Finally, the year begins!

The day was empty, Suz was out to her regular ballet show, leaving Jay, Smiler and myself to while away some time. The sun was truly out, clear skies, no wind – perfect weather! We started out with sowing seeds -for greenhouse raising in the short term we sowed:

  • All the Year Round cauliflowers – 33 plugs
  • Coriander, 2 x 10″ pots (seeds saved from Smiler’s plants from last year)
  • Mammoth Leeks – 1 x 10″ pot

And propagators, to be sat on a windowsill inside, we sowed:

  • Shirley F1 tomatoes – 10 of those in a propagator
  • Improved Telegraph cucumbers – 12 in one propagator.

Then it was down the patch to sow a couple of raised beds with Lobjoit cos lettuce and Chantenay Red Core 2 carrots – last year the raised beds were free of carrot fly, so we’ll sow a couple of raised beds of these this year.

Tomorrow, if all goes well, it’ll be potatoes, onions, shallots and garlic that will go in. It’s a late start, but hopefully not too late!

Home Grown Meal & Perfect Tomatoes

Okay, so the fish isn’t homegrown, but the rest is – tomatoes, onions, beans, potatoes. It’s so tempting to have a carp pond, but it would be a massive space-taker. I’ve seen some funky greenhouse-based permaculture fish tanks, but that seems like an awful lot of materials and work to get the hydroponics system working. An outside carp pond would seem to make more sense 🙂 One day perhaps…

Mr Tomato

Maybe it’s the low sense of humour, maybe it’s a lack of socialisation, but the funny fruit and veg always make us smile.

On that note, please welcome Mr Tomato.

 

First Tomatoes, Geese and Panoramic

 

Just a quick visual update. The first tomatoes are finally ready – what a slow year of growth! The geese are happily settled in and enjoying their new home, and we do have green stuff growing – including the line of spuds I’d not managed to get totally out of the ground – you can see the weeds we’ve had to leave around them in a line next to the compost bins!

Leeks & Baby Cauliflowers

Possibly a bit late but there you go, the leeks are sown in a large pot? Once the teeny leeks are the thickness of a pencil, they’ll be planted out in the patch, 6″ apart and 6″ deep in a ready-dibbed hole.

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The cauliflowers are also coming on well – we’ll have enough here for a full 30′ row 🙂

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Greenhouse & Raised Beds

In times of inclement weather, retiring to the warm safety of the greenhouse is prudent. This is the first year we’ve had the luxurious ability to grow early under glass, and I can now see the attraction, especially on days where the elements are doing their utmost in getting you inside. So, armed with a cuppa, I sowed All the Year Round cauliflowers into plug trays (pilched from Jackson Growers down at Swarkestone)…

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…two varieties of cucumbers – one gherkin (Beth Alpha) for pickling and one crazy Italian type (Carosello Tondo di Manduria) resembling a miniature water melon, the same aubergines, Violetta Lunga 2, as last year…

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…and Dolce di Bergamo sweet peppers.

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Braving the aforementioned elements (manly, I know), I pelted down to the raised beds and quickly sowed 9 feet of carrots (Chantenay Red Cored 2) in one 3′ square bed…

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and Mixed Salad Leaves in another bed.

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The beds stand at 2.5′ tall, so I’m hoping that the carrot fly struggles to get to these, though I’ll believe it when I see it! The salad leaves’ bed has had chicken wire lain over the top to prevent the ridiculously large number of house sparrows from decimating them before we even see them! This year we’ve counted 9 nests being built around our house alone. Last year we counted just over 50 birds at one time around the feeders after the second hatching, the year before we counted half that, and the year before half again. If all nests hatch 4 offspring then we’re looking at 90 birds after the first hatching – so my guess is after two broods we should be over the 100 birds mark. The new hedgerow we’ve planted down the acre field should help them once it starts producing, but that’s a few years off yet.

In the Greenhouse

I know, I know, I’ve popped pics of tomatoes up before, but nothing can detract from the joy it is to not have to worry about blight on your toms. Here are a couple of pics of the Shirley variety (father-in-law says they’re nice, so we grow them), and the aubergines. Their name escapes me, but I do know they’re an Italian variety – not huge but gorgeous in a ratatouille <slurp>

First Cucumber!

Nothing to get too excited about, but seeing as though it’s a first for us, I had to post it here to show that we do indeed own a cucumber. Huzzah!

Greenhouse Update, Spuds & Onion Harvest

Just a quick one to show what’s happening in the greenhouse – everything’s growing, which is the idea I guess. One small issue with the cucumbers, some of them are turning brown when still small, and some googling reckons it might be to do with lack of pollination. Apparently bees are needed to move the pollen from the shorter male flowers to the female flowers that have a small cucumber behind them, as the pollen is quite heavy. But, bees really do struggle to fly through greenhouse glass, so you need to pull a male flower off and rub it against the female flowers. It’s seemed to do the trick, but time will tell.

In the barrow are the second early Potatoes – tried and trusted Kestrels – one of my personal faves. The onions are those we over-wintered, but heaven knows what variety they are! Whatever they are, it’s great to have some onions to tide us over, as we’ve only just finished those that were stored over winter.

Out With the Old, In With the New

Today was the day I plucked up the courage to empty the garage of the over-wintered veg. Not a job I particularly wanted to do, but seeing as though a new chest freezer was imminent, I felt it needed a bit of a clean in the garage before anything went in there. The onions had pretty much all had it, except for these shallots and garlic. I’m glad we’ve decided to plant more shallots this year, as they really do seem better for storing, and make cracking pickled onions! The old potatoes and parsnips also went to the brown bin – I wasn’t too sure about composting the parsnips, and I never compost potatoes incase they decide to take over the compost bin!

Another punnet of strawberries found its way into the fridge, and we’re starting the raspberries as well – my favourite combination 🙂

The first snap peas (mangetout) are also being pulled from the patch. So many in fact, that we’ll need to start freezing them!

Meanwhile, outside in the greenhouses – yes, the second one is now complete, the cucumbers are doing well, and annoying the poor rabbits that have to stare at them through the glass all day! The tomatoes are also doing well – the Shirleys better than the beef tomatoes, and I still need to add some sort of shade screen to the greenhouse before any more leaves turn white with the heat. The aubergines are also starting to look healthy and leafy – I have no idea when/if we’ll see any, but I have faith.