Monday, 14 May 2007

It rained!

It rained! In fact it's been raining for a week now, and of course I'm starting to wish the sun would come out again... And while digging has been a miserable task in the rain, it has done the whole plot a world of good.

I took the opportunity a few days ago to water in my 'Nemaslug' - a 30 million strong army of slug-eating eelworms. It was more difficult than I anticipated; said worms come in suspended animation in a fine clay powder which you're supposed to mix with water - sounds easy enough but it was really hard to get the stuff to mix, and little lumps kept blocking the rose of my watering can. I spent half an hour sitting on my bench with my arm in a bucket of the stuff trying to squidge out all the lumps, and ended up with it all over me and a large amount spilt around the bench, on the bench, on my shoes etc... Next problem was distributing it evenly; one watering can with the correct dilution of nematodes is enough for about an eighth of my plot, but it was raining so hard at this point I think my guesswork may have been a bit off, and on the very overgrown patches I'm not even sure how much of the solution even managed to reach the soil (though if I'm lucky the rain will have washed them down off the plants fairly quickly). All in all I'm not really sure how good a job I did, and I'll think twice before spending that £20 again unless the results are incredibly good!

Unfortunately signs already point to no; the wet weather has turned the whole site into a slug and snail paradise, and though I'm delighted that all my little beans are popping their heads up at last, the slimey little beasts are delighting in them too and several are already a sorry, leafless sight:

I didn't want to, but I'm going to have to buy some slug pellets; the nematodes only deal with slugs anyway so while they will (hopefully) protect things like my potatoes underground, something else needs to be done about the snails. I've seen some kind of organic slug pellets on the web, so I'll try them as soon as I can; I'm not having all my hard work eaten before I get the chance to!

The potatoes all seem to be doing really well, and have stuck their leaves above the soil again already after I earthed them up last week. They're such vigorous, healthy-looking plants it's a pleasure just having them there next to certain less-successful or slower crops. I just hope the harvest is as good!

Elsewhere the beans are shooting up, as I said, the onions are starting to swell (and starting to get swamped by weeds again already!), the strawberries are flowering (I've decided I think I'll leave them to fruit - I've spent my money; I'm blooming well going to have at least a small harvest this year!) and the herb seedlings I planted out over the last couple of weeks are settling in nicely (well mostly; the snails have completely polished off one of my nasturtiums). The borage in particular is growing amazingly fast; I swear this one has quadrupled in size in the past week!

The rain has done the pond a lot of good too; the water is full to overflowing and has gone from foggy green to so clear I can almost see to the bottom, and yes, there is still life in there! Millions of daphnia and other tiny wriggly things, loads of water-snails, whole families of water boatmen and far more tadpoles than I thought we put in there in the first place! Mysterious, but I'm not complaining; I was feeling rather disheartened about the whole pond thing last week but now it's just lovely!
The plants are thriving too and our iris is even thinking about blooming. If you look closely you can see the purple bud:

We are nearly ready to plant our next eight-foot square as well, which will contain lettuces and other salad leaves, swiss chard, spinach, beetroots (as much for the leaves as for the roots), spring onions and some herbs; basil and coriander. The idea is to create a patchwork of small areas of different crops - all that leafy foliage in different colours will look fantastic when it's growing - so when we finished digging the patch today we began marking out the different beds with stones (until the weather drove us away again). When we've finished this patch will contain sixteen squares of sixteen different crops, dotted with coriander to try to keep aphids away and lined with marigolds. Pretty!

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