Thursday, 30 April 2009

Sweetcorn and The Space Race

It's been a while since it happened, but the space problem has raised it's head again. Now, while I may be a fan of sci-fi and all things astronautical, I'm talking about space of a more earthly kind. Or a lack of space and earth to precise. I have just transplanted another 3 rows of Greyhound Cabbage, plus the same of Saladin Iceberg Lettuce. I have thinned out my Purple Sprouting but thrown the thinnings in the compost rather than transplanting them as I am just running out of available space to put things. It's always the same, the garden equivalent of eyes too big for my belly. I sow and grow far more than I can find room for. It is a perennial problem for me.
So, what have I done to help alleviate the situation? I have just bought 10 Celery plants and a pack of Beetroot seeds. Ok, the Celery have been planted in the trench between the rows of Asparagus , which saves space and helps with the eventual blanching process and the Beetroot was sown in gaps where the cabbages have been transplanted from but there are still more crops to go in before any come out. Anyway, I've been hoeing like a man possessed of late and it's showing signs of being worth the effort. Bindweed and marestail keep popping up only to face the chop and the constant starvation of photosynthesis should start weakening the roots soon. I spend over a week digging one bed, picking out every single root or stem of every type of weed I could find. Since then I haven't seen a single leaf pop up in that bed. The others I have rooted out as I've gone along and I'm chopping the remaining ones down as soon as they appear. With pernicious weeds such as Bindweed and Mare's tail, this multi-pronged attack is the only way to tackle things.
Back to the good stuff though, the successful space grabbing veg and fruit. The Strawberries are flowering wonderfully well and I have started spreading shredded paper around them, it's my green substitute for straw and it uses up the shreddings that would normally go in the compost. I damp it all down with the can before leaving it as it can get quite windy at the plot and I don't want to try and fetch it all back when it ends up in the brambles at the other end of the site!
The third sowing of Broad Beans has broken through the soil and there are a couple of Courgette seedlings alongside them. The red and white onion beds are going strong and. dare I risk say
ing it, with no bulbs having bolted yet. Likewise the Shallots, a favourite of the Head Chef and Bottle Washer as a pickling ingredient way beyond the humble silverskin onion. The Sweetcorn, raised in modules at home, have now been located in there final place in a block formation at the plot where they will, hopefully, bring me lots of sweet succulent cobs around August. Once again, they are in a block because they are wind pollenated and planting in rows risks huge disappointments if the wind blows from the wrong direction, a 3 out of 4 chance.
Blocks mean the crop has a much higher chance of successfully pollenating and producing those full yellow juicy cobs. The plants have both male and female flowers on each stalk, with the male being above the female. On a dry, still day the pollen may just fall to the female beneath but generally the wind carries the tiny grains from plant to plant.
My own personal success is with the Parsley. Tradition has it that whomever in the household can grow the Parsley runs the home. I know, it's my allotment and the wife doesn't grow anything there, but just being able to germinate it, without resorting to all sorts of special tricks such as boiling water or freezers, makes me proud.
My old mini(midi) greenhouse frame has had a new cover for this year, courtesy of my daughter's new bed. The mattress bag, polythene, makes a nice translucent covering for what doubles as a shelving unit during the winter. My tray of chillies in modules became the first tenants. I mentioned on Twitter that I am trialing all three growing conditions with chillies this year; House plant, Greenhouse and outdoors in the bed. I've grown in beds before and had some degree of success but I want big crops of nice hot red fruits.
As I have had more seedlings germinate from my Tomato seeds this year than normal, I will be popping some Marmande in with the chillies later. I know better than to mix cucumbers in with Tomatoes so I won't be making it a threesome.
The final row of maincrop potatoes, Rooster, are in. That's the back breaking done for another few months. Just need to get shifting on the Runner Beans and I'm almost there.

1 comment:

Callum said...

Despite your produce predicament, remember that space as big as yours is a luxury many of us would like to have! The London Vegetable Garden is growing bigger by the day - the space predicament I'm faced with is my other half wanting more flowers than vegetables!