More Planting, Pests in the Polytunnel and Wood Burning Stoves

Apologies for not providing a proper update after the snow. We still have rather unseasonably cold weather but nothing dramatic. Fortunately so far there has been no more snow. Aside from a fair few herbs and the marigolds planted in more exposed places, most things seem to be struggling through.

Brassicas seem to be doing okay in spite of the cold weather.
Brassicas seem to be doing okay in spite of the cold weather.

Direct sown peas, salad leaves and radishes are popping up.

Peas popping through

Salad leaves appearing.
Salad leaves appearing.

And everything in the polytunnel seems to be thriving.

The polytunnel is beginning to fill up nicely. Newly sown flowers and more kohlrabi have filled up the space on the hanging shelf.
The polytunnel is beginning to fill up nicely. Newly sown flowers and more kohlrabi have filled up the space on the hanging shelf.

Radish, carrots, beetroot, onions

New potatoes and peas

Peas and bread beans, with salad leaves, spinach and pak choi (from which we have already been taking some leaves).
Peas and bread beans, with salad leaves, spinach and pak choi (from which we have already been taking some leaves).

We do however have rather a large number of what I think (from looking them up on the Internet) are St. Mark’s flies, Bibio marci. I have read that they eat the roots of, amongst other things, lettuce so having so many of them is probably not a great thing. We will have to put our heads together and figure out how to deal with them.

Is this a St. Mark's fly? There are hundreds of them in the polytunnel!
Is this a St. Mark’s fly? There are hundreds of them in the polytunnel!

Today, in hopes that the weather will soon improve I have sown another batch of seeds. More kohlrabi, french beans, various flowers, basil and summer squash.

Basil and summer squash sitting in a warm spot to germinate.
Basil and summer squash sitting in a warm spot to germinate.

One of the reasons that I have not updated this blog sooner than now is that it has been rather a chaotic week. The two wood burning stoves have finally been installed!

The dogs have been wondering what on earth is going on. There was quite a lot of noise and of course things had to be moved out of the way.
The dogs have been wondering what on earth is going on. There was quite a lot of noise and of course things had to be moved out of the way.
The second stove. Just a bit of painting and these rooms in the main house will be much improved.
The second stove. Just a bit of painting and these rooms in the main house will be much improved.

Some wood has been ordered, since of course the wood we have chopped here and that acquired from my husband’s workplace will not be useable for a year or so. We were glad to be able to find a supplier of naturally dried wood. You may or may not be aware that much of the wood on the market is kiln dried – negating its carbon neutrality. Seems crazy to me.

We are glad to finally have the stoves in place. They mean that next autumn and winter we will not have to rely on the oil heating. It is a big step towards our more sustainable way of life.

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A Busy Week

It has been a rather busy week and I have been too rushed or too tired to give much time to this blog but I will remedy that now with an update on progress in the garden.

The first early potatoes have been earthed up twice and are bursting through once more in the polytunnel.

Potatoes three days after earthing up! Potato plants

More maincrop potatoes are in the ground and others I have planted in Ikea bags beside the polytunnel.

Potatoes planted in Ikea bags

I have moved some peas into the orchard/forest garden area.

Peas in forest garden

Calabrese and romanesquo have made their way out to the vegetable beds, where more peas have also just been directly sown. Cauliflower will follow shortly.

Brassicas under pigeon net
Brassicas netted against pigeons.

Kohlrabi and beetroots have been hardening off ready to plant out too. I will do that this weekend.

Kohlrabi hardening off in the polytunnel.
Kohlrabi hardening off in the polytunnel.

Courgettes are also in the polytunnel, with bubble wrap on hand to protect it if we have a cold night. I have planted them more closely than is advised as one or two were too long in the pots and got a bit squashed so may not make it.

Courgettes in Polytunnel

I also forgot to mention before that we now have our water butt set up out back to water in the polytunnel and the outside tap by the orchard/forest garden has been fixed so we can use the hose to water on that side of the house.

There are plenty of flowers blooming about the place and lots of busy bees.

Flowers Lucky white heather and daffodils

Free wood from outside my husband’s workplace. (They were going to chip it so it was up for grabs.)

Free Wood

And the pond is coming along nicely.

Dug pondNow it is the weekend I can really get on with things!

Polytunnel Progress, Hardening Off and Other Outdoors Work

Today has been a really busy day in the garden. Spring is most definitely here and we are entering the busiest time of year for growing your own. There has been plenty of progress.

– Baby beetroots pricked out and in the polytunnel.

Beetroots in the polytunnel. I will plant more outside in a month or so.
Beetroots in the polytunnel. I will plant more outside in a month or so.

– First of the first early potatoes in the polytunnel are showing sprouts. Soon, when a few more appear, it will be time to earth them up.

One of the potato sprouts. I am amazed by how early I could plant the chitted potatoes in the polytunnel.
One of the potato sprouts. I am amazed by how early I could plant the chitted potatoes in the polytunnel.

– Carrots have germinated on a cooler windowsill and soon I will prick them out into the polytunnel bed. I do not seem to have much luck getting them to germinate in the ground.

Carrots - not quite ready to prick out yet.
Carrots – not quite ready to prick out yet.

– Radishes (a little nibbled) are growing in the polytunnel. Broad beans are also a little nibbled but still growing and the pak choi beneath them are coming along. The peas are growing, if slowly.

Radishes - some have been a bit nibbled but I hope some will make it through.
Radishes – some have been a bit nibbled but I hope some will make it through.
Broad Beans and Pak Choi
Broad Beans and Pak Choi.
Polytunnel peas, growing slowly.
Polytunnel peas, growing slowly. Mixed salad is just beginning to sprout in front of the peas.

I have also done a little weeding in the polytunnel – there is still some to do (As you can see there is some grass between the radishes) but I like to do a little casual weeding as I go along as I know how out of hand things can get if you let things get on top of you. It is better to do little and often.

– I set the brassicas in the open polytunnel for their first day of hardening off. I hope to plant them out in a week or so if the weather is okay. I have not built the cold frame yet so this method will have to do for now. I will bring them back indoors this evening.

Brassica hardening off in the open polytunnel. Everything in the polytunnel will, I am sure, have been enjoying the gentle breeze with the door open.
Brassica hardening off in the open polytunnel. Everything in the polytunnel will, I am sure, have been enjoying the gentle breeze with the door open. 

– Since I know from the allotment last year how destructive the pigeons can be for brassicas I also spent some time today banging together a very rough frame to put netting on to give the calabrese, cauliflowers and romanesquo some protection when I do plant them out.

A very rough frame for the brassica netting, made from some old wood taken from the outbuilding.
A very rough frame for the brassica netting, made from some old wood taken from the outbuilding.

– I then cleared a section dead material from a section of edge bed and started to clear a space to plant a few runner beans against the wall.

Finally, a little more planting indoors – some nasturtiums for use as companion plants and a few other bee attracting flowers.

I do hope that at least some of this hard work will give us a good yield!