Tomatoes & Late Frosts…

Well, as predicted we suffered from some late frosts over the past few weeks, I had been keeping an eye on the overnight temperatures so managed to protect most of the tender vegetables with cloches (namely the squash, beans, potatoes and some tomatoes I had planted out), sadly I ran out of cloches for the courgettes and they have died a rather dismal death!  I have replaced 2 of the 4 with my ‘mystery’ seedlings from the germinated squash/courgette/cucumber seeds that had been returned to the compost pot and the other 2 I have left to see of any life returns (although I still have some ‘unknowns’ to pop in later if they don’t recover).

Also, I’ve struggled to germinate all my sweet corn, you need to plant in blocks of a minimum of 9, ideally 12 to get wind pollination so I have ordered and planted new seed of the same variety in the hope they can catch up with the 5 that have germinated.  Annoyingly it took 10 days for these seeds to arrive so there is definitely going to be a gap, I fear this may effect how many kernels I get but as always, time will tell.

The big success has been the tomatoes, they recovered amazingly well from their earlier floppy selves after being planted in larger pots very deeply and removing the seed leaves.  I have potted most up into their final ‘buckets’ with some JI No 2, the Brandywine and Tigerella are for growing in the greenhouse and the San Marzone, 100’s & 1000’s and Sungold are for outside.  For the first time I am growing some in the raised beds, there are a few gaps in my cut flower beds that I have decided to fill with vegetables as I’d rather that then they go empty.

They need staking and their side shoots have to be pinched out as they grow (the jaunty stem growing at an angle between the main stalk and the side stems), once they flower I will feed them once a week and keep tying them in to stop them falling over.  I will also pinch out the growing tips once there are about 6 trusses of flower.  More here on all that.

I think a quick photo update of the beds is best as I’ve lost track of what is and isn’t planted, for now I’m off the make the most of the beautiful sunshine while it lasts 🙂

Early May Round-up of the Vegetables…

Time for a quick catch-up, as it’s all go in the vegetable patch and there’s quite a bit to write about.

Finally germinated after initial failure…

Climbing French Bean – ‘Barlotto Lingua di Fuoco’ x 10

I re-planted new beans in fresh soil after the original failure to germinate, but following a bean growing project I did with Felix where we planted his beans in an old see-through yoghurt pot (planted against the side so we could watch it grow – we did this as kids in jam jars and I figured he would enjoy it) I used smaller see-though yoghurt pots, with holes punched in the bottom, that way I could see the germinating beans and not have to keep prodding in the soil.

Worked a treat and they are now planted out with canes for support, in two rows.  The rows are 45cm apart and the beans about 20cm apart, so 5 per row.  The support canes are tied together at the top and I’ve covered the whole bed in netting to stop the evil pigeons getting in.

Climbing French Bean – ‘Blue Lake Climbing‘ x 5

I haven’t replanted these although now my see through pots are free I might put some in.

Squash‘Sweet Dumpling’ & ‘Crown Prince’

I have mad mass germination of all the courgette and squash seeds that I’d given up on and emptied back in the compost bucket.  I’m not entirely sure what they all are (I’ve saved 5 by planting them up into pots) but for 2 I could see the actual seed shell still and think I’ve got 1 each of ‘Sweet Dumpling’ & ‘Crown Prince’. I will plant one on the compost pile and it looks like my ‘Butternut Harrier F1‘ isn’t really growing so the other can go in that giant pot.

Cucumbers – ‘La Diva’ & ‘Tasty Burpless’

All new seed germinated well, they are waiting in the greenhouse to be potted up.

Aubergines – ‘Turkish Orange’ & ‘Violetta Ferenze’

Again, the new seeds have germinated, some only just but I should get at least 2 of each plant.

Still in the greenhouse…

Are all the salad seedlings (or plants as most are now).  I am waiting for the nights to get a bit warmer then I’ll plant them up into final pots, most will be grown in the greenhouse but some (half the tomatoes, the cucumbers etc) will go outside.  The tomatoes have made an amazing recovery from their limp earlier selves and potting them on deep has given them good strong stems, so that’s great news.

Newly planted in the greenhouse…

Melon – ‘Edonis‘ x 3

Kale – ‘Red Bor‘ x 2 & ‘Cavalo Nero‘ x 2

Purple Sprouting Broccoli – ‘Rudolph’ x 2, ‘Red Arrow’ x 2 & Late  Sprouting x 2

Kai Lan

Sweet Corn – ‘Sweet Nugget‘ x 12

Beetroot – ‘Pronto’ & ‘Burpees Golden‘ in a gutter for planting out later (second sowing).

Pea – ‘Sugar Snap‘ in a gutter for planting out later (second sowing).

Finally…

I moved the potato barrels out last week as they are getting quite heavy, they need ‘earthing-up’ as the foliage grows, which as I plant in containers simply means keeping the stems covered in soil so they are kept in the dark and potatoes can form all the way up.  I simply tip John Innes 2 in every so often, making sure I leave the top leaves free.  Once the soil reaches the top of the barrel I will start the feed the plants but more on that later.

I also found this strawberry/herb pot in my local garden shop and have used it to plant some of the Alpine Strawberry plants that have been sitting in the greenhouse since last year.  The Strawberry pot is really rather small but it’s better than letting them got to waste and as Charlie is addicted to picking them off the plants in the raised beds, he has a few more plants to go at.

I noticed that Crocus have a brilliant ‘Young Plants Collection‘ collections for anyone who has left it too late to start from seed, this would have been my back-up had the tomatoes not recovered and I have resisted the urge to buy anything I’ve missed as really there is no growing room left in the garden once everything is planted out.

OK, kids to feed, laundry to do.  Hopefully we’re getting to the end of the lists and this blog will get a bit more photo and recipe orientated over the next few months 🙂

April Eating…

Despite the pigeons best efforts to destroy my Purple Sprouting Broccoli, we have still managed a pretty decent crop.  The birds took out all the leaves early this year, so quickly that I didn’t have a chance to do anything about it, but as soon as I noticed I covered the remaining stalks (with the odd half leaf still attached) with netting and it did the trick as the plants revived and have been producing quite a decent crop.

Harvesting them is pretty obvious, you cut off the main stem first and then the side shoots should keep growing to provide lots more florets.  They taste a lot nicer than shop bought but do need a good wash before eating (unless you like added protein!).

Back in March the rhubarb looked as above, but now it’s turned into a triffid!

It’s only year three for the rhubarb crowns, in the first year I didn’t pick any stems, as that’s what the ‘rules’ say and in year two I picked only a few but as you can see it’s totally paid off because I can now harvest to my hearts content.  I had hoped to make something yummy, maybe some jam or chutney and so add some fancy photos and recipes to this post but time has flown so I shall get this published and add another cooking post at a later date….oh, I did make rhubarb bellinis last year which were rather nice and worth making again.