Saturday, 28 April 2012

Something starchy this way comes

Young potato plant
Young spring onions
Young radish plants
More sowing and planting out today: seven of each of basil and chillies in paper pots on the windowsill to replace the unsuccessful first batches.

I've planted out the last batch of leeks in bed zero, and since they took up a row and a bit, I finished the row with leek seeds. That's almost finished the packet of Carlton F1, almost all of which have germinated, and that bed is now full. I hope the spinach and turnips there hurry up - I will want that space for courgettes in about six weeks.

In bed nine I've sown two rows each of beetroots and turnips, leaving space for a couple more rows of something.

Bed five is now full, after planting another row of carrots (half a row each of Early Nantes and Nepal F1), but the radishes ought to be out of the way in another month and will be replaced with a final row of carrots.

Bed eight is also full - I put in another row of spring onions (White Lisbon Winter Hardy), but again there will be room for another row when the radishes (pictured) have been eaten. The second row has done much better than the first - although I protected the first sowing with garden fleece on frosty nights, they probably went in a bit early.

Finally, just to empty the greenhouse, I put three odd lamb's lettuces in the very corners of the runner bean bed.

Growth notes: The first potato plants are above ground now, all Epicure (the earlies). The maincrop spuds haven't appeared yet.

Three of the dwarf French beans have sprouted on the  windowsill, but still only two out of the twelve tomatoes, which isn't a great germination rate.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Tomato seedling

First tomato seedling
The first of the tomato plants has appeared in one of the pots on my windowsill. In one of the other pots there are two seedlings, but they appear to be weeds - they don't have the tomato's hairy stem. I used soil from the garden mixed with potting compost to make the bag go further, and some weed seeds must have been lying in wait.

In other news, the second rows of spring onions and carrots have appeared, the rows of lettuces and other salad leaves in bed ten are thriving, but something has eaten the turnip seedlings planted out in bed zero. I suspect it was pigeons, in revenge for the wire mesh over the brassicas. The spinach directly planted in bed zero has mostly appeared now.

The beetroot, spinach and turnips in bed five is mostly doing well, although some of the turnips went reddish-green and didn't grow as fast as the others. I suspect some had an easier time than others pushing roots through the paper pots, since some of the pots had a large hole in the bottom  and some were completely closed up.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Nettle soup

Nettle patch
There are a lot of nettles growing in the garden, and at the moment they're putting forth fresh, tender new leaves. Later, when they're tougher, I'll make a nettle tea fertilizer, but today I made nettle soup from the young tops.

Recipe: I fried a chopped onion (and a chopped leek) lightly to soften, added a couple of litres of stock, a chopped potato, and half a carrier bag full of nettle tops. Seasoned (tarragon), boiled for 15 minutes, then blended. Delicious. :)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Potatoes in

Chitted potatoes ready for planting
It's traditional to plant potatoes out on Good Friday, but I left it a bit later because the weather was cool that week, and because I wanted to put up the mesh cage over bed three without having to worry about trampling the potatoes.

Now they're all in the ground, the earlies in bed two and the maincrop in bed four. In the end there were 23 of each type to go in, 18 of each in the main beds, and five of each in the overflow bed.

I also planted out some spinach from paper pots (in bed zero), a row of chives in bed eight, and eight dwarf French beans in large pots. There's enough space in the overflow bed for four dwarf beans, and enough space in bed one (where some broad beans didn't make it through the winter) for another four. The chives and the French beans were impulse buys when I was getting the chicken wire.

If the chives and the early potatoes are ready at the same time, I can have potato salad. Mmmm!

Broad bean flowers

Broad bean flower buds
I'm rather surprised by the appearance of flowers on two of the broad bean plants which survived the winter. I was expecting the plants to get bigger first, and the blooms to appear later. Never mind, it will extend the cropping period if some start producing flowers this early (assuming the bees are up and about enough to do the pollinating.)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

I have built a replica of the Millenium Dome

Bed three cage
Bed eleven cage

Today I built cages to protect the brassicas from pigeons, using chicken wire. The cage over bed three is suspended from wires attached to a stake and the fence, the other one is a wood-frame structure. They are both pegged to the ground around the edges, and the separate sections of chicken wire are 'sewn' together with more wire.

I planted out the new batch of kale into bed three before building the cage, and I hoed round the surviving plants. There are still a few gaps for cabbages, which will be somewhat difficult to plant without taking the cage apart.

Your move, pigeons!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

First potatoes in

Purple choy sum, rocket, 3 rows of mixed salad, pak choi, and lettuce.
Today I planted the overflow bed with five each of the Epicure (early) and King Edward (maincrop) potatoes, and put a row of parsnip seeds along the other side of the bed.

I also planted out some seedlings - the pak choi in bed ten, where various lettuce-type plants have sprouted.

The second batch of beetroots and turnips have gone into bed zero, where the spinach seedlings have appeared. These are all intended to be quick-cropping veg to make use of the space which will have courgettes sown in it in June.

Other growth notes: the peas in bed eight have sprouted, and in the row next to them there are about ten of the first planting of spring onions. The leeks planted among the garlic in bed seven seem to be doing OK, and the next batch of leeks in paper pots have mostly sprouted - thirteen out of sixteen visible so far. The pigeons have pretty much demolished all the cabbages and started on the kale in bed three, though.