|Vegetable Garden 2006|
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This page will include details of my vegetable growing exploits as they
develop in 2006.
For a summary of what I've learnt this year and will change next year, see Vegetable Lessons.
Jump to: aubergine, beetroot, broad bean, broccoli, brussel sprout, carrot, cauliflower, celeriac, chilli, courgette, dwarf bean, gherkin, haricot bean, herbs, kale, kohl rabi, leek, mushroom, onion, parsnip, pea, pepper, potato, raab, radish, rhubarb, runner bean, salad, shallot, sweetcorn, swiss chard, tomato, turnip
28 July - in the paddock; summer planting of kohl rabi in bed 3.
2 Aug - a trough of kohl rabi and a couple of short rows sown in the veg garden.
4 Aug - first signs of germination in the paddock.
12 Oct - my one and only surviving kohl rabi from the paddock. Strange looking veggie, tasting like a cross between a turnip and a cabbage.
22 June - I always sow runner bean seeds quite late as I already have broad, haricot & dwarf beans to crop first. Seeds sowed at my six station wigwam today.
1 July - I seem to have one particular trouble spot in the veg garden where nothing survives. The final test is that I've planted a small 4 station wigwam with the last of my runner bean seeds. If anything will grow there, surely they will.
4 July - I was beginning to think that my runner beans sown on 22 June were going to fail, when two of them popped up today.
9 July - only three runner beans from the first wigwam have germinated (disappointing) and two from the second wigwam (more promising).
17 July - a friend kindly gave me some runner beans seeds, so I've planted again around the three wigwam poles which did not germinate.
27 July - only one of the latest seeds germinated. There's definitely some kind of predator in the is corner which digs holes and eats seeds or roots, so I transplanted two runner bean plants from the four station wigwam (where six eventually germinated) to the six station wigwam to fill in the gaps.
24 Oct - I think the runner beans are just about finished now. They did very well in the end although the four station wigwam was by far the best. That back corner of the garden obviously needs some serious soil improvement.
2 April - sowed salad leaves and land cress outside front of greenhouse.
28 April - sowed some polycress; a favourite of mine with a mild peppery flavour.
4 May - it's taken a month but both lettuce and land cress have germinated.
25 May - polycress is ready for harvesting after only a month, marvellous!
1 June - the land cress is quite fiery, but I don't like tasteless salad and it provides a bit of zing when mixed with other salad ingredients and mellowed with a nice dressing. The other salad leaves are just like small lettuces.
22 June - planted saladisi in a low tub. Should be ready in 6-8 weeks and crop for 6 months or more. It's a mixture of onion white lisbon, chervil, basil sweet green, rocket, purslane, chicories, loosehead lettuce and lettuce valmaine.
24 July - saladisi ready for harvest and it's a nice mixture.
27 July - dug out the land cress as it's now become too fiery and a bit tough.
28 July - summer planting of land cress and polycress.
31 Aug - still harvesting from the saladisi tub which has been very successful.
10 June - potted up a gherkin to grow outside.
17 June - potted up remaining two gherkins, one in a hanging basket in the greenhouse, one in the potting shed.
22 June - got some new west indian gherkin and melothrie seeds (I know, it's a bit late) and sowed four of each in 2 inch pots. They're both salad/pickling cucurbits.
11 July - first Diamant gherkin harvested and used to top sweet beetroot salad.
17 July - gherkins now being harvested regularly, just a few at a time.
22 July - planted out my four west indian gherkin seedlings (at last), under cloches as I haven't hardened them off and they look pretty fragile. Disappointingly, none of the melothrie seeds germinated. I reported this to the supplier and they gave me a refund!
24 July - the two weakest of my west indian gherkins have already perished. Not shrivelled in the sun, but nibbled to almost nothing by something insect-like I guess, since they were cloched. Luckily, I didn't plant all four in the same spot.
26 July - pickled a small jar of diamant gherkins.
29 July - oooooops! one enormous gherkin hiding behind a very large leaf.
30 July - made a large jar of icicle pickles with that big fat gherkin.
I've germinated some of my own seeds from last year's crop plus some packet seeds. My seeds germinated more successfully but will they produce?
8 June - five pepper plants installed in greenhouse.
17 June - three pepper plants potted into a trough in the conservatory.
18 June - having potted up most of my peppers, I have learned from the latest episode of Gardener's World that they shouldn't be in multi-purpose compost which will promote lots of leaf but not fruit. Instead, the compost should be impoverished with grit, perlite or vermiculite. Too late for those in the greenhouse and already potted, as I can't believe disturbing and re-potting is a good idea. I've still got six left - I'm trying 4 outdoors (first one put out today) and I'll pot the others in compost mixed with sand and perlite.
9 Aug - I've got big trouble in the conservatory. The bug that first attacked my melon pears in the potting shed, which I then spent a long time eradicating from there, has now appeared in profusion in the conservatory and now the plants are too big and have too many leaves to clean the bugs off by hand. I had to ditch the trough containing three pepper plants.
23 Aug - much to my surprise, the outdoor plants all have peppers developing. They'll never get to red, but green pepper is ok too.
26 Aug - a big green pepper dropped off one of the potting shed plants. It's a fine specimen!
2 Sep - picked another very large green pepper, this time from the greenhouse.
20 Sep - another beautiful & very large red pepper, stuffed & roasted for tonight's main course.
I got so many chilli peppers from my plants last year that I've still got a seemingly everlasting supply of dried chilli flakes. So this year I decided just to try an almost ornamental bolivian chilli. Here's the supplier info:
10 June - potted up the first chilli and placed in the conservatory.
17 June - potted up the last three bolivian chilli plants, one for the conservatory, one for the potting shed and one in a hanging basket in the greenhouse.
24 July - flowers and the first fruit forming on this plant in the conservatory.
5 Sep - I'm clearing the veg plants out of the conservatory as they've made quite a mess and I want to clean it out this week. That means two bolivian chillis will have to go in a sheltered position outdoors, but may be at the mercy of the rabbits.
6 Sep - my best bolivian chilli plant is in the potting shed and as promised, some have ripened to a true fire engine red!
8 Sep - used my first bolivian chilli in today's pickled gherkins.
13 Sep - 3 jars of hot blackberry chutney, using up the ripe brandywines and 3 bolivian chillis.
10 Oct - It's unseasonably warm this week (I'm not complaining) but the weather has thrown the two outdoor bolivian peppers into confusion and they've started to re-flower.
23 Oct - two bolivian chilli plants hung up to dry in the stable. There's still two outdoors.
I've got two lots of aubergine on the go: Baby Rosanna F1 Hybrid (4) and Red Egg (8 potted on on 29 May).
4 June - first two aubergines planted in greenhouse.
8 June - one more added to greenhouse.
4 July - at last, my remaining red egg aubergines look strong enough for transplanting. Three went into the spaces preserved for them in the greenhouse.
5 July - potted up the last four aubergine red egg plants, three in the potting shed and one in the conservatory.
24 July - one aubergine (Rosanna) in the conservatory is flowering, the two red eggs are a bit slower.
14 Aug - trouble in the conservatory - the bug that first attacked my melon pears in the potting shed has now appeared in profusion in the conservatory and now the plants are too big and have too many leaves to clean the bugs off by hand. So, much as it pains me to destroy plants I have lovingly nurtured from seed, this unidentified bug is just spreading, so drastic measures are required. I removed two aubergine plants (one red egg, one Rosanna).
1 Sep - Harvested my first two aubergines from the greenhouse but those in the potting shed aren't producing. Like the conservatory, the plants are too big and all foliage. I removed one which was collapsing for lack of support and in danger of pulling other plants with it.
29 May - potted on 42 seedlings sown on 4 May. Not sure exactly what am I going to do with 42 celeriac plants! Certainly haven't got room to plant them all out in the garden.
23 June - planted out four seedlings, three outside the greenhouse (temporarily with bell cloche protection) and one in a pot.
29 June - potted up three celeriac into a trough.
30 June - eight celeriac planted out.
1 July - I've planted out another 12 celeriac, but I've still got 12 more and I'm out of room!
4 July - one celeriac has died. It's close to the 6 station runner bean wigwam where 3 stations are refusing to germinate. I think there's a creature eating plants, roots and seeds around here - a mole perhaps?
9 July - planted out all of my remaining celeriac today. How did I find the space? I abandoned the parsnip and onion areas of the veg garden in favour of these seedlings. Two replaced ones that had died and at least one of the newly planted ones looks unlikely to survive.
1 Jan 2007 - harvested the last of the delicious celeriac. None
of the plants grew a root of the size expected and I don't know why, but I
will try again
24 May - two plants, raised in the potting shed, planted out in the garden.
28 May - two more planted out in the garden.
29 May - last plant put in large pot.
12 Sep - have had a good harvest from these plants. Those in the garden are still producing, but the potted one is finished. I took the last pod from it today, a pod which I had purposely left for seeds (only three in it) before adding it to the compost heap.
28 May - four plants, raised in the potting shed, planted out in the garden.
29 May - last plant put in large pot.
12 Sep - I've had a brilliant harvest from these plants. They are still producing, but it's winding down now. I let one pod dry on the potted plant for seed.
21 May - two potato pots doing well now, although they took a long time to start. Both pots earthed up today.
11 June - both pots earthed up again, almost to the top.
29 June - a good pot tidy up, seven pots emptied and the spent soil used to earth up paddock potato bed 2 - I told you nothing goes to waste here!
19 July - an estimate of 60 or more pounds of spuds harvested from paddock beds 1 and 2. I'm very pleased, since I wasn't sure how they would grow in the rock that is my clay soil.
31 July - my hessian sacks arrived so I checked through all of the potatoes before storing them in this new packaging.
9 Aug - we harvested a basket of potatoes from paddock bed 6.
7 Sep - At long last my Christmas potatoes arrived yesterday - about three weeks late! Although two were bad and the others felt a little soft, I've planted them and crossed my fingers. I've got five tubs and nine planted in the veg garden where the sweetcorn was.
23/24 Oct - Earthed up potato pots 6, 7, 8 & 9 and sprayed all potatoes with Bordeaux mixture (protection from potato blight). Pot 5 was fully earthed up a little while ago and all 3 potatoes in it germinated. It looks very healthy. Pot 6 has two very healthy plants, pot 7 has one small but healthy looking plant, pot 8 has 3 fairly healthy plants but pot 9 has two sickly looking plants. 7 our of 9 in the garden have germinated although they are at quite different stages, from one or two well established two one or two just appearing.
I'm trying to grow mini cauliflower but my first six seedlings, which I germinated indoors, got destroyed by heavy rain after transplanting outdoors.
10 May - 7 planted in a trough which I am starting in the greenhouse covered with clear plastic. If successful, only four will remain in the pot, to allow the necessary room for growth.
12 May - 15 planted outdoors.
6 Aug - harvested my one & only successful cauliflower from the trough of four. Two others were tiny and went to the chickens.
12 May - planted outdoors and if it grows and survives, will give fresh winter veg from next January to April.
11 June - although there were early signs of germination on 28 May, these have all disappeared now, so I've planted out the four seedlings from the potting shed and re-seeded the drill to try again.
16 June - there are signs of germination.......
17 June - ......but the four seedlings have died. So, I re-seeded the left hand two feet of the drill. I've been here before - don't know if the hot sun fries the very young seedlings or something eats them. I've covered the drill with a cloche tunnel to see if this brings more success.
24 Oct - amazingly I have two healthy looking curly kale plants now.
5 Mar 07 - my first harvest and it's very good to have a leafy green veg from the garden at this time of year.
I'm growing three varieties of sweetcorn. Two are normal large cobbed ones called Jubilee (last years seeds) and Incredible. The third is Minipop, for baby cobs. All have been started in the potting shed, despite that fact that they don't like their roots disturbed to transplanting is always a risky business.
12 May - four minipop plants transferred outside, but covering with cloches overnight until they get established.
31 May - two remaining minipop plants transferred to large square pots.
2 June - 15 sweetcorn plants put outside, nine very well established and six "younger" seedlings. I ran out of room, so still have 4 seedlings in the potting shed if some of the 15 die.
20 June - none of my sweetcorn has died so what to do with the 4 remaining seedlings? Tried to sell them out front in the last three days, but no takers. Then my box fell over in the gusty wind today so it's decision time - throw them away or try them in the paddock? Can't bear to throw a living plant away, so they're now in the paddock. Crow dug a hole in the end of paddock bed 6, about two foot square and 8 inches deep. I filled it with Longfield compost, planted the four seedlings, then put green chicken wire around to stop the rabbits.
14 July - sweetcorn in the paddock seems to be growing nicely although
whether four is enough for pollination will remain to be seen. In
the veggie garden, I seem to have totally confused my minipop plants with
the normal sweetcorn. So I've got full size sweetcorn in pots (doh!).
Must be my age......
1 Aug - first sweetcorn harvested and very tasty but the cobs seem to have matured long before reaching full size.
23 Aug - I dug up all of the sweetcorn in the veg garden, which hasn't been a great success. The chickens are delighted as they get all the cobs not fit for us. I have looked at the fields of sweetcorn in the area and they look pretty poor too. I think that extremely hot spell was too early and too much and the cobs either matured before they were fully formed or didn't grow at all, depending on their progress when the hot spell hit. The four plants in the paddock look good but aren't ready. They may be getting too much rain now and not enough sun to ripen.
29 Aug - I picked a sweetcorn cob from the paddock, but when unwrapped from its foliage I found it wasn't fully ripened. More chicky treats!
12 Sep - a lovely juicy cob from the paddock.
11 May - outdoor planting of parsnip which takes weeks to germinate, so interspersed with red radishes which will crop quickly.
11 June - radishes growing well, but no sign of parsnip germination.
30 June - planted out two parsnips grown in potting shed, but I'm about to give up on the outdoor planting as there's still no sign of anything after 9 weeks.
9 July - gave up on the parsnip area and used it for celeriac. I've decided there's no fun in trying to grow this crop. They seem to be difficult to germinate and they are readily available and cheap in the supermarket. Anyone want my leftover seeds?
25 March 07 - I did manage to grow a grand total of three parsnips which were harvested and consumed today.
What's this? Free packet of seeds with Grow Your Own magazine. Raab Cima di rapa (also known as "Broccoletto" and rapini) is characterised by long slender stems, frilly green leaves and small flowers that look like mini calabrese or broccoli florets. The 60-day cultivar Cima di Rapa is ideal for the UK climate. Harvest before the flower buds open to get the sweetest flavour and a crunchier texture.
11 May - seeds planted outdoors, and cloched after germination.
11 June - advice was that this would be ready for harvesting eight weeks after sowing and to start cutting when the plants are about 4 inches tall. Well it's only four weeks and my plants are at least 6 inches tall so harvested some raab for tonight's dinner. Tasted good, but not as spicy as I expected. Perhaps that's because it's not fully matured yet?
30 June - another row of raab sown and already germinated on 3 July.
17 July - the new raab is scorched and dead, despite me watering it every evening.
28 July - summer planting of more raab. Now that the heatwave is ending, this might survive.
31 July - can't believe the raab has germinated in only 3 days!
8 Aug - sadly, the newly germinated raab has died again. No scorching sun this time, so it's a mystery!
9 May - My five largest tumbling tomato plants (given to me by a friend) now need potting on as they are all now about 8 inches tall and crammed into one 4 inch pot! This part I find the most risky point as they always look a bit fragile after re-potting. I've put three in hanging baskets and two in long tom pots, safely cosseted in the greenhouse for the time being.
2 June - 13 cordon tomatoes (5 white, 4 orange banana and 4 brandywine) and 3 bush (garden pearl) planted in the greenhouse.
4 June - Continued planting in the greenhouse with another six tomato plants. Potted up two more garden pearl tomatoes, which will grow on in the potting shed.
7 June - four more garden pearl cherry tomato plants potted up.
8 June - last three garden pearl cherry tomato plants planted outside greenhouse.
17 June - I had one white tomato seedling left which was too weak to plant in the greenhouse, but it seems to have come to life now, so I've potted it up and put it in the conservatory.
22 June - hot work in the greenhouse nipping out all of the side shoots on the cordon tomatoes.
5 July - I seem to be a victim of my own success - some of the cordon tomatoes are growing so vigorously that they are pulling down their cane supports.
18 July - a clutch of nine ripe tomatoes from three of the "9 May" tomato plants and the first from my garden pearl plants.
25 July - I had three tomato hanging baskets in the greenhouse but two had become completely hemmed it and crushed - one I couldn't even reach to harvest without damaging cordon tomatoes. So, with a lot of effort and minimal cordon damage I removed them and hung them outside the carport. Now at least them will give some produce and the cordon tomatoes have a little more space.
2 Aug - more cutting back in the greenhouse - hope I'm doing the right thing..... I am encouraged to see there are quite a few trusses of orange banana tomatoes developing, and some brandywine, but the white tomatoes seem to be slow and sparse.
6 Aug - yet more cutting back in the greenhouse and I think I've spotted some white tomato trusses.
12 Aug - I'm still tomato trimming in the greenhouse jungle. Cherry tomatoes outdoors, in hanging baskets and in the conservatory are all in production, but those in the greenhouse and potting shed aren't going so well.
14 Aug - I've given up on the white tomato in the conservatory as it hasn't developed any flowers.
28 Aug - still getting red cherry tomatoes every day, but also harvested my first white tomatoes from the greenhouse!
29 Aug - I removed all of the bush tomato plants from the greenhouse and cut foliage from the cordon tomatoes to let in light and air for ripening. The bush tomatoes in here were swamped by the cordons, so did less well than those outside or in individual pots.
1 Sep - Harvested my first orange banana tomato! I'm still clearing out dead and dying foliage from the greenhouse cordon tomatoes and soon I might have my first ripe monster brandywine tomato. Just a bit more sun required!
3 Sep - Final cutback in the greenhouse (I hope) and harvesting of white, orange and red tomatoes. Sadly, I have to admit to being disappointed with the orange banana tomatoes, which look quite exotic but are very lacking in flavour. The white tomatoes are quite sweet and tasty though.
4 Sep - My first ripe brandywine monster -->
5 Sep - I'm clearing the veg plants out of the conservatory as they've made quite a mess and I want to clean it out this week. So I moved the two tomato plants out into the veg garden. My first three brandywine tomatoes got used tonight in a tomato & carrot salad with balsamic dressing. They're tastier than the orange ones, thank goodness.
11 Sep - a pot of orange banana tomatoes and a glut of red cherry tomatoes!
12 Sep - Started the day with 7 jars of tomato jam. Then harvested more tomatoes (brandywine, orange banana, white and red). Now I've got more tomatoes than I started with this morning!
13 Sep - the tomato glut continues, so more preserving resulted in 4 jars of red tomato chutney, using up the ripe brandywines.
15 Sep - it's a tomato Jim, but not as we know it! You wouldn't find one like this in the supermarket and if you did, you'd be too afraid to buy it. Weighing in a 1.5 pounds and destined for sweet tomato chutney.
1 Oct - started the veg garden tidy-up by removing outdoor cherry tomatoes in positions 5 & 8 and clearing some tomato plants out of the greenhouse.
2 May - 3 rows of leeks sown, a mixture of King Richard and Musselburgh.
28 June - at last, I planted out the five leeks that I grew in the potting shed.
29 Sep - picked my first full sized leeks to make a savoury bread pudding.
25 March 07 - still harvesting tasty leeks which are standing very well.
2 May - 3 rows of sprouts sown, a mixture of Falstaff and Red Bull.
1 Aug - severe caterpillar attack going on. Have tried to pick them off, but I can't have found them all. There are lots of white flies around so whatever the pest, it is probably still laying eggs.
2 Aug - couldn't find any more caterpillars on my sprouts but I sprayed the white flies that appear when the plants are disturbed. Don't like to be non-organic, but I do want some sprouts!
6 Aug - more caterpillars have emerged and been removed. Plants are looking very nibbled and therefore a bit of a sorry site. Still lots of white flies around when the plants are disturbed so I've put out a sticky insect trap to try to catch some of them.
11 Jan 07 - only one brussel sprout plant has yielded some produce. It's the only one that survived that I started off indoors, so was always stronger than those planted directly outside. They're red sprouts and smaller than those you would find in the supermarket, but very tasty nonetheless.
26 Apr - There is some germination of beetroot in plot 6 but it doesn't look very good. To be honest, I struggled with beetroot "in the soil" last year, so I've planted a 16 station beetroot pot to see how that compares.
10 May - all 16 beetroot seeds have germinated.
28 July - in the paddock; summer planting of beetroot in bed 3.
2 Aug - a couple of short rows sown in the veg garden.
8 Aug - signs of germination in both the paddock and the veg garden.
17 Sep - beetroot pot B3, planted way back in April has failed. It was sheltered a bit by a large shrub and I think got overwatered as a result.
22 Oct - I've got an excellent crop of beetroot in the paddock!
19 Apr - I struggled with this last year when it was my only complete failure. Although one of the first things to successfully germinate, my summer purple sprouting broccoli seedlings are now dying before they are sturdy enough to plant outside. I think I'll try some direct outside planting tomorrow. Wish me luck!
20 Apr - I have a 6x3 foot area of ground, enclosed with a green mesh 3 foot tall which I intend to use for broccoli and other plants which succumb to cabbage white butterfly. I dug it and planted purple summer sprouting broccoli and calabrese today, but the soil was a bit wet and heavy, so I'm not expecting this to work. I also transplanted four of my "dying" seedlings as there's nothing else I can do, except ditch them.
12 May - one row of the calabrese has germinated, but second row topped up with more seeds alongside some purple summer sprouting broccoli seeds where the above transplants died.
22 Apr - Instead of just throwing away the thinnings from the carrot trough, I've tried transplanting 18 into another pot.
26 Apr - Pot 3 created with another 14 thinnings.
2 May - I've moved my three carrot pots outside, wrapped in fleece to deter the old carrot fly.
11 May - outdoor planting of three rows of Autumn King 2, covered with fleece to deter carrot fly.
11 June - Autumn King 2 has germinated erractically.
22 June - carrot trough C1 re-sown with 22 stations.
29 June - trough C1 germinated nicely (and thinned out on 30 June when pot C2 was re-sown with 16 stations, which germinated on 8 July).
28 July - in the paddock; summer planting of parmex carrots in bed 3.
14 Sep - my first Autumn King carrot!
22 Oct - I've got an excellent crop of parmex carrots in the paddock! In fact, we can't eat them fast enough so they are getting a bit bigger than they should.
25 March 07 - the last three autumn kings harvested.
18 Apr - Two rows of nine broad bean seeds planted outdoors.
19 Apr - Twelve broad bean seedlings, raised in the potting shed, planted out.
9 May - 17 out of the 18 broad beans seeds have germinated (I've popped an extra one into the gap).
14 May - Twelve plants originally raised indoors are starting to flower.
29 May - Having to support the original 12 plants with stakes and that extra seed put into the gap has germinated.
11 June - Mmmm, I really like the scent from broad bean flowers. All doing well, all in flower and second 17 catching up with first 12. Seed popped into the gap also germinated.
18 Apr - Two pea drills planted outdoors.
9 May - only 10 seeds have germinated, which is a little disappointing.
12 May - my two indoor peas have been transferred outside and I found some cute willow wigwams to act as "pea sticks" in our local farm shop.
29 May - potted on 8 asparagus pea seedlings (sown on 4 May) into 3 inch pots and planted 6 more seeds.
16/17 June - planted seven asparagus peas (one died in its pot) in the gaps where the turnips germinated then disappeared and between the turnip and broccoli.
22 June - Looks like all of the asparagus pea seedlings are dying and my second lot of seed planting in the potting shed didn't germinate at all. Not sure where I've gone wrong here.
25 July- three asparagus pea plants have survived and two are flowering. Meanwhile the ordinary peas are finished and dug up to make space for new sowing.
14 Apr - the first outdoor germination, I thinned out the red radishes (planted 2 April) to give them room to grow.
18 Apr - white radishes have germinated, although not as prolific as the standard red ones.
9 May - first harvesting of both white and red radishes.
11 May - second crop of red radishes planted between the parsnip seeds.
11 June - growing well, only one ready now so I ate it, hopefully others will be ready for harvesting in a week's time.
28 July - summer planting of red radish in one of the greenhouse outer beds.
12 Aug - thinned out the radishes. There's lots of germination but the plants are very leggy and don't look too good as something seems to be leaf nibbling. Might be a disappointing harvest.
12 Sep - cleared out this crop - it wasn't successful :-(
14 Apr - my pot of turnips planted on 2 April has fully germinated and I thinned out the seedlings to twelve today, so they have room to fully develop.
21 Apr - turnips are growing well, all twelve look healthy.
12 May - outdoor sowing of another seven turnips.
28 July - in the paddock; summer planting of snowball turnip in bed 3.
2 Aug - a couple of short rows sown in the veg garden.
4 Aug - first signs of germination in the paddock.
8 Aug - three seedlings have germinated in the veg garden.
22 Oct - I've got an excellent crop of turnips in the paddock!
14 Apr - this chard is still growing from last year's planting. The marvellous thing is, you harvest it by cutting across the base of all leaves and they grow back again! Picked some today for dinner with our guests tonight.
17 Apr - Last year's swiss chard is still growing well, but as we've enjoyed it so much, I've planted six more seeds to refresh the supply for this year.
26 Apr - 5 out of 6 seeds have germinated.
7 June - 5 plants put out in veg garden, but they look a bit floppy.
11 June - Swiss chard I planted out four days ago does not look too good, in fact one plant has died and others are struggling, so I've planted some more seeds.
17/18 June - all but one of last year's chard plants are now bolting so I've harvested the remaining leaves and dug up seven plants, hopefully to make room for celeriac. Spent an hour freezing the chard which yielded five portions, plus one kept for tomorrow with the vegetable stock from blanching.
20 June - chard seeds are germinating, those in a plastic pot ahead of those in a terracotta one, which I guess is cooler and drier. Just my luck that the planted out chard is now looking ok, so where will these seedlings end up? You know I can't bear to throw away a living plant, especially one I have grown from seed!
23 Aug - I planted out the 2 surviving swiss chard from the 8 inch terracotta pot as they were a bit choked. The chard planted out on 11 June which initially looked feeble is marvellous now.
7 Apr - Planted my herb wheel today with chives, parcel, basil, coriander, marjoram and thyme. I've placed it in the greenhouse to germinate, covered with a clear plastic sheet. Parcel (a celery flavoured parsley) is usually slow to germinate, but it's worth it!
24 Apr - Everything in my herb wheel has germinated, although the parcel (as expected) & chives are lagging behind.
18 June - think I might do better with indoor herbs so I planted a pot of basil and one of coriander using these new herb mats that I found in Wyevale.
18 July - both pots have germinated and are ready for use.
28 July - summer planting of chives in one of the outer greenhouse beds.
Sow 'n' Grow propagator - a plastic propagator provided with 22 peat pockets. Swell peat pockets with water then plant seeds. When plants are established there's no pricking out, just pot up the complete peat pocket. Propagator lid is quite tall, which I like and propagator can be re-used provided the peat pockets can be bought separately. This is very easy to use and there's no mess, so it's good for in the house for a head start before the potting shed or greenhouse are warm enough. £2.99 for the complete kit.
Electric propagator - Sankey Gro Warm 100 with 2 seed trays £19.99. Just the smallest type for my special/exotic/expensive seeds: snow white tomato, orange banana tomato, bolivian rainbow chilli, aubergine, gherkin, mini cauliflower and golden berry pineapple.
Apr - Having blocked off the gate, a rabbit has now dug under my
(obviously not very) "rabbit proof" fence around the vegetable
plot. Boy am I glad I haven't planted out my seedlings yet!
Apr - Although seeds only planted twelve days ago, one of the courgettes
from my own seeds has grown so much I have had to individually pot it.
19 Apr - First two courgettes planted out in the garden. Only been hardening off for four or five days, so protected with cloches to begin with.
28 May - All courgettes are planted out now, either in the veg garden (4) or outside the bedroom window (2 protected by wire enclosures) or in pots (2).
8 June - Everything seems very slow to grow this year, but my first courgette is developing in pot C5.
16 June - first courgette harvested. (A bumper crop then developed and still going as of 31 July).
30 June - sowed two more courgette tubs, each with three seeds, chick in C6 and black beauty in C7.
14 July - transplanted one of the new courgette seedlings from pot C6 into another pot (C8).
23 July - Oooops! I found that my enormous prize courgette plant was concealing a rather large 2.5 pound fruit (now more of a marrow) and underneath that a 1.5 pound one, which combined with the more normal half pound one from the plant next door.
27 July - transplanted three courgette seedlings (two into paddock bed 1 and the other in the veg garden).
23 Aug - Courgette pot C5 is finished and composted and I think I've just picked the last courgette from pot C4. I got a good yield from both pots, not as good as some in the garden, but better than others.
2 Sep - I harvested three courgettes today, one of which was from a new plant in the veg garden which was sown on 30 June and transplanted on 27 July. Eight weeks from sowing to production - not bad!
9 Sep - got the first courgette from pot C7.
12 Sep - first courgette from the paddock.
1 Oct - started the veg garden tidy-up by emptying courgette pots C6 & C7. The late courgette plantings in pots weren't successful, but those in the ground have been worthwhile.
23 Oct - gradually clearing out the spent courgette plants, but I've still got two in the veg garden and two in the paddock producing the last of the season.
23 Mar - two pots planted, one with three shallots and one with three onions, to compare development with the paddock planting. Started in the greenhouse.
1 Apr - A friend gave me some old copies of Garden Answers from last year and I read a tip about putting shallots in a tray of compost to start rooting when you want to plant them in clay soil, so I'm trying it.
6 Apr - First planting in the paddock. It was a brilliant idea to root the shallots before planting. They all have some good root growth and I'm sure this must give them a better chance in the unfriendly clay soil. However, since my clay soil is still very uneven and lumpy and shallots have to be planted at only an inch depth with their tops visible, I have put down some multi-purpose compost to assist with planting and coved them with fleece as there are still some frosty mornings to come. Thirty five shallots planted in one half of the first bed and another tray put to root in the potting shed.
16 Apr - Remaining shallots and 46 onion sets planted out in paddock veg bed 3 and covered with fleece.
21 Apr - Onion & shallot pots moved outside of greenhouse. They're growing well and looking very healthy.
29 Apr - Shallots in paddock bed 1 are doing very well, but I've had to remove the fleece which was keeping the rabbits off them but now starting to impede growth. Of course, the rabbits started to dig them up, so I've had to construct a "scarecrow" with red/white tape and old CDs. Looks like roadworks on a bad day, but seems to be effective.
1 May - But not any more. Each morning I find another shallot nibbled and dug up. I need inspiration!
6 May - losing onions and shallots to the rabbits every day, so new mesh fence protection erected. Can't help thinking that it would be probably be cheaper just to but several pounds of onions and shallots from the supermarket - but where's the fun in that?
11 May - planted some onion seeds in the main veg plot.
1 July - it was too late to plant onion seeds in May and there is very little germination, so I've given over this part of the plot to celeriac.
19 July - (paddock) lifted all of the shallots and left them to dry in the sun on my newly constructed onion dryer, along with 11 onions. 23 more onions still to lift when I've got more drying room. Some onions had rotted, but I think I can declare the shallots a success as most of the 268 have grown to the size of a small onion!
1 Apr - Bargain! I bought a mushroom growing kit in Woolworths for £2.99. The first ten days is just keeping the mushroom compost warm, moist and dark.
12 Apr - stage 2 is putting in the casing peat and keeping it cooler but still moist and dark in the hope of germination in another week.
25 Apr - no sign of mushrooms and there should be "pinheads" by now. I've kept a close watch and followed the instructions so I don't know what's gone wrong.
30 Apr - I have mushrooms! Not many, but there's hope......
3 May - Mushrooms for dinner tonight?
22 May - Overall, I'm disappointed with the output from
this mushroom kit. Only got enough mushrooms for two meals from the
first flush, then only one mushroom in the second flush! Shan't be
trying this again in the near future as it was quite difficult to:
26 May - that single mushroom in the second flush did grow into a five inch whopper, which we ate tonight.
First seeds of 2006
2 Apr - First outdoor seeds planted. Mixed salad leaves, cress, radishes (red and white), spring onions and beetroot. Also, two containers, carrots and turnip.
25 Mar - I'm risking some seed planting in the potting shed, although I am wary that the overnight temperature is still too low for germination. I guess I'm getting impatient and hoping this won't have too much of a detrimental effect. I've planted Tomato Garden Pearl (cherry tomato which will grow outdoors in pots), summer purple sprouting Broccoli, Broad Bean (Bunyards Exhibition), Dwarf Bean (The Prince), Haricot Bean (Efequince), Sweetcorn (Jubilee, Incredible and Minipop), Red Pepper (including some of my own seeds from last year), Courgette Black Beauty (including some of my own seeds from last year).
23 Mar - Anais potatoes, first earlies. Don't think the paddock beds are yet, still a bit too cold and wet, so planted to giant pots, just four potatoes in each to get a head start.
Also two other pots, one with 3 onion bulbs, the other with 3 shallot bulbs. These will serve as "controls" to compare with the rest of the bulbs when they are planted out in the paddock.
14 Apr - rhubarb growing very well, almost ready for first picking.
30 Apr - picked first rhubarb to make a crumble for guests tomorrow.
Potting shed rejuvenation
The "potting shed" is on the end of the house, at the back, near the greenhouse. The wooden windowsill is rotten and growing fungus, the door is completely warped and its glass panel is loose, the roof is dirty and there is no ventilation.
15 Mar 2006 - It's being rejuvenated for this growing season and will act as another greenhouse for pots and maybe grow bags. New window sill, new door, vents in two of the windows, cleaned and painted and some added shelving. Going to become a very useful space, I think!
10 Feb 2006 - We are converting a very small part of the paddock into some extra space for potatoes, onions etc, which take a lot of room and are a long time in the ground. Having to start by removing the top layer of grass. Very hard work for Crow, with me transporting away all the clods by wheel barrow.
17 Feb - Seven beds prepared, just digging over and drying out required before planting. How wonderful it will look when it's all planted and growing!
Having cleaned it for the first time today (18 Jan 2006), I was very grateful for the large panes of glass, retained by full length glazing beads - no wire clips and fittings to collect dirt like the smaller paned versions. It's 10 x 6 feet with toughened glass, 2 triple roof vents, 4 autovents, 2 large louvre vents and two full length hanging basket rails.
Inside, I just have one piece of free standing wooden staging with four shelves about 2 x 1 foot in size. Less than £20 from B&Q.
31 Jan 2006 - enriched greenhouse soil - ready for use !!
My first year at Longfield and the vegetable garden was subject to a late start as my greenhouse was not delivered and built until the Easter weekend.
Nevertheless, my first experimental year was quite productive. I found the clay soil a little daunting and sometimes planted the same vegetable in a pot and in different parts of the garden to test out soil conditions. I found it's very different from one part of the garden to another.
In the greenhouse I grew lettuce, nasturtiums (for the edible peppery leaves), tomatoes, bell peppers, chilli peppers, and aubergines.
Outside I grew potatoes, sweetcorn, swiss chard, french beans, courgettes, runner beans, tomatoes, sprouting broccoli, lettuce, radishes, carrots, peas and shallots.
My only total failure was the sprouting broccoli, which I failed to protect from caterpillar damage. (I've already built a covered enclosure for next year's attempt.) Peas were pretty disappointing too, but I think I failed to provide an adequate support frame and they struggled in the clay soil.
It was an excellent year for the swiss chard, which is still producing now (December).