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More like April torrential rain today! I feel like this year is already well behind with the cold winter and early spring. Hopefully we’ll get some decent weather and everything will catch up soon.
There’s three main areas of activity at the moment. Firstly the south-facing living room windowsill the best place for young seedlings. There’s a couple of pots of rocket – interesting in exactly the same conditions Runaway is far outstripping Va-Va Voom – Lettuce (Little Gem), Aubergines (Money Maker), Chillies (Joe’s Long), Celery (Morning Star) and Tomatoes (Sungold). All are making good progress and I’ll keep sowing rocket and lettuce every couple of weeks throughout the season. Later in the spring these will be sown direct into a three tier planter that I’m putting near the kitchen door for ease of picking when we need a few leaves.
Next is the cold greenhouse which is housing shallots and onion sets that haven’t gone out yet. Broad beans (Longfellow), and various brassicas – Cauliflower (Romanesque & Cornell), Brussel Sprouts (Wellington), Cabbage (Ramco), Calabrese (Aquiles), land cress and more lettuce.
And lastly there’s the pipes that I covered in the last post – and the carrots and parsnips have germinated so the cover is off and each one has the top portion of a plastic bottle protecting the seedlings which I’ll thin down to one in the next week or so. The stump carrots aren’t through yet but should be by next weekend. I’ve started three potato planters with Charlotte and the task of filling the polypots and getting the Kestrel, Winston and Amour out has begun and will be finished next weekend. On the showing front I’m aiming for the NVS SW show which is at the end of August so I have time yet.
I hope you’re all having a nice weekend and managing to get some jobs done despite the miserable weather. Here’s hoping we actually get a summer this year!!
At last some sun and a few days of dry weather after the deluge of the last five weeks or so. With lots of jobs to do I’ve concentrated on the home front this weekend and thought I’d give you a virtual tour as I haven’t focused on this for a while.
I started with the onion bed finding a few spaces for the last of the vento onion plants I’ve been growing on from Darren. There’s also shallots, Hative de Niort, and garlic, purple wight, in this bed.
Next were the peas, show perfection on the canes, and oregon sugar snap up the netting.
The cabbages, green ramco, have been out for a couple of weeks now and should reach a good size by the end of July. There’s seven in all aiming for an entry at the New Forest Show.
The stump carrots in two dustbins of sand are coming along nicely.
And after a slow start the long carrots in pipes are starting to take off.
The greenhouse is starting to clear slowly. There’s lettuce, radish and rocket in the bed on the right hand side. And celery, calabrese, cauliflower, brokali, purple sprouting, sweetcorn, runner & french beans, celeriac and leeks on the staging. These all need to planted out over the next three weeks.
And the hardening off area is pretty full. The tomatoes are about two foot tall and ready for planting out as soon as the weather warms up. There’s also marrows, beans, brussels, beetroot, cucumbers, squash and pumpkins waiting to go out. It’s all a bit of a jam waiting for the end of May when I’ll be confident the threat of a late frost has passed. Then it will be a frenzy of activity to get this lot all out into their final positions before we go on holiday!
Hope you’re all enjoying the sunny weather!
With March and April being the busiest sowing months you’d expect there to be loads of seedlings growing on at the Two Chances Plot. And you wouldn’t be wrong. Here’s a few progress photos from the three growing areas; the greenhouse, cold frames and good old windowsill.
The sweetcorn is growing on well in the greenhouse. Two varieties, Earlibird and Lark, around 40 plants destined for the allotment towards the end of May, possibly earlier with bottle cloches if I need the space in the greenhouse.
Brussel Sprouts (Bedford) hardening off in the cold frame. Around 150 plants for the shared plot, possibly a few for the Hort Soc plant sale. Even though they are one of my favourite veg I think 150 may be overdoing it a bit!
Continuing the brassica theme there’s cabbage (green ramco), calabrese (aquiles F1), brokali (apollo) and cauliflower (cornell).
I grow beetroot in modules ready to plant out. This is Boltardy and I will be sowing Pablo later.
Moving indoors, the tomatoes are going well. Goldstar, Marmande and Gardener’s Delight around 8-10 inches high.
The cucumbers (Carmen) are just starting. I’ll be devouting the greenhouse to them this year with the tomatoes outside in the mini-greenhouses for cover with the rest at the shared plot greenhouse.
Last, and defintely least, aubergines (bonica F1). After a disastrous performance last year I’ve been suckered into trying them again. No doubt only bitter disappointment will follow but that’s gardening, without failure you can’t fully appreciate your successes.
In various states of germination are french and runner beans, leeks, parsnips, courgettes, pumpkins and squash. There’s also celery, pea and onion plants in the greenhouse with lettuce growing on and more lettuce, rocket, radish and spring onions sowed. In the garden there’s potatoes, carrots, parnsips, peas, cabbage, shallots, onions and garlic growing away with PSB coming to an end. On the shared plot there’s potatoes, broad beans and onions with a few of last season’s cabbages and cauliflowers left. And the half allotment has so far been planted with more potatoes, broad beans and asparagus.
I think it’s going to be a busy year!!
This morning I managed to get the front bed planted up and finished. There’s various trailing plants dotted around the edge – marrow, crown prince, jack ‘o’ lantern and a tromba courgette – I’ll train these up the fence so they don’t take up space in the bed. The rest of the plants are a cabbage walking stick plant (for our Hort Soc competition in the Autumn), early and late PSB, cauliflowers (snowball), brussel sprouts (Bedford – now earthed up and staked) and some autumn-fruiting raspberries. Two mesh tunnels will keep the pigeons and cabbage whites off the brassicas.
I’ve also filled the bed under the living room window. A few scraps of mesh have been joined together to keep the birds off the strawberries – we’ll be picking our first ones later today! There’s loads of fruit forming on the raspberries and in between is a blackcurrant, gooseberry and courgettes – black beauty and rubesa fruilana.
Out the back the beds are filling up.
From front to back are root crops, spring onions, spinach, rocket, radish, mangetout, garlic, broad beans, and runners/french beans on the canes right at the back. We’ve eaten spinach, rocket, radish and mangetout which was all very nice and the broad beans shouldn’t be too far behind.
Lastly the long roots in the pipes:
The parsnips and carrots are around 8″ high now, hoping they will be good enough for the show in mid-August. Hope you’re having a good weekend.
The unseasonably warm weather continues and you can work up a sweat just doing some light jobs around the garden. A day off work is a time to take stock of where everything is up to and what I need to get done over the Easter weekend.
Around the plot the garlic and broad beans are doing well.
And the lettuce, Webb’s Wonderful, planted in the coldframe is coming on.
The chillies have shot on in the warm weather.
And the first batch of dwarf beans have germinated. I followed Mal’s advice of sowing scar side down for the best results. Well worth checking out his experiment into bean germination.
I decided to plant out these Brussel Sprouts, a bit early, but they were bursting out of their pots. The patch they went into had been dug with a helping of well rotted manure in April and I finished it off by hoeing in a top dressing of blood, fish and bone the other day. I then dug the planting holes (2 ft apart, should be 3ft apart ideally but I wanted to get 3 plants across my 6ft bed) and firmed them in really well. When they get a bit bigger I can either earth up or stake them.
And finally the bluebells are starting to flower, which following the daffs and tulips is another welcome burst of colour.
Hope you all have a great long weekend!
The Two Chances Veg Plot is getting full to bursting at the moment. All the first and second earlies are now out along with the brassicas planted this morning.
The large bed (18ft x 6ft) has overwintered onions, shallots, calabrese, cauliflower, cabbage, celeriac and a couple of rows of Charlotte potatoes.
The medium bed (12ft by 6ft) has parsnips and long carrots in pipes, stump carrots and parsnips sowed direct along with spring onions, spinach, beetroot and mangetout. The small bed (6ft x 6ft) has garlic, broad beans and a trench for runner beans. The beds are surrounded by 20 polypot bags of spuds and a couple of old dustbins with stump carrots. The girls really enjoyed helping me fill up the spud bags!
That’s it really there’s a few spaces for some lettuce and radish but it’s pretty much full up. There is a strip along the back garden fence that will take the dwarf beans and the rest of the brassicas (brussels, swede, sprouting broccoli) will go into the front bed (12ft x 6ft) where there is already a few Autumn fruiting raspberry canes. In the other front garden bed there’s already summer fruiting raspberries, strawberries and a gooseberry and blackcurrant bush but I should be able to squeeze in some courgettes. The tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, chillies and aubergines will go in the greenhouse.
So anything else will be going up to the shared plot in the next village. At the moment that’s maincrop potatoes, sweetcorn, summer and butternut squash. These will join onions, shallots, broad beans, parsnips, carrots, beetroot and cabbage that are already in. Not sure when we’re going to eat all this veg!!
As you can see crop rotation and advanced planning are not my strong points. The crops rotate every year but I don’t follow a strict crop rotation plan I just try and ensure that nothing is grown in the same place for consecutive years.
And we had a bumble bee visitor today.
On Tuesday I went to a talk on bees given by a local bee farmer at our Hampshire NVS DA meeting. It was fascinating stuff, I didn’t realise bees were such a complex subject. Bee pollination supports every third mouthful of food we eat so they are vital to the environment and us. There’s a number of challenges ahead for bee communities under threat but it was good to hear there’s a lot of money going into research at the moment and progress is being made. Fingers crossed they can come up with a solution to the problems.
Anyway time to get back out in the garden. Hope you are all having a good weekend!
Had a busy afternoon in the garden getting most of the first and second early potatoes in. I planted a couple of rows of Charlotte and put the remainder of the Charlotte and Kestrel into 17 litre polypot bags. I’m trialing them this year to see if I can grow a good crop in bags and save space on the plot for other veg. I managed to get 15 bags filled with a mixture of compost, top soil, fertiliser and vermiculite so fingers crossed they’ll do well. Just Lady Christl to go now and then onto maincrop. The main varieties will go in my shared plot up in the next village where there’s lots of broad beans, onions and shallots that have just been planted.
The long carrots are up and there are a few of the stump carrots showing. All the seedlings in the greenhouse are doing well with the broad beans, beetroot, caulies, cabbage, calabrese, brussels, psb, sunflowers and red orache coming on nicely. I need to sow some rocket, radish and spinach direct in the beds tomorrow evening if I get a chance.
And a real April treat the PSB is out and will be ready for Sunday dinner, can’t wait to try it!!
I dead headed the first of the daffs as well and their vibrant colour is being replaced by these lovely tulips.
I hope you’re all having a colourful and productive weekend!
Spring had definitely arrived today with some glorious afternoon sunshine which made it a pleasure to be out in the garden. And I had two little helpers with me to make sure I was doing all the jobs properly!
The daffodils are out in full bloom and the tulips are coming through nicely both in the flower bed and in the pots. Around the garden there’s forsythia, primroses, hellebores, pansies, lungwort and heather all flowering. In the veg plot there is no sign of the parnsips germinating yet. I’ve also sown long carrots in pipes and stump carrots in a couple of old dustbins. Fingers crossed I’ll get some decent specimens in the summer.
The broad beans are doing well, as are the onions that were overwintered. I’m still digging up parsnips from last year but there’s no sign of the PSB yet, hopefully it will start to sprout in the next couple of weeks, it’s one of the great treats at this time of year.
Under cover all the brassicas are at pricking out stage – cauliflowers, cabbage, brussel sprouts, PSB, and calabrese. There’s a tray of Red Orache, mangetout and sunflowers germinated and I’ve just sown some Burpee’s Golden Beetroot in modules this afternoon. So much to do now for the next few weeks to keep up with everything.
And I’ll be even busier this year after meeting a chap in the next village who is happy to share his garden veg patch with me. I’ll be able to do the heavy digging work and we’ll share the crops so I should be self-sufficient in veg through the summer and autumn months this year.
It’s the Winterslow & District Horticultural Society’s Spring Show on Saturda 26th March. If you’re in the area pop into the Village Hall from 2pm to take a look at the exhibits. I may even enter a few myself this time!
In a bid for early flowers I sowed my first sunflower seeds this morning. And it reminded me of a lyric in the late 80s Tears for Fears song ‘Sowing the Seeds of Love’ which seemed appropriate for this time of year as we enter March and a frenzy of sowing activity. That song also included a rant against Margaret Thatcher, ‘politician granny’;by that time the gloss had well and truly come off her leadership with the Poll Tax. We’ve come full circle politically again as we do in gardening every year.
So what’s happening on the Two Chances Veg Plot at the end of February? Well on the plot I’m still harvesting leeks and parsnips with PSB eagerly anticpated. Parsnips were sown in the pipes last week and the overwintered broad beans and onions are coming on well. Tulips are starting to come through in the tubs and in the flower beds there’s crocuses, daffs and more tulips doing their thing and taking advantage of the mild spell we’ve had recently. In the greenhouse the shallots are starting to sprout and I’ve got a loads of brussel sprout seedlings pricked out into small pots.
Indoors the spuds are chitting nicely and the second batch of broad beans is starting to germinate. On various windowsills a tray of lettuce (Webb’s Wonderful) needs pricking out, tomatoes are poking through and the first true leaves are showing the peppers and chillies. The onions look exactly the same as they did last week and I’ve just sown the first batch of sugar snap peas along with cabbage, early and late purple sprouting broccoli and some asparagus peas.
On the ‘to do’ list this weekend is the mix for the long carrots which I need to get into the pipes and sown. More brassicas to be sown – cauliflower and calabrese which can grow on in the greenhouse. So that’s it you’re up to speed on everything going on!!
Hope you all have a great weekend!
The circle of life was completed today on the Two Chances Veg Plot as far as my parnsips were concerned. A few are harvested every Sunday to go with the roast dinner and today was no exception. It was also sowing day for my first ever long parnsip attempt in the pipes now installed in one section of the raised bed.
The mix had been in for three days and had hopefully settled as much as it was going to. After a thorough soaking 5 Gladiator seeds were popped into the centre of each pipe, sideways on, then lightly covered, and the end of the pipe then covered with polythene to keep them a bit warmer and protected until germination. Now it’s just a waiting game as parsnip germination can be very slow. Hopefully all the seeds will come up and I’ll eventually thin down to the strongest one. Over the next few weeks I’ll sow more directly into the beds but using a station sowing method into cores of the same mix spaced every 6 inches or so. This should hopefully give me some nice, large parsnips come Autumn. Then I’ll be preparing my mix for the long and stump carrots that will go in over the next 2-3 weeks.
Elsewhere on the plot the digging is now finished. A top layer of well rotted chicken manure is hopefully drawing up the worms to work their magic and will be lightly forked in ahead of planting. The broad beans sowed in Autumn are about 4″ high and looking strong, as are the onion sets. Two PSB plants have survived, one of which is the largest I’ve ever grown, not in height as it’s only about 4′, but it’s a monster width-wise and I’m hoping it will crop heavily soon.
Inside I’ve pricked out the chilli, pepper and onion seedlings. There’s a tray of Brussel Sprouts (Bedford) germinated and tomatoes have been sown (Marmande, Gardener’s Delight, Moneymaker, Tumbling Tom Red, F1 Incas & Golden Peardrop). I’ll be sowing more brassicas this week, cauliflower, cabbage, calabrese and PSB.
So with March approaching the activity level is starting to warm up like the weather will be hopefully. There’ll be lots to do over the next few weeks with sowing reaching frenetic levels and seed trays on every available windowsill in the house. Hopefully there will be no late cold snap, March will be nice and mild, and we’ll all be off to a flyer!!
As mentioned on UKVG there’s a new on-line publication for children and schools called Grow Time which is packed full of information to get children into growing their own fruit and veg. Well worth checking out.
It’s our local Horticultural Society’s Jumble Sale on Saturday so if you’re in South Wilts why not come along and support us.
And finally there’s a Seedy Sunday event this Sunday in Downton, South Wilts. I’ll be there as I’ve got nowhere near enough seeds .