Experimentalish

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Weedo
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Experimentalish

Post: # 293621Post Weedo »

I thought I would start a new (hopefully) thread about what people are experimenting with in an ish-ish sense(please note the forums rules about adult content). It doesn't have to be absolutely new or crazy left field, only interesting.

My idea is that these things can be captured mostly under a single thread rather than being dispersed.

For a start, I have mentioned experimenting with Sunn Hemp (Crotalaria juncea)- this plant is a tall growing legume has been around in cultivation for many years for fibre and is increasing being used a summer cover crop with a grazing side benefit - usually in mixed species plantings. It is a sub-tropical, fast summer growing species but can be grown in temperate areas provided there is sufficient water (it is somewhat drought tolerant) and grown out of the frost period.

I have two objectives with trying this species;
1/ growing as a summer legume in the fallow veg beds (4 bed rotation)with the possible added benefits of fibre and compost material or simply being left on the surface as a weed mat, and
2/ on a broader scale for degraded soil amelioration in multi species planting; the material being left on the soil surface as a blanket to reduce moisture loss, erosion and excessive surface temps and succeeding winter crops sown through (yes - we do things backward here)

So far I have a very small trial plot of about 10 sq metres under-sown with peas, dwarf beans, globe radish and Daikon radish. The peas objected and died out early on but the others have grown OK. There seems to be very very little insect attack on anything in the plot
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Flo
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Re: Experimentalish

Post: # 293655Post Flo »

Peas can be fussy about things and just die for the fun of it (bit like sheep having more ways to commit suicide than any other animal in the UK). Question is - did the peas die due to a lack of pollinating insects?

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Re: Experimentalish

Post: # 293656Post Odsox »

Flo wrote:
Thu Mar 19, 2020 6:46 pm
Question is - did the peas die due to a lack of pollinating insects?
Peas and French beans don't need pollinating Flo. By growing crops under cover I now know which need pollinating and which ones don't, as it becomes blindingly obvious. :iconbiggrin:
Broad beans and runner beans do need pollinating, even the newish parthenogenic runner beans are very poor croppers without bees.
Tony

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Re: Experimentalish

Post: # 293658Post Green Aura »

It looks like a very interesting plant. I've just read up the info on feedipedia (no I didn't know such a resource existed either :roll: :roll: ) and it certainly has some good uses from weed and nematode suppression and nitrogen fixing to paper and rope making. One thing I found particularly interesting was the idea of mixing the seed with maize as it increases the nutritional properties.

Probably not suitable for growing in the north of Scotland though. :lol:

I suppose our nearest thing would be nettles for spring tonic and fibre and comfrey for the plant feed and soil improvement. The problem is both of those have horrendous roots (from the perspective of growing as a green manure) and you couldn't underplant with anything.

One thing I'm particularly interested in investigating more this year is something I learned from Geoff Lawton. He talks about knowing the weeds that grow in your area to work out their purpose - breaking up compacted soil, holding fast to very loose soils etc. Since our climate has changed dramatically in the last five years I've noticed the weed that has proliferated is the thistle. With so many different varieties it's difficult to defintely identify ours but it's a fairly safe bet it's Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvense). So my next job is to find out what, if any uses it has. An initial search says the leaves can be used to curdle milk but that's not high on my list of requirements. Although edible it's apparently so fiddly and insipid, as to be barely worth the effort. Oh well I'll keep looking.
Maggie

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ina
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Re: Experimentalish

Post: # 293659Post ina »

I had been wondering whether peas maybe don't like the competition from another legume? Has anybody tried to grow it with some other legume?

And Maggie - should you ever find a use for thistles, you'll be hailed as a new Scottish hero! :mrgreen:
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Re: Experimentalish

Post: # 293660Post Odsox »

Not exactly new, but a new layout for me, and still very much experimental.
I rearranged my hydroponics system and have just about finished it, although still some tidying up to do.
My three pipes have now been reunited and it remains to be seen how well they produce and how convenient it is for me.
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This is definitely "square foot" gardening. The pipes are 6" soil pipes and are filled with vermiculite which is automatically watered with nutrient 3 times a day during summer (just once a day at the moment)

The footprint is 36 sq feet (18' x 2') and at the moment the top pipe contains 28 everbearing strawberries just waking up from their winter snooze.
The bottom pipe contains 5 calabrese, 6 savoy cabbages, 5 cauliflowers and 3 lettuce.
The middle pipe will contain 24 dwarf Borlotti beans for dried beans when it warms up a bit.
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In front of the pipes along the front windows are going to be 16 tomatoes, again automatically watered. But also waiting for it to warm up a bit.
Up the end you can see the white grape vine above the pipes, and in the back bed you can see my Nine Star Perennial broccoli just about to start producing.
On the back wall is my apricot tree, severely pruned back this year, but still loaded with blossom.
The grape vine has also been severely pruned back and is due to be done away with in about 2 years time as there is a Flame grape which is just a twig at the moment, destined to replace it.

Also it looks like the back wall could do with repainting. :lol:
Tony

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ina
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Re: Experimentalish

Post: # 293661Post ina »

Looks excellent!

Just had a look around my garden - there's so much couch grass growing over far too many things... Sigh. I don't know what to do with the grass once I've pulled it. Oh well, bit by bit, a little very day - still get exhausted far too quickly.

But I do have perennial broccoli this year as well, for the first time! And another mystery plant, which is probably broccoli of some kind.
Ina
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Re: Experimentalish

Post: # 293662Post Odsox »

Also very much experimental this year is my heated greenhouse.
I removed the house oil fired central heating several years ago, but still had about half a tank of kerosene. So I bought a thermostatically controlled paraffin heater to see how well it would heat my lean-to greenhouse.
I well remember helping my grandfather stoke up the solid fuel heater in the main greenhouse where he was head gardener on a Victorian type estate, many moons ago.

Well is seems to be paying off, the heater is averaging about 2 litres of fuel per day, so I can keep the experiment going for roughly 250 days, maybe 3 years?
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Front left are 3 tomatoes and above are the tomato plants waiting to be planted out in the big greenhouse. At the back are climbing French beans (Fashold black seeded) for eating fresh. In front of the beans are rows of turnips, carrots and spring onions.
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At the back are more climbing beans just getting going. These are Blue Lake for eating fresh and for haricot. In front are 3 courgettes, and in the loop of the hose, behind the plant label is a tiny cucumber just getting going.
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Finally on a shelf are 2 troughs of dwarf Speedy French beans which we started eating on Paddies day.
Tony

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ina
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Re: Experimentalish

Post: # 293663Post ina »

Brilliant set up!

Somebody gave me Blue Lake, just a few seeds, and they've been sitting around for a year, as I don't know whether they are climbing or not! So now I know. :)
Ina
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Re: Experimentalish

Post: # 293664Post Flo »

The Blue Lake are definitely climbers Ina

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Re: Experimentalish

Post: # 293685Post Weedo »

Maggie - I also have an interest in the positive aspects of what we call weeds. Most are colonising species, establishing in disturbed and degraded sites, and serve as the first line in re-establishing vegetation. Some, like the thistles and docks, are heavy feeders with deep roots that extract and recycle nutrients, others like gorse, brooms and vetches serve to anchor soils, capture nitrogen and assist soil micro-flora while the grasses use the surface areas, protect soil surface and provide food sources for insects and animals.
Most thistles are edible, particularly young shoots, many weeds have given rise to our staple foods - Brassicas, Lactuca, etc.

There is a growing body of scientific evidence about the need for multiple species to maintain soil health - many now recommending multi species green fallows comprising up to 7 genera - each has its own role in nutrient cycling and overall soil health.
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Re: Experimentalish

Post: # 293687Post Green Aura »

My garden has been fallow for a couple of years now - and there may well be seven different genera.

Couch grass, thistles, lesser plantain and the occasional kidney vetch. There's also celandine, but only in one area and ground elder in another, the bane of my (gardening) life. And dandelions, how could I forget them!

I haven't seen anything else that I can recall.
Maggie

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Re: Experimentalish

Post: # 293694Post ina »

At least some of that is edible... We might yet be grateful for anything to eat!
Ina
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Re: Experimentalish

Post: # 293697Post Weedo »

Thanks Odsox - tickled my memory so I had a look in the scrap iron heap (inherited from the previous owner) and located two sic metre metres of old galvanised irrigation pipe, about 8 inch, that seems to be OK-ish if I waterproof it.

On another note, the scavengers are crawling out from under their rocks! a rising number of ads offering rapid veg growing systems,m tools, seeds and fertilisers are circulating - all of which, in my opinion, are a crock of fertiliser
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Re: Experimentalish

Post: # 293708Post Weedo »

The Sunn Hemp has reached about 6 foot and the first are coming into bud - as for the peas, I think I drowned them early on - too much water over a carp soil that hold it like a sponge
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