Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Some tasks for November/ December

1. Dig to prepare ground for next year's crops:
Alan Titchmarsh says: "Alas there's no instant remedy for bedsteads and bindweed, brickbats and buttercups. Only hard graft will rid you of them. It's no use rotovating the lot - every chopped bit of weed root will survive - you may have to dig the lot out by hand [unless you want to find a suitable weedkiller?] Take heart; you'll get there in the end. And rest assured that every gardener on this earth thinks their weed problem is worse than anybody else's".
This is probably a task that would be made more enjoyable if we could do it together and have a flask of cocoa to hand! Before we start, a pertinent question if we do want to grow more vegetables may be: 'What area has been designated for this?'

2. a) Spread compost that has already been made: Lots of weeds were heaped up last year against the wall and might now be ready to cover the open ground within the frames.
b) Make two or three compost boxes: As we don't have a waste food collection in Prestonpans, perhaps people might like to contribute their kitchen waste - not meat, fish or cooked foods - but vegetable and fruit peelings, grass mowings, young weeds, tea leaves & coffee grounds, old flowers and bedding plants, vegetarian pet bedding(!) wood ash, cardboard & compostable packaging. Then this would all get mixed in with weeds from the garden.

3. Prune apple trees (with a shape in mind) when there is no danger of frost but training may have to wait if there are not appropriately-placed supple shoots. Sharp secateurs are needed and best to have someone experienced please?
Check tree ties are secure but not too tight.

4. Sow broad beans and garlic, but not together. Do we want organically sourced seeds?
[Early potatoes grow well with broad beans so we could leave space for some between the rows.] Broad Bean Hardier varieties can be sown in autumn and be protected by cloches made from cut-off 'pop' bottles. The Sutton This is a Dwarf variety (only 30cm high) and at 40 seeds for £1.54 can be sown in a double row. Or Super Aquadulce 40 seeds £1.76. Garlic Vallelado 150g for £4.45, Break up the bulbs and planting the cloves will give a 40m row and is suitable for autumn-early winter plantings. Any aficionados among us? Varieties & prices from "The Organic Gardening Catalogue". 

Fat Hen (picture: Rasbak)

5. Get to know the weeds. One of the tall ones with slightly green-grey leaves and spires of small greenish knobbly flowers is Fat Hen (Chenopodium album) of the Goosefoot family and it indicates a good soil. "Once a most valued vegetable for humans it compares favourably in nutritional value to cabbage and spinach. If is a friendly herb to other plants as its deep roots raise mineral nutrients for shallower-rooted companions and its leaves catch and spread water to lesser neighbours." (How to enjoy your Weeds by Audrey WynneHatfield.) So let's not weed it all out.

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