Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Can You Have Too Many Tomatoes?

I think I have.  After I lost the first lot of seedlings to frost in the greenhouse - I re-sowed, and I re-sowed BIG TIME.  Far more than I need, far more than I have ever sown before.  I normally plant about six for the greenhouse and three for outdoors - that is plenty for us, enough to eat fresh, cook with and freeze.  But for some reason I got a bit carried away and  have grown more double that, they have all taken and are growing well - and I can't bear to get rid of the surplus - so, what to do with them all.

Well, here are the six for the greenhouse all planted up. 

Then there are another three in the greenhouse.

Three in a growhouse outside

Three in a trough outside protected  with acrylic sheets, plastic and clothes pegs to hold it all together.  At the side is a container of runner beans given the same treatment.  And the rest are at the plot covered with a plastic 10ft. long tunnel cloche.  That makes about twenty four tomato plants.  If they all survive to produce fruit I will be inundated with tomatoes - ratatouille anyone?

Three planted in a large hanging basket but kept in the greenhouse till the weather improves a bit.

As the weather was so good at the weekend I got loads of planting out done - I didn't want to have to pot everything on again so they will have to take their chance against the elements now.

Courgettes in containers protected with bell cloches, the others for the plot haven't gone in yet.

Two cucumbers in the greenhouse, the other three outside - I don't normally grow them outside but  this year the plants are strong and they have all grown really well, but if the slugs get at them I won't be too bothered as two plants is plenty.

Did you manage to get plenty of gardening done over the holiday weekend?
The weather was a real bonus - something that doesn't happen
very often on a Bank Holiday - shame it didn't last.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Transplanting Tomatoes . The Salad Bar and Veggie Progress

A bit of sunshine, a bit of rain and a lot of grey skies this week.  Sunday was glorious and I managed to catch up on a lot of gardening jobs.  There is so much to do at this time of year that it is hard to  know where to start.  A lot of things are ready to be planted out - I have already planted some brassicas - cabbage, broccoli - and yesterday the runner beans went out at the plot, covered with fleece and liberally sprinkled with slug pellets, just in case.

I spent yesterday afternoon transplanting tomatoes into bigger pots - I still don't have room to put them into their final growing positions.  I have three each of six different varieties - the Gardeners Delight and Sungold are for outside and the Marmande, Roma and Alicante are for the greenhouse - the other is Black Russian which I tried last year but they got blight very quickly - so I'll give them one more go this year - if they succumb to blight again they will be scrapped permanently.

I also potted on the cucumbers which are doing fine at the moment, I sowed more than I needed as I always lose some to stem rot - fingers crossed, so far so good.

One of the courgette plants has already been attacked by a snail in the greenhouse so I have moved them outside into the growhouse out of snail-reach I hope.  A few butternut squash have refused to germinate and the summer squash are very slow to progress - not sure why this is - is it too late to re-sow?

The sweet peppers don't seem to be putting much growth on either, maybe it just hasn't been warm enough for them - I may have to resort to buying a few plants.

The rhubarb patch is threatening to take over the world - I can't seem to pick it quick enough.

The peas in the trough are beginning to flower

The redcurrants are showing great potential for a good harvest this year

As are the broad beans

The potatoes in containers are putting on lots of growth

The Lollo Rosso lettuce is showing off its wonderful colour
And the salad leaves which I am growing in washing-up bowls have settled in nicely

Time to pull up the purple sprouting broc which is going over

And this cow parsley has taken over a corner of one of the raised beds - I have left it because it looks so pretty but I will dig it out before it sets seed and 'cos I need the space for something a bit more edible.

Still plenty to be getting on with - there aren't enough hours in the day at the moment.  But I don't think it will be long before I will be starting to harvest  some lovely fresh veg.

Have you any veg ready for harvesting yet?

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Exotic Veg . New Fruit and Fresh Herbs

I got caught up with the excitement of James Wongs' Homegrown Revolution and decided to give one or two of his 'exotics' a try.  I bought Cucamelons, Tomatillos and Inca Berries.  The greenhouse mouse has decided to give the Inca Berries a tasting session and the seedlings have disappeared - so I'm left with just the other two to experiment with.

Cucamelon seedlings
They both have been very slow in making any progress, perhaps it hasn't been warm enough for them, so I'm not sure what the end result will be - James seems very confident that they are easy to grow - I'll keep you updated as to how they get on.
I seem to be going through an adventurous phase at the moment and have also bought Tayberry, Loganberry and Goji Berry bushes for the soft fruit garden.  The plants are tiny at the moment so I have put them in containers till I figure out where they are going to go.



Goji Berry
 The Logan and Tay berry bushes look very similar - I have no idea what the fruit will taste like, my feeling is that is will be a bit sour - it says on the label that they will take a couple of years before they fruit - so I will have a long wait on my hands.  As for the Goji berry I have just read that they grow like a weed given the right growing conditions, so I may well regret my purchase.

As you probably know if you read my other blog I do like to let things self-seed in the flower garden because it gives for a more natural look to the borders.  Well I also do the same with the herbs and things like parsley and chervil pop up all over the raised beds, which is great because it means I don't have to go to the trouble of sowing new seed every year.

curly parsley seedlings

plain leaf parsley seedlings

already flowering - it goes to seed very quickly
 Cuttings that I took last year of the three different types of sage are bulking out nicely and looking very healthy - not that I use that much sage when I am cooking - but it does look pretty good in the garden.
Variegated sage
Purple sage
and Common sage

These are all the different herbs that I have in the garden at the moment including hyssop, tarragon, lovage, sorrel, marjoram, oregano, chives, thyme - so really I have no excuse not to use them more when I am cooking, but I do find that I only use mint, thyme and parsley and occasionally basil when it is in season.  I have a couple of pots of basil in the greenhouse, but it was pouring with rain so I couldn't be bothered to get wet just to take a photograph.

Are you trying anything new this year?

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Oriental Greens . Runner Beans and Other Things

The spell of really lovely weather we have been having has worked wonders in the garden.  I have more purple sprouting broc than I know what to do with, the broad beans are flourishing, the potatoes have pushed through and the seeds of parsnip and carrot have germinated.  Yay!

The raised beds in the Rosebank garden are filling out nicely, the large pots are waiting for courgettes and squash, the smaller black bottomless pots have parsnips and carrots in and I still have spring cabbage waiting to be eaten

The garlic and onions in the left hand bed are putting plenty of growth on now - all we need is a bit more rain to get everything well soaked - I know, I know shouldn't be asking for rain, but it saves a helluva lot of walking backwards and forwards with a watering can.

Oriental leaves going to seed
The oriental leaves that I overwintered in the greenhouse are now flowering and going to seed, I could eat the flowers of course, but I am going to try and save the seed for sowing next year.

One tray is still going strong though - I have picked over the leaves many times and they just keep on coming but I have been sowing successionally so that I have a constant supply.  When one batch of seed comes through I then sow another batch.

Here is batch number one coming along nicely

Here is batch number two - together with all the other salad leaves I have growing I should be well supplied with salads for the summer.

runner bean plants
I am growing five different types of runner bean and only one or two haven't germinated yet - I have sown more than I really need just in case there is some sort of slug-munching disaster or something.  The French beans have been a bit slower to germinate and are only just pushing through

The pot in the middle of the top row is a courgette just showing.  I won't be planting anything out till the end of May at least, so I may have to pot them on when they really take off.

Runner bean plant
Elsewhere in the garden the strawberries in the greenhouse and hanging basket are now in flower

Hoping for happy harvests this year

The parsnips that I had stored over winter have started re-shooting so I tipped them out of their pots and prepared them all for the freezer before they became soft and unuseable.  I don't fancy eating parsnips much during the summer but there should be enough  to see us through to the harvest this winter.

I love this time of year - there is so much going on in the veg garden with so much hope resting on fine weather - no slugs, no blight.  Well, we can but dream!  How is everything coming along in your garden?

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Greenhouse otherwise known as The Food Factory

chard seedlings
 Seedlings, seedlings, seedlings.  I climb into to bed,  rest my head against the pillow, close my eyes, and all I see is a vast sea of seedlings.  Yes, seedlings have become my life these past few days.

tomato seedlings
   Essential work of course at this time of year if you are growing your own veg.  I find it quite soothing standing in the warmth of the greenhouse with the wind and rain outside rattling the panes - ideally I would like a wind-up radio in there with me so I can listen to the afternoon play on Radio 4 or maybe some calming music - but for now, my mind wanders, whilst I am gently prising out the tiny seedlings, dibbling a hole and carefullly placing them into their new home.  It doesn't get much better than that.

brassica seedlings
 It is a bit like a production line in a factory - row upon row of newly transplanted seedlings, the labels regimented , standing in a row like soldiers.  Let's face it, it doesn't take much to make me happy.

lettuce seedlings
Over the years I have collected all sorts of modules and containers to use for transplanting seedlings.  But, my favourites, are the white plastic drinking cups you can buy  at the supermarket.  I make two or three holes in the base with a skewer and they are just the right size for a single plant, until they are ready to be planted out.

 I have my 'work station' all set out with my favourite dibber - labels, pots, cups, modules - a bag of potting compost at my feet - and away we go.  Hours pass without me realising - it is such a pleasant way of spending an afternoon - just me and the plants in a world of our own.  I can quite easily wax lyrical because it gives me such pleasure.  Maybe you don't have a greenhouse or polytunnel to work in, but wherever it is that you perform these tasks - you have to agree  that is is a good way to spend your time.

Do you love transplanting seedlings and working in the greenhouse as much as I do?

Why not visit me in my flower garden at Ramblings from Rosebank and check out what I am doing when I'm not busy growing veg.
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