Thursday, 18 June 2009

Updates #2

Pests.... The garden has been under attack by a number of pest, black flies and aphids mostly. The black flies first appeared on the broad beans and quickly jumped over to the neighboring spinach, and we have seen evidence of them on the runner beans as well. They multiply so fast it seemed impossible to stop them from ruining the entire garden. After pronouncing that the project was going to be strictly organic, the use of chemical insecticides/pesticides was not an option. Enter the ladybugs.
A few days after we noticed the increasing presents of the pests the number of ladybugs in the garden had risen substantially. We thought nothing of it at first until I read an article saying that one of the most effective ways of controlling pests in an organic garden was the use of ladybug larvae. So the increase in black flies and aphids had attracted the ladybugs, and this along with regular inspections (killing the pests by squashing them) has kept the pest population under control and brought the project back into balance. PHEW!!!. Thank you Mother Nature.
We have been blessed with quite a bit of rain over the past few days and this has really benefited the crops. The carrots seemed to have shot up over night, as has the runner beans, and we have had wild poppy flowers popping up all over the place (a bit of a pain but they attract the bees). The herb box has filled out nicely and has been coming in very handy during cooking time. Tomatoes are just about to come into flower and so are the potatoes, fingers cross, they'll make it through July without contracting and forms of infections.

Carrots after two days of rain

Potatoes and Runner Beans Happy together

Herb box: Thyme, Parsley and Basil

We have also got two very nice mint plants that have taken very well to the clayey soil. I've had mint tea every morning for the past two weeks...... What better way to start the day?

Mints and Chives

So the vegetables are doing well, but what about the fruits? We haven't got many varieties but what we have has been doing alright so far.
The apples are well on the way, another two months or so and we'll be overwhelmed be them. There's a slight sign of a fungal infection on a few of the young fruits but we are not to worried about it, it is not as bad as last years' and we had an outstanding harvest then so we'll let it take it's course. We pruned the tree back a little allowing more light and air to reach and circulate through it, and it seems to have very much appreciated it.

The Cameo Apple Tree

The young ones

The next fruit on the list is one that had been a bit of an annoyance over the years, the Grape Vine, it's been running beneath the earth and popping up everywhere. It is a true survival story, last season the vine produced a few bunches of sweet green colored grapes the majority of which the birds ate. A little time after the last bunch was eaten the vine began to dry up and fall apart, so instinctively we began watering its roots but unfortunately it never recovered and we thought "it has come to the end of its life cycle" and we uprooted and burnt most of it. In late January something miraculous happened. One of the vines we left in (because we were to lazy to dig all the way down to it's roots), from its bone dry shell, had started showing signs of life. We quickly began to guide it up and around the shed for support and before long we had a huge trail of vines all along the shed working its way onto the roof and up the apple tree. We have counted at least 40 bunches of young grapes on the vines, so it's going to be a good year for the birds. :-)

Grape Vines (on the shed roof and climbing the apple tree)

And lastly, the Strawberries. Our number one enemy, the fox, has been helping himself to these lovely fruits, a few birds have also been having a go at them. However we've manage to grab a few before they were all 'stolen' from right under our noses. Once we had a taste we soon realised why they were so popular with the natives, they were much sweeter than anything else growing in the garden by far and the bright red color stands out amongst the green. It was our own fault they were being taken, we had not taken measures to protect them from the local wild life. Won't be making that mistake again.

The first of many Strawberries

So there you have it, very exciting things going on at MAY GARDEN. Some scary moments, but a lot has been learnt as a result. There is no limit to the amount of knowledge that can be gained by working on the land and we hope that, as the seasons past, we will only improve and expand upon what we have already learnt.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Updates #1

The site for the polytunnel has been chosen, and the tunnel arrived safe and sound (YIPPEE!!!). The framework is now up and the trench is being dug around it to support the polythene covering, it's a very pains-taking process but one that I am confident that will be well worth it. Once completed, I will dedicate an entire post to the process of it's construction.

Well a few more updates while construction of the new tunnel is on the way:
  • Bloody urban foxes, they are my number one enemy in the garden at the moment, even worst than the dreaded brown slug and bindweed. They have recently added two cubs to their family and they have taken a liking to the garden, the onion/shallot beds in particular. These foxes seem to be immune to all conventional means of deterrence. I've tried urine, environmentally friendly animal replant fluids(which stinks to high heaven by the way), barriers, even the barking of the neighbors dogs don't seem to phase them. One of our neighbors told me about a sonic gun which gives off a high frequency sonic pulse that scares them off once fired (doesn't harm them), I also heard about one that's attached to a motion detector which is quite expensive but i don't see any other alternative short of shooting every last one of the buggers......sadly the council won't allow that :-). But seriously they are very destructive, they eat low hanging fruits, dig up and knock over crops, and not to mention the little smelly gifts they leave behind once they have had their fill. Can't wait for the polytunnel to go up, hopefully they won't be bold enough to claw their way in.
  • It hasn't been all bad new though the strawberries are doing very well, the herb box has started filling out quite nicely, lettuce has been coming up continuously, the sweet corns have now adapted very well to the outdoor conditions and we have had our first harvest of broad beans which we planted last winter. We have also planted some runner beans in the remaining spaces of the potato patch which have taken very well. The bell peppers we've started indoors seem to be coping well.
  • The apples have also began to emerge, looks very promising for this season. We have shorten the Mew tree which was blocking a lot of the light from the west and this, it seems, has opened up a whole new potion of the apple tree to fruit production. I guess there will be a lot more cider to go around this Christmas.
  • And lastly, we have finally gotten around to ordering rain water collection and storage units thanks to the enthusiasm of one of our volunteers. They should be arriving any day now.
All in all the project is coming along very well, with the arrival of the polytunnel and the promise of new volunteers for the near future, progress will no doubt be stepped up a gear.

Lots and lots of Lettuces

Sweet Corn well established outdoors

Strawberries in bloom

Sweet Sweet Peppers

Harvested Broad Beans