I took some small clusters of Comfrey from a friends allotment last year and planted them up around the Damson tree. Comfrey is a really good source of potassium, the leaves are harvested and placed in a water butt with water to rot down. The leaves are packed in a mesh bag to stop them blocking the tap and spent mulch is also easier to remove to the compost heap. After about a month the mix is ready. I then add about 5-10 cm of the feed to the water cans to feed the crops. Plant feed is costly, so this is a great way of creating it for free, however, be advised that the resulting stew really honks! It’s not really suitable for your back garden unless the butt is way downwind. On the plus side, the evil smell seems deter the aphids!
Loganberry and Tayberry:
These plants are fruiting nicely. Underneath, next yearscanes are emerging and taking energy from the fruiting plant. It is time to select two to three of the healthiest, strongest looking canes and tie them away to one side so they can be trained for next year’s crop. After cropping, this year’s canes will die and can be cut away.
This year is a bumper crop, I’m getting a colander full ever two or three days. I’ve probably got about 50 plants now, which is plenty. The freezer is filling up fast despite our best efforts at breakfast, so I won’t be taking any new runners and making new plants this year. The runners will be competing with the fruit for nutrients, so they can be removed or given to neighbours who need new strawberries.
Another strong crop this year, but the fruit needs sunlight to create sugars. Here, some of the bushy new growth has been cut away to allow the light in. Some branches need staking as they are so heavy with fruit they are touching the ground. Each bush should be left with about 5-6 new branches for the following two year’s crop.
Chard and Garlic:
On an allotment you have to take the successes with the, ahem, not such good news. This year’s overwintering garlic, shallots, garlic and onions have been really poor. I can’t think of anything new I’ve done to upset Mother Nature, and can only attribute it to the strange weather, with the wet spell we had at the beginning of spring after the cold probably causing quite a bit of subsurface rot. Ho hum! Last year’s chard that I wrote about last month has started running to seed. So I removed the last of the leaves and removed the plants. This years chard is doing well and I’ve already started to remove the outer leaves for cooking. Most of these are cut and come again plants, meaning that you can safely remove the outer leaves and allow the new growth to mature.
There is a lot of promotion in the media at the moment regarding looking after bees and their habitats and rightly so. The widespread use of neonicotinoids, which are poisonous to bees, for pest control in intensive agriculture has really punished bee populations. This is particularly the case at this time of year when bees swarm to create new colonies. Before departing, the queen lays new queen eggs in the original hive and then leaves with some of her workers to start a new colony. The queen larvae left behind hatch and they fight it out for dominance. I’m always really pleased to see a new hive, but, unfortunately this lot decided to take up residence under one of my water butts next to a communal path. I got in touch with a local Apiarist who removed the hive to a safer location.
Cowardice being the better part of valour, I stood well back and used the maximum zoom function on the iPhone.
Angus is a Senior First Officer and Resilient Pilot Mentor with a passion in Wellbeing, CRM and TEM. This is the seventh in a series of blogs from Angus, to read more click here. To find out more about Angus, and our other pilot mentors, please visit our 'supported' page