Mid July 2014

In the home garden annual Mallow (Lavatera trimestris) has started to flower.

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The sunflowers(Helianthus annuus) also starting to flower these were grown from seed save from the best head from last year.

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By the small pond the angels fishing rod (Dierama pulcherrimum) is also starting to flower.

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The Marigolds (Calendula officinalis) now in flower.

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The cucumbers are starting to swell now, I just remove the side shoots and on this variety (market more) it is recommended to remove the male flowers to prevent bitterness.

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The Jerusalem Artichokes are heading for 7 feet tall (relative of the sunflower). They produce a tuber which can be boiled and eaten like potato. Retain the least bumpy tubers  for replanting next year at 2 foot apart. They dont required strict rotation.

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The second crop of peas are now ready

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With the ducks gone the space in the dome is being used to grow on plants for a mates wedding as gifts for the guests. As we will be giving up the house in the autumn I figured it would be nice to use up the remain compost and pots by also giving away plants to friends.

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The outdoor bush tomatoes are covered in flowers and are well worth having. The only downside is that they crop over a short period of perhaps 2 weeks. Tomatoes can be frozen without peeling or blanching . Freese on trays then into freezer bags, this prevents sticking.

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I,ve become quite keen on the idea of Polyculture, thats growing a range of different plant  families together. I base this around a main family that is being rotated as this is still important especially for Onions, Brassicas and Potatoes peas not so much but more for nitrogen building. For example below this area will in time be taken over by raspberry canes, untill they have establised im using the space for Brassicas flowers and herbs etc. Not that I will be about to see this but thats the plan anyway.

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The bed in the foreground has Cucurbita (pumpkin and a courgette) as its main rotation in terms of yearly planning but there is also some sweetcorn and runnerbeans , nasturtiams, leaf beet, Evening primrose etc in there. The trick is to judge the spacings and remove/ harvest the faster growing plants as the others require more room. The increased diversity mimics something closer to a more natural system where a whole range of plants grow together. Interestingly there has,nt been any damage to the Brocolli or other brassica leaves growing among many other plants. Last year there was a lot of Mealy cabbage aphids.

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Trays of salads which will be transplanted later.

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In work the carrots and parsnips got a weeding and thinning to 1 Inch apart. We replaced the environet afterward to protect against carrot root fly. Cover the thinnings in the compost heap.

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Here we are direct sowing a bed of brassica salads. The bed was cleared, raked and watered. Then the shallow drills were made using the handle of a rake. The seed is then placed at the correct spacing in the drill.

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Instead of raking accross the top of the drills we sprinkled a little compost. This is much finer material and makes it easy to control the depth of cover and contact between seed and sowing medium. This is watered gently with a fine rose can. The germination rate was good picks to follow next week.

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The hedgerows are looking great at the moment. Below are a few plants seen in Newcastle west Demesne last Saturday. This is meadow sweet (Filipendula ulmaria) it can be found in damp places in ditches and near streams. The flowering heads brewed in boiling water makes a tea which is good for Heartburn and nausea.

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This is a meadowsweet leaf.

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This is Enchanters nightshade  (Circaea spp)

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This is Tufted Vetch ( Vicia cracca) a member of the pea family and fixes atmospheric nitrogen. Its blue flowers are very attractive to bees and has been used as a fodder for cattle.

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This is figwort (Scrophularia nodosa) uses include the treatment of piles and ulcers.

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This is Great Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum)

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This is Black Medick (Medicago Lupulina) note the needle like tip on leaves and yellow flower looking like clover. It is another member of the pea family and its seeds can be sprouted like alfalfa( Lucerne).

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This is knapweed (Centaurea nigra) It looks a bit like a thistle without the prickles and is a good butterfly plant . It is a food plant of Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown, , Common Blue, Large White.

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This plant is Nipplewort (Lapsana communis) In the 16th century the “Doctrine of signatures” says that god gave clues to the uses of plants in their structures. The flower heads looking like nipples meant this one was used to help treat soar nipples. Must take a closer look at liverwort and lungwort.

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As a gardener I would encourage anyone who wants to get a better understanding of how to grow vegetables etc or how permaculture works to start looking much more carefully at natural systems and test thing out yourself. I,m barely scratching the surface of what I would like to investigate test and tryout. The world around us is our garden and we can garden if we choose to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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