Category Archives: tomatoes

Broad Beans and More

A sunny day today (12DegC) tempted me into the garden for a spell and in the greenhouse most of the broad beans had come through, only the last few I planted yet to appear. The first batches are well enough established to put in the shelter of the ‘cold frame’ (propped up door) and will hopefully be ready to plant in a few days.

The first two trays sown of broad beans – ‘De Monica’ in the lower one and ‘Aquadulce’ in the other

In the picture above, the lower tray (‘De Monica’) is the one now outside acclimatising.

Two new varieties of broad bean (to me) – ‘Meteor’ and ‘Optica’ (nearer set)

Also, encouragingly one of the first set of mangetout peas is coming through so that’s a start. I’ve added some more peas to a couple of pots today as well – this time another variety I haven’t tried before call ‘Bajka’ – should be interesting to see what they are like. The picture on the pack makes them look good, but don’t they all?

In the kitchen the cherry tomato seedlings are doing well, and I’ve planted some more seeds plus some more peppers. No sign of the first lot of peppers yet.

The two original trays of ‘Cosmos’ are still very patchy, but other seeds are starting to come through in other trays (Phlox, Lobelia and more Cosmos) – I haven’t tried Phlox or Lobelia from seed before so they are a bit of an experiment.

It was so sunny today that I saw my first butterfly (a ‘comma’) – see pic below, and a ‘bee-fly’ – very much a fly I only see in spring usually hawking over the lawn.

Comma butterfly

Bee fly (bombylius major)

More worrying, the first grey squirrel for some time appeared on the lawn the other day….

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Seeds Update – Feb 15

Things look encouraging with the broad beans with seedlings appearing for all the trays except the most recent planting which I mad just yesterday (‘De Monica’, in a matrix of  6, 3 beans each ‘pot’). So if all come through I should have enough to fill the assigned bed.

Some more of the cosmos seeds in trays in the greenhouse (and in heated propagators) have come through but still quite patchy really.

Surprisingly some of the tomatoes are through on the kitchen windowsill so now I have 2 ‘cherry cascade’ seedlings and 4 ‘red cherry’ seedlings.

Outside the greenhouse and kitchen I finally got round to clearing the last raised bed left with left over bits and weeds – the one which had salad crops in last year (No 1, destined for climbing & French beans this year)). There was enough space in the bed to add the compost contents of a ‘growbag’ plus a good scattering of pelleted chicken droppings as a general fertiliser.

I’m going to have to sit down and sow more seed soon, and do a general tidy of the greenhouse as well, I need the room on the benches! Also I have 3 windows to replace as the are either cracked or broken and in one case missing. The weather needs to improve though, there have been strong winds all this week, not great for dealing with greenhouse windows.

Maybe Summer Is Here?

Well a couple of days where temperature have topped 20DegC, maybe – but we still had high winds and morning temp of less than 14DegC only the other day so I’m not yet convinced – and neither are my plants, particularly the climbing & french beans.

However the big emphasis over the last couple of weeks has been planting out lots of flowers, both perennials and annuals as in just over a week our garden will be open to the public for a coupe of days! So panic… The other major task has been sorting out the paths between the raised beds which of course I’d not bothered with when I put the beds in since there was only me wandering between them – still it’s a good thing to have got them done – almost.

Meanwhile I’m harvesting mangetout peas and broad beans plus strawberries (just enough to go with my breakfast cereal).

Broad Bean & Mangetout Harvest

Broad Bean & Mangetout Harvest

One or two minus point – I planted a half row (along the length of a raised bed) of ‘lollo rosso’ lettuce, which germinated nicely along the whole low, then I sowed the other half with a different mix of lettuce, which also germinated along the whole length – until…. a few days later half the row disappeared! Either slug or pigeons, so I covered it with an old fireguard and scattered a few slug pellets around. The lollo rosso is ok I thought – and then half that lot went! So more slug pellets and a covering – so we’ll see.

I do have one cucumber on one of the plants but the others (2 of them) don’t look like producing anytime soon. I have managed to plant two courgettes at last though.

Some other sowings have been a bit disappointing as well in particular some ‘baby leeks’ which I’ve grown before, to be fair the seed was a bit old but also the cos lettuce (maybe also got by pigeons?), leaf beet, beetroot and spinach only have produce a few seedlings.

The french beans and climbing beans really haven’t groen much at all over the last few weeks thanks to the weather – so if we do get some more sunshine now maybe they will take off – I’ve still got a few more dwarf bean plants to plant out.

The tomatoes are all going well and I’ve ‘stopped’ all of those in growbags in the greenhouse as they gave 3 or 4 trusses now and all have the first truss set at least so I’m feeding them. Those outside the greenhouse i growbags aren’t quite as advanced as you might expect but some have tomatoes on already as have the ones in the raise bed. The plants near the kitchen don’t seem quite as happy, not sure why as they get the best of the sun.

Wildlife

Plenty of frogs after rain last week and a few toads, and as usual they are occupying some of the growbag holes in the greenhouse – so whenever i water it creates a bit of chaos as they all seem to bject.

The robin (or a robin?) has appeared whenever I’ve been working in the garden – so keen that I as was kneeling and clearing some weeds it hopped right in front of me to investigate – so now I’ve learned just to stay still when it appears and it will happily hop around my feet collecting morsels. I suspect it is feeding chicks (again?) as I can hear them calling in the hedges when it flies off.

Dried mealworms are still very popular on the feeders and on the ground station plus sunflower seeds are going at a fair rate from the seed feeder and a ‘fat block’ is being pecked through with enthusiasm. It’s been encouraging that some of the birds are house sparrows feeding chicks so maybe a few will stay around.

The trail camera shows hedgehog and fox still around but no new sighting of the badger. I’ve been working in the area that they pass through so maybe the changes have put the badger off for the time being.

A new squirrel has appeared and seems not to like peanuts so can’t be tempted into the trap for now – keeps climbing the bird feeders and wrecking the feeders trying to get at the seed etc. – I’ll need to keep an eye on that situation.

Rainy Day Update

Today has been a bit frustrating – every time I tried to do something outside that would take more than a few minute a shower would come along and interrupt play.

So – I spent some time in the greenhouse and sowed some more things. In particular, more dwarf and climbing beans as well as some more mangetout peas. I note that the maincrop peas (Hurst Greenshaft) I planted direct are coming through – but only a few of them. I’ve never really had too much success with peas planted direct into the ground, which is why I prefer to start them off in pots – I sowed some more maincrop peas into pots a week or so ago so hopefully they will be a bit more successful

I was driven into the greenhouse in any case as yet another delivery of flowers turned up today (that I don’t remember ordering…) in this case some Lamium (variegated dead-nettle) ‘Mega Purple’ which is destined for some areas that are shady and dry to act as ground cover – they came as plugs so just needed putting in some compost in a reasonable sized pot.

I also repotted a couple of sweet pepper seedlings (Gourmet) still in their original pot into individual pots.

Yesterday I filled one of the growbags I bought on week which I’d moved into the greenhouse and watered ready with three tomato plants – an ailsa craig, a marmande and a zuchero. Still plenty left though….

Also the other day I rapidly planted two rows of potatoes in the raised bed which has potatoes already coming through – one of charlotte and one of maris piper. There are still a few of each left so may just put them into the bags I’ve used before if I can’t find anywhere else.

Just to rub it in – the weather is now sunny and when I started typing this it was pouring down – April showers in May!

Weather Fine – been Plantin’ & Sowin’

A couple of days over the Easter period has seen me in a relative frenzy of activity in the garden as the weather has been pretty good (about 20degC max to day for instance). In fact so sunny it has been pretty uncomfortable in the greenhouse in the middle of the day.

So over the Easter weekend I sowed a couple more cucumber seeds, the previously sowed seedlings are now producing proper leaves in their pots now, but I want to have some ‘spare’ plants – it will probably mean a glut of cucumber though….

Cucumber seedlings

Cucumber seedlings

Other seeds sown inside were – sweet basil (some old seed which may not germinate , so its a test really), and some small sunflowers from a pack of different sunflower varieties I found the other day.

Outside I sowed a row of pak choi (next to the turnip row), and next to that a row of swiss chard. In the furthest bed away from the house I put in a couple of rows of rooster’ potatoes and a row of ‘maya gold’ (both varieties left from last year and sprouting nicely).

The mangetout peas had been outside for a day or so and I planted them in the bed nearest the greenhouse in a double row lengthwise and the aguadulce broad beans that were ready in the beds with rows of beans already.

Yesterday I planted a couple of pots of climbing beans (‘fasold’ – a variety I haven’t tried before). I probably plant some more when I see how they get on. Today, a couple of pots of chilli pepper seeds (;peruvian lemon drop’).

Meanwhile the tomato seedlings are coming on fine:

Pomodoro seedlings

Pomodoro seedlings

 

Outside today – a row of ‘lollo rosso’ lettuce (alongside the chard row). Also, I’ put another set of ‘aguadulce’ beans outside ready to plant out. Some of the existing bean plants are in flower already!

broad_bean_plants

 

In flower!

In flower!

The big job today though was pruning the holly hedge on the RH side (looking down from the house) – that hedge is more a collection of holly trees than a normal hedge – but needs the branches trimming to reduce the shading of the beds below. I recently acquired a ‘branch lopper’ which is adjustable in length, so I could lop branches much higher than I have been able to reach before, which was handy. I also had a go at the yew tree at the bottom of the garden, which has rather gone mad over the last few years and cut back a load of branches. This had the side effect of providing me with a number of ‘canes’ that I can use as supports (yew wood doesn’t rot in the ground easily) so was a worthwhile exercise.

Wildlife

Well you could tell it was warm today, I saw two peacock, a sulphur yellow and maybe a cabbage white butterflies – amazing. Also, the trail cam a the bottom of the garden revealed a hedgehog wandering through overnight a couple of days ago (as well as a couple of different cats!), Bumble bees and ‘bee-flies’ were also around today.

peacock_bfly

Peacock Butterfly

 

Birds, however, haven’t been that exciting. The great and blue tits visit the sinflower seed feeder regularly and blackbirds have been squabbling over territory plus the robins have been around (especially when I’m out gardening). Apart from that not really much going on.

More Seeds Arrived

My second lot of seeds ordered online (special offer!) arrived the other day prompting a trip to the greenhouse (the weather wasn’t up to too much outside anyway). Most of the seeds needed sowing inside anyway so I needed to be there in any case.

All I got sown in the end was some calabrese (‘belstar’) and aubergine (a small variety, ‘galine’). I’ll see if some of the aubergine plants can produce outside this year. I did get outside though and planted some pea seed (‘hurst green shaft’) in the raised bed nearest the greenhouse (only about a third of a row, along the length of the bed I’ll plant more in a couple of weeks.

Speaking of peas, the magetout growing in the greenhouse will need to go into the same bed in the next couple of days and then I’ll sow some more. I’ll also need to plant out some of the broad bean seedlings (‘aguadulce’) that are now big enough.

Some good news as far as tomato and pepper seedlings go, one or two more tomato seedlings have struggled through but more important two pepper (‘gourmet’) have appeared. Meanwhile I’ve potted on the nine ‘ailsa craig’ tomato seedlings, so that’s 18 tomato seedlings – too many already!

The Last Bed Is In

Beds 9, 10 and the new one, 11, furthest away

Beds 9, 10 and the new one, 11, furthest away

Eleventh raised bed

Eleventh raised bed (more compost has now been added)

Yes, at last the last, and eleventh, raised bed is now in place and filled. This one I’ve filled with a mixture of compost from one of the compost bins, which seems to have a high soil content anyway, plus the contents of four grow bags from last season. Not sure what I’m going to grow in it yet – and I really need a plan for all of them written down, I’m just carrying vague thoughts of what is going where in my head at the moment.

The other aspect of getting all the beds in is to redo the ‘garden map’ and to number the beds in some logical way.

The other big task now, is to get the paths around and between the 6 beds on the ‘new side of the central path sorted out – which is going to be quite a bit of work I think.

Of course, getting the bed in place isn’t the only work that I’ve done, although not much else  outside in the garden, there have been developments in the greenhouse.

As I mentioned in the last post, more tomato seedlings have appeared now, and since then a couple more have appeared. No sign of any peppers yet though. Just today I potted on 9 ‘pomodoro’ tomato seedlings and both the cucumber seedlings.

I’ve also got four varieties of potato ‘chitting’, some are saved from last year (‘maya gold’ & ‘rooster’ – they are both well on) plus some ‘maris piper’ & ‘charlotte’, which I bought today, so they will be a week or two before being ready for planting. I finished potting on the marigolds the other day, so that’s two trays full.

I noticed today that some rocket seedlings have appeared in the bed in front of the kitchen, no sign of any coriander yet though.

Things are beginning to look very spring like in the garden, lots of leaves appearing on the blackcurrant bushes and on the gooseberry bushes.

Gooseberry leaves

Gooseberry leaves

The fruit trees are also getting close to having open buds as well.

Plum Tree buds breaking out

Plum Tree buds breaking out

Spring flowers have been making a show in the ‘wild’ part of the garden.

Primroses

Primroses