Park life

With this beautiful run of weather  the vegetables are doing quite well. The star of the show at the minute is these french pole beans.

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There is plenty of fresh fruit and veg now. Some of the plums are ripe and delicious. The first of the tomatoes have started to ripen in the past week or so also.Ready now we have, potatoes, tomatoes, basil, rocket, french beans, beetroot, turnips, kale, green peppers, radish, lettuce, courgette and carrots which are for sale.

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These Brandywine tomatoes will I hope be the taste highlight of the year. Have a selection of heritage tomatoes.

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A big effort is underway to water and weed regularly and to keep production up by replanting/sowing when beds are cleared. Here max has prepared the ground and sown runner beans 2 per cane. These should fly up.

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The seed savers mix pepper seeds have turned into very healthy plants.

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The bed in the foreground was direct sown with Brassica salad crops including radish and various leafy greens. The use of a little compost to cover the drills lightly is working well. These can be thinned depending on plant.

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Here Brendan has prepared and sown a bed of salad crops using the same technique. The rounded handle of a rake is perfect for making a shallow drill. I,m delight with the enthusiasm for growing vegetables with many of the lads now wanting to grow at home.

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The sweetcorn cobs are a decent size and we have shaken the plants to help pollination

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The pumpkins are doing well.

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A Minnesota Midge Mellon.

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To control the movement of the chickens on the site we decided to try this low step over fence to discourage them from entering the tunnel. Here joe is fitting a gate to allow for wheelbarrows etc. The chickens love taking a dust bath in the tunnel but with recent sowings we wanted to keep them out.

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In the past week since clearing the corner heap to keep things tidy we are introducing some new systems into our gardening. One of these is a system for the cycling of organic matter and how to deal with materials produced on site. A rota system is now in place to give everyone some responsibility in managing and learning how to keep the composting going.

Grass clippings: When possible leave to rot back into the lawn ( Cut while short). These can be used thinly for mulching veg beds inside and out as they release nitrogen when fresh and also reduce evaporation and  watering . Can also be layed as greens in the compost heap.

Branches (without many leaves) :up to 25mm to be passed through the woodchipper and spread on the paths between beds.

Branches above 25 mm to be cut into 12 inch lengths bagged and taken away for drying and use as fuel.

Thin branches ( soft wood /semi harwood with leaves) : cut with secateurs and used for aeration in the brown layer.  These can be passed through the chipper if done so combined with a few dry branches to drag them through. De leafing can be a quick job for some types the branch then be cut with secateurs.

Pine cones: stored in bags for christmas wreath

Pine needles: perfect mulch material for under fruit bushes such as gooseberries which need a low ph. Do not put in compost.

Veg waste: This can be added to the compost heap

Wildflowers / weeds: Can be added to the heap or placed underwater if problematic (bindweed)

We recently removed the top layers from the bays and were able to harvest a few cubic metres of good compost. To further refine this we made a simple riddle 540 x 800mm to fit over a wheelbarrow with handles for shaking. What passed through was some very nice compost full of life. I think its useful to keep a covered bin near the compost heap for any bits of plastic such as plant labels and pots etc that are found while turning the bays.

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Gus is making off with some of the good stuff for a brassica bed.

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Ben adding a layer to the compost.

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Paddy preparing the ground for some Brassicas.

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Ben preparing a bed also.

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The potatoe beds with some rhubarb.

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Squash and beans

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A 20 foot bed of peas a few days from the first harvest.

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Carrots and parsnips weeded and thinned with environet protection

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A nice crop of beetroot

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Some leeks coming on.

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