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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!
I’ve finally started getting my pipes in. What’s this got to do with growing veg you ask? Well over the past few months I’ve been planning to have a go at growing some prize winning veg on a very small scale concentrating on a few carrots and parsnips (the long carrot experiment part II, some of you will remember my pathetic effort last year!).
I could only find 4″ black drainpipes in the local DIY store, in 7 foot lengths. 6″ diameter is ideal for parnsips but to be honest if I get a parsnip big enough to get stuck in a 4″ pipe I’ll be chuffed! Cut in half I buried them in a section of raised bed. The pipes will be filled with the growing medium and should I manage to grow something longer than 3 and a half foot the tap root can keep going into the soil below which I can carefully dig out at show time in August (haha who am I kidding!). By part burying them in the raised bed I hope to avoid the hassle and expense of constructing some sort of frame to support the pipes. And I avoid the need for drums and tonnes of sand – don’t know what I’m talking about? Check out Darren’s method. 8 pipes are now in and I’ll buy enough for another 8 towards the end of the month. I’ll sieve the topsoil in the rest of the bed and core out a number of stations to fill with mix and sow stump carrots directly. I’ll also grow some stump carrots in sand in half barrels – with a variety of methods I’m hoping to get a decent result from one of them!
The seeds, from Medwyns, have arrived. I’ve gone for Gladiator for the long parsnip and Sweet Candle for stump carrots. I have some long carrot seeds left over from last year. The remainder of the parsnip seeds will go direct in the bed as they don’t last more than one season.
I also got round to planting my shallots. Traditionally they go straight in the plot on the shortest day but with the weather we’ve had I’m starting them off in 3″ pots with compost and some Vitax Q4 to get them going. There’s 5 Hative de Niort and the rest are Golden Gourmet that I grew last year.
The rest of the morning I spent digging over the plot which has now all been dug apart from the patch of parsnips and PSB left. I’ll dig in some well rotted chicken manure and I should then be ready for the new season.
Tomorrow I’ll plant the raspberry canes I bought a few weeks ago and put these bulbs in containers – Rach picked them up for 50p each from B&Q. I’m hoping that I can get the Tulips to grow and flower in April and early May.
There’s been some good discussions recently on the UK Veg Gardener’s forum. If you’re not a member yet why not join and benefit from the expertise on the site?
Off the plot I’ve joined Hugh FW’s Fish Fight campaign – what a crazy policy we have were good fish get thrown back into the sea dead because the fishermen are not allowed to land them. Surely there’s a more common sense approach?
And don’t forget the Save Our Forest petition against the proposed goverment sell-off of some of our most precious woodlands. Over 135,000 of us have signed the petition so far, join us here. For more info click here.
Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend.
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.
Finally got some plants in today and a tour of the veg plot is showing a very healthy position indeed. I’ve planted out a row of broad beans that I grew in toilet rolls next to the couple of rows that I sowed direct that are starting to come through. Next to them 18 cauliflowers, (Snowball), and 6 calabrese (Aquiles) have gone in. The rest of the bed is now full of spuds, Anya and Charlotte and a couple of rows of maincrop (think they’re King Eddies). At the other end of the bed are half of dozen PSB, my nemisis, but a close inspection revealed loads of tiny purple heads so it’s getting quite exciting now as I should be picking PSB in the next couple of weeks! Only 12 months after I planted them, they better be good!! As soon as they are harvested the runner beans and climbing french beans will take their place. So that’s the large back garden bed full up.
In the medium bed there’s the long carrots, a few spring cabbages, some salad crops (lettuce, salad bowl and red deer’s tongue, spring onions Lillia and white lisbon and a mix of radishes) and finally parsnips, which have germinated! So that bed is full up as well, I will just replace the spring cabbages with something when they are ready. The small bed is full with onions, shallots and garlic which have all sprouted nicely.
I’ve also dug over the front garden veg bed and flower bed so they are ready to plant up. More tulips have come out today which is great to see.
I’ll be planting dahlias in the front flower bed in a few weeks.
The BBC DigIn seeds arrived today so more sowing to be done!
I also managed to mow the lawn and Dad popped up and jet washed the patio and conservatory for me so all in all a good few hours work. It’s great to see some nice warm weather at last. Grand National and FA Cup Semi Final for me from 4 o’clock and a family day out somewhere tomorrow.
A day of showers today so I could only do the odd bit here and there after we got back from shopping in Salisbury. I noticed Homebase had 20% off and I picked up a pot of 4 runner beans for 78p (they’re well ahead of mine as I’ve not sown any yet!) and a tray of 10 celery for £1.60. I had no intention of growing celery before I popped in there but I couldn’t resist something I’d never tried before (will have to read up on it as I have no idea what I’m doing). In Poundland I bought a blackcurrant and a couple of rose bushes along with some pots and string. Chloe’s feet haven’t grown as much as we thought so there was no need to buy shoes which was a result!
In the ground went a globe artichoke I bought the other week, and the blackcurrant and rose bushes. I’ve now filled up the greenhouse and mini-greenhouse with more potting-on as you can see. On the veg front I sowed dwarf and climbing french beans in toilet rolls.
The first tulip is threatening to bloom.
It poured down for about 12 hours last night through this morning and the garden is like a bog so nothing done on the veg plot today. I would have planted some spuds as the tradition goes but no chance with all that rain.
I got a few indoor jobs done in the morning and by 2 the sun started to poke through so I grabbed a couple of hours out in the garden. The daffs are finally in full bloom and looked great in the afternoon sun (you can see the tulips in the background, they’re some way off yet).
The greenhouse is getting full so I set up the mini-greenhouse that I bought last weekend. I put it against the back fence which is south facing and gets full sun all day. It’s tied to the fence and I’ve also driven in two iron rods which I’ve hooked over one of the tiers so there’s no chance of it blowing away (famous last words!).
I potted on some Arabis, Erysimum, Gazania, Antirrhinum, Impatiens and Sweet Peas which pretty much filled it up. In the greenhouse there’s calabrese, cauliflowers, leeks, broad beans, red orach, nasturtium, french marigolds, more sweet peas, sunflowers, dahlias (from seed and tubers in pots), primroses, a blueberry, onions, little gem lettuce and carrots (Amsterdam Forcing) all coming on nicely.
On the plot I noticed that my long carrots have started to germinate. They’ll now grow on for a while before I thin out to the strongest seedling. The onions, shallots and garlic are all sprouting. The spring cabbages are showing signs of life and the salad veg has all germinated. Still nothing from the PSB, how much longer do I have to wait? The overwintered lettuce is starting to thicken up, I’m sure if I’d have deployed the plastic bottle cloches before the snow it would have been ready to pull up by now!
My chillies and peppers have germinated but it’s slow going, no true leaves yet. I paid a visit to B&Q last weekend to see what they had and bought a Scotch Bonnet plant marked up at 78p. When it went through the till it came out at 21p so I went back and bought another 10 plants, yellow bell pepper, Californian Wonder and Fresno Supreme. At that price I thought it was good value as they each have half a dozen leaves on them.
Indoors the plants are coming on well. Chillies, peppers, courgette, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, pansies, asters, marigolds and sweet peas. Just waiting for Cerinthe to germinate. And last of all I love the flowers on this Fritillaria meleagris.
Hopefully the plot will dry out soon and I can get those spuds in!!
It turns out I don’t know my trumpets from my doubles, my multi-headed from my large cup, the list goes on! I didn’t realise that showing spring flowers was so complicated. Add the fact that only a couple of the 100 or so daffs I planted in Autumn are starting to show themselves and apparently I should have already cut them in preparation for Saturday’s show. To heap misery on the situation the tulips are weeks away and I don’t even grow hellebores or container primulas. I give up!
So I will just be a spectator come Saturday afternoon rather than in the running for a 1st or a cup. I’ll have to wait for the Summer show to take on my local rivals!