Brussels Sprouts – a winter winner

Here is my sprout bed. It’s 8ft long by 4ft wide and holds 8 sprout plants in it. The netting has kept the pigeons off and the early plants have been in production for a couple of weeks.

I grow these from plugs which I purchase from Organic Plants in June. This is their sprout collection which provides a range of varieties (two each of four varieties) so that you get a harvest over several months avoiding the glut which would happen from growing a single variety. It would be cheaper to grow from seed, but for the small quantities I require plugs are convenient and easy.

Each plant was given 2ft x 2ft space and planted in soil that was enriched with manure the previous season. Sprouts are hungry feeders, so I top dress with pelleted chicken manure too. The little plug plants are 4 inches tall but can be planted deep so their stalks are partly buried but the leaves are above ground. This allows the buried stem to root into the surrounding soil. Like most brassicas they need to be planted in firm soil, so I use a heel around them to make sure they are tightly gripped. Continue reading

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Dealing with Mussel Scale infestations on an apple tree

One of my apples (a triple cordon ‘Fiesta’) has suffered for a few years with infestations of Mussel Scale (Lepidosaphes ulmi). You can see them attached to the surface of the fruit in the photo above. These sap suckers do little damage to the fruit, but they are unsightly. It’s not a big deal as they can just be wiped off before eating. I tend to ignore most minor pest problems as many of them naturally resolve without intervention.

However, last year (2016) I noticed that the Mussel scales were covering the bark of the trunk and twigs as you can see in the picture below. I hadn’t realised this problem was building up, but they had infested two of the three cordons, so I could compare how the bark was supposed to look. Continue reading

Outdoor kitchen (new)

The new outdoor kitchen with gas BBQ, sink and tap is finished and christened. (Well, nearly finished: there’s still the cupboard to finish, but it’s pretty well there!)

We have had a couple of meals outdoors using it, and hope to have many more. With the vegetable garden close by this is the perfect area for cooking al fresco.

I’ve added a page detailing the design and construction here.

Continue reading