Wednesday, 30 May 2012

How Does My Garden Grow?

Well, let's just say everything is out of the greenhouse and in the ground.  Here are the runner beans planted out and climbing their supports - one or two have been nobbled by slugs already.
The squashes have survived so far, I didn't have the room to plant them as far apart as I would have liked, but we can't always have what we want.

The potatoes aren't as vigorous as they normally are - but if you remember - I have experimented with them this year - not earthing them up with soil - just covering them with straw.

The peas are quite short as the moment but already in flower, which is a bit disturbing, just hope they put on a spurt of growth whilst we are away.

The French Beans and Spinach are still the same size as when I planted them - don't know what's going on there.
The Broad beans behind last years' Chard are full of flower - but again, not very tall - behind them is a cloche covering some lettuce which seems to like it in the shade at the back of the bed.

And if anyone is interested - this is what a Parsnip looks like when you don't dig it out.  I have decided to leave it and see what is looks like when it is in flower.
This long view of the veg patch makes it look as though it is pretty full of stuff - but it is probably all the weeds you can see - I can't quite seem to get on top of them at the moment.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Empty Greenhouse Syndrome

You know how it is - you fill the greenhouse with seedlings, you nurture them through the cold weather, you pray they will start growing - then what happens - a couple of days of sunshine - and off they go.  The greenhouse slowly empties and your little plant babies flee the nest and go out into the big wide world.

It has been full steam ahead with the plantings - all the runner beans have gone into their final places and the bean poles have been erected.

The tomato plants have said goodbye to their greenhouse companions

The tumbling tomatoes are now hanging from their hooks in the garden and all I am left with is the leeks

and the potatoes in containers
and a new sowing of beetroot

at last the greenhouse can breathe and what is left has room to grow.

Now all I have to do is try and keep everything safe from the weather, pigeons, mice and birds.  Not an easy task.  All I can hope is that my little babies will grow into fine adults with lives of their own and that they don't come to any harm.  Aah what we mothers go through!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A Bit of a Squash!

From the middle of August the path was completely lost in a sea of huge leaves and trailing stems of triffid vigour that manage to be brittle, succulent, bristly and hollow all at the same time.  Frost hits these like a blowtorch, leaving the exposed fruit sitting on the ground like an abandoned clutch of monstrous eggs - Monty Don

Pinned Image
via pinterest
Every year I have a go at growing winter and summer squash, courgettes and cucumbers.  Some years I have more success than others.  Last year was disastrous except for courgettes and summer squash.  The weather was against me, and I fear it will be the same this year, the way things are going.  But - never say die - I keep on trying, and maybe, just maybe I will get a good harvest.

Summer Squash - Sunburst
In the greenhouse I now have several types that are growing reasonably well and I am beginning to transplant them into larger pots.  I am sure it is still too cold to plant them out yet, so I will just keep nurturing them indoors till I feel it has warmed up enough.
Spaghetti Squash
One of the drawbacks with all the plants from this family is that they require so much room to grow once they are in the ground and they don't do very well in containers.  I have tried a few times and the results weren't very good at all, even when the seed packet said they were especially for containers.  Some are referred to as 'bush' types, but even these seem to sprawl, and are not as compact as they are supposed to be.
Courgette - Midnight
As you can see in the picture above I planted two seeds in this pot and one is definitely a much stronger plant.  So when I pot them on I will keep the weaker of the two as a spare just in case anything goes wrong.  The thing is that even the weak ones seem to do well eventually, then you have a surplus of courgettes, that you haven't a clue what to do with.
Cucumber - Crystal Lemon
I have already had a disaster with the cucumbers.  Out of the four seeds that germinated I have lost all but these.  So I decided to buy a grafted plant to see if I could do any better with that.  It was quite expensive to buy and is one of the long cucumber types rather than the half-size that I prefer, but it will be worth the cost if I can get it to grow and produce cucumbers for the summer. 

Pinned Image
via pinterest
Do you have more luck than me growing squash and other plants of the Curcurbit family?

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato - Lewis Grizzard.

Earlier in the year when the time came to sow tomato seeds I decided to grow more for planting outside.  I have had great success with outdoor plantings in previous years, as long as they are the cherry types.  Last year I planted them out in April and they got absolutely battered by gale force winds and I didn't expect much from them, but, they picked themselves up and carried on producing fruit right through till October.

Not so this year.  Obviously the weather conditions are never the same two years running and my tomato plants are still lingering in the greenhouse - it has just been too wet and too cold.

You can see how tall they are getting - these are Sungold and Gardeners Delight both destined for planting outdoors.

The Marmande and Alicante have been put in their final positions in the greenhouse.  I use open bottomed pots on top of grow bags and support them with a locking device that slides under the grow bag with the cane held in position  by the curved ends  overlapping and holding it firm.  I have used this method for the last three years and it works really well giving the tomato roots plenty of space to reach down into the grow bags.  When the season is over and the plants have been removed I use the grow bags for planting winter lettuce - their isn't much nutrient left in the grow bags but the lettuce don't seem to mind.

The Tumbling Toms are slowly growing in their hanging basket on the floor of the greenhouse - three plants to the container - heaven knows when they will be hung outside. 

It is just a case of playing a waiting game with the weather , possibly till the end of the month, then they will just have to take their chance along with the rest of the crops waiting for a bit of warmer weather.  Meanwhile I will have to pot-on the other toms to give them a bit of room for their roots to develop and keep them going whilst I dither about wondering what to do.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Now and Then - Slow Progress in the Veg Patch

Because of the bad weather we have been having - cold and constant rain - I checked back on last years' photographs for the same time just to see what a difference the growing conditions have made to my crops.

The biggest surprise was when I checked out my greenhouse tomatoes
This was taken on 29th April 2011 - tomatoes already planted out in the permanent positions.

This  was taken on the 29th April of this year.  The plants are still waiting to be planted out, and are at least a third of the size smaller than last year - even though the seed was sown at exactly the same time.

The potatoes under fleece are through and about a foot high last year - this year they are not even showing yet.

The dwarf french beans had been planted out - this year they are still in pots in the mini-greenhouse

The broad beans were in flower  - this year they are half the size, no flowers yet.

All the containers had been planted up and were thriving - this year I haven't even considered sowing in containers yet.

The brassicas had all been planted out - there were even french marigolds in flower.  This year my brassicas are still under cover for fear of being washed out.  At the back of this bed the peas were over a foot high - this year they are only 3 or 4 inches.

The potatoes in sacks were reaching over the top - this year they are only just pushing through.

The weather was obviously much warmer at the end of April/beginning of May last year as there is considerably more growth on all the veggies and in the flower garden there were plants flowering then which are nowhere near flowering now.   I do realise that every year is different - but when the plants don't seem to be making any progress - I find it very frustrating.

When and if we get any warmer weather - it is going to be a big rush to get those things planted out which have been put on hold.  Meanwhile, I am just going to have to pot everything on into larger pots until the time is right to plant.

I think this is where a polytunnel would come in useful.  How is your veggie growing year progressing?
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