Monday, 21 May 2012

One Year of Veg

When I got going with growing fruit and veg when we moved into the house, I set myself a challenge. I decided it would be interesting to see if in my first year I could have something to eat from the garden every month for a whole year from the first harvest.
Well... fast-forward a year and... I MADE IT! Woohoo! Starting with lettuce which we harvested last April, we have eaten food from the garden every month, finishing up this April with chard (yes more chard and it's still going), radishes, herbs and purple sprouting broccoli - which is still going.
The Summer months are obviously the easiest to keep the harvest coming, from salads, tomatoes and courgettes to potatoes, onions and garlic, but the Winter months and the so-called 'hungry gap' are the bigger challenges.
By far the biggest stalwarts of my patch have been the leafy veg like chard and kale, the chard has been giving me harvests for about a year now and the kale came into it's own over the winter.
This year I am hoping to have more to keep us going over winter, including more stored veg. Last year I had a few spuds - they were used up fast, and we froze a lot of runner beans, carrots and parsnips. This year I would like to have a good stock of onions and garlic and maybe extend the season a bit more by making more use of the greenhouse (if a) the greenhouse stays standing and b) we ever get any sunshine to make anything grow.
Do you ever set challenges for yourself to keep things interesting?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Making Woodash

A few weeks ago (when it wasn't raining), I spent the afternoon making wood ash. Wood ash is particularly great for onions. It can be a good source of potassium - the nutrient that helps fruit and flower production. It has a liming effect so is particularly good for very acidic soils. I often use it as a mulch and if I have a lot, I also add a layer to the compost heap as a general soil improver. I usually make mine using our chiminea, but if we have a lot of material to burn then we will have a bonfire and I collect the wood ash up into bags afterwards. We happen to have a lot of wood around the garden from all the tree felling we have done. It is best to use dry wood because it burns easier and is a bit less smoky. I try to use wood that has been seasoned - left to dry out, for a year or so. I begin with a small amount of twigs and any dry kindling type materials, I also make sure I have a decent stack of different sized sticks and wood pieces so that I can keep feeding the fire.

However, as useful as wood ash can be in the garden, it should be used sparingly as creating too much alkalinity in the soil can damage plants. Wood ash can also cause scab in potatoes.
I love being able to recycle things from around the garden and put them back into the earth, it's good putting nutrients into the soil when I know where they have come from in the first place.
What do you recycle around the garden?