Tag Archives: Sweet Peppers

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The parsnips are getting strong now.

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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.

Pre-Show Checks

Well the countdown to the village show run by my local Horticultural Society has well and truly begun. It’s 6 days away so I’m going around the garden checking on progress and seeing what I think will be ready for the big day. For last years write-up click here.

The main classes are Master Gardener and Society Top Tray.

Master Gardener (display space 24″ x 24″) – One vase of flowers and 3 vegetables from the list. One from Sweet Peas – 9 of any variety, Gladioli – 2 of any variety, Dahlias – 3 of any variety, or Perrenials – 9 of any variety. And 3 from Runner Beans – 6, Cabbages – 2, Cauliflower – 1, Carrots – 3, Onions – 3, Peas – 6 (pods), Potatoes – 6 (one variety), Tomatoes – 6.

I didn’t enter this class last year as I wasn’t growing any flowers, it’s most likely going to be glads or dahlias with runners, carrots and potatoes I think. Or I don’t enter again this year and pool my best veg in the other classes. Decisions, decisions…..

Society Top Tray (display space 18″ x 24″) – 3 vegetables from the list:- Carrots – 3, Onions – 3, Parnsips – 3, Peas – 6 pods, Potatoes – 3 one variety, Runner Beans – 6, Tomatoes – 6. I’ll probably be relying on parsnips, runners and spuds for this one, possibly carrots if I have enough decent ones.

The Dahlia bed is looking good. I should be able to enter some of these into the show. The varieties I’m growing are Shooting Star, My Love, Firebird, Hayley Jane, Kennermaland, Vancouver, Black Cat, Le Baron and Pompon Flow Mix (various small ball types). In containers I have Bristol Stripe, Babylon Bronze, Atika, Kenora, Purple Gem and Kelvin Floodlight. For more Dahlia posts click here, here and here.

This is Shooting Star.

Hayley Jane.

Le Baron.

Black Cat.

The Gladioli are looking good, should have some ready at the right time.

Courgettes are a tricky class as I need three around 6″ long with flowers.

I need two cucumbers, they have their own class and can go into the salad veg selection.

The squash will go into the any other veg and selection of veg from my garden categories.

Peppers will go into the selection of veg category. Possibly some of the aubergines and chillies too.

The pumpkins are doing well. I’ve grown a couple of plants from the seeds Maureen sent me, the variety is Rouge Vif d’etamps.

And Chloe and I were in the garden harvesting the plum tree which produces hundreds of these tiny plums. Chloe loves them!

Don’t forget my free Land’s End Gift Voucher and Seed giveaway that I launched earlier this month. All you have to do is leave a comment on the post, just click here. I’ll be drawing the gift voucher winners and despatching the seeds towards the end of the month.

Dahlia update and More Veg

The Dahlia’s are getting quite big now, really filling out, and I am just about keeping up with the disbudding on the main plants. It’s strangely satisfying and hopefully I’ll be rewarded with bigger and better blooms shortly. I’ve got 16 plants from tubers, about 2/3rds have now shown their first flowers, and eight plants grown from seed. See my previous posts here and here for more Dahlia photos.

This one is Kennemerand, a real striking yellow flower.

Next is Shooting Star, a more subtle cream colour.

This one isn’t a named variety but has a pretty orangey ball shaped flower.

And here’s the pink version.

This one is Kenora grown in a container.

And finally a lovely Dahlia flower grown from the seeds that Maureen gave me. She has some fantastic Dahlia photos on her blog.

On the veg front things are going well with courgettes and squash in abundance, I’m giving some away as we have loads. The beans are getting into their stride now and I’m managing to pick a good handful of runners and french beans every other day now.

In the greenhouse I’m growing quite a few peppers this year. Fingers crossed I may be able to have green, red, yellow and orange peppers all at the same time if it comes off.

As it’s the first time I’ve tried to grow Aubergines I’m pleased that the fruits are forming nicely, they should fatten up in the next few weeks.

This is my favourite chilli variety, Cayenne, will eventually turn a deep red colour and is quite hot and perfect for cooking from fresh or for drying.

Hope you are having a great weekend. Please look out for a free giveaway/competition I’m running which will be coming up in the next day or so, I have loads of seeds to give away and all you will have to do is leave a comment. So look out for my next post.

Harvesting: Lettuce, Rocket, Cucumber, Tomatoes, Chillies, Courgette, Squash, Potatoes, Broad, French & Runner beans, Chard and Carrots.

So much to do!

Now is the time of year when everything on the plot comes to a head. The weeds are growing, space in the greenhouse is at a premium, plants need hardening off, watering if it’s hot, keeping an eye on the cold nights still to come, successional sowing, potting on, the list is endless. So whilst I’m indoors keeping an eye on the girls whilst Rach is out I thought I’d take stock of where I am and what needs to be done this weekend.

The large bed is full up. The front half is potatoes, Charlotte, Anya and Desiree. Then cauliflowers and calabrese, broad beans and, at the back, the purple sprounting brocolli plants which will be replaced with runner and french beans eventually.

The shallots and onions are doing well. Some of the garlic didn’t come up so I’ve filled in the gaps with onions that I grew from seed.

The front garden bed gets full sun most of the day. Strawberry plants line the edge and are in full flower. There’s some raspberry canes at the back and I’ve planted gladioli all along the house wall. There’s also a gooseberry and balckcurrant (I will be getting a couple more of these to put in). This will also be the courgette and squash bed, there’s one courgette already in and it’s protected at night by the water cooler bottle.

In the middle bed the spring cabbages are coming on, I planted them out quite late so they are not as big as I’d hoped yet and I desperately need the space for other plants that are in the greenhouse.

I’ve not been very successful with carrots so this year I’m growing some in containers, these are Amsterdam Forcing.

The purple sprouting is in full flow now, eating it pretty much every night.

The lettuce are coming on well, there’s a mixture of Artic King, Winter Density and Little Gem here. I’ve also sown salad bowl, lollo rosso and red deer’s tongue.

The greenhouse is full to bursting point as always!

The next crop of brassica seedlings and lettuce are coming through. I’ve not sown direct as I don’t have the space at the momemt. At the back are some more sweet peas and various pots with the mixed salad leafs from the BBC DigIn packets coming through. To the right are pansies ‘Joker’ that I’ve grown from seed.

The squash and tomatoes are coming on nicely.

It’s the first time I’ve grown Red Orach, they are ready to plant out now.

The chilli and peppers need potting on too.

And finally the dahlia tubers I put in pots have sprouted.

There is so much to do, here’s my list, I’m sure I’ve missed something!

1. Plant out / pot on courgettes and squash.
2. Pot on brassica seedlings (space not available yet).
3. Move beans into bigger pots until space becomes free on plot.
4. Tie up sweet peas and plant out remainder.
5. Pot on greenhouse tomatoes into final bottomless pots which will go on top of the gravel bed.
6. Plant cucumbers in their final spaces in the greenhouse.
7. Plant more gladioli bulbs.
8. Plant out unsprouted dahlia tubers.
9. Harden off and plant out rest of bedding plants that have been growing on in the greenhouse.
10. Mow lawns and tidy up edges.
11. Weed everywhere.
12. Sow successional radish, lettuce and beetroot.
13. See what is surplus to requirements for the Horticultural Society plant sale on May 22nd.
14. Pot on chilli and sweet peppers.
15. Plant out Red Orach.
16. See what containers are available and what I can plant in them to save space.
17. Get last of salad potatoes into compost bags.

Hope you all have a great Bank Holiday weekend whatever you’re doing and we get some sunshine in between the showers.

Wig-Wam bam

Spent the morning planting my sweet peas out. I made a couple of wig-wams, not perfectly geometrical by any means but I like that, very simple just bamboo canes and string. I’ve got around 60 plants so there was plenty to go in the main flowerbed around the wig-wams, some have gone into a big pot and the remainder are still in the coldframe. The varities are Appleblossom, Janet Scott, Princess Elizabeth and some seeds that Maureen kindly sent me. I’ve never grown sweet peas before so have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve pricked off any sideshoots so there is just one main stem and planted 3 per cane, hope that’s right!

Following my charity plant sale there was some space to fill up in the greenhouse so I sowed some runner and french beans. I also pricked out 20 or so Asters and about 50 pansies to grow on before planting out. So that’s the greenhouse full again!

The Red Orach are doing well.

I should really get the cucumbers in the greenhouse as they are getting quite big now on the bathroom windowsill.

In the conservatory are the squash, courgettes and tomatoes.

And the Chillies and Peppers are doing well, more space in the greenhouse required!

The Long Good Friday

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!!

Embrace the Dark Side

In previous years I’ve just grown veg, now I’m embracing the dark side and having a go at growing flowers. It’s a pretty miserable day here and I’ve been left alone to look after the girls. Rach is off at a local NCT sale helping out and trying to make some spending money for our holiday.

So in between nursery rhymes, painting, stories etc I thought I’d sow some flower seeds. I moved the operation indoors and the dining table became a temporary sowing area. I’ve recently received some seeds from Maureen which was amazing and a very kind offer. She has collected them from her garden, something which I need to learn to do this year! And put a little note on each packet to help me. There’s a whole host of them, some I’ve never heard of, so it’s exciting to learn more about them and to see their progress. Here’s the list:

Mixed Sweet Peas
Marigolds
Red Orach – hardy vegetable like spinach and deep red leaves mean it can be used as an ornamental border plant.
Mixed Dahlia’s
Sweet William – to be sown direct outside
Cenrinthe Major pururascens
Nasturtium tom thumb mixed
California Poppy ‘Golden Values’
Pumpkin Rouge Vif d’Etamps
Tomato Gardener’s Delight

I’ve sown all but the Poppies and Sweet William in a mixture of trays and pots filled 3/4 full with moist multi-purpose and topped with seed compost. After sowing I’ve covered the larger seeds with a thin layer of seed compost and the smaller ones with just a sprinkling of vermiculite. Then into the sink to soak up some water and then onto the windowsill. Job done!

Most of the seeds sown so far are up and well away with the first true leaves on the cauliflower, calabrese, onions, sunflowers and lettuce. I have some peppers and chilli seedlings coming on and waiting for the courgette and squash to germinate. I’m really pleased that all 3 cucumber seeds I’ve sown have come up as the seed I use, Dobies Carmen F1, is quite expensive at £3.75 for 6-8 seeds (although I do get 50% discount on that price ordering through my local Horticultural Society). If they survive the pack of seeds has latest me two seasons and I will manage to give one plant away each year as I only need two plants in the greenhouse to be self-sufficient in cucumbers from May-October (and we eat a lot of cucumber!). So all in all good value.

A week to go to our local Spring Show and my daffs are nearly there.

I’ve never entered, or even been to, the Spring Show before so have no idea what I’m doing other than what’s on the schedule. I was hoping to enter some of the flowers I planted as bulbs back in the Autumn. There’s a dozen daffodil classes of various sizes and types, a couple of tulip classes (no chance for me as mine are only 3″ out of the ground), flowering shrub, primula and a few other classes such as collection of spring bulb, mixed vase of cut spring flowers etc. Then there are handicraft, homecraft, photography, art, flower arranging and junior sections. We’ll see how it goes, I need to get my entry form in a couple of days beforehand so I will wait and see what I’ve got in the middle of next week.

Here’s the Plot Defender aka “Polo”, my dog, a rescue Staffie cross. He hasn’t featured on this blog before. He likes sticks and proving how destructible so called indestructible toys are (I used to have a Staffie as a kid, Grip, full pedigree name, Grip ‘The Dandy’ III – he used to chew up a car tyre in a few weeks!). Polo’s dislikes are cats and pigeons so he makes a great defender of my patch of earth.

Whilst I’ve been typing Chloe has been busy practising being the next Jackson Pollack!