Tomatoes, Felling, College, Hiking and Tasting

This past week I start clearing out the tunnel to make way for the summer crops. The peas were suffering from Mildew so I rescued what I could and removed the rest. I think in future I would space the over wintering a little further apart perhaps 3 or 4 inches instead of 2 inches. This way there should be more airflow. It’s probably better to have access on both sides of the row when picking but in a tunnel like this your a bit limited in how you can grow peas.

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The tomato /squash beds were given a dressing of well rotted 2 year old F.Y.M. and topped with enrich compost. Very reluctant to dig through as there is an abundance of mycelium. I’m planting the tomatoes about 500mm apart using the string method tyng around the rootball and attaching to overhead support. This is one of the Brandywine tomatoes with its distintive leaf shape.

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The other varieties in the tunnel include Blackcherry and Moneymaker , 2 of each with spares just incase. I,m limiting the space given over to tomato growing inside for rotational reasons and will be planting into the garden other varieties such as , Amish, Aurora, Tumbler, Mexican Midge about mid May weather permitting. These varieties can be hardened off and grown outside in a sunny sheltered possition in Ireland provided of course that we get a half decent summer.

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Regular sideshooting (removal of growth between stem and leaf)once a week minimum will ensure good air movement and concentrate growth into the trusses that will bear the fruit.

In work we are using a slightly different method of preparing the beds. Here we are digging tenches on either side of a 4 foot raised bed. Into the trenches we are adding well rotted F.Y.M. and a little compost and then raking the soil back over the top. The beds are then well watered prior to planting.

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The first of the Brandywine tomatoes going into the ground using the string method again a double row at 500mm spacings. The over heads wires have been fixed at corresponding spacings since feburary as it can be unbearably bright and hot trying to fix wires over head in a tunnel in almost May.

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Between the tomatoes we have sunk some pots to help insure water gets to the roots. Used this method last year and it helped with the watering which is done with a hose and lance connection.

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Leaving a bank of Chrysanthemums  (chop suey greens) that have flowered  on the end of a bed for the pollinators and us.

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Planted up a ridge of Kale  Nero di Toscana at 2 foot spacings. These have been hardened off over a few days. Probably wont use any plant collars or enviromesh on these as they are a little hardier than cabbage or Calabrese which will hopefully be going in soon. The location is at least 2 weeks earlier than most sites in terms of planting times.

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Lining out the mixed chilli plants at 500mm centres.

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Sowing 2 rows of carrots and beetroot in the roots section of the rotation ( carrots). I inch spacings on the beetroot clusters and a few seeds every inch or sow on the carrots. A barrier will have to be put in place to about 18 inches to prevent carrot rootfly laying eggs.

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We felled a dead tree during the week cutting a notch in the direction of fall and cutting through from the back.

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Removal of lower limps and use of a rope to direct the fall.

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Saturday was spent at the Organic College in Drumcolligher. On this occasion we looked at soil testing for N.P.K. and other nutrients, planting a hedgerow , soil profiling, sowing seeds and the importance of flowers heads used in plant identification. Looking forward to getting a copy of Webbs Irish flora.

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At the college pit trying to identify the E-horizon

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Peas growing against the polythene.

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While down home for the weekend , headed out for a wander in the demesne and came accross Arum maculatum Lords and ladies or coockoos pint

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Honeysuckle Lonicera spp

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Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata which is edible 

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On monday back in work the group went on a hike from the Guinness gates to Lough Dan. The weather was dry but overcast and a very pleasant day was had. This is one of my favourite spots in Wicklow expecially by lough Dan where the lack of carparking and access keeps the valley free from the crowds that Glendalough gets. We spotted some tree and wildflowers along the way.

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The larch!

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We were very fortunate to see a badger out in daylight. He eventually just hid behind a clump of grass and did’nt seem too bothered by our presence.

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Our biodiverity id included:

Larch Larix spp, Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris , Hairy bitter cress Cardamine hirsuta which we have plent of in pots , Oak, Quercus spp, Foxflove Digitalis purpurea, Gorse Ulex europaeus, Heather Calluna vulgaris , Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus , Blackthorn Prunus spinosa , Whitethorn Crataegus monogyna Wood sorrel Oxalis acetosella , Willow ( goat Salix caprea)  Sheeps sorrel Rumex acetosella, Polypody, Wall rue Asplenium ruta-muraria, and sedums including stonecrop.

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Navelwort Umbilicus rupestris

Our tasting session included Sorrels sheep and wood, Stinging nettles Urtica dioica and how to pick without getting stung from the underside of the leaf and roll between fingers and a nibble on the coconut smelling Gorse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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