Monday, 9 May 2011

Rain Dance

It's been a dry couple of weeks and it had started to show on the May Project Gardens site. Our rain water storage is only 400lts and that's enough to only water the entire site once. We need a bigger rain water storage tank. If we are able to collect and store more rain water we will greatly reduce the amount of tap water used in the garden during dryer periods. But it's not all bad news, it rained two days ago and there is a slightly different feel to the garden. It's a lot cooler for one and most of the insects which were hanging out in the garden the past few days have moved on. 
Although its' been dry there has been a lot of growth and all sections of the site have been putting on a show for spring. The kitchen garden space consisting of salad leaves and herbs is very lust and we have already started harvesting off of it, just this morning I had a nice cup of peppermint tea.
Kitchen Garden with salad leaves and herbs

The main crop space is also in full swing. The beans are doing better than they were last season and the black flies and aphids have not been that much of a problem yet. Our potatoes and garlic shares the same space and are also coming on very nicely.
 Beans, potatoes and garlics

The second main crop bed consists of carrots, onions, French beans, squashes, and sweet corns. We are attempting to train the squashes to climb up a home made trellis made of reused bamboo canes which were originally used as a screen.
 Second main crop bed

We timed the rain perfectly this week. The evening before the rain came we added the home-made fertilizer to the beds and the rain made sure it got soaked into the soil. The fertilizer is made on site and using only natural sustainable ingredients: 3 part comfrey, 1 part nettles, and enough water to just cover the comfrey and nettles. The technique we use is to press/crush the comfrey and nettle leaves and then add a bit more water and cover from rain, and  I like to add a few different natural stones just because they release minerals as they slowly dissolve, and these minerals are loved by plants, and they act as weight to keep the leaves submerged. In two to three weeks all the leaves would have almost vanish leaving a  have concentrated liquid plant feed.   
 The beginning stages: crushed leaves and water

We call it 'Nettfrey Tea'

We are also making compost. We have got hundreds of thousands of workers on the composting site, we compost with worms and other soil inhabiting creatures. Our worms are doing a great job this year, the soil they have been building is very rich and has very good texture. We also have a hot composting bin, this was filled up with alternating layers of green (nitrogen rich) materials and brown (carbon rich) materials and a splash of diluted Nettfrey Tea, covered and left for a few months, turning once or twice a month. This season we are adapting techniques used in the Quick Return compost making method developed by Ms. Maye E. Bruce in the 1950's, we hope to be composting more in the coming seasons using her techniques. 
 Yummy worm compost

Newly built compost heap

Other originally built compost bins have now been used as storage for material collected from the garden that were either too big or not ready to be used for composting. To be perfectly honest, it's turning into a bit of a tip, we will be investing in a shredder soon I suspect.
Storage piles

Our strawberries have filled out there bed these past few weeks and so has our little wild space behind the polytunnel.
Strawberries--------------------The wild bunch

Another wild space which has had a good couple of weeks is the pond area. All the plants which we added to the site are doing really well. We have seen newt-lets, tadpoles, boatman, snails, and other creatures hanging out in the pond and we have had loads of visits from a numerous amount of insects which in turn attracts the birds that do take the occasional swim.
Wildlife pond space
Elder overlooking the pond

I must admit, the insects are not the only reason the birds visit our garden. We have turned one of our trees into a feeding station for their enjoyment and we have also added in a bird bath in the tree for those birds that don't like coming down to ground level.
   'Dead Tree'

We have started work on the front garden, we cleared a small spot and planted in some sunflowers. Last year we had 10ft tall red, yellow and pinkish-white sunflowers, fingers crossed we will beat our record this year.
Sunflowers out front

Remember the meadow I wrote about in the last post? It's actually taking shape very nicely. The grasses have shot up and quite alot of the flowers have started growing their first set of true leaves.
 Wild flower meadow

That's all for now but next time I will take you into the polytunnel and share with you how we make our elder flower champagne. Until then happy gardening. 

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