We were only just saying that we finally feel like we’re getting into a rhythm, finally. It’s been five years now since we started growing down the patch, and as we run a five-year rotation with the vegetable beds, it seems oddly appropriate that we feel as though we (almost) know what we’re doing. In those five years we’ve dealt with droughts, floods, winds and rains, pigeons, rabbits, voles, rats and more recently fox, who took our beloved cockerel Ethelred 🙁 We’ve combatted slugs, white fly, greenfly, blackfly, sawfly, codling moth, sparrows (and their fondness for beetroot leaves). We’ve relocated ladybirds from one area to another, where we know the food is, sprayed nematodes, which were fantastic, and learned to hoe little and often – the best thing ever to do.
However, there’s always something sent to test you – current ‘big’ jobs are:
- Fix the fruit cage that bent under the weight of snow over winter as some muppet forgot to take the netting off the roof.
- De-head the teasels that have taken over the wild flower strip we sowed last year – I have no idea what they were thinking but the supplier mixed in so many that they’re dwarfing everything else off! Apparently if we de-head them when they’re in flower and remove the heads away completely (they can still ripen off the plant, and there are thousands on a plant), then the plant will naturally die off. We have this issue for several years ahead of ourselves at the moment – so you live and learn :/
Anyway – the greenhouses are definitely in a rhythm – things from inside the house were moved to the greenhouse after being potted on, and they look much happier for it though, as I’ve said elsewhere, I’m a bit disappointed at the size of things in general.
This is our tomato greenhouse. An army of ants had made their nest under the slabs running down the centre of the greenhouse, as they had done in Greenhouse 2 last year. As we did last year, we used boiling water as a nasty but effective way of dealing with them. I suspect they’re the same nest who are sending out ants to milk the greenfly on the poor neighbouring plum tree. We stopped that with a sticky glue band around the trunk (what can’t go up can’t go down), and the removal of the nest once found was the end of that problem, for now. On to potting on the tomatoes – six cooking plants and six eating plants – though six eating is far too few for my liking. Still – we tried cramming a third row in the middle last year and it became all too unwieldy. Last year was the first time we tried cooking tomatoes (plum) and they were delicious in sauces.
This is our cucumber greenhouse and our potting bench also lives here – a neat collapsible metal bench that was donated along with the greenhouse by some friends in the village. The potting bench becomes a nursery bench for hardier plants, and once they’ve been moved outside it becomes the final home for the plants started off indoors. Here you can see the sweet peppers, which we use stuffed or in ratatouille.
The basil we dry and use all year, it’s another of those plants that we personally can’t grow enough of. Freshly picked it’s delicious in a salad, or as a dressing with the tradational balsamic vinegar dressing over mozzarella and tomatoes dish. Dried it’s great in anything, especially pasta sauces. I just like eating it raw as a breath freshener!
Then we have our Telegraph Improved cucumbers – I’m determing to stay on top of them this year – in the past, without exception, they become unruly and all triffid-like, taking over the greenhouse to the extent you need to tip-toe around them to try and get to anything else!
Next along are the globe artichokes – which are outside during the day to harden off, and inside again at night. They’ll eventually have a permanent home in the patch, near the sunflowers, in the future. But not where the sunflowers have already been grown – I’ve heard you shouldn’t grow them where any member of the daisy family has been rgown previously – not sure why but I’m not going to find out the hard way!
Then there’s the coriander – these are the seeds saved from plants we first grew two years ago. We sprinkled a load into a tray, to see what would happen, and I would say we ended up with a 50:50 germination rate, which wasn’t bad at all considering they’d been kept in the seed box all that time!
Outside is where the previous occupants are now living, before they find their permanent homes – whilst we have the sunflowers in the patch already in place, we tend to grow twice as many items where we can, so we can pick the healthiest and largest to grow on. This means we invariably have spares – here you can see the spare sunflowers, and spare sweetcorn (at the back). In the foreground we have the marigolds which will be used a companion plant in the vegetable patch, namely near the brassicas as they deter whitefly!
We also have a few pots of lettuce outside – rescued from one of those trays you buy from the supermarket that Suz’s mother brought to the house a few weeks ago, the sort you buy live and cut the leaves off as you need them. Rather than throw away the cut plugs, I just repotted them and now we have seven baby lettuce plants for free! The parsely we’ve bought in, and the lone sunflower was a freebie for buying so much compost from the local nursery! Coals to Newcastle springs to mind 😉
This is our new greenhouse, and is home to the aubergines. We’ve had moderate success in the past with these, and utter failure other years. This greenhouse gets full sun most of the day, so I’m hoping the warmer conditions are more conducive to a bumper crop! That reminds me of another job – I need to anchor this greenhouse down to the concrete base as we’ve moved it from where it was. Where it was is now a lilac tree and will have lavender bushes around it, to attract the bees and give us something to be wary of as we brush past it to and from the patch on the brick path! I’ve just realise that this is *not* our new greenhouse – it is in fact the garden path! I’ll add a photo of the new greenhouse once I take one 😀