No dig veg growing throws up the odd dilemma, like do I or do I not earth up my spuds. I chose to do so, but not to the extent that everyone else has done theirs. Having made and carried out the decision, it seems a bit late to turn to Charles Dowding’s book and find out what I should have done.
My second early Kestrels are growing away nicely now and those I have earthed up. The maincrop Sarpo Axona, to the right, are much slower and a few have not come up at all. I’ve been seeing lots of leatherjackets, a change from last years wireworms, and I hope they are not the culprits.
I’d cut down a large clump of dwarf bamboo and planned to use it as pea sticks. Too tedious, so I went and bought some net. The peas are doing pretty well.
Today I planted Firestorm runner beans, Borlotti beans and flower sprouts. Last years runners were ravaged by slugs; I am determined that this years won’t be. I’ve planted a few salad leaves, mizuna and mustard, pretty much expecting slugs to destroy them.
In the fruit cage I have loganberry and tayberry doing pretty badly, much of last years new growth having died back in the winter. There will be very few fruiting laterals coming from them. If they don’t perform this year they are out. My early raspberries have only partially leafed out, so the crop from them will be poorer too. The primocane variety, Polka, is growing almost too well. I made the mistake last year of leaving too many canes to come up to fruit. This year I will thin them more rigorously. I may try to devise a method of supporting them a bit; it’s a very exposed plot and a lot of fruit was damaged by rubbing against the leaves and stems of adjacent canes. It’s a great variety though, with massive, tasty fruits over two months or more. A few canes grew outside the fruit cage and were left unpruned. They are now almost in flower, so managed properly, I could probably have them in fruit for even longer.
I look set to get a good crop of redcurrants and of gooseberries. The blackcurrants seem to have less fruit trusses this year, which is probably good thing; last year’s crop was so heavy it seems to have taken a lot out of the bushes. I did prune them quite hard, so they are likely to be putting more of their energies into growth.
Onions are a crop I have trouble with. I bough a bag of “wonky” onions in the supermarket the other day; perfectly good and ridiculously cheap, I do wonder why I bother. It’s all very well thinking you’ll grow the things that are expensive in the shops and buy things like onions, carrots and spuds, but the expensive things tend to be the ones that are a bit trickier to grow and for which you need pretty good growing conditions. I’d like to think I’m improving my soil and I have put up windbreaks, but I don’t think my plot will ever be less than a challenge.
I planted garlic and overwintering onions in autumn, they’re struggling. I started onion sets and shallots off in cells and planted them out when they looked to be getting away well. They haven’t done as well as I’d hoped, though its early days. I just wish I knew where I was falling down, it’s frustrating.