Real Men Sow

A Patch From Scratch: March Update


Three months have passed since I’ve given an update on my Patch from Scratch project, mainly because not much has happened over the winter. I’ve planted fruit, manured and then dug the horse poo in, but aside from that everything has been left pretty dormant until now.

I have squeezed another compost bin into Compost Corner after reading Naomi Schillinger’s excellent Veg Street. Naomi suggests having a three bin system: one taking your current waste, one full and rotting down, and a final bin holding rotted down compost. This made good sense to me, and having been offered another dalek a few weeks back, I’ve taken the plunge and followed Naomi’s advice.

My rhubarb is looking healthy, despite my divide and plonker fears. The interesting thing about my rhubarb is the different speeds at which they are growing. Because the rhubarb all came from divisions of a number of random plants with an unknown history, identifying their variety has developed into my own guessing game.

I won’t hammer the rhubarb until next Spring, as it is the first year, but I did help myself to just enough to make a small crumble on Sunday. I’m deducing that this very early crown (pictured) is good old Timperley Early.

Broad Beans
After scratching my head for ages yesterday, I finally overcame my spectacular indecision to plant out broad bean seedlings. I sowed these on a windowsill at the beginning of February, before moving them to the greenhouse once germinated.

I’ve been hardening the plants off for a couple of weeks and now they’re in the ground and fending for themselves I’m curious to see how they do. I reckon the plants are as big as they would have been if overwintered.


Growing Squashes Upwards
In other exciting and satisfying news, I’ve been building this:


I’m planning to grow squashes up the structure, which is made from old canes, half a dozen cable ties, string, four hazel poles and an old football net. I only paid for the cable ties and the hazel poles, which were about £2 each from a local wood that coppices hazel.

I got the net after asking at a nearby football club. I needed something soft so not to cut through squash runners, but strong enough to hold the fruit. Hopefully the old net will fit the bill.

I didn’t use all of the net either, so have plenty left to make more structures with.

It’s been a quiet time on the plot, but the past week has been fulfilling. There are seeds germinating in the greenhouse, I’ve made my inaugural harvest, and planted out the first of many vegetable plants.

All we need now is some decent weather, and 4 months after giving up the allotment, I’ll be a contented veg grower once more.

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  1. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening!March 23, 2013 at 12:13 pmReply

    What sort of squash are you planning on growing on this? If something big (like butternut) then make sure it’s a *really* strong trellis. Vines laden with those huge fruits get heavier than you might imagine. (Estimate your yield and do the math, then decide if your structure can handle it, or maybe even hang an equivalent weight on it now as a test.)

  2. KayMarch 23, 2013 at 1:37 pmReply

    We grow our butternuts up a frame quite similar to yours, but we have old bamboo canes tied together instead of netting.

    I also make crochet hammocks to support the growing fruit, they hook onto the canes at either side and distribute the weight more evenly to avoid what Alan’s describing, which is where the fruit cut off their own food supply by compressing their runners against the frame. Good luck!

  3. Jono

    JonoMarch 23, 2013 at 1:44 pmReplyAuthor

    Thanks both, that’s helpful. I’ve read that some people use old tights to hold the squashes, so might try that – not sure I’ve got the skills to make crochet hammocks (they sound amazing by the way)!

    The structure is pretty strong and sturdy. I pushed down on the netting very hard and it didn’t seem to worried. Fingers crossed. :)

  4. elaineMarch 23, 2013 at 10:13 pmReply

    You must live in a sheltered spot – my rhubarb is only just showing – well it would be if it wasn’t under a foot of snow!

    • Jono

      JonoMarch 24, 2013 at 10:55 amReplyAuthor

      Hi Elaine – yes live in a very sheltered part of the country. Supposedly the third driest district or something.

      Mind you, it can be embarassing when two inches of snow brings the place to a standstill even though other areas carry on despite a foot of the stuff!

  5. JoanneMarch 24, 2013 at 9:34 amReply

    I shall be reading your blog with interest. I turned my small back garden into a veg plot about 4 years ago. Its all good fun at the end of the day.

  6. Jono

    JonoMarch 24, 2013 at 11:01 amReplyAuthor

    Hey Joanne, nice to have you along.

    I’m really enjoying just being able to pop out the back door and do some work on the plot.

    Did you get much success quickly or did it take time to work out the surroundings?

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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