This week we have been working out the rotation plans for all the individual raised beds. We made these last year and are a great help in teaching the vegetable module. Everyone has personal responsibility for 2 raised beds approximately 4 feet by 12 feet and these are further divided into front and back giving 4 rotational areas. These are allium ( shallots, scallions, garlic, onion spring onion), Legume ( peas, beans, french beans, runnerbeans), Umbels ( Carrots, parsnips, celery) and cucurbita( pumpkins, courgette etc). . Within this where spaces is available some of the compositae such a lettuce and Goosefoots beetroot can fill gaps untill the spaces is filled by the main crop as they don’t need a strict rotation plan. We have cheated a little by sowing direct the odd line of quick growing oriental brassica beneath the pea supports but these can rotate as the pea family rotate in the beds.In general the brassicaceae (cabbage family) and Solanaceae( potatoe family) are growing in a bigger area on a completely separate rotation plan. The four large rotational areas are, Brassica, Allium, Solanaceae ( spuds) and Legume. Just to confuse matters the tunnel is now on a separate rotational plan also.
In some books the word “roots” is used when dividing up a veg patch but this has no place in a good rotation plan as it covers vegetables from a variety of families such as turnips which are brassicas and carrots which are Umbels so there goes the rotation plan out the window. Another point worth remembering is that in the case of garlic for example both the summer and autumn sown garlic must be allocated space within their rotation area for that year so there is no point doing loads in the autumn and having no spaces for the spring sowing.
The diagram below shows some of the ways to support memebers of the pea family. There are infinite ways to do this but in all cases their must be an understanding of how the plant grows and what height it grows too.
This structure had to be modified ( chicken wire added) as peas were planted instead of runnerbeans. The tendrils of the peas holding onto the horizontal (string ,brash etc) not wraping themselves around bamboo as runner beans do. I,m not convinced its going to be sucessful as the rows are 2 foot apart leaving no room for harvesting and airflow. Interesting to see what happens.
This structure is designed to suit any height of pea and the width between the posts is less than 1220mm the standard with of chicken wire. The wire is a little high from te ground but a few pieces of willow will bridge the gap.
This bamboo support frame has 6 to 8 inch spacing and runner beans are being planted at the base of each cane. Just hope the runner beans are hardened off sufficiently!
This architectural cone shape structure is supporting sweet pea ( not edible) . looks a bit like the shard.
Another version of the cone shape using twine to provide the horizontal supports for the pea.
I really like the 10 foot cone shape.
A simple method to deter the carrt root fly (Chamaepsila rosae) laying its eggs at the base of ones carrots is to put a physical barrier in its way. They dont fly above 2 feet. Hopefully the fleece is tucked in properly. Any thinning should be done on a windy day with all thinnings removed and buried in the compost pile.
At the moment there are lots of plants being prepared for the outdoors. In the picture some outdoor tolerant tomatoes. In general the crates are kept close to the doors and trolleys are used to bring lots of trays and pots out during the day and back under cover in the evening for a period up to a week,
Cosmea and other summer bedding, Courgettes etc all moving towards the doors.
The early potatoes homeguard doing well no flowers just yet.
The tunnel is undergoing a transformation with Tomatoes, chillies, Courgettes, Butternut Squash, Cucumber, Melon,Sweetcorn, basil, tagetes, nasturtiams, rocket , beetroot, summer salads etc as many crops are harvested and the heat lovers are planted.
Outside the onions are starting to swell should have a great crop.
Outside near the compost area the comfrey is in flower with some borage and salads. When the plants have establised we can make a comfrey liquid tea to promote fruiting.
At home it wont be long till the broadbeans are ready. The beans are starting to swell inside the pods now.
The fruits are forming on the outside strawberries
The jerusalem artichokes are up and growing
The growth rate is taking off now in the tunnel. The brassica salad area with rocket , turnips, and some kale
Plenty of lettuce for eating and the 3 sisters courgette , sweetcorn and bean to the rear. Will sow the beans when and if the corn gets a bit taller. May not have the light levels to get this to work here. The idea is that the courgette covers the ground and the corn growns up tall above this with the beans climb the corn while fixing nitrogen feeding the corn. Tis a bit of fun I suppose.
A bed of brassica and a yacon all planted up and covered with environet by agralan. Its available in garden centres etc and protects against a number of pests including the cabbage white butterflys, (large white, small white and green veined white). Can also be used for carrots etc. The plants push up the netting . The standard size fits over an 8 by 4 foor bed allowing for growth etc. The net can be removed from the yacon once it gets going as it will grow quite tall. Using it more for hardening off purposes.
The borage is looking well in this bed of peas, beets etc.
The squash graduating to bigger pots before planting out.
The epicure potatoes starting to poke through the mulch.
Spring onions ready for planting
A wonderful patch of cleavers and nettles.
There is a great joy in growing some of your own food and combining this with foraging etc. Will have to replace that orhange and bananna for an apple and pear.