Tuesday, 18 September 2012
We love sweetcorn, which is why my attempts to grow it for the past 5 years have been so disappointing (the first year however was a roaring success). Each year I carefully nurture my seedlings, sown in modules in the greenhouse, then moved to a bed that's been lovingly weeded and layered with compost. I water them and underplant with beans and squash (the 'three sisters'). And what happens? Well, I get sweetcorn but only a few and much later than everybody else.
My neighbours' have tall proud sweetcorn plants with multiple ears of corn. They take pity on me and offer me some to supplement my meagre pickings. I ask them what they do - they manure/compost just as I do. They water, just as I do. They block plant; several try the 'three sisters' approach. My crop is poor; their's is bountiful. Well not this year! This year I have tall, proud, multistemed sweetcorn and I have plenty of it and have been giving it away.
What I have in inadvertently discovered (I think) is that sweetcorn doesn't like being confined in a 2 by 1 metre bed and/or being raised in modules.
This year I grew two batches of sweetcorn (I accidently bought two packets of seeds). The first I grew in modules then planted into a 2 by 1 metre bed that had been weeded and manured. The other was planted directly into a large area in my second plot; it had been the site of the chicken run so was well manured for 3 months. Both were underplanted with pumpkin and french beans.
The module-grown sweetcorn grew pretty much as normal (for me that is). All the plants grew, they most produced one small sweetcorn - but there were gaps in the cobs where not all were fertilized. However with the directly planted sweetcorn only about 15 of the 30 seeds grew into mature plants, a pretty poor survival rate I think, but each plant that did survive has thrived and produced bigger and better sweetcorn that the module-grown sweetcorn.
I thought this was a really interesting result and next year I'm going to try again - this time reversing the planting to see what happens. Module grown seedlings can go into open ground and the bed will be directly sown. I might also add a few directly sown into open ground just to make sure I get some sweetcorn.
Watch this space!
Sunday, 1 July 2012
|Jimmo - after his makeover|
After an afternoon's work he has new clothes, a new covering for his head, extra stuffing, a heart and a new (handmade) hat. Oh, and a smiley face. Doesn't he look lovely?
|Jimmo's smiley face|
And whilst I was there today I did some weeding around the sweetcorn and onions. Here's a view across the plot, showing my sweetcorn.
|A view across the plot|
Saturday, 30 June 2012
|Jimmo on his first day at the allotment|
Now, three years of sun and rain can have an effect on a chap. By the second summer all the colour was bleached from his patches and scarf, his hat was floppy and he looked a bit bedraggled.
I took a photograph of him yesterday in preparation of giving him a bit of long overdue tlc. A bit sad looking methinks.
|Jimmo in 2012|
Thursday, 28 June 2012
|February - their first day in their new home|
I've had my chickens for nearly 18 months now and they are well and truly part of the family. My girls were rescued from a battery farm where they spent the first 2 years of their life 'living' in a small cage with no room to move or show any natural behaviour. And you could tell. When I first put them into their run they just stood still. They had pink floppy combs, were featherless in places (I was told they weren't that bad compared to some) and looked scared stiff. On their first night I had to entice them into their house by putting a torch in there - eventually they walked in and settled down.
For the first month they were confined to their house and run - but this was just fine for them; a nice roomy 4 metre long run rather than the tiny cage they'd grown up in.
|April - free ranging|
Eventually, however they got curious. Whenever I cleaned them out they tried to escape; it was time to free range. I began by making a temporary pen for them outside their run so they could get used to going in and out when I was with them. Once they tried escaping that I knew it was time and let them explore the garden. Now everyday, come wind, rain or shine the girls and I spend time together in the garden. The girls get to roam the garden whilst I potter about, sit and read or have dinner. But I don't leave them alone in the garden as there are foxes roaming the area so when I can't be with them they are safely in their run. They seem like happy chickens.
|July - happy garden chickens|
Wednesday, 27 June 2012
The weather here has not been good - cold, wet, overcast. The vegetables are growing slowly, the slugs and snails are very happy and the flowers on the fruit trees never turned into fruit. But what has come through and kept my allotment looking good and my spirits up are the flowers. From purple poppies and alliums, pale pink roses through to bright orange calendula. They all look ravishing; who cares about the vegetables???