Archive for the ‘Planting / Companion Planting & Guilds’ Category

Hi everyone, It’s been ages since I have posted anything, as you may be guessing, it’s because of the growing season! Being the owner of two gardens (one is an allotment) you can mostly understand that I have my hands full!

In the meantime, other than the news that things might go quite well for me this year on the allotment side, I have gotten hold of a nice handy little A4 companion planting guide which can be printed out and stuck at the back of a shed door, inside a greenhouse or in a gardening notebook.

Companion-Planting_afristar

Unfortunately when printed out (at least with my printer), the black text seems to be a little faded.

I hope this helps you out with your planting in the meantime whilst I spend time away from the interweb, many updates are in the pipeline, but for now …

March and April both have basically the same crops that need sowing and are concidered shared months, it really all depends on your location, if you are in a zone in your country which is warmer compared to other parts, then it is likely that you can sow in March as opposed to your country men and women in colder areas …

purple beans

Outdoors (depending on weather and soil conditions)

  • Root crops including the first sowings of carrrots, parsnips, beetroot & turnips,

  • Mangetout & podding peas, also broad beans – although there’s less chance of pest problems if started in trays rather than right in the beds / ground

  • The first sets of summer salads such as lettuces, rocket, radishes, endive & cress,

  • Brassica crops for eating this summer & also through into the winter – kale, summer and (early) winter cabbages, brussels sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli, calabrese and cauliflowers

  • Swiss chard & leaf beet

  • Spring onions
    Leeks

In trays or pots (Outdoors)

  • If you have slug or weed problems, then you may find all of the brassica crops, leeks and salads do better started in trays/modules and then planted out when they are better able to withstand them.

  • Similarly broad beans and peas may have to be started indoors if you have trouble with mice

Indoors somewhere warm (germinator / good windowsill close to a heater)

  • Tomatoes, peppers and aubergines, ideally by the end of March.

  • Celery/celeriac (again need heat to germinate)

  • Courgettes, squashes, cucumbers and melons (but not too early, or they will get too large before the weather is good enough for them to go outside)

In a polytunnel / greenhouse direct into the border or pots

  • Summer salads

  • French beans for an early crop

  • Herbs such as basil, coriander & parsley

 

Happy Sowing! …..

I have been meaning to do this for ages and here it finally is, I have a dedicated page with a calendar for seed sowing and planting.
Click Here to jump straight to it, but keep in mind it is a page tab at the top of the screen near the ”About Growingarden” tab.

seasonal

Soon I will update the other months such as March onwards so you can order your seeds in advance and also prepare / think how you would like to arrange your garden design this year.
Keep in mind, newer concepts like Companion Planting, Planting for wildlife especially Pollinators etc. Some herbs are pungeant, they release off strong odours which repel and confuse pests.

Remember, to keep things interesting, think what did not work so well last year and apply one of the Permaculture Principles ”The Problem is the Solution”- in other words you can fix a problem by turning it into a solution and working with it instead of against.
For an off -the-head example: If you have had problems with slugs and no matter what you do, their numbers never drop and the population keeps staying high, get a duck or two! Ducks love them and you will be introducing a pest controller into your system which will produce eggs and even meat if you wish, lets not forget they also have a built in rear compost spreader as well! 😉

This Seasonal Growing Calendar is only valid for Cold Weather  / Temperate Climates such as in the Northern Hemisphere / Europe/UK where frosts are expected during winter.

Believe it or not, there are crops as well as other plants that can be started indoors in January in preparation for the upcoming growing season, some plants just need a very early start such as some cabbages as well as if you are growing Onions from seed.

onion-seed

Organic Onions Grown From Seed

Indoors:

  • If you haven’t got a problem with mice, you can start Round Seeded Peas now directly outdoors, if not, just grow indoors until large enough to go outside (Regarding Round Seeded, some peas are Round when dry, others are wrinkled when dry, the Wrinkled varieties are for later sowings),
  • Onion varieties from seed (most people grow Onion from sets, personally I like to know the level of ”Organic-ness” and don’t like growing from sets due to this,
  • Cabbage varieties such as Red Cabbages need an earlier start, refer to your seed packs,
  • Oriental Greens and Winter Salads can be grown again now (You can sow these in Autumn for growing in Polytunnels / Greenhouses) these plants will explode in Spring when the temperatures improve, still for growing under cover though … the varieties are as follows:
    mustard greens, winter lettuces, land cress, mizuna, mibuna, pak choi, mispooona & komatsuna.

Outside (Polytunnel or Green house):

  • The above mentioned Oriental Greens and Winter Salads can be direct sown in Polytunnels and Greenhouses / Cold Frames also

    Click Here for a previous post about starting Companion / Sacrificial Plants in January

I had a thought the other day, what am I doing wrong in terms of companion planting / sacrificial planting? (Sacrificial, meaning growing plants which you intend to attract pests away from your desired species / crops). The main result being that I always grow them too late! When Spring is approaching we just usually all take a look at our stock of seed packs or growing calendars to see what needs sowing / starting off early indoors (such as Cabbages, Onions etc.) But the one thing I am going to change this year is to have a few trays dedicated to the sacrificial plants, mainly Marigolds (Tagetes). I am using Phacelia (Phacelia tenacetifolia) as a Green Manure but am aware too that Bumblebees like the flowers so, I will be ensuring that a few plants will be grown seperately purely for the Bees and placed in various micro-climates around my gardens (place one group in full sun, another grouping in partial shade and this will ensure different flowering timings which will help the bees a lot in that their forage sources are spread out), do this with various plant species, include perennial plants, annuals etc.

tagetes

Marigolds (Tagetes) planted as sacrificials to ensure Pumpkins were left unmolested by Slugs – once they died, fresh seed was harvested for next years sowings

Marigolds have two main and a third benefit in our gardens, the first for me and most Organic farmers (small scale) benefit, is the sacrifical planting which attracts slugs and snails away from other young plants you are trying to get going in the early parts of summer, they love marigolds and will mostly go for those (violas and pansies are another plant that can be used as well).
Benefit number two is that Marigolds (Specifically Mexican marigolds) have aleopathic chemicals which suppress difficult perennial weeds such as Bind Weed, a piece of land can in theory, have this perennial weed eliminated with the correct method being used.
The third benefit is it’s Ornamental value and it’s aparrent attractiveness for Bees (after growing Marigolds for the last 3 years as sacrificial plants, I have yet to see a Bee specifically going for them), I keep seeing it mentioned on other sites online especially ones writing about Pollinator Attracting plants …

Start your Sacrificial plant sowings Now, as well as any other plants you wish to get going in your garden by seed which are either for the benefit of wildlife or perennial plants.

One trick I have learned about Marigolds is to let perhaps one set of true leaves form (the more mature leaves which will be differently shaped compared with the smaller baby leaves which come out on germination) and I then clip the top out above the first set of true leaves, I then immediately plant the tip in a small pot with damp compost and keep moist, these plants are very good for cuttings propagation, not a single one failed even though they were left right in full sun in moist compost).
Do the above for every one plant and you will easily double your population! so for example, if you decide you would like to grow maybe 40 -50 Marigolds per season. you merely need 20 – 25 starter plants to come up from seed which means one dedicated seed module tray!

Remember, as with all plants, the more you cut them lower down, the more the plant bushes out so instead of perhaps 2-4 flower heads from a mature plant, you will have lets say 5-9 flower heads and a more bushier / attractive plant, this should keep the plant lower to the ground which means more accessible food for the slugs and snails.
Once you buy one pack of Marigold seed, you should never really need to buy another pack as the seeds are easy to save, this is only unless you decide you would like to try another variety to compliment those which you already have.

In the next post, I will be writing about what can be sown now in preperation for the upcoming growing season, I will start off with January and get to February in the coming week…

I accidentally let a Courgette (Zucchini) get to Marrow size, although I sometimes do this, I so far haven’t let any go past the 1 kg mark, the harvest from last week yielded a Marrow that is sitting somewhere at the 1.85 kg mark!! We still have yet to open it and see if it has gone to seed, if yes are they woody yet? if not, is it soft and still edible? I have seen a recipe online for Stuffed large Courgettes which I would like to give a try …

25 Runner Beans ‘Czar’, 35 Tomato ‘Millefleur’, 2x Italian Vine Tomatoes and the Courgette-Zilla with it’s normal sized cousin. The Millefleur tomatoes are really delicious straight from the bush, this variety will be a mainstay from now on for me.

20160822_210533-1.jpg

Regrets I have, as usual are that I again had plants germinated which I didn’t get in the ground or at least re-potted soon enough, they went to waste and this harvest could have included a good bowl full of various leafy greens for a nice salad … perhaps even an Aubergine or two if I had made good effort to get my polytunnel finished at least two months ago.

In the above photo’s you can see the prolific fruiting of the Tomato ‘Millefleur’ variety, we have had a pretty weak summer this year and I suspect that this variety will do much better in hotter summers.
I am very, very chuffed to say that I Finally got a Watermelon forming, the little ball really expanded quite a bit in the last day or two since I first spotted it (there looks to be another forming on one of the other plants too 🙂
Since it is so late in the season to even think of the watermelon doing well at all, I just need to get the polytunnel finished and work on adding heat mass temporarily into the tunnel to counter the inevitable cold nights that are very close around the corner -by heat mass I mean large rocks / bricks etc to absorb the sun’s radiation during the day to release slowly at night, the Watermelon Variety is bred for a short season so hopefully by October it can be harvested
One or two flowers from the one surviving Melon seem to be selling too so hopefully something is going on there as well …

It was a clear day (mostly) and everything in the pond was highly visible almost down to the bottom, my Oxygenating plants have grown so much I can start selling them in small batches now (the Water Mint is also sending shoots out in every direction, looks like I may have to sell a pond starter package online?), today I spotted the regular frog then suddenly a smaller one popped out from the same hiding place!

The pond has been swamped with Water Skaters, I saw two who found a lonesome Woodlouse to munch on. Today I managed to add some Onions into my last outdoor sowings of Carrots (the Carrots were seeded about two weeks ago – the Onions were placed where seeds failed to Germinate), planting a few Onions between and around your Carrots will confuse Carrot Root Fly – for those of you who are new to this, it’s called a few names worldwide – most commonly, Companion Planting or Intercropping.

I planted these onions knowing it is too late for them, but two things could happen here;
1: They will be a reasonable size once they need pulling out, so can be used as Salad Onions or
2: If small enough, they can be lifted to be stored to dry out, then I can use them to start early in my polytunnel for large Spring time Onions
3: They will survive at least most of the length of the Carrots’ life, so they will have fulfilled their purpose if they only provide the distracting scents

The Globe Artichokes ‘Cynara cardunculus’ a non edible variety of Globe Artichoke which is used mainly for ornamental reasons, are doing well it seems. All three are sending out fresh shoots including the one I planted in the very beginning (About 4 month’s ago when I got granted the land) -the most recent ones are scavenged from another plot which is vacant, I don’t want to find out that new tenants thought it was a weed and decided to kill them off …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello everyone, new and old followers alike …

Todays post will be purely focusing on the recent London Permaculture Festival (Annual Event) held last Sunday the 31st of July 2016.

This is the second year running I have attended the festival, it is also the Seventh year that the festival has been going, where it is always based in the Cecil Sharp House in Camden, home to the English Folk and Dance Society.

A great example of how we can bring back power to our communities is shown in the agreement between the Permaculture Association in London and the English Folk and Dance Society. The Festival organisers and the Society made an agreement that the festival can be held for free, so as long as the outside gardens are designed, installed and maintained free of charge.

 

Click on each photo image above for a larger image and caption

Upon arrival and after paying entrance (£ 6 normal rate and £4 Concessions for Pensioners, Students, Low Income Earners etc.) you are greeted on the left by the award winning Permablitz created, Food Forest concept which utilizes many of the classic Permaculture methods and designs including a herb spiral, pond, poly culture planting scheme, various multi use, edible plants and self supporting systems.

Itinery

Workshop Time Table – London Permaculture Festival 2016

 

Inside, as soon as you arrive, check around for the Time Table (although this is also viewable online before the event day) so that you can start planning what you are interested in attending, these time tables are posted all around the building, mainly near door exits etc.

The market comprises of everything from the large Permanent Publications book store, to crafts, a bakery with cakes etc (including vegan / allergen free produce), protest stalls educating visitors about harmful chemicals used in Agriculture such as Glyphosate as well as info on corporate / political deals such as TTIP etc, the Nursery with it’s rare plants, people selling honeys, jams, other preserves and many more!

The information shared in the Workshops is valuable to anyone, you do not at all even need to understand the concept of Permaculture to be able to make use of these systems, designs  and ideas, any allotment holder or average joe with a small back garden or even just a Balcony (Click here for an excellent video of an Edible Balcony Garden).
The garden area was full of family / children’s activities ensuring the event was for the whole family and not just the Perma. Nutter!

As in previous years, the books at the Permanent Publications stand are mostly discounted, they also had back issues of the Permaculture Magazine going for £1 per copy which was also a great bargain!

Taking a walk around the garden, you can find plants that are supplied by the same ‘rare plant nursery’, their info. tags are normally still attached and as I checked, you can find some of the species at their stand inside the main building which was great!

The garden was very interesting, I can see why it has won an award – it is likely that all stages of the design have been implemented already, but they do still require volunteers to regularly maintain the garden, there is no set days / dates so you will have to contact them at their Main Site Here to be added to a mailing list.

Overall, I think it was a very great and productive day! Myself and company had great fun and I did learn a lot, this is an event I can see myself making sure I never miss!