Monday, 21 December 2009
The Pineapple Pits have received their winter warmer in the form of around 30 tonnes of fresh manure this week.
The last of the very well rotted manure from last year is taken out and used for double digging in the garden.
Each and every hole, which allows the heat created by the decomposing manure, is cleared out by Carol, Craig and Jeff and supervised by Clive!
The two trenches, which sit either side of the Pineaple Pits, are then packed to the brim with the manure.
Clive replaces the covers one by one as the trenches are filled.
Laurren pots up the new strawberry plants into 3inch pots, these will be kept in the cold frame until they are potted on into 1 litre pots in early spring and planted out in the Vegetable Garden in June. We replace our strawberries, which are a heritage variety - Royal Sovereign - every three years. The plants that are in the ground at the moment will remain until their final cropping to ensure a supply of the delicious fruits this summer.
Friday, 11 December 2009
The long awaited delivery of fresh steaming manure has arrived!
Around 30 tonnes are required to heat the Pineapple Pit through winter and it must be at its optimum height in temperature before entering the trenches, which sit either side of the pits.
Clive delivers his loads to the Melon Yard where Nicola and Laura turn and pile it with pitch forks before doing the 'manure stomp' to compact it back down and trap the heat. As you see this is carried out with much enthusiasm!
This process aerates the manure, aiding the breakdown process, which creates the heat much needed by the pineapples. After 3 or 4 days of sitting in the Melon Yard 'building up steam' the manure will be transferred to its winter home.
Now the grape vines have been pruned back it is time to lower them over winter. Traditionally this takes places before Christmas each year.
Lowering the stems reduces 'apical dominance', which means only the top bud being fed by the plants rising sap. By laying the stems horizontally the saps progress up the stem is slowed down, therefore allowing it to be distributed to the lower buds on its journey to the tip. All the buds being fed equally creates an even distribution of foliage and fruit along the stem.
Once the buds start breaking in the spring the vines will be tied back to their vertical positions.
Between November and February is the ideal time for pruning soft fruit as the plants are dormant at this time of year. We have been working with our gooseberry bushes this week. We look to create an open goblet shape, which allows good airflow through the plant. Any inward growing or badly placed stems and also any dead or damaged wood is cut out. The leader on each arm of the bush is cut back by about a third and the fruited side shoots are cut back to 1 or 2 buds.
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Chrysanthemum cuttings have been taken from the old plants in the Vegetable Garden. The old flower stems are cut back and the crown of the plant is lifted. Then the new small shoots that are growing from the base of the plants are removed. Material that has both healthy leaves and roots is chosen and the roots are cut back. Cuttings are planted into 3-inch pots and placed in the propagator, which provides warmth to encourage new root growth.
In preparation for a frosty night Nicola covers the new tender shoots of the Giant Burmese Honeysuckle in the Melon Yard. We will be watching the weather forecast for further frost warnings and replacing the protective fleece cover over night when required.