Tag Archives: aubergines

Frostbite

The temptation at this time of year, with the greenhouse stuffed full of plants, is to get everything out into their final positions.  A word of warning though, a late frost can strike, even down here in the balmy south it can come calling up to the end of May.  It’s forecast for tonight so I’m on frost protection duty later covering any susceptible plants with fleece and newspapers – thankfully it’s only my potatoes and dahlias that I need to worry about!

DSCN2878

My father kindly built this potting shed for me whilst we were away on holiday last year. It comes off the north facing end of the garage and was a piece of unused land up until that point. During April and May it’s my main workstation where plants are sown, pricked out and potted on. An invaluable space that gives some protection from the weather whilst allowing me to be outside with the greenhouse door only a few feet away.

DSCN2879

As you can imagine the greenhouse is pretty full now. I’ve started to put the tomatoes – Alicante and Gardener’s Delight this year – into their final positions. There’ll be a couple of cucumbers at the end of the bed eventually. The tender crops – celery, beans, courgettes, pumpkins, squash – are all waiting to go out. There’s also some bedding plants to sort out as well. In a couple of weeks I’ll be left with the chillies, peppers and aubergines in pots on the staging with the tomatoes and cucumbers in the raised bed on the other side of the greenhouse. It’s amazing what you can fit into an 8′ by 6′ space.

DSCN2881

I have a few Savoy Cabbage that are starting to take off. Cabbage is a much maligned veg but I love them and will always eat plenty of cabbage and caulies through the year.

DSCN2882

You’ll remember I sowed parsnips and carrots in February. They’re starting to come on now and I’m hopeful they’ll be ready for the New Forest Show at the end of July.

DSCN2883

The parsnips are getting strong now.

DSCN2885

And finally my favourite veg for next month is broccoli and I’m looking forward to a good crop from this little lot. I plant quite close (9 inches) due to space limitations but I’ve found I still get a great crop. Cut the main head first then harvest the side shoots. Keep cutting before any of the heads flower to prevent a bitter taste developing. Can be frozen if you have too much!

That’s all for now, hope your growing season is going well with the promise of some fantastic harvests this summer.

April showers…..

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.

Windowsill

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.

Greenhouse

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!!

What’s Growin’ On

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!!

Greenhouse Sort Out

I spent the morning finally sorting out the greenhouse.

The tomatoes are moneymaker, gardener’s delight and golden peardrop in bottomless pots on a bed of gravel lined with plastic. The idea being that the gravel bed acts as a water retaining reservoir that the tomotoes longer roots can reach. And the pots themselves are watered with a liquid feed that’s taken up by the plants more fibrous roots. At the end of the greenhouse are two Carmen all-female cucumbers and around the edges of the beds are lettuce (lollo rosso, tom thumb and salad bowl), basil and french marigolds. The smell from the basil and marigolds should ward off the whitefly through the summer.

On the staging are the chillies (cayenne, cheyenne, scotch bonnet, apache), peppers (bell boy, redskin, leteus, denver, etiuda) and aubergines (bonica). I’ll take the shelves out of a couple of the mini-greenhouses and grow the spare tomatoes in end-on grow bags. I’m glad to get another job crossed off the list and everything looks a bit tidier now. Hope you’re having a good weekend!

Patience is a Virtue

Regular readers will know I’m a laid back grower, but when it comes to sowing seeds I can be a little impatient. Despite sitting on my hands I can’t resist getting a few seeds on the go towards the end of January. Now it was time to prick out those seedlings and let them grow on all cosy in a south-facing windowsill.

There were half a dozen Tomato ‘Golden Peardrop’, 4 Aubergine ‘F1 Bonica’, 6 Pepper ‘Annaheim’, 4 chilli ‘Cayenne’ and some Onions ‘Globo’. They should be OK on the windowsill with the radiator below giving them some gentle heat. I resisted sowing more, just a few Lettuce ‘Webbs Wonderful’ for some early salad leaves.

One veg that I will be sowing soon are parsnips. But we haven’t finished eating last year’s crop yet. There’s about 20 left from sowings almost a year ago. They’re such a reliable veg standing in the ground all winter. I’ve not had any trouble with pests and the pigeons and caterpillars don’t like them. If it wasn’t for their long growing season they would be the perfect veg.

Best of luck if you’ve already sown some seeds. If you haven’t then you have the patience of a Saint. I’ve tried to wait and failed miserably!!

And We’re Off!

Despite my laid-back approach to growing my own veg I can be a bit impatient at this time of year and today saw the first seed sowing for the Two Chances Plot.

Into a couple of unheated propogators went Onion ‘Globo’, Peppers ‘Etiuda’, ‘F1 Denver’, ‘Anaheim’, Chilli ‘Cayenne’, Aubergine ‘F1 Bonica’ and Tomato ‘Golden Peardrop’. The propogators will sit on the south-facing bathroom windowsill over a radiator so the seeds have a reasonable amount of warmth to germinate……..fingers crossed!

I used my standard approach to seed sowing. Filling up the cells with moist multi-purpose to about 2/3rds full, then topping up with seed compost. Sow the seeds on top of the compost then cover with a vermiculite. Seeds need a nutrient poor start hence the seed compost but it’s expensive so I keep its use to a minimum and when the roots start to form there’s a layer of multi-purpose to keep the plants going until they’re ready to prick out. That’s the theory anyway, based on an excellent talk from Ray Broughton last year. Check out one of my earlier posts for more detailed info on seed sowing.

What’s that I hear you say? Yes, I know it’s too early but I’ve been itching to get something underway since the New Year and seeds are cheap and I have them in abundance so what’s the harm? I’ll sow another batch in a month’s time and what I have left over will go into the Horticultural Society Plant Sale in May. If my first batch fails there will be less for the Plant Sale I’m afraid. Come the end of March I’ll select the strongest plants to grow on through the summer.

After much heated debate on UKVG following the announcement of the peat ban due to come into force I’m trialing a new peat-free compost this year from New Horizon which was highly recommended in recent Which magazine trials. I picked up half a dozen bags at Wyevale.

Have you got any compost recommendations? And any seeds on the go yet??

Aerial View

We’re having some work done at the side of the house and the scaffolding afforded me the opportunity to get a different perspective on the garden from just above the roofline.

There are a couple of veg beds in the front garden. The one by the front door you can’t see in this picture and it’s where the courgettes, squash, strawberries and raspberries live. At the far end by the road you can just see the newest bed behind the trees. In there are beetroot, brussels, sweetcorn, squash, pumpkins, celery, sprouting brocolli and cabbage. By the drive is the main flower bed and the rest is the girls domain with toys everywhere!

Most of the veg growing is in the smaller back garden where I have 3 beds and a greenhouse. Having just dug the onions and potatoes there’s quite a bit of space now, a month ago it was packed solid.

The aubergines are going mad in the greenhouse. I bought these two as tiny plants at our spring show so have no idea what the varieties are. One is producing a few standard looking egg-shaped fruits and the other is throwing out loads of long thin paler ones. Any ideas?

And so are the cucumbers, now we have more than we know what to do with.

I’m really pleased with the progress on the pumpkin front. These are Rouge Vif d’Etamps from seed Maureen kindly sent to me.

And the squash have been great this year.

There’s also plenty of colour in the garden, these are Asters, Appleblossom.

And the glads and the sweet peas are still going strong.

Lastly I’m really pleased with my first attempt at Dahlias, definitely going to grow more next year, I don’t think you can beat them for colour.