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Spud Grubber's Blog

Guy Barter

  • Date Joined: 15 Jan 2007

Recent Comments

  • Sit back and relax

    Guy Barter on 27 Mar 2007 at 08:25 AM

    Now that all the seeds are in the ground, there is not much to do until mid-April when potato planting begins.  My allotment is in a frost pocket so it is very risky to plant spuds before then.  I have had the entire crop blasted by a frost in May and two thirds of the crop lost.

    On Saturday I had a splurge of outdoor seed sowing - the last for a while.  Beetroot, kohl rabi, salad onions, spinach, turnips, rocket, radish and especially lettuce went in.  The trial lettuces were sown along with some ‘Warpath' ( ) and ‘Tom Thumb' ( ).   My outdoor sowings of ‘Little Gem' made in early March grew so well that I think I can take a chance and sow direct in the ground from now on. In fact, all these crops should be very easy to raise from outdoors sowings from now on


  • That peck of March dust

    Guy Barter on 18 Mar 2007 at 03:11 PM

    Last week I went to Bristol to speak on gardening and climate change at a conference.  Coming back on the train across the downs, I watched farmers working their fields.  So dry was the soil that dust rose from tractor wheels and implements.

    I think the saying; 'a peck of March dust is worth a King's ransom' is instantly understandable by gardeners.  Dry soil in March is ideal for preparing seedbeds in good time for the peak sowing and planting time between now and June. If you have to wait until April or May, vital time and soil moisture are likely to be lost, and some soils can bake hard and dry, later in spring


  • Celery and Celeriac

    Guy Barter on 16 Mar 2007 at 09:59 PM

    Celeriac has long been a favourite of mine.  It is easy to grow, yields heavily and keeps all winter.  The downside is that it does need a lot of water in summer.  Fortunately the area of my allotment that floods is just right for celeriac.

    It is good for celery too.  Until recently I was disappointed with my celery, but I seem to have got the knack again.  However, they are just a little woodier than the supermarket ones because I can seldom water them enough for the best results.  I only raise nine plants as they don't keep and have to be used up by November


  • Leeks and sprouts

    Guy Barter on 13 Mar 2007 at 01:38 PM

    I felt a twinge in my back while moving furniture on Saturday, so thought it best to take it easy this weekend. My greenhouse has been lying in pieces since moving house, and since I will need it soon for transplant raising and assembling it is a nice easy stand up job that should help my back, I spent most of the weekend in the sun re-assembling it. I am still not quite sure where to put it, but I think the compost bins and incinerator will have to be moved and the soil levels brought up. The new garden design is still being agreed with Her Loveliness. In the meantime I can clad it with plastic and fleece until its proper position is established.

    My transplants are living in an improvised coldframe of old windows and bales of bark mulch – crude but effective. Germination is accomplished in a large heated propagator by the window in the garage. Once seedlings have germinated they are moved to the coldframe for the maximum light possible. This is unheated but an old carpet is flung over the frame on frosty nights. I am lucky in having some very good local nurseries* from which to buy plants that need a lot of heat to raise – Aubergines, peppers and tomatoes for example. I could easily have spent £30 on fuel in the bitter weather in February if I had tried to raise my own plants


  • Bean and peas

    Guy Barter on 05 Mar 2007 at 12:08 PM

    Wind and sun on Saturday dried the soil out just enough to work and make a seedbed for the peas and broad beans. Legumes are a very important crop for me – they are the best early summer veg and fill the freezer as well. The main sowing is made now as the earlier the sowing the heavier the crop. March sowings follow the over-wintered crops in harvesting so I won't have gaps in supply or gluts.