Monday, April 02, 2018

The Bullet is Bitten

What a lovely Easter weekend, or should I say typical...

We go away tomorrow for 9 nights and predictably the weather improves, just not where we are going. The broad beans were starting to get pot bound so we had no choice but to brave it and start the season on Sunday.

Under the covers the ground is a bit warmer and not too wet. A quick hoe down to about 6 inches to break up any lumps of manure or compressed bits where the securing stones have been, a rake over and its ready for planting. Here's a before and after shot.

There is still fair bit of rain forecast in the next couple of days so the spuds and asparagus can wait until we get back, for now it was the broads to go out, some peas seeds and a few odd bits under cloches to plant. Oh and the usual weeding.

The broads have been living in the cold frame so should be fairly well hardened off, the worry as ever is any high winds. As you can see they were getting desperate to be planted out. There are 34 plants in all so hopefully a good crop. Maybe this years bad weather will keep the black fly at bay. You live in hope. Here's the finished job.

Under here are couple of short rows of radishes, beetroot, lettuces and something called Red Orac, a spinach substitute, we had haven't tried it before, we found it at a garden show. Could be interesting.

I know this may seem like a lot of pea seeds to put in a trench, but our luck with them is appalling, so carpet bombing and thinning is the way forward this year.  

Heather gave the garlic, remaining leeks and asparagus bed a good weeding, once she'd finished lunch in the boot of the car that is, surprisingly little had actually grown. The beds behind H are next doors, he is currently putting us to shame.

We are still harvesting last years crops, the weather had kept us away so they are lasting us well. Some of the parsnips are huge now, the leeks never really got that big, the sprouts are done and  finally the purple sprouting broccoli is coming through.

The rhubarb and the raspberries are showing new signs of life, so mother has got her act together somewhere at least.

I have a day off when we get back so that will be spuds and asparagus day, fingers crossed for good weather!

Happy gardening folks!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

This Years Plot Plan

The weather continues to be a real pain down here in Essex. Today for instance, 5 degrees, a lot of rain, sun and hail all in one day. Over the Easter weekend thinks are not looking much better.

No spuds in yet, nothing uncovered and nothing directly sown still. We have the spuds and some asparagus crowns to go in, but not a lot of point if they will just rot. We are getting behind. Our pot sown broads need to go out over Easter ideally as they are getting pot bound.

So as an 'inside' job I've done this years plot plan. I've switched the rotation slightly from last years as the brassicas weren't following the beans correctly, something that is quite easy when you aren't growing full beds of something. The plan usually ends up about 85% correct by the end of year. 

It may seem a bit of over kill but I find it helps when planting things at different times.

Happy gardening folks!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Cracking On!!

I've just returned from a week or so in Singapore for work, a country with a climate of 28-32 degrees C all year round and green house like humidity, that grows nothing more than the odd lettuce!

I love to pop into supermarkets whenever I'm in another country and see what their food supply looks like, Singapore, despite the above advantages imports apples from the UK, tomatoes from Holland and cucumbers from Japan. True Singapore is a small country, but surely they can do better then this. Their milk comes from Australia or New Zealand, food mileage out there doesn't seem to be an issue.

Given the temperature out there you can imagine my joy and shock at returning to this..... I bought Heather a cold frame for her birthday, so somewhere under that snow and hopefully happy are our broads.

Is winter ever going to end? We have a holiday coming up right in the middle of planting season so I'm keen to get some things started and spread the load a bit. So in my jetlagged state I ventured out for a bag of compost, (I used the last I had to rescue a Mercedes in the last round of snow), and set to.

Currently on the kitchen sill are 12 cabbages, 5 sprouts, 5 PSB and 5 kale pots, once up these will go in the cold frame to stop them getting too leggy.  

Joining these are some recycled food containers with Salad Bowl and All Year Round lettuces. This time last year lettuces were already directly sown under cloches.

I've seen that some gardeners start their shallot sets of in pots/cells, something I've never tried. As the start of the season is a delayed I thought I'd give it a try this year. I'm only planting a few, possibly for pickling so I've planted 10 Yellow Moon shallots in a plug tray to transplant later, we'll see how it goes.

Elsewhere the seed potatoes are doing their thing under the bed and growing some nice solid chits, not leggy white ones, but visiting the plot to do anything in this weather is a no.

Fingers crossed the weather improves soon and we can all get this season on the move properly.

Happy gardening folks!!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Stop Bl**dy Raining!!

If it's not raining, it's too cold, and some days its both raining and too cold.... not a good start.

This time last year I had some cloches set up with lettuces, radishes and turnips directly sown underneath, this year its too cold in the shed to even dig out the cloches!

It looks like this year is off to a slow start, the only digging so far is for parsnips, which are proving very successful I'm glad to report.

That said we haven't been completely idol, 33 out of 35 of the broad beans are up and to stop them getting leggy and too comfy indoors Heather has been moving out onto her balcony every morning for a touch of reality. The leeks have also been nice enough to put in an appearance.

Ideally these would be in an unheated cold frame, but I haven't time to build the one I've been promising Heather for.... shall we say a little while.

Heather has been busy planting her chillies, quite a lot of them, he likes planting them in trays so they can sit on the radiator more easily for a boost of heat to get them going, she'll prick them out later when they get going.

I've planted 5 pots of Cape Gooseberries, 3 seeds per pot to thin to the strongest seedling later. I was surprised how big the plants got and how many fruits they produced last year so no need to over do it.

To make a long winter evening fly by last week I decided to tackle the seed tin and the plant labels. It was a task much helped by a generous helping of red wine! All the labels from last year got a wash, and the stickers were removed for anything we aren't growing this year. The seed tin is now subdivided into the coming months and I've put any labels for the seeds in the packets to save me trying to store the things in any kind of order, ingenious I thought, for a man on the red wine!

Hopefully the beast from the east will pass quickly and we can get cloches sorted by the middle of March at the latest.

Happy gardening folks!