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Hi, I'm in an awful mess!


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Digger Dan
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Joined: 19 Feb 2009
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:48 pm    Post subject: Hi, I'm in an awful mess! Reply with quote

Hi All,
I have just joined and I'm in need of some gardening help. This is our veggie plot today and I have seven weeks to turn it into a food basket for a family of five!
You guys look like you know what you're about, so where do I start?

Rgds,
Digger
Dig in, it's fun!



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Organicgrowingpains
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Joined: 24 Aug 2008
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Location: Cork

PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well you already have 2 raised beds which only need clearning and if you have compost bins ( looks like a compost bin in back of photo)ready to empty into them you are away or can you locate a supply of manure from anywhere local, if so you could put early spuds in one and when they are lifted you can have lettuce & salad crops. You have lots of large pots ideal for growing herbs or cherry tomatoes like tom thumb. Start seeds indoors now .If you don't want to start with spuds, peas are good for quick return, runner beans etc. it really depends on what you eat, don't put in radishes because they are fast to grow unless you actually LIKE the things! One of the veg we grew last year which was one of our success stories were white turnips, Ten weeks from sowing to harvest. They are not often seen in shops but taste great. Carrots in a barrel if you have one of those blue ones around? Swiss chard or spinach are good and not available fresh and tasty in the shops, one of the things we tried and were surprised we loved them! Courgettes grow fast and the kids like them because they grow so fast, 2 plants are more than enough!
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Digger Dan
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
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Joined: 19 Feb 2009
Posts: 48
Location: South-East

PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your suggestions, particularly like the idea of white turnips and carrots in a barrel. Potatoes have been the most successful plants I've grown and we all love them, but last year they failed totally!
The raised beds are beyond resurection (totally rotted, see photo) and I need to replace them. I have some scaffold boards that I intend to use.
I'd love to put in a mini polytunnel but not sure if it's too shaded.

Rgds,
Digger



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Last edited by Digger Dan on Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Organicgrowingpains
Rank attained: Silver Birch Tree
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Location: Cork

PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mmm.. damage not visible in first photo, but could be repaired? I don't have a polytunnel but would think they would suit a shady area as you need heat and not too much direct sunshine?Lots of advice on spuds on this site. and polytunnels! Try first or second earlies not too much threat from blight and not too much time in the ground when you only have a small area.I have a blog on http://organicgrowingpains.com about our efforts on growing!
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BlackBird
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Organicgrowingpains on the turnips, but not on the radishes (do plant them, I love them). Razz Laughing Other real quickies in your alloted timescale is Kohl rabi http://www.gardenplansireland.com/forum/about1961.html
there is always cress as well. Laughing

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Digger Dan
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 10:49 pm    Post subject: Best position for rasied bed and polytunnel Reply with quote

Hello,
I have attached a sketch of my veg plot. Because the plot is shaded on west side by a row of leylandi the plot gets about 6 hours of good direct sunshine, 8:00 - 14:00 (summer).
What's the best run for the polytunnel, with the curved side facing south or the end facing south. For access I'd prefer the end side facing lenghthways on plot (i.e south).
The plot is small, approx. 7.5m x 3.5m

Does it make any difference which way I site the raised beds?

Rgds,
Digger



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Organicgrowingpains
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The leylandii would seem to be blocking it from the S and W which is where the most of the sunshine would be coming from . I have leylandi also but cut them back twice a year to a six foot high hedge, from the photo they seem to be in a neighbour's land so you have no control over how high they grow? Could you put the polytunnel running paralled with the fence on the E side?
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BlackBird
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The polytunnel should run north-south from end to end (end facing south) to allow the sun catch it all. The further out from the tree the better too to prevent shading or else you will get a build up of algae on the trees side. This was said by Organicgrowingpains as well.

The raised beds would be best north-south if that bloody tree hedge was not there. Laughing But since it is, leave them on an east-west . Let us know how you get on and don't forget to post a pictoral progress report. That keeps me going. Smile

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MuddyWitch
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Think about who you're gardening for; there's no point in growing things no-one likes! (You'd be surprized how many people do!)

You say that you're a family of five, are any of the five young children? If so runner beans are great fun for kids, being fast growing & BIG.They also crop really well so long as you give them as much compost as you can spare. We grew them in buckets smaller than your pots when our girls were little.

MW
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Digger Dan
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:20 pm    Post subject: compacted sod of wet 'marl' soil Reply with quote

I've decided to remove all the soil from the old raised beds. I reckon that there are too many bugs and weed seeds in this soil and simply adding good material to try and improve would be a waste.
The attached photo is a sample of the type of soil I dug from the bottom of the raised bed, wet compacted clay/marl.
If any one knows more by looking at it let me know!

Digger Dan



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Liparis
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

looks like a fair bit of clay in there, Digger. Removing what you have could be hard work and costly to replace unless you can access cheap topsoil. Great stuff for conditioning and breaking down clay is gypsum, but I couldn't tell you a source for it in Ireland. Dig in plenty (I mean plenty) of farmyard manure, a bit of sharp sand, plenty of material from your compost heap. Do it each year and your beds will raise and become very good. Humus is great. Of course, no farmyard manure where you will be putting carrots etc. but you could put in loads of other composts there.
Bringing in topsoil could well bring you a different breed of pernicious weeds. No one seems to seperate topsoil as efficiently these days either and you could end up with a fair amount of rubble and other rubbish to get rid of.
I'm still working on front gardens here, they had weed membrane down (Jeez, I just despise that stuff) after planting shrubs and topped with bark. After removing the membrane and bark, the soils was turning to clay and was green, it litteraly smelt like a sewer pipe. 1 barrow of farmard manure per trench, 1 spit and 4 yards long, I've been doing that for 3 years now, the shrubs have gone from sickly to very healthy, although I came along too late to save some. Soil smells sweet and is becoming a dream to work with.
Bill.

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SG
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 1:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can I ask Liparis why you despise weed membrane, as I was thinking of using it and bark on my shrub bed which I am about to do. I would prefer not to but you have to think of weed problem.
Any suggesting would be gratefully appreciated
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Liparis
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mainly for that reason, SG, you don't know what's going on under it. I've less problem with it say, on driveways etc under gravel, but on flower/shrub beds!! It reduces air circulation which is vital, rain water gets through but evaporation becomes nearly zero, the result is devastating after a few years. A lot of those membranes which are sold for gardens these days were actually made for building roads, especially where they couldn't put down too thick a surface. the membrane went down first to slow down perenial weeds, like Docks, from breaking through the tarmacadam.
Bill.

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Digger Dan
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Liparis, don't think I'll get to use any farmyard manure but I'll make use of what compost I have already in the plot.

I'm taking down this double compost bin to make room for the mini pollytunnel so any decent compost in it will be dug in to raised bed as you suggest. This compost heap never really worked for me as I mainly used it to dump the seasons grass cuttings. I never had the time (or the knowledge!) to do the proper mix of brown and green stuffs and often ended up with a silage heap rather than anything that would benefit the soil! The contents of this small raised box will also be dug in to help condition soil.

This year I going to get a plastic compost bin and fill it with kitchen waste, I'll leave the grass clippings on the lawn to feed. Our local County Council supplies one for just 15euro, cheaper than ALDI!!

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Liparis
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 10:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your compost heap looks similar to mine, Digger, only I used pallets on edge. Sounds like too much grass in it and too little air. You need to turn it every month or so. I also have a pallet on the base to aid with air. Grass makes a grand compost, but if not done right you do end up with silage. I make a seperate compost heap in the corner of my wild land because I have an awful lot of grass, but to speed up the composting of it I use an Accelerator, you can buy commercial compost Accelerators or make your own. I build up the heap with about a quarter seasons cuts, then add a gallon of dried pigs blood, powdered, then a thin cap of soil then add more grass as I cut and so on through the season. You can dry the pigs blood in the oven or in your greenhouse, but the oven would be quicker and less likely to smell as bad. Do it in the oven, you'll think your baking black pudding.
The trick is to get the grass composting quickly with the aid of proper bacteria, with pigs blood your adding a feed to your compost as well. Don't leave your grass clippings as mulch on the lawn, eventually you will build up a thatch that you will have to work hard to get rid of.
Oh and by the way, don't do as some silly person did who I passed this on to, he decided to kill two birds with one stone and pour fresh pigs blood on the heap, the intention being the pigs blood would dry as it did it's job, it won't, as you can imagine, it just goes off, stinks badly and attracts rats.
Remember, compost heaps are great for wildlife as well as gardens. Even if you don't use the compost, make a heap. I's also how things like ridge cucumbers were grown way back, you filled a trench with manure and compost and put a ridge of soil over the top. The manure and compost braking down produces heat, as I'm sure you know, this was sufficient to grow cucumbers outside. Same idea with a hot-bed, like a coldframe but you put several inches of manure in the bottom, with the lights closed over you get a mini-greenhouse for raising early tender crops or seed sowing.
Woops, sorry folks, didn't mean to go on there Embarassed
Bill.

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