Saturday, 27 June 2015

Onions, Potatoes, Wildflowers and other things

Onions, Potatoes, Wildflowers and other things

The Autumn Onion sets have grown reasonably well in a bed that had 18 inches of manure dug into the clay, although digging them up demonstrated that there wasn't enough manure. The manure has broken down into very little and the clay soil is still sticking together and has become rather dry. Breaking up the soil ready for another crop will still be hard work and a load more manure will be needed. There was a lot of hay in this manure. The onions were both red and white and a lot have wide necks, some have tried to go to seed although I snapped off the flower head to help the bulbs grow. They are different sizes, different shapes with some being almost flat bottomed and some round. I think these onions came from the local Garden Centre and they went in in the first week of November 2014.

They have been left to dry out
Garlic, Red and White Onions June 2015
The Garlic came from the pure manure bed next to the Globe Artichokes and also grew quite well but had been shaded and now covered by the broad beans which have been semi blown over by the wind. I'm quite pleased with the garlic although like the Onions are various different sizes. This manure bed has composted down extremely well and stayed moist. It has been in semi shade. 

The pure manure bed
This bed, where the old chicken run and caravan were, was an experiment. I planted the whole bed hoping the Broad Beans, Garlic, Shallots and Onions would be OK. The Broad Beans have done very well and have liked the manure, The Garlic didn't seem fussed either but the 300 or so Onions in this bed, planted in the spring, have so far failed. They are extremely small, yellowing leaves with brown tips. I've looked for pests (as suggested on the net as the cause) but the bulbs look perfect but little bigger than they were when planted. I planted some Onions in the Autumn here as well, next to the Garlic and although also small, probably caused by the fact they were very shaded next to the Artichokes, which grew bigger and spread more than I expected, were OK.

The Onions planted in the Autumn went into fresher manure than the ones that have failed in the spring in the same bed so I think that they failed because April was a dry month and the top inch or so where the onion sets were planted became very dry (although deeper than 1 inch was very moist) before I realised and started to water them. I have left these Onions in to see if they will put on growth still in the next 2 months.

I have all but given up on these onions and have planted some sweet corn between the rows of onions as well as Courgette so as to get a crop from this bed. It's a shame about these Onions because although I still have a normal quantity of Onions compared to most years I was hoping to have 5 times this amount as we use so many Onions and hopefully we would sell some.

I'm declaring my Potato bed as being a great success. I dug most of the bed last year, piled on manure, then dug it again to a depth of 2 forks, then piled on 2 feet deep of manure and left for months and then dug it all over again. It is almost 50 / 50 clay soil and well rotted manure. A very nice texture in the main. For planting the potatoes I dug trenches 18 inches deep rather and earth up the potatoes. As the Potatoes grew I filled in the tranches. This bed stayed moist for the entire time. 

There are 1st and 2nd earlies as well as main crop and I had read that the 1st earlies (Pentland Javelin) can be ready as early as 10 weeks after planting. I also read that they needed 15 weeks.

Click on any photo to enlarge

This picture was taken after 8 to 9 weeks.

We dug one potato plant after 10 weeks and got about 450g of perfect potatoes. Very tasty. They will now be left for another 5 weeks to grow more tubers.

24th June 2015 - 450g of Pentland Javelin

The old bonfire site was sown with random wildflower seeds. I didn't know what they were, only that they were saved seed from last summer. Most were Poppy and Corn Cockle and they put on quite a show!

22nd June 2015

10th June 2015
These will provide seed to be sown this Autumn around the field.

I have grown from seed, and then planted out, several Teasel plants around the field. One that was planted within the long grass, which then became part of the potato bed has grown to almost 6ft and is rather impressive. Plenty of seed for the birds and hopefully I can save some.

Teasel 18th June 2015
An over all picture showing the Teasel can be seen in the potato bed photo above.

Other Teasels around the field aren't quite this size and so I presume they really appreciate the manure and moist condition on the soil. Out of all the Teasels the one I left in a large pot has done least well.

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