Ryan’s Farm – Scorched Earth, it’s the Only Way

It’s been another busy few days on the plot. I tried to start hardening off my sweetcorn but a strong gust of wind bent one clean out of the ground! I rescued it as best I could and for the moment it doesn’t look any worse for wear, but it makes me wonder how on earth I’m going to plant them out.

Similarly my pea shoots are doing well, but they have never seen outside of the greenhouse, so I have changed my approach and sown a new row of peas directly outside under some netting, hopefully, having experienced the wind from day one they will grow to accommodate it. Those peas that I started in the greenhouse I’m going to plant in there (there’s only a few of them) just to see what happens. They can keep the aubergines and tomatoes company.

This isn’t the way the books say to plant broad beans, but I didn’t have enough for multiple rows so I’m loosely tying them to string suspended between the canes. It will either work, or it won’t.

I also now have some radishes in the ground, and some lettuce, all in bed 2. Bed 3 has been seeded with a wildflower mix to bring the bees, and the broad beans have gown enough to need some extra support in bed 4. Bed one is reserved for my courgettes, which are looking great in the greenhouse and will need potting on soon. Bed 5 is where I was planning to put some herbs and perhaps some more flowering plants, but I will keep at least one end of it free for now to take the corn if they ever seem strong enough to take it.

Peas on the right, radish and lettuce on the left. Hopefully being out in the wind from the start will help them grow strong.

The best news comes in the sight of my very first potato shoot above ground, and then just the following day, 6 shoots were showing! I am very pleased with this, I have a lot of potatoes in the ground so I’m hoping for a big harvest, but they will fill that end of the plot which at the moment looks very barren and scrappy, filled as it is with the ceramic rubble and bramble cut from the fruit cage.

The first shoot of the second early kestrels showing.

And now we come to main sink of my time: the fruit cage. I mentioned in the last post that there were three redcurrant bushes still there – I think one is actually a gooseberry, but the following point remains; I don’t really want them.

These 3 bushes are fruit bearing I think, but they are old, have been starved by brambles, and yield fruit that I don’t really want.

Coupled with the fact that they are sheltering quite a lot of bramble roots, and the fact that the rest of the cage is filled with bricks, metal pegs and all sorts of other detritus, I have decided to take the scorched earth approach, and leave nothing.

This is typical of things in the fruit cage. Someone has tried to make a raised area with bricks like this but without regular maintenance everything has collapsed and now just holds bramble root.

This way I can reset my area of the cage. Clear out everything, leave bare earth that I can rake free of stones, coat in a good thick layer of manure, then cover with black polythene sheeting and leave for a year to rot down. This time next year I’ll have a rich soil, full of life and ready to turn into an effective fruit garden. The other half of the cage is till full of brambles and as yet there is no sign of my neighbours, so I think I will cut that side back a little just to protect my side. If I haven’t seen them in a month and it starts to cause me a problem, I will get on to the committee to get it sorted.

Most of the bricks removed and now I have the space to dig this over properly and turn it into what I want.

So there we have it. Still a lot of work to do, but lots more in the ground now and the first signs of life from the potatoes. I’m also earning myself a bit of a reputation amongst my neighbours for getting things done, which is not a bad reputation!

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