Saturday, 10 November 2007

Pumpkin seeds and spring onions

I can't believe my last post was so long ago! Things are grinding to a halt garden wise. P cut the grass, hopefully for the last time (it takes an age), last weekend and there doesn't seem much else to do now. I'm still picking off the tomatoes as they become as red as they dare to go. Made a lovely tomato sauce with a whole load of them last week. I've picked all the peppers and they seem to store well in a dark cupboard. Although small, they have a good taste and I used a few with the tomato sauce to make a favourite Mexican dish.

We carved our home-grown pumpkin for Halloween and have saved a number of seeds ready for planting next year. All the plum, apple, chilli and pepper seeds Katie carefully planted for indoor growing haven't done a thing! She's going to try olive seeds now. What has grown well is an Aloe Vera Katie picked up for 50p from the "honesty box" soon after we moved here. Katie has taken all the new shoots to make about five or six new plants which she's hoping to sell for a bit of pocket money.
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I've sown some "over winter" spring onions in one of the pots rather than put them straight into the ground. This is because the "plot" won't get so much light and sun during the winter months and I can lug (with help) a large pot around the garden to get the warmest spot. Today I noticed little shoots are appearing - always a nice sight.

Friday, 19 October 2007

First frost this morning

That means the tomatoes that are still in their very green stage probably won't be lasting much longer outside. What a shame, there are so many of them it's a sin to see them go to waste. I came across a recipe in one of the Sunday mags for fried green tomatoes with something or other - wish I'd kept it now. Will trawl the internet with cooking inspiration!

Peppers aren't liking the lack of warmth either. I have about two that are doing well and growing quickly and remain consistently green, the others are either dropping off like flies (mouldy) or their growth has completely stopped.

First batch of the carrots have been completely pulled now - we finished them last Sunday for lunch with my parents who came for a visit. The other tub is more-or-less ready for digging into now.

Ben and I had a nose around the garden centre earlier this week and picked up a couple of packets of veggie seeds + a freebie thrown in. We also bought some onion sets - a bargain at 90p from Wilkinsons! One of the packs is for spring onions that can be sown over winter, so we've set half of those in the big tub that had the first batch of carrots and placed it in direct sunlight (as suggested). We're also growing a couple of spring onion ends reserved from cooking a chinese the other day! They're on the kitchen windowsill and growing great guns! Katie has planted a couple of Bramley apple pips, a plum stone and left over pepper seeds (again from cooking) - but nothing has materialised from them yet.

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Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Tomato tip

My tomotoes are finally turning to red (well, they are at the orange stage at the moment), but during our high winds a few of the heavy vines broke away from their main stalks so I took them in to ripen on the warm, sunny windowsill of the conservatory kitchen. However, I found this didn't seem to do the trick, but I've since read an excellent tip that does work.

We all know how bad bananas are for over-ripening other fruits in the fruit bowl, well by placing green tomatoes next to the bananas they ripen ultra quick!

8th October 2007

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Everything's doing well. With all the rain we've had recently and now the return of warmer weather the lettuces have had a growth spurt.

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Pumpkin came away from it's stork so it's now being stored in the coolest room, the lobby, waiting for Halloween. It's really heavy, much bigger than our last home grown one, and has quickly turned a beautiful Autumn orange.

Monday, 1 October 2007

A battle against the wind

We've had some cold and very windy weather this last week. The poor tomatoes are so laden with fruit (which are taking far too long to turn red) and therefore so heavy that I needed to, once again, tie them up as best I could to stop the wind pushing them all over. They are on a section of earth that catches the gusts of wind as it hits the side of the conservatory - I won't plant anything tall there again! The problem now is that the fruits are mainly at the bottom of the plants and the vines are trailing in the earth which is rather wet and obviously a haven for tomato munching insects and plain old rot. I've trussed them up and off the ground for now.
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The wet weather, however, has done wonders for the lettuce which are blooming nicely and the pumpkin which has stopped growing, I believe, and is now turning a wonderful autumn orange.
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Peppers continue to grow longer and a tiny bit fatter. Having not grown these before, and having purchased these as tiny plants from a local grower, I don't know how big they are supposed to get. I've had to pull off a few that have gone bad so I guess I'll just have to watch and see.
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We continue to pull our first lot of carrots. As we thin them out this way, the remaining carrots are having a chance to grow much bigger in the soil. They are a joy to eat, and we're all pretty proud of them. I'll probably continue to grow our carrots in pots from now on. The ones sown in the ground have not done at all well - we still only have two small bundles of carrot leaves!

These cold evenings (most of which I've spent in front of the open fire) have been great for browsing the seed catalogues and reading much needed growing tips in some of the veggie books I have. The best one I can recommend so far was given to me by my b-i-l and s-i-l; "Grow your own Veg" by Carol Klein - easy to follow and nicely written. So, I'm planning on getting some onion sets to sow over winter - I'll let you know how I get on.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Weeding, securing and a story about lettuces.

My neighbour had sowed two rows of carrots in the veggie plot about a month or so ago, but we've waited long enough to see any results. Only one small bundle of carrot leaves among a lot of grass shoots and weeds have appeared so I decided to tidy it all up and weed the area. I'll leave the little shoot to grow, perhaps some others will appear at some time!

My lovely neighbour, once he'd finished preparing the plot for me, had also sowed two rows of lettuce lifted from his own garden to kick start our veggie site. They started off doing fabulously, with much needed frequent watering they were growing great guns, but unfortunately the ducks that visit us regularly suddenly took notice and ate the lot one night as we slept! My neighbour (I'll call him Mr. P. from now on) suggested I pulled the stumps out, rake over the area and start again. He very kindly pulled a few more of his own lettuces to replant in my garden and they are now doing fine. I also kept back three or four of the eaten ones, put them in pots of compost to see what would happen. Amazingly they began to grow again so I've put those in the ground to and get a full row of young lettuce enjoying a duck free life (Mr. P. put up plastic netting by the gate to stop any wandering feather friends).
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To also deter other animals and birds, I've added a length of string, attached to sticks at either end of the plot, to hold a couple of unwanted CDs. The brightness and spinning action in the wind should keep off the predators, although the visiting cat seems to enjoy playing with them!

On the securing side. The tomatoes planted outside the conservatory kitchen are ladden with fruits, most are still green, but I've picked a few beautiful red ones from deep inside the bushes. I've had to add many more canes to try and keep them from flopping to the ground, they are so heavy. After a lot of har work the winds over night had made most of then slip back down their canes. I'm just hoping their natural supports won't get damaged in this bout of windy weather. I can't really support them any more than I have already.

The two pepper bushes are finally turning into, well, peppers! Sorry, but I get excited at seeing the fruits of, what seems like, very easy labour. Peppers, as advised by the chap I'd bought them from (locally) are very simple to grow and so far he's right. Once in a while (more at the beginnings of it's growing life), I'd use a tomato feed when watering (as I have done with the tomatoes and pumpkin too), but other than that, they have fended for themselves and seem very sturdy again the wind (although I have supported them now, just as a precaution).

Sunday, 9 September 2007

First harvest from our new home

I love this bit, digging up the goods. Some successes here I must say. We moved in at the beginning of May and I decided, rather late in the day, to plant some sprouted potatoes I'd left too long in the cupboard, thinking they wouldn't produce a nibble! I planted two very small rows just in front of the conservatory kitchen. This ground, like the rest of the garden, has fabulous soil, and after a good dig over and weeding session, was ready for some veggies. So, I planted two rows as I mentioned, two peppers, three climbing tomatoes, a cherry tomato (in a tub) and a pumpkin (these last three were donated, thank you, by a friend). All went in rather late, all looking rather fabulous.
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End of July, I sowed some carrot seeds that had been lurking around for a couple of years. Sell-by date said this September, so I knew they'd be OK. I was told by my knowledgeable neighbour that the end of July was the best time to plant carrots as the dreaded carrot fly is no longer around. Having seen on TV a year or so ago that carrots do quite well in very large pots, I sowed my first batch like this. A few weeks later I sowed the rest in another large pot. Last week, my neighbour suggested I start pulling the first lot, randomly rather than from the same section of soil. First feeling around the tops of the carrot to make sure they are a fairly decent (but still small) size before having a slight tug! These are delicious "Trevor 1" carrots (from a DIY store as I recall), and have made fabulous salad carrots, so full of flavour.