Transition to Spring? - 19th February 2009
- updated 7th/11th/13th/16th/23rd/29th March/11th April/1st/27th May/
    6th July/2nd August/4th December 2009

Theme: Peak Oil, the Transition Movement....

- and how to turn a bramble-infested wilderness into a vegetable garden!

PART 5: Growing

23rd March: I've now split this up into several pages as there are so many images!

Quick links to the other parts:

1. Peak Oil & the Transition Movement 2. Garden Clearance 3. Garden Rebuilding

4. Garden Planting 5. Garden Growing 6. The Harvest


New! Fine Art Prints & digital images for sale-
Welsh Weather & Dyfi Valley landscapes Slide-Library - Click HERE


Mid-April and t
he shallots and garlic are coming along OK....


....but slugs have been steadily eating the young radish plants:

Slug damage

Rather than use pellets, I thought it would be interesting to try something a bit different:


Nematodes that specifically kill slugs!

This is what it looks like (a bit like a ready-meal and probably just as tasteless!):


The method is easy - divide into "portions", mix with water in a watering-can with a rose and water the milky-looking fluid into the soil on a damp day. This was enough to do the whole garden. According to the website,

"These aggressive organisms attack the pest by entering natural body openings. Once inside, they release bacteria that stops the pest from feeding, quickly killing the pest. They do not stop there. The nematodes reproduce inside the dead pest and release a new generation of hungry nematodes, which disperse to hunt down further prey."


The spuds are slowly starting to appear:

Potatoes coming up are some other plants! This is Bittercress - it's abundant, it's edible.....


.....and will do as a compost additive too! This was picked out from in between spring onion seedlings - between the rows it can be hoed in before it seeds....



Things have been going reasonably well in the last 3 weeks, but also there has been trouble in the form of a suspected visiting rabbit. Here are some general shots from mid-May:

Wideangle view of garden



And the first produce:

radishes - first produce

Just in time too! A visitor started cropping seedlings to ground-level. It didn't like the shallots or garlic, fortunately, but has half-eaten just a couple of the potato-plants. A bit of a mystery really - rabbits usually leave droppings, yet there are none to be found, and it's something with quite an appetite!


With a view to finding out, I've been setting a cage-trap nightly. Better than a killer-trap - I don't want to injure any harmless or useful creature, such as a hedgehog, but if it's a rabbit I'm afraid it's going in the pot! So far no results, but I'll persevere!


This presented a dilemma: I had bean-seedlings ready to go into the ground, but if it was a rabbit, they wouldn't have a hope! I had an idea: individual plant protection. Take as many 2-litre plastic  water-bottles as you can get hold of, and cut off their tops and bottoms:

cutting up plastic water bottles

Fit carefully over bean plant, then stake very firmly into the ground so they cannot be pushed over:

protection for runner-bean seedlings

Finally whitewash the sunward side to stop them "cooking"......

protection for runner-bean seedlings

I can fit 4-6" extensions to these if they prove successful - protecting the main stem to a height that rabbits cannot reach it is the idea. To end this update, here's a view on May Bank Holiday weekend. Ongoing jobs have included earthing-up the potatoes - an endless task in the growing season that has involved bringing buckets of soil from the top of the garden to supplement the available stuff in the beds.

View of the growing garden

UPDATE - JULY 7th 2009

Through June everything grew and grew - although there were some problems too! I now know I planted the potatoes too closely and perhaps overdid the manure in the soil - the result being this luxuriant foliage!


This was prone to damage from wind and rain - to the extent that it became necessary to stake some plants....

Storm damage to potatoes - the rabbit was having a field-day! Look at this damage (below)! I finally caught and killed one in late June - whether it was the only one remains unknown, although the area has been free of damage since. We shall see.

Rabbit-damage to potatoes

These are three attempts at protecting lower-growing plants:



Milk-crates, an old bit of trawler-net washed up on the beach and some old chicken-wire! As you can see, the protection is not extensive enough, so that as soon as stems emerged through it, they were munched away! However, I have since heard that the debris-netting used on scaffolding is pretty effective so I will try and get hold of some.....

Here's a general view in early July, showing the incredible surge in growth, The rabbit-protection of the runner-beans has so far worked and they are coming into flower. Potato greenery is starting to obscure the main pathway!

Overview of garden

Weeds (I prefer to think of them as free-growing biomass!) have been periodically harvested for compost-greens, apart from bramble and bindweed and nettle. The latter makes plant-food when left to go rotten in water, the former have to be burnt. Mostly this is scarlet pimpernel, shepherd's purse, common willowherb and bittercress. It gives bare soil good cover, protecting against erosion - the trick is to keep pulling it before it seeds; this is 10 minutes' worth! To my mind, this is working with nature, not against it or trying to completely control it!

weeds for compost

Here's where it ends up after harvesting. The lid stays on except when dumping more stuff on top. Will be time to plonk a layer of soil on top soon...


main shallot-bed is approaching harvest-time - perhaps in a week or three....


More soon!

1. Peak Oil & the Transition Movement 2. Garden Clearance 3. Garden Rebuilding

4. Garden Planting 5. Garden Growing 6. The Harvest


New! Fine Art Prints & digital images for sale-
Welsh Weather & Dyfi Valley landscapes Slide-Library - Click