Posted by: Ealing Transition Community Garden | July 23, 2011

The summer garden

The garden is starting to take shape now, all our hard work is paying off. Over the last few months, we’ve spent time building edges to our beds, which fulfil several functions – they clearly define the beds, which is useful when lots of different people are working on the garden, they keep the grass out, and over time they will allow us to build up the beds slightly as we add compost and manure.

The wood for all of the edging has come from floorboards that my neighbour was going to put in the skip. It now has a new lease of life in our garden.

When we designed our garden layout we used lots of triangles in our second half-plot, which aren’t necessarily the most practical shapes, but do provide a very striking and attractive design.

The potatoes are coming on well…

As are the onions…

Last year Katherine’s builder built us a pergola out of scrap wood and wooden pallets and Katherine planted a couple of young grape vines. These have been doing great this year and working their way up the pergola, and even have lots of young grapes over them. We should probably thin some of the grapes off so the plant doesn’t put too much energy into the fruit and keeps growing strongly over the pergola – this will make the plant bigger and stronger in the long run.

We experimented this year with growing carrots in a grow bag. Last year we didn’t have a lot of luck with carrots. To start with we sowed them quite early into soil that had only just been dug for the first time since we took on the plot. The weeds grew faster than the carrots. We tried some more later in the year, but by that time it was probably a bit too late.

This year we tried them in a grow bag. We used garden soil, but sieved it first. It’s been a great success, and the carrots are doing well. Probably our main mistake was that they were planted quite densely, and we didn’t thin them early enough.

If you thin carrots out early, you can plant out the thinnings and they will grow into decent carrots also. By thinning, you leave more space for the rest of the carrots to grow.

It was a bit too late when I thinned them this year. I planted the thinnings up, but they have been struggling a bit.

Carrots in a grow bag

Carrots in a grow bag

Below is a picture of Ellis’s brilliant greenhouse watering system. It’s mark II. Mark I was in his back garden, and I think he’s employed some lessons learnt to make an even better version in our community garden. Basically it’s a bucket with a hose connection at the bottom, connected to drip irrigators in the greenhouse. There’s a timer which is configured to open and close intermittently, thereby gradually allowing water out.

One of the keys to success is to get the bucket up high enough so that there is enough pressure to push the water through the drop irrigators. This means the bucket is on a pulley system so we can lower it down to fill it.

By topping the bucket up every week or so, we know that our plants in the greenhouse will stay watered while we aren’t there. So far it’s worked a treat! This year we are growing cucumbers in the greenhouse, perhaps next year we’ll do some chilli peppers and other things as well.

We’ve had a great number of ladybirds this year – helping to keep the blackfly and other nasties under control. They’re having a great time on the artichokes. The long one is a ladybird nymph – the larval form of ladybirds.

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