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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!
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.
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!
Naively I thought the garden would really struggle without my expert attention whilst we were on holiday for the last two weeks. How wrong I was, it quite happily looked after itself, everything has come on in leaps and bounds, basically a big two fingers up to the landlord – sod off we don’t need you!
Apart from friends watering and taking whatever fruit and veg was available nothing was done. But other than harvesting the last of the caulies and spring cabbage when we got back there wasn’t much to do. So here’s a quick catch up on progress so far.
The runners have come on well, at the top of their canes now.
The courgettes are well away, a bit of blackfly but nothing to worry about. This is F1 Orelia and the Black Beauty plants are also fruiting nicely.
The greenhouse is full. There’s a couple of cucumbers at the end, tomatoes down the side edged with salad bowl and french marigolds. On the staging are chillies, peppers and aubergines.
Harvested a few courgettes, broad beans and squash.
And the first tomatoes, these are Brasero.
The first raspberries were ready as well which were fantastic. The strawberries keep coming to, we only have a dozen plants and are into our fifth week of picking now, they have gone mad this year.
And the chillies are getting big. This one is Fresno Supreme, I also have Cayenne, Jalapeno, Californian Wonder and Scotch Bonnet growing.
The front garden flower bed is in full bloom. The Red Orach that I grew from the seeds Maureen sent me are now 7 feet tall, I love the coulour which is a great backdrop for the sweet peas.
I grew the carnations from seed last year from a Woolies flower selection pack that work colleagues gave me for my birthday. They didn’t do anything in their first year but are now making up for it. The Sweet Peas are over 4 feet high on the wigwams. Just after taking this photo I cut most of them to encourage more flowers.
Finally the Dahlias have started flowering. This one is my favourite so far, Atika. More on the Dahlia progress next time.
So everything has pretty much run to plan, I should go away more often!
Harvesting: Spring cabbage, Cauliflower, Calabrese, Lettuce, Rocket, Radish, Tomatoes, Courgette, Broad Beans, Squash, Strawberries, Raspberries.
We’re off to France very soon and are taking as much veg as possible with us in the cool box. I’ve cut the first cauliflower and broccoli today which I am really pleased with. Pretty much the same size as the supermarket but I bet they taste better!
There’s loads to follow so I’m hoping the rest will develop over the next two weeks and I’ve told our friends who are looking after the garden to take what is ready. There’s never a good time to go on holiday when you have a garden (although I say anytime is a good time for a holiday!). I’m sure there will be loads of veg coming to harvest just when we are away but it means I’ll be back to man the defenses against the cabbage white invasion later in the season. I’ve just cut the main head off the first broccoli so it should now sprout more heads to follow on. It’s the first time I’ve grown them so it’s all new but I am very happy with the results so far!
Elsewhere in the garden the rambling rose is in flower.
And the first cornflower.
The Red Orach are between 4-5 foot tall now but the Sweet Peas are catching up fast.
And the Dianthus dotted around the flower bed are in full bloom.
One thing I think I’ll miss in the next 2 weeks is my first Dahlia flower as there are quite a few buds on the ones I started in containers in the greenhouse back in March.
Fingers crossed we’ll all see some good weather over the next two weeks, it’ll be “cracking the flags” as I would say.
I’m also starting a footnote on posts to keep a record of what I’m harvesting.
Harvesting: Spring Cabbage, Lettuce, Rocket, Radish, Courgette, Squash, Calabrese, Cauliflower, Strawberries.
This time next week we’ll be in France so today is all about getting the jobs done so when we get back in early July the garden won’t have run away with itself too much!
The Sweet Peas are going mad after the rain we’ve had and I’m cutting most of them to induce more flowers. They look pretty on the windowsill and give off a lovely scent.
First job was weeding the new bed that I built earlier in the year. From front to back there are cabbages, early white and late purple sprouting broccoli, celery, sweetcorn, squash, beetroot, brussel sprouts and pumpkins. It’s all looking pretty good so fingers crossed we’ll have a bumper harvest from this bed. It’s the first time I’ve grown corn, celery or pumpkins.
I’m really pleased with the corn.
The other tender veg are coming on as well. Here’s the first courgette. This one’s from 3-year old seed and appears to be a bombproof variety – the packet just says Zucchini – and it’s been a reliable cropper.
I’ve also got some yellow courgettes showing, these are F1 Orelia, again pretty reliable although I had more trouble germinating these. The other variety I’m growing is Black Beauty from the BBC DigIn free seeds.
And the first squash has appeared, this is old seed again, it just says mixed scalloped squash on the packet. But it hasn’t failed me in 3 years. I normally pick them quite small and roast them in the oven with courgettes etc but I leave the odd one to grow on, one of which won 1st prize in the Any Other Veg category in our summer show so you can see how big they get!
We have two mature cherry trees in the garden and I noticed some fruit, I think this is the first time in the 3 years we’ve been here that they’ve survived the woodpigeon onslaught. So we may be picking cherries in a few weeks.
And we’ve been picking strawberries for a week or so now, not that I can get anywhere near them, the girls are wolfing them down. It’s great to see them loving the home grown fruit and veg as it’s the main reason I started the plot just before Chloe was born.
We’re having a barby later so I picked a selection of salad. There’s lettuce (Winter Density, Salad Bowl and Red Deer’s Tongue), Wild Rocket and Radish. This afternoon I’ll mow the lawn, then it’s a couple of bottles of Black Sheep and Come on England!!
Tomorrow we’re off to the River Bourne Community Farm Open Day in Laverstock, Salisbury. Should be a fun day with loads to do for the girls, and nice for me to have a day off from the jobs too!
Having run out of planting space already I built a new bed this morning. I’ve been looking for hidden away and unloved areas of the garden to dig up for veg growing. The area I chose would fit a 12′ by 6′ bed with enough space to walk round all sides. Here’s the spot.
First I removed the turf (well mainly weeds!) and stacked it up in one corner to rot down over the next few months. Then using 6 stakes and 6 six foot long gravel boards I bought from Scats I made the frame. Then I dug the whole area to one fork’s depth and removed any tree roots and stones. Finally I filled up the bed with about a 1/10th of the chicken manure I had delivered a few weeks ago and some leftover top soil. Here’s the finished bed.
It’s position is not ideal as it’s the other side of a 5′ high fence which runs parrallel to the road but it is south-facing. At midday only 1/5th of the bed was in shade from the fence so by the summer the sun will be high enough to get to the whole bed. Straight in went the Brussel Sprouts which were followed by sweetcorn. I sowed some beetroot, radish and rocket to intercrop between these and squash plants will join them in a few weeks.
Elsewhere in the garden the tulips are in full bloom.
I love the deep red colour of these tulips, there’s some purple ones just about to come out too which will give some fantastic colour to the garden. It’s been a glorious day today, not a cloud in the sky.