Sunday, 12 February 2012

Starting The Season

It's finally here.
No, not the DFS Sale but the beginning of the season. The growing season that is. It's not shooting time yet, unless you have extreme pest control issues. No, the season is fully under way now that we can safely consider sowing seed indoors ,confident in the knowledge that the soil outdoors will be warm enough to plant into when the time comes. It's all about looking ahead, planing for a few weeks,months or even years ahead. In the case of Asparagus beds you need to plan for at least the next 25 years so preparation is everything. For most things grown for food on the allotment or in the garden, we usually only look at 1-5 years. Beds are the way if you have difficult soil. Beds are a way of containing and therefore controlling a patch of soil so you can work it without standing on it, so you can limit the spread of nutrients and the invasion of most weeds and so you can apply the solution to the problem more efficiently.
The other benefit is,of course, raised soil warms up earlier. I suggest covering beds with either cloches or polythene to pre-warm the soil for first sowings.The black polythene will draw the heat from the watery winter sun and retain it in the soil. Unfortunately it will also provide a haven for pest like slugs, so either make sure the beetle count is up ( they are ravenous carnivores and love slugs) or use pellets under the sheets. Regularly uncovering and leaving for the birds is also a way to reduce the mollusc population.
The big question is, what to do first? Well, to my way of thinking, the seeds will germinate happily without my watching over them so I start them first then get on with everything else.
The everything else this time being:
Dismantle and remove old corrugated steel compost bin
Sieve compost from main heap and remove weed root,non composted material and rubbish
Have a bonfire to burn all the rubbish and non degradable material.

O.K. the bonfire wasn't essential but I'm a male and we need our caveman throw back. Anyway, seeds need sowing, the soil is warming up (where I am anyway) and my seed potato tubers are chitting away merrily. The Asparagus has a feed of manure and one row is cloched to encourage an earlier start.
The col snap we've just experienced has put a strain on some overwintered crops. The early Broad Beans have collapsed and look very limp and sorry but the later sown Peas are looking stubby but fine.
As the weather is turning warmer now I hope to see a full recovery but I'm not over confident.
I'll be sure to let you know though!


YoungMiss said...

It's so exciting! Why do you need a 25 year plan for asparagus? Intriuged.

Choco said...

Simple. Asparagus beds crop for about a quarter of a century. If you haven't got all the weeds out before you start, that's a long time to fight them (I know...). Part of the prep is not cropping for first two years to build up the strength of the roots.