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Building a Cloche

Posted By: paul 24/08/2009 14:15:00

Two days without rain in the last week thats what we've had here. So much for a BBQ Summer!

With the ground this wet I can't even get out to weed anything and the allotment is looking shameful. According to the regional weather forecast the next few days will be brighter and dryer and therefore the weeding can resume. The one good thing is the soil will be nice and loose around the roots of any large weeds and will allow them to be pulled out whole.

This week I have to cover three subjects in the newsletter, the first is the worrying news about the possible return of Aminopyralid. An application to the Advisory Committee on Pesticides to the Government has been made and the committee has concluded if Dow Agro can provide reasonable steps to track the contaminated manure, and they can provide proof of the effect of Aminopyralid in under ground water on vulnerable crops, and the usage of the product on farmland does not by pass the UK Stewardship requirements then and only then will they advise the Ministers to re-instate approvals for the use of the product. Frankly I think the first requirement will be the major stumbling block to overcome but with such a large potential revenue from the product I think Dow will come up with a plan which on the face of it will appear to work. Lets hope the committee recognizes when someone is trying to 'Blow smoke' and refuses the application. In the meantime there is another petition to the government to reject the application and it can be signed by UK nationals here. Thanks to John Shobrook for organizing it.

Now on to happier subjects,as I mentioned last week, I have had great success this year by over wintering various crops, my Onions, Broad Beans, Cabbages and Cauliflowers have been fantastic and as they've been harvested they have left space for more of the summer crops thus maximizing the growing space usage. This year I plan to do the same with the addition of some Cloches to protect the plants from vermin and bad weather. I had an email from John who wanted to know how I was going to build the Cloches so here it is.

  • Build a Cloche
    I have tried several ways to build cloches and the cheapest and easiest for me has been to use 19mm water pipe (The white water pipes now used in modern houses), and polythene sheets. If you buy the pipe it should cost about £1 per metre, or you can visit a local building site, during daylight hours!, and ask permission to pick through the skips. The Polythene sheet I buy new, as old stuff is generally degraded by the Ultraviolet light, and the price varies widely depending on what type you use. I cut the pipe into 2 metre sections and then push it into the ground about 1/3rd of a metre at each end forming a hoop. Space these about 2 metres apart for the length of the row you are covering. Then unroll the polythene over the pipes forming a mini poly tunnel. Weight the edge of the polythene down buy burying it in the soil, using rocks or pegs. I prefer to bury it as it has to survive the winter storms. That's it!

Lastly as we are all in the throws of harvesting crops and one of my favorites to harvest are the apples. Not just for the apple pies, which in my opinion are one of the major food groups, but also for the Cider. This weekend is the first chance for the harvesting and a group of us who have come together over the years will be out and about gathering apples for the first squashing. In a radius of two miles from where I live there are enough unused apple trees to keep us in Cider for the whole year.We get permission from everyone who owns the trees first and then pay them back with a gallon of cider later. We have until now processed the apples through small presses which produce about a gallon per squeeze, but this year we are ciderpressmoving into the big league and our newest member has joined the group with his 19th Century Somerset Cider Press. It stands at 9'4" and looks very similar to this one in the picture. Although we will be spending the early part of Saturday assembling the press we will hope to find out how much it can process in one squeeze a bit later. I take photos of the whole process and add it to the website. In case you would like to know more about making Cider this is a great book which explains everything and even shows you how to build your own press.

Oh and lastly (I have just thought of a fourth thing!) BLIGHT, BLIGHT, BLIGHT. With the weather being warm and damp Blight will be rife on Potatoes and Tomatoes so keep your eyes open for the first signs. If your not organic Dithane or Bordeaux Mixture fungicide can be used. If you are organic and your plants become infected removal and destruction of the infected plants and praying are your only options. With Potatoes you can cut the tops off and leave them in the ground but make sure you dig all of them up!

Happy Gardening!


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