Fleece over new planting of squash

Mid May 2019, plant out and sow more, garden open, new polytunnel, podcasts, perennial weeds, aminopyralid

Summer is coming and it can be a mad rush, now that we can finally plant out frost tender plants. It may also be a question of finding space for them all!

Of earlier plantings, my greatest success this spring is Boltardy beetroot, multisown late February and planted a month later. It has lived under fleece throughout, just kept pushing it up.

A word about the forum, I am so sorry about the cyber attack. It has been difficult to sort out and my web team have been on it for a few days.

Open day

This Sunday, May 19th, from 1-5pm. There is plenty to see!

Steph and I shall be here until just before 5pm (selling books including hers), then we need to leave in order to travel to Cork that evening, for my day course at Ballymaloe on 20th.

I return to Ireland for a day course at Glebe Gardens on 25th.

Then on 29th I give a no dig course in the beautiful gardens of Marbury Hall, NW England.

Plant frost sensitive veg, without hardening off

I find it works to take plants from the greenhouse and pop into open ground, then cover with fleece for a week or so, unless the weather is hot. Our temperatures are 16-18C/low sixties F in the afternoon and 4—8C low forties overnight.

If you suspect a late frost, hoops to keep fleece off plant leaves will prevent damage where they otherwise are touching.


Beans and brassicas, courgette, French and climbing beans, leaf beet, beetroot, chard, lettuce, winter brassicas, salad onion. Plus leeks and winter squash by early May and swede at end May or early June.

I recently sowed Brussels sprouts, cabbage for autumn and climbing beans.

No dig podcasts

Podcast about no dig, when Sarah Wilson interviewed me recently. Her channel has a refreshing and unconventional take on gardening.

This is my interview with no till farmer Jesse Frost. He broadcasts monthly, and says this broke all his records for listener numbers.

Weedkiller in hay

Many of us are aware of aminopyralid and the risks associated with using horse manure in particular, but I have still been caught out by damage from just a small amount in one batch of Homeacres compost. Perhaps the stables bought one load of hay from a field where this horrible stuff had been used. Last summer we used dry straw from the neighbour’s manure heap, as bedding for the urine side of my compost loo, then after a month we add this to the current compost heap. (I had been unable to buy small bales of straw after last year’s drought),

If you mulched with this hay, you would suffer the same problems of stunted growth and curling new leaves. Most at risk are legumes and solanums, hence my trials in the photos. I am having to put the affected compost on spare ground, to allow breakdown of the weedkiller by soil microbes.

Under cover mulching and planting

We have cleared the winter vegetables and spread the annual dose of compost. I wanted to use my own and could not, was helped by Woodhort of Sharpham, who delivered some old cow manure. I checked its temperature and it was 64C/147F, so not as old as the six months claimed, but I had no choice. Growth may be less brilliant!

New polytunnel

Steph mentioned to First Tunnels that I was tempted to change models, in order to have straight sides. They offered to provide and erect a new one, next week. We have a day on Weds 22nd to take down the current tunnel, with help from the community project who are receiving it, Then I shall fleece new plantings until the new tunnel  is erected.

Events elsewhere

At Grizedale in the Lake District, June 30th.

“Lawson Park is a historic Lake District hill farm which has been HQ to Grizedale Arts since 2009. Head Gardener Karen Guthrie & colleagues are opening the house & garden to the public on Sunday June 30, with proceeds going to the Stroke Association. The extensive gardens have unforgettable views to the fells and Coniston Water, and include 2 large no-dig polytunnels and a terraced ‘Paddy Field’ where no-dig vegetable growing has been practiced for the last three years.

There is a new farming exhibition of photos in Nailsworth, Glos: agrarian renaissance by Walter Lewis.

Keep pulling marestail

You just need to keep pulling new shoots of marestail, as often as you can, to deprive the roots of new sustenance. Gradually they weaken.

Also keep paths clear, and mulch or mow edge areas, to slow any spread in from the sides.

Perennial weeds growing through mulch
New bed created March with compost on weeds and couch grass plus bindweed need removing


Ants are difficult but they don’t like moisture, or spiciness!

Keep soil moist, try during say 1 litre of water per nest, and the water has chilli extract, for example boil a few chillies just for 5 minutes. It was effective in my greenhouse but some have come back, a year later.

15 thoughts on “Mid May 2019, plant out and sow more, garden open, new polytunnel, podcasts, perennial weeds, aminopyralid

  1. Charles, are you still growing borlotti climbing beans for drying as part of your annual sowing choices? Czar are so productive and give huge beans, I wondered if you were just sticking with those now. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for your post Billy,very interesting and a little bit scary.Its no wonder people want to grow their own veg after seeing the chemicals used in farming….amniopyralids in horse manure.worm killing Baycox in cow/calf manure…….its getting harder for us no diggers.

  3. Hi Charles.
    Just a word on bad manure! I work on farm and read alot drug packets! They use a product call baycox on young calf to stop then getting ill, how ever the packet says not to spread manure unless diluted with clean manure has it will kill worms. Never seen any farmer diluted and vets don’t warn you. It not easy found on the packet.
    Real sad! I’m ashamed farming thinks it needs to do these things! Must encourage different farming methods or better education in my opinion.
    Think it will break down over time best ask before you get any muck off farm.
    Love worms

  4. Hi Charles, I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and watching your YT videos. Your garden is inspirational, so much so that I have got completely carried away with squashes/courgettes and pumpkins this year. I have grown about 8 different varieties and now have about 40 big plants!! Our veg patch is limited (we rent) but the whole garden is big. I was wondering if I dig big holes around the edge of our garden (which is weedy and grassy) and filled holes with compost , would squashes and pumpkins just trail over the cut grass and weeds? Or do they need to trail over composted/tilled soil? I can’t bear the thought of not planting all my plants! Thanks, Victoria

    1. Thanks Victoria and you could try that, but mow the grass/weeds as tight, tight as possible, before the plants start trailing over. In summer dry weather the grass declines and squash may gain the upper hand!

      1. Or could you lay cardboard over the areas where the squashes are to trail to suppress the grass growth …??

  5. I am so sorry that you have also experienced amniopyralid. I’m grateful that you are raising awareness as I know only too well how devastating this is. I only wish I could do something to make more people nationwide aware of the possible implications of herbicides and prevent others from going through this experience

    1. Thanks Anne and I am about to post a video about it.
      So many gardeners are suffering and some famous ones too such as Sarah Raven.

  6. Hi Charles, we adopted no dig after attending an open day at Homeacres last year and seeing your amazing results. After 15 years of digging/rotavating our first year of no-dig has, proved a great sucess without too much effect setting it up – apart from mole’s digging the London Unground! We’ve aways had the odd mole hill but this year they’ve been extra active, I’m wondering if this is because we’ve not disturbed the soil; we’ve tried to ignore them by planting around runs (which winds me up as I have gaps in rows) plus they have uprooted our winter onions. Do you have any advice please regarding cause or solutions? Many thanks, Mary

    1. Sorry to hear this Mary, I employed a mole catcher, or you can buy mole traps. It may be only one or two.

  7. Hi Charles – I’ve been no dig for a few years now, but a lot of my crops struggle – and I think it’s my poor soil. I use my own compost – and follow your instructions, but my crops are nowhere near as healthy as yours, despite doing everything I should be.
    My soil at the moment is dry – as I’m sure it is everywhere. I have been watering, but the soil is like dust on the top layer, and then underneath it is pretty hard. (I could send you a couple of snaps) – certainly not the luscious soil you have. My soil is clay underneath, but it’s had several years of compost, soil conditionder from the local authority, or bagged compost – even horse manure a few years ago.
    What am I doing wrong?

    1. Philip sorry to hear this, perhaps there is something lacking and one application of seaweed or rockdust or both could sort it.
      Check out using biodynamic prep 500, not expensive and I feel it makes a difference here.
      Hope that helps.

    2. Philip

      I think I have similar soil to you and I see the same happening if I cannot compost every year all over the plot, which does suggest we need even more compost to leave a small surplus each year.

      A couple of things I have found which really produce great top compost are:

      1. Mulch maincrop potatoes once plants well established (end June) with a mixture of grass cuttings, comfrey leaves and leaf litter collected from a wood.

      This will not fully mature until the following spring but it seems to work really well. I have also tried it with other waste material our gardeners pulls out from flower beds and that has worked well too.

      2. Mix autumn leaves falling in the garden plus those swept up from the streets and the last grass cuttings and simply apply as a mulch to empty beds.

      Although this may not be fully rotted down by March, it does produce excellent spring growth of new sowings/plantings and continues to feed the soil well into summer.

      I suggest these as you may have neighbours putting green waste for collection so begging large volumes from half a street may be practicable!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *