Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Spring 2016

Hmmm, I didn't post much last year did I? We did alot of DIY in the house last Spring so the garden was a bit neglected. Having said that, the potatoes and parsnips did well. In fact I'm still digging up the parsnips - here's today's crop:
Don't think I'll win any prizes, except maybe for rude unusual shapes
I'm not sure parsnips are worth growing again? We all love eating them, but they take up so much space and for such a long time. They also don't seem to taste that different to shop bought ones (unlike home-grown carrots). Maybe I just need to be better at inter-planting?

Last Spring, in the end of season sale, I bought 4 tomato plants and a yellow courgette plant from a local nursery. The tomatoes grew really well, but then succumbed to blight before they had a chance ripen - it was a cold, wet summer. However, the courgettes were great and I'd grow them again.

I planted onions, shallots and garlic last Autumn which are doing well. I had too many sets to fit in the raised beds, so put the spares in individual cells. My plan is to use these to fill the gaps in the next couple of weeks.

Today I have dug over 3 of the beds, and sown lots of seeds which are now sitting on the kitchen windowsill:

I made a batch of newspaper pots for the sweetcorn (they have long roots) and the rest have gone in cells in my (new) windowsill propagator. I've not grown tomatoes from seed before, so fingers crossed for them. The 2 types of squash came free with Kitchen Garden magazine, so they're new too. The chillies I have tried before, with mixed success due to weather conditions (I think).

Here's hoping for a more productive year than 2015!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

New Year

It finally feels as if Spring is on it's way and my thoughts have turned to sewing and planting. Last year I grew Maris Bard Potatoes (First Early) but was quite disappointed with them. The haulms flopped and died very early on and they didn't produce that many tubers. This year I've chosen Nicola, a second early from Taylors, which will hopefully do better. For now they are chitting in the kitchen:


I was given some seeds for Christmas, so I sowed the first of these at the week-end. I've done 3 rows of parsnips, with a row of lettuce in between. My parsnips haven't done so well the last couple of years, so I'm hoping that fresh seeds will do the trick. My the time the parsnips need the space, the lettuce will be coming to end (well that's the theory any-way)



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Filling the gaps

My previous sowing of carrots hasn't done very well, and there's no sign of the parsnips or spinach I put in either. So I decided to fill the gaps. A couple of weeks ago I sowed Radish (French Breakfast 3), Carrot (Resistafly F1 Hybrid) and Kale (Nero Di Toscana).The radish and kale has germinated beautifully, and the carrots are just beginning to show. I'm not sure why the first seeds didn't do so well - cats, birds, mice? I've now covered the bed with netting so fingers crossed.

Update - the carrots and kale did pretty well and I dug up the last few in early March, with very little carrot fly damage :-)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Soft Fruit

I put in some Autumn fruiting raspberries (Joan J) and strawberries (Royal Sovereign) a couple of years ago (see here), but haven't really had much fruit of them. All change this year! Although the raspberries are Autumn fruiting, if you don't cut all the canes back in the Autumn, you get a bonus crop in early summer. What's even better is that there's still loads just ripening.




Thursday, May 29, 2014

Companion planting

I managed to find a few minutes yesterday to plant out my sweetcorn and courgette plants. I lost a few of the sweetcorn seedlings to the gastropods, but I still had 11 to plant out. I've interspersed these with 6 courgette plants. In order to make space for these, I harvested a good few Spring onions.

Spring onions that were planted around last year's runner bean wigwam



Sweetcorn interspersed with courgettes

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Peas and beans

While I was waiting for my peas to germinate I spotted a pack of 6 plant cells on offer in The Range, with each cell containing several good looking plants. Needless to say I bought them! So yesterday I planted them out, next to my little sprouting peas. I added some sticks pruned from the Forsythia and threaded some twine around for support.

My peas just sprouting, with the bought plants to the right
I also put out the dwarf French beans. I had too many plants for the square bed, so I've put the rest in the gaps in the onion bed.
Dwarf French beans


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Peas

Having dug over and added compost to the small, square bed a few weeks ago, I covered it in fleece until I was ready to plant into it. This has had 2 benefits - warmer soil and more importantly, no cat poo! So today, I have sown mangetout peas "Delikta" directly into one corner of the bed. I plan to sow some more in a couple of weeks time, and fill the rest of the bed with French beans that are doing nicely in my patio growhouse for the moment. I have replaced the fleece for protection until I plant out the beans.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Maintenance jobs

Boring but essential, I spent quite some time this afternoon weeding my onions - they were looking a bit neglected. I was joined by the female blackbird who is nesting in our front hedge. She seemed quite happy, just inches away from me while I worked. After removing all the weeds, I watered and mulched them with homemade compost, so now they look much better.

I planted these as sets last Autumn as that gave me a fantastic harvest last year. However, this year they don't seem to be doing quite so well and I'm not quite sure why. I think some may have been dug up by cats and some may have rotted as the winter was so wet. When I planted them I had quite a few left over. I couldn't quite bring myself to throw them away, so I very generously free-cycled them. On reflection, I should have planted them in pots to grow on and fill the holes. Maybe next year...

The other job was earthing up the potatoes. I used more of my homemade compost, combined with some of the top soil which I'm still using up.

More sowing

Today I have planted some courgettes (All Green Bush). They did really well last year after a complete wash-out in 2012, so I'm trying again this year. I wasn't sure where I'd plant them out, but have now decided that under the sweetcorn should work. I tried the "Three Sisters" approach a couple of years ago, but it wasn't very successful - the pumpkin plant grew massive, but the fruit rotted before it ripened and the beans pulled the sweetcorn over. Hopefully I'll have better luck this year.

I have also sown some salad leaves, directly into the raised bed - spinach "Toscane", Rocket, lettuce "Little Gem" and a "spicy oriental mix"  from Suttons seeds.

Meanwhile, some of the chillies have germinated along with one of the pea shoots. The French beans and sweetcorn are doing well in the greenhouse, so I've started opening it up a bit more to harden them off.

The beetroot has germinated well, but not much sign of the parsnips or carrots yet. Time will tell.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sweetcorn and pea shoots

The sweetcorn I sowed the other day (see here) has germinated well - only 1 out of 17 seeds hasn't developed. They've grown so quickly they've reached the lid of the windowsill propagator, so time to move them on. As I did last year (see here), I have added toilet roll tubes to enlarge some of the pots.


I tried to buy pea shoots the other day (Amy and I have been watching Masterchef!) but couldn't find any. So instead, I decided to grown my own (Variety: Twinkle). I've sown them and put them on the windowsill, so they should be ready in about 3 weeks.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Potting on

The French beans I sowed last week popped their heads up over the last couple of days - from bumps in the soil surface, to leaves within hours it seemed. So, time to pot them on, and these are the results:




I've put them into my greenhouse for the time being, then hopefully out into the garden in a couple of weeks time. Having emptied the two of the little trays in my windowsill propagator, I've refilled one of them with chillies. We were a bit over-run with chillies last year, and they were very hot, so I've sown fewer this year of a different variety - Hungarian Hot Wax.

Sweetcorn

Having spent a bit of time researching which variety to plant this year, I opted for Swift. I've sown them in my window-sill propagator, one seed per cell. Last year I tried sprouting some in the airing cupboard and sowed the rest in newspaper pots. Both worked equally well, but pre-sprouting them was a bit of a hassle and had no real advantage as they all germinated anyway. This year I've placed them on top of the compost and covered them in vermiculite. Fingers crossed...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sowing

Had a free hour today, so took the opportunity to empty out and tidy my little greenhouses - and "re-home" the snails I found in there. I can never bring myself to destroy them, but throwing them in the border makes me feel as if I'm giving them a fair chance at least. So, once I'd sorted the contents (somewhat muddled after a couple of falls during the Winter storms) I set about sowing some seeds - Dwarf French beans. I'd intended to plant sweetcorn as well, but it turns out I'd run out of seeds. Now there's an excuse for a trip to the nursery if ever I there was one!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Getting the year started

So, finally the weather has improved and I can get out in the garden again. A combination of almost continuous rain and work has prevented me getting on with things this year. However, a few weeks ago we attacked the very overgrown holly bush and ramblings rose that was attempting to overtake the path. Having cleared the space, I added compost and dug over the beds ready for potatoes and other root veg. It was noticeable that all the Winter rain had compacted the soil.

The potatoes (first early - Maris Bard) went in a couple of weekends ago and are just beginning to show their shoots. Today, I have planted short rows of carrots (Purple Haze F1, Paris Market 5 Atlas and Early Nantes), parsnips (Lisbonnais on a tape) and beetroot (Boltardy). I didn't have much success with carrots last year, and didn't plant any parsnips or beetroot, so fingers crossed these will germinate.

The other job I did today was add compost and dig over the square bed. I've covered this in fleece for the time being, partly to warm up the soil, but mostly to deter the local cat population.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mystery plant

I've just found this mystery plant in one of my raised beds. I thought it was going to be a runner or French bean that had self-seeded from last year, but when I dug it up it looks more like a parsnip root. I've potted it up and will keep an eye on it to see what it turns into!

PS It's looking more and more like a bean of some sort

PPS Turned out to be a runner bean and produced loads of beans