Sowing Update – Peas, Beans, and other Greens

With the dry weather continuing, between sporadic cloud bursts we’re needing to use water on the veg and trees to ensure nothing dies.

As part of the successional sowing system, today we put in our third and final row of ‘Norli’ snap peas, and de-weeded the future home of the sweetcorn, squash and courgettes. The peas and broad beans are coming up nicely, with flowers on the first batch of both, and the snap peas as well. The ‘Duncan’ spring cabbage is gorgeous, we’re trying to keep on top of it and giving away as well.

I mentioned in my last post about having planted another 10′ of Cylindra beetroot rather than F1 Kestrel, which store better. Well, in a moment of vagueness I managed to hoe the 10′ over, killing all the Cylindra, so I’ve sown the F1 Kestrel this time. I’m going to be more active with the chicken wire protection, as the sparrow population we’ve nicely cultivated has decided beetroot leaves are the new dish of the day, and have devoured all of Gary’s next door and begun on ours. Ah bless.

The strawberries have had straw put under the fruit, which seems to be coming on a treat with the weather, as is the rhubarb.

With my parents down for a few days from sunny Scotland, dad helped me build the second greenhouse, which is now just waiting for a day with no breeze, so it’s possible to carry the panes of glass safely. Greenhouse number 1 is chock full of sweetcorn, aubergine (Melanzana – Violetta Lunga 2), cucumbers, tomatoes, dwarf french beans and marigolds (African Crackerjack Mixed). Some of these are desperate to be planted out – especially the sweetcorn and french beans, so the next spare day will see some planting in earnest. I only hope we’ve not left it too late for some of them.

Leeks & Sweetcorn

Last year we planted the sweetcorn directly into the ground in May once it had started to warm up, but unfortunately they were too small to eat. This year, though the big greenhouses aren’t ready yet, I’ve sown the sweetcorn into 3″ pots and popped them into the mini greenhouse. They need to have a temperature of 15C to germinate, so even that might not be enough, but with the potatoes happily chitting away on every spare windowsill there’s no space for them inside. At least we’re buying an extra month.

I also sowed the leeks into trays of compost. Again, these are starting off in the mini greenhouse, but will be transferred to the main greenhouse once we’ve finished building it!

The sweetcorn we’ve sown are Incredible F1, and the two types of Leek are Lyon 2 – Prizetaker and Autumn Mammoth 2 – Snowstar.

Glasshouse No.2

Try as we might, our toms just haven’t done well being outside. We have a dinky 2′ x 6′ greenhouse thing to start seeds off, but that’s been it. Until now 🙂 We’ve been kindly donated a 6′ x 8′ greenhouse by someone in the village, which is waiting to be collected. But another friend phoned recently to let us know of another 6′ x 8′ greenhouse going for a decent price, so we figured we’d go all posh and become a 2 greenhouse family. Indulgence to excess. This particular greenhouse is soon to be dismantled and moved from its current home to a new brick base at Merrybower. There we shall turn it into a spangly shrine to the tomato and pepper – can’t wait!

Green Tomatoes

An old trick picked up if you want to give your green toms a gentle nudge towards red is to hang a banana in with them. The ethylene given off by the ripening banana helps ripen the tomatoes as well. Not sure if I need more bananas in there, but it seemed a waste to use more, and besides, Suz has a great recipe for green tomato soup 😀

Topping & Potting

Today was all about a bit of lovin’.

The poor chooks, whilst happy with their new palatial grassy space, were having to combat excessively tall grass (about 5″), so raising the mower to its highest cut setting I mowed their paddock to a better 3″ height – they do love the lower grass to graze on, and longer grass is more likely to cause an impacted crop.

The second bit of lovin’ was to pot on the various seedlings covering the windowsills. The marigolds went into 3″ pots, the nasturtiums went into 4″ pots and the cucumbers went into 5″ pots. The tomatoes really do look ready to go into bigger pots but I’m hoping I can blag it for another fortnight as they’ll be in growbags soon enough once mid May has come. I’ll probably give in and repot them though – I don’t fancy them getting leggy.

This photo shows our mini greenhouse with a selection of each type – the rest are in the house and back cluttering up the windowsills as they should do. It’s a little experiment to see which survive the happiest 🙂

On another plus-side – the corgettes I sowed back whenever it was, have all germinated, so I ended up pulling out the second from each station. I’ve transplanted those into new positions outside of a cloche – again, just to see if it works! The forecast is good for the next week, so it may prove a good bet we get no more frost this year. We’ll see 🙂