Bonita mixed Marigolds, once matured we’ll plant these around th the allotment as companion plants. And finally we have Nasturtiums – I haven’t bothered buying any as these definitely self-seed!

Our squash/root bed sees some old and new friends this year. Incredible F1 sweetcorn has proved reliable over a few years now so deserves to be in there. As do the Butternut Rugosa and Tonda Padana, a butternut and winter squash from the he Franchi range. We finished the stored Rugosa two weeks ago, early March, and we still have one more Tonda Padana on the shelf! We’re not bothering with traditional pumpkins this year as two years on the trot have been disastrous. Instead, once again we turn to the Franchi range for some Berrettia Piacentina winter squash – lovely blue/green squash with an orange flesh. Two types of courgette this year, from the same range; the UFO-shaped Custard White and the dark Nero di Milano. I like the Franchi range as they’re heritage varieties with some fantastic flavours. Finally, the roots are old friends – Flyaway carrots, Hollow Crown parsnips (old variety with a lot of of taste), and Boltardy beetroot.

The main contingent of the allium bed are Stur BC onions, a good storer. Then we have Karmen red onions, another decent storer, Picasso shallots for pickling, Christo garlic, which we haven’t tried before, and White Lisbon spring onions. For variety we have one row divided between Groene Pascal celery, Monarch celeriac and Helenor swedes. Lastly, one row of Lyon Prizetaker leeks.

The spud patch is easy and simple this year – 1st earlies are Swift, the earliest variety. 2nd earlies are Charlotte, lovely waxy texture. Main crops are King Edwards, and Valour, the latter being a great all rounder boiler, masher, roaster, baker.

The legume patch – we’ve decided we quite like any plant that grows to meet your hands, rather than make you bend to pick it! To this end we have two wigwams a each of Enorma runner beans, and do Sultana climbing French beans.  For the broadbeans we have the familiar Masterpiece Green Longpod, and peas we have two rows of Kelvedon Wonder, an early sweet variety, and one row of Onward main crop.

Finally the brassicas. Funky pointy Romanesco Precoce winter/spring cauliflowers, reliable All the Year Round summer cauliflowers, Green Magic F1 broccolli, Evesham Special brussels sprout, January King 3 winter savoy cabbage, Golden Acre Primo III summer/autumn cabbage and Offenham 2 – Flower of Spring spring cabbage.

That’s about it! We just have to plant them now!