Planting out potatoes…

I normally plant my potatoes in these potato barrels but this year I have swapped to 3 large potato bags and some small black plastic potato exhibitor growing bags.  The large ones came with the growing selection I bought from Thompson and Morgan back in January (see here), in addition I bought some ‘Anya’ variety and the small growing bags.  The main problem with the normal barrels is that even though you can lift the sides to ‘grub’ out a few potatoes at a time, in the end you really have to take the lot out and it’s quite a few to eat in one go (the barrels take 5 seed potatoes each and they are best eaten as soon as possible although they do keep in the fridge).  In the grow bags I have just planted 3/4 per bag and then the small exhibitor bags have only 1 seed potato each, that way I figure I can harvest them one at a time, which should work out better.

As usual they are planted about 2 inches from the bottom and covered in soil (I use John Innes No 2), once they sprout I keep adding more soil to cover the stems of the leaves until the bag is full, then I will wait until they have flowered and eat them 🙂

And so, now all outside (please, no frost!!) I have

Charlotte – 3 in large growbag and 2 in small (They sent an extra potato by mistake)

Inca Bella –  5 in small growbags

Piccolo Star – 3 in a large growing bag and 2 in small bags

Anya – 4 in a large growbag and 1 in a small one

Lastly, I’ll put some organic slug pellets under the bags to keep the slugs at bay, even though I’ve used nematodes over the garden, just in case.

Fruit and Bachelor’s Jam…

We have quite a few red fruits in the garden; strawberries, blackberries, cherries, redcurrants and blackcurrants, so I decided to make a small batch of bachelor’s jam (or Rumtopf as the Germans would call it) using the recipe from the River Cottage Handbook No 2 (Preserves).

I’ve kicked off with some local Kent strawberries (500g), a bottle of rum and 250g sugar.  Instead of the traditional ceramic container I’m using a 2 litre le parfait preserving jar (as I have loads of them) and I figure that 2 litres of alcoholic berries is enough, especially as I’m the only one who drinks in this house!

Over the summer I will keep adding fruit and sugar to the jar and turning it until it’s full.  I lined 4 of the short edges of the vegetable patch with Alpine Strawberries last year so we will have loads spare and this seems like a good way of using them up.

The fruit I grow in the garden are:

Blackcurrant – Delbard Robusta

Redcurrant – Red Lake

Red Gooseberry – Hinnomaki

Cherry – Lapins, Colt

Strawberry (Alpine) – Mignonette

Rhubarb – Champagne & Timberly Early (actually a vegetable I think)

Blackberry – Thornless

Fig – Brown Turkey

Blueberry – not sure what kind, I grew it in a pot at our last house

Crab Apple – Red Sentinel

Medlar – Nottingham

I am also growing Melon Edonis in the greenhouse.

The crab apple and medlar are new (I planted them last year) so this will be the first time I can pick fruit from these and I’m rather looking forward to it as there are quite a few flowers on the medlar tree.

Squash and Pumpkin planting 2011…

I’m very late (by my usual timing) to start the squash and pumpkin seeds but I wanted to hold it off to the last minute so I will be able to clear the earlier crops from the raised beds to make room (they are normally planted in the huge containers I bought especially for the job, but this year I swapped everything around and these have root and salad crops growing in them).

This year I am planting

  • Turk’s Turban
  • Butternut Harrier F1
  • Sweet Dumpling
  • Buttercup
  • Queensland Blue
  • Hooligan
  • Mariana di Chioggia
All pictured above, with the ‘Buttercup’ and ‘Sweet Dumpling’ in the same shot (the images that I have had to ‘borrow’ here are ones that are also on the seed packets so hopefully no-one will mind).
  • Dill’s Atlantic Giant
  • Gem/Rolet

The only changes to my normal list are the Queensland Blue’ (which is to replace the Crown prince’ that I normally grow) and a new pumpkin, Hooligan’ which I think it similar to the ‘Sweet Dumpling’ in that it’s a nice neat size and is orange and white.

The seeds were soaked overnight and planted 2 per 15cm pot in the greenhouse.  The seeds are pushed about 1 inch deep and left to germinate in a warmish spot covered in plastic and kept moist, if both seeds germinate I’ll remove the weakest (the seeds are pushed in vertically to stop them rotting, doesn’t matter which way up) and they will be planted out in June.

Right now I’m getting the garden ready for C’s Birthday lunch, he turned 4 today (where did the time go?!) and M has taken the boys swimming.  I’m quite mean, I refuse to do the big party thing until he gets to school, he doesn’t have any firm friends yet and he’s happy to get his presents and a have just the family here.  I have made a Piñata in the shape of a fish, I think the boys will enjoy being actually allowed to hit something until it breaks 🙂

Planting out the tomatoes…

Oh I’ve been a very busy bee in the garden, taking advantage of this beautiful weather and forgetting that it could all stop in an instant and plunge us back into chilly nights and a possible frost.  I do hope not as I’ve been lulled into moving out lots of the greenhouse plants, starting with the tomatoes.

I normally plant these in cheap green buckets with holes drilled in the bottom, as above,  but this year I’ve decided to use the apple crates that I normally plant salad leaves in.  I’m a bit miffed actually as after emptying and re-lining (with plastic) the vintage crates I can see clearly that the woodworm has pretty much eaten away all the lower wood.  I wrote about this ages ago as I was quite cross just how bad the woodworm was when the crates arrived, I really do feel it should have been mentioned in the description, they will be going on the fire at the end of this season.

The new plan-a-box crates have also proved a disappointment, they are tacked and not screwed together so fell apart the first year as they warped in the weather, I’ve screwed them back together for now but again, not ideal.

The plants have been popped in John Innes No 2 or 3 quite deep, up to the seed leaves (which I nipped off) so they will form roots along this newly buried stem, really they should have been potted on at least once into bigger pots first but I am simply too lazy and am happy to take the risk the plants might get a bit stressed trying to fill out their new space.  They also will need staking and their side shoots 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.

For now I have planted out:

Tomatoes

Sungold x 2

San Marzone x 2

Tigerella x 4

Ildi x 4

I still have the Brandywine x 3 in the greenhouse and I think these will go in the usual buckets and mostly be grown inside.  The main reason for my moving everything else outdoors is simply so I can water it all with a single sprinkler when we go away, I intend to set a timer this year and keep my fingers crossed.  On which note, still no rain, it has been weeks and weeks since there was even a small dribble of the wet stuff here and the large trees on the border are looking a bit pathetic.  Much as I’m loving this sun, I really would like some rain soon.  Please.

We are due a cold night tonight so I will be sure to cloche everything and hope I haven’t been premature with my outside move!